Soil, Life and Valley
- by Lee Chin Keong (Sam Tet Lower 6th @ 1975)

I was not so lucky to be born with a silver spoon
Never could I imagine the deluxe life of a tycoon
I grew to realize I must work hard to be wealthy
In a world marred by corruption and poverty

My childhood in Ipoh was a tad different from others
The games that we played were beyond wonders
Watching TV at our neighbours’ house was a no-no
Swimming was something I was told upfront to forego

We couldn’t afford the crèche or kindergarten luxury
How so if my parents barely made ends meet in reality
I attended my first day at Primary 1 in absolute thrill
But I’d never expected the catch up was a real uphill

My primary school life was much like a roller coaster
I excelled in one term but not in the next semester
Bahasa Malaysia was my mightiest enemy to combat
Chinese was the only subject I was proudly good at

I was determined not to be mediocre in my study
Secondary school days saw a big shift in my priority
I began to master Bahasa Malaysia in an osmotic way
The Malay poems I wrote could blow one’s mind away

I had indelible memories studying abroad at a university
It’s the time when I became independent and thrifty
While I had gone all out to enjoy my freedom in dignity
Achieving my final tertiary degree was my utmost duty

Somehow I landed myself in KL when I first graduated
Finding a place to live was something I was most frustrated
Psyching myself up to cope with the life of another big city
I soon realized clinching a right job could be quite tricky

Learning the ropes in my first job was a downright struggle
I was amazed with the office politics in the corporate jungle
My career growth had since been paved with adversities
And the future was bleak amidst all the dire uncertainties

I finally married my colleague after 2 years of courtship
Pauline and I had since gone through a life of hardship
We lived in low-cost flat and often ate at hawker centers
At times we envied others who could afford better shelters

My first-born son was the greatest gift of God ever given
Some wondered how and why his name, Zen, was chosen
He was a marvelous kid with a great sense for structure
We once wished he could be an engineer in the future

We were not spared by the late 1980’s regional recession
Late pay checks and wage freeze were no exception
I was then the sole breadwinner to bring home the bacon
Chances of getting a new job were like one-in-a-million

Just when I was on the verge of throwing in the towel
I was thrilled to see some light at the end of the tunnel
Our notion of migration occurred to many as a big marvel
We ended up uprooting ourselves lock, stock and barrel

Australia was an escape route we took in times of turmoil
An exciting brand new life unfolded on that foreign soil
Kangaroos, koalas, penguins, platypuses and what not
All the fascinating native wildlife that we never forgot

Landing a job in HP was my ultimate but sound move
My 18 years of loyalty are credible enough to prove
I get to know cultural differences by travelling globally
It is rare life experience that I shall savour gratefully

My second beloved son, Shaun, was born Down Under
His acute eczema shook us badly like a stroke of thunder
More often than not he was put on antibiotic prescription
Our doctors advised a humid country could be a solution

How true is the saying “Rolling stone gathers no moss”?
Relocating to Singapore to us wasn’t really a great loss
It has been a long 13 years since we live here together
At times we do wonder whether we’ll settle here forever

We never wish to end up leading a humdrum existence
For there are so much to broaden our life experience
While the spectre of death is brutally hard to accept
We should count all our blessings in every life aspect

I don’t normally subscribe to any particular religion
But here are the 2 words that I know the distinction
“God” is the word “good” with an “o” discarded
While “Devil” is the word “evil” with a “d” added

Ipoh remains as a homeland where my heart resides
The charm with a punch of serenity that it provides
An ideal place where my future retirement beckons
To retreat to my very origin like the homing pigeons

<< The writer has been working on the poem since the Christmas’s eve in 2006 and has finally completed it on the morning of 28th January 2007>>