Slightly more than sixty years ago a young illiterate Foochow girl arrived in Sibu as a mail order bride after almost two months of sea voyage. Upon arrival she was rejected by the young man(Mum's cousin) who found her not pretty enough. This kind of rejection is the greatest scar any young girl can bear in any century!
My kind and big hearted grandmother received the lost looking and unwanted girl as her "daughter". Mum and she became good friends. A few years later she became the bride of my grandmother's illiterate god- son who said "If no one wants her I don't mind having her..." in his humble ways. Mum married in the same year. My uncle could not have been a better husband! And she the best wife any one could have.
Mum gave birth to me in September the following year and Aunty was heavily pregnant too (she gave birth in March the next year). This sister closeness was broken because my mum moved away to the town and Aunty "followed" our uncle faithfully to five different interior places for more than 40 years (Kapit and Bintulu). The last link was lost when Uncle died . When she finally moved to Kuching Aunt tried in vain to look for my mother. Mum had given up looking for her in the meantime. But there was no lead because aunt can not read or write.
Finally two years ago her son read the orbituary of mum's cousin and the two sisters finally found each other after a few phone calls....
Two weeks ago I went to visit my long lost aunt as she repeatedly requested to see that baby girl born in the Ice Factory . She had seen me for the first time when I was newly born. It must have been quite a vision for her to see me all "grown up and mature!!" How did she feel? Where did all the days go? Where was that little squirmy baby girl? And indeed it was a touching tale. And her own life story is even more amazing!!
In the early morning when rain was falling heavily outside her Matang house the grey haired ladies talked non stopped as if they had to quickly to collapse all the 60 years into a few hours again. Their stories are just like new songs in my ears. Mum is hard of hearing but they can still chat for hours on the phone now. Both have to be driven by their children whenever they want to meet up.
From their reminisces I give you this article...
|My aunt has her own organic and free range chickens in Matang. Males for birthdays. Females for herbal soups and good health.|
|She also rears a few ducks in her yard. Very typically Foochow she rears my favourite - a red faced Serati or Chuong Nguang. It is a dandy gift to give and receive - a real life duck!!|
|I love this statement from a dear relative..."Here..these are eggs I have laid myself...ngui chiar sung di long" In those days most housewives would raise lots of chickens and have layers..they would collect the eggs save them and give away to relatives on visits. What a wonderful gift!! So you won't be surprised her egg laying hens give her and her family enough eggs every day. She can collect enough to be given away as gifts too.|
|For birthdays and for the sick( this is the very special item you can give to your elders).|
|Milk Chocolate (Fry) - We did not like the nuts then. Today we have changed. We love nuts and raisins.|
|Erng Tzi Ngu Neng - 6 tins tied together in a pyramid shape.|
|Sii Kerk Bian (Square Biscuits) - 1 tin - you need to paste a piece of red paper on the top for luck!!|
We Foochows gave each other so much of these goodies in the past it is no wonder that the next generation developed such sweet tooth ...
Thanks to all the wonderful relatives who made my childhood so rich!!
Cheers to all the good times of the past!!
But don't get me wrong..My mum would say " Your coming is good enough. You do not have to bring anything!" I do agree with her as our culture and life style have changed over the years so relatives do not have to continue this tradition of bearing gifts. The custom was more practical during the agro-based economy of olden days.
so Nern li chiu hor loh...meh re mah huang.. "Ren Lai Jiu How le...bu yong mah fun..." or Make it simple..come empty handed. I really think our elders love visitors today as much as we kids did in the past!!
Well if I have mangoes and coconuts growing on my trees you can have some to bring home!!