I first came in contact with Auntie Ching (that was how I called her) when my sister Yvette went to England to study nursing in 1955. She loaned my mother money to pay for my sister’s expenses for the ticket to travel to UK by ship. I was the one to bring the monthly repayment to her. When she knew that I was interested in taking up a second instrument besides piano, she suggested cello to me. That’s how I ended up taking cello lessons with you. She even paid half of the fees for me without me knowing! I only found out when your family took a trip overseas and I had to pay the fees to Mr. Leven(?).
Then I became too busy and I had to drop cello lessons, but she found other ‘creative’ ways to help me. After you people moved out of Cumberland Road, you moved into a flat with a very big area. I cannot recall where that place was. All I knew was that it had many rooms and many corners that one could hide. Auntie Ching employed me to sit with your little brother to watch him practice piano 2-3 time a week! Not to teach him but to make sure that he sat at the piano for at least half an hour! Once I went there and your brother simply ‘disappeared’! The maid called for him for more than half an hour but he was nowhere to be found! So I had to leave. By the way where is your brother now?
After I moved to Singapore, we met up many times in HK and Singapore to play two pianos and had great fun making music together! I even learnt how to make dumplings from her and my granddaughter enjoys the dumplings I make very much. She said the ones I made were better than those served in restaurants! How can I not make more for her?
The most touching thing your mother did was to ask your daughter to bring me her precious music scores for two pianos. Your daughter said “Grandma said these sheets are very precious to her, she is now handing them over to you for safekeeping! So I inherited something from her. I played those pieces with my son for many years until he got married and I have no one to play with. My granddaughter is very musical too. Someday I will play with her.
This was a music loving family, and that was about 60 years ago. Those around today will remember the Ching Family Orchestra in Kowlooontong and the memories were very fond ones. In case anyone’s wondering, that house on 51, Cumberland Road is now a prestigious kindergarten, seriously educating kids to get into DGS, DBS and Lasalle College. Education is a nightmare here. Back to Fathers……
I had not known the story of you coming into the world, delivered by Dad, and in the dark, and during a war — how dramatically interesting! Apart from learning about different religious, our dad studied all kinds of other things, including earthworms, artificial diamonds, acupuncture and, of course, music. He played the violin, clarinet and the saxophone. We took all these things about our dad for granted. I think he was self-taught. I never knew what going to the doctor meant while he lived, for he took care of all our ailments, and we never needed to see other doctors. Until he passed away, and I realised that I was quite lost for what to do when once I experienced a long bout of diarrhea contracted from China. Only then, that I panicked a little as awareness dawned that my father was not with us anymore. OMG! Where shall I find a doctor, I said to myself. My daughter, Jacinta recommended one — very expensive, down in Central. Till then, I had not been into a doctor’s clinic other than the ones we knew where dad practiced.
Fathers come in different shape and form. They are so needed and they provide solidity to a family. The head is the father, the Bible teaches, and many other ancient thoughts say the same. Indeed, boys learn to be fathers from being with fathers. Girls learn to be girls, also from being with their fathers. It could all be very subtle, unnoticed and unspoken, but the bond, the security a dad provides is the heritage we all carry down the ages. We think of our dads and Dad’s Day must be celebrated with all our love and appreciation.