What is an heirloom to you?
Renyung: Something that has intangible value that you want to pass on because it tells a story of where you came from and in it, you feel will help the next generation understand themselves better.
What was she like?
Shirlene: We all called her Mak, which means mother in Malay. She was half Chinese and half Bugis, and was brought up as Malay. But physically she looked very Peranakan—in the way she dressed. She also had a wicked sense of humour and she was sharp right till the very end. She passed away last year at age 96. She lived a really long life.
“I’ve always been here”.
Do you remember seeing the table before you got it?
Charmaine: It was in my mother-in-law’s bedroom downstairs. I would see it in her room. She would do her work on it. She had a computer and a lot of files and paperwork on it. Both of them used the table—my father-in-law was an accountant. Above the table was a beautiful portrait of her.
So for you, Valerie, what is an heirloom?
Valerie: It depends on how you define “heirloom”. It can be something that you inherit and you keep out of respect for the person who gave it to you. The other definition is that it is something you want to keep and it’s got some functional use as well.
For me an heirloom is the second meaning. It’s also got to have sentimental value. I have friends who keep their grandmothers’ old sewing machines. It may not be practical to keep them but they try their best to still use the sewing machines or convert them into a coffee table or a side table. So I guess if you treasure something enough, you try to make it functional.
I would consider the reclining chairs heirlooms because they’ve already been passed down two generations.
Jane: I didn’t know my grandparents had a Teochew pastry
shop before. It totally gives me some street cred (laughs).
Patrick: It runs in the family.
Jane: No wonder I love the tau sar piah stuff.