To make barley, you must be a thief.
Not to steal money or jewellery But to be a burglar of pandan leaves.
“But Mum, Dad, We live in an upper middle-class neighbourhood We own four cars! Why must I steal the pandan leaves? It’s only sixty cents at the supermarket.”
My parents clutched at their chest, their reaction as if I had desecrated my family name – the same expression they had when I told them I was pursuing an Arts degree, years ago.
“Ah Girl, don’t say steal. Stealing is bad word. It’s more like borrowing. Without asking. At night. When neighbor sleeping.”
It’s midnight and my neighbors are asleep. I scaled their side gate, knife strapped to the elastic of my shorts; precariously close enough to disembowel me should I fall.
I sliced off several blades of the emerald green leaves, stuck them in my pants. Ninja my way back to the safety of my upper middle-class home, bearing the stolen treasures back to my waiting parents.
I am a pandan thief and I bring honor to my family.