The other day

I took my father for his monthly check up at Gleneagles, and being the way he is, my father is usually very sian about his monthly check ups. Probably from not knowing what the doctor will say, probably from expecting the doctor to say that his condition has deteriorated.

While we were sitting waiting for our turn at consultation, an elderly man walked in with two women we later found out to be two of his eight children, and went straight to the reception counter and asked if he had to pay anything first. His daughters chided him and said in Mandarin that it was all settled and asked him to sit down.

He did, next to my father, and struck up a conversation. Something about whether we were from Singapore (there were many Indonesian Chinese at this hospital). Pa said yes. The elderly man asked if I was his son. Pa said yes. The elderly man asked how many children. Pa said three. The elderly man said eight? Pa said, no, three.

The elderly man said he had eight children, and asked how old my father was. Pa said eighty, then seventy eight, at which the elderly man smiled and said in Mandarin, “Haiyah, little child! I am ninety-six, little child”. Then he got up and went to the reception counter and asked again if he had to pay anything.

Pa spoke without turning to me, “Wah, ninety-six. Still so fit”.

I don’t know for certain, but I think my father was slightly more sprightly at consultation and for the rest of the day.