“Ah Leen! Ah Leen!”
That’s how my grandmother used to call me with her strong powerful voice.
She didn’t know English, so Ah Leen was her version of pronunciation of Alvin.
During my very younger days, my mom would take me to grandmom’s place almost on daily basis, so I had my childhood moments at her place. I hope it is not illegal to say this but both my grandmom and mom loved play cards a lot, so they would have usual gathering with other aunties every weekday. While they were playing, I would either play with my aunty or play with the cats which straying inside the house(now you know why I love cats so much).
Sad to say, my innocent moments with my toys and cats would be interrupted with vulgar language in Teochew by my grandmom whenever she lost the chance to win. Come on, as if your grandmom didn’t swear…lol
Then, as evening approached, she would tie her sarong above her chest to cook for us. Just imagine the landlady in the KungFu Hussle but my grandmom case is in sarong. She would puff a cigarette as she tossed the wok. So you can imagine the special ingredient inside her dishes = P
I still could remember she would carry me in her right arm and holding a rattan basket on her left and walked to the wet market. I always wanted the toys selling there but seldom she would buy for me. So yeah, then I went back home to complain to my mom that grandma didn’t get me the toys that I wanted.
During my preteen, I was the chosen one to accompany her for eyes check ups when she had her eyesight problem. Whenever I held her quite flabby hands to walk up the staircase, she would constantly remind me “Ah Leen, I’m getting older. Please give your mom money when you start working!”
My grandma was impatient person, to be honest, she always nagged my mom – “Can you ask the doctor to be faster?!” “Can you stop talking and start the car?!” “Have you got me the medicine?” “Why the medicine is so expensive?” Nah, not complaining in irritating way but rather in cute old lady way.
However, the loud “Ah Leen” calling was gradually soften as the time went by. The loud lady in sarong could no longer complaining as she lost her stamina and energy. Every time I pushed her in the wheelchair, I could no longer feel her flabby hands anymore – what was left was just skin and bones, my tiny hands was equivalent to her legs. Both my mom and me felt so heartache to see her health deteriorating as the days gone by.
“Vin, see and touch your grandma more often as you would not have that chance soon,” my mom reminded me as we were foretold that she would be gone anytime soon.
Last month, she was admitted to ICU ward as she was having difficulty to breathe. She was lucky to be admitted on time, or else, she would be gone. I managed to pay a visit - she was lay resting with just skin and bone on the sickbed – she didn’t recognize us anymore. She couldn’t eat. She spoke softly.
On 25th May 2012, I received 10 missed calls from my mom. I returned my mom called – “Vin, grandma has passed on. Please come home”.
Though I could not hear her loud strong voice anymore but she will be deeply missed as my grandma in sarong.
“There let the way appear, steps unto heaven; all that thou sendest me, in mercy given; angels to beckon me”
Rest in peace grandma, I will take care of ma.