Before my birthday dinner a couple weeks back now, I went home after baking at Pathlight so that I could chill with Mum and Dad before going with them to Winestone to meet Flo. Flo and I actually have a week’s holiday booked in Sri Lanka nearer the end of the year and when I was little, between the ages one to four or five, we had a helped whom I was extremely close to – Kumari. She’s Sri Lankan and so, when Flo and I settled on visiting the country, I started getting more excited at the prospect of perhaps seeing if we can locate her.
Mum still had an old address of Kumari’s and it looks like the place is still a village based on GoogleMaps. Fingers crossed Kumari hasn’t moved although after more than 20 years, perhaps there is only a slim chance we will find her. Still, I’m hopeful! Which is why I started digging through old photographs back at Mum and Dad’s because I know we have photos of/with Kumari.
Unfortunately, the only one I could find in the stash was a side profile of her. I reckon the rest must be in the storeroom where we boxed a lot of old photos when we had the place renovated about 10 years ago. I took a picture of that picture anyway because who knows? Someone might recognise Kumari even from the side, but if I have time, I might see if I can find the pictures in the storeroom – although I can imagine Mum might freak out at all the boxes I’ll have to pick through… and the mess. We’ll see.
With Flo and my wedding just round a really close corner, I did find myself enjoying some photos I found of Mum and Dad’s wedding about 35 years ago. I love the sepia look of the pictures – no filter needed! And this picture of Mum. I wonder whether she could imagine then what her life would be like now.
I guess photo compositions were different then and cameras worked really differently too. This church photo of Mum and Dad looks a little more stiff. I think Mum still looks quite the same though, Dad’s become rounder but still recognisable for sure.
And this photo below I really love of them looking so happy together. I think Mum looks gorgeous and Dad, very handsome. Maybe I’m biased, just as they probably are of me, but I don’t care. They looked good together then, and they still look good together now!
Fast forward 6 years and one baby boy (my brother) later, I was born and I will always hold this photo against Mum for allowing this dress to eat me up. She said that Suk Gong had bought the dress for me and she couldn’t not have me wear it. It definitely wasn’t the most flatting dress on me and it looks like I knew that too.
Me at a year and a half. One of the few photos I think I look quite adorable in. Mum and Dad still live in this same condo. Lots of sentimental memories of us growing up there.
And another throwback to me at about 13 months based on the date on the photograph. We were in London and with my three cousins celebrating Nathan’s birthday. He must have been turning 6. I laughed at the set of three photos below because my eyes never left the cake.
Yup! Lover of cakes since forever.
My cousins, my brother and I… We all grew up in an environment where our parents would celebrate our birthdays for us, always making sure we were surrounded by little friends, close cousins, and always, cake. Cake was a taken-for-granted luxury. Only much, much later, did I realise that not everyone had parents with the means to provide them with presents or cake on their birthday.
Last month, I stumbled upon an Instagram account called @acakeforachild which is a not-for-profit company that bridges bakers to underprivileged children to provide them with a birthday cake free-of-charge. This is something I’ve thought of and discussed with Flo about before – doing giveaways to followers but instead of them receiving a cake from me, they gift it to say, their office cleaning aunty, or a family going through financial struggle. We decided that it might be a difficult thing to execute and I pushed the idea aside. So when I found A Cake for a Child, it felt like the perfect opportunity to give.
I’ve been blessed so far with enough work of my own through private orders and some tie ups with cafes. A small birthday cake is certainly something I can afford to gift a child and so, I found one whose birthday fell on a day where I was less busy and could not only bake for her, but also deliver it to her home.
She had requested for a Chocolate Chip Oreo Cake and hearing that she likes Tweety Bird, I decided to put in a little more effort to make my first ever attempt at fondant Tweety for her.
On Friday afternoon, my parents sweetly came along with me for the delivery – Dad drove and Mum helped me carry some extra cookies I wanted to share with them too. Unfortunately, the birthday girl was away at class but her Mum was incredibly appreciative, inviting us in for tea/coffee. When we thanked her and explained that Dad was waiting downstairs so not to worry, she asked if we needed an umbrella since it was raining out. We didn’t. My heart was overflowing just knowing how happy she was with the cake for her daughter who turning 13, never had a birthday cake before.
The mother walked Mum and I right to the lift landing, waited for us to go in and even after the doors had closed, she waited, waving goodbye to us. I wanted to burst into tears at how generous and how gracious she was towards us. Even her little daughter upon seeing me at the door, called me ‘Jie Jie’ (older sister). Later in the evening, the birthday girl texted me through her mother’s phone to thank me for the cake.
It’s true, some who have little material things have the biggest hearts. It made the time and effort put into this cake so worth it for me. I have been supported greatly by so many over the years and now, I’m glad I’m able to pay it forward by putting a smile on the faces of children and their family with a simple birthday cake. I’m already looking forward to making my next cake for a special child!