Monday, September 12, 2011

Midautumn night's treats

It was a quiet affair this year. I miss the lanterns that grandpa used to hang all around the trees in his garden. Age does catch up. Especially when one sits around at home daily issuing an open invite for age to ravage the self. 

Still Alice was a book I just read by Lisa Genova. It chronicles the timeline of an English professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. The words that she used to wield power over now lost at the tip of the tongue.

You see an object. You can describe it. You know what it should be called. But the word eludes you. You're somewhere. You know you aren't far from your destination. But you look around and everywhere seems foreign. People pass you by. The fear of being lost takes over and triggers the emergency response in your body.

I imagine my grandparents in these situations. And it worries me. Are they aware of what's happening to them? Do they know how to react? Will they tell us if this happens to them? I try to speak to them more. To be around them more.

That day, sitting in grandma's room on the flat wood planks that she sleeps on, sewing while she was talking on the phone. It brought me back to days when I was still in school. When I came home and refused to bathe, sitting in my pinafore on those planks, sewing bits and pieces of what I knew how to, watching television till it was time for dinner. Where did those days go?

My grandfather washed my socks two weeks ago by hand for me thinking they were dirty. He used to do that for my brothers when they got home from school. Daily, he would wait for them to come home, take their socks to hand wash and wring dry before he set about to cut fruits or squeeze fresh juices for them to have after dinner. Where did all that time go?

I miss those days and I appreciate every single dish grandma puts on the table every week day. Cooking for at least 5 people every night isn't easy yet she manages it day after day. Today she fried up a batch of fried rice chock full of ingredients- fried egg strips, char siew slices and thin strips of hormel luncheon meat. :)

A pot of braised pork packed with fatty trotters and lean meat. Not forgetting a dozen hardboiled eggs, peeled and left to braise in the dark sauce gravy over a charcoal fire. That stove makes all the difference in the world. No fire control needed, no constant hovering over the fire and food that's infused with flavour, left gently boiling till it's ready to be dished out. 

And her chicken curry. I am ashamed that I still have not mastered the recipe. There are a few things in her culinary expertise that has rendered me unable to appreciate any other variations of these items- homemade kaya, rice dumplings and chicken curry. It just never tastes the same anywhere else. I'm not a snob. I just have specialised tastebuds for these items. She buys the different spices and gets these spices ground and mixed by the kilos at a stall in Little India. I love her curry. :)

It's something that's hard to say face to face. But I really appreciate and love you both. Thank you. For everything.

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