As crystal sugar melts in your mouth, your taste buds begin to dance with delight. Your eyes widen instantly. A smile spreads across your face. You indulge in another mouthful as you murmur, “Ahhh! What a bliss!”
My earliest experience with doughnuts was during my primary school days in Chung Hwa Middle School, Kuala Belait. Before the recess bell rang, my classmates prepared a dollar in their hands, getting ready to race through the classroom door the very instant we heard the bell.
Next, I found myself pushing through a thick crowd struggling to buy a doughnut from Tuckshop Auntie. It was chaotic. Everyone wanted to stand before her. Many peers waved a dollar in their hands and ordered: “One hotdog bun, Auntie!” or “One icing bun, Auntie!” Then, the word, which I dreaded to hear, went “Two doughnuts, Auntie!”
In those days, a dollar could buy you two doughnuts and they sold like hot cakes. Being the shy one, I failed to buy a doughnut in most days because when I finally came before Tuckshop Auntie after the crowd had dispersed, she declared in her colloquial tone, “Doughnuts? Finished already.”
One day came when I mustered enough strength to push through the crowd to get hold of my desired doughnut. I savoured it!
As I was growing up and my life transforming through different stages, I found, so were the doughnuts! Bakeries began to sell different versions of doughnut, the modern ones! Glazed with melted chocolate of different colours – brown, white, or pink; sprinkled with various types of topping from rainbow chocolate rice to cornflakes, from custard to marshmallows; and, decorated with many kinds of design like chocolate stripes, fondant flowers, or jellies.
Sometimes, I love to taste a modern doughnut while other times I prefer to savour a classical one. A bite into a fried dough dusted with sugar springs nostalgia. For a moment, I find a key to unlock the door to my childhood. The chaos in the tuckshop, the fifty-cent coin in my hand, and the sugar that melted in my mouth, with even some stuck on my lips.
Reliving that moment makes me learn that I can enjoy a brief moment of bliss amidst work challenges. It also allows me to relearn the lesson in establishing the reason behind the toiling hours of painting in my studio and the heart-thumping sleepless nights weeks before my participation in art exhibitions overseas.
Why must I do this? Why must I work hard? What do I want to achieve?
I have asked myself these questions in the silence of the night. Each time I tell myself that the reason is as simple as holding a 50-cent coin while mustering strength in pushing through the crowd just so that I can buy a doughnut and savour it.
As crystal sugar melts in my mouth, my taste buds begin to dance with delight. My eyes widen instantly. A smile spreads across my face. I indulge in another mouthful as I murmur, “Ahhh! What a bliss!”