Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Tribute to the Late Lee Kwee Cheng- My Superman Ah Kong

For those who are here after reading December's CLEO issue, sorry you had to see this non-food blog post. But I guess that's the beauty of blogs. It is something personal and I use mine as a platform of expression.

Foodie posts will resume after this tribute entry.

Last Friday (11/11/11) at about 4.10am, my Ah Kong passed on. I had mixed emotions- part of me was happy that he no longer felt pain or suffering, another part of me grieved.

My earliest memories of Ah Kong was at Nam Hong, a family provision shop at the junction of Serangoon Road and St Micheal's. Then I was perhaps only in primary school. Ah Kong loved when me, sis and my cousins came over. He would give us sticks of rainbow paddle pop ice cream. I can't recall that much during that time except oddly of the old school toilet (metal door, concrete squad type, single light bulb hanging from the top) and pulley system of 2 Milo tins used as a cashier's storage for money.

Every Sunday, the entire family (Ah Kong had 8 children) would gather at his 3-room Ang Mo Kio flat for dinner cooked by Ah Ma. Her ngoh hiang, chili fish, mee hoon kueh, hae bee hiam and pig's stomach soup were awesome by the way. With so many people crammed into the flat, dinners were usually a sweaty, sticky affair. I remember the times we spent watching variety shows like Gao Xiao Xing Dong sitting on the floor. No air con, no PSP, no iPhone. Despite the seemingly lack of modern comforts, dinners at Ah Ma's house were always noisy and happy.

I grew closer to Ah Kong only in my Secondary school days when he and I both manned the bar counter at our family's steamboat restaurant at Prinsep Place. Ah Kong made his popular Suan Mei Tang (Sour Plum Drink) alongside soursop drink and the occasional pineapple drink. His preferred mode of transport was always his bicycle and he often cycled to Poon Huat to buy ingredients for his drinks. Bottles of citric acid, flavourings and colourings filled his cupboard. It's amazing how he even knew what to use and buy without attending any formal training and especially with the labels in English!

Because Ah Kong and Ah Ma both spoke mainly Hokkien, I picked up the dialect to be able to communicate with them. As a tribute, I gave a short eulogy in Hokkien.

If you are wondering about the "Superman" in the title. Well, Ah Kong accepted Jesus later in his life and his friends at New Creation Church's Hokkien service gave him the nickname after he, at the age of 70, made it to the top of the hill in Israel beating people less than half his age. Power lah!

Foodwise, I will always remember Ah Kong as a fan of sashimi and beef. Salmon, tuna, swordfish, octopus, squid...he ate them all. He liked beef soup, shabu shabu and steak. I think I just realised where I got my cow-loving genes from. ;)

One big family misses him. Finding strength through faith and family togetherness.

Though Ah Kong is no longer physically with us, I know that this separation is but temporal. And that we will all reunite again one day in heaven.

To my dear Ah Kong, I bet you are enjoying yourself in a glorified body with Jesus. Can't image the awesome sashimi and beef in heaven. :)

Just in case you miss your favourite bird, here he/she is. Granduncle will take good care of it.

A big thank you to all family and friends who have lent their support and sent heartfelt condolences via FB, Twitter, SMS and visits.


M. said...

my condolences. X

The Hungry Cow said...

Thanks, M.