She was born in China in 1926, the year her parents migrated to Sarawak. My mother and her family know her very well and her children are all around my age but some are younger – eight daughters and five sons altogether.

She has written five books and I have four of them…

Books by Angela Yong

I did not buy the one with a collection of Foochow proverbs and idioms. As a matter of fact, I bought her books for my daughter. She loved reading them and would read them over and over again.

Written in very simple English, the books are easy to read and they actually contain recollections of her life and experiences and that appeals to many of her older readers, being reminded of those things that they too had encountered and experienced a long time ago.

In one of her stories, she wrote about how in 1944, when she was living in Empawah village with her husband and in-laws, there was a rumour that a baby could talk as soon as it was born. It said (in Foochow dialect):
Toong neng kio siok puang
Huang Kiang pieng hui tang
Nii na meh siong sing
Nguai si ki nii kang

Chinese half gone
Natives/Malays become charcoal
If you don’t believe
I’ll die for you to see

Many believed and were worried and expected the Japanese to kill many of the Chinese and natives in Sarawak. But soon after that, the Japanese surrendered and everyone was happy that their fears had been unfounded.

In 2003, during the SARS outbreak, a rumour broke out that a baby was born in Kuching and it could talk. It asked everyone to eat green beans to protect themselves against SARS. The sale of green beans sky-rocketed instantly, as did the price. What I heard was everyone must boil the beans without any sugar added and drink the water and then, they must scatter the beans by the road outside their houses. That reminded Angela of the rumour of the talking baby in 1944…and I was in KL attending a meeting at the Federal in Bukit Bintang that week, so I did not get to eat any green beans to save myself. Thankfully, I am still alive. LOL!!!

Whatever if is, it is good to cook green beans to eat on hot days…

Green beans with evaporated milk

…as it is supposed to be cooling and may prevent you from falling sick. You can just boil it in water with pandan (screwpine) leaves and add sugar according to taste. Some people like it cooked with santan (coconut milk) but I prefer it plain or with evaporated milk.

Considering how hot the weather is most of the time these days, perhaps it is time you have some?