July 2, 2012

Osmanthus (Gui)

Today I am thinking of my school mate (from Primary one to Form Five) ..the late Leong Kui Fah. She was the only Cantonese girl in my class but we got along very well because she spoke fluent Foochow from the first day we met in Primary School. And in secondary school we followed school rules by speaking English only.

My class mates and I. We were wearing the old Methodist school uniform. I was wearing a black patch on my left sleeve (as a mourning patch for father - right hand would signify passing of mother) This wearing of black patch is no longer practised in Sibu.. In Chinese it is called Wearing Filial Piety - dei hah)

One thing I remember most about her was the fact she had a very special  name. Like so many others  girls and boys  she did not like to use her given name. .Just like to day's boys and girls  who adopt Nama Glamour or Glamorous names we also adopted Christian names.. I also felt rather bad because during our primary school days school mates and sometimes even teachers laughed at our names!

A friend reminded me that her class teacher would pronounce her name wrongly and called her Smelly Glutinous Rice (Chau Chu Mee). In the end she changed her name to Honey Chau. My sister's name was turned to  Fly in Chinese. Yet another was XXX the Pig because of her Melanau surname Peck. Teacher pronounced her surname "Pig". Young children below the age of 10 would find it difficult to stand up to bullying like this...my daughter is named Tio which means bright in Indonesian but some kids teased her badly by saying that her parents were stupid to name her "Uncle" (in Italian).

Perhaps Kui Fah was annoyed that people called her Expensive Flower : kui in Chinese also sounds like the word expensive.It also sounds like ghost. So in the end  Kui Fah gave herself the name Margaret because in those days Princess Margaret  of Great Britain was like the Top Glamour Girl of the world. So she was Margaret from day from the day she adopted the name. She told us not to call her by her Chinese name.

We loved her  But we loved her mother too because she would come to the school to bring an exercise book Kiu Fah had forgotten. Her mother was a tall samfu and char kiak (wooden clog) wearing Cantonese lady. Her mother called her Fah..flower from outside the class...Wasn't that nice? But she did not like how her mother call her.

She was a bright girl and did well in school While many of us could only go to university if we won scholarships she went to become a nurse and helped many people.

But perhaps  in those days she did not know that her name was really special in Chinese. I know two other ladies having the name Gui meaning Osmanthus My aunt is Kuei Sieng ( Osmanthus Immortal) and another good friend is also Gui Wha (Osmantus flower) So there are actually two Gui Fah or Gui Wha in my life.

Indeed we are all constantly reminded of Kui Fah because of many other Chinese names. Look at the photos here:

Photo: Perwisataan di GUILIN RRC
Photo from my friend First Admiral Andong Marzuki (Rt)..He and his family went to Guilin (the land of Osmanthus forest) It is so beautiful
Osmanthus flowers

Osmanthus Wine (Kui Hua Jiu). this is really a nice tasting wine. I wish we can buy them in Sarawak...
White Osmanthus flowers
Guihua sugar
Osmanthus Sweet
Osmanthus cake in Shanghai
Making a search in Google provides me with lots of information from Wikipedia....

The guihua plant is called  () or guìhuā (桂花), and its flowers, called guì huā (桂花, literally "cinnamon flower" or "cassia flower") are used, infused with green or black tea leaves, to create a scented tea called guì huā chá (桂花茶).
In Chinese cuisine, the flowers are also used to produce osmanthus-scented jam (called guì huā jiàng, 桂花醬 or 桂花酱), sweet cakes (called guì huā gāo, 桂花糕), dumplings, soups, and even liquor (called guì huā jiǔ, 桂花酒; or 桂花陈酒, guì huā chén jiǔ). Osmanthus jam is used as an ingredient in a type of gruel called chátāng (茶汤), which is made from sorghum or millet flour and sugar mixed with boiling water. This dish is typical of the northern city of Tianjin, although it may also be found in Beijing.


A bottle of Guihua sugar

It was rather sad to receive new s of her passing not long ago. May she rest in peace.

She will always be a a beautiful flower amongst us !! If we can go back in time...we would definitely take our bicycles out and ride right through the town and let go of our handles and say...."yipeeeeeeee"....and for once..let our hair down and be light hearted...


Ann said...

lol, my uncle told my dad not to call me Suet, because it is snow, snow is freezing cold, so would my character.

Ann said...

during this trip, old friend flew from Bintulu and Sibu to kuching to see me. a freezing old snow.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi..ann..Foochows also have many of their daughters named "snow"...Suok Kiu (Snow Pretty)..Suok Ming (Snow Bright)...etc..Never thought of snow being freezing cold..hahahah

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann..lucky you having good friends..This particular friend of yours now having relatives in the house..Mother and son need specialist treatment in hospital (Miri) recommended by Hospital Limbang...So a bit tied down this week..No show in Sibu lo..Hope to meet up with you in New Zealand in the future!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...Jasnah..wasn't she in hockey too? I wonder if she remembers me...

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately cannot find any old school uniform at recent Methodist Sch celebration & dinner.Had been looking forward to obtain at least an old yellow school badge to show grandchildren, after being away from school for so long.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Anonymous
I would let the Alumni Association know about this...may be some one has a good collection of old school badges for you to "purchase.." thank you for your interest in "old" school items....God bless

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