“I have a daughter because a doctor gave me medication.” This was the best way I could describe how I came to have Zoey to my Grandma who turned 85 yesterday.
We are in Jakarta to celebrate her birthday. It happened to be a public holiday in Indonesia yesterday so the relatives came over to the house and we had a great house party. Here’s a quick snapshot of what we ate at the party:
Traditional Nasi Kuning platter, Soya sauce chicken. home cooked stir fry noodles and longevity peach buns. Lots of other food including satay, pork trotters and chendol that I didn’t manage to take a photo of.
While I was helping Grandma get ready for bed last night, she suddenly looked at me with a very serious expression and said “I have something very important to ask you and you cannot lie to me.”
After I promised not to lie, she asked “Did you have a lover and did you leave him?”
When I answered “No.”
Then she asked “Did you lie with a man for 1 night and have a baby?”
Again I answered “No.”
She then insisted “You are lying! You cannot have a baby without a man!”
So I had to use my rudimentary Hakka (a Chinese dialect) to explain to her that I went to a doctor and the doctor helped me make a baby. At first she thought that “The doctor slept with you to make a baby!“, so I had to clarify that he gave me “medication” to make the baby (I struggled to find the words for sperm in hakka). She exclaimed loudly that “It is impossible! No such medication exists!” After much explaining that included some gestures that would be considered rude in polite company, she finally decided to accept that the doctor inserted some medication inside of me and made me pregnant. She declared that if I was lying to her, it would be bad for me. I assured her I was not lying and that a doctor did help me. She then pointed to Irene and asked “Does she know? Does everyone know?” I nodded my head and that was it. She has yet to make the connection to how Irene is related to Zoey and I think we’ll leave it at that. She does know that Irene lives with me (and has for a long time). She also knows that Irene helps to take care of Zoey. That’s good enough.
This is not the first time that Grandma has seen Zoey. However, I think when we visited last year, it was too overwhelming for her to process and thus she didn’t get around to ask this question. I am glad she did ask this time instead of letting it bother her and I am amused by how I managed to explain it to her in a 15 minute conversation.
She obviously enjoys having her great-granddaughter in the house. These past 2 days, she has constantly asked where the baby is and she keeps wanting to play with her. Zoey has been really good and co-operative. When she saw Grandma walking without her walking stick, she hurriedly went to get it and give it to her. Zoey also tried to put on Grandma’s slippers when she saw Grandma’s feet dangling from the side of the bed. Grandma keeps commenting that Zoey is a really good girl who can occupy herself and doesn’t need us to entertain her. I’m really glad that she likes having Zoey around and I hope we can visit more often so she can get to know her great-granddaughter a bit better.
Photo of Zoey (with a piece of chicken in her mouth) and her “Poh Tai” (Great Grandma)