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Featuring Rovin

“I feel that I am very blessed in this life because of two very special people – my mother and my Granduncle. They are my ‘gui ren’, which means ‘people who have been a great help’ in Mandarin.”

“My life hasn’t always been so comfortable and by this, I’m not even suggesting that I am rich today. I am contented with what I have partly because of my nature, partly because I remember my roots and all that my mum has done to make me the person I am today.”

“My mum has had a difficult life. She’s worked hard all her life. She was the one who nurtured and took care of me. On top of that, she had to manage the household, including the chores.”

“Thankfully, my mum said that I have always been ‘guai’ (meaning obedient in Mandarin) and I would always play alone with my toys while my mum was busy with one thing or another.”

“At 15 years of age, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime for someone of my status in Shanghai – I was not from a well-to-do family – when my Granduncle who had a business in Singapore said that I should live with his family there so that I could get a better education and a shot at having a better life than what I would be able to get in my homeland. Although I knew that I was going to miss my mum, I listened to her and moved to Singapore to live.”

“I was very apprehensive when I first stepped foot on this small island. I wasn’t used to the life here and didn’t feel at home initially. The first meal that I had at my Granduncle’s place was a bit of a culture shock for me as the family is thrifty. I guess my family in China is used to having a lot of dishes for dinner and it was quite different for my Granduncle, whose family is used to eating very simply. On hindsight, it’s a blessing in disguise because I managed to lose all my baby fat,” laughed Rovin. “My weight dropped from 60kg to 48kg and my grandma commented on how much better I looked.”

“Over time, my Granduncle and I grew very close and he treated me like his own daughter and provided for all my needs. I realized that I was happy in Singapore. Unfortunately, he unexpectedly died of a heart attack when I was in junior college, just four years later. I mourned for his loss because he was like my Dad.”

“Both my mum and I had a slightly tougher life after his passing. She had to take on a few more part-time jobs because she did not want me to ‘suffer / work’ while I was still studying. I was already in University at the time. On my part, I did not want my mother to worry for me and so, I started working part-time after school and on weekends. This included a waitressing job and selling all sorts of knick-knacks – belts, watches, sunglasses, etc. – on the street for a fixed price of $10 each. I definitely learned how to be more thick-skinned and was not shy to approach anyone,” Rovin chuckled.

“I’ve also learned the importance of health. Partly because of my Granduncle who passed away of a heart attack before he turned 70 and partly because of my mother’s difficult life, which has led to her contracting so many sicknesses today – some of the major ones include lupus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cerebral hypoxia.”

“Even though I am unable to repay my Granduncle, I thank God that I am still able to be good to my mother. I still talk to her over WeChat almost everyday and I try to buy things that I know she will like and need, especially since I’m not with her in Shanghai. She visits me at least once a year in Singapore. I really want her to have a more comfortable life since she had such a challenging time in her earlier days to pave a good life for me.”

“Since I became a mother three years back, I realize a mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. I will forever be indebted to my mother and agree with the famous Chinese saying ‘Mummy is the dearest in the world (‘shi shang zhi you ma ma hao’). With a mum, you have the most valued treasure.’”