华山论剑

忆良友

忆良友— 杨章哲
那是1967年的一个早晨,钟灵举办全校象棋比赛,抽签结果,我的对手是杨章哲。一开始我就觉得不对劲,每一招一式都被他识穿,只见他横眉冷笑,而我却是冷汗直流,比赛结果,零比一,我被淘汰出场。他获全场冠军。
我在初中一与他同班,记得他有一副冷冰冰的脸孔,沉没寡言,很少言笑。短暂的初中一之后,我就没有跟他同斑过。他成绩优斐然,一下子就往北走,进入A或 B 班,而我却往南走。LCE过后,我的积分双位数,被编入文科,平时老汪一直在鼓吹理科的好处,眼看就要读文科,觉得前途一片渺茫,只好硬着头皮走后们,找老汪商量,希望能多开一班理科。皇天不负苦心人,我终于进入理科最后一班。
破釜沉舟
1972 年是一个我毕生难忘的一年,MCE金榜题名,钟灵仅有约20巴仙及格,是历年最差的。原因:马来文不及格。我与章哲也名落孙山,差别的是他考获全A,只有马来文不及格。而我的成绩麻麻而已。幸亏钟灵有开办黄昏班,由先修班老师执教。哈哈,我又在黄昏班碰到他。在昏暗的霓虹灯下,老师好像催眠大师,嘀嘀咕咕讲了一大堆,就是不能吸收,眼皮好像不听话,可能是白天工作的缘故,或者天资还在发育?而章哲却全神灌注,目不转睛的听课,呆了几个月,我收拾行装,跑到英国去。而他呢,不仅没有信心动摇,反而一鼓作气,以私人身份报考MCE马来文,也同时报考HSC(现称STPM),在他不懈的努力下,MCE马来文考及格,连HSC也考到 特优,被马大录取,选修机械公程,他的那股必胜的精神,令人肃然起敬。
又三十年过后,他又出现在我眼前,那是在中马钟灵校友会,这时的他没多大改变,还是摆出那副冷漠的样子,跟他交谈很辛苦,什么话题都会被他左右开弓,反驳到哑口无言。
也不知道是何原因,他开始跟我有打交道,开始请我帮他搞定电脑问题,或者一些家中DIY 的奇难杂症。又过了不久,他也加入Tropicana Golf Resort 的会员,常约我去club游水,两个“疯子”常在土耳其浴内引亢高歌,或闲话家常。他的歌声低沉,并不好听,不过他很喜欢一首老歌—月圆花好。
突然失踪
有一天,我打电话,短讯 或Whatsapp,都无法连络到他,又跑去他家,按了门铃,只见他老婆开门探头一下,一言不发,砰的一声把大门锁上,消失在里边,令我百思莫解。
有一天,突然收到他的短讯,告知他已在苏邦再也医院有一个多月,我立刻赶往探视,才知道原来另有文章。
话说他一天醒来,发现下半身失去知觉,脚趾也不能操作,他惊慌失措,马上叫老婆送他去医院,经过几轮抢救,才发现他的脊髓骨上生了一颗脓,它压住输往下半身的神经,造成脚不能运作,连大便也成问题。经过手术切除后,下体才开始有知觉,但部份脚的神经已失灵,走起路来如同耄耄之年的老汉,这可能是专家太迟对症下药,部分脚神经受挫,虽然有接受physiotherapy 与水中运动,但收效甚微。这意味着他从此不能过像常人的一般活动,像爬山,跑步或越野漫步。
从此之后,我经常载他去Club 游水或参加中马钟灵的活动。
铜牙铁齿
他告诉我一件津津乐道的事。
有一天,公司来了个熊腰虎背的德国专家,在视察机件时,不幸从铝制梯子跌倒,幸亏无大碍,但他怒火中烧,冲着章哲来兴师问罪。
他责问章哲为何用如此劣质梯子,他回了一句:“你明知个子魁梧,为何却选了一个小梯 ?”
结果老外垂头丧气,夹着尾巴走了。
开源节流
有一段时期,我常在脸书介绍美食,这与他的一贯开源节流,省吃省用,背道而驰。见了我的下载,他常挖苦我,说这是皇帝嘴乞丐身,我也一笑置之,并不反对他的见解,可惜太过份节流,倒觉得有些不妥。就举个例子:有一回他们举家去深圳旅游,在一商场用餐时,儿子可能吃得不痛快,借故去小便,其实是溜到商场的另一角。这也逃不过我们这个料事如神的象棋高手,他静悄悄的模到那餐馆,只见儿子正躲在一个角落,以奥运的速度大快朵颐,他也无意拆穿他,又静悄悄溜回原处。
办事认真
他办事很认真,如果有什么事不妥,他会力争到底,将它搞定,举个例子,CLUB 的桑拿水池温度常调到很高,他就找CLUB的卫修部门交涉,谈到最后,他们就遵照他的理念,在池旁加个数码温度计,从此就不再有争议。
五福临门
几年前他有透露自己健康亮红灯,心跳不规律,又有些阻塞问题。但他不愿多加解释。这可能有难言之隐。我也不多加追问。
打从去年开始,他老提一个话题 —五福临门。他作了详细的解释 :-
一、五福的意義

「五福」這個名詞,原出於《書經》和《洪範》。現在已成為家喻戶曉的辭句了,幾乎大部分的人都知道「五福臨門」這個成語,可是很少人知道「五福」所指的是哪五種福。至於福臨門的原理,明白的人就少之又少了。
到底五福是什麼呢?第一福是「長壽」,第二福是「富貴」,第三福是「康寧」,第四福是「好德」,第五福是「善終」。註:《書經》上所記載的五福是:一曰壽、二曰富、三曰康寧、四曰修好德、五曰考的終命(《書經洪範》)
「長壽」是命不夭折而且福壽綿長
「富貴」是錢財富足而且地位尊貴
「康寧」是身體健康而且心靈安寧
「好德」是生性仁善而且寬厚寧靜。
「善终」是能預先知道自己的死期。臨命終時,沒有遭到橫禍,身體沒有病痛,心裏沒有罣礙和煩惱,安詳而且自在地離開人間。
他最大的愿望是最后的那个福 —善终。够痛快。我也不明白为何他老提这个话题,觉得很些不祥。
三月六号是个令人难忘的一天,在追问中马校友会的音响系统为何老犯头疯,唱校歌时总出问题,顿时引来一阵笑声与鼓掌,他站在那里春风满面,本想转身回坐,突然轰然倒地,结果抢救无效,撒手人间,也许这就是他完成夙愿。

随风而逝

Tibetan Buddha

Tibetan Buddha

It was a week before the Chinese New Year eve during 2011.As usual my wife worked very hard for the spring cleaning.But that year was different.Her sister had requested to stay in our house.I knew that she had this unusual habit to please the guests.So she worked feverishly hard to make sure that the house was spotless clean.Then she started coughing.At first she thought it was some minor problem and took the Chinese cough mixture.But the cough prolong and became chronic.One morning she coughed so violently that blood came out together with the spatum.I was shocked and immediately took her to Damansara Specialist Hospital.She received only outpatient treatment as the specialists were on leave during the festive season.However,the radiologist pointed out that there was a growth on her left lung upon examining her chest X-ray.They wanted her to be admitted.I told them that it was pointless to admit her if threre were no specialists around.Then I hunt around PJ and managed to find Assunta Hospital with Lung specialist.She was admitted immediately.During the one week stay,she went for various test.They took her spatum & blood sample and took many kinds of antibiotic.One thing was for certain,her chronic cough never subside even after the seventh days.The doctor told us that she contracted Pneumonia and there was no sign of malignant.The lung specialist did not investigate the growth that was raised by the radiologist of Damansara Specialist.Then I consulted my wife whether she needed another opinion as there were no clear sign of recovery.My client strongly recommended Dr Pakar Chin of Subang Jaya.This Doctor as I was told was the former lung specialist of SJMC.He came out and set up his own lung clinic.

We took all the X-ray picture of both Assunta & D’sara specialist & the medical record to Dr Chin.After going through the X-ray pictures,he reckoned my wife was having TB.He said that the so call “growth” was nothing but the scar after infected with TB.My wife faithfully took the bagful of prescribed antibiotic.Her health condition greatly improved and the cough diminished.Finally there was no cough.We were both delighted about the “miracle” cure.I took her to the monthly medical check up and also had the X-ray taken.We went to Pulau Perhentian on May 2011.She enjoyed herself like a healthy person.As her health condition improved further,she went To Chiang Mai with her close friend on Oct 2011.After the trip,I noticed that she began to shed her weight.Everything is OK except the peculiar weight loss.I never suspected anything amiss.Then she went with her sister to Kunming in November 2011.Her weight kept dropping and her chest was like those Jews in the Holocaust.Again I never suspected anything aweful.She went to Dr Chin for another X-ray taken.This time her left lung became “whitish” .It was like the entire lung was missing.Dr Chin assured us that it was the pleural fluid developed after having TB.”Nothing to be worried !” he said confidently.He tried to drained the fluid but having limited result.Then in December 2011 and during a routine massage,the masseurs discovered a bulge around her waist level.Damansara Specialist examined her and confirmed that she was having Hernia.She went for the operation.Somewhere around the Chinese New Year (2012) she developed Shingles around her chest(under the breast).Dr Chin gave the injection to stop the infection.We also went for traditional TCM to eradicate the “snakes”.Even though the Shingle was cured,she kept having this uncomfortable pain around her rib .I took her to the neurologist at SJMC .The expert told us that some middle age people did developed post Shingle pain.However the drug could never get rid of her pain.Then she suggested increase dosage.Still,the pain persisted.She was a bit disturbed when we told her that the drug did not work.But she never investigate why the pain could not be cured.Then she prescribed the expensive plastered type medicine.It did work for a couple of hours after applying to the affected area.The oral drugs had serious side effect such as depression.All this time,she hide all her suffering…

One day she suddenly broke down and cried profusely,”老的,我对不起你,我很舍不得离开你们。。。“she uttered in our lounge( I am sorry ,dear ! I don’t feel like leaving you all…)I was so shock and could not control my emotion.I did not suspect that this was回光返照。

To relief her suffering,I tried many things such as Chinese Bomoh, Accupuncture,Mild Electric Shock treatment and even STEROID.Only the latter can completely rid her of the pain.Finally SJMC suggested that we consulted the Pain Specialist in Selayang Hospital.

Before starting the diagnosis,she was asked to answer a questionnaire.I had a terrible shock when I saw some of her answer.

1)    What is your pain level  (1 to 10)   answer  9

2)    What is your suicidal tendencies…… (1 to 10)  answer 9

I was speechless and trembling.

The synergy drug from Selayang Hospital did not improve her pain level.In fact it had worsened the side effects.Finally I decided that enough was enough.I took her for another opinion.This time it was the Government Respiratory Institute located at Jalan Pahang.After examing her,the consultant wanted me to have an immediate CT-Scan of her.I nearly fainted when the doctor told me that she was having stage four cancer on her lung after going through the photo images. My wife gave me this sphine chilling stare from the distance by observing my facial expression.The cancer had in fact spread to other part of the body such as bone and liver.Her rib bone was like wood infested with termites. The pain was originated from the eroding of rib bones and not the nerve.The neurologist had diagnosed wrongly all along !!To confirm whether she was having the big C,she had to go for the risky bronchoscopy.She agreed with the test so positively and was fixed at  22nd May 2012.

She took the test on that faithful morning.However complication developed the moment when the probe nearly entered the intricate lung area.They had to abort the test as she suddenly had difficulty to breathe .Then came the inevitable – she had to be on live support as soon as they withdrawn the bronchoscope.An unpleasant omen flash through my mind,I started to weep.I suspected her day was numbered.I cried and cried.She took my hand and used her index finger to stroke my palm.The louder I wept,the faster and firmer the stroke.I felt that she tried very hard to comfort me.There was a complete silence in the Intensive Care Unit.I had this shear sense of hopelessness.

At  5:30PM I waived good bye to her as I had to fetch Joanne from school Six sense told me that she might not be able to live through night.I requested the doctor on duty to give me a call should her condition deteriorate .Then this heart shattering phone rang at midnight.”Please come to the hospital at once !your wife’s condition worsen….” uttered the words from the other end.

I felt dizzy but I quickly regained my composure.Within minutes,we were in the wards.The scene shocked me.They performed  trachealintubation on her .A metallic tube was shafted down her throat.I saw her struggling to avoid the uncomfortable insertion.The doctor then quickily administered heavy dosage of sedative.Her body immediately turned motionless.I called her by her name and she briefly open her eyes.After a glance,her eye lids rolled down.From that moment onwards.she never open her eye again.

Later she was transfered to KL Hospital as they had a better live support machine.I was told.

It was a stressful scene at KL Hospital.The housemen were working frantically to the ever increasing number of patients.The I saw this “housemen” took portable X ray picture of my wife every fifteen minutes.”Are they following medical code of ethic ?”I wondered.My wife remain motionless.She never respond to my repeated calling.Later her good lung was also infected with pneumonia.Her condition was getting more and more crtical.IEventually after the fourth cardiac arrest,the rib breaking CPR performed by the doctor would not bring back the blips on the scope.It was a continuous straight line…

The world fell apart. I took out the horrible tubing from her mouth and slumped onto her still warm body.I tried to cry but tears seem to run out.欲哭无泪—That’s what the Chinese say…

It was probably the darkest night in my life.

长夜漫漫。。。。。。。

Wrong Place Wrong Time

Visiting Philippines can be a risky experience.

At the end of one of my business trips to Philippines,I was sipping tea on the pool side of Peninsular Hotel ,downtown Makati City,Metro Manila.Then all of sudden I heard  this drone of an aeroplane high in the sky.As I looked up,I saw a WWII like propeller plane dashing pass like running for live !

“Ladies & Gentlemen,please take shelter in your room immediately ! There is a coup d’etat.”a blasting announcement from the hotel  PA system.I quickly went up to my room and had the curtain drawn.Out of curiosity I peeped through a gap of the curtain.”Shhhh………”Strands & strands of “red flashes” surged  pass my window with the aweful hissing sound .It left quite a lasting impression against the evening backdrop.I asked the room service about these strange phenomenon.The answer was nerve racking :- it was live BULLETS !The rebels  were exchanging fire with the Corazon Government troop at this hip business district !”Alamak !” my heart sank to its lowest.

Under this live threatening situation,any sane people would take refuge in whatever safe haven.And the street should be deserted,isn’t it  ?WRONG ! It was actually SHOW TIME for the Fillipino.People  regardless of age were gathered along the road ,stretching their neck to catch a glimpse of the  thriller.Then ”Bang !”   one of the “spectators”  fell to the ground and lie motionless.He must be hit by the stray bullet.Immediately the crowds ran helter skelter.But within minutes the crowd re-appeared ! UNBELIEVEABLE  !

Next the hotel management had an emergency meeting with all the room guests.They informed us that the rebels led by Gregorio Honasan was staging a coup d’etat against the Government of Phiippine President  Corazon Aquino.Currently they were  entering Makati area.Their snipers had taken position of the high rise buildings. The government troops were trying to flushed them out by firing at their strong hold which was at the opposite end of the boulevard right in front of the hotel .”Do not attempt to peep at the cross fire.Withdrawn your curtain and off all the lighting !Do not sleep on the bed as the stray bullets and shattered glass might injure you.If possible sleep on the bath tub !” .So I followed their instruction and was about to sleep on the bath tub .. Then there was this panicking loud bang on my door.”Take your important document and follow me to the cellar immediately ! The rebels were coming  !! Quick !“ the short of breath room service frantically knocked at every possible door.I quickly grabbed my passport and follow the rest of people  to the cellar.The general manger made an apology to us about this sudden events and he told us that  from now on we had to dwelve here for safety reason.Food and beverage would be on the house.

It was suppose to be Christmas Eve and Makati suppose to be packed with last minute shoppers. But the intense  sound of gun fire and the heavy artillery dampened our festive mood. The streets were now deserted .Apparently the rebels did enter the hotel  but  somehow the hotel  staffs managed to  clinch a deal with them and so we were spared from their inhuman treatment – cutting off electricity and telecommunication line.Other hotels was not so lucky.Imagined the hotel guests and staffs had to live under hot and humid condition.Not to mention the pitch darkness.

Instead of X’mas carols ,we were greeted by sporadic gunshot and mortar sound.The TV did not provide any useful  coverage.What it provided was the long winded interviews of top army chief.It  was Just like the interview of Soccer Manager before the official  kick off .And the annoying part was that it kept repeating.Nothing concrete had come out of the interview.The government appeared clueless.It was  much evident on the tit for tat exchange fire on Makati .The army did not make any advance.It was the rebels whom can roam freely !These went on day after day.Nobody knew what exactly the government would do next.The sense of anxiety coupled with insufficient sleep had taken a toll on us.Some of the guests were weeping at a corner.Others embraced each other. My colleague ,Terence,had actually wet his pants !To us each passing day is actually a blessing as nobody could guess what will be our eventual faith.Because of the danger,food supply to the hotel was  soon trickled to a halt and we soon run out of proper food.So we had to survive on the freshly made bread and water.

Then one day we were told that the rebels had agreed to let us board the bus to the airport.We were so excited and within minutes we all lined up with our beggages at the lobby.Led by a hotel staff with  a raising white flag,we began to step out of the hotel in the orderly manner.The scene I saw next was heart stopping .Guess what ?The street was “petrolled” by these dark skin dirty looking men clutching with AK -47 .(Just like the Amigos in Hollywood’s Spaghetti  Western)Magazine of bullets criss-crossed  their bare chest.They talked very loud among themselves.

Then all of sudden machine gun sound rattling on the air.All of us went ducking for cover .We managed to criss-crossed & regrouped at  the hotel lobby.The rebels,I was told,did not agree with the “initiative” offered by the hotel.After another round of “negotiation”,the rebels gave us the greenlight and we hurriedly boarded the waiting coach.I  had to pray hard that the rebels would not go berserk and rained the bus with bullets.As it slowly moved out of Makati,I could see many buildings’ exterior riddled with bullets.Some even had holes as big as mellon probably due to artillery bombardment.As the bus finally pulled up at the departure hall of the Ninoy Aquino International  Airport,most of us simply could not control our emotion outburst .Score of people knelt down and kissed the earth.Others weeped uncontrollably.Some jumping with joys … “OMMANIPADMEHUM” I said my prayer.

Compare to the recent slain of Hong Kong Tourists due to futile bid to overcome the gunman,I count myself lucky.

Heart Stopping Experience in Atlanta

 

One day,I was queuing to buy my snack plate in one of the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets in downtown Atlanta (Capital of Georgia).Suddenly,I saw one white man dashing towards the counter.Sensing something mishap,the floor manager quickly picked up the wall mounted phone and probably tried to call “911”.With a swift action,the white man reap the phone from the jaw dropping manager and dumped it on the floor.Next he planted the Rambo knife on the counter and ordered the frightening manager to empty  the the till.All this happened in just  a split of second.The customers whether sitting or standing acted like business as usual :- carried on their lunch and chatting as though nothing had happened.Unbelievable,isn’t it ?

When I shifted my vision to the door,I saw two black men guarding the door as though they were accomplices.Then I realized that I was being watched.One of the black guys with the look and size of Mr T from the US TV series –A TEAM was actually giving me this nasty spine chilling stare.Before I could swing my head away,he was right in front me.”What are you looking at ? F***** CHINK !!what a mother F***** !..”Then with a mighty push from his “elephant trunk” sized arm,I flung more than three metres away and narrowly missed the wall.Before I could regain my composure,he was right in front of me and uttered all the obscenity and waving his fist in the air.Survival instinct thought me to avoid eye contact with him and behave like a defeated animal.I immediately lowered my head to the  lowest level and treated his swearing like the West Indies Raggae.After yelling at me for quite a while,he left me to join his  accomplices in flight.

Again, nobody raised an eye brow throughout the scuffle.Maybe  crime is a norm in this part of the World.They said “Curiosity killed a cat”.I should take a cue from this to avoid the unthinkable !It really scare the hell out of me.