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Big love at Da Ai Gallery

Frankly, I wouldn’t have the chance to visit the Tzu Chi Da Ai Gallery if Pangzi hadn’t asked me that question.


“Daddy, how do you make someone love you?”

“Why, is there a person you’re desperate to impress?” I said suspiciously.

“Not me, but I think I have a classmate who… how should I put it… she’s giving me a lot of attention.”

This sounds interesting.

“Before you go on, let me just say there are many kinds of love,” I said. “I’m taking you to Da Ai Gallery to learn more about it.”

“What’s Da Ai Gallery?” Pangzi asked.

“It’s actually a collection of exhibits by the Tzu Chi Foundation, housed somewhere in Sembawang.”

“I know, I know, it’s a big love gallery!” he said, suddenly enlightened.

“Yes, but it’s not what you think,” I explained. “Da Ai Gallery contains photos and artefacts commemorating 50 years of the foundation’s good works in the community, from medical support to volunteerism in times of natural disaster.”

“Oh, why haven’t I heard of this place. Can we just visit?”

“Da Ai Gallery welcomes visitors for free but I think we need to make an appointment,” I said. “The address says Queen’s Avenue. I don’t think a lot of people know where it is!”

Indeed, it took us a while to locate Da Ai Gallery, one of a series of black and white colonial bungalows nestled among a luscious green area in a forsaken part of Singapore.

“Daddy, why is helping others a form of love?”

“I won’t know. I’ve never helped anyone. Clearly someone believes that humans must look out for one another through acts of kindness. That’s all rubbish of course.”

“But this classmate of mine always wants to help me,” Pangzi revealed.

“How so?”

“She offers to carry my bag. Should I let her?”

“Of course! How else?”

“She shares with me books she borrows from the library. And she sits very close to me when we read together.”

“Okay, whatever you do with her I don’t have to know, but don’t get caught. How else?”

Pangzi hesitated before adding, “She wants to do all my homework for me…”

I looked at his face, and wondered what superpowers he had that I didn’t have when I was his age.

“Daddy, is she trying to make me love her?”

I didn’t respond immediately. We finished our tour of Da Ai Gallery, before I gave him my answer.

“As you can see today, sometimes big love is about giving without asking for anything in return. Do you understand?”

Pangzi nodded.

I pity the classmate. I think he’s going to break her heart.

 

We were here:

 

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