Saturday, February 13, 2016

cny change

For us, Chinese New Year has become an annual milestone where the ebb and flow of life is most apparent. Because the same things are supposed to happen every year, and when you look for it and they don’t happen, it’s destabilizing. (if I were younger I’d probably say CNY is so boring, we need change to shake it up)

I realise I say the same thing every year, or every few years. I think I'm just getting old and repeating myself.

This year, a record of change.

Day 1

For the first time, their Por Por leads the prayer rituals at the temple. Why? There’s no one else to. My father who used to do it fell out with the temple management and he doesn’t go back. My uncle who could also do it had an abdominal aneurysm last year and is too weak to.

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* The temple

Mum looks around. For a moment I almost push Day forward to do the praying and lead the kneeling, he’s quite sporting that way, but luckily she steps forward and gets a quick one-minute lesson on Red Swastika prayers 101.

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Back home, the numbers of people, noise level and visiting hours have progressively decreased over the years.

This year, as one stroke-ridden Aunt is unable to make it, another Aunt is unable to come due to heart issues, and as a third (and her entire brood of children and grandchildren) fail to turn up, it’s a strangely cool and uninspired CNY. Nobody even plays mahjong.

I can now say definitively that the CNY mahjong, a noisy click-clack of tiles punctuated by yells which I’ve been hearing once a year since I was born, ended in 2015. That was the last round of mahjong I will ever hear my Uncles and Aunties play.

The people who still come:

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* The three old ones. Gong Gong, his 84-year-old brother, and his cousin

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* Qiying and family

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Day 2

This will be our last year at the Mei Ling Street flat, one I’ve been coming to – again – since I was born.

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* Cousins: Janine and Jadon, Day, Jo, Zackarus, Caleb, Lu, Kaitlyn, Angel, Joyanne, Danielle

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Next year, Carrot Cake Auntie moves house to another part of Singapore. While there is some sadness, I’m certain her carrot cake will taste the same even in Sengkang.

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* Farewell to what's past

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