Allow me some time to introduce my mother to you.
She was a divorcee.
She worked as a secretary in the banking industry.
As a young child, I’ve never seen her vulnerable, never seen her tear. I’ve only seen her strengths, her beauty, her pursuits. She lived a vivacious life. She dabbled in swimming, singing, quilt-making, flower arrangement, bowling, tennis, squash, painting and ballroom dancing. My cousins would describe her as demure, but to me, she was just, erm, you know, ‘mum-like’, strict.
Oh, she was not all disciplinarian. She used to tickle me awake on Sundays, I used to massage her legs with Nivea cream before bedtime, she’d take me to the morning market and we’d have kon lou min together for breakfast after. I have other fond memories of us traveling down to Johore and Singapore and had many other holidays in Port Dickson, Pulau Tioman, Club Med Cherating, among others. There were also nights when she would teach me to cook a simple dinner, and together we washed the car, painted walls, done gardening and applied new coats of Shellac on our parquet floor, together.
Looking back, it must have been difficult to raise two children on her own. She had to be both mum and dad. She had to put food on the table, roof over our heads, and made sure we don’t turn out to be complete disasters.
While she worked five and a half days a week, my brother and I were raised by our maternal grandparents, endearingly called por por and goong goong, in our formative years. She’d head over to my grandparents’ house after work for dinner and spend time with us. Weekends were spent back at home together.