In memoriam: my father

Au Keng Chu aged 16, 17 or 18, late 1930s

Au Keng Chu aged 16, 17 or 18, late 1930s

He never much wanted to speak about it though one would have thought that living more than three years under brutal Japanese occupation would have been a life-changing experience. Not even of the day, soon after the British capitulated (15 February 1942), when he was made to file past Japanese soldiers and hidden informants, his very life hanging in the balance. It was the Sook Ching (cleansing operation). The new conquerors were out to identify and kill anyone suspected to have helped China resist the Japanese war machine’s encroachment since 1937.

Perhaps he was confident. English-speaking Anglophile that he was, he had never identified with China at all.

Still, he could not be sure if he might be singled out and shot before the afternoon was over. Informants had all sorts of reasons that went far beyond sincere certainty for pointing out “enemy collaborators” to the Japanese. Personal grudge would have been motive enough. Tens of thousands of Singaporeans were massacred in the days and weeks of the terror; there is a memorial to them downtown.

But my father lived.

He even tried his hand at looting. In the chaotic days after the British surrender, food was in desperately short supply. It was every man (or family) for himself. When the family heard that Cold Storage had its doors wide open, he went with his older brother to see what they could get. They were a bit too late. “There was nothing left except rabbit,” he would recall years later in one of the few rare conversations we had about the war years. “We didn’t know how to cook rabbit.”

And still the brothers would take risks, hiding a shortwave radio under the stairs, listening nightly to BBC and the Voice of America. “If the Japanese had ever found out about our radio we would have been taken away and shot.”

He would have a radio with him every day for the rest of his life. It was his connection to the wider world — of politics, social commentary and music. To him, the outside world mattered; it makes a difference to our lives. Current affairs engaged and excited him — he’d cheer every time a woman made it to be prime minister or president — while music provided the calm. And rooted him.

In 1935, then a 14-year old in secondary school, he learnt to sing Land of Hope and Glory for the Silver Jubilee of King George V. He would love (and still be moved) by this anthem for the rest of his life, breaking out in effortlessly recalled words, each time he heard Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1:

The crowd sings at 1:52, 4:52 and 8:08.

pic_201308_01In his own way, he was also a gadget groupie. From twiddling the dials of shortwave radio, he moved on to spooling audio tapes. My mother once told me that when she was in the maternity ward giving birth to her second child (my sister), my father went out and, instead of buying baby things, spent hard-earned money buying a state-of-the-art open-reel tape recorder. “What was the man thinking? I don’t understand your father at all.” I can still hear her exasperated voice today.

The march of technology fascinated him. Change was an abundantly good thing. When he went to Japan — I think it was the late 1960s — he was shown an integrated circuit. He was so excited by what it meant, he bought a tie pin for me that had one such chip embedded inside a tiny acrylic tile. The integrated circuit was no larger than 5 millimetres square, but if soldered into one of several kinds of gadgets, it could perform intelligent calculations, he explained. We didn’t say “cool!” in those days, but if we did, he would have said it a dozen times. However, he forgot to buy me a tie.

Ah, but he bought me my first two cameras and taught me (then a teenager) how to insert film into a camera body with my hands under a blanket. I got really good at it.

And when the internet came along in his white-haired seventies and eighties, he took to it with little hesitation.

* * * * *

This picture was probably taken in 1950 or 1951 when  my father was dating my mother

This picture was probably taken in 1950 or 1951 when my father was dating my mother

My parents and their cub scouts

My parents and their cub scouts

After the Second World War, he took a job teaching at Gan Eng Seng Secondary School where he was also the scoutmaster. That’s where he met my mother; she was teaching there and helped lead the scouts too. But after marrying her, he moved to Bartley Secondary School while she went back to her alma mater St Anthony’s Convent School. In 1963, he was given the principalship of the newly-founded Dunman Secondary School — which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The school remembered him and sent us two wreaths and a delegation of students.

Au Keng Chu at the principal's desk, Dunman Secondary School, mid 1960s

Au Keng Chu at the principal’s desk, Dunman Secondary School, mid 1960s

Just prior to his Dunman years, there was another nail-biting episode. Awarded a short scholarship to Harvard, he arrived in Boston just in time to see the Cuban Missile Crisis break out (Fall, 1962). Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had placed missiles on Cuba, and US President John F Kennedy issued an ultimatum to the Soviet Union to remove them, or else. . . .  My mother was worried sick that Soviet nuclear missiles would rain down on the US incinerating her husband along with millions of others. I was not quite ten years old, but it was my turn to listen to the radio every night, trying to understand what was going on in the big wide world. I looked up maps, and have loved maps every since.

* * * * *

The full family, 1959

The full family, 1959

Through most of his adult life, he stayed connected with his friends from his time in Raffles College. In their younger days, they called themselves the Topsy Turvy Club, though by the time I came along, they were rather embarrassed to use such a juvenile name. There were about ten to twelve of them, mostly male, who brought their families to meet regularly one or two Sundays a month, taking turns to host the gathering. Loud discussion ensued with strongly-held views about politics and current affairs. My father wasn’t the most leftist of the lot — at least he didn’t name his son after the then-Chinese prime minister Zhou En-lai, as one among them did — but he was sympathetic.

There was a certain Anita Fang who existed only by remote reference. I don’t know if she was ever part of the Topsy Turvy Club, but her name came up from time to time among the group. He would later explain her mysterious absence: she had been deported to China for allegedly being a communist underground agent. Even so, my father continued a correspondence with her; last I heard, she was teaching English in a college in Zhengzhou.

It turned out that several of these men’s children were musically-inclined and in between passionate discussion about the politics of the day, the men would quieten down to devote some quality attention to their kids as we took turns to play music, sing and ( a few of the daughters) dance. And then there’d be food, usually a considerable spread organised by the wives.

* * * * *

Just before the tea party hosted by President Benjamin Sheares at the Istana, for participants in the first Pre-U seminar 1971

Just before the tea party hosted by President Benjamin Sheares at the Istana, for participants in the first Pre-U seminar 1971

At first, his only son’s interests were a little bewildering to him. He himself had grown up with sports: football, cricket and hockey. He even had a chipped incisor from being hit in the mouth by a hockey ball flying at lethal speed. But his son wanted to play the piano and absolutely hated anything that involved muddy fields. He had loved his scouting but Sonny could never see the point of sitting around campfires or threading one’s way on a rope tautly stretched between treetops.

Family dining out, 1975

Family dining out, 1975

Yet, his openness to the world stood him in good stead. He could appreciate change and difference without ideological blinkers, preferring to see bright progress where others might not. He observed events without preconceptions whilst his lifelong engagement with news from afar equipped him with interpretations more broadminded than many other fathers. When I eventually told him I was gay, he said, “Don’t worry about it; I figured it out long ago.” This at a time when virtually nothing was said about homosexuality in Singapore except the occasional report of police sweeps of cross-dressing sex workers.

Liberated from keeping a secret for me, he set to it with gusto. He made mental notes of gay-related news he heard on the radio and repeated them to me at dinner. He cut out articles about gay rights from magazines and kept them in a folder. Later on, “Hey Sonny, did you know the first gay weddings took place in Amsterdam last week?” I can still hear him say.

“Yes, Dad. The gay grapevine relays information rather faster than even BBC. But thanks anyway.”

* * * * *

70th birthday, 1991

70th birthday, 1991

He retired at fifty-five, which was the usual retirement age then. I’m not sure that he would have wanted to stay longer in the civil service anyway. He had loved being in Education, but with the last part of his career spent in the ministry itself, he must have missed the autonomy that he so enjoyed as a school principal. He chose to be a house husband while my mother continued working, and learned to be a pretty respectable cook. Later, he would become her chief care-giver as Parkinson’s Disease slowly crippled her, all the while resisting suggestions that he have a domestic helper. He saw it as an intrusion into his independence.

But he himself was getting on, and in August 2006, he phoned me while I was in the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Bangkok, two minutes away from being introduced as the next speaker. He was almost in tears. My mother had fallen and he had struggled to lift her. “I’m growing old, too” he said, the first time he uttered those words to me, almost in defeat. “I can’t look after her any more.” We put her in a nursing home, but he missed her. She passed away soon after (February 2008) and he missed her even more. He would never be the same again.

Au Keng Chu, 2007

Au Keng Chu, 2007

As he too slowly faded into the night, he kept a radio by his side, with Bach, Schumann, Dvorak and the familiar voices of BBC News bringing the world to him. There was not a lot that I could tell him about what’s going on that he did not already know, so I didn’t need to say very much. I would quietly hold his hand, and he would gently squeeze mine.

Au Keng Chu, 27 October 1921 – 16 June 2013.

90 Responses to “In memoriam: my father”

  1. 1 Netina Tan 1 August 2013 at 09:39

    I am very sorry for the passing of your father, Alex. This is the most touching tribute of your father. I learn so much about Singapore’s history from it. Your father sounded like a intelligent, passionate and loving man, just like yourself. Take care and I look forward to seeing you soon.

  2. 2 twasher 1 August 2013 at 09:48

    Sounds like a wonderful man. My condolences.

  3. 3 Suraj Rao 1 August 2013 at 09:48

    This article was quite a touching one. I am surprised to hear that your father was a former principal of a popular secondary school. You strongly remind me of Vincent Wijeysingha! Both of you are gay and had fathers who were former principals of good secondary schools. Eugene Wijeysingha was a RI principal according to the Straits Times.

  4. 4 ;Annonymous 1 August 2013 at 10:00

    It is a fitting tribute to your father, Alex. Seems like a great man and you have been lucky. Your steadfast stand on what is right for the country is your greatest tribute to him, although not everyone would agree with your views. Where were the others when the Japs came? Some became”interpreters” and the rewards for them have been great. Such is the irony of life.

  5. 5 SN 1 August 2013 at 10:00

    This is very touching.

    My condolences.

  6. 6 beowulf222 1 August 2013 at 10:43

    Thanks for sharing those memories of your father. It sounds like he had a very fulfilled life. Sorry about your loss.

  7. 7 Jack Lam 1 August 2013 at 10:46

    Beautiful – thanks for sharing.

  8. 8 MaxChew 1 August 2013 at 10:46

    Thanks for the touching reminences about your dad. just to let you know…..almost every article you post is a can’t-put-down-till-finished piece. I was actually reading another piece when I saw your latest post and just peeked but got hooked till the end. Now I’ve forgotten what I was reading before switching to yours about your dad!
    Might I suggest you start on a full book on your life experiences? Doesn’t matter whether semi-fictional or full auto- biography.
    And what was your speech in BKK in 2006 about? Would love to read it. It’s so easy to read your pieces as you use plain English and short sentences. The flow from sentence to sentence is almost musical and effortless. You are a literary gem in my book, Alex. Keep it up!

  9. 9 Yeo Yeu Ann 1 August 2013 at 11:01

    Really touching. My condolences, Mr Au. 🙂

  10. 10 San san 1 August 2013 at 11:21

    Such a wonderful, deeply thought through write up in memory of your dad.

  11. 11 The Pariah 1 August 2013 at 11:24

    Your parents live forever in your heart and mind, Alex. You carry forward a little of them in what your actions and inactions. .

  12. 12 Anonymous 1 August 2013 at 11:29

    My deepest condolences for the loss of your father.

  13. 13 Stan 1 August 2013 at 11:42

    Sorry for your loss, he is gone but has truly lived a life of fulfillment, whilst many still here are merely existing. It’s a wake-up call for us all.

  14. 14 dazzakoh (@dazzakoh) 1 August 2013 at 11:45

    Thank you for sharing. And in your mind, and retelling of all he did, he lives…

  15. 15 Dean 1 August 2013 at 11:48

    I’m sorry for your loss, Alex. You had a good father, indeed. May you find comfort and strength.

  16. 16 Mansura Sajahan 1 August 2013 at 11:58

    Thanks for sharing, Alex. I’m sorry for your loss…Mansura

  17. 17 Anon 1g11 1 August 2013 at 12:35

    thanks for got a great father.

  18. 18 Otto Fong 1 August 2013 at 12:41

    I’m sorry for your family’s loss. Your father was a man ahead of his time. He sets the stage for you to be the great man you are now. Thank goodness for your father – I believe the LGBT community benefitted from his openness and generosity.

  19. 19 ONG San Guan 1 August 2013 at 12:47

    Alex, what a creative way to remember your Dad as you weave your story “in memoriam – my Father”! May I offer my condolences to you and your siblings on his passing and share this song in honoring him May he rest in peace!

    He must be as proud of you as you are of him as a Son recalling the fond memories of him. Your humanity is changing my perception of your sexual orientation from the negative color hue of a stained mark to one of distinctive branding differentiation.

  20. 20 For our future's sake 1 August 2013 at 13:28

    My condolences. Your father is a far-sighted and modern man.

  21. 21 Jony Ling 1 August 2013 at 14:02

    Condolences and what a beautiful article you wrote to remember your father. He’d be proud.

  22. 22 petulantchild 1 August 2013 at 14:11

    My condolences to you. Your father was a very progressive man. He had lived a fuitful long life and must be happy to be reunited with your mom again.

  23. 23 mohan 1 August 2013 at 14:30

    thank for sharing.
    That is really touching. Your parent must have been proud of you for doing the right thing and for having a independent and inquisitive mind.

  24. 24 Winking Doll 1 August 2013 at 15:11

    Thanks for sharing about your dad, his influence lives on in you. Condolences.

  25. 25 Pak Geok Choo 1 August 2013 at 15:16

    Alex, it’s kind of sad for me to know that he died on the day when I was celebrating my birthday with family.
    He had lead a life of colours and I can’t tell you how much I adored him through your writing – such a fine, knowledgeable, passionate and understanding man, steadfast in his own belief. Moved me so much esp on the part when he called to tell you about his ‘defeat’ in lifting your mum. It goes to show how much he must have demanded of himself! Alex, thanks for sharing, You must take pride about having inherited from your parents the fine gifts of wisdom, artistic flair and humanity. You are his living legacy. Take care!

  26. 27 Kwan Yue Keng 1 August 2013 at 15:53

    Alex, you had a father everybody would envy. My condolences to you on his passing.
    I wish I had been as close to my father as you have, you cannot inagine how I envy you in this respect. Thanks for sharing your moving recollections, which is deeply appreciated. With all my best wishes,

  27. 29 Saycheese 1 August 2013 at 16:27

    My deepest condolences.

    Your dad is gone but you have inherited his spirit and more!

  28. 30 Emeritus Sparrow 1 August 2013 at 16:39

    My condolences.

  29. 31 Vincent Wijeysingha 1 August 2013 at 16:59

    My deepest condolences to you on your father’s passing. He sounds like he was a remarkable man.

    Sympathetic regards,
    Vincent Wijeysingha

  30. 32 Terence 1 August 2013 at 17:17

    Almost a centurion but a centurion none the less. Condolences.

  31. 33 ybin 1 August 2013 at 18:00

    Sorry for your loss. Sounds like you had a great father!

  32. 34 mike 1 August 2013 at 18:29

    A man to be proud of, as he was of you.

  33. 35 Brian Gothong Tan 1 August 2013 at 19:06

    A very touching tribute. A great man indeed. Thank you for sharing!

  34. 36 angelinahue 1 August 2013 at 19:16

    Thanks for sharing this and my deepest condolences to you. This is a beautifully-written and thoughtful tribute to your father, who must have been a remarkable man. Thank you.

  35. 37 Jeremy Chua 1 August 2013 at 19:28

    Alex, your father is a remarkable man. What a great way for us to join you in celebrating his life – thank you for sharing!

  36. 38 Michelle 1 August 2013 at 19:40

    My deepest condolences on his passing. Your dad sounds like a wonderful person

  37. 39 chrishansenhome 1 August 2013 at 19:55

    Alex: I’m really sorry for your loss, but I was really touched by your eulogy. I would have been honoured to have known him. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

  38. 40 Singapore Son 1 August 2013 at 22:16

    My deepest condolences, Alex.

  39. 41 axt 1 August 2013 at 22:42

    Beautifully written. My deepest condolences.

  40. 42 Xiao Chenfeng 1 August 2013 at 23:07

    Thank you for sharing the life of a good Singaporean….

  41. 43 Alec Tok 1 August 2013 at 23:14

    My deepest condolences, Alex. May the memory of your father bring joy to you often and the fondness with which you have described him be yours from those whose lives you have touched in as deep and meaningful ways.

  42. 44 Paul Ananth Tambyah 1 August 2013 at 23:48

    Wonderful memories. I am sure he would be proud of you and how you have carried on his independent spirit.

  43. 45 Anonymous 1 August 2013 at 23:55

    What a cool dad!

  44. 46 Bryce 2 August 2013 at 00:08

    Good night, sir…

  45. 47 Ruhaizan 2 August 2013 at 00:33

    My condolence to you Alex for the lost. Touched by your tribute story of your late dad.

  46. 48 D 2 August 2013 at 01:03

    Very Touching, Thanks for Sharing! Appreciate this.

  47. 49 E.Biden 2 August 2013 at 01:20

    Beautiful…would have loved to read more about him.
    My condolences

  48. 50 Daniel Ling 2 August 2013 at 02:43

    Dear Alex, it sounds like your father led a long and full life. Deepest condolences.

  49. 51 alan 2 August 2013 at 03:14

    Alex, you have a caring father. Some fathers pretend they don’t even have a gay son, least acknowledge it. Mine was practically absent throughout my entire life.

    And yet there are some people who insists we are just a bunch of practising criminals. What is worse is that they are supposed to be our leaders. Such is the prejudices that we encounter in life.

    Take care.

  50. 52 Joanne L 2 August 2013 at 04:18

    What a beautiful tribute, Alex. I am so sorry for your loss.

  51. 53 Civil Serpent 2 August 2013 at 08:54

    A man ahead of his time, indeed. My deepest condolences Alex.

  52. 54 ape@kinjioleaf 2 August 2013 at 08:59

    Thanks for sharing, Alex. My condolence to you.

  53. 55 jasen 2 August 2013 at 10:55

    dear Alex, my condolences. It was a fitting eulogy and am really touched by it. I wanted to say your opening photo of your father in the 1930s and the last photo in his final years are so alike. Especially the look in his eyes and that confident gentle grin on his face never change…

  54. 57 Anon f9GB 2 August 2013 at 12:14

    A moving, fitting tribute Alex. My deepest condolences on his passing and thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

  55. 58 Larry 2 August 2013 at 12:46

    My sincerest condolences.

  56. 59 kampongboy 2 August 2013 at 16:29

    beautiful story, it’s also our historical heritage, thanks for sharing, may he rest in peace…

  57. 60 Anon t45R 2 August 2013 at 17:56

    My deepest condolences Alex. Your tribute to your late dad reminds me of my late father.

    Take care.

  58. 61 Clear eyed 2 August 2013 at 18:49

    Dear Alex

    Condolences on the passing of your dad. He must have been a great dad and your tribute to him is moving and beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  59. 62 cheriangeorge 2 August 2013 at 19:59

    Condolences on your loss, Alex. And thank you for sharing this. There is so much one can learn from your father’s approach to life and love.

  60. 63 Natureschild 3 August 2013 at 00:08

    Mr Au, my condolences on the passing of your father who lived to a ripe age of almost 92. Thanks for sharing the beautiful memories of your family.

  61. 64 Rabbit 3 August 2013 at 01:16

    Your dad is a very confident man, especially so when he didn’t discriminate gay people. Singapore, especially our leader, is still far behind the mind & heart of your dad. Our condolences on the passing of your dad.

  62. 65 Yeo George 3 August 2013 at 01:21

    thanks for got a great father.

  63. 66 Jean Chong 3 August 2013 at 04:31

    My condolences Alex. Your father was an amazing man. Thank goodness for your father because you have in many ways become the teacher to many of us.

  64. 67 a kind of chicken 3 August 2013 at 05:08


  65. 68 dolphin81 3 August 2013 at 09:39

    The Jap Occupation experienced by Mr Au Keng Chu clearly showed we cannot expect “foreign talents” to defend SG for us.

    So long Britain was preoccupied with defeating Hitler, SG would be placed last.

    It was this attitude that led to de-colonization after 1945. Yet after 1997, Goh Chok Tong believed he could integrate lots of foreigners in a few years.

  66. 69 simpleman 3 August 2013 at 11:58

    What an awesome dad you had!

  67. 70 georgia tong 3 August 2013 at 17:30

    You have a great dad. Hope you will get over your grieve. Take care.

  68. 71 Cricket 3 August 2013 at 22:59

    Mr Au,

    You don’t know me, but I would still offer my condolence. Your father was a great dad who brought up a great son.

    My father was also among the tens of thousands rounded up by Japanese soldiers during their Sook Ching operation between 18 February to 4 March 1942. He was shot along with 300~400 civilians at Punggol Point by hojo kempei (auxiliary military police) firing squads on 28 February 1942 (3rd day of Chinese New Year, according to my mother). I was then 14 months old.

  69. 72 Anon BDsW 4 August 2013 at 11:37

    I am so sorry for your loss. Take care.

  70. 73 Sad 4 August 2013 at 17:38

    Alex, sorry for your loss. My dad passed away in 2002 when he was 84 but not after struggling for 17 years in illness. We absolutely refused to send him to the home and we took turn to care for him scarifying our career and personal time with our own family. It’s more than 10 years since his passing and I still miss him dearly as he was a wonderful father that took very good care of us when we were young.

    I absolutely understand why your dad refused to admit your mom to the home till when he has absolutely no choice. In our case, we are happy that dad passed away at home.

  71. 74 Kuok Minghui 4 August 2013 at 23:06

    A fitting eulogy to me. I think within the modern day era, many of our young believe in giving support to aging parents and nothing more. The testament of one’s parent(s) is the kind of life led by the individual.

    “To honour your parents, you must honour them through your life.”

  72. 75 chasbelov 5 August 2013 at 08:36

    Alex, my condolences. Thank you for the touching essay on your father.

  73. 76 Abraham Wilder 5 August 2013 at 11:46

    Dear Alex: My sincere condolences on the death of your father. Your tribute is beautiful and give us all a glimpse into the remarkable man who gave rise to another remarkable man.

  74. 77 Adelline 5 August 2013 at 17:47

    Beautiful piece. My condolences.

  75. 78 haikal 5 August 2013 at 20:55

    your story has moved me to tears. my condolences to you and your family . May his compassion and what he stood for lift ourselves for a long time to come.

  76. 79 xtrocious 6 August 2013 at 07:47

    My most sincerest condolences.

  77. 80 Lenneth 6 August 2013 at 15:34

    A really moving tribute. You have a father that is ahead of his time and many of us would be so honoured to be his son….. my sincere condolence.

  78. 81 Harold Kameya 6 August 2013 at 15:46

    Thank you for sharing a touching memorial to your father! Very respectful and loving!
    Your comment about the “Land of Hope and Glory” was interesting, as I had not known of that tradition of the last night of the Proms before. It’s so interesting to see staid Englishmen and women have their emotions gush out in such a manner!

  79. 82 Adam Tan 6 August 2013 at 16:12

    Dear Alex, thank you for sharing his story with us. A celebration of his life is only appropriate for such a remarkable man.
    My utmost condolences for your loss.

  80. 83 looplogic 6 August 2013 at 17:03

    A touching tribute. My deepest condolences.

  81. 84 Stephanie 6 August 2013 at 22:12

    My most heartfelt condolences. Your father made the world a better place, the world is poorer for it now that he has passed but I believe that he has left a wonderful legacy – you, among all of it.

  82. 85 Yan Chang 7 August 2013 at 07:56

    Alex :
    You are my friend through your stories and your choices in life. Your Father has left an indelible imprint in your life – and you through your stories, are a guiding light to the young in the nationhood of Singapore – and its diaspora all over the blogosphere. Thanks for sharing his life with us. Thanks for your candour and your passion.

  83. 86 homopatheticus 7 August 2013 at 09:50

    This is a beautiful piece. RIP, Mr. Au.

  84. 87 Wikigam 11 August 2013 at 23:26

    I am always behind you supporting what you care about the gay issues in Singapore ….

  85. 88 Mike 12 August 2013 at 22:12

    thank you for sharing your dad’s inspiring journey through life.

  86. 89 maver!ck 16 August 2013 at 19:45

    you make me envious

  87. 90 jeremy sim 12 September 2013 at 17:13

    He was a good man and he raised a good one too.

    He must be very proud of you

    Jeremy S.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: