Posts Tagged ‘memorable holidays with Dad/Grandpa’

Dad moved with Mom into a modest double-storey terrace house in Taman Bercham Baru after his retirement. It was to be our family home from then on even until now.

It was an airy place, even more so since it was a corner house. From the windows upstairs, we could see the beautiful blue limestone hills called Korbu Range in the nearby district of Tanjung Rambutan. On days after a downpour, thick white mists covered the hills the whole day; the air was very fresh and crispy. Ipoh was truly a very beautiful place to have a rest.

When the taxi pulled up at Dad’s front gate, he was already standing there. I can see he was far from being sick, just having a minor flu, I think. In fact he was smiling broadly with open arms, ready to embrace his grandchildren. In his usual booming voice, Dad was calling out, “Hey, you’re finally back; come in quickly, Grandfather missed you all so very much!”

I knew Dad was not sick at all, it was just his way to trick us home earlier. He was lonely and he longed to see his daughter and her children again. He only wanted human’s companionship, that’s all.

Getting into the house and putting down our things, I noticed it was in a complete mess. I can’t blame him. A house without a woman is always a big mess. You can’t expect men to keep the house clean and neat, can you? They are hopeless in this department.

We got down to clear up the place. I cleared up the interior while the children pulled up all the scrubs in the garden. Hours later, the entire house was clean and neat again like it was when Mom was still around.

While the children sat down with Dad to watch video tapes, I cooked dinner for us. Dad loved to play Chinese New Year tapes even though it was not Chinese New Year yet. He knew Alexandra loved to watch little girls singing New Year songs, so he bought “Sei Chin Kam” or “Four Little Girls” for her to listen again and again until she can even sing the songs herself!

At night, after our baths and dinner, Dad and I sat down to chat and catch up with each other while the children played with their toys until it was time to sleep. Dad and I have lots and lots of things to talk about. He, with his health and I, with the children’s schooling. We also talked about many things which years later, became my blog’s topics.

My children do look forward to going back to Ipoh. That was the time when their maternal grandfather pampered them with the delicious food Ipoh was famous for. To start the day, we had dim sum packed from Sun Kok Kee Dim Sum Restaurant, just behind Dad’s house. I usually buy a few varieties each day so that we could get to taste different dim sum every morning. Har kau, siew mai, loh mai kai, Hong Kong chee cheong fun and century eggs porridge are among the fares we would love to eat again and again each morning.

Some mornings we would go for fish ball noodles with yeong liew. These are pieces of bitter gourd, lady’s fingers, eggplants or bean curds stuffed with mackerel fish paste and fried until golden brown. I loved the moments when Dad, the children and I sat down to eat a hearty breakfast together. Those are truly memorable moments I would not be able to forget.

After breakfast, Dad would watch cartoons on TV with the children while I walked to the wet market near the primary school. Here, lots and lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meats flooded the stalls. Marketing in Ipoh is cheaper and easier than in Kuala Lumpur; fifty dollars could get you many things to carry back home.

Having come back from the market, I put the foods away into the refrigerator and do some laundry. I normally spend an hour or two teaching my children to read storybooks and do some revision with them before I started to cook lunch.

When I am back in Ipoh, Dad will get to eat all his favorite dishes which Mom used to cook for him. Although it was not as tasty as Mom’s, but it was almost there. He loved chicken’s legs stewed with mushrooms in oyster sauce, tilapia fish steamed with bean curd in taucheong sauce and lotus root soup with pork’s ribs. I loved to see Dad enjoying a warm home-cooked meal. It was as if Mom was still around. It is good to see him having a robust appetite.

The children normally spend their evenings catching spiders or ants in the garden or cycling around the neighborhood. I gave them some pocket money and they went to the grocery shops behind to buy sweets, biscuits, ice-cream or jellies. Sometimes we had rojak and ais batu campur at the eating stalls in the village nearby.

On the way home, we would stop at the children’s playground where we could run free and wild. We played on seesaws, swings and glides. Feeling tired, we went home to take a bath and after this, the children had afternoon naps while I read some books on the sofa.

In the evening, I cooked dinner again and we sat down for a meal around 7 p.m. After dinner, I did some studying with the children before we gathered to watch a movie. On every Wednesday night, I took the children to the local night market called ‘pasar malam’ to buy whatever they fancy. We usually went to sleep by 11 p.m. when it was dark and quiet outside with the occasional dog’s howling from the distance.

I also arranged with the Ipoh General Hospital to set quarterly appointments for Dad during school holidays so that I could take him to see the doctor whenever I was back in Ipoh. He needed these checkups and treatments as he was suffering from hypertension and prostate cancer. Dad wanted me to convey his condition to the doctor since he speaks neither English nor Bahasa Malaysia.

That was how we spend our holidays in Ipoh from the year 2004 when the children started schooling in Kuala Lumpur until 2007 when Dad passed on. He looked forward very much to us going back to Ipoh for the school holidays and it became a routine for him to feign sickness so that we could go back earlier.

In order to accommodate to his wishes, I have to personally declared school holidays started a week earlier for my children compared with the rest of the students in the country.

So, it could be three weeks for my children while it was two for other Malaysian students during the first and second school terms; eight weeks for my children while it was seven for the rest during the third school term. My children always gained an extra week of school holidays, thanks to their maternal grandfather who could not wait to see them.

Dad became gloomy and reclusive when the holidays were over and it was time for his grandchildren to go back to Kuala Lumpur to start school again. He had to wait for the next school holidays to come and he started to count the days in the calendar.

With Dad gone for a few years now and the children grown up, these routines became memories; they made me feel very nostalgic at times like now.

Our bags were packed and we will be leaving for home soon……

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