My earliest memory of my grandfather was on the back of his bicycle. At that time, I was only ten, and my grandfather had picked me up from my morning calligraphy lesson. It was a daily routine I had when I stayed in Shanghai over the holidays, and my grandfather was responsible for picking me up after lesson. My grandfather, oblivious to the cold winter winds, was shouting over the cacophony to ask me what I wanted to have for lunch. It was a treat for me after the morning lesson everyday as he would always brought me to an eatery which served piping hot dumplings. Moreover, that day's journey was unique, ice pellets began falling from the sky as my grandfather peddled furiously to get me to the nearby eatery while I held on tight to his waist behind his black, old bicycle.
The long-standing eatery was filled with people during the lunchtime hours. Queuing up for food or being polite was not the way of life in Shanghai, people were pushing and shoving at each other to get a seat or order their food. My grandfather, with his big built, stood between the crowd and me as he did not want me to be knocked off my feet. Finally, we found seats and our food came a short while later. I gingerly took a pair of chopsticks and began filling my plate and started eating. Unaware I was the only person eating, I looked up and saw my grandfather gazing at me. He asked me whether it was enough or he could order more food for me. I shook my head, and asked him to eat too. He smiled at me, showing off the silver tooth in his mouth, he told me to tuck in as he picked up another dumpling and placed it onto my plate. I did not think much about it, and continued my afternoon feast.
The lunch at the neighborhood eatery was a secret my grandfather and I shared. We kept it from my mum and grandmother as they found it too unhygienic and unsafe for a young kid like me to eat at. We would not explain why we came home late for lunch,... Continue Reading