in a child's words

Our hearts were heavy. When I first learnt of the heartbreaking news that Mr Lee Kuan Yew, our first Prime Minister had passed on, I had to take a moment to compose myself. At 4 plus in the morning, in the silence before the day broke, I had my opportunity to quietly pray for our leaders.

On the way to work, we spoke to C about it.

In the evening, C related to us what had happened in School; how her school mates and teachers observed that one-minute of silence and the national and school flags flew at half-mast. I told her that we could leave a message for him and I asked C to think of something she would say.

C, being 10 years old, probably does not understand us when we talk about politics or the impact Singapore has on the world economy. Yet in her child-like innocence and simplicity, she expressed herself succinctly, giving thanks to Mr. Lee for the things that some of us might have taken for granted.

Running water, no, clean running water from the tap is not something every country in the world enjoys but we do. We have friends from different racial backgrounds and we never bat an eyelid or feel uncomfortable to be around them. I added to her list with these: we live in a country where we are free to choose our religion, where education is for all and not a selected few. We live in a country where we do not fear for our safety even when we are walking home alone late at night. I have left my front door and gate unlocked through the night thrice and we woke up the next morning to a home intact. C notices details when we travel to less developed countries; we had to brush our teeth with bottled mineral water, some toilets did not have flushing systems, some children as young as 7 years old had to peddle goods along the roads and at traffic lights. We are glad that she sees these and know that she is indeed fortunate. 

Today, we made our way to pay our final respects to this great man. We were all geared up to join the crowd at The Padang; I had prepared snacks, brought a hand-held fan, even took some plastic files in case the children needed to sit along the way. Aunt Ven picked C up from school and gave her lunch. Aunt Ven even bought flowers... 

Thank you, Aunt Ven! B and C took some time to pen down their thoughts.

Aunt Ven and Uncle Alsonn had earlier gone to The Padang and had to turn around. We then had to make the decision to go to one of the 18 Tribute Sites as we did not want to miss the opportunity to give our thanks.

At the PAP Headquarters where the children presented their flowers, and we all had our heads bowed. We said a silent prayer and I had to fight back tears.

The children writing down their "thank you"s. 

and I wrote mine. "Thank you, Sir!"

A final chance to take a picture with Mr. Lee.

Sir, I promise that we will build on what you have left behind. We will be mindful that our actions have and will impact the peace and prosperity we enjoy and let us never take for granted the harmony we have. For B and C, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was not just a man they read in books. He was definitely a lot more than that and for them to have the chance to thank him and bid him farewell, we hope that they would tell their children in the future what a great leader Mr. Lee was.

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