In March, Jocelyn asked me whether she should join the NDP combined school choir group. For participation in the NDP group, it would mean months of hard work, rehearsal after rehearsal, sacrifices on every Wednesday afternoon and night during the initial training sessions, and every weekend’s morning till late night from June onwards.
We rationalized it.
Everywhere we go and everywhere we look, we see people going about their daily lives. Some of them keep repeating the same routine every day. Some of them choose to explore the many roads leading to Rome. If we were to execute the same routine day after day, we would not make any difference in lives. Put it simply, we would not get new results by using old habits.
Participation in NDP performance would likely be a once in a life time experience. Since opportunities come and go, why not give ourselves a chance to experience some changes in lives? By taking a less explored track, we might find pleasant surprises. We might surface new opportunities. We might engage in some defining moments. We might discover special meanings in lives.
One fine day, she hopped on to one of the coaches after school. She was excited to know more about Kranji Camp, the people she was going to meet, the choir group teacher she was going to work with ….And, would she enjoy the occasions.
I asked about her feeling when I picked her up at night after the training sessions in Kranji Camp. Exhausted but fun. She said.
I learned that the NDP mass rehearsals were organized into four National Education programmes on every Saturday evening from 3rd July onwards, leading to a public preview on 31st July and the D-day on 9th August. While the celebration began in the evening for the general audience, the day actually began at 10.30am in the morning for the performers.
Last Saturday night I picked Jocelyn up from school at around 10.40pm as usual. She walked out from the school gate in an easy and pleasant mood. She appeared to be confident and independent. Out of sudden I realized how much our nation has changed and how much Jocelyn has grown.
In my childhood days, all NDPs were held in the morning at Padang. Padang was THE ONLY PLACE for such large scale national event. We watched the soldiers and uniform groups matching passed the window of our little rented house. Today the window that I used to lean on had already disappeared from the Singapore landscape. With more infrastructures available in Singapore, the NDP only returned to Padang after five years. While private car was considered as luxurious and extravagant for my family and many of my neighbours then, I drove Jocelyn home after every rehearsal nowadays.
(The lost scene)
Of more significance, Jocelyn was no longer the baby girl whom I used to hold in my arms. In another few years, she would fly away from me to explore her world through her own feet. I felt that my eyes were glistening with warm tears.
Jocelyn did not notice it. She still felt excited about witnessing her primary school teachers leading the P5 students to their seats at Padang. That scene triggered her memories when she was one of the P5 students once upon a time.
What? Once upon a time? It was only just three years ago!
She felt proud that she had made the right decision to carry on with the beacon which passed down by her seniors. In so doing, she had brought happiness to the fellow citizens surrounding the Padang. She looked forward eagerly to celebrate the joyous occasion with the entire nation on the D-day.
Well, the greatest happiness is neither how much material wealth we possess nor how much love we receive. It is about how much we have contributed in creating better quality lives for each other. 施比受有福as the Chinese said. With every generation comes and goes, each passer by has made an impact on each others’ life. For every smile we embrace, there is more to be grateful for. When it's all over, it's not who you were. it's whether you made a difference.