Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mi Madre

I am rarely short of words and I love writing. Especially when the writing consists of me pouring out my feelings which many of you have read in my blogposts.

But this...... this is one blog post I don't know how to write. Or where to start.

I'll try.

I don't know what or how a mother "should" be like, but what I do know is that in my mother I've found a friend, a confidante, a shopping partner, a gossip partner, a meal partner and a mentor.

My mum left me in the wee hours of 23rd March 2014, exactly 4 months short of her birthday.

Before she passed away, she was my world, my happiness, my guru who taught me values and manners (she is NOT the cause of my occasional lack of manners -in fact she has always taught me to control my temper and to always, I stress, always have humility and be HUMBLE) and my place where I hid my secrets, nonsense, fear, shame, doubts, happy news, sad news, brutal gossips, troubles and thoughts.

To those who know me well know that I was EXTREMELY close to my mum. She was more than a mother not by chance nor by choice, but just by the person she genuinely was, and I came to know about this at the eulogy (where people say something about the deceased during the funeral) - she was a mother to almost everybody else - especially my cousins - with many of them calling her their second mother and relating memories of how she had helped them in their darkest hours of life.

Throughout the funeral, I had to hold myself back at least 3 times from running towards the coffin screaming I  DIDNT KNOW YOU DID THAT.....I AM PROUD OF YOU MUM!! and WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME YOU WERE IN SO MUCH PAIN?? WHY HIDE IT FROM ME???

Below is an eulogy written by my brother for our beloved mum which I think sums it all up very well.

"My mom loves food. She's a Penang-lang (it means someone from Penang). Good food's in her DNA. I remember taking both my parents to this restaurant once that I frequented very often. They had the best Curry Mee in PJ. Really delicious soup and all. I thought both my parents would love it. Turns out, they, especially my mom, complained about everything. You see, she's a Penang-lang and a true blooded Penang-lang have very high standards and expectations when it comes to food.

So what happened was... she called the owner over to our table... and started teaching her what she needed to put in the Curry Mee to make it "better"... according to her "advice", any self respecting Curry Mee cook would know that you can't make Curry Mee and call it Curry Mee if you haven't got "too huek" (pork blood) and "jiu hoo" (cuttlefish). I thought the owner was going to throw us out... but to my surprise, the next time I went there, they had both ingredients in my Curry Mee!

Even when she was lying in the hospital bed with multiple tubes running all over her body, my mom was asking for food she knew she couldn't take. She was constantly dreaming of having breakfast at her favorite kopitiam (hawker that serves food) in Taman Tun... her favorite Wan Tan Mee store is there. I suspect it was partially food that kept my mom's fighting spirit up sometimes...

What my mom loves more than food is life itself. Since 2 years ago, she was diagnosed with one health problem after another but even then, the thought of giving up never crossed her mind. What she went through, with all the treatment, medical tubes being inserted into her hands, legs and even her neck... at one time I saw the length of the tube they were going to insert into her, I nearly broke down and cry. It was at least 2 feet long and they were sitting next to her trying to insert into the veins in her neck while she quietly cried out in pain. She endured what was not endurable to most people. They took out her cervix, took out her bladder, redirect her intestines, insert plaster into her bones, put her under radiation, inject her with poisonous liquid, gave her the strongest and potentially lethal, antibiotic ... over a short 24 months. Most people would just feel the hopelessness of the situation and gave up... but not her... not my mom...

You see, throughout her 2 years journey, she was accompanied by a good friend. This friend had promised her earlier on that He won't leave her or forsake her. He was always there by her side, making his presence felt in the chemotherapy room, holding her hands when the doctors and nurses were poking her with needles and inserting scary looking tubes, embracing her when she was under the surgeon's knife. He was always there with her even to her last breath. He was the reason my mom had the strength to fight to the very end. My mom loves him with all her might. She often spoke about him to anyone who would listen. Sharing the things He has done for her in her life. My mom would do anything for this man. In return, he promised she would spend eternity with him.

Even as I'm reading this, she's there now with him in his glorious home, waiting for the rest of us to join her.

I just hope... for this man's sake (and she's his problem now, not mine)... that he has Wan Tan Mee and all the other authentic Penang delicacies in his house... and it better live up to her high expectations and Penang food standard! Well, you decided to take her... so she's all yours now, Jesus!"

- by Andy Tan

I'm glad I took her out shopping... countless times.. as and when I could... and when she felt like it.

I took her to hair and nail parlours whenever she wanted... and brought her along to events which I know she'll enjoy... and when she's not feeling too lazy, she would tag along.

I took her to night markets or whenever she/me felt like just browsing around the city or malls, I took her there.

And as my brother said, my mum was a lover of food and was very, very particular about food - when it comes to food, it was next to impossible to please her. I enjoyed the meal times with her.

A month after we found out she was at a Stage 4 cancer, I took her on a little vacation to Pangkor Laut Resort where she said the food was great and she felt very relaxed. I will NEVER forget or regret this little trip.

I dont know what a mother should be like. I dont know what your mother is to you. But my mum....? She was and will always be.. the queen of my heart... and the queen of the hearts of those she's taken care of when they were young and those lives she's touched.

You'll never get to see the house I bought...mummy...
You'll never get to stay in it too....
You will never get to see my engagement... or my engagement ring...
You will never get to hold my wedding card or distribute it or call any of our relatives telling them the good news..
You will never get to see me in that white wedding gown which you've always been telling me that I'll look very very pretty in, each time we pass by a Wedding Gown shop...
You will never get to welcome the guests, feel proud and smile at my wedding...
You will never get to advise me on cooking or cleaning the house after my marriage.. or share any household tips with me...
You will never get to share your advise with me about raising kids....
You will never get to hear my kids calling you "mama"... (grandmother)
You will never get to know my kids, mummy...

But I promise you, that they'll know you.

I love you mum, and I always will. 
Till we meet again. 


  1. you make me to more love and appreciate my mother. Tq so much!

  2. i just checked out your blog, Meghna... realizing the reflection of how i feel..