First off, a Happy Lunar New Year to all the readers of this blog.
Regulars might know that the previous year of the Goat had been a bitter-sweet experience. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer but I was also blessed with the birth of my son. I was hyper alert during the last few days of the year of the Goat because somehow I felt vulnerable after everything which happened to my family. A consequence of that was I pre-poned work on my research paper in anticipation that troubles would not allow me to finish them in March.
Turns out the paranoia was justified.
Just this afternoon, my dad fell down and had a nasty gash above his right eye and I spent about 7 hours at A&E at Khoo Teck Puat. My dad is ok now and resting at home, but I only finished my reunion dinner at about 10.30pm. It is actually fortunate that my wife was also not present today as she is confined at my in-law's place with my two kids. So, technically I had reunion dinner alone at the Subway when I had a sandwich waiting for the doctor's report.
The Year of the Goat would have been on balance good for Tigers. But it did not turn out as optimistic as I had thought. The year of the Monkey is supposed to be bad, but I guess it's something which would unfold over the next few months.
Nevertheless, it's great to survive a tough year and move on.
I am grateful for what I have.
Strange that this year is the one which I anticipate the least awkward questioning from all the relatives.
When I was single, people asked me when will I get a girlfriend.
When I got a girlfriend, people asked me when I will get married.
After I got married, people wanted to know when I would have kids.
After I had my daughter, people wanted to know whether I should try for a son.
Now I have a son and a daughter, the only question is whether I will get a job but I think I would not get so many questions in that area as I am quite public about my retirement and I have three semesters left of school.
Actually, I am not out of the woods because relatives react to life situations, I would have to endure questions about my HBA1C readings this year.
The truth about me is that I wrote off the Western notion of happiness quite a while ago. The Western notion of happiness is about following your passion. You find it on Facebook with the smiling faces of the folks who wanted to dodge the bullet and decided to travel somewhere else to avoid the inquisition from relatives. Western psychology has all the answers - buy experiential goods instead of material goods. Fake a smile to feel good inside. Hang out with folks who are relatively less wealthy than you are and you will be happy.
The Eastern notion is not an easy pill to swallow. Xing4 Fu2 or 幸福 is happiness in the Eastern context and beyond the individual's control. Your relative's conception of 幸福is the formation of the nuclear family with at lease one son and one daughter, they get to declare whether you are 幸福 or not. 幸福is also beyond the reach of a "selfish single".
I guess I am fortunate to be an only child. There is no sibling out there to carry out the proper duties of a son so I don't get to dodge the bullet. Over the years, I ticked every single box to make it less embarrassing to face relatives during the Lunar New Year.
But this year, at age 41, there is a slight change to the rules of the game.
This year, I get to ask the embarassing questions.
But I will be kind and use my newfound powers judicially...
恭喜发财 ! 万事如意 !