Chinese New Year in Penang
When I was six years old, we spent Chinese New Year in Penang with my Chor Chor, Amah (grandmother) and Chor Chor’s best friend, Ah Cheng Chee. Cheng Chee’s husband owned a restaurant and she was such a good cook. She used to cut the carrots and pineapples with little designs, so that when you sliced it it would look like little flames.
Chor Chor and Cheng Chee spent all day preparing nice things to eat; stir fried beansprouts with garlic, laksa curry with thick noodles, glass noodles with sambal, spicy peteh, their special fried chicken, and of course pineapple cakes, cookies and jelly sweets.
At midday, Cheng Chee’s husband Ah Pek piled us all into his red Cadillac car and we went to his restaurant to watch the Lion Dance. Wow! There were drummers, and dancers and the Lion playfully chasing its ball.
We went home for a nap before dinner and when I woke up, everyone was outside! I got out of bed and quickly ran outside where my sister and cousins were posing for photographs and I began to pose too, until I realized I had forgotten to put on any pants! As soon as everybody noticed they all laughed, I think I remember that I didn’t care how embarrassing it was. Malaysia is warm, because it’s at the equator, it’s very warm outside and you hardly notice a thing like that.
Yah, so, after everyone laughed at me I got my pants on and we sat down at the big dining table and ate that good food. I remember I had to take cough syrup because I had gotten pneumonia, in those days I did get pneumonia a lot. I was so happy the medicine tasted good to me that day.
In those days, we would wake up and hear the chickens from the neighbor’s chicken coop laying their morning egg, and they would give some to Chor Chor to cook for our breakfast. People were very careful and did nice things to preserve those happy feelings.