“How about this one?” he asked in broken Teochew.
His grandmother peered at it through her glasses. “Oh, that’s your grandfather. We were watching an opera,” she said as she handed it back to him.
“What’s the name?” he asked.
She told him but he would forget as soon as he heard it. His Teochew was at best elementary so talking to his grandmother was tedious at times, since she could only speak Teochew.
It was a long afternoon but he was determined to understand what happened in the past from grandmother before everything disappeared into the forgetful history.
This is really what I wished I had done before my grandmother passed. My grandfather was dead before I was born, so I never really knew him. My father’s generation could speak Mandarin, of course, but they were not in the habit of talking about our family history. Meanwhile, with my rudimentary command of our dialect, I was too embarrassed to talk to my grandmother because she spoke the purest form of Teochew while my Teochew is contaminated with all the rubbish slang and weird altered pronunciations derived from other languages – or so both my parents claimed.
Sadly, that chance is lost forever. I don’t think my parents will ever tell me what happened in the past – they wouldn’t even tell me how they met!
If you are interested, the prompt is linked below.