Chinese New Year is a time to keep in touch with the long lost relatives, especially the older ones. They are the ones that keep the intrinsic meaning of Chinese New Year alive among the members in the family tree, or else Chinese New Year will just be another leisure time to be spent on vacation or just another banal working day.
Ah Ming had not celebrated Chinese New Year for years, ever since her 80 years old mother passed away, everybody seemed to disappear, to avoid bonding with each other after the demise of his mother. After Ah Ming had married to his beautiful wife, Jacklyn, it was his very first time re-experiencing Chinese New Year.
“Aiya, no need to be so nervous one lah.” Jacklyn took the shotgun as Ah Ming drove with beads of sweats rolling down his chin.
“I where got nervous,” Ah Ming turned up the air-conditioner in the car, “Just very hot only mah. I little bit scared also don’t have.” his tone tinged with his usual ego.
“My parents very nice one lah, didn’t you meet them before?”
“That’s the problem lah, you know me mah, I’m not much of a talker. After…”
“You are worried about worrying about what is going to happen. Chill lah.” Jacklyn gave him an affirmative pat as they drove their way down south to her hometown.
It was sweltering. As Ah Ming was driving, he felt an enigmatic swell inside his stomach, it was intelligible, but almost as if he was excited to relish the bygones. They reached the destination, it was a normal double-story house, furbished with red- signifying the start of a new year.
Greetings and wishes went both ways, there were too many people there, faces that he did not recognise, and the one who stood out most was her mother, the oldest one in the house. She was serene, slightly hunched, having the similar complexion as Jacklyn- absolutely charming, and she gave me the inexplicable resemblance of my times celebrating Chinese New Year long time ago.
“Aunty… Gong Xi Fa Cai!” an ordinary greeting, stammered.
“Ming ah! Ge lai zhei zhei.” (Come and have a seat) Luckily I picked up Hokkien last time, hope it isn’t rusty, Ah Ming thought, “Wa ei za bo kia tui lai yi jun, ka wa kong ah jui lu ei tai ji.” (When my daughter come home and visits me, she told me a lot about you.)
Ah Ming was surprised, his natural instinct kicked in and continued the conversation. He was re-living the quaint feeling of having an older one to talk to. They chatted throughout the day, and never ever running out of topic to talk about. Joy, laughter and chatter teemed the atmosphere, depicting the true and subtle importance of having an old one during Chinese New Year.