My mum can’t write her name.
She can’t even write down telephone numbers correctly. Number 6 and 9 are confusing to her.
As a child, during the Second World War in Singapore, mum did not have the luxury of education. This malnourished 10-year-old girl was made carrying bricks on the order of the vile Japanese. She also braved deep water to pick seaweeds by the lake, in exchange for food.
Mum lives her whole life without ever owning a pen, pencil, paper. Her precious possessions are a chopping board, a cleaver and a washboard.
These days, however, happily surrounded by grandchildren, at the grand age of 80, mum is learning fast. She even picks up fancy modern words.
“Have you NET your sister yet?” Mum asked me in a Fujian dialect of Chinese, highlighting the unique English word NET.
Mum uses NET as a transitive verb. She is vaguely aware of the thing called Internet, and email.
“I know this computer thing. You can NET each other. I know that, you write on your computer, then you NET, and you’ll receive letters.”
Mum also knows that I write, though she doesn’t know what a blog is. “So, tell me, the WHOLE WORLD can REALLY read about everything you’ve written?” Mum asked casually, chopping ginger with her favourite cleaver. I nodded.
“Yes, and we can also NET each other.” I copied mum’s idiom.
“Then you must be very famous!”