death by paper cut

{September 15, 2006}   a tribute to elizabeth choy

anything repeated one time too many becomes contrived and meaningless. in singapore, the message of survival, perseverance and hope for a better future plays like a broken record. perhaps the only way for these messages to be more than mere words is for each generation to go through the experiences of war for itself.

i so not think that these are merely words for people who had gone through the japanese occupation, fallen or survived, but more often than not these words are immortalised only in death.

elizabeth choy passed away at a ripe old age of 96 today. she and her husband endured kempeitai torture met out by the japanese occupiers and survived, yet she maintained we must have enough courage in our hearts to forgive the people who did terrible things during the war.

the closest portrayal of the anguish experienced by those who lived through the japanese occupation was in the channel eight drama series, the price of peace. xiang yun played elizabeth choy, and although just a dramatization, the scene of elizabeth choy suffering between electrically charged probes was deeply etched in my mind.

what i witnessed was merely a reenactment, it wasn’t for elizabeth choy, and yet she has the courage to forgive. perhaps those who suffered along side elizabeth choy were happy enough to live one day at a time, not knowing how long this hell on earth was to last, but now having laid to rest in peace and not war, those like elizabeth choy are able to truly value the price of peace.

we will all be laid to rest one day, the question is not when, but in what circumstance. i really do hope that succeeding generations of singaporeans, who might not have any war veterans in their life time will still be able to value the price of peace, distinguish dramatised trivialities from matters of life and death and like elizabeth choy, have the resilience of steel to care for the welfare of others in spite of their own hardship.

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