Uncle Baba

Is there a person you should’ve thanked, but never had the chance? Is there someone who helped you along the way without even realizing it? Here’s your chance to express your belated gratitude.

Yes, I believe there were many but there was one who was always there for my family since I was perhaps a toddler. He was my dad’s buddy and all of us know him as Uncle Baba. He was rather small in size as he was about 5 feet tall and slim built. It was rumored that he was a jockey. He loved to ride motorbikes that required the rider to bend his body down to hold the handle bar. It looked like his body was hugging the fuel tank. Come to think of it, it could be due to his size.

Singapore’s weather is generally humid and hot but Uncle Baba always wore his black leather jacket to ride his bike. Fortunately, black leather pants was not in fashion or available then. He worked at some kind of warehouse that store frozen foods and supermarket supplies. When he visited us after work, he would have goodies stuffed in his leather jacket like frozen sausages, ham or canned foods. Sometimes I wondered how he even managed to stuff jars of pickles in that jacket and was able to ride the bike the way he does, to our house to share the loot.

When I was in kindergarten, my family went on a road trip to the nearby hills of Malaysia. We traveled in a convoy of cars. Uncle Baba of course couldn’t ride his bike so he had to sit in one of the cars. He sat behind in my dad’s car looking after me and it seems that he had motion sickness and was feeling unwell during the journey. However, he still took the time to chat with me and looked after me through the journey.

He was a chain smoker and always had his Camel cigarette pack tucked in his shirt pocket but during the journey, he was not able to smoke as I was in the car and he persevered on until we reached the destination hours later.

After some years had passed, I gradually saw less of Uncle Baba as he had retired and was suffering from serious gastritis that kept him house bound. He was looked after by his wife and daughter so our family managed to visit him a few times to see how he was. He sat with us to chat although he was visibly in pain. I felt saddened by his state and wished I could do something for him. He had lost almost all his teeth due to his heavy smoking and excessive coffee drinking. I believe his stomach problems were also due to the same addictions. Later on I heard that he passed on and I wondered why his family did not inform us until much later.

Uncle Baba, thank you for being such a wonderful Uncle. You have showered us with your love in your own simple way and always put us before yourself. I know my dad was very fond of your friendship and my family also loved your company. God bless you always.

Never Too Late – DP