Hair Like Snow

when i was in standard one, my grandmother showed up outside my classroom at school, a little nervous and jittery, and asked to speak to me. it was a strange obtrusion, but i was quite pleased to see her nevertheless, so i hopped out of my seat very quickly and scurried to the door in excitement. she told me to bring out my schoolbag, and when i did she quickly opened it, revealing thick stacks of foreign currency in the front compartment of my bag. i had no idea that there was any money in my bag, or why she put it there that morning when she was packing my peanut butter sandwich lunch for me, but she seemed relieved that there was even any money there at all.

when i went home after school, i found out that the money belonged to my dad, and the news around the house was that i had stolen the money. no one ever yelled at me (i think they thought i saw some money and just grabbed it without much thought) so i wasn’t too perturbed. i knew it was my grandmother who had put the money in my backpack, because she does things like that sometimes, putting things where they don’t belong or forgetting what she had just said a few minutes ago. i wondered for a brief moment if she had defended me or if she had allowed everyone to believe i had taken the money… but then i realized i didn’t care either way. there are these people that we love, and sometimes they do very strange things, but you love them anyway because you know they are good people.

a year later i got in trouble with my dad over some chinese traditions (he is quite superstitious) and he had started to cane me. my brothers are the type who run helter skelter around the house when caned, but for some reason i never knew i was allowed to do that, and so i’d sit and grab at my legs, howling like a dog while being caned. at some point, as she always does, my grandmother tried to stop him, but she moved a little too slowly and got slashed by the rattan cane on her arm. she has this condition where she has very thin blood viscosity, and bruises and bleeds easily, this occasion being no different — and the night was punctuated with a long bloody gash on her right arm. later that night (after she made us some hot milo) we sat in bed putting talcum powder on each other’s wounds and talking until we fell asleep.

i’m missing my grandmother a lot tonight. it’s about 5pm in KL now so she’ll be just about getting ready to have dinner – this disgusting porridge blended with carrots that smells absolutely foul but is supposed to be good for her. i haven’t had a real conversation with her since i was 13 and even those were disconnected smatterings of sounds and words. in this world very few people can be that proverbial friend who sits with us on a swing, saying nothing, and leave us feeling like it was the best conversation we’ve ever had. my grandmother is one of those people for me. whenever i have the opportunity to go home for breaks over the school year, i like to lie in bed with her and just sleep. she pulls my hair sometimes to wake me up but those are still the deepest sleeps that i will get to have for a long time.

some pictures of old people, taken while i was working in hong kong this summer:



20 Comments

sz

Grandmas are like that. They are always hidden deep in our memories but subconsciously, the thought of them act as a safe harbor when we needed them the most. Just treat them well as

树欲静而风不止,子欲养而亲不在

sz

kehrole

my granny had super white hair and was one of the sweetest human beings :(

your caning incident reminds me of mine too. i remembered once i was caned by my mom and i think she hit too hard or something… it left a nasty gash and she stopped caning and started tending to my wound.

to think of it, it is such a strange feeling!

Ttl

cried reading this…reminded me of my grandma…

i love both my grandma’s (and other senior citizens in general but i digress). they are, to me, the most resilient women and have each gone through their own fair share of hardship and yet, survived. seemingly unscathed and still with that same (rather insane) level of calmness and poised exterior. i’ll never know how they managed but it is something that i honestly hope to inherit. and for the record, conversations with old folks are THE best because they are SO funny and say the most hard-hitting stuff with such matter-of-factly nonchalance.

My grandmother passed away quite recently, and I miss her a lot too. I hope that after years of illness and agony, she’s pain-free and happy with my grandfather now.

The caning reminds me of some incidents too. I got that for many different reasons as a child, even trivial ones too. Now when I think about it, that’s made me stronger and tougher than many people.

mabs

This post reminds me so much of my grandmother. She was the dearest to me. :`( Makes me missed her even more so..

Both my Poh Poh and Ah Ma had a soft spot for me. Being the terrible tyke that I was, I was always being reprimanded. Both of them have stepped in for me numerous times before. They are both in a happier place now. God Bless them both :)

kafka

i rmbr superlean grandpa… and that long, busy street with its inviting stairways!

those are amazing pictures! My grandmas are 83 and nearly 92 but still lucid and I’m so thankful for that. I miss them heaps. If I could I’d go back and relive my childhood with all this stuff in my head of course, with them. I too was forced to be still and yowl on the spot when my mum caned me in the past =)

joyce

your writing makes me fall in love with life over and over and over again.

sweatlee

i love this post very very much. it reminds me, for some very weird reason, of the first time i read your blog many years ago. nostalgia and serenity.

quaintly

sz, yes, you are right :) my grandma is very weak now, but still so tough in my mind.

kehrole, did she dye her white hair with a toothbrush and really smelly black hair dye wtf

michelle chin, ah, caning! i used to wonder if my parents felt any remorse caning me, their firstborn :p they certainly did not tend to my wounds.. :(

ttl, sorry :(( hope they were good tears though – cathartic, wistful or grateful!

sgrmse, YES you are right! have you seen this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3NDaZ2p6ug and why you change your name :p

jo, that’s quite level headed of you! i think to this day i still resent the fact that i was caned…! though do you think you will impart this sort of behavioral control on your kids?

mabs, if only grandmothers lived forever, right? they would do the world so much good

unkaleong, hehe grandmothers are the best people to have on our side! no one would dare defy them!

kafka, hehehe… you wanna go sauna?

nicole, gah! why were we so silly?? i remember being utterly amazed when i saw my brother run around the house with my aunt chasing him with a cane… like, why didnt i think of that? i guess in a darwinian world you and i would be the first to die :p

joyce, aww :)) thank you

sweatlee, hehe you mean when we were both bad girls? :p

made me cry.

malaysian diaspora

i love her to bits, yet unsure whether i’ll get to see her again. thank you for the sweet nostalgia.

yes, i’ve seen that ad! i smile every time coz they’re so cute, the little old ladies (: (: very authentic ad. and i changed my name, meh? i just shortened it. lols.

OH. err. sorry for the double-commenting but it hit me that i commented as “m.” before this and now as sugarmouse .___. yeahhh, identity crisis a bit. m. is just my first name abbreviated to a single alphabet. sugarmouse is a moniker that first made its appearance in chatrooms lol! (it’s actually an oh, atoms song title in case you care lol)

chee

looks like the blog is alive… i see a much grown up pau. :)

hope you take some time off to enjoy the lovely weather while you can. i guess now you understand why everyone is sitting in the courtyard during the summer months when you first started in columbia. :)

dontknockny

hi su ann,

been reading your blog for awhile now but never left comments. reading this posts makes me thing of my grandmother. She’s suffering from Alzheimers (from your post i can only guess that that’s what your grandma has as well?) and it’s been years since i’ve had a real conversation with her. Sometimes after seeing her in her condition for so long you tend to forget the good times you have had with her..But reading your post has definitely reminded me of them.

Rambling Mind

SA, where did you take the pictures of the cobblers from?

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