Last night in Kuching

So my holiday in Kuching, my hometown, is finally over. We’re flying out to Singapore early in the morning then heading back to Perth in a few days.

The weeks have flown by. I have really enjoyed this retreat back home. It was exactly what I needed to reenergise my body and recharge my soul.

Both kids are asleep so my parents and I shared the last bowl of Sunny Hill pandan ice cream. I think I have successfully converted ah Ma to be a fan of this ice cream.

My parents went all out to make sure I was well rested and enjoyed my holiday. During the brief periods when Saitaoha was napping, ah pa would stay home to tend to her while ah Ma would drive us out to go shopping or food hunting. I didn’t even request to go anywhere, but she would drive to Sunny Hill even though she was unsure how to get there, because she knew I loved the pandan icecream there.

Yesterday I went to 拜 my gung gung. I apologised to him for taking my parents away from mah mah but said that I knew he would understand. I told him that Mah Mah was well looked after, but in a way I wish her suffering would end because she no longer recognises us or is aware of her surroundings. I don’t know that she is happy and I can only imagine how sad my father is when he sees her in this state. During Chinese New Year, I told ah pa that Mah Mah turned her head towards me because I was holding Saitaomei and she was crying loudly. A few days later we were with Mah Mah in the garden and Saitaomei started crying. Instead of asking me whether she’s hungry or hurrying me to tend to her like ah pa usually would, he asked me to hold the crying Saitaomei nearer to Mah Mah. So I put Saitaomei on Mah Mah’s lap but Mah Mah didn’t even flicker. After a while ah pa sat back resigned and motioned me to go soothe Saitaomei ‘eh sai liao (可以了)’ he said. My heart broke.

I said goodbye to Mah Mah this afternoon, I asked her whether she remembered how whenever I visited her during uni holidays she would hug me and say ‘Mah Mah ju lai ju eh, lu ju lai ju kwang (Mah Mah is getting shorter and you’re getting taller).’ It’s been almost a decade since my grandparents’ home was sold and they moved in with us, but I always look out for their house whenever we drive pass it. My lasting memory is of Mah Mah standing in the porch waving and shouting ‘bye bye!’ to us. We would roll down the car window and wave and shout ‘bye bye Mah Mah!!’ I wish we could return to those days.

I have savoured staying in my family home. R and I are from the same hometown, so for the past years when we’ve been home, I’ve stayed at his house.

This time there are so many things that I noticed about our house that I took for granted. Like our extra high ceilings. And lights that have been changed. And walls that seem to be of a different colour from what I remember. I asked my parents about these changes and they tell me all these little improvements were made when my sisters got married or before my brother’s wedding. I’d never noticed how much effort my parents put in to make sure our family home looked good for these occasions.

I will miss our lush and green garden with the graceful trees that are now so tall. When I was young these trees and their branches were still within arms’ reach.

I took photographs of Saitaoha on this swing. This swing means so much to us because this was where my grandparents sat every evening when they visited us. When my siblings and I were kids, this swing was our imaginary train and ship.

Ah pa’s organ which he still plays. When we were young, ah pa would play on the organ while waiting for us to get ready to go out for Sunday breakfast. We grew up with music played by my father.

I will miss our collection of books. Some so old and worn the covers are taped up. Some are new and brought back by my sisters and myself whenever we returned home from Uni.

I had a really good look at the many photos around our house this holiday. This caricature of my parents was drawn at Sanrioland during our family trip to Japan during Sakura season. Most of our family photos are taken at famous landmarks around the world. My parents brought us for family trips every year. We travelled to Europe, US, Japan, South Africa and many other countries. It was only when I was older that I realise how expensive these family trips were and how much my parents sacrificed (not to mention the work!) to ensure we could see the world.

I love these stickers on our bed frames. We bought them during our US trip to Disneyworld. When I was young, I would touch these stickers and believe that they were magic and bring us luck.

I love my family home. It’s my sanctuary. When I was struggling in Perth, I kept dreaming of my home. Some day this house will be sold, but the memories will remain. I hope my parents will eventually settle in Australia and I can help to create a home for them that will bring them as much happiness as our family home in Kuching.

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1 Response to “Last night in Kuching”


  1. 1 Tspellstrouble February 27, 2018 at 6:18 am

    Aiyoh so sad this post! Made me cry 😭


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