On this edition of #cucuconversations or grandchildren stories, we have Shalini, our Care Advisor who is of Indian-Chinese parentage to share about what it was like growing up with her grandparents, particularly her grandmother and what was unique about being a Chindian celebrating different festivities such as Chinese New Year together with her family.
A melting pot of cultures, it is uncommon to see mixed-race marriages in Malaysia where individuals get to enjoy the best both of worlds, in values and traditions beyond festivities. Read on to see what she has to say about what it was like growing up in a multi-cultural family and what her favourite memory was of her grandparents.
1.Tell us more about your grandparents.
I spent most of my childhood growing up with my late grandmother. My late grandfather passed on before I was born and therefore, most of my childhood memories are with my grandmother.
I would describe my late grandmother as someone who had a fierce looking demeanor and growing up she was strict on me and my siblings, making sure we were always well-behaved with the right values and always instilling discipline to make sure we did not stray away. I remember all of us being very afraid of her but as time passed, we realised that it was her way of showing us tough love — I will always remember the times she would buy our favourite toys and cook our favourite dishes even after scolding us about something we might’ve done wrong.
2. What was it like growing up in a multicultural family?
I was blessed to grow up in a mixed race family. Since I was young, I have been exposed to both cultures and have learnt a lot from both sides of the family. It was confusing for me in the beginning when I was very little but thankfully, I’m used to it now and was able to differentiate both cultures as the year passed. Growing up in a multicultural family is really fun! The best part is that I’m able to experience both festivals, it means I get to buy new clothes twice and most importantly, receive ‘angpaus’ or red packets twice a year (the second time would be for Deepavali!).
3. How do you celebrate Chinese New Year with your family?
Every year, we would travel back to my mum’s hometown in Taiping for our yearly reunion with the rest of my family members. On the eve of Chinese New Year, I always look forward to the reunion dinner as that is when everyone will get busy together to prepare the food and enjoy the feast later!
Here’s a photo of how our reunion dinner looks like:
4. What was your favourite memory of your grandparents?
I really missed observing my late grandmother preparing food for us from scratch. She would first slaughter the chicken or duck that she got from her farm and cook the meat the way we like it. She will always ensure that our stomachs are filled before leaving her house.
5. What is one thing you’ve learnt from your grandparents?
To never give up. My late grandmother used to tell me stories about how tough life was back then. Having to carry the burden to raise nine children, my late grandparents worked really hard those days to provide for them. My late grandfather took up 3 jobs in a day in order to provide the best for their children. My mum used to tell me stories that they had to work to earn their own pocket money to lessen their parents’ burden.
I also remember the times when she would never fail to prepare our favourite food regardless of how tired she is and that was something I cherish for life.
6. What is one legacy that your grandparents have left behind for you or your family?
If there was one legacy that they have passed down to us, it would be generosity.
My late grandparents were known for being generous. When there are guests in their house, they would always prepare lots of food and drinks more than enough for an entire village! They would also always lend a helping hand to help those in need, especially their neighbours.
7. Show us a picture of you and your grandparents
Here’s a picture of my late grandmother, my family and mini-me!