Monday, 30 March 2015

man and boy

My father looks at the baby and something inside him seems to melt.

There are many good things about my father, but he is not a soft man. He doesn't gurgle or coo over babies in the street. My father is a good man, but the things that he has gone through in his life means that he is also a hard man. Today some ice deep inside him begins to crack and I can tell he feels it too.

.. And I know today that I have become more like him. Today I am a father too. All the supposed landmarks of of manhood - losing my virginity, getting my driving license, voting for the first time - were all just the outer suburbs of my youth. I went through all those things and came out the other side fundamentally unchanged, still a boy.

.. Today I became what my father has been forever.

Today I became a man.


His youth may have been marred by the efforts of the German army to murder him, but at least in his day a father's role was set in stone. He always knew exactly what was expected of him. My dad was a brilliant father and - here's the killer - he didn't even have to be there to be a brilliant father. Wait until your father gets home was enough to get me to behave. His name just had to be evoked by my mother and suddenly I understood all I needed to know about being a good boy. Wait until your father gets home, she told me. And the mere mention of my father was enough to make everything in the universe fall into place.


When I first heard ahgong was sick, man and boy popped into my head.

I first bought the book when I was around 13. I had done well on a test, and my parents had decided to reward me with RM100 worth of books of my choice.

I read it and liked it, although I was devastated that love and marriage 'can't always be a honeymoon, you know'. Why not? Why not?

But Fann, strangely, loved it. He read it and reread it and reread it again a hundred times over.

However, the story and the characters stuck in my head, and when ahgong left, it seemed fitting to reread man and boy again. Because ahgong was so much like the grandfather in the book - except for his addiction.

Reading man and boy as a 25-year-old is a different experience compared to my first read. Back then I thought, Poor Harry, but I will be different. Now it's more like, I know what you're saying.. and I'm afraid I shall understand you even more in the future.

So far my life has felt like a journey of proof - proof that everything my parents ever said is the truth.

But man and boy is still wonderful, as wonderful as Eleanor and Park, which I practically inhaled within 3 days. Reading is so therapeutic, sometimes it is the only way I feel understood - I dream of vacations where I can sit somewhere pretty and read. But I'm trying to moderate my reading - it can be as addictive as TV, and I shun all addictions.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

undercut 成长日记

people love asking my re my undercut -


光阴似箭,undercut 都长到下巴了。



有点惊讶。我知道有点 illogical, but i always thought of them as old men, grandfathers.

but of course they were also real human beings.

shocking, but the world really doesn't revolve around me and my generation.

funny how it's easy for me to imagine my parents (and even grandmothers) as young individuals, but less so for my grandfathers. maybe it's because we don't talk much.

the question is, both my grandfathers are handsome, really there is no excuse for me to look just like this -


i think i should look like this -

Zhou Xun

or this -

Gianna Jun
this also can -

Gong Li

i cannot help it i am only 1 year from being a 90后 you know our cutest quirk is our sense of entitlement. HAHAHA



还是我应该去检查阿嬷,外婆的年轻照片,看是谁害了我。(被害妄想症。明明是巧克力,炸鸡,japchae,甜酒,pasta,love letters,糖果,面包,热狗,pizza 。。害了你!)

还是阿公,外公其实长得路人甲,但由于我的 eyes blinded by grief 觉得他们特别好看。





近日每晚睡不好,越来越早起身。周日竟然 6 点就醒了!




Saturday, 28 March 2015

gong gong(结果聊到头发去)

Today my maternal grandpa passed away.

I don't have many memories of him.

Except my shock when I realised he doesn't know that i am his granddaughter at all. (goes to show that we have an extreme open-door policy at the Tan residence. usually i reckon people would notice when an unknown woman keeps hanging out at your house and eating your food orz.)

But he did show some affection(?) towards Fann, always saying, ‘803 傻了!’(803 is going crazy!) 803 is the unit number of our first family flat, and for some weird reason, Fann's nickname.

And when daddy bought a Benz, gong gong changed ‘803 傻了!’ to 'are you driving the Benz yet?'

When we were little, the 6 of us 小鬼(Eugene, Tao, Eunice, Fann, Louis and i) would go to the roti place opposite popo's home for breakfast. Once gong gong showed up and personally cooked our roti for us - yep, standing next to the proprietor - so we got to cut the queue ;p

He also enjoyed snoozing on a mattress in the living room with the TV on. if anybody switched off the TV, he would snap wide awake and exclaim, 'i was watching it!' (i find this to be a common old-people-habit.)

I don't think I have heard him speak Mandarin more than a handful of times. Usually it's Hokkien - very Hokkien Hokkien. He is an astute businessman but I can never understand what he's saying. Despite his wealth, he remained a simple man - when mum brought Portuguese egg tarts (they were all the rage back then) back home, he would take a couple of them back to his room and place them on the floor! for safekeeping((惊 (one needs to store foods one wants to eat in one's room when one receives random guests.)

He also refused to move from his shabby, oven-like old home even when a new house with air-con had been built 300metres from his room!

In recent years I hardly even greeted him when I visited Sri Medan, preferring to spend time with popo instead. Sometimes I don't even see him much as he was usually out and about on his lands.

The difference with gong gong is that i don't see him deriving pleasure from his grandkids. Ahgong would gravitate towards the little ones in the house and play with them, but not gong gong. 

i won't be flying home for his funeral either, though my manager is back and i can probably apply for personal leave. my bank account, having been emptied for my driving classes, test and license, can't handle it. also, having missed ahgong's funeral, i didn't want to go to gong gong's. it doesn't make sense that i couldn't say goodbye to my beloved ahgong in person but can make the effort for somebody who doesn't know me.


i think there should be a law preventing people from getting haircuts when they're emotionally unstable. i'd rocked up to the new branch of my go-to-salon in Sydney, At the Garden Tokyo Quay St, for my Deep Scalp Treatment and Cut appointment made last week (grand opening special!).

much as i love my long hair, it is extremely difficult to care for! even when i wash it daily with Head and Shoulders i still get dandruff and my scalp always feels sticky, like it can't 'breathe'. it takes forever to dry. and sometimes my hair just feels so heavy i keep thinking, this weight cannot be good for my scalp. all my hair will fall out. i'll be bald!

so when Yuta (who used to work at the Tokyo salon servicing Ayumi Hamasaki!) suggested my current hairstyle, i agreed - after making him promise to keep my fringe long. (i still haven't gotten over the trauma of my last fringe, which marked my last trip to Korean salons. only At the Garden Tokyo from then on!) he seemed so confident i decided to trust him. and the auntie in me feels like paying for a simple 'trim' is a waste of the hairdresser's skills and my AUD.

now my hair is so short! it feels weird. i haven't decided if i like it - one will only find out after a home hair wash and sleep-in. but my head feels lighter and i look forward to easier maintenance. anyway hair grows back so i'm not too fussed. 只是有点怕妈看到我把头发剪掉会杀了我。

however i do find that 头发越长感觉越有女人味。就是不知道 maintenance 值不值得 。果然是女人,写写最后都写到头发去。

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

why do we miss?

it has been almost a month since ahgong left us. i'd expected at least 3 months of mourning (read: not eating, crying alone at home) but had made an amazing recovery. i'm going out with friends, exercising, trying to structure my life and manage household responsibilities.

i dreamed about ahgong, in his dining room, asking me, 'i haven't been gone 5 minutes, why did you move my food?!'

'i didn't!' i'd protested. 'it was ahma!'

then he went to nag ahma haha.

and sometimes in my sleep i see him sitting happily on the swing outside his home, and i think it's okay, he's happy now. no more hospital, no more pain. he is free now, he can even visit me in Sydney if he wanted to! (i was v happy when i saw a dragonfly whilst floating on a pool at Wet 'n' Wild.)

when i took my driving test i'd even said in my heart, if you're up there, ahgong, help me pass!
i passed ;p

but recently, maybe due to my relatives' own records of ahgong's passing, the fact that he won't be there when i return to Sri Gading next year really hit home.

thankfully the manic, out-of-control, hogging-the-work-toilet crying is no more, now the tears are k-drama style.

when i call ahma now, there is one less question to ask, 'how's ahgong?'

i'm not sure how well ahma is coping, she sounded tired when i called her last night. i'm afraid she's losing strength. so i cheered her by saying, 'Tao and i will be emcees at Paul's wedding!'

'you need to make speeches?' i could finally hear her smile through the phone.

'no, no, i think i just need to say, guests, please be seated!'

'in chinese?' she'd asked.

'Tao will be doing chinese, i'll be doing english!'

she's looking forward to the weddings :))


as a child i was quite sentimental and am prone to missing people. i always cried at school after being separated from cousin Eunice/ahma. because human beings - even little human beings - are not cut out for extended suffering, i kept asking myself, 'why are you crying?'

because i miss so-and-so.

'why do you miss this person?'

because i want to be with them.

'how can you be with them, if not physically?'

phone call.

once i figured that out, the yearning subsided. it turned into anticipation of a phone call. then counting down the days until we can meet again.

but how do you deal with missing a person who no longer exists physically?

how do you miss a person you don't actually speak to? (although i called ahma regularly, i rarely spoke to ahgong.. or my cousins. oops.)

how do you miss moments from your childhood and youth?

people have been doing it forever, so it can be done, but i'm still figuring out my own way of coming to terms fully with never seeing ahgong again.

but then, it has only been a month, mourning takes at least a year of magical thinking i think :))

Take my hand, I'll lead you to salvation.
Take my love, for love is everlasting. 
And remember, the truth that once was spoken -
To love another person is to see the face of God.

Monday, 23 March 2015


sometimes i really wonder where my friends get their energy from.

once a month we have a birthday party for everybody having their birthdays that month.

this month the itinerary was brunch > lawn bowls > bbq > drinks.


i had driving class* so i skipped the first half and decided to go to bbq and drinks.

*speaking of which, i'm no longer just a woman.
i'm part of the slightly dangerous sisterhood called 'women with drivers' licenses'!
full driver's license woohoo!


‘L 可以载你。’

‘那我去问 L 吧~’




我要继续 terrorize 你,把你吓的腿软软,然后乖乖替我找人载这样!


Saturday, 21 March 2015

love for adults

the older one gets the more one realises how work-intensive relationships are.

even with friends, we schedule and schedule before us girls can catch up.

i haven't seen my uni bestie in almost 2 years!

and when i hear about love relationships of family and friends, it makes me feel so grateful to be #foreveralone!

one of my many love philosophies is that when you're crazy in love with a guy who doesn't reciprocate, you should.. throw yourself - at him, not off the Harbour Bridge.

my normal girlfriends are all feminists who are all about self-respect.

the problem is when Crazy in Love happens, women just cannot think about self-respect, dump the a****** and move on in a dignified manner.

as i grow up - at the risk of sounding pure bananas - i have learned that women are crazy when it comes to relationships.

the only way for a crazy woman to manage all the madness of being a jilted lover is to throw yourself at the guy. make yourself annoying. call him. 一哭二闹三上吊。make him hate you. make him hate you so much that you run out of excuses and accept that he's just not that into you! make him avoid you.

if he uses you, there will come a day when you're so scarred and exhausted that you want out. or you get so despondent that you write to Elle's E-Jean for advice. follow her advice.

most human beings are not wired for long-term suffering. your self-preservation mode will surface and save you. (or his self-preservation mode will surface and he will take out a restraining order on you).

cry. starve yourself. become skinny and beautiful. go on hot dates with average-looking guys (lucky to find one of those in SYD).

secret of adulthood - logic doesn't work all the time.

(but sometimes i wonder if i should be allowed to give my alt advice to friends.)

Thursday, 19 March 2015

malaysian chinese traditions

in KL i would describe myself as 'progressive' but in Sydney i would change that description to 'traditional'.

perhaps it is the humbling effect of experiencing the death of a loved one.

or being far away from home, alone.

maybe it's just the effects of time and age.

but more and more i am starting to appreciate traditions which have struck me as nonsensical and ridiculous when i was younger.

like the complex funeral rituals associated with Chinese/Buddhism.

the colors of the clothing, the wake, the endless chanting and kneeling, the burning of incense and offering of various paper products.. all left me a bit bemused as a 24-year-old, although i dutifully prayed as instructed by my aunt at the funeral of a relative (not even sure who he was).

when i first heard the news that ahgong had left us i was at a railway station, and my crying would have been never-ending had i not had to clean myself up.

knowing that i needed to remove my contact lenses, makeup, shower, brush my teeth, undress then go to bed focused me and gave me something which can be done on autopilot as a distraction - although crying + brushing your teeth at the same time = choking.

i spoke to K re her experience with her grandpa's death and funeral, and i feel what took the edge off the grief and sadness was the physical effort of the wake and funeral.

we took turns keeping vigil over the body, 24/7. we worked in shifts, and i had to stay up all night once.

why did you have to keep vigil?

because if a cat jumps over the body, he would come alive.

ORZ girl are you sure?

i might have taken it harder than usual because i wasn't caught up in the bustle of preparations for the wake. if i had flown back home and had to expend energy at the wake, i would have been to exhausted to cry and wonder where people go after they die.

reading the texts in the family WhatsApp group really helped.

i was also struck by how expensive funerals are! the bill alone would be enough to stem the grieving!

even the old-school, nobody-does-it-anymore mandated mourning period makes sense now - human beings are such that if you can't do something, you want to do it more. by severely restricting what people can do for an extended period of time, halfway through the mourning timeframe they will be so over it, i want to go on holiday NOW!

wise were our forefathers who came up with this ingenious way to cushion the blow of loss, which is most keenly felt during the first week, by distracting us with this and that, by letting us feel as though there is still something we can do in the most powerless moments of our lives.

or maybe all these musings are because i have been living abroad alone for almost 4 years now, and am craving some traditions to anchor me in a place where i sometimes feel like i'm being swallowed up whole.

another tradition which i may embrace is confinement.

i was reading cupcakes and cashmere the other day, and Emily mentioned that it took her approx. 1 month to feel like herself again after giving birth.

aha! i thought. that's the exact length of a Chinese confinement.

when i was little, all i knew re confinement was that the new mums are not supposed to wash their hair! for a month! eww~ and i recall there's something about superstition re birds for a woman in confinement, can't remember what it is.

anyway i became convinced Chinese people were crazy and wished i were white ((laughs

then i was introduced to confinement food, which i loved! red wine chicken and pork trotter in vinegar are my 2 faves. when popo was well she used to cook them for me and Tao when we visited.

i think one day an Anglo was saying how stressful it can be when you have a new baby and people want to see it, like NOW. it can be tough to say no.

aha! that's why we have confinement!

having a month to readjust to life with a new baby, without feeling like you're an unfriendly boring mother, and being able to explain your limited-visitors policy with just one word 'confinement', is helpful to the entire family. and after a month you can show off your baby with a full moon party!

Il faut des rites. We need rituals. rituals for times of joy, and just as important, rituals for challenging times. as time goes by i am enjoying the reassurance of rituals more and more.

Il faut des rites
i'm even thinking of planning out my weeks more, ala this fabulous idea on family dinners. i struggle to balance work, cooking, cleaning, violin, exercising, friends, reading etc.

having read Switch, i know the daily question of 'should i go running after work tomorrow? or should i cook? when was the last time i cooked? will i have enough time for music practice? should i take the meat down from the freezer anyway?' is sapping my energy.

i guess this is what adulthood looks like - when laissez faire just doesn't quite do it for you anymore ;p

Thursday, 12 March 2015

february 2015

oh my sis so cute!

and my chemically abused hair .. i love it!

Karaoke with my cousins.

Deep fried coconut ubi? 
 From Rengit. Not to my taste though.

Vietnamese coffee. Yum!


Lion dance!

Lontong, Sri Medan
 We had 5 lontongs + eggs, 4 rotis, 2 teh tariks, 1 sotong sambal.

Guess how much it cost?


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(This woman wanna spill or not!)

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Yummy and cheap!

Japanese Kit Kats

Look at how dense this foam is!

too cool for school Egg Mousse Pack.

supposed to be moisturising, but feels more like a deep cleanse((笑

I love pickled garlic but not this kind.

This is weird.

It's still in my fridge.

Korean funeral bier

There was a Korean funeral exhibition at KCO.

I attended the opening.

Apparently it's supposed to be a lucky thing to see one of these biers.

One of the women working on this exhibition got married!

We'll see about that.

Korean family tree
Good coffee at Wynyard
So cute.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Wet & Wild Sydney + Boon Cafe

Last Saturday I went to Wet & Wild Sydney -

I'd wanted to sit home and sulk but I'd already bought the ticket awhile ago so.. it was good. I probably over-exerted myself by showing up before the gates opened, and staying until closing time.

We had enough time to go on a few of the slides multiple times. The slides were fun but the freaky 360 degree one wasn't operating. Thank God! I'm scared.

Half pipe

Fake beach - in a city of real beaches
On Sunday I woke up sore all over from all the physical exertion.

'You got tired from going down slides?' 

Man, it's hard work lugging floats up tall flights of stairs then holding tightly while you slide down!

Okay the boys probably had it tougher.

On Sunday I had agreed to meet friends to have brunch and play Wii. (I love Wii Boxing).

Boon Cafe 
 Boon Cafe is affiliated with Chat Thai, and is housed together with an upscale Thai grocer.

It's a bit tight but still pretty.

Very Sydney hipster.

I had kaffe yen (iced coffee with caramelised milk, AUD5) and nahm prik ong (northern region spicy pork, tomato relish, soft herb, cucumber and pickled salad with rice, AUD11).

The rice is not the usual Thai white rice, but round, plump, rather dense and filling grains which reminds me a bit of barley. It's so filling I only had 3 pieces of salmon sashimi for dinner and felt fine.

I'm trying to stick to the cheapest menu item because I fell in love with Gentle Monster Didi D 01 recently - I have had green mould growing on my current sunnies for awhile now and am thinking of getting new shades.

Plus it's easier to make decisions this way((笑

美丽的GM Didi D 01,why you cost USD270?!
Actually USD270 is reasonable..

Why AUD depreciating?!

Anyway, more physical exertion.

Wii Boxing is hands down the most exhausting game ever. But so fun!

(Or maybe it's because I'm just punching blindly without skill) ((小声

But today my body hurts even more.

When I cough my back aches.

When I lift my arms to dress myself.. wow the pain is unreal.

Because my current read is Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, I got it into my head that the cure for my aching body is.. running!

I reckon the motion and heat will warm and loosen my muscles.

I still hurt.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

i'll never let go 2

I'm just writing however i feel like ;p


we grew up some more and moved to our current home. when our parents traveled ahgong would come up and stay with us. one day Fann saw snakes in the living room - the developers had torn up a hill to build our community and in the early days there were angry monkeys, squirrels and snakes in the neighbourhood - and called ahgong who was at the office.

he rushed home, asked Fann where the snakes were ('under the sofa!') then proceeded to proactively attack the snakes! you cannot imagine how shocked and impressed we soft city kids were. ahgong poked under the sofa with a broom to drive out the snakes, then whacked them rather violently as they slithered out.. until they stopped moving.

have you ever read man and boyahgong is from a different era, when men exhibit 100% hypermasculinity. when a mother saying, wait till your father gets home! is enough to get kids to behave. when i saw him bashing those snakes (sorry snakes, but i'm afraid of you guys) i thought of the man's father from the book.. how safe it is to have ahgong around!

7. [backtracking a bit and breaking up the timeline because fresh memories surfaced a couple of days ago]

when i was little sometimes ahgong would take me to the mamak to have a cup of Milo. he would tip some Milo into a saucer and blow on it a bit to cool it, while i would squirm in my seat from anticipation.

after deciding that the Milo is safe for consumption, ahgong would let me start on the Milo, sometimes with a teaspoon, sometimes just drinking from the saucer as if it a big shallow mug.

now when i think back it's a bit vulgar, the whole pouring beverage into saucers thing, but also very charming. i wonder if people still do it nowadays?


when i cut myself or had a nasty mosquito bite ahma would blow on it, saying aah-pom! aah-pom! like a magical chant. (placebo for kids, haha.)

ahgong, on the other hand - and to the horror of my mum - would stick a Band-Aid on it.

'ah pa, the wound needs to breathe,' i remember mum saying as i admired my lovely Band-Aid.

'nah, it's better to cover it so she doesn't scratch,' ahgong responded.

i LOVED those Band-Aids, probably because mum never used them, so they felt really special.


i suspect it was ahgong who introduced me to roti gula. (笑

of course mum stopped me from eating it, but it's my preferred roti style (which i hardly eat).


i want to remember how ahgong chews, forever. i'm not sure what was the deal with his teeth but whenever he chews, his entire face scrunches up, then relaxes, scrunches up, then relaxes.. it kinda reminds me of a dog. (is it bad to say that?)

as a kid i liked mimicking his chewing style, believing it was the way adults ate and that it would make my food more delicious.

'what are you doing?' i recall mum asking in the tiny dining area of our first family home at 803, Blok H7, Pandan Jaya.




one of the times ahgong was looking after me at 803, i must have caught a stomach bug, because i was on the toilet ALL the time. finally he decided to bring me to the doctor. so we walked to the doctor's, but on the walk home i had to go NOW so i pooped on some grass in a parking lot.

we didn't have tissues on us so ahgong picked up some old newspapers and we, you know, free-styled. i still remember i wearing this pink top and pants set with white polka dots on that day.



too exhausted to cry today.

all that crying last night wore me out. seriously i regretted it this morning as i dragged my sorry self out of bed.. and again when i went to pick up the violin and was served by a young and handsome violin player(晕


anyway i'm starting to get used to the fact that ahgong is physically no more (sometimes i forget, and when i remember.. ugh it's like seeing the text for the first time).

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

i'll never let go 3


just before i left for Sydney in 2011 ahgong had given me a special angpao.

'are you going to Australia to study?' he'd asked.


'here,' he'd handed me an angpao. 'study well!'

it was around this time i realised that my gong gong (what i call my maternal grandpa) had no clue who i was, so to have ahgong remember that i was going away was especially sweet.


when i came back to SG in 2013 i think ahgong was more excited to see Silvia (aka a REAL Chinese person) than me haha.

he asked her where she was from and knew all these Chinese places.


this year when i went back Tao and i had bumped into him when we went to the lontong stall. i had sat opposite him but couldn't think of anything to say! (in my defence, i had been crying in dad's old room before Tao dug me out for breakfast and was still feeling out of sorts.)

so we enjoyed our lontong in silence, me sneaking bites from Tao's plate.

after the meal Tao paid, then ahgong rode his bike home while Tao and i walked for a second breakfast at the roti canai stall.

ahgong on his trusty rusty old bike
i remember seeing all the rust on his bike and thinking, should arrange to gift him with a new one, maybe something blue.

before we left for Sri Medan i had pressed an angpao into his hand as he sat on the sofa, whispering, 'just a small one, for your good health!' then darting away.

mum insisted we take photos (thank my lucky stars) and ahgong protested, saying he wasn't dressed. singlet = underwear. but he relented after we laughed and convinced him singlet = actual clothing.

'bye! look after your health! see you next year!' i'd called out as i entered dad's car to go to SM.

when dad had said that 'grandpa had a stroke' i thought it was my gong gong, hooked up as he is to oxygen and bedridden. it was quite a shock to learn it was ahgong, who was riding around on his bike just a few days ago!

manic crying ensued.

i wanted to pray, but what do i pray for?

merely breathing is not really being alive.

when i received the WhatsApp text saying ahgong had left on Saturday, i was waiting for a 10pm train to the city, where my friend had invited me for drinks at Hilton's Zeta Bar to break my rather monotonous routine of going home and crying after work.

manic crying ensued again. it was ugly - my smoky eyes had smeared, i had snot all over my face, i had neither tissue nor hair tie, so i could only swat helplessly when the wind blew and my long hair stuck to the snot. i sat at the station for awhile before cancelling drinks and going home, where i learned how difficult it is to cry and remove makeup/brush teeth at the same time.

my family called. i wanted to comfort dad but i think they were more concerned about me.

of course i know 生老病死即人之常情。but WHERE IS AHGONG NOW?

on Monday and Tuesday i didn't cry at all and i thought ahgong must be in the 'better place' people keep saying he is, wherever the fuck that is. don't overthink, min.

i called ahma on Monday, and she'd panicked, asking ‘告诉她吗?’to which i hear mum saying‘阿忞啊,那天哭得乱七八糟!’ and ahma had sighed at my sentimentalism and comforted me. man i was supposed to be doing the comforting.

ahgong had a good, long life.

he didn't suffer much.

it's okay that you can't make the funeral, ahgong will understand.

yes, for the first time i was truly grateful ahgong didn't suffer for an extended period of time.

until early this morning when i woke at 3am with wet eyes and wondered where the fuck is that 'better place', really?! 



today the body of the man who had poured Milo into saucers for me, who would sneak into his room to prepare angpaos on CNY Eve, who loved taking Fann for haircuts, who killed snakes, who loved Brylcream, who had 'Wolverine hair'.. became a box of ashes.

i can only hope there is something called a soul, and that your soul is now free to travel. you can visit me in Sydney, though i don't think you will like it here.

maybe you became an angel, my first guardian angel?

or maybe you can go to the reincarnation cave and queue for your verdict on what you'll be in your next life - a 仙,a man or an animal. (whatever before sunrise says, this seems plausible.)

or maybe there is heaven, and you'll catch up with your brother and play mahjong and smoke cigarettes. (how does heaven work, really?)

or maybe you became a dragonfly :))

tomorrow i will stop crying.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

i'll never let go 1

where do people go after they die?

i have often pondered this question, just not as seriously.

the only people i know who have died is lau chek (ahgong's younger brother) and lau sim (lau chek's wife). i was young and didn't remember much, except that they always used a hook on a long pole to get us rambutan from the tree in their garden and gave us angpau during CNY.

i also remembered when lau chek got a stroke and lost his speech i felt sorry for him.

but ahgong! ahgong is different.

when i was little and dad was starting his company i stayed at Sri Gading sometimes. every night before bed i would ask ahma to wake me when she did in the morning because yes, i cannot bear to have ahma awake for a minute without me by her side.

in the morning it would be chilly and foggy - that was before SG was developed - and ahgong would be squatting outside the house beside the swing, smoking cigarettes and reading the papers. while ahma fixed breakfast of Milo and cream crackers i would sit on the swing for a while, not talking to ahgong except greeting him because i was a bit scared of him.

sometimes i would ask him to stop smoking because my teacher said it's bad. to which he would invariably reply, it's doctor's orders. CONFUSING my little brain! i had to clarify and re-clarify with both parents and teachers on whether smoking was really bad? is it still bad when it's under doctor's orders? are you absolutely certain no doctor would prescribe cigarettes?


one day Fann and i discovered a framed photo of ahgong receiving a medal from somebody we thought we were the coolest.

he used to be the penghulu, we learned. and we swelled with pride at being the penghulu's grandchildren.
#totally imagined myself as some tribal princess ala Pocahontas or Tenko


as we grew up, sometimes dad and mum would arrange for us kids to catch the bus home ourselves after staying in the countryside. ahgong would volunteer to chaperone us. this was his way of expressing affection, i guess.


after moving to Pandan Perdana, sometimes ahgong (usually ahma) would come stay with us kids while our parents travelled for work. once he cooked this amazingly delicious scallop and bitter gourd soup which was so sweet it's unreal. (it was also my first time seeing people cook in moderation - usually soup at home is a gigantic pot which just lasts and lasts.)

another food he can make is bubur chacha. he would always ask us kids, 'do you want to eat bubur chacha?' which is another new thing to me. because i always assumed bubur chacha is a bought food, not a home-cooked food.

on weekend mornings he would wake us bright and early to ask us what we wanted for breakfast from the morning market. i would always feel so torn because i still wanted to sleep but at the same time i wanted to pick the perfect weekend breakfast food. sometimes i picked egg tart, at others one of those glutinous rice balls coated with white flour with a sugar-and-crushed-peanuts filling. (whoa my sweet tooth was there all along.) sometimes when i was feeling particularly picky i would force myself out of bed and go to the market with him to make my selection in person.


in SG, as i grew up and no longer found Milo and cream crackers as palatable as roti, sometimes ahgong would go out to buy roti in the morning for our breakfast. mum usually preferred going to the store for fresh ones but i didn't mind eating slightly cold ones, because i felt ahgong was showing his care for us by buying us breakfast. and also i am afraid that if i didn't eat it it would hurt his feelings.

CNY 2014