I’m merely an onlooker in these events which took place over the past few days in the condominium where I live.
A couple of days ago, one of the nicest neighbours — who has been living quietly among us for more than a decade — made the news headlines. He will become the next head of Singapore’s Civil Service.
I can’t think of a nicer person to be given the post. He is humble with a capital H.
Sure, we’ve never exchanged more than a few words of pleasantry whenever we’d run into each other over the years and I don’t think it’s more than a handful of times. But there’s always a smile, a wave and if we are within speaking distance, a greeting.
The other equally joyous event I heard about early this morning while taking my usual leisurely stroll up and down the stairs from my unit to the ground floor, up to the 17th floor and then back home again.
On the 17th floor, I ran into the maid from the 15th floor and asked whether she was exercising too. She said no, but “my Aaron (her 10-year-old charge) is having his birthday party today.” Implying that she was at the 17th floor multi-function room for the condo to see to the details.
After lunch, when mum and I were heading out for a drive, I found the driveway blocked by a van delivering stacks of folding chairs. I wondered why the 15th floor family wasn’t using the chairs in the function room but gave it no further thought.
On our return, there were so many cars that they overflowed beyond the gateway to the lots normally used by large delivery vans.
Aaron’s party was starting early I thought.
Then I was a bit taken aback to see what looked suspiciously like a hearse in the driveway, somewhat blocking the drop off point to the lobby. There were four pots of artificial flowers marking a rectangle inside the vehicle which had open glass panels on all sides.
Be4 this afternoon, I’ve never ever seen a hearse in my condo in all the years I’ve lived here, so I assumed that it wasn’t one but some new fangle delivery van.
Yet when I pulled up behind it, I saw it was indeed a hearse. Then as more and more people got out of their cars, I noticed that they were all Indians and headed for the 10th floor.
I know only one Indian family on the 10th floor and they have been there even be4 we moved in. Could it be one of the family members? Perhaps there are other Indian families on the 10th floor?
I was tempted to call the security guard at the gate to check but decided against being a busy body.
As I write this, Aaron’s party on the 17th floor seems to be in full swing as I can hear the loud, if somewhat tuneless, strains of Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to You.
Yes, life goes on. All within the same condo. Grief and joy co-exist. More joy than grief though as experienced by the families who are my neighbours.