“Mummy, can I bring a flower for this man?” Z asked. I quizzed what inspired him to suggest this.
His response was sweet. If this man had done so much and we had to thank him, we ought to give him flowers.
“What did you learn in school about Mr Lee today?”
“He was a very fierce man. He did not allow people to chew gum. He did many things for Singapore.”
It was true. While he did not always have popular policies, what he did was always good for Singapore. The start of the mourning period changed the regular programming and Z had a crash course on Singapore history, the Singapore story which I was so well acquainted with and memorized for the O level examinations.
He learned how we were a British colony, how we were occupied by Japanese forces, how Mr Lee Kuan Yew had tried to fight for our independence and how much hope he had pinned for Malaysia to protect us. Z learned about the need and importance for every Singaporean man to be a soldier and protect Singapore, and why he should take on his national service with pride in future. He learned why flats were built because every Singaporean should have a home and a place that they wanted to defend. He learned why we were a garden city because concrete towers would overrun the landscape. He learned how difficult it was to clean up the Singapore river. He learned what corruption was and how Mr Lee stamped it out.
He also learned that hard work was the root to success, and dreams could not turn into reality without discipline. He learned that bilingualism was essential and we could not feign to not know our mother tongue.
We had many more lessons to learn. Indeed, the Singapore way was your way, your influence and may your spirit always be our guiding principle in life.