When I was 7, I would spend my lunchtime recess helping my mum and auntie at the canteen they ran in my primary school.
It was awesome because I had access to all possible snacks and soft drinks. When my auntie wasnt around (she’s the boss!), I would help myself to this strawberry and cream ice cream that cost S$0.90. In return, I calculated how much my time cost when I helped out in the morning and after school. I would get a $0.55 allowance for chili noodles that was being sold in another canteen.
Sometimes, I would care for my baby cousin, C. She was the pretttiest little baby with a beautiful oval face and tiny little mouth. I was very attached to her and would carry her around the school grounds, talking to her as if she was my child. Mind you, I was barely 7 myself.
The maternal instincts kicked in early, I guess.
There was this one incident that continued to haunt me. When C was barely 3 mths old, I was piggy-backing her and she slipped onto the cold and hard cement floor on the school playground. My heart froze and fear overtook me. I scooped her up and she wasn’t crying though her beautiful face registered the brunt of the fall.
I cried. While i was hugging her and telling her I am sorry, she suddenly started wailing. Thank God! The fall was so painful, the shock had to go away first before the wailing could come on.
Today, C is a successful rookie banker with a slightly misshapen head. I still love her very much to this day.