Day 7/30 - love's labour found


Every Saturday, a lady comes to help me with my housework. A PR after being in Singapore for the last 10 years or so, she helps out at a small handful of homes now and then. She first came to Singapore to be with her son, who is now already 18. Last Saturday as she was finishing up her work, she stood by this print and declared in mandarin: “Of all the paintings in your home this is my favourite. These are the hands of the labouring class/proletariat. My hands are like that.” The phrase she used was 勞動公民.

The painting she was referring to is actually a print from Tan Zixi’s first show in 2006 (?) after she graduated. The show was called 「台上一分鍾,台下十年功」(for every 1minute on stage there are 10 years offstage) and the text on the print reads 「有苦自知」(the suffering only one knows). The drawings were of a group of lanky gymnasts and contortionists. I bought this print for J’s birthday years ago after we got to know Zixi because I remembered him raving about the exhibition. 

This being the start of a new week with HBL and soon school holidays, I thought to share a poem that perhaps parents will relate to. 

This poem is for you who spend or will be spending years bringing up a child, loving and looking after their every need. In fact, some of you, like the lady who helps me to clean the flat, may even have left home and family to live in another country. Or if you are childless, you may have done this for a lover or a partner. For all of love’s 勞動公民. A parent’s love. God’s love. A sacrificial and unconditional love. Without any guarantees for its outcome, such love can be deemed... silly. And so, today’s poem:

Silly Song
By Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936)

Mama,
I wish I were silver.

Son,
You’d be very cold.

Mama,
I wish I were water.

Son,
You’d be very cold.

Mama,
Embroider me on your pillow.

That, yes!
Right away!
(translated by Harriet De Onis)

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