17th of November is my mother's birthday. I haven't celebrated birthday with her for three years since my days in Perth. As the KURUS shoot had begun on the 16th, and I'm now living at Ming Jin's place (it makes traveling to Semenyih easier), I'd expected this year to be no different, and that the streak would extend to four years.
I received a SMS from my sister asking me to drop by for a surprise party on the night of my mom's birthday cos' she had bought mom a cake.
So I did, taking the long 45-min train ride home from Bangi, dropping a line saying that I want to have dinner to celebrate mom's birthday. The train ride was made bearable thanks to the company of Mislina (yes, the actress Mislina Mustapha, she has a major role in KURUS. plays Mukhsin's aunt in MUKHSIN, and plays Ayu's mom in FLOWER IN THE POCKET. Awesome actress!)
My little sister completely engineered and masterminded this surprise party for mom, she went off to buy the birthday cake with dad a day earlier, and then ensured that everyone who were to visit my mom would not bring any birthday cakes.
I don't think I've done anything similar all these years. For me, I remembered giving presents, flowers, dinner, but not doing something as simple as buying a birthday cake in secret and then take it out for my mom, singing loudly 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY'.
Maybe all these years during my absence, my sister had been doing all these. Or maybe this was the first time she had done it. I didn't ask. There was no need to.
First time, fourth time, it doesn't really matter. It was a wonderful night.
Because we had 'guests'.
My aunt (mother's elder sister) and family had came for a visit, along with grandma. From left to right, the people in the photos are:
2) Cousin Hing Yip (you should check out this video and this video where he and I went on a journey to uncover my mother's past during my December 2006 trip in Ipoh... can't believe it's nearly a year already)
4) My aunt
5) Little sister
6) My uncle
7) Cousin Fung Ming (can check out a video of her if you want to, she's Cousin Hing Yip's elder sis)
8) Me without my trademark gel (just took a shower)
9) Grandma (as in, mom's mom)
The fact that I often celebrate my own birthdays in a low-profile manner (with only the closest friends or family) is inherited from my parents. So to have other people celebrating birthday with mom is absolutely a rare occasion. My mom looks much younger than she really is, and her birthday this year is definitely worth celebrating because she's... well, reached the age where one's birthday is definitely worth celebrating.
I was home for only a while before I made my way back to Ming Jin's place, since I have to wake up for the shoot at 6am (that's five hours away from now). Even so, the warmth one felt when celebrating birthday with loved ones and unexpected guests is soothing beyond description.
My grandmother suffers from short-term memory loss, we all know it's really symptom's of Alzheimer's. Slowly she fades away, and for many years I've seen this happen so.
I don't know whether she can remember this one night, the chances are slim, or whether years from now, everyone in my house, my uncle and aunties, my cousins, even my parents themselves, will still remember the night of 17th November 2007. A short brief night filled with laughter and tears of joy.
My sister singing 'Happy Birthday' to her mother before everyone could follow, the shared slice of cake between mom and dad, the tiramisu cake, and the additional laughter of my aunt's family, my dear cousins, and grandma offering mom another slice of the cake despite mom still struggling to finish the first slice with dad.
Maybe I'll forget it too.
Maybe I'll just immortalize that moment with this blog entry, so that even if it fades from any of our minds, these photos, and what I wrote, will remain.