A Mother’s Love and a Hot Cup of Milo!

A tribute to a mother who has been under appreciated by me recently… love always from your son.

A Mother’s Love and a Hot Cup of Milo – © Philipp C.K. Gan – 09/04/2006

Letters, words and numbers swim in and out of my focus. I blinked a few times, rubbing the sleep out of my tired eyes and then stretched my sore limbs – hearing the creaks of my aching joints.

I looked at the digital clock on my wall – it registered the time as 11:07p.m. – way past my usual bedtime.

I’ve been sitting here, in front of my desk in the cosy comforts of my room, poring over my piles of notes, workbooks, exercise books and test papers since dinner – which seemed to be so long ago. I could barely feel my brain now – the nuts, bolts and wheels must’ve been clogged up and overheated from rapid ingestion of tonnes of incomprehensible information about events that bare no significance to me that had happened centuries ago.

Letting out a slow, long sigh, I looked out my bedroom window, appreciating the little peace and quiet that comes with the late hour of such a night. Especially tonight when I am desperately trying to remember the facts and figures for tomorrow’s History exam.

History. The bane of my school life, which ironically, has become one of my major interests today. I just never liked learning it in Malay, and probably due to the fact that I never learnt to appreciate it.

Back then, I never understood the logic behind something or someone that has passed or deceased having a direct influence in the way we live our lives. Indeed, as an arrogant, think-I-know-it-all teenager, it beggars belief that something old, ancient and history could teach me a lesson or two about how we lead our lives. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the here and now that matters, other things can take the backseat and hit the road.

Sitting there at my desk, I just couldn’t help seeing that old broad of a teacher in her tight fancy dress squeaking highly to a classroom of desperately bored 15 year olds, equally desperate in her attempt to convince us that history was worth learning.

I could just hear her now, trumpeting “History always repeats itself! The only way to prevent that is to learn from history and learn from the mistakes in the past, taking precautions not to see it happen again. You’ll do well to bear that in mind, children!”

Well, try as I might, nothing’s sinking into the deep recesses of my mind at the moment. Facts, figures, graphs and pictures slip in and out of my mind like flashes of light. Nothing stayed.

As much as I did not want to believe everything my 55-year-old history teacher on the brink of retirement was saying, I just couldn’t help thinking that I was sure to “accidentally” repeat history if I don’t learn to prevent it. Sure, I was an arrogant, think-I know-it-all teenager, but one with an active, wild imagination.

Will I instigate a war? Visions of me leading a charging army to invade a neighbouring country flashed through my mind.

Am I going to incite a riot, revolution, coup d’état? Again, visions of me speaking from a podium, challenging and daring the people to revolt and rebel against the government flashed past my mind. I shuddered and forced myself to concentrate on the task at hand.

What the future holds for me, I do not know, but I prayed hopefully that it beats sitting in front of a desk and slogging through tonnes and tonnes of paperwork.

I glanced back at the clock – 11.35p.m! I groaned. History and the future are the last things on my mind now, all thoughts concerned for the present. Nine hours to go before I enter that cold, freezing chamber of nightmares – the examination hall.I’d be lucky to sneak past with a C or B.

The night dragged silently on. The rest of the world – peaceful, serene and unassuming – paid no attention to the stressed out, worn out , desperate teenager who is about to sit for important exam that he knows will be the death of him should he fail.

The only light was from my desk lamp. The only sound was the gentle ‘thwap, thwap’ of the blades from my ceiling fan as they kept the room cool. I pushed out all wandering thoughts for the umpteenth time, fought a losing battle against yawn invasions and tried to really concentrate on the task at hand – memorising all the facts that would help me to answer questions that will decide my fate in another 9 hours. I was tired, but I soldiered on bravely.

Then, I heard it. The sound of shuffling feet outside my door. Then, a gentle rap of the knuckle against the wooden door. I allowed the knocker to come in.

And smiled at the person who entered: my wonderful mother, concerned etched on her face for her son who is burning the midnight oil. I wished I had not given her cause for concern, for it had made her look years older. I regret now that I had not heeded her constant admonishing about preparing ahead for my exams.

Just seeing her there, holding out a hot cup of rejuvenating Milo, brought a warm, fuzzy feeling inside me. It’s as if a bright light has been turned on inside me upon seeing my mother and it shone forth outward. The room literally glowed in the presence of my mother.

She knows of the tough time I am going through – she knows that I am sorry now for not listening to her. But she never rubbed it in and said “I told you so!” or scolded me for not listening. My mother just smiled understandingly as I took the cup from her and sipped the warm liquid. I could feel renewed strength coursing through my veins.

Not being the studious type like my sisters, it would have been easy for her to be disappointed in me. I saw myself inferior to my PhD sisters, two of them. I was never like them and I could never hope to be.

And yet, her very act of preparing Milo for me – at this late hour when my mother should have been sleeping and resting after a day’s labour in the home – dispelled all misgivings I had of whether I was a failure and disappointment to my mother.

I know, just then, on that very night, the day before an important exam, that my mother truly loved me, her only son, for all his faults, his weaknesses, his imperfections. It had not stopped her from waking from her peaceful slumber to brew
Milo for her nervous, tension-filled and stressed son.

In my mother’s eyes, I am her beloved son. Her most precious possession. She would never give up on me. I would never forgive myself if I had given up on myself. From then on, with renewed fervour, I vowed to prove to my mother that I am just as capable as my sisters, just as successful.

Such is the power of a mother’s love. My mother’s love. Unconditional love. A love with no strings attached. And I am proud to be my mother’s son.

This piece was written within one hour initially as part of an exercise for my creative writing class. I did not make any plans at all to write something like this, but that doesn’t mean that I did not write this with emotion and feeling. I meant every word I’ve written here and am happy that my mom just gave me a twinkling smile in appreciation when I read this out to her. Initially wanted to treat her to a special Mother’s Day dinner tomorrow at The Ship but decided that the best Mother’s Day gift I can give her is a holiday away from chores and most importantly – from me!


So mom, if you ever read this…hope you had a nice Penang holiday with Auntie Yee Ma and her children and grandchildren!


To the rest of you and all mothers out there – HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!


  1. Sora

    What a beautiful tribute! There’s no way I could possibly doubt the sincerity of this lovely sentiment.

    Cherish EVERY moment you have with her…good or bad, and never miss the opportunity to express your love for her every day.

  2. I agree with Sora. ‘Nuff said.

    Have a good holiday, Auntie!!

  3. Thanks for the nice compliments, Sora, Naoko! I really appreciate them. I will make sure that I treasure every little moment I have left with my mom, even though I like being by myself. But I would be lying if I say I do not miss her.

    No matter how old we are, and no matter how many times we rolled our eyes over their fretting and fussing – deep down in our hearts, we WANT them to fret and fuss over us. I appreciate everything my mom has done for me, even through the hard times we’ve had. I’ll love her always.

    We only get to have one mother in this lifetime, so we should all make every effort to treasure the times we have with our moms! Live if it’s Mother Day everyday!

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