Monday, January 9, 2012

Ruby red 2/rednesday: Lunar New Year

2012 is Year of Dragon. Chinese/Lunar New Year is on Monday, 23 January 2012. Red is the colour for the Chinese on Chinese New Year.

In China and Mandarin speaking places, they call them HONG BAO. In Singapore and Malaysia, they are called ANG BAO, a Southern Chinese Hokkien dialect, both meaning the same. These are red packages usually with some cash inside. They now are commercially printed, with gold words and pictures printed on it. They have auspicious words like meaning prosperous, WAN SHI RU YI, ten thousand things/every thing is successful and soon on. In the old days, before banks give out these empty packages, we used to make them with newspaper, and then paste a red band round it. In my dialect, we called them LI SEE, meaning something like smooth event. These days, in big functions, they give a chocolate gold coin. HONG BAOs are given out at all auspicious occasions, like births, weddings, birthdays,farewells, house warming, reward for doing well in exams and so on.

Remember, it must be red.

The year was 1986, it was almost around this time, because I was visiting Mum and Dad in Australia and we had Christmas and Lunar New Year celebrations. My cousin James,had graduated from his surveying studies was returning to Borneo. We went to see him off at the Brisbane airport. Little did he know that he was seeing this aunt who cared for him in Australia for the last time. Little did I know too, that it was the last period when I would be with Mum.

Mum died in 1988 from a drastic car accident on the second day of the Lunar New Year, after being very injured for two weeks. Every year at this time, I have a time of reflection. That is why I don't really celebrate Lunar New Year. But this year, things are going to change. I am going to reflect on the good things of Mum.

You might be wondering why I posted this photo of children sleeping on the floor. Over in Malaysia, people can sleep anywhere, just on a piece of mat on the floor. Especially on school trips, you don't carry too much " barang-barang". You travel light. I have this photo to depict the scenario which my ex student told me, something I had long forgotten.

Orlando Chua aka as Siau Wei only just started to Facebook me. He was among the first batch of students I taught. "Yes I do litigation work, mainly criminal but I do take on sizeable civil work."

His first message touched my heart.

Dear Ms Chan, of course I remember who you are. You were my geography teacher in 1974 (Form 1A), the then la creame de la creame class in Kai Chung Secondary School. You whisked into class on the first day and said "Good morning class. My name is Ann Chan Kit Suet!" Also in the same year, when some of us were sleeping over in a school in Sarikei, you came and provided us with extra pillows and blankets. One will not forget kindness like that displayed by you.

I know, as a 19 year old, I wouldn't have thought of that. It would have been Mum's idea. Dad was the DEO, the Divisional Education officer, and there must have been a sports meet. Mum being Mum, took pity on these kids sleeping on the floor with no pillows and blankets.

Thank you, Orlando for not only remembering, but telling me. It means so much. I now recall, a group of students came to visit me in my parents' home. It will be sweet if they remembered. ( Binatang where I taught, was another town in the division. I went home during the weekend either by boat/express or bus.)


Ann Chen said...

Ah ..I miss those days where I could sleep in a "sarong" at my grandparents' home. A comfortable hammock going up and down. I too experience sleeping on the floor. Ah good memories ...

Ginny Hartzler said...

I am so very sorry to hear this about your mother! My mom died just after our New Years, so I know the feeling. But with my mom, it was not a sudden accident. I am so glad you have decided to celebrate again. We usually do every year, with a Chinese New Year's party. I had forgotten it is coming so soon. I wish you only the happiest, the very best New Year!!

Jama said...

Sometimes I miss the simple life we had them, everything was shared and cousins, aunts, uncle, grandma....all had a chance to meet regularly. Now everybody's busy with work, school works and friends..

The JR said...

That's a bunch of tired kids!

lina@women's perspectives said...

We call it ANG PAO here.
Sorry to hear about your mom's tragic accident.
In some places in Indonesia, Chinese New Year's is celebrated very merrily.
Hope you have a wonderful celebration this year :)

Maria @ LSS said...

The children sleeping on the mats reminds me of our vacations in the province when we were young.

Happy RT!

Mine's here.

djawadreang said...

i sad to hear it., like a song on here :

Gemma Wiseman said...

O what a beautiful post! Enjoyed your information about the Chinese New Year! Love the feeling of inner strength where you remember the beauty of your Mum and travel on with the happiness of her being in your life!

And love the idea of those little red bags! They are gorgeous!

Leah H. said...

Oh yeah and RED stands for good luck too..

Visiting for RT 2 ! Here's my share- hope you can visit:)