Up until today, I still cannot fathom grocery shopping. Just now, I selfishly thrust a wad of cash into Mama’s palm, shoved a trolley in front of her and ushered her to the endless aisle of food stuff in Tesco. I found grocery shopping mundane and tedious. Oh, judge me all you want.
After I connivingly made my mom agreed to shop for me, I sit here at an adjacent mamak’s corner watching the morning crowd unfolds by the minute. Hordes of shoppers arrive at the hypermarket’s entrance with their, oh well, giant of vehicles – huge sedans, four-wheelers, MPVs, SUVs, to name a few. Malaysians are really prosperous lots aren’t they? How then, certain quarters claim that they are being marginalised? Beats me.
Back to this Tesco’s mania, my thoughts are seriously for those working housewives juggling both demanding house-hold chores and careers. They are heroes in my eyes for balancing the two Herculean tasks. Yours truly not included as I do not contribute to the GDP as much as normal person does.
Miles of metal trolleys are being stacked up together like train coaches all over the place. Cash till rings endlessly to the merriment of the store’s owner. Cash being passed around at the cashier’s counter and balance thereof duly returned to the shoppers. Hypermarket’s staff rushing up and down, like headless chicken, in an attempt to please the shoppers; customers, after all, think that they are God.
I couldn’t help but ponder on how much lifestyle has changed from the last two decades or so. From what I can recall, back then, grocery shopping was not done at such a grand scale.
Back in Kuala Krai, circa early eighties, Mama did her grocery shopping from the comfort of our old wooden house. I remember the scene vividly when Pok Cik Den made his morning round to my place. He blasted the honk of his antiquated motorcycle miles before he reached the foot of my house. At the back of his motorcycle, he placed a huge metal box supported by rubber tube containing fresh fish, chicken, prawn and small variety of vegetables.
Pok Cik Den then parked his bike, and shouted “Ike! Ike!” He meant “ikan.” Mama and the entourage of the neighborhood’s housewives would gather around Pok Cik Den and start picking on the contents of his precious metal box. Tussles about the pricing of the fresh supplies soon ensued between the man and the housewives. Pok Cik Den lamented about the price hike from his supplier and the housewives retorted back by saying that he kept repeating the same thing all the time.
But Pok Cik Den had a heart of gold. He allowed the housewives to buy the supplies on credit if they didn’t have any money with them. He lashed out his small “buku 555” and wrote down the name of the debtor and items taken. At the end of the month, he will dutifully collect his dues free from interest. Nowadays, if you don’t have cash, you will unthinkably swipe those evil credit cards and feign amnesia on the interest rate charged by the bank at the end of the month.
Pok Cik Den went to Rahmatullah many years ago. Al-Fatehah.
As for other condiments like shallots, salt & pepper (Awang Goneng’s hair!), flour, etc Mama will summon the then-little-me to Kedai We Som. We Som inherited her small grocery store from her late grandmother. She filled her 6 x 6 square meter shop up to the brims with sacks of rice, sardines, canned food, shallots, garlic, anchovies and hundreds of little something for the neighborhood.
Of course, We Som allowed credit-term too for her loyal customers. I loved her shop for the limited amount of stationeries she displayed at the left end corner next to the rickety wooden table where she kept all of her money locked. Once, naughty boys tried to prick the drawer open only to be chased with penyapu lidi by her!
I would treat myself to a pencil or two, sometimes, I bought that little colourful-square-shape sharpener. My love affair with stationeries goes on until now – I just can’t stop buying it!
I have to pen off now as Mama is already screaming through my mobile to help lugging whatever treasure she just bought into the car.
Sigh. You can’t have it all, can you?