May 2, 2016

Sibu Tales : Matches

My father was a smoker and so were all his friends. How they started smoking no one would know. But they smoked Lucky Strike, John Players and Three Fives. Those were the brands I remember but my father smoked only Lucky Stirke. We had a lot of souvenirs from Lucky Strike.

Ash trays were all over the place and my mother dutifully emptied them every evening.

As children we did not mind the smoke at all and any way my father, like all his friends smoked as little as they could. But I never remember my father smoking ONLY after meals. I would see him smoking when he went for a small walk outside in the garden. He would be wearing his white Pagoda T-shirt and his cotton sarong. Somehow my father loved wearing his sarong. Perhaps that was because he remembered his own mother and maternal grandparents who were from Java. But great great grandfather was from Fuqing and we can never trace that. We had a very close grand aunt whom we affectionately called Aunty Jawa and she wore sarong kebaya all her life.

Many uncles who went travelling would bring back some small souvenirs and one day we saw my father looking rather happy. He was given a RED HEAD box of matches. He was happy for days. I think like all frugal Foochows my father was very appreciative of small gifts and kind thoughts. The redheads actually refer to the red heads of the matchsticks...:)

He lost his mother at the age of 16 and had two step mothers. His father, my grand dad was always very strict with the children. And I do remember that almost all my uncles were stern people.

No " main main" or play play. And that reminded me too, of the first time I tried to light a match. I burnt my fingers and got a good scolding. We had to be so careful with matches. Because we lived in a wooden house. So fire prevention was a specific order of the family.

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