Chung Perng

 

George sat quietly beside his wife, Chung Perng, as she slowly calmed down, closed her eyes, and drifted into deep slumber. A difficult day was coming to an end. Maybe next morning, things would be better. Or worse. With Chung Perng in dementia, George could only pray.

Prayers didn’t work that morning. Chung Perng’s eyes were ice cold as she stared at George. “Who are you? Where is my husband?”

“I’m here, girl, I’m here! Remember me?”

Chung Perng looked away. The day dragged on, and she would not speak another word.

Her silence pierced his heart like a thousand knives.

Almost 60 years ago, 16-year-old George fell in love with a sweet young lady with smiley eyes and curly hair. Till today, George can’t explain why he was so attracted to Chung Perng. “Maybe some chemical reaction”, he laughed. In 1962, Chung Perng became his wife, family, teacher, and friend. For the next 53 years, they were inseparable.

Even as Chung Perng’s hair greyed, and her body frailed. Even when her memory betrayed her and threatened to tear them apart.

“There’s no such thing as no recovery from dementia”, George snapped at our question, his eyes cold as steel. “Nothing is impossible. I will try. Just do whatever I can, until my last day.”

George looked up, and his lips trembled. “I love her. I fear that one day, she will not remember me anymore.”

George knows he cannot be saddened by such things. He must remain patient and open-minded, even though his wife changes to a different person everyday. George will be 76 this year, but his body is strong, and his memory crystal clear. He intends to remain this way for as long as possible. Chung Perng needs him.

For now, George continues to pray for the good days, when they share a walk together and talk like old times. Days when Chung Perng wakes up in the morning and says to George:

“I remember you.”

Chung Perng


Yuri

Yuri hadn’t been groomed for a while, and hairs were sticking out of his nostrils. Ismail, his father, playfully pinched a strand, and gave it a sudden jerk. Yuri twitched. Ismail chuckled. Maznah screamed.

“Don’t get mad!”, Ismail said to his wife. “Who knows… maybe if I pluck the right one, he will wake up?”

But Ismail knew better. Yuri will never wake up.

16 years ago, they received a midnight call from the police that still haunts them today – Yuri had fallen into coma from a horrific car accident.

Then, Yuri was only 21. Now 37, he remained largely unconscious. He can’t move, can’t talk, can’t see, can’t feel. Yuri is condemned to the bed for the rest of his life.

Ismail and Maznah never dreamt their life would turn to hell. How was this possible? Yuri was a gift from God! Born crying and helpless, his loving parents hugged him, fed him, touched his face, kissed him. They held his hands as he learnt to walk, spoke with him as he learnt to talk. They gave up their savings for his education, and worked their life for his future. Yuri grew strong and handsome – a young, promising life wrecked by a vicious fate.

No one believed in Yuri anymore. Even the doctor suggested putting Yuri to sleep. But Ismail refused.

“God gives, God takes.”

Hope should have died 16 years ago, but for Yuri’s parents, hope was the only thing that bound them together.

As Yuri lay on his bed, hands crocked, mouth agape, eyes rolled backwards, Maznah leaned close, touched his face, and kissed him. She talked to him and held his hand, just as she would when he was a little child – beautiful, crying, and helpless.

Ismail stood by his wife and never left her side. There is so much sadness within her. Yet, there is warmth. Yuri will always be Yuri, their flesh and blood, a gift from God.

As if fate had a sense of humour, Yuri made a sound, and Maznah laughed in happiness. Ismail laughed too, but he had run out of jokes. In a corner, Ismail cried in silence.
IsmailYuri & family


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