We’ve Lost January
And so January comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Initially I feel disconcerted, as if I have lost track of time, lost control of myself or am simply lost. Maybe it feels that way because I have spent half the month away documenting NAEMSP 2019 Who Said What And Who Cares. So Austin Powers Up Our NAEMSP Social Program, and thankfully Houston We Have A Solution for stranded doctors mid-journey. By the time I return it is a whirlwind of shifts, getting to know the new batch of junior doctors and of course, belated birthday celebrations.
In the midst of the madness, there is one day in January that stands out as being particularly awesome. I don’t know why since I was sleep-deprived and running on fumes of a distant dream. Regardless, I felt light-hearted. It happened last Friday.
It is one of those days where I’m cobbling together a couple of hours’ sleep in as many days. I wake with a start when my nurse calls to remind me about a series of meetings we have that afternoon. I leap into a bright cheongsam to disguise my exhaustion and head over to Singapore General Hospital. We discuss some cool tech components to add to our research in 2019 as we continue to Dare to Dream.
Then, in between meetings, my team surprises me with a decadent birthday cake. I am ecstatic, speechless & grateful. What a touching surprise.
Of Night Shifts & Puppy Love
After a quick stop at home to see the children for dinner, I head to KKH for night duty. That night the crowd is thick and the air, heavy with tension. To make matters worse, processes are delayed when the computer system broke down. However, with the help of my efficient nurses and hardworking juniors, we manage to pull through relatively unscathed. What more can one ask for? Other than computer systems that don’t break down of course.
The best part about night duty is the feeling of relief when it ends well. The next morning, my new puppy, Mara, picks me up from work with a volley of barks and a storm of licks on my face. I am overjoyed to see her too and demonstrate my love the human way, by snapping selfies with her.
Focused On Cheong Soo Pieng
Later that day, I meet Nan at the S.E.A. Focus, an art fair at the Gillman Barracks visual arts cluster: https://seafocus.sg/. The highlight for me is the Cheong Soo Pieng exhibition by Art Commune. I love his range as he evolves with his life experiences.
As Cheong Soo Pieng was born in China in 1917 and educated in the Beaux-Arts manner, he was not only a master in traditional Chinese painting but exposed to the fundamentals of Western modern art. Subsequently he fled to Singapore to escape the Chinese Civil War and included scenes from Malaya into his art. An example is, Going Home, circa 1950-52, in which he uses Chinese ink with splashes of colour on paper.
Later in 1952, he journeyed to Bali with other artists whom I admire, Chen Wen Hsi & Liu Kang, and returned with a new perspective, known as the Nanyang style. This is evidenced by the blend of Cubism with Malayan everyday themes, such as Still Life With Fish And Bottle in 1957, using oil on masonite board.
When Cheong Soo Pieng went to Europe in 1961-63, he learnt even more about abstract work. Consequently, he produced a series of stylized works including Landscape No 3 in 1965, which is oil on canvas.
Most of all, my daughter M5 adores CSP’s portraits of ladies. As M5 is not with us that day, Nan & I take a special photo for her, with a portrait of a lady, posing just so.
Family Dinner And The Last Note
After that, we head to my brother’s apartment where he & wife are throwing a small dinner party for my 40th. While M4 & M6 help in the kitchen, M5 lays the table. After dinner, the kids have a grand time with the cake & candle, mostly fighting one another to blow it out on my behalf. It is raucous and silly and we have so much fun.
On my way home, I realise I am in the same orange dress and I cannot help but wonder if it is a lucky dress. I mean, in the space of 24 hours I have learnt so much and had such fun. And then of course I realise with a start, that it is not the dress. Rather, God is good, turning 40 has been wonderful and I am happy to bid January goodbye. Finally I’m in good stead to embrace the rest of 2019.