In Loving Memory of Deardeer Tan Yang Fei
10th August 1988 - 9th February 2011
Every now and then, in our lifes, we come across certain rare individuals that would possess one of those unexplainable ability to capture your heart and make a mark in your memory... Deardeer Yang Fei is one of those very special people that have serendipitously wander into my life.
She started working with No Eyed Deer back in November 2003 when she was only 15 years old. I was hesistant in taking her onboard cos she was so young but I was so short of staff and desperately needed help at that moment. So I took her onboard then got her started by washing dishes as there wasn't anyone to fill the role at that time. I didn't think she was going to last cos most teenagers find dishwashing just so tedious and boring.
However, she proved me wrong and stuck to the task until I finally found a permanent dishwasher. It was then that I realised she was different and she possess certain qualities that aren't commonly found these days... 'the responsibility of performing tasks in which one is entrusted with regardless of how tedious it may be'.
I then got her to help out with food preparation. She was such a fast learner that the next thing I know, she was organising and managing the orders all by herself. She was extremely efficient and could manage a 'full house' all by herself. She has this remarkable ability to stay cool and calm in the midst of overwhelming work. She would suddenly fall silent but her mind would be busy ticking away while her hands zip about sorting the orders. No yelling, no temper, just a very intense focus in getting the job done. She would not waste her time complaining or whinging in the midst of adversity, just a simple philosophy of... 'settle the problems first then only hold discussions later'.
Over the years, she became so well verse with every aspect of No Eyed Deer that she eventually became No Eyed Deer's instructor. She was given the responsibility to train all new staffs on my behalf. Infact, the current team members were all initiated by Deardeer Yang Fei. That was when most customers got to see her more when she started waitressing and serving. But whenever any team member is absent, she would stand in as a relief member in the kitchen. She became what I often tease her in Cantonese, 'Yap tak chui fong, chuk tak tang'(literally means 'able to enter kitchen, able to stroll out to lounge') which is a compliment to women who are capable in the kitchen but are also able to carry herself well in social surroundings. Her future hubby would have been a lucky man.
She is extremely responsible. In all her years in No Eyed Deer, she has never ever been absent without a genuine reasons. Of the days she was absent, 99% of it she would have given me advance notice (sometimes even upto 3 months notice). She just wanted to make sure I have enough help when she was not around. I know deep inside, she truly looked out for No Eyed Deer.
She is one of the most hardworking people I've ever come across. Even after she finished her studies and started her full time job in her accounting career with Keat & associate and then on to auditing with Yeang & Co., she still continued to come help me out. She would come straight to No Eyed Deer in the evenings and also on the weekends.
By the time she was 21, she had already saved up enough to buy herself a brand new car, her little Viva. She was very careful with how she spends her hard earned salary. She would keep track of her spending, so much so that I often find her scribbled notes lying all over the counter listing things she had bought for the month and how much she needed to set aside.
She was already investing in shares, funds and bonds when she turned 21. She was foresighted and realised the importance of investment. She was pretty intelligent and able to comprehend quickly. I was amazed at her ability to understand so quickly when we scan through companies' financial statements and when I tried to explain how to assess and guess the health and financial stability of companies by sifting through their balance sheets. She could understand the concepts behind current ratios, PE ratios, NTAs, noting longterm liabilities, etc.. Pretty impressive for a girl this age, right?
It was not always work and no play. Despite her packed schedule, she was able to find time to socialise with her many friends. She enjoys going Karaoke especially with her best friend Maria, whom she affectionately calls 'Yaya'. With the two of them together, they could sing for hours in Redbox. Even in No Eyed Deer, I would often hear her singing away her favourite songs in the kitchen while tidying up to go home.
Comics!... boy, does she loves reading comics. I often wonder how she could pour through hundreds and hundreds of comics without getting tired of them. Sometimes I would reprimand her for wasting precious time and she would then take out a book to read, then after a while, it will be back to her comics, comics, comics. Guess, it was her way of taking a break from reality.
As for love life, she has pretty much been floating on cloud nine for the past year with her wonderful boyfriend, Leslie whom she affectionally calls 'Wak'. They started getting together about a year ago, though they have actually known each others for a long number of years before that. I could tell she was seriously in love as time went by and the bond and trust between them grew stronger. They started making plans together and she was actually looking forward to going away with him in March this year and I could see the excitement in her eyes when she told me her plans since last year. Though I knew she was going to leave No Eyed Deer, I was happy for her and supported her plans. I truly appreciated her for her honesty and for letting me know almost 1 year in advance.
Oh! Her family. Her parents love her dearly and Deardeer Yang Fei has admitted to me that she loves her mum and dad a lot and she aspires to be successful in order to bring them comfort and happiness. She would sometimes lie on their bed and end up chatting non-stop with her mum. She would feel so happy about those conversations that she would end up telling me about those precious moments the next day. As for her dad, he has gotta be one of the most patient man. Before she bought herself a car, he would chaffeur her around regardless of the time. Deardeer Yang Fei told me she found it remarkable how her dad can just wake up at anytime or would often patiently wait to pick her up even at the oddest hour. She sometimes feel bad asking him to run around for her but she truly appreciated him for it all. She was kind of relieved for her dad when she eventually bought her own car.
She also leaves behind a little brother Yang Beng, whom we know as Deardeer Shine. As elder sis, she cares a lot for the welfare of her little brother and has always had her fair share of concern for her little brother. Thus she introduced him to No Eyed Deer to keep him out of mischief. I often feels she over-worries for her little brother for I personally feels he's a great guy and very independent.
In this last 7 years, Deardeer Yang Fei has been someone whom I've spent a tremendous amount of time being around. She has stood by me through countless storms and has never forsaken me when I needed help most. She has grown to be one of my most trusted friend whom I could completely rely on. I thoroughly enjoyed the times I've hung out with her on our off-days, the Karaoke sessions with her friends and the enlightening chats we have shared together. Her opinions have sometimes helped sparked up some of my most creative ideas and her questions have often helped shape my thoughts and philosophy. I truly appreciated her for her contribution to No Eyed Deer and also to my life.
I started out hiring someone to help out with dishwashing but I never expected to get a kitchenhand, waitress, manager, instructor, consultant and most of all a genuine trusted friend. Now, if this isn't serendipity, I don't know what is. Her demise, is not only a tragic loss to No Eyed Deer, myself and her loved ones but also a great loss to the world. She will always be in my thoughts and I am already missing her dearly.