Friday, October 15, 2010

What Ah Bee told me

Hi Ah Bee,

In the short days which I've known you, this is what I remembered from what you told me.

You said your son was skinny "like a cat" during his teenage years, and you made him drink loads of milk as part of his diet to fatten him up. Your reference to a cat being skinny is weird. Surely you saw Meow-mi, the fat, pampered stray cat that was hanging around Rowell Road?

You told me of your days in Lasalle. Those art students and staff who were in the old campus probably remembered you as the uncle selling Western Food + Chinese Food. You had to prove your worth to take over the Western Food stall by cooking up a feast for the staff members with a budget of $300. You also had a tin can heavy with 5 cent coins (or was it 1 cent?) which you had accumulated over the time you manned the canteen stall. It was stolen, probably 20kg of it. You also spoke of the generosity of the school founder Brother McNally, who paid the school fees of students who couldn't afford to pay.

There was a black angel fish kept in a tiny fish tank in Food #03. It was going solo in its small living area : it bit the fins of other fellow angel fishes, so they were removed to save their poor lives. You often demonstrated to me how the fish recognized you when you approach the tank. And it always did swim towards your direction.

You spoke of your time in Japan; you mentioned it was a short stint in the restaurant. You could speak some Japanese after some time. The usual pleasantries. And you told me that they like their curry sweet.

You related to me horror tales in the kitchen. About a cook you knew that loved to slam the back of the knife into the food. One fine day he slammed his hand into the sharper side of the knife instead. You also told me not to put a carving knife on a top shelf, in case it drops and "slice open my belly and have my intestines flowing". Ouch.

You told me about fishes you caught in Sembawang, with bellies so thick. You indicated its size by holding your thumb and your index finger apart by around 3-4 cm. Your fridge was stuffed full with your catches for awhile, because you thought your friends wouldn't appreciate it even if you shared it with them.

You told me that you loved your coffee with a little something extra: a small bottle of hard liquor which you got from home. "Shiok ah!"

You told me you were supportive of the the CPF scheme where they give you monthly payouts. Said that you wouldn't want to have too much money in your hands.

At that point of time when I met you, I still can't figured out what I wanted to do in life. You told me to "just do it" and "not think too much", because life is short to "think too much".

Somehow, it still feels unreal that you're gone. You went away quietly.

It is hard to put a time-code to the little anecdotes which you related to me, you never told me when it happened.

Recently, Tien has dung up pictures of your wrestling days. I never knew that was what you did in your youth. No wonder they referred to you as the "Wrestler Chef"!

I supposed there are many others who you've met in your lifetime will have other anecdotes of what you've told them. It'll be interesting to hear them.

Your pasta and your stories were yummy.

Thank you, and good bye, Ah Bee.

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