Monday, Oct 23rd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 00:00

Contribute Till the Last Breath; Volunteer Has No Regrets

Written by  TAN KIM HION, KL & SELANGOR

Despite being aged and weak, Ping-Jie at the age of 78, still very diligent and persevered at learning Dharma. She prayed with a sincere heart for a world with no disaster. [Photograph by Lin Zheng Sheng]

The notice to gather for chanting for the late Tzu Chi commissioner, Sister Heen Chooi Ping, Dharma name Ci Pin, was disseminated through the mobile phones to the volunteers in her community group. Many were stunned by the news but understood the theory of impermanence. At the Kwong Tong funeral parlour, the volunteers went up to “Ping-Jie” as she was fondly called and uttered softly, “‘Ping-Jie’, do reincarnate soon to the human world again. We will wait for you at the recycling station, do remember the vow you made with Master Cheng Yen.”


The will to be reincarnated into the human world

May 5, 2014, about 60 volunteers gathered at Kwong Tong funeral parlour. Everyone walked into the funeral solemnly and paid respect to Ping-Jie with three bows.

Cheam Yuet Mei (Dharma name Ci Zhi), who had known Ping-Jie for many years, walked to the casket and paid tribute Ping-Jie, who looked at peace and as if resting deeply in the casket. There and then, Yuet Mei remembered vividly the time Ping-Jie joined Tzu Chi; she was so involved in recycling. She would always cycle around everywhere to collect recyclables and would stack them up beside her house until recycling day, the third Sunday of the month. On recycling day, she would ask the volunteers to pick up the resources and sometimes it would take more than one trip to complete pickup of the load.

Ping-Jie joined Tzu Chi in 2003; because of her love towards Master Cheng Yen, she responded to the Master’s call and advocated recycling as a means of protecting the environment. She would ride on her old bicycle and collect cardboard, newspaper, plastic bottles and any recyclables that she could find at the market. Yuet Mei recalled how Ping-Jie would tie up the cardboard tightly and stack them up behind her bicycle, then slowly pushed it back home. At night, she would cycle to the Mamak (a term, considered pejorative by some, used in Malaysia to describe the Indian Malay mixed community and culture) stalls to collect milk can and washed the can at home. Yuet Mei, with tears in her eyes, stopped and recollected herself. She felt Ping-Jie had contributed her life to help out Tzu Chi on recycling.

Ping-Jie was not only proactive in recycling, she was also cultivating in the wisdom of the Master’s teachings. Yuet Mei remembered Ping-Jie had hearing problem and wore ear aid. Therefore, she used to speak very loudly and sometimes rudely. However, when master said “Kind words uttered are like lotus flowers blooming, unkind words are like snakes spitting poisons,” she never again uttered any rude words and learned to talk softly and politely.

When Ping-Jie fell sick at the age of 78, she could not help out at the recycling station. That time, when she met Yuet Mei, she hugged her and said sadly, “I’m old, I want to contribute more but I don’t have the strength, I have not done enough!”

Yuet Mei knew that Ping-Jie was knocked down while she was collecting recyclables on her bicycle, then her health deteriorated. Her knees were always sore and weak, and she needed a walking stick. Nevertheless, she never gave up. Recently, she regained some health and went out to collect recyclables again.

Yuet Mei did not forget Ping-Jie’s words, “I will do recycling until the day I die!” These words struck Yuet Mei’s heart. She found it hard to let go, however, she made a wish for Ping-Jie to be reincarnated in the human world again and care for this Earth with her hands again.

Love that has never been expressed

“She left just like that, without saying anything.”

Ping-Jie’s youngest daughter, Xiu Wei thanked the volunteers for the chanting. She told the volunteers that on May 4, Ping-Jie was alright when she left the house to conduct her piano class. When she returned home, Ping-Jie had collapsed in the kitchen with cooked food on the stove.

Xiu Wei quickly propped up her mother and called the ambulance. She tried to resuscitate her mother but there was no response. When the paramedic arrived, they confirmed Ping-Jie had already passed away.

It was unbearable moment for Xiu Wei. She said her parents are divorced and her mother single-handedly brought up Xiu Wei and her sister. Her mother used to be addicted to the game of mahjong (a Chinese game of skill and strategy) to divert hardship in her life. She indulged in the game day and night, but she never neglected her children.

“I grew up on at the mahjong table, because when my mother was at the game, she had to bring me along because nobody was at home to look after me.”

Xiu Wei remembered her mother sewed clothes and worked as a confinement lady, to make a living to support both her and her sibling. Her elder sister got married and had a family, Ping-Jie and Xiu Wei lived together. Xiu Wei also remembered her mother liked to scold others. However, her mother became so busy and spent her remaining life at the recycling station every day after joining Tzu Chi and eventually quitted the game of mahjong.

Xiu Wei was relieved because after her mother joined Tzu Chi, she became happier and she gradually reduced the urge to scold others. The environment in the home that used to be like a ‘tornado’has also become better. After Xiu Wei entered the workforce, only then did she realize that it was not easy to raise two children single-handedly.

With tears rolling down, Xiu Wei knew that her mother’s happiest moments was when she joined and contributed to Tzu Chi and especially at recycling. Because of that, Ping-Jie’s life became meaningful. Even though she fell from her bicycle, and knocked down by cars, nothing could stopped Ping-Jie from collecting recyclables. Feeling afraid for her mother, who was weak then and getting older, she had locked Ping-Jie’s bicycle. As it turned out, nothing could stop Ping-Jie.

These two to three years, Ping-Jie’s legs became weaker; she constantly stopped for a breather after walking and was no longer able to ride her bicycle. Xiu Wei was afraid leaving her mother at home, all alone, so she sent her mother to a care centre. She would pick up her mother after work; but she knew her mother was not happy at all, as she could not do anything at the care centre, just like other old folks waiting for the day to come. Ping-Jie thought her life was like a candle in the wind, any gust of wind would distinguish its’ light.

Realizing that life is impermanent and aging is inevitable, she was determined to use a walking stick and to stay at home to collect recyclables. She then sorted the recyclables accordingly, placed them beside her bicycle and passed them to any Tzu Chi volunteers who visited her.

When Xiu Wei saw her mother smiled again after doing recycling, she did not stop her, because she was happy seeing her mother happy. Today, in front of her mother’s casket, with all the flash backs, she realized she loved her mother so much, but she had never said “I love you” to her mother. Now in the funeral, she spoke about her hidden love within her to her dearest mother with tears rolling down her cheeks.

Volunteers moved forward to comfort Xiu Wei and shared to her how Ping-Jie used to share with the volunteers how filial her daughters are and how they cared for her. Even though Ping-Jie did not have the opportunity to also say “I love you” to her daughters, their love will forever be rooted in their hearts. Xiu Wei nodded her head after being comforted by the volunteers. The volunteers also asked her to look after herself well as this is the best way to return her mother’s kindness.

Old Bodhisattva who likes to do recycling

Ping-Jie has left this world, but her smile and images of her while doing recycling still remain. Volunteer Chen Ci Bao found it hard to accept the death of Ping-Jie. When she went over to Ping-Jie’s house to visit Xiu Wei this morning, their Malay neighbour, Normi Binti Idris sadly told her that she was still talking to Ping-Jie the night before.

To Normi, Ping-Jie was a very nice old woman who loved to do recycling. When she saw Ping-Jie limping to collect the recyclables and sort them accordingly she was touched by her contribution.

“Yesterday at six something in the evening, I saw Ping-Jie came back with cardboards tied next to her bicycle, she even asked me if I had my dinner. We talked for a while, then she went back for a shower, prepared dinner then she came out again and sat next to the swings and looked at her house. After a while she walked back to her house again.”

Normi was shocked and felt sorry upon the death of Ping-Jie. She remembered she had mentioned that all the money from the recyclables that she sold was not for her personal used but for Tzu Chi to embark on Charity and also protect the environment. Ping-Jie’s actions left Normi so impressed.

Ci Bao heard Ping-Jie was still doing recycling until her last breath, it reminded her in 2007, when Ping-Jie was interviewed by Da Ai TV crew, Ping-Jie raised both her hands and vowed firmly, “I will contribute for Tzu Chi, do recycling until my very last breath!” And she really did.

Looking at Ping-Jie, Ci Bao recalled Ping-Jie not only contributed so much at recycling after joining Tzu Chi, she was also very good at fundraising. She would walk or cycle to collect the monthly donations and would share with the volunteers happily about her new members. Regardless of her illiteracy, Ping-Jie was so diligent at preparing for the donation receipts. Ping-Jie is a role model for many volunteers and the local residents. They regarded her as the recycling Bodhisattva.

Ci Bao understood that Ping-Jie has no regrets. But she also gently reminded Ping-Jie not to forget how she vowed to the Master that she will follow the Master to walk on the Bodhisattva Path life after life when she was conferred as a Tzu Chi commissioner in Taiwan.

“Ping-Jie, rest in peace and come back to this life with your will again, we are waiting for you!”

Ci Bao knows, Ping-Jie had accepted the blessing from everyone and she will make her vow with the Master comes true.

 

About 60 volunteers gathered at Kwong Tong funeral parlour with blessings for Ping-Jie to rest in peace and reincarnate to this world again to do recycling. [Photograph by Lin Zheng Sheng]   Yuet Mei who knows Ping-Jie for a long time paid tribute to her and hoped that she will return to this world again to continue to recycle. [Photograph by Lin Zheng Sheng]

About 60 volunteers gathered at Kwong Tong funeral parlour with blessings for Ping-Jie to rest in peace and reincarnate to this world again to do recycling. [Photograph by Lin Zheng Sheng]
 
Yuet Mei who knows Ping-Jie for a long time paid tribute to her and hoped that she will return to this world again to continue to recycle. [Photograph by Lin Zheng Sheng]
 
After joining Tzu Chi, Ping-Jie contributed to recycling every day.She also made the point to clean all the bottles and cans before sending/selling them to the vendors. [Photograph by Low Get Lee]   Ping-Jie who loved master Cheng Yen not only helped at recycling, she also went fundraising. Every month, she would collect the donation, no matter how far, on her bicycle. [Photograph by Tan Ai Sun]

After joining Tzu Chi, Ping-Jie contributed to recycling every day.She also made the point to clean all the bottles and cans before sending/selling them to the vendors. [Photograph by Low Get Lee]
 
 
Ping-Jie who loved master Cheng Yen not only helped at recycling, she also went fundraising. Every month, she would collect the donation, no matter how far, on her bicycle. [Photograph by Tan Ai Sun]
 
Xiu Wei, Ping-Jie’s daughter who lived with her, was very sad when she realized she did not have the chance to say “I love you” to her mother. In the funeral, Xiu Wei said “I love you” with tears rolling down her cheeks. [Photograph by Lin Zheng Sheng]   Normi, a neighbour of Ping-Jie respected her. She saw Ping-Jie picked up cardboard while holding her walking stick, then separated other recyclables accordingly. She witnessed Ping-Jie contributed for recycling until her last breath. [Photograph by Lin Zhi Yong]

Xiu Wei, Ping-Jie’s daughter who lived with her, was very sad when she realized she did not have the chance to say “I love you” to her mother. In the funeral, Xiu Wei said “I love you” with tears rolling down her cheeks. [Photograph by Lin Zheng Sheng]
 
 
Normi, a neighbour of Ping-Jie respected her. She saw Ping-Jie picked up cardboard while holding her walking stick, then separated other recyclables accordingly. She witnessed Ping-Jie contributed for recycling until her last breath. [Photograph by Lin Zhi Yong]