So we sat around the table with the peanuts, exchanging stories of Grandma. Tales that were long buried resurfaced. How she sat in my overcrowded kindergarten class, the only parent/grandparent allowed to do so, barking out orders in Teochew to 40 screaming kids to keep them in line. Apparently my mother went to the teacher to apologise for my grandma sitting in, and she was told that no, actually her presence was much welcome.
Of course, stories from my early childhood are all a little fuzzy - that's a tale I only know in the telling, not one in my memory. What I remember: I remember her taking me to some shop in Geylang, and she needed to get down the road, and back then you could actually took a trishaw for transportation, rather than for any novelty value. I remember going to the wet market with her and nibbling at the dried shrimp. I remember going to the hawker centre where she would take me to my favourite Western food store, probably the only place in Singapore where a hamburger came with ham. I remember her cursing out the hand-me-down old metal tricycle after a tricycle malfunction caused me to crash, needing stitches. And so I will remember her that way: feisty, pugnacious, rather than the frail shadow of herself that she had become near the end.
I am only one of twenty-six, or twenty-seven (one loses track) of her grandchildren, but she did babysit me for many years, and I will always be thankful.
Tonight driving home I was listening to Ben Gibbard on All Songs Considered, and he launched into "We Will Become Silhouettes", and I nearly lost it. "And we will become silhouettes when our bodies finally go..."
Rest in peace, Grandma.
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