“Are you sure we are doing the right thing?” I asked my husband again, as we were driving back to his hometown for our annual Chinese New Year’s reunion dinner.
It seemed a little odd to be having a celebration when just a hundred days ago, we were grieving over the loss of his mom.
“We are doing it for the living” that was all he had to say to put my doubts at ease. So much truth in what he had just said.
Death is inevitable and a sad experience but it should not stop the rest of us from carrying on with our life. It may alter one’s lifestyle (when someone you love is taken away from the equation) but always presents an opportunity to adapt to a “new” lifestyle without that someone.
Today we learned to adapt to that new lifestyle. This was the first time we were having our Chinese New Year’s reunion dinner without her around. She, a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a daughte and a sister who would organise this reunion dinner, year after year, wasn’t there doing what she did the best, being in charge of the kitchen.
I must confess, it was not awkward at all! It was nothing like I had imagined. It was the way it had been every year prior to her demise. The food may have been a little different this year and my girls did some work in the kitchen without being asked to, which was a pleasant surprise but the reunion had the same warmth and love. It was an enjoyable evening sitting together and enjoying the meal prepared by my aunt (her younger sister).
I learned a few things from my aunt who is known for her creativity in cooking and made some very unique dishes for us. One worthy to be mentioned was her vegetarian drumsticks. She used sugarcane as the sticks and bean curd skin as the meat! How innovative is that? You get to enjoy the “meat” and the “bone” too! Sweet suckling bone.
Everything she made (except for the meat) was from her own backyard. She has tapioca plants, papayas, chilies, sweet potatoes and much more.
I know now why mandarin oranges are a must during Chinese New Year. In Chinese they are referred to as gold. Kam means gold. So it is expected of you to bring along some Kam when you visit your relatives and friends during this festive season. You are expected to give Ang Pow (red packet) a monetary gift along some Kam to your parents and grandparents.
The were no moments of awkward silence. We hardly noticed mom wasn’t around. I am sure she would have wanted it this way. I don’t want to admit it but I got to say, my husband was right. We live for the living and today’s reunion dinner was all about that. It was about fostering our relationship with them and keeping the connection going.
I am sure she would have wanted us to stay united for as long as we can.
Happy Chinese New Year to you, wherever you may be. — ASIA SAMACHAR (20 Feb 2015)
[Jasbir Kaur blogs at A CUPPA FOR MY THOUGHTS]
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
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