A group of leprosy children on the seesaw. This photo was taken in the 1930s.

A group of leprosy children on the seesaw. This photo was taken in the 1930s.


Blood is Thicker Than Water

Love Beyond Boundaries

The mother lives in Sungai Buloh, the daughter in Gombak. A distance of only a few kilometres, it was so near and yet so far as neither knew the other was there.

Before they met each other, they already shared the same traits: both loved to cook and sing. They also did a lot of charity work and helped those in need. They enjoyed serving generously and bringing joy to others.

Both had the other in their hearts, and had for years tried to find each other but failed. Luckily both had strong faith in their respective religions. They were loyal to their own God and were rewarded with a very happy reunion, even though this reunion only came after 50 years of separation.

It was a lovely Saturday. Early in the morning, Booi Nya went to buy rambutans and told everyone she met at the coffee shop that she would be meeting her daughter in the evening for dinner. All her friends were happy for her and even gave her a few extra bunches of rambutans for free. They shared her joy and hoped that she would have the wonderful family gathering she had long waited for.

It was drizzling when we went to fetch Booi Nya at her chalet for the dinner. She was full of joy and showed us what she had gotten for her daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren and soon-to-be-born great-grandchild. She even invited one of her friends, Eddie Khoo, from Sungai Buloh to go along. Our small car was filled to the brim with our fruit hamper, five big bunches of rambutans and the five of us.

When we reached her daughter, Mazita's, house, we were greeted warmly by everyone there. We had not expected such a big turnout from Mazita's family. There were more than 30 people including her immediate family. Everybody treated Booi Nya like a distinguished guest. Some of them hugged her and congratulated her on finally reuniting with her daughter.

Mazita was very thoughtful and had cooked two Chinese dishes knowing that there will be Chinese guests. Besides that, she had also prepared cakes, pudding, fried chicken, syrup drinks, kuih (Malay cakes) and a variety of desserts.

Prior to this gathering, Mazita had called up to check what her mother's likes and dislikes were, and also to learn what Buddhists could or could not take. We told her that Buddhists do not eat lamb and beef, and Booi Nya could not take spicy food or food with coconut milk due to her gastric problem. This shows that Mazita cares about her mother's needs.

Mazita's family and all her friends and relatives were very welcoming and friendly. They showed their interest in Booi Nya's past and listened attentively to her story. They accepted her whole-heartedly. Booi Nya used her limited command of the Malay language to convey her thoughts and she was in very high spirits. Everybody was able to understand her broken Malay which was interspersed with some Chinese dialects. We noticed that they were communicating with their hearts and the ice broke very quickly.

There was a very touching moment when Mazita's second sister-in-law cried uncontrollably and kept on saying that it was God's work that both mother and daughter got to finally meet. She kept on praising Allah for His great plan! Booi Nya gave her a warm hug and comforted her. There was lots of laughter and everyone enjoyed the delicious food.

Before leaving, Booi Nya called her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren to the kitchen and presented each of them with gold rings and necklaces that she had bought using the money she had earned when she was young. They were all very touched by Booi Nya's gesture. Booi Nya had even made a patchwork blanket for her great-grandson who will be born next month. We were very touched by this gesture of affection which shows that blood is thicker than water.

I believe that evening was Booi Nya's happiest evening in her life. Along the way back, she could not stop talking, smiling and laughing and kept on saying that everybody was so affectionate. Because Mazita had given her a lot of food to take back, Booi Nya invited us to have another round of eating before we left for home. During supper, Booi Nya was still in high spirits and shared with us what she had heard and understood from the conversations during the gathering.

She then unwrapped the present given to her by Mazita's second sister-in-law which was a big hand bag. She said she has never used such a lady-like hand bag before and jokingly said that she would bring the bag along with her when she goes "bullshitting" to her friends in the settlement. From her expression and ways, we could tell that she was EXTREMELY happy. She even sang a Teresa Teng's song entitled "" Almost a Love Storyfor us to hear. After that, she kept on saying thank you to us for helping her find her daughter.

It is our hope that their family ties will strengthen through many more of such gatherings, and that they will visit one another whenever they are free. We hope this late reunion will make up for all the time lost during those years of being apart.

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