Turning 64 – 3 changes, 2 wishes and 1 question

A Singaporean nasi-lemak savoury coconut rice, shrimp and chicken wings birthday cake

I turned 64 this weekend. That’s a chunk of years. And, from all the lovely greetings you’ve all sent, I’m blessed by a ton of friends.

My heart thanks all of you!

Sadly, unlike previous birthdays, we haven’t had the usual round of face-to-face meals, coffees and teas to get current on each other’s lives.

So, inadequate as it may be, here’s the quick run-down:

3 big changes between this birthday and the last one

  • I was officially diagnosed with cognitive impairment
  • My first and only grandson morphed from blob to walking speaking human being
  • My new book The Ash House came out with Penguin SEA

I’ve been losing words and experiencing short-term memory lapses for a while. The diagnosis makes it official. My mother had the same issues. My brain scans look exactly like hers. Medical advances can provide pictures of what’s wrong. There is no remedy though.

That’s why my grandson acquiring motor and language skills is such a heart in mouth experience. There’s the thrill of watching that old human evolutions story playing again in its always unique way. But there’s also the worry. Has he inherited my mother’s and my genes? What will his brain scan look like at 60? Will science offer a solution then?

The release of The Ash House is sweet and bitter in the same way. I took up the moniker ‘full time writer’ in 2017 when I turned 60. I wasn’t writing fast, but I’d thought I might go the distance slowly. Now, my runway’s been shortened. It takes longer to shape a paragraph. Without thesaurus, I’d be lost for words. How many more books can someone going ga-ga write? And will they be considered worthy of reviews?

I know I’m worrying myself needlessly with all my questions. One can only do one’s best. And maybe, send a few wishes out into the universe as well.

Here are my two big ones:

2 birthday wishes

  • For a Singapore that sees and respects everyone
  • For 100 reviews of The Ash House on Goodreads

I just signed a petition on change.org asking the authorities to reconsider the ferrying of construction workers in the back of goods vehicles. This issue has been debated since at least 2009. The negative impact on operating costs has always been given as a reason to say no. Apparently, dollars trump foreign workers’ lives !?!

Maybe, it’s a calculation we accept because we don’t see the ubiquitous foreign workers in our society as equal human beings. Maybe, since we’ve already ghosted them, neither the conditions of their lives or their deaths matter.

I don’t know, but the newspaper articles about abused foreign domestic workers, suggests we are selective about whom and what we chose to see.

We have just passed legislation to more properly protect child victims of sex abuse. Come 2022, the government’s White paper on Women’s Issues will be presented. We are making progress for our own people. Why then are we so tardy about the strangers and the aliens in our midst? Were our ancestors not strangers and aliens once? Isn’t how we treat the weakest in our midst the true indicator of how humane we are as a society?

Which leads me to my new novel, The Ash House . . .

The Ash House, marketed as a ghost story, is more than a tale about spectres. It’s also about the unnamed and unnoted women migrants who have been ghosted in Singapore from way back when till today. It’s about their hunger, their anger, and their attempts to claim power. That’s why it’s dedicated to the shelter for abused domestic workers managed by HOME (the Humanitarian Organization for Migration economics). That’s why I’m sending out a wish for 100 reviews on Goodreads.

Once a book gets 100 Goodreads reviews, there’s a quantum leap on its visibility to search engines. It is no longer a ghost. Which means more sales. Which means more money to share with HOME.

We’ve been talking about safer transportation for foreign workers for more than a decade.

The latest petition on change.org is up to 37,000. We need to go beyond 50,000 to really have an impact. Will we get there?

As for the reviews of The Ash House on Goodreads.

We’re at 18 reviews and rating so far. 100 seems impossible? Is it?

I’m a believer in the power of one.

It’s magical what can happen if each of one us does what each one of us can.

So, the one question:

What will you do today for a Singapore that sees and respects everyone?


Oh yes, in case you’re wondering about my cake . . . It’s a nasi lemak birthday cake that tastes as good as it looks, and it’s from nasilemakindulgence.com.

5 Responses to “Turning 64 – 3 changes, 2 wishes and 1 question”
  1. Maretta Emery says:

    Happy Birthday Audrey. Praying the cognitive impairment proceeds slowly. You are still very articulate. I’m sure that diagnosis won’t slow u down in the near future.

    • Audrey Chin says:

      HI Maretta
      Thanks for dropping by.
      How are you?
      The progress of the Cognitive Impairment depends on whether I’m more like my grandmother or my mother. The former came crashing down. With my mother, it was a gentle landing. We’ll see.
      Gingko pills are supposed to help.
      Also singing lessons. (As I’m tone deaf, haven’t acted on that yet.)

      • Maretta Emery says:

        Tone deaf…. You and me both. We r great. Love to read your notes. Praying u are more like your Mom. You r way too young to have this happen. But I am going to Winnipeg next week to visit a close Chinese friend who is declining quickly with Multiple System Atrophy similar to ALS…. She is only 64. So sickness knows no age. Take care my friend. Hugs.

  2. Ken Powell says:

    I’m very sorry to hear of your diagnosis and your attitude is inspiring. Have you considered using voice to text apps which could allow you to get words down faster and worry about editing with a thesaurus later? Just a thought which may or may not be appropriate 🙂

    • Audrey Chin says:

      Hi Ken
      Thanks for connecting.
      The problem isn’t getting the words down, it’s finding them in the first place. Voice to text wouldn’t work in that situation. Thesaurus helps.
      We’ll see how it goes.

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