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  • Sophia Huang

Granny's love: "Hor-lick or oh-wa-tine?"


"Mummy, what can I eat?" my daughter asked, for the umpteenth time last week. I rummaged in the snack box and managed to find a packet of Ovaltine sweets. We shared the snack and I shared a memory...

My Cantonese-speaking grandma always used to ask us, "horlik or oh-wa-tine" (Horlicks or Ovaltine?) whenever we went to her house. She couldn't pronounce "Sophia" and called me "tou-pee" instead (not to be confused with the hair tuft). We could hardly communicate, but despite the language barrier, she never failed to ask us what was our preferred beverage of the day.

I grew up knowing only my paternal grandmother; my other three grandparents had long passed before I was born. I think of her from time to time and remember her little quirks with fondness.

Perhaps it is my own lack of a close relationship with my grandparents that made me create the character Popo – she lavishes love, but isn't permissive. She is soft yet stern, always pushes her grandchildren to overcome their challenges but ultimately loves them unconditionally. A gentle matriarch, so to speak.

Don't we all need a little bit of Popo in our parenting?


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