|My Wonderful Grandmother at 90.|
I was inspired to write something about my wonderful grandmother after reading "Mum's the word's - Give Thanks -My Domestic Helper" at SingaporeDaily, ( Link ). Actually, I wrote about my wonderful grandmother about year back but I would like to share it with you again and hope you like it.
I'm now 65, in my sunset years. Somehow recently, I have frequent flash of memories of a few affectionate people who had left me many years ago. Fond thoughts of them keep resurfacing in my mind. Regretfully, their love and affection for me then were not understood nor appreciated. I wish I could call them now and tell them how much I appreciate their love and affection for me.
The first person I would call is my Wonderful Grandmother. I remember her with much affection, love and above all, admiration. She died about 25 years ago at a ripe old age of 95.
Though the family were poor, Ah Ma had this amazing will in keeping the family intact through the greatest misfortunes and crises. She brought up her four children single handily with enterprising spirit and business skills. She sold many stuffs, one of which I remember was "samsu " liquor ( an Indian word for a high spirit) popular among the poor Indian laborers at that time. Alone, she brewed the "samsu" in the dense forest of Bukit Timah from yeast and fermented rice. Often, she had to endure time behind bar after being raided and caught by custom officers for brewing and selling the illicit liquor.
I slept with Ah Ma on the same bed from a month old till I was about 10 and continued to sleep in the same room with her till my late twenties. As a young boy, I was terrified by her loud snoring while sleeping beside her. She cared for me more than my parents did for me, as my parents had a handful of my siblings to worry about.
Although with no formal education, she sent me to an English school, believing that an English education would ensure that I would be able to get a good job in the civil service, which was prestigious at that time. All my siblings went to a village Chinese school.
When I started my first job in a factory, she would wake up before dawn, regardless of her state of health, to cook pork porridge for me, worrying that I might be hungry before work. Today, I deeply regret that I frequently shouted at her when she persistently screamed at me to wake up from my slumber in the morning to get to work. My son is doing the same thing to me now.
In my adult years, I was busy in selfish pursue of all things materialistic and did not pay much attention nor spent much time with Ah Ma. I wish I could reverse that. But, Alas! it's too late now. To my young readers, don't make the same mistake like me.
There was nothing that Ah Ma wouldn’t do for me. I can still see her, clad in a black silky trouser and light blue shanfu, her hair gathered into a tight bunch at the back of the head, her face and neck dripping with sweat, drawing water from the well. I can still hear her loud scolding voice, laced with the colourful expletives of Hokkien, daily dispensed to the neighbors in the village. She had two distinctive "Bugs Bunny" front teeth that makes her shy to have photo of herself. However, to me she was the most beautiful woman I ever known.
Today, her two sons and eldest daughter are gone but her youngest daughter is still alive and well in her late seventies. Her 60 over grandchildren and great-grandchildren are mostly successful in their various professions. I remember Ah Ma with so much love it hurts, and the mere mention of her brings fond memories and sometime, choking tears. I miss you, Ah Ma.