Conversations over the dining table

Spending time with my in laws always involve food and conversations over the dining table. It’s no exception today which is a Muslim national holiday.

We first gathered at my husband’s maternal grandmother’s place. This side of the family meet pretty frequently, it helps that we live pretty close to each other. The conversations are typically in Malay, a language which I don’t speak very much. My husband would act as my interpreter and sometimes someone would speak in English too.

Though I tend to miss half of what’s being said, I always enjoy being a part of the conversation, listening to the tirade of words, and observing everyone’s facial expressions. The language barrier does not prevent me from experiencing myself as a part of the family. They indulge my questions, quizzed looks and ignorance. Not for a moment since the first time I met them did I ever feel I was an outsider. Love transcends language. Oh, I loved the beef briyani.

We moved on to my husband’s paternal grandmother’s next. It is here we would meet of my father-in-law’s side of the extended family. I had promised uncle Omar we would visit more often the last time we met during Hari Raya Puasa. Each time we visit, we will settle down in the kitchen where there is usually a table of food. Today was no exception.

We started swopping travel stories over laksa, popiah and blueberry kueh lapis. The conversation turned to one of my father in law’s brother who a few days ago underwent a heart bypass surgery without informing his siblings. It was not an easy conversation for my father in law’s sister, who broke the news to us. She teared as she shared what she knew. In that moment, I am in her world.

This is what family is about. Being there for each other, regardless the circumstances. Being genuinely curious and interested in the person and what’s going on in the family. For someone who last lived with her parents when she was 18, this is like a second chance. A chance to love and appreciate people in my life, except this time love like it’s the only chance I’d ever have.


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