Wednesday, March 14, 2007

... And We Shall Inherit with Great Reluctance

"The old believe everything; the middle aged suspect everything: the young know everything."

Oscar Wilde

"That explains a lot. I just didn't imagine that I'd reach middle age at 20."



Formerly known as The Southern Hospital.

I came downstairs to the living room at about 3 pm, when I finally woke up. I've this habit of keeping odd hours during vacations, and my grandmother would not tire of giving me lip for that. I was surprised to see my grandfather sitting there - strange, shouldn't he be at his workshop? Stranger still, my normally silent grandfather spoke to me and asked me to drive him to someplace called "Lim Pong".

Where on earth is that? Old folks have these weird names for places that I didn't take the trouble to learn. But why can't he drive there himself?

I queried further about this "Lim Pong" and with difficulty, he managed a "Sou-tun" - which I understood immediately to be that hospital opposite the City Bayview Hotel where my great grandmother is currently living in, recovering from her stroke. I pressed on with more questions and found that he misstepped and landed his right leg into the drain by which he parked his beaten Toyota. I then noticed it; his right knee was visibly swollen, and was criss-crossed by some bloody scratches.

That shook me out of my 'morning' (figuratively speaking) doldrums. I threw on a decent shirt and backed my Suzuki Vitara into the driveway. I wanted to help my grandfather into the car but he stubbornly refused and opted to inch slowly by himself out of the house with the help of an umbrella and anything-else-within-reach for support.

Sometimes, old people act like children. I sternly draped his arm around my neck and helped him along at a more sensible pace. I found that he was surprisingly light, with a weight I can only describe as 'frail'. At that moment, I truly appreciate how very weak his age had rendered him.

Oh, how time ravages us all. I'm no longer that little boy I still fancy myself to be. And that saddened me more than a little bit. When I was much younger, I used to pester my grandfather weekly to take me out in his ancient jalopy to buy me toys. He never once refused me.

While driving, I remembered that my grandfather customarily makes his way to his paint shop at 11 am daily. Did he actually sat on that sofa waiting for me to wake up since that time?

I asked.

He somehow managed to hobble back indoors after the nasty mishap and had since settled himself in the living room - his knee being too painful to carry him any further. His voice was too weak to carry to my room from where he sat. I listen with blood rising to my face as he accounted (not angrily, but calmly) that my cousin, Tracy, actually came back earlier. She just stormed wordlessly into the house, picked up some stuff and left in a twinkling - before my grandfather could even say a word to her. I haven't had the chance to talk to her yet - but oh boy, I'm going to murder her when I do. My grandfather could have gotten help earlier but instead, he had to sit there for more than 4 hours just rubbing his bad knee by himself.

I correctly guessed that there was no major fractures from the way he limped, and the X-ray images agreed with me. But there was this business of some bad blood pooling in his joint and the doc had to drew that out with a hypodermic needle.

And I also found out that my grandfather has hypertension. I stared in disbelief when the digital sphygmomanometer charted an alarming 200 systolic.

He's now sleeping on the couch not 6 metres from me. His right leg is in a brace and practicality just wouldn't allow him to sleep in his own bedroom upstairs. Since, I'm nocturnal anyway, keeping an eye on him would be natural. I stayed home tonight to read instead of visiting of my usual McD 24-hours Drive-thru haunt.

He's so very old.

On a lighter and an completely unrelated note, I visited MPH in the evening to look for Yvonne Foong's book (I'm Not Sick, Just a Bit Unwell) but I was met with no luck there. Thai Kuang was equally disappointing but at least I managed to get two Agatha Christies from there which I haven't have the opportunity to read - Five Little Pigs and And Then, There were None. Thankfully, the Popular Bookstore in Jusco still had that slim paperback in stock.

PS: I found out that my laptop works pretty well as a light-board for reading X-rays besides its usual purpose as an entertainment centre, a best friend, and a paperweight.

At a crossroad,
k0k s3n w4i

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