[Photo: A still from the movie ‘Lee Chong Wei: Rise of the Legend’]

Badminton legend Lee Chong Wei might have retired from international badminton but he remains close to the heart of his many fans. The Malaysian superstar celebrated his mother’s birthday yesterday. He took the occasion to share a heart-warming story from his childhood on his social media accounts.

The wonderful story reads as follows.

“It was half-past nine at night. I was on the last bus from Butterworth back home to Bukit Mertajam. I was 13, hungry and tired. After school, (my) father would take me to the bus station behind BM (Bukit Mertajam) plaza on his motorbike. I would then take a public bus from BM to Butterworth, before transiting to Bukit Dumbar in Penang Island. That was my routine, 3-4 hours travelling on the bus, just to train.

I looked at my watch, a Casio watch (gifted) by my mum. Probably imitation goods but still told me the perfect time. 10 more minutes, I would get off the bus and hop onto my dad’s motorcycle. I told myself that I would just take a 1-minute nap. I still had 9 minutes of buffer time. I was exhausted. “Hey kid! Wake up! We had reached the last station! Kulim!” a shout woke me up. I jumped up from my seat, looked around the unfamiliar surroundings, I realized I missed my Bukit Mertajam stop. My Casio showed 10.15 pm. I panicked and ran down (from) the bus to find if there were any other buses heading for BM.

The bus driver stopped me for not paying (the) full fare to Kulim. I told him (that) I missed the stop and had no more money left, almost in tears. He just smiled, and asked me to wait in the bus, the bus would route back to BM (in the) next couple of minutes. I told him that my dad will pay when I get to BM. He looked at me, and said, “Let me give you something, go and sit at the back of the bus. Promise me that you will play badminton seriously.” In the bus back to BM, I was so anxious. Dad mom must be worried and angry. Finally, at 11 pm, I saw dad waiting at the bus stop. He carried my badminton bag, I hopped on his motorcycle.

Finally home, I told myself to just go have a shower and sleep as mum and (my) siblings were already asleep. There should be no food left. Little did I know when I walked into the kitchen, a hot Milo and bowl of noodle soup were served. “Wei, eat slowly” with a smile, my mum told me to eat slowly in her Hokkien dialect. I teared (up). I can never forget that smile.

A warm poor home is always better than a cold quiet castle. Today is my mum’s birthday and I would never forget how she provided me with love and care in the past. Mom, happy birthday! Hope you like the food we prepared for you. Ma, eat slowly!”

Lee Chong Wei celebrating his mother’s birthday