up home page bottom

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ma!

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to birthday girl
Happy Birthday to you

Ma and Minnie

Let's see....what shall I talk about?

Hmmm...I remember a story once, no, more than once actually, told by my mother about a woman who was very, very poor. She had a child, a boy, whom she was determined to give a better life. So she worked very, very hard and made a lot of sacrifices, and made sure that he got proper education.

Years passed and the boy had now grown into a fine, young man. He did excellent in his pursuits and was a popular person in the town. Seeing how successful her son had become, the mother felt very happy and glad that the sacrifices she made was worth it all. The mother continued to work very hard because they were still very poor.

One day, the son was offered a position as a high-ranking officer on a ship, with a lot of money to go with the job. The mother decided that it was best for her son to take up the offer and explore the limitless opportunities waiting for him to discover. Her son felt sad but dutifully took her advice. After a last meal together, she bade him farewell at the port and saw him leave with the ship.

Years went on and the mother was now alone. Everyday she waited by the port for her precious son to return. She kept herself busy by working and working. It seemed that she never stopped working. She would only spend a little of the money she earned on her basic needs, and kept the rest safe for her son's keeping.

She did received a few letters from him in the beginning. But now she had no news about him. She grew worried that something bad might have befallen him. She went around asking everybody, anybody for her son's whereabouts but nobody could tell her.
She continued to wait at the port, her heart aching more with each passing day as hopes of her son's return faded away.

And then, the ship appeared. The same ship the woman's son boarded years ago. As the ship docked itself, the crowd waved and cheered noisily like welcoming a hero's return. The woman tried to see if she could find her son in the group of people disembarking from the ship.

She had never felt so excited and happy before. Finally, she saw her son. She could recognize him although he looked older with the beard and all. She thought he looked very successful from the way he was dressed. She called to him but he did not seem to hear her. Pushing her way through the crowd, she finally got to him. As she pulled on his coat, he turned around and gave her a short glance. It was as if the son did not recognized her mother. He turned back and continued his way.

The woman tried to keep up with her son. She kept calling his name and each time she was within touching distance, she pulled on his coat. The man turned around and scolded her and declared that he did not know her. Sensing that he was ashamed to be associated with her and trying to get rid of her, she became grief-stricken. Her heart broke into a million pieces as the shocking situation replayed in her mind.

In a loud, ear-piercing voice, she laid a curse on her son that he will turn into a pillar of stone for his unfilial behavior. Suddenly, the man froze in his tracks, and became paralyzed like a stone. Seeing what she had done to her son, the woman also met her tragic end by throwing herself into the sea.


Well, the moral of the story is to remember your mother. She brought you into this world and for this reason, it is sinful to disown your own mother. I wish there were a better ending to this story, like a happily after kind of thing, but maybe it goes to show that the world we live in can be very cold and heartless.

All of us were born into this world on our respective birthdays. Some of us were born under better circumstances and some were not. Jesus was born in a stable. In my mother's case, she was born in a hut in the middle of a rubber plantation. My grandmother gave birth to her while working on that day, I think. Soon after birth, the next day, that is, my grandmother went to work again.

My mother also used to tell me the story when everyone in the village was fleeing from the Japanese soldiers during the WWII invasion. Because she was still a baby then, she was left hidden in the ditch or drain. Fortunately, for her (and me as well), she did not make a noise and the Japanese did not notice her. An angel must be watching over her. I don't know if she is aware that an angel is still watching over her till this day, hahahaha. As they say, God is mysterious in His ways.

So what is so happy about a birthday anyway? Most babies cry when they are delivered. Some get slapped on their butts as soon as they arrive into this world. And that is the least humiliating treatment for a normal birth baby. Others would be put into some sort of chamber for life sustenance.

Apart from the fact that commercial retailers stand to profit from the birthday merchandises and the opportunities to party, what happiness do birthday celebrations bring?

I think the answer lies in this.

If, for the moment, we can forget about all the details that come with arranging a party for the birthday boy or girl (because we can get lost in details), let us ask ourselves why we appreciate their being in this world, our world. In what special ways have they filled our lives? Did they bring us companionship in an otherwise lonely world? Did they bring us joy in world that has begun to seem mundane and monotonous? Did they give us a sense of purpose when we were feeling the emptiness of life? Did they make us realize that we have inner strength which we can rely upon to summon the greatest challenges in our lives? Did they show us how little patience we have and ruinous we can become?

Therefore, we are the ones who should be happy. Happy that we become better persons too through our relationship with them. We are happy, year in, year out, because we know them, we know ourselves better. Whether they are six years old or sixty five years old, age is not the measure - it is the experience they bring, that have enrich our lives, that is relevant.

If you are happy because of them, then it is a truly happy occasion. It is a cause for celebration. It is the least we can do to show our appreciations for the blessings they have brought to us. Some of them may not have been born in this world under pleasant circumstances but we can change the fact for them. The best gifts you can give to them, can be a simple gesture of love and care. Something that will touch their hearts just as they have touch yours.

Well, I am happy and so I wish my mother a very Happy Birthday!

Come get the cake (order from PinkCakeBox)

Of course, I have no intention to turn into stone.