Strange as it may seem, it was not the sight of cleverly displayed gifts in the shops, from cards to chocolates bidding everyone to buy for Mother’s Day that brought back fond memories of my late mother, but it was the scorched rice at the bottom of the paella pan while I was doing the dishes after dinner, last night. Like many older Singaporeans, growing up in post war period of World War Two, we saw many parents facing high unemployment, and putting food on the table to feed their families was a daily struggle.
I can still remember our mother scooping out the steaming white rice from the soot-laden aluminium pot on top of the firewood stove to feed her ever hungry mob which often included some extra mouths from the children in the neighbourhood who always seemed to appear on cue at meal time. After she would then add water to the scorched brown sheet of rice that was left to make gruel porridge for her. There were occasions when the rice ration was low to be shared among us; the crust was intentionally left there for us. There was always a mad scramble among us children over the last piece of rice crust.
Together with the flowers we have collected from our garden, we will place a bowl of fluffy white rice for you, Mum.