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The hot Malaysian sun is perfect for making ‘bedak sejuk’ or compressed rice powder in droplet form which is a cheap, natural, effective and chemical-free antidote for pimples and acne. Both my children are loyal ‘bedak sejuk’ users. The ones I have made years ago are almost running out and so today, I have made some for them again. I started soaking the grain six months ago with rain water collected on the night of the Festival of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl last year. The soaked grain is now soft enough to be blended into a creamy mixture. This mixture is then squeezed into little droplets before being left to dry in the sun. Some chopped pandan leaves were then added to the finished product for extra fragrance. I am lucky that today, I can use an electric blender to blend the soaked rice. During my grandmother and mother’s time, they have to use a big stone mortar to do this.

Finally, my ‘bedak sejuk’ or “sui fun” is ready, all packed in these glass bottles. Each bottle is going for RM22 (approx. gross weight 250g). You may place your orders now. Stock is limited.

“If you could only read one book this year, you have it in your hands.”
—Harvey Mackay, author of the New York Times number one bestseller Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive

Make reading more books one of your new year resolutions. Reading enrich our lives.

Reminisce your childhood through ‘The Scissor Sharpener’s Daughter’ – a memoir of growing up in Ipoh after the collapse of tin during the 1960s and 1970s.

‘A Daughter Less Ordinary’ is a personal experience with a ghost of the past – haunting yet enlightening and also about intense sibling rivalry – the unspoken nightmare of many families.

Both books could be purchased online through https://www.facebook.com/188HughLowStreetOnlineBookshop/

 

 

 

Beautiful Malaysians

One night in 1989, during a heavy downpour, I was walking home along Jalan Batu Caves after night class when a motorcycle whisked past me. To my horror, the pillion rider whom I suspected to be an Indonesian construction worker nearby, snatched my handbag and in the process, I was dragged a few meters away before slipping down into a monsoon drain almost four feet deep. Despite being in a state of shock, I frantically yelled for help. Two Malay youths manning a Ramly Burger stall not far from where I fell saw what had happened to me. In split seconds, they came running towards me and one of them had a wooden pole in his hand. He quickly lowered it down and helped me out from the drain. By the time I was out of the drain, I was completely covered in mud and rainwater. I also suffered some cuts and bruises on my limbs.

“Kakak, you okay ke?” they asked me in a voice filled with concern. I could only nod my head weakly. After thanking them profusely, I walked home in the rain which thankfully, helped concealed my tears.

In 1999, when my mother was warded in the Ipoh General Hospital for kidney failure, she shared a ward with female patients from other races, all sick and weak themselves. Like my mother, they could not afford the expensive private hospitals but made do with whatever facilities that were given to them. On many occasions when my mother was suddenly hit by a pang of hunger in the middle of the night, these Makciks who slept on the next bed would not hesitate to share a few coconut buns or some cream crackers which they hid under their pillows, with my mother. They even insisted she drink the warm Milo so preciously held inside their thermos flasks. Their kindness and sincerity still warmed my heart long after my mother was discharged from the hospital.

Finally, one night in 2007, after visiting my father who was also warded in the same hospital for heart failure, an old Malay couple offered me a ride home after seeing me waiting alone at the taxi stand outside the hospital.

“Amoi, nak pulang rumah ke? Tinggal mana? Mari ikut sama, kami pun tinggal dekat Bercham. Dah lewat dah, teksi tak banyak, lagi pun bahaya seorang perempuan naik teksi. Mari Amoi, kita angkat sekali.”

So I went home that night in their rickety car. They happened to stay near my father’s house. Needless to say, I thanked them profusely when the car paused in front of father’s house. They both gave me a toothless grin before driving off.

They are some of the best Malaysians I have ever met. Simple folks, just like you and me. Ordinary people leading an ordinary life. No hatred, no discrimination, no hidden agenda. Just pure kindness and sincerity.

To the two Malay youths who helped me out from the drain, the Makciks who shared their coconut buns and warm Milo with my mother and the elderly Malay couple who gave me a ride home one late night and to all my Muslim friends and readers, Selamat Hari Raya.🙂

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It was at the MGS Reunion Dinner held at Impiana Hotel in Ipoh last Saturday night (13th June) that my second book, “A Daughter Less Ordinary” made its debut. Past and present teachers as well as former students were the first to buy and read the tale of a girl born with a pair of yin yang eyes. I truly hope they will like the book and find a meaning in the story.

I am very grateful to the organizing committee for allowing me the opportunity to bring my book to more readers. Special thanks to Miss Yau Sook Fun for making this happened.

Meeting the school principal inspired me to donate two of my first book, “The Scissor Sharpener’s Daughter” to the school library so that present students could read the tale of a girl growing up at 188 Hugh Low Street as the daughter of a humble scissor sharpener struggling to make a living amidst poverty and despair.

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The night was even more meaningful for me when a little girl of hardly seven ran up to me and wanted to have a copy of my first book, thus becoming my youngest reader!

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It was during this reunion dinner that I managed to meet up with some former classmates whom I have not seen for more than thirty years. We had a wonderful time catching up.MGS 1981 group

All in all, it was a memorable night for all who were there that night.

Once again, a big thank you, MGS!

“Our utmost for the highest!”

 

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Mrs. Wong Yew Choong is my former teacher at Methodist Girls’ School (Ipoh) and she has helped me in editing my second book. I am very blessed to have her help and support. Below is her endorsement:

When Frances told me she was planning to write another book, I was pleased that she would continue on her chosen path as a writer. But when she said she planned to write about her experience as one who possessed a “third eye”, I had wondered what she could make of such a story. However, she has successfully penned her personal experience in a realm which few of us know about. Whilst believing that such events did occur, I had never explored the details about such “bizarre” occurrences. Reading what Frances has written, I have learnt more about this world of the supernatural. She has woven a fascinating tale of her life, love, sad and happy experiences…..a story everyone will appreciate and enjoy.

Thank you, Mrs. Wong!

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In Ipoh, Cantonese is widely spoken – you must understand this dialect to move around and get things done. At home, my father used to speak Cantonese, so too Mom, Grandma and all my elder siblings.

Besides the daily conversations, Cantonese proverbs were a common feature in our house.

“Yau kam sang, mo loi sai” means “only in this life and not in the next.” This is used when siblings are at odd with each other. We were reminded to cherish each other because we are only siblings in this life and not in our next.

“Lou luen kut tow” means “all the bones got mixed up in the same urn.” This is also used to describe siblings at odd with each other, just like the bones fighting for some space and privacy when they found themselves being kept in the same urn.

“Man see yew yan” means “to stay cool and calm in all situations.” This was the advice my father gave me on the day I moved down to Kuala Lumpur to stay.

“Ngor sik yim toh gor lei sik mai” means “I ate more salt than you eat rice.” Used to describe a person who has gone through a lot of trial and tribulations in life.

These Cantonese proverbs which Dad used very often, appeared in my second book, “A Daughter Less Ordinary.”

To me, proverbs are pearls of wisdom, and hence, I love to use them in my writings.

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When the movie was over, hand in hand, we walked home together along the quiet Cockman Street. No cars were in sight and all the shops in that vicinity have been closed. It was midnight and way past my usual bedtime.

“Do you like the movie we saw just now?” Dad asked me as we quicken our steps. I told him I loved it, especially the scene where the giant gorilla took the beautiful girl away and disappeared among the skyscrapers of New York. He nodded amusingly. I loved that part too, he replied smilingly.

When we reached the doorstep of 188 Hugh Low Street, instead of entering the house with me, Dad bid me goodbye and prodded me to go inside. Quick, your mother is waiting for you, he urged me. I was very surprised that he did not follow along. Turning my head around, I saw him floating away into the dark. Baffled by this, I ran out and called loudly after him, “Dad, where are you going? Please come back!”

Of course my father did not come back anymore except only in my dreams…..

Excerpt from my second book, “A Daughter Less Ordinary.”