The past week was dark and solemn, the mood in the family (especially me) and the rest of Singapore was greatly affected due to the passing of our first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. I did not expect you to understand what he did for Singapore and who he was to many of us, especially your zhouzhou (great grandmother) and ah ma (grandmother). We did not get to tell you about him but when you saw his videos flashed on TV one evening, you pointed and said “He’s Lee Kuan Yew!” and I was dumbfounded. Thanks to the sharing in your childcare, you got to learn about this great man.
You kept asking me where he was and when I told you he is dead, you did not understand. I said he dies and is taking a very very very long sleep because he is very old and sick. And yet you insisted he is not. In your own words…
“No… Lee Kuan Yew is not die. He is sleeping. When the sun comes up he will wake up.”
For the next few days whenever you see his photo on TV, you would repeat your thoughts, arguing with me that he is not die.
On Sunday, we sat in our living room, me cuddling you, we watched as Lee Kuan Yew took his last journey around Singapore. From the start of the journey, you repeatedly asked the same question – “Where is Lee Kuan Yew? I cannot see him”, till the point I got very frustrated, unknowing how to explain what it meant to be dead. I explained that he is dead and is taking a very long sleep inside the coffin that was covered with our flag, but yet you insisted he is not there and repeated your questions. Ayah and I tried to distract your questioning by giving silly replies – “He is behind you.” “He is hiding inside your playhouse…”.
Finally, after more than 2 hours of questioning and me trying to explain to you what is dead, you gave the most amusing reply – “Lee Kuan Yew is dead. But he is not die ok. He is dead.”
When the live broadcast was over, I then reflected on your words – “Lee Kuan Yew is dead. But he is not die.” And then I too felt the same. Ayra, from your unexpected answer, Mummy came to senses that yes, Mr Lee is dead, but he will always live in our thoughts, our memories and everywhere around us. As PM Lee Hsien Loong shared in his eulogy for his father Lee Kuan Yew, “Mr Lee Kuan Yew built Singapore. To those who seek Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s monument, Singaporeans can reply proudly: ‘look around you’.”
Ayra, when you are older and wiser, you will read and learn about this great man who devoted his entire life building Singapore. You will learn to appreciate everything around you, your family, your beautiful green city and the diverse culture and people. Mummy hasn’t been a fan of history nor politics, and I have to admit I have little knowledge about these topics. But Mummy will be reading the books written by and for this great man from now on, and hopefully one day will be able to share with you more about this great man.
Mummy will also be compiling some articles and links on our little tribute page for Lee Kuan Yew, so one day when you are reading this, you will have some references.
With a very heavy heart, and a lot of love,