Humans logo

The Dragoness

A Short Reflection on My Grandmother

By Michelle LiewPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 3 min read
The Dragoness
Photo by R M on Unsplash

Women are inspirational. With the tightrope that we have to walk when balancing career and family priorities, how could we not be? A woman is tenacious personified.

Whether man or woman, each of us inspires in our way. But none can fill the Dragoness robe like my grandmother, who has a few compelling stories to tell.

Through her marriage, my grandmother became Peranakan. This subculture of the Chinese community in Southeast Asia observes the customs of the people of the Straits of Malaya. Peranakans, or Straits Born Chinese, have their patois and food; I grew up on Chinese and Malay food with a Straits twist.

So, my grandmother cooked such food and did so well that it is a point of inspiration. One of her specialities, Acar, stands out in my memory. Few can surpass her meticulousness in its preparation; besides slicing and sunning vegetables for the dish, she stuffed red hot green chillies with papaya, using her bare hands. Pain would have seared her palms after stuffing just one but she kept going, topping countless jars with the plump, papaya-filled chillies and vegetables. Of course, they made their way into the tummies of my family members fairly quickly.

Then, there were the fruits she grew in her backyard. All gardeners would attest that it is not easy to grow fruit trees, more so without help. Grandmother did so with insurmountable skill and dauntlessness. Incredibly, all the rambutan, papaya and mango trees she grafted grew sturdy and fruit-filled. Why buy fruits from the market when we had our own, she would remind us. And that was so true. They were some of the best anyone had ever tasted; plump, juicy and quite unforgettable. When it came time to sell her home, Grandma stated that those alone made her reluctant to do so. I couldn't blame her.

Jaw-dropping as her cooking and gardening skills were, they weren't the sole reason she wowed others. Her tenaciousness was difficult to beat. A teenager during the Second World War, she made it through the tough era with resilience that few could emulate. She dressed up as a boy to divert the attention of lascivious Japanese soldiers who went around having their ways with the hapless women of Japanese-occupied Singapore. She defended each of her sisters with her insistence that no women were present in the home when there were, a move with life as its cost if the soldiers found her to be lying. An Ann Frank of Southeast Asia? She comes close, surely. 

Again, her tenacity isn't the reason she holds the Dragoness title. It's more personal than that. The values she imparted made me what I am today; she taught me that pain was transient when doctors diagnosed me with Pituitary Brain Tumors and had to administer spinal taps. She reminded me I could withstand the treatment and emerge stronger for it, which I did. She was in the hospital daily through each of my surgeries. 

And there was her patience. She taught me to accept myself as I am, foibles and all. When my tumours left me with facial paralysis and partial deafness, she reminded me that it should not devastate me; I should, instead, see myself as unique. Of course, she reminded me that each of us has quirks that may annoy others yet allow us to stand out in ways no one else can.

Then there was her humility. Before she died, she told us to scatter her ashes at sea and asked that her funeral be fuss-free. Nothing grandiose for her; we could feel that she left this world in the comfort of peace. 

A simple housewife yet a dragoness who transformed. That was my grandmother. 


About the Creator

Michelle Liew

Hi, i am an English Language teacher cum freelance writer with a taste for pets, prose and poetry. When I'm not writing my heart out, I'm playing with my three dogs, Zorra, Cloudy and Snowball.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

Add your insights

Comments (1)

Sign in to comment
  • Mike Singleton - Mikeydred3 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this , beautifully written

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.