It was the duty of my third uncle to fill the lamp with kerosene, which our family would buy by the tin. (Hence the idea of kerosene tin - the rectangular voluminous tin with a hole at one of the corners for us to siphon out the oil.)
Each evening all the kids would surround uncle Pang Sing, waiting for him to light the lamp and then we would sit around for him to start telling us stories . Grandmother would be there too and the highlight of the evening would be her telling tell tales of China.
How many stories were told
under the lights of the kerosene lamp?
How many fears were quelled
because of the warmth of the light and the gentle tones of a mother's voice?
How many beautiful evenings passed
because grandmother was there mending a blouse, with her tiny fingers?
How many girls giggled and shared confidences in the room
bathed by the shadows of the lamp?
How lonely did life become when the light was put aside and the fragrance of old kerosene no longer filled the air?
Some stories to come soon.