Sunday, 7 October 2012

LIFE OVERSEAS: Ties that bind

BIRDS migrate north during spring and return south during autumn. Unfortunately, I cannot go back to Malaysia whenever I please — flights do not come cheap when you have to travel 10,943km across the globe.
When I came back to Malaysia last year, I spent a stupendous six weeks eating a variety of local food, enjoying the sun and reuniting with family and friends.
This year, however, my summer holidays were spent entirely in Ireland. Throughout the three months, I received several messages asking about my next trip to Malaysia. I replied: “I’m pokai (broke), lah.”
However, during mid-summer, I received news from my mum that our relatives were visiting Emerald Isle. I was overjoyed at seeing my cousins, aunt and uncle after two years away from Malaysia.
They brought packets of Ipoh kopi-o sachets, fish curry paste and the beloved Malaysian slang. Our conversations were a jumble of English, Malay and Cantonese. My mother and her sister were chattering at top speed in Teochew which my mother dearly missed as I cannot speak the dialect.
The house felt so packed and noisy, in a good way. It reminded me of Chinese New Year gatherings. As our relatives were only visiting for four days, we filled each with as many activities as possible.
On their first day, they visited Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb at The Burren. Poulnabrone means “hole of sorrows” literally as bodies and personal items are buried under this monument. It is one of the most famous dolmens in Ireland and it lies on a beautiful large limestone pavement.
They also went to Ennistymon Cascades where they soaked up the scenery. We even bumped into a drove of donkeys which had just given birth to their young four days ago!
On the visitors’ second day, we drove to Dublin. Instead of the towering skyscrapers and shopping malls in Malaysia, they found rows and rows of shops.
As Ireland is well known for delicious spuds, we dined at a famous chipper called Leo Burdock’s. It was established in 1913 and counts Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock and the cast of Scrubs among its clients.
After two days of travelling, we returned home to a night of relaxation and card games. It is our tradition to stay up late, talking while playing cards. The funny part was that I realised I did not have a single pack of cards in the house!
As it was our last night together, I decided to be slightly loony and made my own deck of cards. I cut different coloured cards, scribbled down numbers and drew the different card suits with black and red markers. Finally, we were able to play!
The next morning before their flight home, we gathered around the table with piping hot cups of coffee and tea along with scrumptious sandwiches prepared by my mum.
Their stay made me realise that despite hardly any communication for two years, our relationship has not changed. All we needed was a short reunion to rekindle it.
Most friendships fade away over time. However, family ties never die.

The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland. She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart

Read more: LIFE OVERSEAS: Ties that bind - You - New Straits Times

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