Since you are a story-teller, you need to collect a lot of stories, don’t you? That’s why I am helping you. 🙂 Here it goes…Listen attentively.
Peanuts. I love peanuts since small. Peanuts are not only for adults, but kids too. As I remember, since as young as the primary school age, I always join in my family activity of munching peanuts. My father, mother, elder brother and younger brother. I just don’t want to feel left out so I always join. Peanuts bring us together. I remember a year when our whole family felt disappointed during the CNY season due to the breaking news at that time about groundnuts contaminated with chemicals.
In school, I was naughty. There was one Mandarin text on “Groundnuts” which was used as the teaching material by my teacher. We were asked to make some metaphors with the theme “Groundnut”. I responded in Mandarin…
“A groundnut is like the curvy body figure of a lady.”
“The skin of a groundnut is like Mr. 李国煌’s face. Very rough.”
During that time, every kid was watching 小孩不笨. Mr. 李国煌 acted as a bad character in the movie. I didn’t like him, I guess.
The whole class laughed. I felt a sense of evil accomplishment. My teacher showed her unsatisfied look, while trying to suppress her laugh.
One day when it was “Groundnuts” family time, I was crying…because my parents didn’t allow me to have them. They said I was having asthma and…groundnuts can lead to coughing…coughing aggravates asthma…The elderly’s theory. I cried and cried, asking for groundnuts. Then, my elder brother appeared with his voice like a hero. He was at his primary school age too. He said something and I stopped crying…
“May, you see… (holding a “twin” groundnut) This is a lady with a curvy body figure. (Holding a “triplet” groundnut) This is a muscular guy. (Holding a “single” groundnut) This is a ….”
I continued the description. “Mummy with a baby.” My bro said, “Haha…No, a fat lady!”
He successfully distracted me from eating the groundnuts. Suddenly, he felt like a big brother…really, really, big, big brother. Soon, I was holding some groundnuts in my hands, trying to sketch out a play by mumbling some dialogues and moving the groundnuts here and there as if they were living human beings. My brother was munching and munching the groundnuts…The heap of groundnuts became smaller and smaller. Soon, I used my hands to draw my “Groundnut” territory, not allowing my brother to eat the groundnuts in my hand territory…as I was so into sketching the play.
There was once I examined a “single” groundnut really closely. I looked carefully at the pattern of the skin of the “single” groundnut, peeled it, looked at the nut closely…the colour, the size, the shape…The inner pattern of the skin…I popped it into my mouth…biting slowly…figuring out attentively how it tasted like…Not feeling satisfied with my research findings, I ran to my mum and asked, “How is it like to have a baby in your tummy?” My mum just smiled and my dad answered, “when you were in Mummy’s tummy, you always kicked…blah blah blah…but your mummy is a strong lady. Although she had you in the tummy, she still cooked, washed the dishes, swept and cleaned the floor…so you have to be grateful towards your mum… (then he kissed my mum’s cheek).
My mum smiled sweetly and I smiled sheepishly. These words from Father have inspired me a lot. I am so sure that I would like to be like my Mummy one day. Since then, I created a new game and my younger brother was my playmate. I would put my favourite give-away teddy bear under my shirt, pretending that I had a baby in my tummy. Under my instructions, my younger brother acted as the blurred Daddy. He was just too young to make sense of anything. We also had some “cooking” sessions whereby I copied my Mummy.
As the weakest child in the family, my Mummy needed to adapt to my eating appetite every day. Soup was a must-have for every lunch and dinner. Besides lotus root peanut soup, she also simmered water cress peanut soup. Not only peanut soup, she also simmered some pea soup. She never failed to put a big bowl of soup on the dining table every day.
As a teenager and now an adult, there comes the time when I need to be away from home and live independently. On the last day at home during semester break or work break, my Mummy would ask… “You still need some dry-roasted peanuts? I can prepare one bottle for you.” I love eating porridge with dry-roasted peanuts when I am away from home. After bottles and bottles of love from her…we stopped this culture. I guess it is because this should be the time for my Mummy to take more rest… Now, I eat my porridge with some braised peanuts that I buy in a can from Tesco. Besides porridge, I also eat braised peanuts with bread. How I come to have this awesome breakfast idea? Thanks to a university mate of mine. Tell you…The bread tastes just so nice with some braised peanuts sandwiched in between.
In university, there was a time we had a Valentine barbeque party. He was in the organizing committee for this party. Most of my university mates knew that I preferred vegetarian food and disliked meat. Though I mentioned that I would eat whatever they had… He specially prepared this for me… braised peanuts in bread…Just a few days ago, I was having this for my breakfast. It seems to be the greatest, simplest vegetarian breakfast idea ever. He might not have taken much effort to come out with this peanut idea. Yet, in fact, he has left a legacy to me…A small kindness goes a really long way. How did he get the idea? I told him I love porridge with braised peanuts.
I wasn’t this health conscious to develop an addiction towards braised peanut porridge when I was a kid. Last time, my parents only bought us junk food once in a blue moon. Sometimes, after I finished my homework, I would open the refrigerator stealthily, grab the Lady’s Choice chocolate peanut butter, start to dig the chocolate peanut butter with my index finger and quickly put it on my tongue for the sensation before my busy Mummy found out.
Thanks to my Mummy that I am so health-conscious nowadays. Steffi’s Sugarless Peanut Butter is my favourite. When I felt stressed up with my Master’s assignments, I would have Steffi’s Sugarless Peanut Butter sandwiched between two Jacob Low Sodium High Fibre biscuits. Peanut butter never fails to amaze my taste buds.
There is another story before I forget…
As a child who has grown up in a poor family, boarding an aeroplane together for a family trip was a luxury beyond reach. One day, I saw one classmate of mine munching peanuts from a packet during a recess hour. According to her, the peanut packet was given to her during a flight for her family trip. I used to feel jealous when my classmates were sharing about their family trip. I would rather say…I resented the fact that Daddy never brought us for a trip away from home…like for a few days.
Years later, my dad has become a successful businessman. Taking flight is no longer a luxury. When I received my first packet of peanuts from an air-stewardess, I looked at the printed logo of the plane company and my first thought: I can show off with this to my friends…Haha…(just kidding) I thought….Thanks Daddy for making this come true.
Peanuts seem to have an unbreakable, fated link with my family. I have a cousin who is a mummy for a baby now. Years ago, she married a guy who is the only son of the groundnut factory owner in Kedah. Since then, we always see kilos and kilos of groundnuts produced by the particular factory during our family events, be it a happy or sad one. We always munch those peanuts while having our family quality time to catch up with everybody.
I remember giving a packet of groundnuts of our family brand to a friend from Penang. She was asking about the most popular groundnut brand in Alor Star. I gave her for free though she asked for my help to buy for her. Then, I started to receive some comments on the groundnuts from her family, be it good and bad. No matter what was the comment, I would tell my parents and they would tell my cousin’s father-in-law for him to monitor the quality of his groundnuts. This brand of groundnut seemed to create some human connections, within my big family as well as between me and my friend.
Peanuts seem to be the greatest God’s creation.
However, years ago, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. When I realized nuts and beans should be in my food avoidance list, it was kind of disappointing…with the fact that nuts and beans are the main staple for protein intake of a vegetarian diet. Luckily, after consistent intake of Probiotics, Yakult, and yoghurt for some time…my body is slowly accepting beans and nuts in a better way. I guess the deep connection to peanuts since small contribute to this spirit of not wanting to give up on peanuts and other things in life. Thanks God, a vegetarian eating diet is still on my wish list.
I guess I am going nuts for writing such a long essay. I actually stay up late at night after my dissertation writing to come out with this nuts piece. After this satisfying writing session…a good sleep…Nitez.