Tuesday, October 18, 2016

#MyDatuk

The eulogy I did not get to share in person.


One of my earliest memories of Datuk, and arguably one of my earliest memory in general, would have to be laying in Datuk’s arms of heavy cigarette smell, and playing with his dark, rough hands and fingers before falling asleep. As you may see in this photo, Datuk was bottle feeding a baby. That baby was me, and having him in my life from the very beginning and knowing that he’s no longer around now is extremely hard for me. I’m glad Audrey is the one doing this on my behalf, as I know I won’t be able to pull myself together through the whole thing.

I would like to share the happy moments I had with Datuk, and how proud I am to be this amazing man’s favourite granddaughter. Every morning as a child, he would take me out together with Popo to the market to have breakfast with his friends, then buy groceries for the day. My favourite part is when I would get my daily treat from the tuck shop, and he would never ever forget that part. I remember how he would be boasting about me to his friends and it was obvious that I was his pride and joy. Even though it was really embarrassing then, I could remember Datuk showing me off at the coffee shop. When I started kindergarten, he would drop me off to school in his dated Austin with a mini fan attached inside (it didn’t have in built air-conditioning). Silly little me, I was so ashamed of coming to school in that car, that I would slide down in my seat so my friends won’t see me, say good-bye to Datuk, and made my exit really quickly. Of course it would not be the case if I was seen in one of those vintage cars now. I hope I didn’t hurt his feelings back then.

Now that he’s no longer here, and I have to accept the fact that things are not the same again, I want the world to know how proud I am to have a Datuk like him. How my childhood would have been so different if it wasn’t for him who tended to my scrapped knee, hugged me when I got a scolding by Popo, and hand-sewn Batu Seremban (the old school ‘5 Stones’ game) in the shape of pyramids so that I can have a better grip to learn the game faster.

Datuk was the one who patiently taught me random but useful life skills like Chinese calligraphy, how to get all the meat out of a crab, how to gut Ikan Bilis, how to tell if Popo won or lost a mah jong game, how to dodge the uncle who pinches my cheeks every time we went to the markets, and how to be nice to the naughty neighbour’s kid. He taught me integrity, patience, honesty, and trust by showing it to me in how he lived his life.

I’m proud of my Datuk who showed unconditional love through his marriage, which gave me assurance that I should only marry someone who loves me like how Datuk loves Popo, which I did ;)  I’m proud of my Datuk who lived a selfless life and was always ready to help others. I’m proud of my Datuk who has been so strong and determined to be independent in his final days when his physical body gave way.

I wish I could relive the times when I was still under Datuk’s care, when I would count the moles on his back, help him tie his fishing lines with colourful fake fish, and when I would lie in his sturdy arms, and play with his fingers before falling asleep. I miss you so much, Datuk. I promise I will live my life reflecting the many things you have taught me, and will never ever forget the great times I had with you. Goodbye my Datuk.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Goodnight Popo


I must admit that I never liked Popo when I was a kid. She's the opposite of what Datuk is: gentle, outwardly caring and forgiving. But somehow I've always had a thought at the back of my head that one day I'll appreciate her. True enough, now I'm ever so grateful to have a grandmother like her.

For as long as I could remember, I lived with Datuk and Popo on weekdays, and mom and dad would come in the evenings for dinner and take me back on weekends. Most mornings I would go with them to the market, get pinched on the cheeks by their friends and have breakfast at the coffee shops. Popo would always share her breakfast with me and tell me that in her days, a bowl of noodles would cost a quarter of a shilling which then they would have to break the coin in 4s. I never believed in her after failing to break my allowance in half. 

I spent a lot of time with them in my primary school days. I would pray very hard everyday as I return from school that Popo has won in her mahjong game. Because if not, I would get scolded for the smallest misbehaviour. 

"You better behave now or you'll get some serious time-outs on the potty!" She would yell at me in Cantonese. I could remember the tears that fell on my lap as Datuk fed me in between my heavy sobbing.

But as I grew older, I've learnt ways of staying clear from the wrath or finding shelter behind Datuk. Her temper got better somehow, and I saw the caring side of Popo eventually. 

She's not the type who would speak her emotions or say how much she cares. But she shows it subtly, expecting nothing in return. 

Popo tries every way to eliminate the fishy smell in her fish dishes because she know how badly I hate it. She makes sure she has enough change for me to take as daily allowance from her cabinet. She made me feel like an adult by letting me help clean and cook rice, peel fruits and vegetables, and help her brew rice wine. She would make sure I dry my hair after the shower so I won't fall sick.

The perkiest comment she said to me was: "Yee Ai (that's my Chinese name), you're thinking too much in that little head of yours. It's making you too skinny. You need to be fatter. Don't think too much ok?". After that, I realised how hard it was not to think at all! Sorry Popo... I did try. 
 
So many experiences I have safeguarded them in my heart that I'll never belittle. I'll never forget the times when she disagreed with me on growing my hair long, when she sang Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo De Xing while doing the house chores with me, when she told me to be obedient to Dai Yee when I was studying in Adelaide, when she taught me how to boil herbal tea over the phone when I moved to Perth, when I told her I was getting married and Tim showed up late in picking her and Datuk up for dinner, when I tried to explain to her where Norway is and how life is over there, when I saw the once strong and scary woman be so weak on the bed, hoping with all my heart that she can still see me and recognise me as I squeezed her frail hands. 



We knew this day would come and I'm glad she's not in pain anymore. I hope that in her final cautious moments, she knows and feels the love and gratitude we have for her. I'm very sure she loves Datuk as much as he does her. And I truly hope he was the last thought she has before she passed on.

So dearest Popo,

Having the honour of sharing a part of my life with you, I know that you love to drink soup (now I know where I got that from), made a wonderful man fall head over heels for you, always had short hair, like the colour green, and always made me giggle when you try to say noodle. 

I would always remember you as a strict teacher, the mahjong queen, a responsible mother, a submissive wife, and an amazing grandmother.

Since I was young, you always made sure I greeted everyone and mind my Ps and Qs. So now I want to say thank you Popo, and goodnight Popo. I'll see you one day I'm sure. Have an awesome time in heaven. I guess it would not matter if you win or lose in mahjong there.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A few of my favourite things


Instead of listing all possible 1st world problems, I’d like to look to the positive and list some 1st world advantages/good situations. If there come a time when the dog bites, the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, and I have to sing about my favourite things, I don’t think doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodles will cut it.

So I thought of making my own version that does not rhyme but may help with not feeling so bad – here are a few of my favourite things:

* Typing on a springy keyboard with freshly cut fingernails
* Having taken just enough pegs for the amount of laundry
* Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes (this I must agree)
* Hotel linen with high thread count
* Fresh bed sheets
* Tearing perforated paper
* Watching windscreen wiper do its thing in the rain
* Opening the fridge/freezer door on a hot summer’s day
* Clearing up the spam mail in my inbox
* Sticky date pudding
* Hearing the tiny stone getting sucked up and rattling in my vacuum cleaner
·        

In some ways… I don’t feel so sad now, I just feel a little OCD. If only I could make them all rhyme, then I could write a song about all my favourite things. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

The hidden agenda of the mysterious bobby pins

You may relate to me if you’re a girl with long or short hair whom at the most inconvenient times are in desperate need of a bobby pin.

I’m sure this happens to almost anything – when you need it, you’ll never find it. But somehow, this happens the most for bobby pins. The frustrating thing is that I consciously try to leave a few bobby pins in most places I could possibly think of. Jackets pockets, bag compartments, coin bags, stationary drawers at the office, emergency pack, in the miscellaneous drawer of keys, pens and USB sticks etc.

And still I could end up not finding a single bobby pin when I need it most. I have a strong feeling they know exactly when to hide, and when to show up to be a nuisance at that spot. They just love watching me get annoyed with crazy hair sticking out by the side at the same time.

Come on bobby pins, I’m your friend, please be nice to me.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Where is my shovel?

I have forgotten how to write.

 

Let me rephrase – I have forgotten how it feels to write. The mental purge of thoughts and ideas. I hope this little step of returning to the blogging habit will help.

 

I read about digging ditches today, from The Great Book in 2 Kings. Elisha told the kings to dig the ground. They were in the middle of war, and this prophet tells them to go dig. Lol.

 

If you have time, read this story, kinda interesting…

 

The kings had big dreams – to win the war, but God is asking them to start small and dig ditches so that He can fill it with water to nourish the dehydrated troop at war.

 

Now my problem is that I do not have a big dream (yet). However, I reckon that if I start digging my ditches, I would be able to see my big dream, I hope.

 

Now where’s my shovel?