30 August 2007

a tradition of Whiskas giving

We are threesome shopping at a supermarket near our home. Somewhere after the detergents/softeners aisle, I can see my daughter taking a large bag of Whiskas and putting it in the trolley. The following conversation takes place:

Me: Sweetheart, why are you taking cat food. We don't have cats. (Meeza is allergic to cats; other siblings are cat-phobics).

Meeza (a little bit defensive): I would like to feed the neighbour's cats (in reality, stray felines). Cannot kah?

Me (I'm having a memory of Rosalinda, my mom, handing a packet of rice to a needy person at the iron gate): Ah, okay.

Hubby (delighted at daughter's compassion): Of course, you may feed the neighbour's cats.

And so..... the tradition of Whiskas giving came into being.

21 August 2007

my daughter, my critic

Last night's conversation:

Meeza: Mummy, why do you have to blog?

Me: Same reason as you do 'friendster' - expressing myself, reaching out.

Meeza: Ooohhh (with narrowed eyes meaning 'I see').

Me: Would you rather I do 'friendster'?

Meeza: Oh no, please (eyes widened)!

19 August 2007

nasi lemak on sundays

Sunday is when people oversleep and miss a lot. For one, the sounds on a Sunday morning - they are quite different from any other day. There is a peculiar mood too - perhaps because you don't have to rush out to work and you have the time to eat. You'd rather stay indoors and enjoy the stillness and 'mindchew' what you are gonna have for breakfast.

The family's favourite is the ubiquitous nasi lemak. The nasi lemak is part of the Malay psyche as ingrained as the adobo of the Filipinos and the curries of the Indians. It has some variations too. It can come with a choice of chicken, beef or fish cooked in curry or soya sauce or simply fried (pre-marinated by turmeric, chillies and salt). It can be accompanied by the exuberant egg, peanuts and pieces of cool cucumbers. I like mine unadorned so you would see me take out the cucumbers and the half mooned egg.

The omnipresent bilis or anchovy gives the nasi lemak its crowning glory. Whose pantry does not include this magnificent silvery fish with the big taste? A nasi lemak with just the anchovies and the sambal can proudly stand on its own. The fiery sambal and the nutty taste of the fragrant rice which is cooked with the "all food" coconut milk combined with the lovely pandan taste gives the nasi lemak its definitive place in the hall of fame of Malay cuisine.

My aunt who is a compulsive chicken eater and who bases her writings on the "chicken and egg" cycle would love this paper (or leaf) -wrapped thing of a food accompanied by her favourite fried chicken. What inspiration might she have gotten!

17 August 2007

today's entries - justice and one more heroine

Today, I opened up my husband's mail (opening mails is an unspoken act of habit between me and my husband in the absence of either one so we may not miss any important messages from the outside world). The letter was from somebody important who has been greedily manipulating events for vested interests. The letter was a tad desperate although very well written. And, so, being me - eccentric and unwordly, I am not going to call my husband about it and destroy his golf holiday. I would let my husband enjoy his pars and his birdies (hopefully!).

So, Mr Norman Holton, cry out loud! The 'justice' we know, will never fail. The big fish sometimes can't eat the bony small fish.

I wish to tell of an unbelievable act of miracle, I know only a mom can do for her child. Hjh Lunak is my new found masseuse, my new heroine. She uses the traditional 'urut', the one that breaks your body because of its ferocity and then mends you to become whole again.

She said she learned traditional massage two decades ago when as a young mother, she coped with her daughter's Down Syndrome. She would give this daughter a whole body massage twice in a week after learning from the doctors that the toddler will never be able to walk like a normal child. With the resilience of mind and dexterity of fingers, she became the nurturer 'per se'; the light beacon; the hopeful one; and after eight years the ultimate healer-mother. I could shed tears over and over again with this story. It tells of hope and triumph; of mind over matter; of miracles of love; of the meaning of 'ibu'.

08 August 2007

a survey

I like the look of bullets in a write-up. When I went back to school (for the nth time) two years ago, a few lecturers wanted our answers to exam questions in bullets – much like – enumerated items. I found an excuse to make some bullets in my blog, and I thought of one topic: No Substitutes (guaranteed limitless bullets) and one method: a survey. I asked friends and relatives about one thing in their lives that can’t be substituted. I had an image of a long list of answers in BULLETS.

  • mother’s milk (too overstated)
  • a child's hug
  • a security blankie
  • an old teddy bear named Koko
  • chocolate that melts and oozes in the mouth
  • seri muka
  • nasi lemak
  • an antique kebaya/antique watch/antique table/antique……
  • a photo of a dead pet
  • Marsha of Akademi Fantasia (???)
  • home-made pancakes
  • a best friend
  • a guy who picks up the tabs (no dutch treats eh)
  • a little girl’s French beret
  • Harry Potter book
  • beloved amah
  • cigarettes
  • fiancĂ©/fiancĂ©e
  • wife/husband
  • laptop
  • coffeemate
  • honey stars
  • Lancome’s Blanc Expert (did I get that right?)
  • credit cards
  • dora the explorer (so cute)
  • a hole in one

I got my wish – BULLETS.

P.S. I conclude without hesitation that my adult friends and relatives are foodies and/or materialists and/or credit laden. The children are more sentimental and found attachments in valuable/non-negotiable/irreplaceable possessions.

07 August 2007

rhymes we learned in childhood

Here is a rhyme we spouted when we were children:

Bate, bate chocolate (pronounced tso-ko-la-te)
Uncle Borja ta bate

The above one was taught by pompous older cousins. Several years later, when we were adults, we learned that the particular rhyme was quite a salacious one. In our innocence, we recited them in front of adults during merienda cena, when hot chocolate made traditionally using a wooden mixer was served. What I vividly remember were the chuckles and the giggles that came from the older people who were present. Poor Uncle Borja (may he rest in peace)! I just could imagine his discomfiture as we chanted those lines through the whole merienda scene.

This one was simply racist and very stupid. We chanted it when in an angry mood or when boisterousness possessed us:

Bisaya, Bisaya
Ta kaga na paya

This was sort of a social reaction on our part; a retaliation for endless taunting (children can be unmatched in cruelty); and a salve for broken egos. Well, we hope that we are forgiven and have learned our lessons. It is very ironic that, as an adult, my best of friends are Bisayas. Moral of this story - listen to what your children are chanting; for all we know, they don't really have a grasp of the connotations of their chants nor the effects they can have.

05 August 2007


July was the birthday-est month for my family. The month started with my brother-in-law’s birthday, followed by two sisters-in-law, then my husband, my dear house help of twelve years (same day as the Sultan’s), a couple of nieces and then my brother. Birthdays always provided me with respite from work and other routines. The days become significant with plans for outings and of course, budgets for presents, cakes and other objects that give meaning to this milestone in life. Aside from giving fascination to the children in the family (immediate and extended), birthdays do provide us, adults, with thoughts of things beyond the mundane…thoughts of mortality perhaps, of aging parents and loved ones, of generous gestures to be reciprocated, of the missed, or those who are far from our hands’ reach.

On a lighter note, birthdays are always the happiest days of our lives. My immediate family has enjoyed our birthday parties for their naturalness in gaiety and giving; the painstaking preparations for food, flowers, hair (the girls’), and most appreciated of all - my husband’s loving keenness to make us – wife and children – happy. We’ve said this before and will say it again for the many years to come, happy birthday!