Saturday, Aug 19th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 10 May 2015 17:14

Elderly’s Unwavering Determination amidst Sickness and Adversities

Written by  Julie Yen Yu Chu, Melaka / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Be it senior citizens or people with walking difficulties, everyone has seized the opportunity to devote themselves to the sutra performance of Dharma as Water. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Many at 50, and with fading memory, will try to run away from exhaustive and complex activities. Those physically unwell and with illness will choose to stay and rest at home. But there is a group who, despite their illnesses, will go against all odds to put in all their efforts in the sutra performance on “Dharma as Water”. Seven months into their practice, they have become more energetic and joyful, undeterred by their physical challenges.


 
Tzu Chi Melaka has initiated their weekly sutra study and sign language practice on Dharma as Water since November 2014, in preparation for the sutra performance to be staged at the Putra Indoor Stadium in July 2015 by Tzu Chi Central and Southern Region. Everyone grabs such a divine affinity to participate despite all obstacles.
 
Go all out to fulfil aspiration
 
In the sign language practice, everyone was seen practising hard on the gestures. Despite her physical difficulties and slower movements, volunteer Yeo Ah Mian always has a smile on her face.
 
Diagnosed with degenerative arthritis, Ah Mian had initially registered to perform in the seated position with simple performing acts as she was worried about her condition. Later, she decided to join the rest of her friends in the sign language team.
 
She has to withstand the intense pain and discomfort from holding a position for a prolonged time. Despite this, and with her strong passion and determination, she has never missed any practice. She said, “I am 67 this year and this might be the only chance, so I must grab it!”
 
Ah Mian is wearing knee bands for every practice, but she still loses her balance sometimes due to the pain in her legs as a result of repetitive practice. As she stood on the fourth level of the stage, everyone was nervous watching her, while she herself was afraid that her carelessness could affect the team’s performance.
 
But, she never gave up. She remarked, “We must conquer all difficulties and not quit half-way. So far, I am able to continue taking painkillers and will try to be in a comfortable position to reduce the impact.” Even though her body movements are not perfect, she always gives her best to fulfil her eventual dream.
 
Rise above challenges with a kind thought
 
In 2014, 79-year-old volunteer, Ng Ah Chan, slipped and fell at home, injuring her kneecap so badly that it had to be put in a plaster cast. She had been staying at home and was unable to join any activities until October when she was invited by community volunteers, Ng Geok Hoong and Lee Su Choo to participate in the sutra performance on Dharma as Water.
 
Ah Chan declined the invitation initially as she had not fully recovered then, but after much encouragement by the ladies, she decided to sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Moreover, as the performance is scheduled for July 4, 2015, she felt she should have recovered by then. She even talked to her legs, “Please get well soon so that I could accomplish more.”
 
However, Ah Chan had to face various challenges that came her way. She recalled, “At first, I could not bend my legs during the two-hour practice.” Due to two months of being in a plaster cast, her leg lacked exercises hence she was unable to bend it when she first joined the practice in November. She had to use a walking aid to balance her body weight and walk slowly with small steps.
 
It took a lot of energy and time for Ah Chan to make a round trip for rehearsals, and the practice environment was not comfortable or conducive, but she never complained or thought of withdrawing. She shared jokingly about the doctor’s compliment on her quick recuperation, which was faster than the youngsters nowadays; and that had motivated her to continue with the sutra performance.
 
There are 43 songs in total for the entire sutra performance. Being a seated performer, she has to memorize the lyrics and some gestures. This has proven a great challenge for an illiterate person like her. As she could not understand the graphic illustration at all, she has to depend on the instructor on stage and strive to remember all lyrics and gestures.
 
She laughed and said, “I have always chosen to sit close to the instructor and at a quiet place in order to focus and practise without interference.” She then said shyly that she could not remember things well due to her age but despite the many challenges, she has never been absent from the practices.
 
She enjoys the rehearsals and is always looking forward to each session. She is also deeply attracted by the sutra study and practice session, which is something that cannot be explained.
 
Strive to do good after learning about karma
 
In her 30s, volunteer Lee Sook Wah had undergone nine operations. She had been weak since young and she used to blame her mother for giving her such a body. She was always moping and considered herself unlucky, and that life seemed dark and gloomy. It was not until 2011 that she was invited by volunteers to participate in the sutra performance.
 
At the beginning, she had to rush back to Melaka from KL by train after work every Friday evening, followed by a bus trip, just to make it for the practice at 8 pm; and she often had a simple dinner during the journey. After six months of hectic travelling, she started to grumble but she gradually felt a sense of relief when she began to understand the Karmic Law of Cause and Effect from the sutra.
 
When she learnt about the grand performance last year, she immediately registered for it without hesitation although she would need to embrace the hectic travelling for eight months. In addition, she has to wear a neck brace to protect her injured neck. But, compared to the sections of the sutra performed in 2011, she felt she would gain much more from this experience.
 
“I am weak physically so I am willing to do more good deeds in this life as repentance for a healthy body,” Sook Wah said hopefully. She used to have migraine attacks every two weeks that lasted for a week each time and had to rely heavily on medication with occasional injections to relieve pain. Miraculously, that disappeared this year. She expressed joyfully, “My health has improved a lot; I believe I will only get better.”
 
 
The sutra performance on Dharma as Water has inspired many to take on the challenges they face and to seize the opportunity of working towards their goals despite old age and sickness. After a few months of practice, the Dharma is like a pure stream cleansing the mental defilements, arising not only from the physical illness but also from the emotional afflictions. With a determined aspiration, they are walking step-by-step towards a blessed life.
 
 

 
Despite her mobility problems from a past injury, Ng Ah Chan does not want to miss the chance of participating in the sutra performance. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Lee Sook Wah (2nd right) has not been in the pink of health but still rushes to the weekly practice of the sutra performance. [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]

Despite her mobility problems from a past injury, Ng Ah Chan does not want to miss the chance of participating in the sutra performance. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
Lee Sook Wah (2nd right) has not been in the pink of health but still rushes to the weekly practice of the sutra performance. [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]
 
Yeo Ah Mian is undeterred although she is constantly in pain from osteoarthritis. With a strong passion and determination, she has not skipped a single session. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]    

Yeo Ah Mian is undeterred although she is constantly in pain from osteoarthritis. With a strong passion and determination, she has not skipped a single session. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]