May 11, 2011

May Springs Eternal


A while back I tweeted about my love-hate relationship with May. It’s a very emotional and tiring month for me. But never mind, I’ll take it one day at a time.

On the 1st of May, I joined the Borneo International Marathon. I didn’t live-tweet it, but I did take pictures. I also promised to blog about it.

This is not that blog.

Though I took pictures, there were a few other interesting incidents that escaped my camera. *takes out pens and pencil* Which means I’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way.

This also means it would take some time. So you’ll just have to be patient to see me all sweaty and sexy on that day.

(‘scuse me I have to… *bwahahahhahaha* on that last part)

*cough* eherm. Yes, so I was saying, this is not about my adventures in BIM but actually about…

Mother’s Day! *throws confetti*

I personally dislike Mother’s Day. One, because I don’t have a mum and Two, the next day, midnight, will be her anniversary. Since 2006, I associate it with extremely hurtful memories.

But not this year! This year, I plan to actually grow up (a little) or man up to it. I want to focus on other memories that aren't hurtful and not of that day. I’m still a mass of guilt and regret and anger, but I want to make a change.

For those of you who enjoy my drawings, today’s post is a treat for you. :D It’s a part of my childhood, and I hope it reminds you of yours, too (in a nice way).

Now, I was an angel when I was a child.

God: Eherm!

Okay, I was a bratty, (a bit) spoilt, headstrong child! In short, I was not cute. I wasn't the kind of kid that old people will want to carry on their shoulder or bosoms. My own grandmother preferred my cousins over me. My female cousins were more glamorous, cute, pretty, talented, and/or diligent than me. :P It’s just the way things were, and it was fine by me. It also meant I rolled with the boys more than with the girls. Once my mum actually admitted that she wanted a boy; that’s why my hair was always cut short and she bought me shirts and pants. This fact is  unconfirmed since I wasn’t sure if she was joking or not, but I was there when she said it.

So anyway, today’s post is a little about my past and a little about Malaysia’s favourite past time: food!

Mothers are usually associated with being the best cooks. My mother, bless her soul, could cook AND bake. I’ve heard tales of my elder siblings coming home from school to have cake waiting for them at home. But by the time I came along... well, let’s just say my mom ‘retired’ from that. Ah, jealous was my middle name in those days. Thankfully, she didn’t retire from cooking. She would make simple dishes, but they would taste like they were meant for kings! I’d carefully eat them... and by carefully I meant I’d play with them.

Reader: Play? As in “food fight” play?

No, dear reader. Keep in mind I was a naughty kid. By play, I mean... ah, it’s easier if I give an example.

Every morning, mum or dad would cook breakfast before I headed off to school. Bread was expensive, so I either had fried noodles or fried rice. Now, I could do all sorts of things with noodles. I could suck it halfway and pull it out from my mouth. So I will have this tingling feeling in my throat. I’d do this again and again. Yes, now I see that this is really gross, but back then IT WAS FASCINATING!

My second elder brother, Chester (who I call Bonong) would take this one step further. He could make the noodle come out of his nose. Now, what is a young and impressionable girl to do? Emulate, of course! But much to my disappointment, I couldn’t do it. :(

But I drew the line when it came to rice. I come from a farming family. To be more specific, we are rice planters. Since I was little, I've had a deep respect for rice. I believe in the saying sebutir beras, setitik peluh petani wholeheartedly. I grew up going to paddy fields, planting rice with my own hands and seeing them grow and transform into perfect little pearls of awesomeness. It’s difficult work, I tell you!

...and it was also because my grandmother told me, whenever I didn’t finish my rice: “If you don’t eat all your rice, the chickens will cry”.

What can I say? I was a kid. I’d believe ANYTHING!

So, not wanting to hear or see freaky chickens cry, I would finish all my rice. Up to this day. If you see me not finishing the serving rice it means I’m sick or there’s something wrong with me. In my little world, toys, rice and fish are the best things God gave to mankind.

Now that I’ve grown up, I can how intimate food can be and how rituals or habits quietly bond people together. That act of getting up early in the morning, preparing food, enjoying them together. Boring stuffs. But like the little boy in “Up” says, it’s the boring stuff that you remember.

This would be my breakfast: I’d sit there at the big dining table in the kitchen, with food in front of me, and the kitchen would be the only room lit up. Mum or dad would prepare the food and drink. The drink would be either hot Milo, hot Nespray or Milkmaid milk. Sometimes, when there’s extra food, mom would make me tapau them for lunch. If not, she would give me 20 or 50 sen as lunch money.

There was never a "regular" container for me to use. It would be whatever container she could find. One day it could be an ice-cream container, another day it could be the Axion container. My water bottle was even more special: it could be the standard issue free gift that you'd get from Milo back then, the cordial bottle, or some other product. Mineral water bottles was unheard of. I guess it was too expensive for us. I didn’t mind, but if the container smelled too strongly of detergent, I wouldn’t eat off it.

During the quiet hours of the morning, we would hardly talk. Some days it would be a rain of questions and some days it’s all quiet-like. I didn’t offer much information if nobody asked me. But it’s okay. Then the school bus would arrive, and off I would go to school.

But you wanna know what’s the best thing?

The best thing were the rice balls.

I’m not talking about the Melakan chicken rice balls here. I’m talking about rice being clumped together with a bit of fried fish or chicken, going into your mouth, fed to you from your mother’s hand. There’s no impersonal lifeless clink of the metal spoon hitting your teeth, just all-around warmth and softness.

I remember seeing them picking the bones off the fish and putting it on top of a bit of rice and the very next minute it would magically turn into a ball, just big enough for my mouth. And I’d be so happy and run around munching and came back again when I finish omnyomnyom-ing.

I knew I was growing up because as I grew, I’d experience this less and less, until eventually it stopped.

So there you go. Two memories of childhood with my mother involving food. I guess it’s just boring stuff, but they are some of the memories I remember the most. I miss her terribly around this time of year. Forgive this maudlin gal.

Happy Mother’s Day, everybody!

P.S: I hope you enjoyed the pics I drew. I love them the way they are so much, I didn’t have the heart to colour it.


Ganaesh D. said...

I love love love this! LOOOOVE IT!

Naoko said...

That last comic is so familiar! And my family used to simply pack food for us too.

Élan said...

This is such a wonderful story with beautiful drawings to go along. Not being from Malaysia, it's great to read about the morning food rituals you have here.

brashella said...

cm boleh terbayang o cherane :) gud memories juga tu..cute btul ko bla jd katun hehehe ;)