The Week in National Mourning: A prayer for Lee Kuan Yew

Palm Sunday: I thought the service started early, because I got in 15 minutes early but the kyrie began before I even found a seat.

A kind usher directed me to the leaflet when she saw me flipping the missal frantically –

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A pre-service requiem for Lee Kuan Yew, it was. Being protestant, I personally have problems singing the litany of saints, where the lyrics go ‘Sancta -insert name-, ora pro nobis’ (saint –, pray for us). I believe that our great privilege as Christians is to be able to approach God in prayer through Christ, instead of having to go through the saints, who were once human like us. Nevertheless, I knelt in prayer as the litany was intoned.

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This is the one week where I’ve actually prayed for my nation, for my country to be able to continue the good work that was Lee’s life. Praying for the country is usually included as part of the regular services, but I do not usually pay much attention. This past week, I gained a better understanding of the necessity of doing so – you become a concerned participant in the national narrative when you pray.

Wishing the Lee family rest and solace,
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The Week in National Mourning: The Guards of Honour

I queued five and a half hours alone on Thursday night into Friday morning, and just as I was about to be admitted into the Parliament, I watched the rehearsal for today taking place, at about 4.30 in the morning.

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The gun carriage and the empty hearse

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Then the guards of honour in slow march

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The SAF band.

Watch the boys do it today in the rain.
Pathetic fallacy as the skies cry along with the nation.

The Week in National Mourning: In Memory of Lee Kuan Yew

ends today, with a state funeral and a cremation. I have felt uneasy, unsettled all week, and I think that strange. My logical mind tells me there will be no practical change to my way of life; the death of a country’s founding father, a man who has been officially out of politics for twenty-five years, has no direct bearing on my life. After all, he is someone we hardly bring up in regular conversation (except when we are complaining…?). Why the grief then?

Perhaps we’ll miss his piercing intellect; I know I will miss his writing, where he makes difficult and complex political and social issues direct and comprehensible (that is, simple, not simplified), a skill many professional writers struggle with. Perhaps we’ll miss his no-nonsense manner, the sharpness (Tony Blair, former British PM, calls it bluntness) of deep insight that made him an advisor to world leaders. (This is something Singaporeans are surprised and proud of – the international tributes from significant political figures are deeply moving and inspirational, aspirational. Also, it must be rare to receive outstanding tributes of praise and thanksgiving from both past and present Chinese and American leaders.)

Perhaps it isn’t as abstract as all that: the very fact that he did create this immensely successful paternal state makes us see him as ‘Ah Kong’ (grandfather).

I queued five and a half hours alone to pay my respect to the late Mr Lee. To be sure, it felt a little anti-climatic: after the long wait, you are ushered in, you bow, and you are urged to hurry out because there are 8 hours worth of people behind you wanting to do the same. But no regrets doing so: I’ve been brought up to know that the dead can’t come to the living anymore, the living must send off the dead. My family did turn up at Tanjong Pagar though, and because we were there on a night where the crowd was thin, we were allowed time to contemplate the life and works of Mr Lee.

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(My dad wrote in Mandarin: Hope you’ll bring Mrs Lee to our SG50 celebrations in August)

today feels like…

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mostly because it has been taxing emotionally and intellectually preparing for class and on top of that, preparing for further lessons in memory of our founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

and now, after a 14-hr work day, I’ve decided to join the serpentine queue to pay my respects to the great man lying in state at the parliament building.

joined the queue at 2333hrs, and we’ve just walked around the WW2 memorial. will update as and when i can, provided the battery lasts.

Sunday cooking 7

prepared a snack: honey roasted macadamia nuts

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wanted it to be a healthier version so i decided to skip the last step of rolling them in a fine sugar and salt mix. it still tastes good, for sure, but they now clump together in a rather irritating fashion.

then there was the basic brunch: omelette and chicken.

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i think I’ve about perfected the art of pan-frying chicken breast slices…they come out really juicy and tender. however, that effect doesn’t last, and when they cool they become the regular dry slices we too frequently associate with the chicken breast. wonder if there’s a way around that.

a reflection (not really) on self-harm

this whole blog reads like a lie to me sometimes; it’s just so happy, just so not me. but perhaps this is the bipolar depression at play, and i must treasure the up days when they appear, and on nights like yesterday, just hope to survive.

what surprises me about cutting is that one does not get used to the pain.

menstrual cramps are a regular fixture in my life, and they are not any less crippling with each passing month. similarly, i still wince when i cut myself. i still gasp in surprise at the pain. i thought i’d be used to it by now, it’s been years of cutting after all.

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what accounts for the difference between a cut that draws blood and one that’s merely a neat scratch? sharpness of blade, force.

I’ve noticed that cuts that draw blood occur under two circumstances – the opening cut, the first one, when you’ve forgotten how cuts hurt (like the song, yes), or, when the lights are off / my eyes are closed. i suppose it’s easier to be forceful when you’re not watching the blade, the same way people look away from an injection.

can it be less painful to die?