Wednesday, March 04, 2009

My Beloved Friend, Amu

From left to right: Serene Singam, Darin Varbanov, Amu, Yours Truly, Geok Cheng, Luan Eng and Elaine Wong at "Romantics Rekindled" by the Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra
With Amu at my newphew-in-law, Yap Chin Hoe's solo art exhibition at Art Folio, Raffles Hotel
At Amu's Christmas party in her home. Amu with her beloved Little Santa.
At my little apartment, celebrating my birthday with Amu, Jasmin and Little Pandiyan
When I first interviewed Amu at Rialto, an Italian restaurant I was then operating, I felt that she is a kind and upright lady, albeit her lack of literacy. She started off as a kitchen helper. With her determination and love for cooking, I sensed that I could teach her to prepare some of the food we cooked. My hunch was right. Amu was an excellent worker. She learnt and made wonderful pizzas, appetizers and desserts. Soon she was paid her worth in salary as a cook.
Amu is an intelligent lady, who had contributed many good ideas to me and my chef. Together we worked for a few years and even after I had sold the restaurant, Amu and I are still in close contact all these years.
I remember that when I first brought the staff for a year-end dinner treat, Amu asked for some clean napkins with the logo of Raffles Town Club. She proudly kept them in her handbag, telling everyone that she wanted to show the napkins to her relatives. so that they would know that she had been to a town club. I was somewhat overwhelmed by Amu's joy. Later I learnt that for years, Amu had only known how to take a bus to her work place and back. She hardly ventured elsewhere. Subsequently Amu went to many places with concerts, art exhibitions, our company's Dinner and Dance, etc. When she went to Penang with me when I returned to visit my hometown, my relatives also took to her warmth and kindness.
Amu dotes on her nephews and nieces and is always very generous towards them. Amu teaches me to speak some Tamil and also taught me how to sing "As the Deer Pants For the Water" in Tamil. In turn, I teach her English, and have been encouraging her to try to recognise written words. She speaks such excellent English that people often mistake her to be educated. During this economic crisis, after the closure of the electronics factory where she had been working for many years, Amu immediately found herself another two part time jobs! In addition to her regular part time cleaning job at a bookstore, she is now working as a canteen assistant and part time cleaner in a hotel. A lady of tenacity and substance.! From Amu, I have learnt many things for she is full of wisdom. Sometimes when my siblings could not locate me when they called from overseas, they would be sure to call Amu for my whereabout!
Good friends are very rare and precious.......and may I add, even more precious than rubies and diamonds. Time and tide will reveal the shine and quality of a best friend.
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