DAYS GONE BY…
Mmm! I just finished off a dish of beautiful pink jambus, dusted with salt and pepper. Foreigners think we are crazy when we season some of our fruit, but they don’t know what they are missing! I’ve noticed that the girls also are not so hot on some of the more unusual local fruit.
Recently, I was driving down a road and saw these red rambutans displayed in large piles. I get my goat up at the price because I remember how we could buy a huge bunch for a price of what we pay nowadays for a handful. Once my friends and I bought an enormous bunch since we were going somewhere by bus and we thought it would be nice to eat them on the way. Of course, one crazy friend of ours kept throwing the skins out of the window onto the pedestrians. I don’t think they liked it! When we slowed down at a traffic light, we saw a guy angrily approaching the bus and we thought he would come in and yell at us. Thank goodness, the lights changed and we moved on. We had simple pleasures, but I think we had a less stressful childhood than kids today.
I remember when my sisters, brother or I used to be in the midst of a ferocious fight, my mum would say, “If you are going to kill each other, go outside and leave me at peace to do my work. Don’t come crying to me afterwards!” Another thing she would keep telling us was that if we ate our vegetables we would get rosy cheeks and lips, and if we ate our green leaves our hair would be nice, glossy and curly. We believed her up to a certain point! She referred to anyone who wasn’t a burgher as a ‘native. We had to listen to things like, “Why are you running around barefooted like a native?” or “Use your cutlery/serviette, who do you think you are, a native?”
On the other side of the coin were my father and his family, who kept reminding us that we had royal blood in our veins, and that our ancestor was a king in the North. When I was younger I wondered why we weren’t living in a castle or a similarly grand abode. I must say something has rubbed off all this talk of royalty, because I am told sometimes – I think I’m superior to everyone. To which I answer, “I don’t think about it, I know it for certain!” This infuriates the accuser even more, and my objective is achieved.
Another phrase often repeated in our house was, “Don’t try to teach your grandmother to suck eggs!” This also used to puzzle me at the beginning, because I simply could not picture my grandmother attempting this feat. And to what purpose, I wondered? Later on I found out that it meant don’t try to offer advice to an expert or waste one’s efforts upon futile matters. Research has found how this phrase may have originated. Small incisions were made on the two ends of an egg. The contents could be drawn out only by sucking it out carefully or else the delicate shell would break. So a patient person who would handle the eggs carefully was preferred. The resulting shells would be painted or decorated and displayed in sitting rooms. An egg would spoil and smell bad unless the contents were removed. I shudder to think of the nasty taste in the mouth of the person drawing out the egg, though. The phrase is first known to be mentioned in 1707 by a Spanish author. I can think of much better use that can be made of an egg rather than throwing the inside out and keeping the shell!
My dad would keep spouting Shakespeare to us in an attempt to make us cultured. We thought this all rather boring and would prefer our Enid Blytons, our William books, Billy and Bessie Bunter and the Bobbsey twins. Then he would play classical music and make us listen since he was horrified at the lyrics and the tunes of ‘pop’ music we listened to. We dutifully listened but no sooner his back was turned, on would come the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis and The Jackson Five. Sometimes he would play Latin American music and my mum and he would perform the rumba, the samba and the waltz. The neighbours would watch all this twirling around with great interest, and then go away probably thinking, “These people are crazy!”
- Honky Tonk Woman