Changing Script

27 Aug 2020

Our mom turned 77 last week. I organised a dinner at a restaurant that served dishes of our dialect group.

She and I were the first to make it to the restaurant. While tea was being served, my mom asked if my brothers were coming. I told her yes and referred her to the dishes on the menu to pick her favourites.

Both my brothers were coming from work. Evening traffic could be an issue. When my mom asked me again to check if my brothers were on their way, I decided not to get annoyed with her or give her a chance to rant about them.

Instead I calmly asked her why she was so fixated on the ones who hadn’t arrived, when the one who remembered her birthday, booked the dinner, and got everyone to turn up for it was sitting right in front of her.

I’ve learnt not to take on the emotions of others, even if they’re valid or belong to my mother.

My brothers are now in their 40s and 50s. This is a childhood picture I cherish.

About 15 minutes later, my brothers appeared. I was very happy to see them. Our sibling bond has somehow survived years of negative narratives started by parental worries and disappointments, and perpetuated by constant retelling at the slightest provocation.

My mom performing a ritual bath on Ganesha, the Giver of Wisdom and the Breaker of Obstacles. We take on the attributes of whom we serve and pay attention to.

But that evening at our mother’s birthday celebration we were happily sharing a meal and chatting about more important, but non- emotional topics such as keeping our jobs and our masks on. Of course we also traded in superficial knowledge of more profound topics such as statesmanship and power play.

My mother looked very pleased with the red packets we gave her to wish her good health. She ate heartily all the dishes that would take her too much effort & time to cook at home.

Perhaps all gatherings are invitations to rewrite our scripts, and free us from the habitual hold of stunted stories that keep us from moving on and growing up.

Even as the passing years deplete us of our physical faculties, the power to select which narratives we wish to perpetuate can never be lost.

Will our stories be full of how others have wronged us and how we’ve also let others down? Or will our stories also celebrate every attempt to do our best in spite of everything?

Here’s wishing all good health, sound mind and generous heart to keep improving on our life’s script and live in joy regardless of the situation.

My mom and her sister on a kelong trip in 2019.

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