Monday, November 06, 2006

Happy Birthday Granma!!!

Last Saturday was my maternal Granma's birthday. Her 80th to be precise.

My granma came all the way from China, to be precise, in Fujian province where most hokkien immigrants came from. For those that knows what i'm talking about, it's in this village called Eng Choon.

Rumours has it that when hokkien people from this particular place comes from, when they walk on the grass, the grass will die because they are known to be "kiam siap" (that's stingy for you that is hokkien-ly challenged).

She came to Malaysia, to be more precise, Old Klang Road 5th Mile when she was 8 with my great-grandparents. She got married to my grandad when she was in her mid teen and has since then given birth to 8 childrens, of which 2 died of SLE in their mid 30's and 40's.

She wasn't given the Malaysian citizenship until 30 years later. Not going to go into some other stories about why it took her so long when some other immigrants could do so in record time.

My grandad passed away in his 60's. That was almost 17 years ago. Cause was Lung Cancer. Just like granma, they share packs of ciggies (Peter Stuyvesant - Your International Passport to Pleasure), which my uncles would pinch as well when they ran out of theirs.


Their passport to everything...

Heck, i even recalled stealing one stick and shared with a distance tom boy cousin (which has since gotten married and had 2 kids of her own) and ended up choking on the smoke. That experience has some what made me dare to light up a ciggie in the school lab (the experiment was to show what damage the ciggie would do, a stringe with moist cotton inside to represent the lung and we would draw the ciggie by drawing the stringe, but we had trouble lighting it up, so, i literally lit it up...i was 13). Then, later in my teen life, i was averaging 2 packs a day. Wouldn't go anywhere without my Dunhill AND Semporna. But that was history since almost 5 years ago.


My sinful pleasure

They lived in Old Klang Road for a number of years before they shifted to Gombak when the logging business was good back in Karak. My grandfather, his brother and one cousin made a living being middlemen for the logging business, buying and reselling the timber for a living and managed to build one big house where the 3 nucleas family stayed under one roof. Each individual house has 10 rooms inside but only 2 toilets and bathrooms in each units. Water wasn't an issue as for the past 30 odd years, we've been living, washing, cooking from underground water. The taste of the *mineral* water will take some use to for some though.

It was later that when the timber business wasn't as profitable anymore and could only sustain one family, granpa took a brave step and tendered for a canteen job in SM Chong Hwa at Jalan Gombak.

I grew up eating junk food, literally. Granma would fry fish crackers, pack them and sell them for 10sen back in those days. Sweets such as Hudsons, Hacks, Sugus, Barley Mints were heavenly available anyday, anytime. sweet and sour jerkies were dried and pack in the living room, all those junk food you all 80's kids could remember off were sold there and i have 100% access to them. I also get to count those syillings that granpa brings back everyday after the school session is over. Softdrinks were cheap and a plenty at 40sen a bottle. The original Joy Juice, Kickapoo that is, was like a staple diet.

Granpa too, maintained a small farm in the school, which were granted by the principal and granpa gives living skills lecture on planting mung beans and black beans, apart from the multitude of vegetables that he planted and harvest for dinner everytime. The school was literally at the house's backyard. My uncles literally cross the fence to school and they could afford to wake up 5 minutes before the school starts. It was like bording school with full home confort for them when they were growing up.

Infact, the canteen was also where my dad first know my mum...You see, mum helps out at the canteen whenever she could and dad was one of the regular that comes and buy 3 sweets for 5 sens back then.

And so, we had a blast for her last Saturday. Families at the 3 houses were called for the 80th Grand dinner.


5 tables; 2 family, 1 kids and 2 relatives

And horror of horror, there were karaoke in the room at Kum Lun Tai Selayang Mall.


The closed the Restoran in Petaling Street that served good Dim Sum with old waitresses with Attitude.


And this sis of mine had to sing some songs...

Just how much did my everyone drank? For the record, i did not drink as i can't drink. I wonder whose gene i got. Perhaps it's true that i was really picked up at the hospital's trash can 30 years ago.

5 bottles of VSOP Brandy were dried yesterday. I swore granma finished at least half a bottle. For her age, she is mightly strong. Ever seen an old lady her age hailing down a taxi, and give direction to the taxi driver in HOKKIEN, irregardless if the taxi driver knows the language and bring her to Batu Road? Bear in mind, it's still Batu Road to her and not Jalan Chow Kit. She goes there for the market and back then, she would come back with at least 15 chickadees to be reared behind the house and then slaugthered for festivities when they are old enough...

Heck, my grandad never fail to bring me along to Jalan Doraisamy's backlane for a hair cut which was actually a rundown hut behind a sofa factory. That sofa factory was what i termed as sweat shop back then. Smell of the rubber glue and loud chinese blaring music or the occasional Redifusion afternoon chinese drama blaring still lingers in my mind. That barber was granpa's comrade, literally. Back then, it was Mini Bus number 41, which brings us from Gombak to Jalan Dang Wangi.


She started out the night wearing a sweater....next to her is her sister in law, my late granpa's late brother's wife.



then, after some drinking and it became warm....here she is drinking


here she is forcing a relative to drink...sitting down is her cousin in law.


And here, she is drinking, again...


and i almost caught her puffing her ciggie....


and she still could puff out the candles...


And she blew all 8 big candles out...


With her 6 kids...


3 sons in law...


4 daughter in laws...


and a handful of grankids..some of my cousins can't make it for not known reasons...


collage of pics...


and me, my granma's favourite grandson. :)

It will be exciting as my granma hold her new greatgrand kiddo in less than 2 weeks time, marking the continuation of the 3rd generation of Kiam Siap Hokkien Lang in the Family. Hahahahaha!

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