I KNOW best what my brother liked to eat. He loved our mother's Nonya cooking and sometimes he would crave his favourite dishes.
When he lost weight after Mrs Lee died in 2010, he called me and said: "Mon, I've lost 2½ pounds. What can you teach my maid to cook so I can put the weight back on?"
So I taught his Indonesian cook how to prepare satay, gado gado, mee siam and rojak. And to help him build up an appetite, I presented the food on beautiful dishes that I carried by hand back from Italy.
When he saw the way the food was laid out, with vegetables on the side and fruit in the middle, he called out to his daughter, who calls me Gu Ma (aunt in Mandarin): "Wei Ling, come and see what your Gu Ma has done. Come and join me!"
Sometimes he would call with a special request. Once he asked for a Dutch-style chicken but I did not know how to prepare it. See, whatever he wants to eat, he thinks I'm such a great chef I'm able to produce it! Thankfully, I could and it came out perfectly.
Later, he decided he would put on weight by eating dessert. He asked me to prepare tiramisu, caramel pudding and souffle for him. These were the sweet treats he used to have when he was in Cambridge and London. But I had not made souffle for 35 years!
I took care of my brother in his old age because he took care of all of us when we were young. He looked after everybody's affairs, and whenever he saw that I was sad or unwell, he would call me into his office to find out why.
Even until recently he would ask me how often I see my heart doctor... He wanted to make sure that as long as he was alive, we were alive too, my youngest brother Suan and I. We were all very close, and he was more like a mother to us than our own mother.
This article was first published on Mar 23, 2015.
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