As you can see from the box, it cost them RM11 – a LOT of money back in the day for my not-very-well-off maternal family. (Think: 6 adults + 5 kids in a small Semi-D with only 3 breadwinners amongst them. And I don't know about the rest of the men but my Kong Kong was a government servant with little to spare.)
40-year-old metal pipe icing set that's begun to rust. =p
Although it was the set itself that Mee oohed and ahhed over, I was more taken in by another familiar sight I've somewhat come to miss – Por Por's writing. All over the back of the box. Like so:
You see, my Por Por was taken out of school by her mother at the tender age of Std 3. "Cha bo thak chek, thak aneh kuan cho hamik??" my great-grandmother said. (English translation: "Girls study, study until so high for what??") Sigh. How male chauvinist of her to think that way. Mee and I always thought it was odd that she should have such a backward mentality considering she was an educated woman herself. (I don't know the specifics of her education but I know she could read and write well.)
Whatever the case, Por Por's life
was crippled because of this decision.
But... Although she stopped
learning through formal education,
she never stopped writing.
My Por Por loooved to write. Morning, noon and night, she would sit, hunched over any material that would take to the ink of a pen or marker, and write. Due to her lack of education, her writings often revolved around names, dates and simple words copied from product labels, newspapers or brochures lying around the house. She'd just repeat the words over and over, all in cursive, all over the place.
In her home, curly scribblings covered newspaper corners, tin cans, bottles, even cups, plates and cutlery. And at the end of every school year, every unused page from any of my exercise books, she tore and kept for later use. Because paper was precious. And because she never had the luxury of having books of her own.
I know I speak of Kong Kong a lot more on Tinki Talks than I do of Por Por. Perhaps cos he and I were closer to each other than I was to her. But that doesn't mean she didn't leave an impression.