She baked me scones.
Growing up in Klang, we'd meet up in our residential "tamans" and cycle past parks and houses, sometimes accompanied by the neighbourhood dogs that chased us but hardly ever caught up with us as we sped along the tarred and potholed roads. I am not quite sure if we had a mission then, other than the pure bliss of feeling the wind blow against our faces and through our hair. Our skin bore evidence of falls; scars and scratches reminded me of a distant and carefree childhood.
Those tomboyish years didn't prepare me for an adulthood of feminity and grace. But grow up we did.
She now lives in a farmhouse in Ireland. As we drove along the narrow, single-laned road fringed by tall brambled bushes covered with blackberries, I couldn't help but yearn for the past in my more nimble childhood where I'd maneuver my flimsy bicycle to avoid cycling into shrubs or falling into camouflaged ditches (similar to the brilliantly camouflaged road signs along our legendary Malaysian roads).
She greeted us at the door. "I baked you scones!" she exclaimed with glee.
And this is how it is, isn't it? I am reminded of one of Shakespeare's famous soliloquys in As You Like It:
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.....
".....Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow.....
".....And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin'd,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part......"
We move from stage to stage, and if we're "lucky" enough, we shall see the final stage where we are sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Thankfully, our tastebuds were still intact as Wei Sim cooked us typical Irish stew, fish pie and wonderful salad plucked from her tiny vegetable plot. The freshness of ingredients made all the difference as I relished the earthy taste of the vegetables (and if you know me really well, you will know that I am no fan of vegetables). I also learnt that I had lived in the illusion that Irish stew had to be dark and thick; the typical Irish stew is very much like the Chinese ABC soup - clear and light.
We are truly blessed, not so much for the wonderful food that we got to partake at her home in Ireland, but for being accepted with open arms into her beautiful family and to share in a little bit of her heaven.
NOTE: The little angel in the picture above is only 6 years old, so don't get any funny ideas!!
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