DEVOTION PART 1
Devotion is a word not often used these days where love is the common currency of expression between a man and woman.
If you want to truly understand it, you need to read this story.
When 70-year-old cobbler Ng Ah Bah's wife of 44 years suffered a stroke 10 months ago, leaving her immobile, he could not bear to leave her alone in their home.
So each day, he takes her in a wheelchair with him as he leaves his three-room HDB flat at MacPherson Link to go to work.
Slowly, painfully, he pushes Madam Yap Guek Neo, 67, to the bus stop to take service No. 135 to Marine Parade. There, he pushes her for another 10 minutes until they reach Katong Plaza, where he sets up shop.
Madam Yap sits and watches as her husband starts his work for the day.
Mr Ng told The New Paper in Hokkien: "Before my wife suffered her stroke, she was the one taking care of everything at home.
"We'd then go down to the stall and work together. Those were happier days."
As he thought privately of those times, his eyes suddenly filled with tears and he wiped them quickly with the back of his hand.
He said in a voice choked with emotion: "She is a very good wife, you know.
"This is the worst time of our lives. My wife and I, we used to be so happy. We may be financially poor in some people's eyes, but our lives weren't so hard then.
"But I have not thought of giving up, I cannot give up. Every road leads to Rome. If this one does not work out, we will just have to take another route. No one will starve to death."
He refused to consider sending Madam Yap to a nursing home.
"She will not be comfortable in the care of strangers and she won't be happy," Mr Ng said in a determined tone.
"She is my wife. I am responsible for her and I will take care of her until the day I die."
That includes changing and bathing her twice a day, helping her to the toilet and cleaning up after her, as well as feeding her three meals and sips of water. All these on top of doing the household chores, like cleaning up the home and doing the laundry.
When we visited Mr Ng last Thursday afternoon, he was wheeling his wife to the foot of a staircase leading to the second storey, where the toilet was.
He parked the wheelchair, half-lifted Madam Yap and slowly eased her up. They made their way up the stairs, one step at a time, gingerly. It took them 10 minutes to climb just eight steps.
Mr Ng said he has permission from the building management to allow him to accompany his wife into the woman's toilet and that he is grateful the other tenants don't mind.