Conversations With Uncle Chandra (Part 2)

Paris BaguettePHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay (Ipad2)

 

I met uncle Chandra again the following night as he was once again on night shift. He beckoned me to receive a gift; Bacon and egg croissant from Paris Baguette. It was a gift from a Korean girl to him just 15 minutes from the time I met uncle Chandra. I kindly refused, but he insisted and said he can’t eat it anyway since he is on vegetarian today.

I told him about the Facebook post, and how so many are blessed by his words. Continuing from where he left off yesterday, he said that God comes in many forms (people). Uncle Chandra would never leave home for work without first making and drinking a warm cup of premium coffee. But when there are days that he had to give that a miss, there will be residents who come to him with a can of coffee from convenience stores. He said, buying the $1.50 coffee is one thing, thinking about him when they were buying the coffee and carrying it here makes all the difference. Even days that he did not have dinner before work, there will be residents who would buy Punggol nasi lemak for him. He said, “How would they know I haven’t eaten?” There was even one occasion when he gave away food given to him from a resident to other colleagues, and gotten other stuff(coffee) from another resident.

I like that.

I saw how he was blessed, how he blessed others, giving away what others gave to him and getting more blessed in return. I saw how he knew almost all the residents who came back home by the side gate after a long day. Truly all things will work together for the good of those who love God (and people), even if the faiths may be a tad different.

Before I left, uncle Chandra said he was saving the food for someone special. Thank you uncle Chandra. Though I am not hungry, I will eat it heartily, knowing that my stomach and heart will be filled tonight.

Short Story: The Oak Tree And The Ants

imagePHOTO: Reuel Eugene Tay

 

There was a particular oak tree that sat on the hill of a countryside hidden from the reaches of the city. It was an ordinary oak tree yet it was also not just any other oak tree. Sturdy and beautifully mahogany colored bark, strong branch-of-an-arm that stretched out toward the heavens and, luscious healthy green leaves that decorate the branches those branches make this oak tree a beautiful sight to behold.

Playing companion to couples-in-love and kids on their Sunday family days and having acted as the backdrop for more than a dozen wedding photo shoots, the oak tree was in contentment. “With my coat of green, yellow and red I’ve shaded the young and old, the poor and the rich through the seasons unfailing. Through thunderstorms and seasonal winds that threaten to uproot me, I have lasted and stand firm. I’ve indeed lived a full life.. My life is complete..!” thought the good ol’ tree to himself.

Yet for years, the good ol’ tree could not tolerate one – the ants whom have made their home by his roots, climbing up his back (and front) as they have pleased. It was like a thorn in the flesh to the good ol’ tree, an itch he cannot relieve.

One fine day, with one mighty swing of his limps and rustle of his coat he finally broke with silence with authority and gusto, “I want you to depart from me now!” The ants froze in their tracks for a moment before orderly making their way towards the distant horizon. The good ol’ tree was pleased. After all, it went much smoother than expected. For a while, the tree was contented, being left alone felt like a crumb stuck in the teeth for a good period of time finally removed. That feeling was surreal, and the good ol’ tree thought things could only look brighter. Or so he thought.

No sooner than a week after the ants’ departure, the good ol’ tree became sick. Without the care of the ants, disease was spreading across his body like wildfire. The once beautiful mahogany of a bark was coming apart bit by bit, his coat was like the thinning hair of an old man. No longer attractive, the people stopped coming, children stopped playing by his side, the good ol’ tree was dying physically and emotionally, and now truly left.. alone.

It was then that the good ol’ tree realized his folly, issuing the ants the great exodus was his undoing. A threatening rainstorm hit the good ol’ tree hard that night, only this time he didn’t seem to be able to make it through the night. Despondent, the tree howled with the strong winds “Please come back my friends” while the winds slowly ate away at what was left of his previously beautiful coat of old.

The following morning, the good ol’ tree awoken from his slumber, astonished that he made it to the night, astonished that he actually felt a little better. That familiar unquenchable itch has returned, only this time the tree was glad.

There are people that will get on our backs like a thorn in the flesh or a detestable itch. Yet some of them are those who truly cared, some who helped us become who we are and some whom our destinies are intertwined with.