Happy Mother’s Day

MOTHER’S DAY IS celebrated annually on the second Sunday of May. This statement is merely a reminder for myself… as well as for hubby and my girls, ahem ahem hint hint.

Anyway, here’s an article I wrote 10 years ago, published in The Star on 8th May 2003.

The Star's StarMag, 8th May 2003.

The Star’s StarTwo, 8th May 2003.

Hmm, what to get Mum?

“What do we get Mum?” My sisters and I cry mayday as Mother’s Day approaches. It is marked on the calendar, yet we get caught in this dilemma every year.

“Take her out for a meal and relieve her from cooking for a day,” suggests one, with good intentions. Mum has been cooking all her life. Being the older girl of four children abandoned by their father when they were young, Mum cooked for the family while Grandma worked. When she married Dad, who is the eldest of eight siblings, the huge family wok was conveniently passed to her. Then she had us – seven of us who bore her nine grandchildren – who are still eating from her kitchen till this day.

“But we did that two years ago,” reminds another. The rest nod in agreement and echo: “We resolved never to do that again.” Ironically, that Mother’s Day, the Cheras population had the same idea and descended upon a down-and-out restaurant tucked deep in a residential area, so remote it could even be the next Survivor location. On any other day, the owner-cum-chef-cum waiter would probably be shooing away flies. But that day, it became quite a hot spot. Like us, the other patrons must have made their rounds in KL and PJ before forcibly turning back and settling for this corner-shop kopitiam.

It was half an hour before we finally got a table. It would have been longer if we had not put our foot down, got nasty and told off queue-cutters that we were there first. Fifteen people cramped together at a table for 10. We quickly placed our orders, as the children began getting restless and cranky.

By the time the food arrived, our temperatures had soared higher than the sizzling black pepper chicken. On top of that, the soup was tasteless, the crabs too salty, the fish undercooked and the kai lan (vegetable) looked like it had been bleached. The only prompt service was the serving of the bill, which bore a five-star price. Going home was another problem. Two of our vehicles got blacked by some errant driver who double-parked.

“We could spend a cool and quiet weekend at Genting…” suggests one sister who has an apartment retreat there. I shake my head even before she finishes her sentence. Our last trip there was far from cool and quiet. That Hari Raya weekend (yes, that was mistake number one: never go on a holiday on a public holiday), we decided to drive there midway and take the cable car to the top. And that was mistake number two. Holidays somehow tend to render our brains non-functional, and I believe I speak for all those in the queue that day.

A prominent sign warned: “Two hours wait from this line”. We joined in anyway, seeing that it was moving and we could see the exit. Funny once you were in line, it seemed to come to a standstill. We could have easily gotten out, but you know how the brain works – or does not work. You were thinking: “I’ve waited 15 minutes, what’s another 15 minutes?” which became 30 and then 45. After all, you were getting nearer and nearer the exit. But when you finally reached the exit, horrors, you saw that the continuation of the queue was three times the length you had just braved. You wanted to get out, but you thought of the 45 minutes having been wasted, and you stayed on, fully aware that you were going to be in for another one-and-a-half hours at least.

So we – five adults and two kids – stayed on like everyone else. I dare say that was one queue visible from the moon, yes, the size and length of the Great Wall of China.

It rained cats and dogs by the time we reached the top but that was not what spoilt our holiday at the city of entertainment. At four the following morning, we were awakened by a woman’s blurred rant and a man’s voice trying to shut her up. This apparent lovers’ quarrel went on for an hour accompanied by LeAnn Rime’s How Can I Live Without You? played repeatedly. I am not making this up. Then the shattering of glass, followed by the familiar sound of a car alarm made us rush to the balcony. Of a dozen cars parked below, ours was the unlucky target.

The next three hours included tracing the security guard who apparently had treated himself to a day off, obtaining the police station number which the management did not have at hand, calling the police and convincing them that we could not drive to the station to lodge a report because our car was the evidence. Perhaps I have watched too many episodes of C.S.I – but the team could have dusted the pieces of broken glass, gotten some fingerprints and nabbed the culprit. Instead, the two plainclothes officers who showed up later commented: “Small damage.” After all, the vehicle was still in recognisable shape and there were no dead bodies!

Last year, we decided to have a barbeque at my brother’s place to honour dear old Mum. The night was perfect, the turnout was great and so were the food and drinks. Except that yours truly forgot the BBQ pit, and still got grilled instead.

Back to Mum. We have gone past the stage of buying her gifts, for instance, jewellery. Her response: “You want me to be the target of snatch thieves?” Flowers? Her response: “Don’t waste money.” She grows prettier ones in her garden. Fabric? Mum sews, and appreciates beautiful cloth. However, I have seen Mum’s closet. It holds pieces of material that could clad the entire China population. Okay, maybe just Cheras. Okay, I’m exaggerating!

Somehow as the day approached, I trust we will come up with something novel, something special, something memorable – like turning up with our families at Mum’s doorstep, cheering “Happy Mother’s Day!” and expecting a home-cooked meal (and getting it for sure).

Hints to hubby: Jewellery, flowers and silk. They are most welcome this Mother’s Day.

Postscript:

In the last 10 years, half of that time we were living abroad in two countries. The five Mother’s Day here had been spent with our parents and in-laws on alternate years.

This year, we went to my parent’s place. Today, like other Mother’s Day before, we (siblings and our families) turned up at her doorsteps without bearing any presents, only well wishes, big warm hugs and empty stomachs, and got our home-cooked lunch, direct from Mum’s kitchen.

To Mum, our mere presence was the best gift in itself 🙂

In any case, she was ALSO celebrating US – her daughters who have become mothers ourselves.

That’s Mum – thoughtful and selfless; always giving, never expecting; forever putting her family and children first.

Well, we weren’t so inconsiderate as to turn up empty-handed! We did pack some food to lighten Mom’s burden of cooking for the whole jingbang, and young Niki even baked us all mothers her special cupcakes.

As a mother myself, even though there is no jewellery, flowers and/or silk, I am grateful to have been able to spend the day with hubby, my girls and loved ones 🙂 (which pretty much makes EVERYDAY a Mother’s Day!)

I sure hope I live long enough to celebrate my daughters’ Mother’s Day.

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