• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 06

Ma Knows Best

When I asked my Ma for a tea party, she unfolded the portable mah jong table she always used on Saturday afternoons for when my aunties dropped by to play friendly matches. She fetched a scarf from the top drawer of her dresser, the red one she never wore, except on Poh Poh’s 90th birthday. The silk square draped over the table, its corners frilled like a summer dress.
Not exactly what I imagined—a white, crocheted tablecloth hugging the dining room table—but I went along with it.
I placed a pastel tea set on the mah jong table: a teapot and teacups with gold handles, matching saucers, along with plastic cupcakes, cookies, and crumpets. I wasn’t sure what a crumpet was, a pancake, maybe?
Since I didn’t own a cotton candy dress with lace and puffy sleeves, I dug through Ma’s assortment of gift wrap and fished out white ribbons and tissue paper to fashion a belted skirt. A tiara and wand from my play bin completed my princess look.
Ma’s brows squished together when I twirled. The tissue at my waist floated down to the floor like snow.
“I had something else in mind.” She held up a cheongsam, the dress I was saving for Lunar New Year.
I pressed my palms together and nodded. Ma replaced my tiara with a jewelled hairpin I’d seen her wear to fancy dinners. After Ma dabbed perfume on each of my wrists, I beamed up at her, grinning.
At the sight of the tea spread, my eyes widened. A rose porcelain teapot, hand-painted with golden florals and emerald leaves, sat in the table’s centre, surrounded by matching teacups, the kind you hold with both hands. My favourite dim sum dishes decorated the table: steamed buns, turnip pancakes, sesame balls, egg tarts, and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. A mooncake rested on each plate—Ma must have picked those up specially for the occasion. Two of my guests waited for us, their arms


Ma Knows Best

planted on the table, red bows clipped to their crescent ears. I smiled; my bear stuffies looked happy.
Tea streamed from the teapot into my cup, the loose leaves swirled with delight. A sweet aroma swam up my nose. Oolong, another favourite of mine.
“Ma,” I said, my heart warm and fuzzy. “Can we do this again tomorrow?”