After a week (and more) of mourning, it feels like we should be getting back to regular programming. Somehow, I still feel a little down and out. But one thing is for certain, the death of one of our founding fathers does not signal the death knell for our society.
Last Saturday, the husband and I trooped down to Parliament House to pay our last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew with our boys in tow. Many of our friends and family told us that we should keep our kids at home if we really wanted to do that. But we felt like we wanted our kids to be there with us (and also, we usually do not like getting our parents to watch over the boys during the weekends because, well, we work during the week and Saturdays/Sundays are precious to us as a family).
So off we went, the baby in the carrier and the preschooler in the stroller. We were armed with sunblock, umbrellas, water and snacks, thinking that there was going to be some waiting to be done.
Once we reached City Hall MRT station, we were ushered to the St Andrew’s Cathedral exit. From there, it was a long walk under the scorching sun – we went across to Raffles City (after crossing the road twice), headed towards the Marina Square direction, went down the underpass again before emerging at Singapore Recreation Club and then walked towards Parliament House. The sun was beating down against our backs and we were each handling a child.
Thankfully, because we had a stroller and a baby, we were ushered to the special queue. In no time, we cleared security and were standing in line outside Parliament House. As we walked in, we bowed our heads, said a silent prayer and were swiftly eased out. It took us no more than an hour from the time we exited the MRT station to bidding our final farewell.
It could have been much worse, honestly, and we were thankful. More importantly, the journey to saying goodbye taught us that there is a lot of good in Singapore.
We were thankful for the efforts of the marshals guiding the public at the MRT station and along the way.
We were thankful for the volunteers who gave out stickers, water, buns and umbrellas to us. They did so with beautiful smiles, despite the sweltering heat.
We were thankful for the companies who donated these items to the public, just so that our physical discomfort could be eased.
We were thankful for the two police officers who carried our hefty stroller AND the preschooler sitting in it down three flights of stairs when there was no escalator. They smiled kindly and waved away our profuse thanks.
We were thankful for the man who lifted the stroller over the curb for us when I had difficulty manoeuvring it (the husband was baby wearing a sleeping Zac and could not do it for me).
We were thankful for our fellow countrymen, who exchanged knowing smiles as we walked and waited.
So much has been said about Singaporeans, about how inconsiderate and ungracious and sterile and unemotional we are. And being Singaporeans, we typically do not care to refute these observations, preferring to just get on with our lives, not caring about what others think of us.
Well, I think the last two weeks have just shown everyone that we are anything BUT sterile. We are anything BUT unemotional. And I think to myself, this is why I remain in this country, this is why I am glad my sons are growing up here. This is OUR country, this is OUR home.