The Victorian 1980

[ The V.I. HomePage | Back to the V.I. Literary Archives Menu ]



The story of Valentine's Day begins in the third century with an oppressive Roman emperor and a humble Christian martyr. The emperor was Claudius II. The Christian was Valentinus.

Claudius had ordered all Romans to worship twelve gods, and he had made it a crime punishable by death to associate with Christians. But Valentinus was dedicated to the ideals of Christ, and not even the threat of death could keep him from practising his beliefs. He was arrested and imprisoned.

During the last weeks of Valentinus's life a remarkable thing happened. Seeing that he was a man of learning, the jailer asked whether his daughter, Julia, might be brought to Valentinus for lessons. She had been blind since birth. Julia was a pretty young girl with a quick mind. Valentinus read stories of Rome's history to her. He taught her arithmetic and told her about God. She saw the world through his eyes, trusted in his wisdom, and found comfort in his quiet strength.

"Valentinus, does God really hear our prayers?" Julia said one day.

"Yes, my child, He hears each one." he replied.

"Do you know what I pray for every morning and every night? I pray that I might see. I want so much to see everything you've told me about!"

"God does what is best for us if we will only believe," Julia said intensely. "I do." She knelt and grasped his hand.

They sat quietly together, each praying. Suddenly there was a brilliant light in the prison cell. Radiant, Julia screamed, "Valentinus, I can see! I can see!"

"Praise be to God!" Valentinus exclaimed, and he knelt in prayer.

On the eve of his death Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia, urging her to stay close to God, and he signed it "From Your Valentine" His sentence was carried out the next day, February 14,270 A.D. near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini in his memory. He was buried at what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome. It is said that Julia herself planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendshp. On each February 14, St. Valentine's Day, messages of affection, love and devotion are exchanged around the world.


I sing a lullaby
To ears that will never hear
The warm soothsame rhythm
Fills your silent world
Stills your fear
Things catch your quick eye
A leaf, a toy, a bell
In your school (our home)
You will read our lips,
One day may speak with your own,
A coppery head, a wriggling warmth.
I smile at you, and find
A smile means all the world to a child
To a child whose ears are blind.


Lian Siew Ling, L6BM3

He wants me to be within my limits.
He doesn't want me to step over the line that has been
       predetermined by men like himself.
I'm a woman, a girl, of the fairer sex;
those who are not inclined to put their aspirations
       into reality,
those who must give these up to be happy, to be married,
       to live for their spouses and not for themselves.

Do I have to throw myself at my man's feet?
To be his limp companion. with nought to say for myself?
No, not I. Woman I am, but no light-headed lovely.
I must strive for what I know can be mine.
Yes, I do want a HOME.
But cannot I have one and still be the individual I am?
Only you say that I cannot and will that I can't.

I'll show you what's been shown me;
A deliberate, conscious effort counts in success.
I set the course of my own destiny and,
if I know it can be done, it WILL be done.
Woe is me.


Ong Joo Chin, Lower Six Bio-Maths One

Man started counting and fell under the spell of numbers long before he could even write or read. Today, this modern civilisation resembles an intermediate arithmetic class where numbers fly in and out of the brain like pigeons.

We human beings tend to get everything numbered in one way or another. Everything is counted, estimated, averaged and quantified. Even human intelligence is gauged by a quotient, pollen grains by count, marriages, births, deaths and divorces by rate. Even politics have adopted the mathematical game of percentages turned up by the pollsters. Now it seems that this world of ours is woefully littered with numbers that defy human comprehension.

Figures have become a popular curiousity ever since Archimedes tried to estimate the number of sand grains present in this universe. According to his estimation, it could contain 10 digits of sand grains. Today such numbers are no longer an oddity. They are the stuff of ordinary news. Scientists of today load us with even more forbidding challenges. According to a NASA report Voyager One has discovered a hot vicinity in the planet Jupiter with an estimated temperature of some 300 to 400 million degrees centigrade. Man-made computers - one of science's most sophisticated inventions - could perform a task of 80 million calculations per second which add up to 6.9 trillion calculations per day.

Biologists have set in to confuse us with even bigger numbers. They have counted or, rather, estimated the number of cells in the human brain. Our brain, it seems, consists of one trillion cells. The biologists have yet to tell us how to imagine so many individual units at one time. Physicists, too, have their share of numbers. They discovered that the proton may be unstable and may start to decay at such a rate that would peter out in a million, billion, billion, billion years.

Probably nothing paralyses our brain more than a googol. You may ask whatever that is. Edward Kasner - the man who made it famous or infamous - said that a googol is the figure one followed by a hundred zeros and a googolplex is the figure one followed by a googol of zeros. It seems that a googolplex has so many zeros that it cannot be written on a piece of paper as wide as the universe.

Whatever pushed man to this age of complex numbers is mainly due to human fascination and scientific yen. The human craving for numbers has shown a great deal about mankind It is a sign shown that man has come a long way since the days when he could only count "one, two, three and many."


See Ngai Sum

In this modern era of universal literacy, girls are given just as much opportunity to be educated as the boys are. Hence, we find more and more women, both married and unmarried, going out to earn a living and holding positions as high as or higher than those of their male counterparts. This has given rise to a question of much debate and controversy: Should married women puruse a career or should they stay at home? If this question was asked a few centuries ago, the answer would unanimously be "no". But now, it is impossible to give any definite "yes" or "no" answer at all as it is all a matter of opinion and individual circumstances.

Those who agree that married women should go to work, if they wish, do have many reasons for doing so. Women should make full use of the education they have received. A university degree holder should not just stay at home and do the housework just because she has married. She should have an aim and ambition in life and should exercise the grey cells she possesses.

For those with homes that are not well-off, it would be much better if the wife went out to work as well. This would help ease the financial difficulties at home. Then the children can be given little luxuries they would otherwise miss. A woman who pursues her own career would also not have to worry about financial problems if her husband should leave her, or pass away. She would be capable of supporting herself and her family.

A woman who pursues a career can gain a wider outlook and horizon. She would not just be the dull, insipid and ignorant wife at home. She can have definite interests in life apart from her family and home. This can help to build up her character and self-confidence. Going out to work and achieving success in her work would also give her a feeling of satisfaction and happiness. Gaining more knowledge and experience about the outside world can also help in her relationship with her husband. Generally, she can be a more intelligent, more interesting and better conversationalist.

On the other hand, there are many reasons, too, why women should not pursue a career. Women who have their own careers and pursuits in life might not have ample time to spend with their husbands and children. They might not be able to look after them properly and their homes would be neglected. Both housework and children would be left to servants. All this can produce adverse effects on the family, especially the children.

Children without mothers beside them all the time to guide them and advise them might fall into bad company. They might pick up bad habits like smoking, drinking and drug-taking. Neglect and lack of love will hinder the development of their personalities and character. They might also lag behind in their studies and eventually be dropouts from school. Furthermore, they might also be neglected in terms of nutrition.

Besides that, it might also endanger her married life if the wife is too occupied with her work. By the time she comes home from work, and finishes the housework, she would be too exhausted to converse with or share any thoughts with her husband. This might cause them to drift apart. A man needs the attention and love of a devoted wife. A wife devoted only to her career cannot be too appealing.

As can be seen from above, it is most difficult to give any definite answer. It is my opinion that women should compromise somewhere. It is all right for them to pursue a career if they do not neglect their husbands and children. If the job is too demanding she should not take it or perhaps change jobs. A woman must always try to devote as much time as possible to her family.

VI The V.I. Web Page

Created on 5 October 2000.
Last update on 5 October 2000.

Ooi Boon Kheng