Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Family ties


It’s always a nice scene to have the entire family clan assembled at the dinner table, everyone chatting to catch up on the latest happenings as well as gossips; telling lurid jokes and grumbling about working life; sighing about the most recent death or cooing at the latest addition in the family; eating and sharing each other’s company. Most of the time that my dad arrives in Kl this is the usual scene that greets us, all five aunts and uncles as well as their family sitting down to a nice dinner, and if we’re lucky to another the following days.

Since I can remember this has always been the norm, it even brings fond memories of my visits down Kl. I always laugh at the fact that my cousin and I who are of the same age were generally the middle in term of age among all the cousins, there are those older than us and already working else the others are all still in school. Often when the clan gathers, we would require two tables to accommodate everyone, for this fact we were always relegated to the kiddie’s table. It has it pros and cons; one we don’t have to be so stiff on protocol and restrictions such as showing respect by giving the elders first pick at the dishes or taking too much in fear of being seen as greedy; at the kiddie’s table we are often the eldest there thus often most cannot eat much thus we get the lion’s share of the food, not to mention it often looks like a battle field as we all rush in to grab as much of it as we can.

Only recently with several cousins either too busy with work out of the state or other commitments with family, that there were openings for us at the adult table. I always take this opportunity to find out what is happening in the family circle since I’m pretty much out of the loop here in Sabah and talking to Kin Voon, whom I share a close relationship since we practically grew up together throughout the years. We’d laugh at old times when we were little rascals causing much mischief to my grandmother; we’d talk about job prospects and working life that we shared; we’d discuss university issues and campus talk; gossip about what this aunt is doing or that uncle has been fooling about. My other cousins especially the guys would often be talking about games or cars, especially on Warcraft 3 DotA (Defense of the Ancients), of which after a year they’re still at it. We’re not the perfect family I must admit, we each have our peculiar habits and idiosyncrasy but that’s what makes it all the more interesting.

The only difference this time was the fact that dinner was not being hosted by my uncle the goldsmith. From the previous fallout where all of us lost out in investment in his business, his presence was noticeably missing from the usual scene, not that we’d appreciate seeing him there after what he did. His wife, my aunt was there though yet she looked a bit worn down, quieter than usual and maybe I’m wrong, sullen and ashamed. It’s sad to see her like this even as his husband is now openly fooling around with the mistress and sucking her savings dry. Even two of my cousins who would usually be present were away for various stated reasons but I suspect more. Yes, in times of good harvest, the man himself would often say that money is no objection and insists that he pay for the check, this time it fell onto others to do that. The most talked about topic was how each of the relations was hurt by his scam, how after committing cash to shift houses, pay for new cars or start a new business, to be told suddenly that our savings have been squandered. Everyone is still hurting and it shows though it seems those present is trying to put on a cheery face. Yet even such problems does not wash away the good atmosphere of just being together as a family and with the dishes pilling on and the drinks flowing, for a moment all was well and we had a great time.


narrowband said...

It's amazing how the dining table serves to bring family members together, strengthening ties.

I agree that we could sometimes be a little out of place, not too young but not old either... smacked right in the middle, lost in the their conversations. It's not so bad now though.

In the past, I'd be afraid if I talked too much, cuz it'd seem rude when the older ones are talking among themselves, and you join in their conversation. Needless to say, the kids' table is where kids are running around and can hardly sit still - I dread to sit with them. Sometimes I was even asked to help them with their food, feed them n stuff. I mean... grr.

Kervin said...

narrowband: I'm sure for the Chinese eating is one of the greatest bonds that hold family ties together. Didn't have to bother about the younger kids since usually a parent would sit with them and help them out but even the young ones are vicious in grabbing for food as I've learnt haha :D