“We would sit on this to do the pounding and grinding of spices.”

B. Kaur: Just imagine! [points to a height that is two to three times higher than the wooden pestle stick]. This is now so small but it used to be so tall. Imagine that’s the amount of wood that is in our bodies! The family has ‘eaten’ the wood over the years.

I don’t know what kind of wood it is. Just natural wood and already very old. In the olden days, our fathers knew which wood to use. They knew definitely that this wood was safe to use and won’t harm us. I remember that we had the wood when I was eight years old. And when I was ten years, I was helping my mother. Like everybody, I was a busybody and used to help my mother use this to grind spices and food. I was a very tall girl in class.

And the large mortar is made of stone. I put it here because my house is quite big. Imagine if my house was small and there was no place in the kitchen! Where could I put it? Actually, when you pound, there is a small stool for you to sit on to grind the stuff with the pestle and the stone. We would use it to grind all kinds of chilli, ginger, garlic. I can still remember all those things we used to grind and it was very nice. It was very easy to use. Whenever we cooked curry and all those stuff, we would use it. There was no blender in those days. Nowadays, you can use the blender to grind all these things and if there are any extra, I will put them all in the freezer.

There was no fridge in the past. You ate whatever you cooked. Whatever was left behind, you couldn’t keep it. Now, whatever you cannot finish, you can put it in the fridge and leave it for the next day. So, these days, I don’t use this grinder anymore. Not at all. I’m just keeping it because I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t want to throw it away because it reminds me of my parents and the past.

Like the stone mortar, the sewing machine came to me as it was pre-arranged. My daughter wanted the sewing machine. Actually, I have so many siblings but my mother and daughter agreed and knew that the sewing was going to my daughter. So when my mother passed away, both the sewing machine and the grinder came to us. But, the grinder is very, very old, it is much older than me. It was around even before I was born. I used it when I was young and eventually, it came to me. In those days, it was very common to have this grinder. I don’t know who to give to. I don’t think my grandson will want this thing. He is living in Canada and is only back to do National Service.

[B. Singh brings out a woven cane stool].

B. Kaur: We would sit on this to do the pounding and grinding of spices. This was from Changi Prison. We brought this from Changi Prison forty five something years ago. My eldest son was a baby then.

B. Singh: This one I got it when I was at this chair company. One of the ladies working there had a husband working in the prison. So, I saw her carrying one of these chairs and I asked her where it came from. And, she said that it came from the prison. So, I said: “Okay, give me two!” Then, one old man saw and said he wanted one more for auntie.

“We would sit on this to do the pounding and grinding of spices.”

B. Kaur: Just imagine! [points to a height that is two to three times higher than...

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