福如东海,寿比南山 Happy Birthday Dear Grandpa!
My paternal grandpa’s name is Yip Soo. He was a very skillful bean curd maker from Guangdong, China. He was the man behind the famous tau foo far at Nam Foong Coffee Shop.
This picture was taken in 1966 in his house in Batu Gajah on his 70th birthday celebration. He was flanked by his two wives (the eldest partly hidden by my brothers) as my mom helped me to serve him tea. I was only 2 at that time.
For this auspicious occasion, Grandpa received from his children, a set of suit, a pair of shoes and a cap, all made from expensive silk material in the traditional style. These items are called ‘sau 寿’which sounds like longevity in Cantonese. To give him ‘sau 寿’means to give him longevity, so it makes sense! All these items were kept away to be used when he died. But you won’t find this practice anymore.
Being the youngest among his brood of grandchildren, I was the apple of his eye. He used to shower plenty of hugs and kisses on me. I still remember how he loved to carry me around on his lean shoulder or put me on his lap. He liked to bring me over to the provision shop and let me choose whatever sweets or biscuits that I fancied.
During school holidays, all the grandchildren staying in Ipoh would visit Grandpa. Paternal grandma would charter an old taxi, a Mercedes, to ferry us to Batu Gajah. We would be packed like sardines into the taxi, all ten of us with grandma in tow! Poor rickety taxi!
Grandpa welcomed us and treated us like VIPs. He would spoil us rotten. He was a good chef and would cook up a few delicious dishes to serve us. He also liked to give us money to buy snacks at the provision shop opposite his house. We would spend like there is no tomorrow! Ice creams, lollipops, prawn crackers……
These are the memories I can remember him by. I was only 6 when he passed away in 1970 from lung cancer as he was a heavy smoker. I still remember the grand funeral ceremony and there were about 20 stocky pallbearers carrying his big and heavy coffin. He was buried with much fanfare on top of a hill in Batu Gajah. The plot of land is big and so is his cemetery. Big things for a small man !!!