It has been quite an eventful last 4 weeks in the Klang → Subang Jaya, Klang → Shah Alam and Klang → Petaling Jaya routes and back. Klang is where Dad and mum live; Subang Jaya is where Malcolm & Uma and Jeannie & I live; Shah Alam is where Malcolm & Uma live and Petaling Jaya is Klang to UMMC hospital.

The best baker of buttercakes, my mum – Philomena Atkinson; was at her usual at age 84 just about to turn 85.

Famous birthday cake with the famous icing. I remember in our younger days, we’d hang around for mum to finish icing the cake and then make a grab for the balance icing. One of those that remember this well is Guy Rozario.

It was one evening, somewhere in the first week of June, I get a call from mum. Oh, by the way, “best baker of buttercakes” has been bestowed upon her by the many. many, many people who have tasted her buttercakes and want more. Everyone keeps pestering her for her secret ingredient. Her “secret” ingredient is an open secret. Why? Because even if you know it, it would be impossible to duplicate. You may come close, but exacting it is not possible. This “secret” ingredient is called “love“.

You will agree with me that it is impossible to duplicate, just like a fingerprint. It belongs to that person. It is also just like colours.

Here, just when you thought the spectrum of colours had 8 – 12 (these were the standard colours in the box of colour pencils we used to take to school)…. The range started growing until smartphones were touting 16 million colours. Then, the “in-thing” phrase “A.I.” or artificial intelligence (don’t know what the big fuss is all about when politicians have been around for the longest time) has become a new buzzword which in turn has created a palette of 1 ber ber billion, yes billion; colours. So, the standard set of 8 -12 colours are now recognized in the different shades, most of which we think we don’t see; they are there. It is just that we don’t recognize them or take it for granted.

Back to mum’s secret ingredient in her buttercakes. It was that one evening…I get a call from her saying that she had a fall. I had just picked Jeannie up from work and was about to head home. She said that she was carrying a freshly baked cake out of the oven when she lost her balance and fell. I think at that time, dad was out on one of his errands. At 90, that man sure has a swagger.

Just in case if you are wondering. No, it is not my birthday…yet. But coming real soon. This was last year’s birthday. The dark chocolate, nyonya kuih, Burger King’s whopper and KFC breakfast was Jeannie’s idea.

Jeannie and I went straight up (or down?) to Klang from P.J.. We reached mum within 45 minutes. Dad was already at home by then. Mum complained about a bad pain in her leg. She was advised by a couple of friends to go for an x-ray at a nearby clinic.. She was hesitant and not quite up to going right there and then.

I called a buddy – childhood friend and classmate, Dr Michael Lee Pillai, up for advice on getting x-rays done. He advised that it was better for mum to get an MRI done at the hospital nearby so that a specialist could assess the issue mum had.

We took mum the next morning to have this done. Results showed no fractures or broken bones.

We celebrated her birthday over the weekend and on June 14th, mum’s actual birthday; Jeannie and I visited them. A few minutes after we left them; dad calls to say mum had another fall. We turned back and headed back to their house. We were less than 10 minutes away at that time.

She was climbing the stairs, with the aide of the prong walking stick; to go to her bedroom. Just after the first step, she fell backwards. We believed what could have happened was that the prong walking stick was not placed firmly on the step, which may have caused her to lose her balance. With a slight bump on the back of her head, she seemed ok. But, she did complain of a pain in her hip joint.

We, again took her for another MRI which showed no fractures or broken bones. She decided to take a break from her cake making and focus on her physical recovery.

A few days ago, dad called to say that mum was back at baking, but taking it at an easy pace. Many people who love her buttercakes expressed a great relief to hear that they can get her buttercakes again. Most common statement from them, “There is no others like your mother’s buttercakes”. Pictures of some of the buttercakes she has made are shown here.

Mum is also well known for her suggee cakes and fruit cakes. She would start preparing for the fruitcakes between 3 to 6 months. This story is for another time.😘

So, yeah! The best of buttercake baker is back!

NOTES: Klang, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya are cities in the state of Selangor, Malaysia.


Mum turns 85 years old today, June 14th. Woo hoo hoo! And Dad just turned 90 last month. Bee bup a lula…

We, (mum’s children in case you may be wondering who the “we” are. Not the French meaning for “yes’😉) that is Terence and his wife Mabel, and their daughter, Ashley; Malcolm and his wife Uma; our sister, Jennifer’s (deceased) husband, Ray; our brother Nigel’s (deceased) wife, Shirley and their daughter, Sarah; me and my wife, Jeannie; gathered (better word than “assembled”😏) last Saturday (June 11th) with dad and mum in Klang; to have an early birthday celebration for mum. As for the rest of the family – Laura is in the U.S. (She will be calling mum today to wish her); Alana, Tim and Jay were working.

While dad potters around with things to do and looks for every (I could be overly dramatic here) excuse…reason… to run on an errand, no matter how small it may be; mum busies herself with cake making – the lady that makes the best butter cake in the world; umpteenth year running 🏆💖. Woo hoo hoo…Do the walk…

Mum quite often reminisces her younger days, especially when she was very young and a few years later, in school.

When she was around 5 years old, the Japanese defeated the British in Malaya, who at that time occupied Malaya (part of the British empire) which is current day Peninsula Malaysia. Thus, they, the Japanese; took over occupying Malaya. This was the period during World War 2 (WW2). Mum, together with her elder brothers and sisters, and their neighbourhood friends; were the kids of Lorong Hicks Road.

They used to play in the street. When the air raid sirens sounded; all the kids would run to the nearby Bukit Nanas hill forest, jump into the dug-out trenches and stay there until the air raid sirens stopped. She said the braver boys would run up to the top of the hill to watch the British bomber planes (aeroplanes / airplanes) bomb parts of KL (Kuala Lumpur) which presumably would have been where the Japanese military army were and perhaps the railway station and tracks in Bangsar, and also the railway yard in Sentul.

Mum remembered how the Japanese soldiers would come to their house, as well as other houses in the neighbourhood; looking for girls to take away to fulfil the lust and other unimaginable deeds of these said soldiers. Her late father (“Oli Papa”, my grandfather), would hide her and her sisters under his king-size bed, and cover the bed whenever the Japanese soldiers came to their house. Oli Papa’s bed was one of those beds which was quite high off the ground.

At the end of WW2, the British recaptured Malaya from the grasp of the Japanese occupation when the Japanese surrendered. Mum said the same Japanese officers and soldiers that used to terrorize them, were made to cut grass with small scissors by the British soldiers.

Mum was a student of the famed Bukit Nanas Girls’ school, which was near her house. She, her sisters and friends used to walk to and from school. Over the many years since leaving school; she had managed to connect with some of her classmates. Her most recent connection is one, Ms Stephanie Pinto. “Recent” means, August 2020.

“Hi Alan, tq for your prompt reply. I was going to call Mum, but glad I waited a while. Now I have more news to share with her. Yes I knew Mum’s birthday was on Sunday, 14th June and that she just turned 83. I will be 84 in August and Mum never fails to call me on my birthday. Your Mum always was and is a very sweet lady and a dear friend. Mum was a very good dancer and had many, many friends, but Dad was the lucky chosen one. We had many good times together and we laughed and a lot. Those were the days when we were so carefree, happy and enjoyed innocent fun.” ~ Whatsapp message from Aunty Stephanie; June 17, 2020.

There will definitely be more wonderful memories and stories from mum to come soon.

All of us, her family, wish mum a very happy 85th birthday; with God’s choicest blessings on her. We love you mum💖.

KL Sentral which is in today’s Bangsar; is the central hub where the various main forms of land transport converge and connect to the rest of Peninsula Malaysia. The Kuala Lumpur railway station is very nearby to KL Sentral, but it has lost its importance as a centre for railway transport activity.
The railway yard in Sentul, still plays a very role for the railway.
May the peoples of this world strive to be at peace with each other always.
The photographs of yester-year is courtesy of dad.