“i was a drummer in the school band, you know,” she said, her eyes lighting up with nostalgia. “we were among the few schools that were invited to perform during the national day parade. i had alot of fun and i was a pretty good drummer too!“
she never tires of telling me about the brilliant essays she wrote as a schoolgirl, particularly one she composed in the presence of her principal because a teacher had refused to believe that she could produce such mature pieces of writing and accused her of plagiarism. she also loves to recall the time she spent as a young teacher who taught her students to dance while she played simple melodies on the piano despite her lack of formal musical training.
her famed story-telling skills, which once captivated her students’ hearts, live on till today. my sister and i were very blessed as children because she would narrate all sorts of tales of fables to us. my childhood memories are laced with her beautiful voice singing old chinese songs that fill every corner of the house.
i often lament that i have failed to inherit her doe-eyed beauty and petite frame. but now i wish i could have also inherited the spunky spirit that helped her survive a complicated childhood and the difficult patches as a wife and mother. some have criticized the pride with which she speaks about her family and the stubborn manner in which she defends herself, but in view of the many sacrifices she has made in her life, the very least she has retained is her pride. and deservedly so.
i can only hope to be half the woman she was and still is.
happy birthday, mum!