Kindness @ Chingay

Despite being Singaporean, I have not been to a single Chingay Parade in my entire lifetime, and have always displayed little interest in it. Well, this held true until only a few weeks ago, when tickets to the parade somehow found their way into my hands and I found myself heading down to Promenade station to catch the show.

Personally, until I went to experience it, I had never expressed interest in the Chingay Parade. I had heard tell of the many exciting things that happened during the performance, but I figured, why go to the trouble of going the long way to the venue, having to sit it out amidst the screaming throng in the stifling tropical heat, when you could catch it all on television? It just didn’t make sense to me. But after attending the show, and witnessing first-hand how the performers actually poured so much of their heart and soul into the effort they took to prepare their item, I gained a new appreciation for the Chingay. Yes, I think, it is worth it to go all the way to the parade to witness the spectacular sight. Nothing beats being there yourself.

One particular item that stood out to me was the act on ‘Resilient Singaporeans’. Now, this was actually one of the acts I was looking forward to because my aunt, Janet, was going to be featured on it. Even though it took up very little of the show time, I felt it was the one that made the most impact. And why is this so?

Many people among the Singaporean family are handicapped, disabled, or ill. Despite them being ever-present in our daily lives, whether we see them on our way to work or school, we don’t really notice them. Now and then, charities would pop up asking for donations on improving the lives of these people, or helping to fund research, but these events are merely a blip in our memories, quickly overwhelmed and forgotten.

Have we ever given much thought to the daily struggles these people go through? Simple actions for us, things we take for granted, come difficult to them. Things such as walking and seeing are constants in our lives- imagine if it were taken away. Imagine if we had to live without our sight, or unable to walk. Many of us would feel disadvantaged and crippled. But, I said imagine. These people don’t have to.

What does it take to accept things as they are and move on with life? Surely, it can’t be that easy. And yet, what I noticed is that when we actually meet these people, more often than not they seem happy. They are very generous with their smiles and laughter, and contribute to the light-heartedness of the society. Despite their disabilities, they have more than made up for it in many other aspects, such as level-headedness, and strength of will.

My aunt herself has been an example of these traits more than once. Whenever we go to my grandmother’s house for dinner, the dinner table would always become livelier with her arrival. Some topics never get old, such as the subject of traffic. It is really funny when she begins talking about traffic because she sees it from the perspective of a handicapped driver with all her challenges.

I’ll bet she isn’t the only one. The point is we should be appreciative of their ability to stay upright in today’s modern context, and their ability to stay strong despite the many obstacles they encounter in life.

‘Resilient Singaporeans’ isn’t just an act in the Chingay Parade, it is many other things. It is an act of kindness that the Chingay organizers have taken the time and effort to plan this segment to recognize these special people in our midst.   It is a piece of magic in the woven tapestry which is Singapore’s unique culture. It is a story about disadvantaged people, who, despite looking different on the outside, all possess a resilient spirit that shines through to inspire the rest of us.

Submitted by Puah Rui Xian, 15, Cedar Girls’ Secondary School.

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