Saturday, August 8, 2009


After bruch at my usual, I headed for home. Along a SS3 road that I had to take, a very elderly Chinese man was walking in the middle of the road, looking lost. I followed thinking that he would move to the side. He did not. I pulled up on the side, got out and brought him to the side. He would be in his early 80s. I asked him why he was walking in the middle of the road. I have always admitted that my Cantonese sucks big time, just like my Bahasa. Already I have been branded OCBC (oranbg cina bukan cina) by my Chinese and Malay friends But I can manage some Hokkien - he is evidently lost. His home can't be far from where I picked him. I got him into the car and drove through the different roads around SS3/29 hoping he would recognize his home. He said nothing except gesticulating to me that he did not want the air-con. I complied and rolled down the side windows. This residential area has a lot of speed breakers. This went on for some twenty odd minutes and I decided that if everything fails, I was going to knock on doors, in the next round, to ask if the residents recognised this senior citizen. That was not necessary. I slowed down at one lane speed humps and ahead I saw a lady holding in both hands two young kids and walking towards me. The young Indonesian maid had a worried look. I slowed down again to negotiate another hump and that was when I heard, "Kung, kung" (grandpa). I packed them all into the car and all the way the maid kept pleading to me not to let her boss know. If that was not enough the two kids, probably 10 and 8 asked me not to tell their parents too. I WONDER WHY?

For the past few hours I have been asking the same question I WONDER WHY? Yesterday whilst going thru my Document archive I chanced upon something that either Patricia or Chok Wan sent me: Here it is:

I guarantee you will remember the tale of the Wooden Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now as I just did.

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year - old grandson..

The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered

The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.
When he grasped the glass, water spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.
'We must do something about father,' said the son.

'I've had enough of his spilled drink, noisy eating, and food on the floor.'

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.

There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner.
Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone.

Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a spoon or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor.

He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?' Just as sweetly, the boy responded,
'Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.
' The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table.

For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a chopstick was dropped, water spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I've learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:

a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and something tangled.

I've learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.

I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a 'life..'

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you
But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others,
your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.

I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.

I've learned that you should pass this on to everyone you care about. I just did to all ANAK BANGSA MALAYSIA. Do take care of our elders....they always deserve no wooden bowls please!


Unknown said...

A good one, Uncle Zorro. What goes around comes around.

Unknown said...

First you must feel the love and care you have for your parents.Using the as your benchmark,start loving thy neighbours and do not leaves out your enemies.This te3aching is to be found in the scriptures of every single religion.Religions is the only refuge for living beings

GreenBug said...

Well done Bernard. God will bless you for your patience and kindness....

bern mas said...

Now that the late yasmin ahmad is gone, you try to pass off her work for some chinawoman's? typical la u ..

zorro said...

bern must be mentally sick, huh?

Anonymous said...

Your article made me made me think of my beloved Grandma.

My Grandma passed away at aged 93 about 3 years ago. She suffered from dementia. I looked after her for 8.5years before she passed away.

Grandma lost her way once when she unlocked the gate and went out for a stroll without us noticing. A kind soul like you brought her back home.

In my eyes, she was the cutest and most lovable Grandma in the world. I wish she is still by my side. I love her dearly.

Grand-daughter ...still missing Grandma.

zorro said... the person your grandma was and you will be what she wants you to she will always be beside you. Chin up girl.

nstman said...

A heart-tugging piece which should be read by everyone. A simple story in a cynical and cruel world.

nstman said...

My grandma loved me. She died 30 years ago. I always took her love for granted. Sometimes I didnt even know I had a great grandma. Today, I cry when I think about her. How I wish she were still alive.

Anonymous said...

a man with his son carried the old grandpa in a big basket to a jungle & dumped him there. The son took back the basket & the man said : leave it BUT his child said he would use it again to carry him next time !

taipingMAN said...

i'm a retired teacher and the last 15 years of my teaching career was spent in chinese schools. this story about the wooden bowl was well known then .... and're right...bern mas forgot to take his pills when he wrote that!

temenggong said...

A reminder! Thank you Bernard.

telur dua said...

Very touching story and a good lesson for everyone.

Look after others now and Allah shall look after us when we go to him.

Anonymous said...


I miss my grandpa....

Melody said...

Sometimes we are not that lucky to have a second chance with our parents. Life is so fragile. If we don't cherish them now, we might not be able to find the chance to do it when they are no longer with us.

Anonymous said...

Dear Zorro,
Thank you for helping the elderly man and an interesting post.
Even though I have read the story before, I still read through the whole story.
If you can, please blog more meaningful posts than politiking!

Another Rakyat

zorro said...

Another Rakyat....thank you very much for your fair comment. I promise to expose anything swept under the carpet. Our politicians, especially BN politicians have swept many things under the carpet. If you read blogs you know that we tell you more than the mainstream media. In my day, we lived harmoniously. Today we are divided by race and religion and political parties. The politicians on both sides are responsible for all this rot and blemishes to a once beautiful country and its people. I have a duty to fulfill what I pledged to do when I took on blogging. Thru non-political postings like the wooden bowl I am trying to inculcate values that our politicians have paid scant attention. Unity of the races is not what they want. They cannot have CONTROL if we are united. I am sorry if you think that I am politiking. I hope you can understand. I cannot make it more simpler. Again thanks for visiting and commenting.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Zorro,

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read this. My dad is in 80s and mum, 70s.This article just reminds me to aprreciate them more.It wasn't easy growing up in a military style up-bringing (tho he wasn't in the military). I was "chased" out of home 11 years ago by dad and have been living on my own since. I guess the strict upbringing kept my head above waters as Im proud to admit that I never strayed or did anything stupid.Sometimes I look back and am grateful for being "chased" out. It has made me stronger and more resilient.I look back at the pains I went thru growing up,and Im happy the way I have turned out. The anger and bitterness is still there but I guess time will heal.Once in a while we youngsters need reminders like these to let us know that the folks exist.Thanks again, Uncle.

new fart said...

How I wished I had done a lot more for my poor Mum who passed away 2 years ago. I missed her terribly! Please...all people...take good care of your aged parents because they truly deserved it! May God Bless You Always!

clearwater said...

Well, I recall we children being given wooden bowls to eat out of by my paternal grandmother when very young and prone to breaking things. That was some 50 years ago. Times were difficult then and broken crockery not so easily replaced, with money being scarce. It was just a pragmatic decision, I believe. However, rice scooped from a wooden bowl somehow does not taste as good as from a porcelain bowl.

I also recall the elderly beggars with their half coconut shell bowls, going from shophouse to shophouse, begging for their daily lunch, or a coin or two, under the hot noon sun. I remember their smell today as if it was yesterday, their torn dirty clothes and the misery of their lives with no one to care for them. I remember, but my children do not; they have not seen abject poverty and destitution. They are the children of affluence who wrinkle their noses at their sweaty father after his morning gardening chores.

Sammy said...

Learned the same thing from my religious class (30 years ago, back when these classes taught us to be a better person and to help others, as compared to now).

My teacher told us of the same story where the son was to bury his aged father and his own son followed him with a shovel too..

We do not appreciate our parents when we are growing up but only wen we face the same problems ourselves.. how I wish I could got back and right the wrongs.

Keep on fighting for us (cowardly) armchair warriors! Hope to stand alongside you one day. Ever Onwards!