Beyond roses and kisses

Wong Kim Hoh finds that it's the quiet expressions that are most powerful

Singapore will be swarming with love birds today.

They will be out in full force, at the restaurants and malls, in cinemas, on the streets.

It will be impossible to miss them: females proudly carrying bouquets, males smugly bearing gifts of all shapes and sizes.

Collectively, they will make sure that more "I love you"s get written, articulated and exchanged in Singapore today than any other day this year.

Valentine's Day and public declarations of affection, what a rush to the head, eh?

But in writing this week's report, I discovered that the most amazing expressions of love often take place more quietly.

I met couples who show devotion not with chocolates and kisses, but with patience and forebearance, strength and tolerance, courage and restraint.

I found it in Siti Fatimah, who tirelessly looks after a once doting husband who has lost the ability to speak or move because of a stroke.

I saw it in the tears of frustration that course down the cheeks of Chong Tee Chye, who cannot articulate his love for Siti or their three children.

I also heard it in the tremulous voice of a 75-year-old retiree, as he recalls the quiet dignity of the woman who was his uncomplaining wife for 40 years. He lost her to cancer last year.

Love, they tell me, is not perfect. Nor is it easy.

It often requires sacrifice, and involves heartache and pain.

But a life touched by love, they say, will not be a life lived in vain.

Happy Valentine's Day

This article was first published on StraitsTimes.com on Feb 14, 2009