There isn’t much I can say about the passing of Mdm Kwa Geok Choo, the late wife of Lee Kuan Yew, that isn’t already evident from the eulogy he gave her (and for my overseas Singaporean friends reading this who may not have seen the news clips, it’s significantly sadder if you watch him deliver it). But Yaacob Ibrahim (Minister for the Environment) told an anecdote about her in the newspaper coverage of her death that I particularly liked, and since I didn’t know if it would be as readily googleable in the future as her family members’ eulogies were, I saved the snippet:
She asked me about the words to describe when rain is falling down and drops of it sort of splashes through your window. She said you can’t find an English word for it, but there’s a Malay word for it.
I said, the word I remember is tempias. She said yes, see the beauty of the Malay language. You cannot find a translation. So I was a bit surprised.
And she added: “I give you another word – sayang. Can you find an English equivalent?” And it struck me for the first time – I could not.
Rest in peace, Mdm Kwa. We owe you a lot.