Wildy the Journeyman (into_the_wild) wrote,
Wildy the Journeyman

:: My Nanny, My Nai Ma ::

:: My Nanny, My Nai Ma ::


When Annie called me, it was already quite late at night. 

It was probably half past ten. Or closer to eleven. 

"Boy, this is Ah Nee, do you remember me?" She murmured on the phone. 

"Of course I do, " I replied. 

"Nai Ma is in a critical condition," Annie stressed, 

"The doctor is asking to have all the close ones to gather."

I was dumbfounded. Stunned, I remained silent. 

"She's at Mount Elizabeth Ward 9, Room xxx," Annie continued. 

The last time I met Nanny was probably a few years ago, 

At my mom's salon. She was still her feisty self then. 

Past a few moons, I found myself rushing over to Mount E. 

When someone is in a critical condition, there is never time to waste. 

You may regret not making it even a minute earlier. 

When I arrived at her bed, I found her frail self lying 

Semi-conscious, assisted by several tubes and medical contraptions. 

I was speechless for a moment, and then I spoke. 

"Nai ma, ah boy is here to see you," I uttered in mandarin. 


Nanny was a proud mother of three beautiful daughters. 

And at the age of one, my father entrusted me into her capable hands. 

I spent five to six memorable childhood years 

With her, and her daughters. Amongst the fading imagery 

I remember spending nights at her place, when my father had to

Work late. The Rediffusion would be streaming from the kitchen 

As I lie awake, conscious of the darkness in the room. 

There were times when I, enticed by the deliciously sweet

Gripe Water, would quietly shift the plastic stool and climb onto the

Kitchen counter, and secretly imbibe the childhood goodness. 

Nanny never scolded me. Even if she did, it was only on a rare occasion

And I do not remember it. I remember her cooking, and her fried fish,

Which she would keep safe from the flies with a dish net, so that 

Uncle could eat it when he returned. And of course, during the 

Chinese New Year, Nanny would cook delicious "Nian Gao", 

Or rice cakes. Both versions of hers - the one cooked with egg, 

As well as the one in coconut gratings, remain a fond memory

Which all started coming back to me.


"Nai ma, ah boy is here to see you," I uttered in mandarin. 

I wanted to hold her, but I did not. Nanny struggled to talk

And respond to my call, and her effort was visible. 

Tears welled in her eyes. Although she could not see and talk 

Anymore, I knew that she knew that I was around. 

I stayed a little longer, and amongst the chatting of her 

Close kin and relatives, I leaned against the wall, and looked at her

For a little longer. My tears did come, but my ego held them back. 

Past midnight, her breathing got more congested. 

Everyone wanted to make her feel more comfortable, but 

There was nothing more to do. As we noticed dampness in 

Her pillow, I lifted her head up so that her pillow could be flipped over. 

That was the time I touched her. If I could, I would have embraced her

To give her a hug. 


After repeated calls for me to leave, as I had to work the following day,

I departed. I left with a heavy heart, naturally recalling all those that have

Left before me; my dad, my grandpa, Robert and Adrian, as 

I drove past Kampong Glam area onto Benjamin Sheares Bridge. 

Departures are never easy to handle.

I had a difficult sleep, and at 7:33AM this morning, 

Annie sent me a text, "Hi Willie, juz to let u know 

My mum passed away tis morning." She was gone. 

Thirty years have passed since I was a child in her arms 

And here I was again, a child, for a moment. 

May you rest in peace, my nanny. 

My nanny, always. 

Tags: diary

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