"My happiest day will be the day I die"

She keeps out-of-date calendars.

The one for 2008 lies next to Miss Linda Ng's (not her real name) bed. Touch it and a thin layer of dust rubs off on your fingers.

Another calendar, for this year, is tucked into a drawer.

Every day, Miss Ng, 68, snaps off the faded rubber band and strikes out the date with a pen and ruler.

The first entry was June 15, 2008 - when she arrived at Spring Valley Homecare in Johor Baru. It has been four years, 26 days and counting.

What Miss Ng does not know is how much more time she will have to do this.

"My happiest day will be the day I die," she told The New Paper.

"I tick off every day that I am here. Now, I am (just) waiting to die."

Miss Ng, who is single, is among the 110 seniors living at Spring Valley. She suffers from schizophrenia.

Director Frankie Ker, 57, said she moved to JB from a Singapore home because she could not get along with the other residents.

As the petite woman spoke, her hands shook uncontrollably.

Apologising, she said: "I take medicine and they make my hands shake like this."

But when asked why she's taking medicine, Miss Ng frowned, saying: "I don't remember."

Neither can she recall details like her siblings' ages or when they died.

Shrugging, she would only say of her two sisters and brother: "We were not close."

The former receptionist took care of twomothers (her father had two wives) and a brother.

"They passed away. I'm free now but I'm old. Can't do anything," she added glumly. "Anyway, they were very irritating."

Then, she turned to a more pressing topic: Her thrice-yearly shopping trip to Holiday Plaza.

Shopping

Shopping

"When can I go shopping?" Miss Ng asked Mr Ker. "It's August, time for shopping."

She's upset with her guardian, who is her nephew's ex-wife. Not because the latter did not visit but because she was behind on payment.

Mr Ker said Miss Ng's guardian, fresh out of a bitter divorce, owes S$1,200.

The deposit and an extra month's payment have been used to cover the amount. The home charges $600 per month, excluding diapers and medicine.

Miss Ng pouted over the payment issue and said: "I want that money for my shopping. I want to do my hair soon, it's turning white already."

She visits the salon once every four months for treatment and to dye her hair.

Touching her shoulder-length hair, she added: "My hair is long already. Must cut."

The bill for the three-hour shopping spree, including buying clothes, comes to about RM300.

To fund her shopping, Miss Ng offered to work in the kitchen: "You can pay me RM3 an hour. If I work three hours daily, I'll have RM270 a month - enough for shopping."

"We'll see," Mr Ker replied.

"Your last trip was in May. So when's the next one? Not so soon, right?"

But Miss Ng was adamant: "It's August."

kohht@sph.com.sg


This article was first published in The New Paper.

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