The earliest memory that I have of Mama was her in the kitchen, bent over our stove.
I remember standing up on my tippy-tippy toes, peering into the wok. I was curious about what Mama was cooking, but also afraid of the splattering oil, the loud clanging cutlery.
It was around this very stove that Mama would make all the dishes that defined my childhood.
And though I spent many years watching Mama cook, I never wrote her recipes down. I would watch her fry rice but never ask her how she got every grain of rice to dance on the surface of the wok.
I guess I’ve always thought that Mama would live forever – that I would have a lifetime to ask her all those questions.
I suppose when you are a child, the concept of life is simple and of death, foreign.
So I never did. And now that she’s gone, I will never be able to.
Now when I look at my parents, I see subtle signs of ageing. A strand of white hair on Mummy’s head that the hairdresser had missed, the longer time that Daddy takes in the bathroom.
I see them slowly, but surely and sadly, get older.
When I look at them, I feel this surge of melancholy – an almost helplessness that I can do nothing to stop the sands of time and keep them with me forever.
So I do what I can. I take the time, ask questions. I pay close attention to how Daddy fries his Hokkien Mee and watch when Mummy packs luggage. I beg them to tell me their secrets, their tips and tricks.
I take pictures and immortalise moments through writing so that I would never forget.
I may not be able to stop time but I can appreciate every moment.
Then perhaps when it’s too late, I won’t have questions that I never got to ask.