My first aunt, Tua-Ee, left hand on hip, right hand holding a ladle of boiling salted vegetable and duck soup, would administer the test. Looking straight into our eyes, she would ask, “Is the soup done?” If we got it wrong, she scolded us, “Next time, what would your mother-in-law say, ah? Your mother n-e-v-e-r teach you. Where to put your face? So malu!” My cousin and I swore we would never ever get married and live with mothers-in-law who would administer the “Is the soup done?” test and put our mothers to shame.
In this intimate collection of autobiographical stories that every woman should read, Swi offers tales of deep reflection that relate to the tears and laughter, and the love and pain felt by girls and women in Malaysia and Singapore over the last 75 years.
Swi recalls the convent sisters in Malacca who educated her and her classmates about sex, the camaraderie among girlfriends, and desires fulfilled. She explores issues of life and death and shares memories of the unforgettable men in her life. Swi holds in high regard the mothers under banana leaf umbrellas who dreamed great dreams for their children, and she introduces us to memorable characters inclduing ‘bling, bling, the real thing, Pansy’, a lecherous Baba patriarch and his complaining wife, a Jonker Street cake shop baker whose strong arms are made to hug, a Singaporean academic with low EQ, and a nameless Malaysian bondmaid who must secure her place in a wealthy household. These are stories from the heart.
About the author
Yap Swi Neo was born and raised in Malacca, Malaysia, and now lives in Singapore. She is a retired educator with over 40 years of teaching in schools in Malaysia, and in institutes of higher learning in Singapore. Swi enjoys recapturing her youth in stories that bring to life old Malaysia and Singapore and the struggles of women in society, stories to be enjoyed by young and old alike. Swi is the author of two published short stories and co-author of six books on the teaching of English.