Saturday, February 02, 2008

Mother and Son

My father's cousin used to live across the road from us. We called her Ah Koo Rou. she was Mrs. Ling by marriage and had a very big family of very active boys.

Aunty had a brother who was well known for his filial piety. He would visit his mother, downriver every weekend. In those days,whenever a son visited his mother, he would bring some fresh food, including pork,and lots of tinned food like laici and peaches , sardines, tomato sauce, condensed milk, milk powder (Klim) and cabbage. The presents would depend on how much the son could afford and neighbours would come around to have a good look at him and what he brought back and at the same time welcome the boy home.

One weekend this uncle went back home to visit his mother and he was very excited about going home because he knew that his mother would cook his favourite braised duck. His mother had a fairly big duck farm as she lived by the river side.

As was the practice, his mother gave him a duck drumstick to go with his rice. the son pushed the drumstick towards his mother and asked her to have it. But she declined emphatically because she said that she had hers. After a few pushes back and forth, the son decided to eat the drum stick and he expected his mother, who would eat later, to eat hers.

The next day, the mother pushed the second drumstick to her son's bowl and this time, the son refused to eat it. He quickly finished his meal and asked his mother to eat. His mother was very happy to see her son eating up all the vegetables.

By evening time, the meal was made up of what was left over from the other two meals. And as they had no refrigeration, what was left of the duck was stale unfortunately. The second drumstick was stale.

The son was terribly disappointed and the mother was very upset. The son told the mother that it was wasteful to stand on ceremony, or seh ni (in Foochow). As mother and son, they did not have to be so courteous to each other.

To this day, my relatives and I still remember the story of the mother and son and their reluctance to eat the second duck drumstick.

Foochows are still very courteous and they do really, stubbornly stand on ceremony most of the time. You have to strategise to get them to do what you sincerely want. And that is quite difficult.

But today, due to perhaps modern education,many Foochows have changed. It is not so difficult to entertain modern Foochows now.

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