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Earliest Memories

My earliest memories really involved living with a nanny. My mother was a teacher. My father often worked out of town – in Sg Patani or Kedah. So from the time I was brought away from my natural parents, I was fostered out.

I remember living in this bleak dark house with a staircase. My nanny was scrawny and gaunt. I wish I had photos, cos that would help me picture my life. Those days, it was not so easy to take photos, so I can only rely on the very vague images in my head. I don’t think I liked her very much. I seem to recall she was rather mean. I am not exactly sure, but I believed she could have hit us – my younger cousins were also looked after by her. All I can recall is how I would bawl when I was returned to her house after spending the weekend with my mother and her family.

I remember sitting at the stairs and fed my meals. I think my nanny did not cook very often, for what I remember was being fed rice with soup poured over, and a few fishballs. That could account for why I love having rice in soup, and my penchant for fishballs.( For the sake of my non-Asian friends, fish balls have nothing to do with male body parts – they are made from fish meat, ground and mixed with flour, and is usually added to soups). Other days I would be given maybe a piece of meat, and soya sauce covered rice. Perhaps that explains my love for soya sauce!

 

Actually my childhood diet must have been quite a mess. I was told that when I was a baby, condensed milk was the rage. I was bottle fed condensed milk – what horrors! My mum told me mothers at that time thought that was the best option – I think she said because it was the most expensive. Years later, my natural mother told me I was breast fed til I was given away at one month old. Ok – some saving grace there. No wonder I put on weight easily. No wonder I have weak bones and teeth… shudder all that sugar. By the way, to this day I simply adore condensed milk – though I do not stock it at home, for fear of abuse, and I love milk chocolate.

 

One incident that is firmly etched in my memory is a fight I had with a cousin. She too was under the charge of my nanny. I guess despite my protests about her being mean, my protests were not taken seriously. Maybe also she charged lower fees? In any case, my cousin WF joined me. She was younger than me by 3 years. One day we were left alone in a room with a pair of scissors. We fought for it, and in the process I jabbed her leg. I was severely punished, being the elder, though I suspect she was the aggressive one. But how to remember who started the fight, or whose fault it was?

 

I think I must have felt resentment. Before her arrival, I was every body’s favourite. Then she came. She was fair while I was dark – so I guess she was considered way prettier than me, and cuter. I suppose that too became a source of rejection, especially as I discovered, not much later that I was adopted, unlike her.

 

To end on a happy note – she and I became quite close. She had two brothers and no sisters, so I guess for a time, we fulfilled the sisterly role for one another, complete with bickering and cat fights.

 

See how cute we were? Photo taken in my 2nd aunt’s patio.

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