Today I worked a double shift, a really long one. I finished at 12 after finishing up some shit. Everyone else was long gone. When I go upstairs to change, I’m met by a message from my brother informing me that my mother’s mother had passed away. Peacefully in her sleep apparently.

The curious thing is that my housemate decided this week he was gonna ferment some rice to make Hong Zhao Jiu, or red fermented glutinous rice wine. This just happens to be one of my biggest memories of my grandmother. Essentially, everytime I went to visit her on a big day, there would always be a pot of Hong Zhao Ji, or Red Glutinous Rice Wine Chicken. What you do is basically ferment glutinous rice with the addition of red yeast, which is where it gets the name. The wine takes weeks to ferment and be ready. I don’t think my grandmother actually made her own wine but I now know two people whose mothers have recipes for making their own auspicious moonshine. Regardless of whether my grandmother made the wine or not, the pot of braised chicken with mee sua was usually pretty kickass. I remember coming to Sydney and studying French cuisine and doing a Coq au Vin which reminded me of Hong Zhao Ji. Even the flavours are kinda similar. Just why my housemate picked this week to start his shit is just…

Another big memory for me was the basket of durians. Por Por was mad for durians and she’d buy ’em by the basket. As a kid, I vividly remembered how awesome it was to indulge in a BASKET of durians. The supply was neverending! I think this greatly contributed to my love for the fruit because on my dad’s side, we weren’t quite as fervent. So from the ages of like 5-7 around June, I really looked forward to smashing durians and uh, visiting my mother’s side of the family too.

In many ways, I feel like my grandmother was the tie that bound my mother’s family. She was the reason why we’d end up gambling on mahjong during Chinese New Year. I liked playing against my grandmother and winning. Pretty sure she cleaned me out more often than not but of all the scant interactions I had with her, this was one of the most vivid.

With her passing, there is no one left from the first generation in my family now. We’re staring at fourth generation kids, most of whom I haven’t really met, nor do I even know their names if I’m being honest. With each passing day, it feels like the distance continues to grow. It’s times like these when we remember something most important; that we’re still family.

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