My Father’s Hands

My Father’s Hands
for my father
Ranger Gandalf Ah Kong


He toils and toils and toils. Most times without a word. Lately, he says a little more, if we ask him. Questions and answers between a father and a daughter, as perennial as grass.


Some place else. He digs with his bare hands. 1976.

Why do we have to put Bobby to sleep?
– He’s grown too old.

Why are we burying him under the mango tree?
– He’ll make good fertiliser.


 Some time ago. 1982.

Why do tigers eat man?
– Man eats chicken. Tigers eat man.

That makes me sad.
– You can’t change that. That’s the circle of life.


Hamburger Hill. He sells some land for my education. 1990.

Why didn’t you just throw the letter away?
– You wouldn’t have forgiven me.

You’re right, I wouldn’t have forgiven you.
– I know.


He holds my hand. He walks me down the aisle. 1995.

What’s in your mind?
–  (Beaming) You’re now your husband’s problem.

What’s the best thing I did?
– You found yourself a good husband. 


 He flies 10,000 miles. 2000.

I feel a terrible pain.
– It’s just an ant bite.

It feels much worse.
– What’s the sound of one hand clapping?


Moonriver Lodge. Christmas 2009.

What are you growing?
– A rose.

– For your mum.


He tells me to throw it in the air. No tooth fairies in Merdeka Garden. 1976.

Will my friends laugh at me?
– Box them on the nose if they do. 

Will I feel better?
-You will be fine.

Will I ever feel happy again?
-You will feel happy again tomorrow.

Will my tooth grow back?
-You will always have teeth.

Will I still be beautiful?
– You will always be beautiful.



March 29, 2010
Poet-Artist Ranger PEK


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