The representative picture which i want to remember my beloved late mother is none other than this black & white photograph; "sepiaed" by time, of her working on the Singer sewing machine which she owned.
I remember her working ever since i developed consciousness of my surroundings. Her CV was a colourful one as far as i could remember: Washer woman, seamstress, child-minder, ironing lady, coffee-shop attandant (when she was a young girl, according to her - working in my grandmother's coffeeshop in Tiong Bahru).
She used to regale us of her being able to skip two levels to the upper primary when she was in Ai Tong School years ago. And of course we would ask her many times how she foiled her mother's plan to give her away - she had overheard a conversation between her mother and an interested family. She ran away from home as a result but then her mother changed her mind and kept her with her own children. It was quite common to 'buy-and-sell' children simply because of the lack of family-planning measures.
My mother imbued in me a never-say-die spirit in life. When her right arm was immobile, she used her left hand to clothe herself. She even ironed our clothes with her single, precious arm. Sadly, she learnt how to rest only when she was wheelchair-bound during the last two years of her life.
I will continue this page when i have adequately dealt with the loss...
This entry below was written on Saturday, October 15, 2005
Just as the dove symbolises Peace and a heart symbolises Love, the iconic image i have of my mother is this picture. She is, in my heart and my mind, associated, collocated with the sewing machine -- The manual, foot-pedalled sewing machine which was her ricebowl. She is now 70 years old and very alive indeed.
For many productive years of her life, she was intimately linked to clothes - she made and sewed clothes for people. But mainly sewed. Bags and bags of them. She also sewed and altered the length of our pants and shirts. She practically raised 5 of us with this trusty machine. While she used this 2-wheeler to earn her keep, her other half used the four-wheeler to bring home the bacon. So none of the 5 of us had any silver spoon in our mouths; we would be thankful if we had a bronze one. The process of seeing raw bales of cloth being marked out and then cut, and then subsequently sewed and transformed into wearable fashion is something i must commend this woman for. She is my wonderful mother.