50 First Conversations
one of the aged women at the home.
A conversation with one of the old folks during a visit at the Bunga Tanjung Old Folks’ home went something like this.
“Where are you from?” Asked one old lady.
“KL (As in Kuala Lumpur),” my friend, who also joined the community service answered.
“I’m from KL too. As in, Kuala Lipis,” the old lady answered cheekily.
Giggle giggle giggle. My friend thought this was funny too.
Three minutes later.
“Where are you from?” the same old lady asked again. By this time my friend was perplexed.
“Err…KL?” My friend answered, this time hesitatingly.
“I’m from KL too. As in, Kuala Lipis,” the old lady giggled again. My friend forced a laugh.
Four minutes later. “Where are you from?” At this point my friend was exasperated, but sad as well. That was exactly how we all felt. When I volunteered to join the group to do some community service by visiting the Old Folks’ Home, I supposed what I had imagined was happy older people all gathering together at the living room, while one of us would be playing guitar and we would all sing along to Sudirman’s ‘Balik Kampung’ or something.
Instead it was quiet, and it was lonely. The all sat in silence outdoors, or indoors, but the too olds would be napping away and the physically fit ones were just sitting around staring into an empty space. The ones on wheelchairs looked like they could use a person taking them for strolls in the parks, or at least someone to talk to. All I saw when I stepped into the house were my parents; I wish they will never, ever have to spend their last years sitting silently just watching the days pass by.
The place was decent, clean and airy. But as I sat there watching them, moving slowly and not being able to speak, or recall their thoughts, I just felt devastated. Another old lady asked me for my name and shook my hands for five times in fifteen minutes. I pasted a smile because I felt that it was the least I could do to understand what they were going through. As we drove back I think all of us couldn’t stop thinking, it’s inescapable. Death awaits everyone. And as how God created you from nothing into something, into nothing you will become again.