First Chinese New Year Feast

The Liews are a special family to me. Well you see, prior to moving to Perth, all my friends were about ±5 of my age. Patrick and Josephine Emma are my first friends of their age group where they are too old for me to regard them as my siblings and too young for me to treat them as my parents. Since I am a social misfit, I will normally clam myself tightly shut when I offer little relevance to other parties. 

The Liews do not allow such nonsense. Over the years, they have been taking care of our social well being by endless inviting us for home gatherings. Although I appreciate these kind gestures very much, it is the nature in me to feel pai seh to constantly impose on them. However, I always remember something that Patrick once said. He reasoned that if we Singaporeans remain constantly in our pai seh mode, our friendships will never evolve to a higher level. 

It made sense. So thereafter, I decided to disrupt their 二人世界 often, let Albany sleep on their spare beds, raid their refrigerators, pantries and make sure they will do the same in future.

My first Chinese New Year in Perth was only 4 months after I departed from Singapore. I was working that day because there CNY is not a public holiday in Australia. Before I started work, I made a call back. They were already at the usual gathering at my Grandma's. The familiar chatter rang through the background. I ended the call with a few tears welling in the eyes. It was my first and only bout of homesickness. After Albany was born, we had been too busy to feel homesick. Chinese New Year became a memory of the past and just another day of the next few years.

I come from a Hakka family. There is a Hakka song called <<出外靠朋友>> The title of the song is a part of the phrase, "在家靠父母,出外靠朋友" I didn't understand the true meaning of this proverb until I came to Perth. Only after I did so, I realised my umbilical cord was truly cut off. All my 30 years, I had been that mummy's boy whose well being was well provided for. The independence was frightening in my early days. Most of the Singaporeans came here in their small family units, without their parents. So there is little meaning of having a Chinese New Year feast. 

This year is special. The lunch at the Liew's reminded me of a Chinese New Year spread back in Singapore. They even prepared a Lou Hei set to spice the atmosphere up. The only thing that was missing was the dong dong chiang songs on the radio but the chatter among the quests was a good substitute. The food tasted as good as it looked, doing the long hours Josephine spent preparing justice. That was the first Chinese New Year Feast in Perth. We should make sure that wouldn't be the last. Though we have no family here with us, we lucky to have made some great friends.

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