January 23, 2016

Sibu Tales : The Nail in the Wall



We used to live in a shop house, on the first floor along Brooke Drive in Sibu. And one of the favourite places we would hang out (lepak) in the evening would be the western balcony or the back balcony where my mother would use as our laundry place. It was very airy too. In the morning it was especially cool because this balcony was oriented to the west.

When my maternal grandmother came to visit especially to make zongzhi, she would sit on a stool and face a door post which had just the right nail for her to hang her salty grass (geng chow) and she would so gently and daintily tie her dumplings.

An aluminium bucket would be filled with the soaked glutinous rice in front of her, and little bowls of cut mushrooms, soaked chestnuts and slices of pork would be placed on a low table for her.

We would watch her work on the ingredients and soon she wold make ten dumplings all tied together, to be cooked in a huge pot.

By noon time, we would have lovely dumplings. The whole afternoon the whole flat would be filled with the aroma of the season's special - the boiling of bamboo leave wrapped dumplings which conveyed to us that it was the fifth month of the year and a second festival was already on its way.

And by evening, about 100 meat  and red bean dumplings would be ready to be shared with my aunt's family.

Grandmother's love was magnified by the large number of dumplings hanging from a bamboo pole, to cool nicely before they were sent off in cloth covered baskets.

We also learned the beauty of sharing food and going to an aunt's house to share that grandmother's love.

Today a nail on a door post, or on a wooden wall would just remind me of my patient grandmother making hundreds of dumplings for the festival and her love for her grandchildren.

Her favourite statement : when you can make something, you are somebody because you do not depend on any one.

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