January 30, 2006
I would run screaming out of the room as the pungent smell of Hong Eu (fragrant oil) steamed into my nose. Mama, my maternal grandmother, like many others in her generation, relied almost completely upon these oils to remedy all bodily aches and pains. Traditionally packaged in a transparent bottle with screw-on black cap and white-green label, Hong Eu has been my grandma’s saviour through the years.
In recent years, of course, I’ve taken to its smell rather congenially. One cannot help but associate the two: Hong Eu and my grandma as they are never too far from the other. And loving one means loving the other, unconditionally.
Massaging the oils deep into the layers of her skin, across the contours and folds of aged flesh, I work hard at ensuring the Hong Eu is evenly spread and adequately absorbed. The sense of touch comforts the old lady. The matter between us, smooth and slick, forms a strange bond.
I will never be able to smell Hong Eu again without being reminded of my grandma. And it is the thick, permeating nature of its odour that will fill me with joy at the memory of her equally abundant love that spills over.