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GRANDPA'S CHICKEN RICE

Grandpa would have ordered the chicken rice, costing four dollars and fifty cents, which
after the ten percent seniors' discount. He always had the chicken rice, and every time
would praise the pride and passion of the chef in making the bite sized morsels and
fragrant rice on his plate. My sister Sze Lin and I have heard it one thousand times
already. He sounded like an old record. Grandpa was like that. Gallantly eccentric.
A curled photo preserved my oldest memory of Grandpa Chan. A cigarette burning at
his lingers and an amused expression on his face, he cradled my two-year-old frame. In
the foreground, mum tried to hush one of my tantrums. Only I remember that. We were
at my sister's piano competition. I wanted to play so much, but I was too young, so a
tantrum was the answer.
Nevertheless, that was long ago. I now sit in tense silence. It was the first time I had
been back to the cafe without Gramps. Usually, by now he would have made us the
centre of attention, so the absence isn't exactly unnoticed. He would have spoken
loudly, greeting all his coffee-drinking friends and strangers alike, roused at the nearby
queue of anxious people in the lotto line, before fussing the waitress to wipe down our
table. I realise how much I valued his embarrassing company. He could create a swag
of memories, from an otherwise dull-as-a-cardboard-box-of-hammers day.
It was Grandpa who would take the risks - not big risks - just things like asking security
guards at the art gallery what exactly that silk painting was supposed to be about, or
ordering a McDonald's burger without the bun. He was the one that showed Sze Lin and
me how to fish, with bamboo rods and live worms. He didn't have a license to fish
himself, so could only cast a wormless hook into the storm water drain to demonstrate.
But, before he could retrieve the line, he had miraculously caught a garoupa-fish. This
was the understood magic which made him remarkable.
And, suitably - inevitably - it was Grandpa who introduced us to this cafe. The cafe was
a cosy little place situated by the beachside, but I knew he liked to visit more for the
food than the location. The chef there was passionate about his creations, which were
always so simple and unadulterated, yet succulently scrumptious and authentic.
Besides, they gave a discount to seniors and students. I always ordered oyster
omelette, and Gramps, the chicken rice. It just seemed like the right thing to do. It made
him so happy. Then, I would relax, and listen to Grandpa and his wisdom.
Grandpa Chan liked his tea and quiet times too. The background music type was
essential in setting the ambience. None of that 'pretentious nonsense" that Gramps said
all the other places have these days. He would tap his foot, smiling contently from table
twelve as the pentatonic tones of bamboo pipes and bowed strings echoed from the
sound system in the corner. The folk music tells stories and myths, maybe legends.
Wrinkles around his eyes give a permanent look of surprise or inquisitiveness. The
imperfection of the nose, which is slightly too heavy for the delicacy of his face. The
mangled tussle of silver cowlicks at the front of a balding head. He his features showed
courage and a life well lived.
I don't really remember what we talked about. Mostly I remember the nothing moments,
just sitting with Grandpa, simply enjoying his presence: watching him don reading
glasses and read the menu; observing him silently decide between) noodles or
omelette, but knowing he'll order the chicken rice anyway. He would also smoke. A lot.
Many times the tables sitting nearby to us would frown begrudgingly, and change seats

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15

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25

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to avoid the wafting clouds of unfiltered tobacco.


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'We need to get moving' he would say at the end before giving me a big Grandpa hug. A
wonderful, unforgettable, eternal squeeze reassuring both of us. He always said he
wanted to be remembered for spreading love and happiness.
Today, it was different. With no Grandpa. I could order a giant iced chocolate, without
receiving one Of his barbs. But when it came, and I took a first sip. no smile OF fulfilment
came to my face. This time, there was no conversation, except the inevitable promise of
stark, painful silence. And I sipped and sipped. The cafe wasn't the same without
Grandpa Chan. It all reminded me of him.

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I wasn't hungry. But either out of habit or to escape the silence, I ordered food anyway.
It was a re-enactment of what I always did with Grandpa and yet it felt so unfamiliar and
hollow. That day. I ordered chicken rice. I didn't quite know why I did it. It just seemed
like the right thing to do.

Answer the questions that follow.


From paragraph 1:
1

a.

Write down the single word in the passage that means peculiar.
________________________________________________________

b.

In your own words, explain why the author used the word gallantly to describe her
grandpas eccentricity.

From paragraph 2:
2.

What did the author do as a child when she wanted to get her own way?
_________________________________________________________________________

From paragraph 3:
3

a
What does the author wish to tell the readers when she described her grandpas
absence isnt exactly unoticed?
_________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________
b

Why did the author feel that her grandpas company can be embarrassing?
___________________________________________________________________

From paragraph 4:
4.

Write down the adjective in the paragraph that describes the old man as someone unusual
and noticeably different.
_________________________________________________________________________

From paragraph 5:
5.

a,
The word passionate tells the idea of the deep love the chef put in to create a dish
for the purpose of satisfying his customers.
Write down the adjective in the paragraph that describes the dish which customers really
enjoy.
_______________________________________________________________________
b.

The word unadulterated suggests genuineness and without inferior ingredients.

Give another single word in the paragraph which expresses this same quality of being
real and not distorted.
_______________________________________________________________________
From paragraph 6:
6.

Describe how the old man kept himself occupied at the caf.
_______________________________________________________________________

From paragraph 7:
7.

write down two words in the paragraph that suggest a sense of displeasure.
________________________________________________________________________

From paragraph 3 and 8:


8.

Describe in your own words how the old man treated his grandchildren.
________________________________________________________________________

Based on the given meaning, find the words which has the same meaning as the word has in the

passages.
1. small pieces (line 4) - ________________________
2. stirred to excite, excited (line 15) - ____________________
3. bundle (line18)- __________________
4. regain, bring back (line 24)- _______________________
5. not mixed with impure substances, authentic, genuine, not distorted juicily (line 29) -

_________________
6. delicious, tasty (line 29) - _______________________
7. genuine, real, unadulterated, not distorted (line 29) - __________________

8. atmosphere (line 34) - _____________________


9. five tones in a scale (line 36) - ______________________
10. stories with magical ideas (line 37) - _______________
11. ancient stories about great deeds of men, ancient stories a warriors [soldiers] (line

38) - ______________________
12. desire to ask [enquire] (line38) - _________________
13. untidy, unkempt (line 40) - __________________
14. small bunches or masses of hair (line 40) - ______________
15. show displeased look with strong lines on forehead with displeasure (line 46) -

________________
16. with pleasure (line 46) - _________________