January 22, 2016

Sibu Tales : Longevity and a Bowl of Overnight Porridge



My maternal grandma (Tiong Lien Dieh) was a barefoot philosopher who had been well educated in the University of Hard Knocks. Most of the early Foochow Pioneers who came to Sibu had so much wisdom and knew so much!! Actually, their frame of reference was awesome.

Very early in my life I learned a lot from her about the importance of living and human relationships.

Usually she used stories froim China and from local background to teach us.

So whenever she visited us we would beg her to tell us stories.

One of the heart rending stories she told us was the old grandmother who was given cold porridge to eat in the evening.

The story went like this : Once there was quite a wealthy family and they had plenty to eat. But once the daughter in law grew older and was given more power in the family, she started to give less food to the old grandma. Every night she would give the old grandma only cold porridge hoping that she would die faster.

However strangely, the old grandmother seemed to get healthier and even her grey hair started to turn black. The gods must have been with with her.

So one day, the cruel daughter in law ordered her own son to ask the old grandmother  whether she had been stealing food from the family.

The grandmother old the grandson, "Grandson, do not think that your old grandmother would steal food. That is too lowly you think of me. The God of Heaven has been blessing me. Every time I ate cold porridge, I felt I was eating ginseng and birds' nest. Cold porridge is actually the best nourishment for old age and good food for longevity."

The little boy went back to tell his mother what he was told and in no time, the daughter in law also started to eat cold porridge from time to time in secret. But she became gaunt and sickly looking.

Moral of the Story : A good person who does not do harm to others would live a long life, no matter
what she eats.

Foochow mothers always tell their children never to Jor Kuo Leh (Do not do harm)

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