Goodbye, Popo.

Somewhere in March this year, my family and I booked a flight to Bangkok. We used to travel to Bangkok quite often a few years back, but somehow we just stopped going as it was difficult juggling between my working holidays and brother Nick’s schooling schedule. When we can finally accommodate to everyone and their timing, it felt like such a waste to travel somewhere we went so frequent so we started going to other places like Seoul, Vietnam etc. It’s been quite a while now since we last step foot in Bangkok. The last time I bought a ticket to Bangkok, it was 3 years ago when I wanted to reunite with my mates from Beijing. Everybody was going back to their angmoh countries so we decided to travel to somewhere tropical – Bangkok. After weeks of preparation and hype, I didn’t get to go cause they had a really bad national riot. Didn’t get to go in the end.

This time we booked a flight to Bangkok and started looking for accommodation really early. It was really weird because we had so many obstacles just trying to get a place to stay. I gave it a little rant on my Dayre here. In a gist, we were rejected by TWO different Airbnb’s and ONE Hotel.

1st AirBNB : AirBNB’s Customer Service wrote to us a few weeks upon confirmation to let us know that our host can’t take us in anymore due to the building’s regulations.

2nd AirBnB : I was feeling slightly uneasy about how our new host was really quiet. We still had about a month or two to arrive in Bangkok but I thought it was a good idea to drop her a message to ask about the directions to her place. She wrote back and asked that we cancel cause she can’t rent the place to us anymore, also due to the same reason.

3rd Booking : I didn’t want to trust AirBnb for my Bangkok booking anymore so I went back to hotels. Just 30 minutes after I confirmed my hotel booking, the hotel actually wrote back to us through Booking.com to request that we cancel the room. We still had the option to keep the room if we wanted to, but we didn’t. Mainly because it felt really flaky, and we found another better room anyway. So we took the offer to cancel at no charge.

My mom and I just sat down together after finally confirming the hotel booking, making sure to check every 30 minute to see if we would be cancelled out again. We were sort of weirded out with the fact that these places all rejected us, and we started to speculate if it was a message in the form of obstacles, preventing us to actually travel during those dates. We both agreed that if there was going to be another cancellation, we would take it as a message and delay our traveling dates. You can call us superstitious, but it was too much to be a coincidence. Of course, nothing came. Good news.

Or not.

Early this week, we got a call from my Popo’s maid that something was not right with my Popo. She was staring blindly at one spot and didn’t want to respond to anyone. I got a call during work but tried to remain positive about things. She was admitted into the ICU after being rejected by one of the local hospitals that insisted they hadn’t anymore space to fit extra patients.

I didn’t see her during Day 1, but witnessed her health deteriorate every single day after. She had a very strong right arm and would swing it in our faces or pat our faces if we were close enough, up till Day 2.

By Day 3, she wasn’t moving much anymore but we could see that her eyes were still half open and she was already succumbing to reminiscence and deep thoughts. We were slowly preparing ourselves as the doctors and nurses had set our expectations from the beginning regarding her situation.

Day 4 today, her vital readings started to slide in within a few hours and we said our last goodbyes. Right before she was starting to slip away, I am glad I was able to just remind her that I am now a big girl, 26 and working.

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I wanted to remind her that we were all adults and she didn’t have to worry about us anymore. I told her a little white lie though, and told her I was working around Sungei Wang. It was the hottest mall of her time, it must have made her feel good that I was working somewhere as prominent as Sungei Wang. She always asked me the same question whenever she was in the mood of a conversation, so I figured that was what she wanted to know (again).

“How old are you now?”

“Where are you working?”

“How much are you earning?”

“Hei mei office gong ah?”

She also frequently complimented my lipstick colour and hair. We made it a point to visit her every Sunday when she was still around. We just visited her last Sunday too. Popo has been bedridden for years, but not because she had a disability. She just lost strength in her legs as she got used to being on the bed. Sometimes she would reach out with her right hand and feel my hair run through the fingers and say “Wah gei lenglui ah”. I would then pull her leg and asked if I can cut it, knowing she’ll insist that I let it grow. I would also show her my polished nails and she would look at them amusingly and comment at how beautiful the colour is. She would also stroke my face and laughed when I made funny faces like a little girl. I would silly faces that a 10 year old would do, and she loves it. Even a few weeks ago, she was just telling me that I am like a “sor lui”. We had one of our best conversations about a month of two ago – I can’t remember. She has not been very engaging in conversation lately, but that one day was very special. She could hold a conversation without forgetting about what was said the second before. She told me about that really good siu ngap in Petaling Street and it’d be great to have some of those. She went on about its price, and when I told her the market price for siu ngap or chicken rice now, she was appalled.

On Day 2 of her hospital admission, I showed her my nails – and even in that tired state, her eyes trailed wherever my fingers were to have a good look at my nails. I guess my Popo was quite a vain lady to pay such good attention to little beauty details! If she was my age, she would probably be a beauty vlogger/blogger :’)

I also let her know that it was okay to just take a rest and sleep for a bit before trying to take on the world again. I don’t know my Popo’s past much, but I do know that she must be one of the strongest woman to have survived all the horrendous war periods and all the obstacles that has been thrown at her, bringing up 8 children. I am counting my blessings as workplace was pretty flexible and understanding, I was able to bring my mom to accompany my Popo for all three days until the very moment she left peacefully for heaven.

To be honest, I have a really bad memory and I don’t remember most of the things that has happened – but thank God for technology and the times of me just slaving my camera away and took photos of almost everything. I now have a few frozen memories of my popo and I.

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After all of these, we can’t help but think that this was the reason to all the obstacles that were stopping us from making a booking in Bangkok. True enough, we have now cancelled the booking to our hotels and have decided to postpone the trip indefinitely. That didn’t matter of course.

What matters is, that Popo is now comfortable and peaceful – and can look upon us from above with the love of her life, from now on and always.

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