October 11, 2015
Sibu Tales : Dining Table turned Upside Down
In our younger days we were often told tales about step mothers and step sons. We were told secrets we had to keep.
But some of the tales had to be told so that we learned many lessons from them.
Although step mothers were common in Sibu amongst the Foochows, and most step mothers were of excellent character, some were the worst step mothers in the world.
One story that was passed around at dinner table was the story of a step son who could not stand the food placed on the table by the stepmother any more.
This is our family's quality control story and about the heart of a mother. It is more about kindness and affection
The young man was home visiting the family and especiallyto see the father, who had recently acquired a new wife. This wife was born in China but had been sold into one family by her father, who found her "difficult" to raise. She was 8 years old when she landed in Sibu and she went to live with the towkay's family. She was indeed a difficult girl, head strong, sharp in tongue and unwilling to do work. She was already trying to catch the eye of another man servant and was trying to bully the other maidservants.
Her adopted parents tried their best to get rid of her too.
However many years later, this young lady left her own family in order to marry a towkay who was widowed. She was eyeing his money.
By the time the young son by the first wife came home from another town where he was working, the new mother had already two children of her own and was enjoying her life as the new trendy wife of the owner of a shop.
She would cook wonderful dishes for her new husband and her two children.
On the day of the step son's visit, she served petola soup and rice. No chicken soup to welcome him , as would have been the correct or appropriate courtesy.
When the step son came to the table, he ate the petola slices and they were as hard as wood. The vegetable was too old to be eaten.
He was so angry, he turned the table upside down and created havoc. He was a righteous man and he thought injustice had really been done.
The father came into the kitchen and saw the disastrous scene with the step mother having a hue and cry dramatic scene. She had her story, of how unfilial the step son was.
"You did eat the best of petola slices, didn't you? Towkay?"
The old man, only wanting to please the new wife, said,"Of course, you serve the best and freshest of all foods."
The step son upon seeing the scenario, left without saying anyting. He never spoke to his step mother again and made his own way in life.
His next visit to the family was when the father passed away. And even then he was very reluctant to come home.
However, his father did leave him a small share of his property, although the step mother and step brother and sisters had the bulk of the property.
Someone was smart enough to carry out the unequal division of property through her wiles and personal relationships.