Nur Eshal Khairiya
Binte Mohamad Shaferi, 11
I always get to help out in the kitchen. When I asked my mother why they want me to cook, she said “because when you grow up, you’re gonna be a mother, then later when I’m not around, how? You must cook yourself”. I am Boyanese, our food is the best! I can make kimchi too!
“I am Boyanese”, Nur Eshal Khairiya Binte Mohamad Shaferi says proudly of her heritage. How has she come to associate herself with Boyanese culture, and what does she understand about being Boyanese?
Have a listen to Eshal's reflection in this journey of documenting her mother cooking up a storm or read on in the transcript below.
Shiyun: That day, your mother cooked a lot of stuff
Eshal: Yeah my mother cooked 3 stuff: Ayam Merah, Sambal Telok (quail eggs), and Sayur Lontong
Shiyun: How about daily? What do you guys eat?
Eshal: Daily, we eat like anything
Shiyun: Anything? As in, what is anything?
Eshal: Like Lontong, Sambal, or like sandwich, or maybe like egg
Shiyun: Mmm, is she the one who cooks everyday?
Eshal: Erm, me, her and my grandfather
Shiyun: Oh okay, so you also cook
Eshal: Yeah, I cook like a lot of stuff because she like teach me how to cook, then my great-grandmother teach me how to cook, but then like she, I cannot see her anymore because she passed away already
Shiyun: Mmm, when did you first learn how to cook? Do you remember?
Eshal: Mm, 6 or 7
Shiyun: So is it when your great-grandmother is cooking, your mother is cooking, your grandfather is cooking, they will always let you be in the kitchen?
Shiyun: So you can help out
Eshal: Yeah, I can help out. Then I asked my mother why they want me to cook, then she said “because when you grow old, you’re gonna be a mother, then you must cook a lot of stuff… then later when I’m not around, how? I cannot cook for you and stuff. You must cook yourself” I started cooking a lot of dishes like kimchi, I know how to cook kimchi-
Shiyun: You know how to make kimchi? How do you make kimchi?
Eshal: It’s like, you need cabbage, then like the seasoning all. I make a lot. My grand- my father and my mother love to eat kimchi, so I cook a lot lah. We cook like 3 kimchi
Shiyun: 3 big cabbages?
Shiyun: Oh okay. Wow, so amazing. Next time you should cook in TTKC also. I have never seen you cook here.
Shiyun: In the workshop, you mentioned that, erm, very clearly, that you’re Boyanese
Eshal: Yeah, I’m Boyanese. My mother said I’m Boyanese
Shiyun: What does it mean by you’re Boyanese?
Eshal: Boyanese… I don’t know. My mother said that. Then I asked her, “what is Boyanese?” She said, “Oh Boyanese? Malay only. Not like full malay. It’s like just malay”
Shiyun: Like a malay tribe?
Shiyun: And what are the characteristics? What is special about Boyanese?
Eshal: Boyanese ermm… they have their own language. They don’t speak like Malay. They speak their own language. Then they have darker skin. But then I have lighter skin because my father, my real father, has lighter skin. Boyanese people, like when they count down, they always have that angry angry face
Shiyun: Do you feel that you have an angry angry face?
Eshal: Not really lah (Shiyun laughs) Sometimes I don’t want to show people my angry face cause I don’t want them to (be) afraid of me, I don’t want people to talk bad about me, talk behind my back. Then I don’t like -
Shiyun: Are Boyanese people known to be very angry?
Eshal: Not that angry lah. You see the face like very angry, but when you talk to them, very kind
Shiyun: Ah, they just look fiercer, is it?
Eshal: Yeah, then their food is the best
Shiyun: Did you discover something new through this project?
Eshal: I kinda like this project man. It’s like very fun. I like to take pictures a lot. Then I like to tell people about my story. And then it’s very fun because I get to meet new people.