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Monday, November 14, 2011

Away in Baltimore

From Singapore to Baltimore

by C S Wan

Lulled by the gentle sway of the rocking cradle and cosily wrapped in the warmth of her blanket, our newborn granddaughter, Audrey, was fast asleep. Diagnosed with a defect in a blood vessel leading from her heart, she was due to undergo corrective surgery. My wife kept a close watch over her while I tried to catch up on my sleep after having taken care of her earlier in the night. Our son, Andrew, who had celebrated his birthday that evening and his wife had already retired to their bedroom as they had to take care of their newborn in the morning. Outside, except for the yellow glow of the street lights, all was dark and quiet as it was well past mid-night and most of the residents at Toh Yi Drive were already deep in slumber. However, in the living room of a house in Block B a light still glowed and the television was still airing CNN news on muted mode. My wife would cast occasional glances at the flickering screen to keep her awake. Then something caught her attention. A plane had crashed into a high-rise building. Was the network promoting another Hollywood blockbuster? Then the words “Breaking News” was splashed on the screen. Sensing something terrible had happened, she woke me up. We learned that a hijacked plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. We were overwhelmed with sadness and worry. Sad because so many innocent lives were lost in the tragedy and we were deeply concerned because in the midst of this tragic event and terrorist threat our son, Andrew, was due to leave for Baltimore. In October, with a heavy heart he bade farewell to his wife and baby girl who was still recuperating from a heart surgery and took a flight to the U.S. where he would spend two years at John Hopkins, Baltimore to do his post doctorate .
On a bleak winter night he sat all alone in his apartment and gazed at the snow-covered roof tops of the neighbouring houses. Perhaps in a moment of nostalgia, he penned this poem.

Away in Baltimore

By Andrew Wan

Bleary images of my loved ones

Waving behind a film of tears

As they recede into the flowing crowd

Streaming away, away from me

I-Chun _ a friend, wife and often more

Baby Audrey _ a new being

Just setting off from shore

Now miles and miles from Baltimore

I turned away the strength to find

In the noble cause I stay behind

For all the blessings come to me

I must return to humanity

So I move myself, trudge back to work

Even on weekends

though the loneliness bites

At times I meet a friend or two

And they help to put me right

You could say the saving grace

In my life was wrought

In the form of newfound friends

Whom I had never thought

Could be the torches to illuminate

the darker, rolling terrain of life


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