So over the weekend, I was in my baju kurung, which thankfully was not one of the more beautiful ones that I own, seated on the grass outside my aunt’s house, by the drain with a sponge on one hand, a dirty plate on the other. It was the hot afternoon, my hair was sticking to the side of my face from sweat. The skirt of my baju kurung was hiked up to my knees, looking very unladylike but I did not care.
My brother was on hose duty and he sprayed the plastic plates that were handed his way by the way of a plastic tub filled with soapy water.
‘This is not hygienic,’ he moaned to my aunt. ‘We should have hot water.’
‘The sun is above you. The water below you. The water will get hot….eventually,’ my aunt smirked.
This was my weekend. In the morning I was attending my cousin’s engagement. By the afternoon a bunch of us were relegated to dishwashing duty because the original caterer that my cousin’s family had hired bailed out on them. In the end, they hired a caterer at the last minute who could only give food but no service.
Usually the caterers would take the dirty plates and wash them for the next batch of guests. Well, without a caterer, the alternative would be paper plates. Which all things considered, is not that bad an idea looking back.
As I scrapped off rice of the dish, trying not to gag, I say a silent prayer and focused all my energy to hoping horrible things will happen to the first caterer. I do this often, especially when a jackass cuts in front of me when I drive without signalling. I usually pray for his penis to fall off, or his kids to fail SPM.
So should you know anyone whose penis fell off, it’s probably he was a rude bastard on the road. Or he bailed out on someone’s wedding.
To be honest though, despite my moaning, and despite how dry my hands will be from using dish detergent on my bare hands, I was enjoying this. I love the camaraderie shared between me and my cousins, I loved that this harked back to the good old days where people used to gotong-royong (worked together) for weddings, where everyone had a part to play, be it cooking, decorating, cleaning up. It felt good to be working with your hands, and that in this assembly line of dish washing, we were all equals. And there is something very calming about working with your hands, the repetitive action of scrubbing and then rinsing and then drying.
‘Ooops!’ said my cousin as she dropped a plastic glass into the drain. We exchanged glances with each other. I think about the number of weddings I’ve attended, with the same plastic plates, a no-show caterer and road-side washing of the plates.
‘I suppose if you scrub it extra hard…’ I begin to say.
‘I’m never eating at weddings again,’ my brother moaned. ‘This is exactly how food poisonings happen.’