Sunday, 17 September 2006

>>> Sunday Bloggers! <<<

SJ started a 'Sunday Blogger' theme on the Scrapitude forum and this is today's theme:

"If you could meet anyone famous or not, dead or alive, and sit down somewhere quiet for a chat.. who would It be and what would you talk to them about?"

Well for someone dead, I would luv to be able to chat with my grandma (whom I call mama) again. She died last December and as the funeral was held almost immediately, I couldn't fly back in time and I felt so bad as she had raised me from baby till about 6 yrs old. Through her I learned to speak Hokkien (a dialect) as she couldn't speak English. Through her I learned her life as a child. She came from a very rich family, so rich that each child had a personal servant. She was sent to school on horse-drawn carriage (probably didn't have cars at that time). She had tons of jewellry adorned on her too. I can't remember what her dad did but looking at her pictures, I could see they were very well dressed. Unfortunately it came to an end when she married a penniless man whom she pitied (moral of story, never marry out of pity!). Life became a struggle and she had to slowly pawn her jewellry to make ends meet. She bore 6 children but lost three, one through childbirth, another through the war and the last one through a car accident. She was a staunch Catholic too and named her kids after those in the Bible. I luv looking at her photographs and if I could lay my hands on them now, they would make priceless scrapping pictures as the clothes she wore during that time is now antique! She was brillant at making cakes too and every Chinese New Year, orders would come through for her Nonya cakes. I used to help her do them as well. I wish then I had written the receipes down as these days it's so hard to get the same quality of cakes that she makes. Oh and she was ever so good at making rice dumplings. That was a labour of love too and meticuously done. She would send me out to pick blue flowers, not any kind but a special one so that she could extract the dye and use it for the rice. Her fillings for the dumpling included chestnut and I used to 'steal' them from the pot which she had cooked when she wasn't looking. They were so delicious! Oh and not forgetting acquiring tons of banana leaves which she used them to wrap up the dumplings. First, she would fold them into a triangular shape, stuff the rice including the blue coloured one in as the base, then the fillings that consisted of meat and chestnut, and finally more rice to cover it. Then she would wrap it up with the banana leaves and finally steam the entire lot! Whenever she made it, I would only have rice dumplings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not surprisingly, she used to get tons of orders for her famous Nonya rice dumplings b'cos they were soooo good! To this day, whenever I eat any commerically bought ones, I just cannot help but compare it to what I used to eat before. They don't even have the blue coloured rice in too!

She lived to a ripe old age of 91 and died peacefully in her sleep. She had become rather weak as she grew older and was confined to the wheelchair but luckily her son hired a maid to look after her 24/7 hr/days. I brought Oliver to see her when I was down in Singapore a few years ago and introduced her to her great-grandson. Doubt if she recognised me but when I told her I was pregnant, she looked happy and clapped her hands. It was sheer agony to see her looking so thin and shrivelled and tried my best to keep the tears away but failed. I knew she was well taken care of as she was living with her son but still, it was hard to take in the ravages of old age. Then, just before Xmas last year, my dad called (on a Sat) to say that she had passed away peacefully in her sleep. When my uncle checked on her in the morning, she was smiling and appeared ok. However, in the afternoon, when the maid checked on her, she was cold. It was a great shock to everyone as there was no signs of her passing on. She wasn't even sick! As I couldn't get to her funeral in time, I told my dad to take pictures of her in her coffin and I swear, she had a smile on her face and looked so young. She certainly didn't look old and her skin looked so unwrinkled. Needless to say I spent that weekend crying and got my dad to keep me updated on her cremation progress via text. I still wished I had attended her funeral though since I was closer to her than my other grandma. I remember all the Hokkien phrases that she used to scold me when I was naughty as a child, her delicous cakes and her life in general. I do miss her and wish my kids had a chance to know her. If I had the chance to chat with her today, I would luv to record her life as a child and scrapbook it.

The other person I would luv to chat with is my best friend Ellen. We met through school as teachers and somehow clicked. It made teaching life bearable as we had each other's company and a few others to pour our frustration out to each other. When I left to study abroad, we kept in touch and somehow, she eventually made her way to the UK too when she did a degree at Loughbourgh Uni. Needless to say, I would pop over there ever so often. At that time I was in England doing my Masters and was living with my boyfriend (now hubby). We had great fun exploring England, going out to different towns each weekend. Then we got separated when she finished her degree and returned to Singapore. A few years later, she came back to England to be with her Brit boyfriend whom she had met in Singapore but later went back to England. They got married here and for a few years, we would go to and fro each other house's during weekends. She was around when Ollie was born and used to look after him, fed him and played with him. Then her hubby found a job in China and they moved to Shanghai. Yeah, these days we chat using MSN and email and still pour our souls to each other. I was so glad to meet her last month when she came down to Singapore and although it was a short meeting, it felt so good to be able to have a tete-a-tete face to face instead of via cyberspace! I cherish her friendship dearly and hope one day we will be living in the same country again (doesn't matter which!!!) As to what I would chat with her about, literally everything under the sun! She's one person I'm able to connect very well and where being silent is comfortable too.

Gosh, can't believe how much I rambled. Anyway, today was a chill out day for the family. Hubby did the housework while I took care of the laundry and later in the evening, we had dinner with MIL & FIL. Curry again but it was delicious! Another weekend that has quickly flown by again... TTFN!


KimmyS said...

I love the story about your Grandma! YOu have such awesome memories of her. I can understand though that it must have been so hard for you not being able to get to the funeral.

I am glad that she dies peacefully in her sleep, the last thing you want for your loved ones is to suffer.

Keeping my fingers crossed that you and Ellen will one day live in the same country again. A friendship like this only comes around once in a blue moon.

CaroleW said...

The story about your grandma is absolutely fascinating! It's amazing how much you remember once you start writing things down isn't it? She was obviously happy and at peace when she died and none of us can ask for more than that for our loved ones.

Lovely stories Audrey!

scrappyfairy said...

wow! i can almost taste those rice and chestnut things! gorgeous!
what a fab blog!!! so emotional!
thanks for taking part.

Lazeeblogger said...

Audrey, what a fantastic account of the outstanding life of your Grandma 'mama' what a beautiful lady she was. I loved reading about her, your account is so elloquent, that I can almost hear you narrating the story, very inspirational reading & your pride of this lady shines through.

I really hope that your wish comes true and you & Ellen will be reunited in the same country again soon.