Once in a while, we feature stories from our friends about how the love of making, family and relationships. The following is written by our friend, Sue-Ann, who writes about her Peranakan family's legacy of making and their fierce dedication to craft. If you have a story to share, write to email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.
(photo of Sue-Ann's grandmother's beaded slippers)
As a little girl, I spent most of my days in the care of my maternal grandmother, my mama.
I followed her everywhere like a shadow. I remember sitting amongst my grandaunts and mama, intrigued by their lively gossip in Baba Malay and secretly pleased by the fact that they had allowed me to listen in on their ‘inner circle' gossip. Whenever we took walks around the neighbourhood, mama would proudly introduce me as her chu-chu (grandchild).
I loved everything about her, her warmth, her comforting embraces and the fact that she could make anything and cook everything - pandan cake, pineapple tarts, melt-in-your-mouth kueh bangkit (these had to be cut with animal shaped cookie cutters and every single cookie meticulously decorated with a red dot for the animal’s eyes), buah keluak, itek sio, you name it.
When mama wasn’t cooking up a storm, she was crafting. She would knit beautiful rompers, dresses and hats for my dolls, crochet beaded necklaces to give away and spend time sitting at her wooden kasut manek frame to sew intricate patterns of beaded flowers and animals which would then be made into Peranakan beaded slippers.
Mama didn’t have to say anything for me to understand the intrinsic commitment and pride that we, Peranakans, are expected to have over anything we put our hands to. Even something as mundane as prepping vegetables for cooking is undertaken with precision and care.
My mama may have been gone for more than 20 years but I will never forget the legacy she’s blessed me with - a desire to create with my hands and along with that, a deep understanding of the commitment and care that goes into anything I create.
I am thankful that my mama’s appreciation for excellence and her eye for beauty lives on in me and in the next generation of little Nonyas and Babas I’m bringing up in my household as we create new traditions of cooking, crafting and creating together.
As a mother, I have to become stronger and more resilient in life, both mentally and emotionally, for I am my children’s pillar of strength when they face the storms of life. Moreover, becoming a mother makes me more appreciative of my own.