“Amma! Wa Lai Liao!” I shouted at the top of my lungs as I approached my grandma’s house. “Amma...” my voice trailed off, I drew a blank of her demise a year ago. I stood there staring at my grandma’s house, the floodgates of memories lifted up, waves of mementos splashed into my mind.
I was thirteen, I had no place to go after I finished school because my parents were working and my house was far away from my school, a half an hour drive away. It was very time consuming, and my parents had no time to fetch me home. My siblings and I was forced to stay there, three people in total. I had no problem staying there temporarily for every afternoon after school, I was an easy-going person.
“Amma! Wa Lai Liao!” I shouted vehemently when I reached the front of her house, always. My grandma was cooking at the kitchen most of the times, or watching Hokkien drama, or worshiping to her Gods. I just wanted to let her know that I had reached her house, somewhere I could call home. She would reply me with a simple ‘Oh!‘ or ‘Hou!‘ that warmed my heart every time.
My grandma was always concerned about how much food we get every day. She did complain to my dad that he was not feeding us well enough. She was worried that we did not get ample nourishment to grow. But, my dad would just reply her simply, and agreed to everything she had to say. The older you are, the more things that are repeated by you, the more things that are to be said by you, this is an axiomatic statement. So, my dad would answer her as a respect to her, and never rebutting whatever she had to say.
“Jiak teh mm jiak pao.“, “Jiak be mm zai be geh.“, “…Keh Ang…” these were the adage which sprang out of her mouth from time to time, more to advise me. The first one was translated as to drink tea rather than to eat chinese mantou, depicted a person as a fool who fails to make wise choices in situations. The next one was deciphered as eat rice but do not know the price of the rice, showing that a person who was oblivion about the happenings around them. The last one I could only recall snippets of the saying, but I could remember the meaning of it which went like a grasshopper which annoys a chicken gets killed instantly, it was used frequently to my younger brother who was mischievous and trying to be funny all the time.
My grandma had been very faithful to her Gods, she was a steadfast Buddhist. She celebrated every crucial days that were to her Gods, she dedicated most of her time praying to her Gods. I asked her why did she do so much as a Buddhist. She would reply, “Wu Bai Shin, Wu Bo Bi.” which meant praying to her Gods would make her blessed.
My younger brother would have rice everywhere after his meal, my grandma would comment, “Jiak ga xiang gui poon!“, she was saying that all the rice were scattered asunder on the dining table like the faeces of a chicken. She would also give my younger brother a little push when he was sitting a two-legged chair.
My grandma did not know what was restless, she preoccupied herself every single second she was in her house. She would either do chores, watch something, cook, or just doing something. “Lu bo zo ming gia, tak gang ze diao, ei sie chao ei ah!” she was indirectly asking me to get off my ass to do something because I would just laze around in her house doing nothing.
“Sit Dek!” which directly translate to ‘shit’ in English, she would utter it whenever she was vexed, or when we did something stupid, or when we accidentally spilled drinks unto the floor.
Those were the words, the demeanor, the one and only grandma who would come into my mind whenever you mentioned the word grandparents. She was one of the best, the most caring grandmother, or perhaps someone who made me really felt like home apart from my house.
Five years past in a heartbeat, my grandma was diagnosed with a terminal kidney failure, it was during Christmas, she could not even get out of her resting chair, she was a living dead, the clock was ticking to her demise. Every single second that passed, I could see the suffering protruding from her face, she did not deserve this, peril.
I cried myself to sleep for a month, the grief crept inside me, unwilling to leave me, I was reluctant to let one of my worlds dissipate into thin air, leaving me alone, no one to be loved, again. My grandma’s death was imminent, I acknowledged it, I stopped crying, she did not want to leave us too, tears of resolution bled through my cheeks, sinking my heart into an infinite abyss of the uncharted territories of the life ahead.
A scorching afternoon, resolving into dark clouds congregating above my head, I stepped into my mum’s car after finishing school, “She just went back to the arms of God.” my tears peeked out of my eyes, holding them back, my grandma wanted to go happily.
When I reached my grandma’s house, my inner self wanted to shout to her, but I knew it was worthless, she was gone, gone. I went upstairs where she was laying down. She looked calm, back into His embrace, she was finally home.
Ah Yang, her voice reverberated in my head, she was addressing me, leaving her last words to me after she was gone a couple moments ago.
lu ai ziao go lu ei xio di ga xio beh,
take care of your siblings,
mai dak gang ke hu ei lang,
do not bully them,
wa ai zao liao,
I am going,
zin zia ai zao liao,
really need to go already,
ho ho ziao go lu ei xio di ga xio beh,
take good care of them,
mai ke hu ei lang liao.
do not bully them.
lu ka ki ai xio xim.
You take care of yourself.
wa zao liao.
Her funeral was done properly, as she wanted to fulfill to her Gods, I attended the funeral as a respect and love for my grandma.
“Bacon, do you have time?” it was midnight, after the second day of my grandma’s funeral.
“Yes, what’s the problem?” she answered my call.
“My grandma just passed away.” I broke down right after that, I cried, and cried.
For a full ten minutes, she listened to my questions, my vents to destiny, and lent me a firm shoulder to cry on.
“Thank you for your time… I really appreciate it…” I held regained my composure, and picked myself up. If it were not for her, I would have no one to help me through this period of time.
On the third day of the funeral, or rather be called the ceremony. My grandma’s coffin was lowered into the inferno, she was gone, forever.
A world destroyed.
Yet she would always remain in my heart, jiving into one of my mementos, the best five years of my life, filled with love that a meager amount of people would experience.
“Amma, wa ei hiao ziao go ee lang, wa ei hiao xio xim eh. Bye bye Amma.”
I don’t even have a photo with her before, the top is just a random cover picture.
P.S. JAN 2016
rest in peace Amma.