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Confronting with Fear

i haven’t been feeling uneasily.

Granny has been going in and out of the hospital. It’s old age, and I think the body is degrading.

I have been putting off going to see her.

Because of fear. I fear coming face to face with the subject, of death. I do not know how to handle it. Because of the past that I have had. It seemed like I still do not know how to reconcile with the death of my loved ones even if it were more than 10 years back.

But today, i plucked up what little courage I had, to visit ah ma, my dear granny who is little in size but so strong in character all her life.

She single handedly brought up 10 children. My grandfather left her early.

But ah ma is so strong despite her small built. She was the one who came to my family and nurtured us when my mom passed away in illness.

She slept next to me. She made me dinner and ate with me. She said to me when i was weak: “be strong, treat it as if it were nothing.”

i have always always remembered her words when i felt weak. there was so much power in those seemingly easy words.

but now, i realise so much flavour in those few words, simply because they were extracted out of her hard life, or the very hardships that never thwart her,

ah ma was diagnosed with colon cancer a few years back, but she decided not to go for an op and she ‘s had a few more years till now.

i thought what boldness and character.

she’s not afraid of life, she’s not afraid of death.

i rem asking myself yesterday as i felt all the old energy dwell in me, because i couldn’t bring myself to see ah ma.

i rem looking at the sky, and thinking of some words i read:”if you do not know death, you do not know life.”

vice versa.

i read it in a book, The Tibetan Book of Dying. or something to that effect. that was when I was expecting hao.

And how true.

Today i finally plucked up enough courage to see ah ma.

I told my jittery self: create a new pathway and a new angle to this. i educated myself, that the fear was something old, and something i do not need now.

i can create another approach to this.

i just tried and i think i found a little light. Ah ma is old and frail, her voice has changed, and i felt just hurt looking at her.

But ah ma is so strong willed.

she’s taking it and i felt just dishonest and low and small not confronting her and just saying niceties.

opposite me, my dad was asking all the questions I wanted to know- what did the doc say? when can you head home? etc

i thought:”is this appropriate at all?”

but its honest.

and anytime better than me trying to put on a nice front.

ah ma is so strong, she ordered dad to go home, and us to go home. she says we have been working and dad’s been driving for a day and its hard work.

she’s pestering us to go for dinner. and she gets her way.

ah ma is the strongest woman i know, and it hurts me to see her.

dad held her hand when he left, and somehow that moment caught me,

i felt like going over to hug her, but i didn’t.

i said my goodbyes, but thought if there was a next time.

ah ma is such a warrior. she’s a fighter, to the end.

i love you ah ma, and i wish you well.

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Thank you for giving me a chance to confront my fear.

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3years 5months

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皓皓在3岁4个月的那一天进医院。

因为voice box infection,高烧几日不退,婆婆阿姨怕怕,dandelyn姐姐开车下来kk医院,婆婆抱着,davina姐姐ah keong gorgor作伴,载到kk来还是舍不得回家。

知道kk要等4个小时,再载我们到皓皓出生的gleneagles,并且等候,到一切检查完毕之后才离开。

当晚请了Dr Ngiam回来看皓皓,医生说,怕皓皓肺炎,所以留医观察。

mommy和daddy就这么和皓皓在医院睡了一个晚上。

隔天医生说是手足口。让皓皓隔离,所以我们就罢了一间房。

所幸皓皓治疗之后恢复得快。这是皓皓第一次照x光、吃antibiotics。还要吊水。第一次使用nebuliser。但一切还算顺利。

mommy用这次经验尝试突破,有努力。也想说,不要这么投入工作了,照顾家人、把孩子顾好比较直重要。
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花了$4000多块钱,但看到皓皓好起来,那些钱就罢了。

再住一晚,医生说退烧了就可以回家。

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回家后,洗澡剃头剪指甲

然后去婆婆家。大家看到他好开心。

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皓皓突然想起阿姨买了pocky饼干,硬要吃。给了一支,还要一包。妈妈生气打了皓皓的脚,他气我一天。不要妈妈。

这好像是皓皓第一次这么对mommy。

小瓜笑了,很甜蜜

也让我觉得这笑容得来不易

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隔天,dandelyn姐姐和davina姐姐带两个小瓜去gai gai

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家长日

老师们说,皓皓是个小大人。非常懂事成熟,非常独立。

负责华语的邱老师说,皓皓是个温柔的小孩,她非常喜欢和皓皓聊天,皓皓会说很多东西给她听。

比如:“公公出车祸了,那都是他的错,因为他闯红灯。公公很难过,我也很难过”等等。

她建议我们慢下皓皓的脚步,不然他会很孤独。因为在学校里,他比较少和其他同学玩,可能觉得他们太幼稚,而大人的世界,他又衔接不上。

老师说,皓皓做什么事都很整洁,彩色也不会跨出外,估计皓皓周围都是大人,也学会了大人的行为。

她说,大家还在念儿歌的时候,皓皓已经懂得“锄禾日当午……”

她建议我们和皓皓讲道理,而不是用处罚的方式,因为皓皓能充分表达自己,而且能够听话。她说,如果只是用处罚,孩子有一天不怕了,就完全不理会了。用处罚的方式,只会让孩子学会,做错事爸爸会生气,而不是学会真正错误在哪里

 

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我听了很安慰,我的皓皓真了不起。非常懂事。谢谢老师和皓皓聊天!

然后就去珀斯旅行了!

皓皓说要买apple给ah xiong舅舅,他上次去韩国也这么买苹果。他还记得。他还记得上次姐姐坐飞机的时候吐了。

阿姨交代他买花生酱tor dao Liam

他说成tor dao Liap

昨天吃到好吃的番薯,阿姨叫他买,他也记得了

我们搭早上740am的班机,小瓜很早就起来。而且自己拖行李,非常独立沉稳。然后登记入境。很棒

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上飞机自己系安带、看电视、涂涂画画、用飞机餐

看Tom n Jerry, Frozen,自己彩色,自己吃餐点,也没有弄脏衣服,好了不起

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皓皓说,很喜欢搭飞机:)

皓皓在车上,总爱缠着婆婆吃糖

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这次在车上,播放许多罗大佑的歌,结果皓皓爱上,包括鹿港小镇、童年、皇后大道东,都是他爱点爱唱会跟着舞动身体的歌曲

我们在珀斯的第一个airbnb有game room,可以在这里塞车

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这次皓皓有许多的崭新尝试

比如荡秋千!原本有些害怕,但一次之后上瘾了!

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到珀斯隔日,原本要去penguin island喂企鹅,没料到天气不好,所以游船不行。

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我们到附近的游乐场玩,之后到珀斯市中心新区,再到珀斯一个我很喜欢的游乐场,玩音乐

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跟爸爸讲“电话”

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隔天出发到Margaret River

第一站是Olio Bello橄榄园

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皓皓第一次触摸到有机柠檬

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很喜欢在Burnside Organic的活动,让孩子接触农场、动物、大地

让皓皓看他吃的鳄梨是怎么长在树上的,

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傍晚回来,到田园farm walk

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那天皓皓不舒服,腹痛拉肚子

傍晚时分,让孩子取木材进屋里烧,给家人取暖

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这天出海看海豚和鲸鱼

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全程都这样被爸爸抱着,吹海风,等鲸鱼

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喂养小动物、追海鸥是favourite activity

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这天去了Margaret River Farmers Market

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午后参观当地最知名的酒庄Leenuwin Estate

喜欢那里广阔的青草地,在这里第一次玩抓迷藏

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再去Cullen Winery

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给公公擦粉,是每晚的工作

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还有捶背

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并且学会感谢公公每晚下厨做晚餐

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皓皓很喜欢吃broccoli,所以我们每天逛超市要买

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饭后和公公吃橙

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还有尝试开车

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皓皓的大作!

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这天去Fremantle,结果皓皓发现了Honey Cake

爱不释手

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珀斯最后一个住家的主人养了山羊、鸡只,种树,我们才有了近距离接触的机会

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很喜欢皓皓和姐姐在busselton jetty的这张照片

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还有皓皓抱姐姐、姐姐抱皓皓的画面

你们两个就是彼此最好的礼物

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去swan valley那天,找到一片辽阔的绿地,在这里捉迷藏

再一次知道了空间能让人开怀这件事。

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皓皓记得上回在韩国给我拾枫叶。这次再拾枫叶给我:)

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Kings Park也有许多绿地

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皓皓说,喜欢这鸭子,好开心让他有机会看到Chicken Licken里的小动物

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然后再到Perth City Farm

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皓皓说要吃草莓,婆婆就即可找

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珀斯里的图书馆,然后在市中心逛,买皓皓爱吃的honey cake

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准备搭机。皓皓非常独立,上机后看看电视,睡前说要关电视,然后就睡下了,直到抵达新加坡才睡醒

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跟着《皇后大道东》的曲子摇摆!

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学校假期,带皓皓沁芝去stadium

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隔天再去,玩水

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宝贝,祝你健康平安,天天开心,像是一盏明灯一样,照亮自和他人

 

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亲爱的宝贝,谢谢你。

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7years4months

亲爱的沁芝,已经7岁4个月大了。mommy还在以月计算的时候,你已经变成小大人了。

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沁芝生病了,被皓皓传染。也患了手足口。

发高烧,mommy半夜起来给沁芝吃药,擦身子。diffuse tea tree oil和lemon,结果真的把高烧控制下来。

然后让小妮子选出国穿的衣服。

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沁芝没事了,好开心。

这天家长日,到学校看看沁芝学习的环境,老师Mdm Bivee说,沁芝很乖巧,喜欢帮助同学,喜欢责任,相当leader,和大家相处非常愉快。

但老师说,沁芝的注意力不够集中,所以有时看着老师,但脑子飘到别处去。会影响她的进度。

不过整体来说适应得非常好,字体整齐了,数学英语都有进步。

我们说,我们没有特别督促沁芝,只是希望沁芝在学习上开心,对学习有热忱。老师说,这点看得出来,她说,沁芝不容易放弃,不会的,也会坚持尝试,有这样的态度就对了。

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周末,姐姐们带沁芝皓皓出去gai gai。小妮子翘课不上心算

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让沁芝皓皓去pasir ris,问大家要什么礼物。

沁芝非常贴心,说要买jam和花生酱给阿姨、买拖鞋给阿嬷(因为阿嬷早前吐到拖鞋脏了)、买slingbag给豪哥哥(因为他出门都这么带着)、买梳子给davina姐姐、买围巾和绑头发的给dandelyn、买包包给舅妈(因为周末ah xiong舅舅去看医生,她会带着一本书)、买拖鞋给ah tin阿姨、买tiger啤酒给ah seng还有衣服给ah boon

小妮子好贴心!好敏感好仔细!

5月底,我们搭早上740am的班机,小瓜很早就起来。而且自己拖行李,非常独立沉稳。然后登记入境。很棒。

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沁芝兴奋到拉肚子。让我想起自己小时候一兴奋也有腹痛

上飞机看Tom n Jerry, Frozen。沁芝说,喜欢搭飞机,因为喜欢起飞的感觉,喜欢飞机餐,喜欢起飞:)

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在澳洲,我们每天都逛超市,

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公公做晚餐,慢慢的,小孩学会在晚餐时对公公说谢谢。

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晚餐后喜欢跟公公吃橙

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沁芝喜欢住airbnb,探索不同的房子,这一家居然有game room

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隔天计划去penguin island,可惜因为天气,游船不能开,不能去喂小企鹅

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于是到附近的游乐场荡秋千

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荡秋千和到游乐场,是沁芝最喜欢的活动之一,每每看到,都要玩

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另一个沁芝超爱的,就是喂海鸥、鸭子

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另一个最爱的活动,就是给公公擦粉。这是沁芝第一次和公公出国到现在都会做的事。

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然后去珀斯市中心新区及我最喜欢的游乐场,让孩子玩音乐

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隔天开车到margaret river

到橄榄园,让沁芝亲眼看看橄榄树、看看榨油的石头器

好喜欢澳洲冬天的阳光

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我们住的Burnside Organic 是全有机的农场,沁芝最喜欢这里的秋千,从大树挂下,用绳子系着从轮胎剪出来的秋千椅,就这么在空中荡着

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沁芝在这里喂养heritage chickens

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berkshire黑猪

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看到鳄梨树

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甚至是迷你酿酒设备

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傍晚,在田园散步,鹅会跟着我们!

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然后回到农舍,让孩子取柴,晚上可以在屋里烧

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这是屋外的黑牛,沁芝喂它吃红萝卜,住了几天,离开前还和黑牛道别

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沁芝学开车!

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沁芝学拍照,公公给了很多机会

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沁芝看到窗外田野的牛,会说,叶沁芝good morning

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其他时候,就这么喜欢赖在婆婆身上。

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6月3日,我们开车南下,要出海去看鲸鱼海豚

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饭后,和爸爸玩

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我们去了Margaret River Farmers Market

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然后去了当地最大最著名的Leeuwin Estate,这次去,我们就在空旷的大草地、在葡萄藤边奔跑跳跃玩catching

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沁芝应该会记得这里的画廊

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之后去Cullen Winery,本来想用午餐,但没有预定

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之后北上返回珀斯。途经Busselton Jetty

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回到珀斯,住在一个希腊移民的家

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他有一大块地,养羊、养鸡又种树,小孩和动物有了非常近距离的接触

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隔天去Fremantle

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这天到swan valley

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我们在swan valley的一端,找到非常辽阔的绿地,就在这里玩捉迷藏玩了半个多小时。好好玩。空间让人快乐,舒畅!

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这天去珀斯市中心的Kings Park

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很喜欢Perth City Farm,有个咖啡座,还有颇大的农田,种植了很多蔬菜水果

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然后旅行就结束:)期待下次出发!

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假期,带沁芝皓皓去stadium

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午后去BOUNCE

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隔天再回到Stadium的水池玩

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May  you  be well and happy  dearie!

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The Voice of every working woman

“Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way”

It’s no easy feat juggling the roles of a parent and professional. And ICICI Bank’s CEO Chanda Kochhar is the perfect example of a woman who does both facets of her life justice.

Now included in Sudha Menon’s book Legacy: Letters from eminent parents to their daughters, Kochhar’s note to her daughter Aarti Kochhar has been doing rounds on the internet not just because it shares the surprisingly simple secrets to a successful and happy life, but also because it’s going to be the most inspiring thing you read today.

Dear Aarti,

It makes me feel so proud today to see you standing in front of me as a confident young woman right on the threshold of an exciting journey through life. I am looking forward to seeing you grow and flourish in the years ahead.

This moment has also brought back memories of my own journey, and the life lessons I learnt along the way. When I think of those times, I realize that most of these lessons were actually learnt in my childhood, mostly through examples set by my parents. The values that they instilled in my formative years gave me the foundation on which I try to live my life even today.

Our parents treated all three of us – two sisters and a brother – equally. When it came to education, or our future plans, there was no discrimination between us based on our gender. Your grandparents always had the same message for the three of us – that it was important to focus on what gave us satisfaction and to work towards it with utmost dedication. That early initiation enabled us to develop into confident individuals capable of taking decisions independently. This also helped me when I started out on my own journey of self- discovery.

I was only a young girl of 13 when my father passed away from a sudden heart attack, leaving us unprepared to take on life without him. We had been protected from life’s challenges so far. But without warning, all that changed overnight. And my mother, who had been a homemaker till then, faced the responsibility of raising three children all on her own. It was then that we realized how strong she was and how determined to do her duty in the best possible manner. Slowly, she discovered a flair for designing and textiles, found herself a job with a small firm, and quickly made herself indispensable to them. It must have been challenging for her to shoulder the responsibility of bringing up her family single-handed, but she never let us feel like it was a task for her. She worked hard till she saw all of us through college and we became independent. I never knew that my mother had such a wealth of self-assurance and belief within her.

As a parent with a full time job, one must not let work affect the way you relate to your family. Remember the time you were studying in the US and the announcement of my becoming MD and CEO of ICICI was splashed across all newspapers? I remember the mail you wrote to me a couple of days later. ‘You never made us realize that you had such a demanding, successful and stressful career. At home, you were just our mother,’ you wrote in your email. Live your life in the same way, my darling.

I also learnt from my mother that it is very important to have the ability to handle difficult situations and keep moving forward in life, no matter what. Even today I can remember the equanimity and calmness with which she handled the crisis on hand when my father passed away. You have to handle the challenges and emerge stronger from them, rather than allow them to bog you down. I remember how, in late 2008, we were faced with a situation where ICICI Bank’s survival was in jeopardy in the face of a global economic meltdown. The situation was being analysed with a hawk’s eye by major media platforms and debated widely in the public space… I got down to work, systematically communicating with all stakeholders – from the smallest depositor to the sophisticated investors, and from regulators to the government – the bank was sound and its exposure to these institutions involved a small portion of its assets.

I understood their concern because so many of them feared that their hard earned savings in our bank could be at risk. I also advised staff across the bank’s various branches to lend a sympathetic ear to those depositors who turned up to withdraw their money, telling them to also offer the depositors a seat and a glass of water while they waited. And though, depositors were welcome to withdraw their money if they wanted to, our staff also took care to explain to them that it would not help them to take their money away, because there was no real crisis situation.

It was during this period that I took a couple of hours off one day to attend your brother’s squash tournament. I did not know it then, but my very presence at the tournament went a long way in reinstalling customer confidence in the bank. A few mothers at the tournament came and asked me if I was Chanda Kochhar from ICICI Bank and when I replied in the affirmative they said that if I could still find time to attend a tournament in the midst of a crisis, it meant that the bank was in safe hands and they need not worry about their money!

It was also from my mother that I learnt the importance of adapting to circumstances and not being afraid of the unknown. While working hard for my career, I looked after my family, and have been there for my mother and in-laws when they needed me around. They reciprocated in kind with their unconditional love and support for my career. Remember that relationships are important and have to be nurtured and cherished. Also keep in mind that a relationship is a two way street, so be ready to give a relationship just as you would expect the other person to be giving to you.

My career would not have progressed the way it did were it not for your father who never once complained about the time I spent away from home. Your father and I nurtured our relationship despite the fact that we were both busy with our own careers, and I am confident you will do the same with your partner, when the time comes. If you had complained and whined about my extended absence from home, I would never have had the heart to make a career for myself. I am blessed with a great and supportive family and I really hope you too will be as fortunate when you set out on your own!

I remember the day your board exams were about to commence. I had taken leave from work so that I could take you to the examination hall myself. When you realized I was coming, you told me how you were used to going for your exams alone for so many years. It hurt me to hear you say that, but I also think in some ways, having a working mother made you much more independent from a very young age itself. You not only became independent, but also stepped into the nurturer’s role for your younger brother and never let him miss my presence. I learnt to have trust and faith in you and you have now grown into a wonderful, independent woman. I now use the same principle at work to make our growing population of younger talent take on larger responsibilities.

I believe in fate but I also believe that hard work and diligence plays a very important role in our lives. In a larger sense, we all write our own destiny. Take destiny in your own hands, dream of what you want to achieve, and write it in your own way. As you go ahead in life, I want you to climb the path to success one step at a time. Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete.

As you go forward, you will sometimes have to take difficult decisions, decisions that others might scorn at. But you must have the courage to stand up for what you believe in. Make sure you have that conviction to do what you know is right, and once you have it, don’t let skeptics distract you from your path.

Aarti, there is no limit to what a determined mind can achieve, but in achieving your goal, don’t compromise on the values of fair play and honesty. Don’t cut corners or compromise to achieve your dreams. Remember to be sensitive to the feelings of people around you. And remember, if you don’t allow stress to overtake you, it will never become an issue in your life.

Remember that good times and bad times will be part of your life equally, and you have to learn to handle both with equanimity. Make the most of life’s opportunities and learn from every opportunity, and challenge that life brings along.

Lovingly yours, Mumma

Chanda Kochhar’s letter to her daughter is a must-read for women everywhere

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Promise

Promises are such things.

That if keep them, they would b such energizing things.

Like bf said he would juice for me last night. And I went to the kitchen this morning and saw a little mess made out of juicing, only to discover this vibrant red of organic beetroot, Apple and carrot, which when I sipped, had a warm gingery emotion that I liked.

  

He kept his promise. That made me very happy. Extremely happy. 

I like people who keep their promises.

And I can understand how wretched one was to be if promises are broken.

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Ah Xiong舅舅

很久没有看见Ah Xiong hia(哥哥)。

他进医院了。听说不认得人。臭骂护士。恍惚。一手不能动。一只眼看不见。

我好难过。

怎么会变成这样子?bf说,这就是depression。

精神上来说是一种denial。

怎么会变成这样?一个人好好的。ah xiong hia一生规矩勤劳,工作时不敢拿病假。后来糖尿病之后,健康每况愈下,肾脏衰退要洗肾。进出医院。

然后突然间就这样子了。

好像是很大的事。怎么在轻而易举的转弯之间就静悄悄发生了?

感觉上很多的情绪都是压抑着的。感觉冷冷的。好辛苦。

一个好好的人,怎么会变成这样子。是身体还是心的衰退?我记得老师Mr Ng说过,人之所以生病,那是因为他心里想这样。

他对生命失去了欲望、渴望、希望。

然后身体听着心,跟着萎缩退化。衰退。

有一种重重的无力感。一个好好的人,怎么会这样子啊?这么对家奉献、出力,这么疼爱长辈子女的人?

买barbie doll给我的人。关心我的人。疼爱我孩子的人。从pasir ris载沁芝去beach rd上happy train的人。买水粿给皓皓当早餐的人。

那我现在可以拿什么给他?

好像还是昨天,怎么今天他就在医院里。在生活的边缘游移?然后大家好像是没有力道去伤心那样?好像没有力气去在意那样?

我好难过。想到the spate of events,我真的很难过。

人生到底是怎么一回事?为什么好人也会这样?

这一年来发生的一切,让我对生活有了深的想法。是想从头、由骨子里出发去改变,调整。我可以怎么过我的人生?让自己一生都活得漂亮,让自己容易地老去,同时也对他人造成最低的影响?

减法的人生这下要怎么走才是?

我还没有答案。

就开始又累了。很累。被打击的那种。

好像才刚刚好起来,然后又被击中。我厌倦生活上的这些遭遇。更厌倦人的惰性和狂妄。厌倦我们怎么都那么愚昧那么的ignorant?

我厌倦自己的这一点。

累是因也是果。

我承受不来,习性帮我,累kick in。我蜷缩回壳里。过半睡不醒的生活。辛苦极了!

ah xiong hia,撑下去。听到吗?不要这么轻易放弃。你最宝贝的女儿还没有出嫁呢!赶快回来,用年少时你打拼工作的牛力,回来。