When I was growing up, I thought all families had the same weekend lunches as mine: a giant cauldron of yellow noodles, simmered so long in an anchovy broth that they fell apart when you picked up your noodles with chopsticks. You had to use a spoon.
Ah ma made them every Sunday, but ah gong made the chilli. Even today, I have difficulty accepting anyone else’s roasted chilli in my soupy noodles. Kin Kin’s legendary chilli pan mee comes close, but nowhere close to my grandparents'.
We’d all go for seconds, thirds, and Ah ma would not touch the noodles until she was satisfied we’d all had enough. “I don’t like chicken wings and drumsticks, ew. I much prefer the tips.” Her life was one of sacrifice, and of idiot grandchildren who ate all the chicken wings because we believed she only liked the tips.
In love and life, when you have been loved so fiercely, quietly, and sacrificially, it takes years of learning to learn not everyone will love you like that.
Thank you, Ah ma, for all the mee lay, chicken wings, kiam chye ark tng and pomfrets you made me have. I will be here with you even if you don’t know it. I hope in heaven they have people cooking noodles for you, and I’m fairly sure it has an endless supply of pomfret eyeballs and soya sauce. Thank you for teaching me how to love.