Every year on Mother’s Day weekend, my aunts, uncles and cousins will come over to our house to not only celebrate Mother’s Day but also to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday. Being born in a time where there weren’t any computers or even good filing systems, my great-grandmother had lost her children’s birth certificates, including my grandmother’s. Having no idea when her real birth date is, we decided to take Mother’s Day as her birthday. Her identity card states that she was born in 1922, so that will make her 84 tomorrow, though we think that she is actually a few years older.
My grandmother is a short, plump woman with curly, salt and pepper hair. She had lost her all her teeth many years ago and wears dentures everyday. I love it when she forgets to put on her dentures since it makes her look superbly cute. I think that she and my late grandfather are the cutest senior citizen I’ve ever met.
Grandma is a strong, independent woman. She helped supplement my grandfather’s meager salary by being a seamstress, selling sweets, nasi lemak and even ice lollies. One of the earliest memories I had were of me staying at home with my grandma and watching her packing the ice lollies into the plastic tubes. It was only until we moved out of our kampung house and into our current one that my grandmother retired from being an entrepreneur. She became our full-time nanny.
Since the age of seven, my grandmother had been the one to take care of us while my parents went out to work. She cooked, she cleaned and she disciplined us. Even though she wasn’t given the opportunity to have an education, she wanted all of us to do well and succeed in school. I remember her nagging at all of us to study and not watch too much TV. Of course at that time we didn’t think it was important.
She is one of the best cooks I know. No one cooks like my grandmother, not even my mother. Back in the day, my grandmother would wake up early in the morning and started sifting dough for the roti prata that were going to have for breakfast. I would sit beside her and watch her mix in the ghee into the flour and watch her knead the dough into the required shape/thickness. As I grew older, she taught me hot to properly clean fish (which I have yet to master), how to do the laundry and the ironing; basically how to do all the housework. She even taught me how to cook, though that didn’t stick that well.
When I was doing my undergrad, I would call her almost every day to ask her how to cook a particular dish. Even though I’ve watched her cook sambal more times that I could count, I still couldn’t cook it the way she did. One memorable episode was when I had bought a frozen fish with a friend. While waiting for it to defrost, I’d called grandma to ask to pointers on how to clean the fish properly. I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t call my grandmother.
When my grandmother fell and broke her right arm a few years ago, it really scared me. It made me realise that she’s not as young and strong as she was. I was glad that she recovered soon after that but she’s no longer as active as before. She can’t do as much stuff as she used to so we hired a maid to help her out and also to keep her company after my grandfather passed away.
My grandmother may not be as young anymore but I hope that she’ll be around for many more years to come. We may not have a smooth relationship, especially during my teenage years but I still love her very much.