Seventeen people including one fidgety toddler and two babies, squashed around a table, passively indulging in platter after platter of gloriously oily fried food for close to two hours.
I miss Big Family Dinners.
Last night’s dinner at the Por Kee Eating House, a place I associate with a dire lack of space as well as good food, was particularly momentous.
Apart from a dramatic fainting spell from one of my pregnant cousins (it was an Oh My God moment), Day and Dee were being presented in the flesh to the rest of the family after our year-long hiatus.
Other memorable moments:
SEEING THE FAMILY
These are the people who plied us with well-wishes, prayers, inspirational booklets, red packets, sweets and presents for the kids, when we were alone in Sydney.
What a joy to see them again.
The dinner was held in honour of my French auntie Marcelle (in green), who married my grand-uncle David, is now Singaporean enough to enjoy pig trotters in vinegar, and who has lived a life exciting enough to novelise.
It was also a joy to see how miraculously my uncle Ling (in orange), two years after a freak accident involving a train collision which severed his spine and left him paralysed, is enjoying his food, his family and his life more than ever.
Cousins, cousins, cousins. My children have none to speak of, not directly, as all KK and my siblings (all four of them) are regrettably single.
Janine, my cousin KY’s daughter, comes closest.
Just two months older than Dee, we have, since they girls were bubs, always wanted them to get along. Every family event, we stick them together, snap a picture, and hope they click sometime down the line.
Last time we saw her was a year ago, when Dee was four months and she was six months.
Last night we put the girls side by side. Apart from the fact that both girls are thankfully prettier, they did some major clicking.
And Janine the fidgety baby has grown into a curly-haired fireball of a girl who really can’t stop moving! While Dee placidly chewed away, making herself even fatter than she already is, Janine attempted to climb up window grilles.
One other huge difference: Anyone can carry Janine. No one can carry Dee except her mama. That makes a gigantic difference to me.
It’s always a warm and fuzzy feeling when the family is about to get bigger.
Under the dining table was not just one, but two baby-filled bellies.
The bigger bump belonged to my cousin Dawn, who is due to cradle her son Caleb in three weeks but who is still on her feet teaching all day long. She’s also had some incredibly sobering experiences with incredibly inconsiderate selfish self-absorbed Singaporeans who have absolutely no heart for pregnant women. Bah.
The smaller bump belongs to my ex-air stewardess cousin, who is experiencing a most turbulent pregnancy.
Does this girl know when to stop?
I fed her a macaroni dinner at home, in the hope that she will be full enough not to want to eat the MSG-laden restaurant food.
At the restaurant, she first shared, then ended up finishing Janine’s porridge dinner.
That’s not all. She went on to eat every single course of our meal. Spring rolls, chicken, keropok, beancurd, fish, noodles, Por Kee’s famous orh nee. She ate more than her brother, who was predictably quiet and left on the sidelines enjoying his favourite prawns, as everyone laughed at the gluttonous girl.
Someone asked me: She has many teeth? No. Only eight in the front, but man, her gums work well.
At the end of it all, she stood on KK’s lap and happily rubbed her distended tummy.
We were not happy though, when MSG-ed Dee, bouncing off the walls like a teenager on crack, refused to sleep and later woke up screaming in the night possibly because she was over-stimulated.