The Bao Maker

01 Jul 2011By Wayne, Singapore

I was never as close to my grandfather as my cousins and uncle were. Other than my mother, my sisters and I were never enthusiastic about visiting him as he lived with my uncle in the East, which was a forty-five-minute drive away. It was pure agony. I felt that there were better things to do other than visiting him and “rotting” at my uncle’s house. A three-generation gap spanning fifty years made things worse.

But his stories, his legacy – about how he was called yandao (handsome in Hokkien) by his friends, how he was an avid bao-making legend, and how he used to be a warrior in his own right, oozing masculine charisma out of everything he did – was told to me by my mother who often reminisced about the past. She would talk about how he made dao sa, ling yong, char siew baos in own mini-bakery (with proteges) at a coffee shop. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to try them as he stopped making baos (buns) when I was growing up.

Although he passed away a few years ago when I was 16, I feel a surge of emotions whenever I think of him. I regret not talking to him more when I was younger, that I didn’t make an effort to know how and who he really was. In the months before he died, he could hardly remember us anymore. He could not remember my name when I visited him. The last time he suffered from a stroke, he would greet us with gusto and recognition when he sees us.

As I grew older (I am in the army serving the nation now), I have grown so much more mature and I am know how important it is to treasure my loved ones. How I wish I could return to those days and forge a relationship for the grandfather I never knew.

I fear that with each passing day, the memories of my grandfather and his legacy would gradually vanish from my mind like how he unintentionally forgot us, slowly yet inevitably.

Photo by Shubert Ciencia.