Monday, March 30, 2009

The Sheer Freedom of Singledom!

I decided to call my ex-student Esther to provide her feedback on the property that she had seen. Esther asked if I was going to bed early as she wanted to have time to prepare her two children for bed and she would call me after they had fallen asleep.

I practised my violin and enjoyed playing the various pieces by Bach,, Schuman, Handel, Brahms, Weber and Paganini when Esther called me. I told her that it suddenly occurred to me how joyous it was for me to be able to indulge in one and a half hours of classical music while she was lullabying her children to sleep. The sheer freedom of a singleton ! I told Esther that it was difficult for me to understand how some singles could feel depressed and lonely when 24 hours a day was not quite enough for me to enjoy all that I was doing.

Esther laughed and said it was good that I could find so much fulfilment. Of course, I concede with her that motherhood brings its own joy and rewards. The points that we both agree - that in whatever state we are in, we are to be contented and make the most of the situation.

I guess my feelings must be the culmination of what had happened on just one Sunday. I was counselling another student, Carrie, a young widow who just broke up with her boyfriend and was feeling heartbroken. Although her boyfriend is a very nice and caring person, but he has too many baggages in the form of a revengeful ex-wife, two teenage kids who told Carrie they would not be nice to any step sibling, and another possessive niece fighting for her uncle's attention.

Later in the day, eldest sister called me to say that she and her husband would be visiting Singapore because she had to help her son supervise and teach the maid some cooking and housework. Sister had never even seen the photos of her grandchild because my nephew's wife had purposely barred her from looking at the photos! Some misunderstanding occurred when sister was at the States to give them a helping hand, and the anger was still buried in the daughter-in-law so much so that she refused to allow my sister to look at the baby's photos.! My nephew's company had rented an apartment for him which is in the same block as his in-laws. I cannot understand why there would be no room for my sister and her husband to stay. Sister has to share a room with the maid, and my brother -in-law would be my guest. ! Every morning, he would have to take a 40 minute bus journey to their apartment in Bukit Timah area. The complexities of in-law relationship!

Shortly later, the cleaning lady in my company phoned me that she is no longer staying with her son, but in a rented room because her daughter-in-law had quarreled with her and asked her to leave. Sometime last year, Aunty Kang, as we affectionately call her, had asked me to market her 3 room HDB flat. It is my practice to understand my client's situation and needs and I asked her why she needed to sell and she told me she wanted to help settle her son's $30k debt. I advised her that as she is already almost 70 years old, it would be difficult for her to buy a unit again, and once she had cash in hand, somehow the money would disappear fast. It would be better for her to rent out the unit so that she could collect monthly rentals and use some of the money to help her son. In the event that there was any bad blood, she could always live in her apartment and rent out one room. Now Aunty Kang realises my sound advice to her. She is sharing a room with a friend at $300 a month and enjoys collecting $1600 from the rental of her flat.

Ah! The complexities of in-law relationship. I had written my nephew and his wife a letter reminding them to be filial towards my sister, and because of this letter I was ostracised! I had also never seen them or the baby since they returned to Singapore.! Now that he is holding a good job, my nephew had conveniently forgotten the hands that helped to feed him when he was a student in America! It is easier to handle the laws of Singapore than to handle the laws of relationship. The easiest way for me to avoid such complexities is to enjoy the sheer freedom of singledom!!

Understanding my sister's strong character and her daughter-in-law's idiosyncrasies, I am preparing a "huge tent" of casualties! I can bet my three beloved doggies, Kamlette, Kambobo and Kam Xiao Bai, that sister will come crying her heart out, with emotional bruises that are even more difficult to heal than physical injuries.

People often tell me that I look much younger than my 55 years of age. I guess the youthfulness comes from the sheer freedom of singledom !!!

Gan Chau

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The freedom of singledom! I googled the phrase and found your post first. I have just had an epiphany after 4 years of "lonely" singledom. It is indeed a freedom to me now with these new eyes I've found. Truly, what a weight to have been lifted from me. Great telling of your story. May I only look younger than my years when I reach 55. Congrats!