Monday, December 6, 2010

Inspiring Stories Need To Be Shared

Out of sheer boredom, I decided to visit my old blog and found an inspiring story that I heard while I was in hospital. The following is a recount that I wrote on my old blog..

Clearing the Cobwebs   (24th Feb 2009)

I duely apologise to my gentle readers for not updating my blog in months due to my military commitments. The problem of national security has not made me at ease to share my experience through such an open domain lest I risk my form of literary expression being closed down. Yet, fret not as I attempt to clear the cobwebs from the nook and cranny of this blog and update my gentle readers on the ongoings of my life.

For those who do not know, I was recently warded at Changi Hospital due to a knee infection which was incurred during my outfield training. My knee swelled to twice its normal size and a minor surgery had to be done to remove the pus and infection. I am now discharged and am focusing on recovery.

My first experience as a patient in a hospital has indeed been a colourful one as I met many different personalities during my week's stay. I am not at ease to go into details of these colourful personalities but I promise that it will be left to another post. However, within the week of my stay in the hospital I was entreated to an inspiring life story.

There was this elderly man who was admitted to the hospital on my third last day (I was warded for a week) for a urinary tract infection. Towards the final two days of my stay, I got acquainted with this man as he went on to relate to me his life story and how he struggled to make himself a considerable success in life. That man was absolutely elated when he found out that I'm from AC as he was an ACS boy many years ago during the era of those ancient principals such as C.B. Paul and such. As a summary of his life, he was generally dwarfed by the many famous kids in ACS (kids of Lee Kong Chien, the Shaw Brothers, Tan Chin Tuan) but he still managed to struggle through and got rather decent results.

However, tragedy struck as he contracted tuberculosis from his uncle during a short stay. In those days tuberculosis was absolutely fatal and that would deter many employers from employing you as should the illness have a relapse, it would incur a huge cost for any company. Hence, despite having recovered from the illness, he couldn't find any decent job except to be a temporary staff of the City Council (I think it's the equivalent of the Public Utilities Board in those days). It was a relatively easy job and he had much time on his hands and somehow, after reading books from the library, he developed an interest in photography and began to self-teach himself through books on taking photographs.

After having refined his skill he decided to take the sights and sounds of the places around him (he was staying in Mosque Street in Chinatown) and write stories based on his pictures. This interest in photography got him recognised by the local newspapers after publishing a few of his short stories and prints in a weekend newspaper. Soon after, he was engaged to publish a weekly picture column and he proceeded on to be a freelance reporter for the newspaper as he got to interview royalties (the various Sultans of Malaya) and other noted personalities.

His biggest break came when he went to purchase a new camera from Kodak and the manager, seeing that he was extremely knowledgeable with regards to photography and has established contacts with various photo studios around the country, employed him despite the knowledge of his medical history. He was promoted within the next six months and his monthly income (his job as an advertising and sales manager in Kodak, his work at the City Council plus his contributions to the local newspaper) amounted to over $500! That is a lot of money considering that a plate of noodles was only 30 cents then (the stats was provided by the man himself). His experience, interest and determination thus led him to eventually outdo many of the rich ACS schoolmates (some of who went on to be bums and waste their family fortunes) he had then as he got to rub shoulders with the rich and famous through his work with the newspaper as well as making camera sales to these personalities.

This is a story of a man's struggle to make something of himself despite his predicament. The inspiration of story is that this elderly man took an interest, refine it and took a stab in the dark and see where it took him. In today's environment of pressures and expectations, sometimes it is most important to listen to our hearts, take a chance and see where it leads us.

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