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"Nostalgia — An Unforgettable Barbeque Party"

Post on: October 2, 2020

The year was 1986; we were a bunch of teens growing up in Redhill estate in Singapore. We were feeling on top of the world since the school holidays had just begun. *Richard was a youth leader in the club we attended. Being older and responsible, he earned our respect for his leadership qualities and stellar academic grades. He suggested that we organise a barbeque session to build up our camaraderie and adventurous spirit.

We jumped on the idea and made preparations for the big day. It was an outing which we looked forward with bated breath. On that eventful day, we were on high spirits as the seven of us assembled at the stipulated spot at 4:00 pm. We then made our way to East Coast Park which was a popular site for picnickers as it was along the beach.

As soon as we reached our destination, we had a jolly good time frolicking in the sand, overlooking the sea –- we played frisbee and soccer. It was a rare opportunity to showcase our skills as we could jump and fall on the soft sand without any inhibitions.

Thereafter, Richard suggested that we take a walk to watch the panoramic sunset. Since we were overnighting, we had ample time for all the activities scheduled. The warm, golden grains of sand cushioned our feet as we strolled along the beach leisurely. Watching the sunset was a timeless perfection for us. We felt closer to nature and were full of awe to the Almighty for His magnificent handiwork.

Before we knew it, it was already 8 pm. Richard led us to our barbeque pit which was three kilometres away. Feeling famished, we trudged our foot towards our destination – it was a long day with the strenuous games and long walk, and we couldn’t wait to indulge in a hearty meal.

To our horror, the lights surrounding our barbeque pit were faulty and the area was in pitch darkness. *Jeremy, the most muscular and vocal guy, took control of the situation since he was a scout leader. He was accustomed to such unexpected scenarios from his past expeditions. He placated us with his pep talk and soon, we were busy setting up the fire and our tents in the darkness.

Once everyone was settled and comfortable, Jeremy volunteered to barbeque the chicken which he had prepared. He took it upon himself to cheer us up with his banter while he busied himself with his task. We were having the time of our life in the idyllic setting, with the faraway moon as our source of light.

The food was sumptuous – I brought fried noodles for everyone while Richard surprised us with tuna sandwiches and curry-puffs. The icing of the cake was the chicken treat – it was so tasty, marinated to perfection. We could not resist singing praises of Jeremy who had taken the initiative to barbeque them when the chips were down. His act of gallantry lifted our morale and our youthful exuberance was once again restored.

Jeremey enthusiastically pontificated, “Well I am glad all of you appreciate my culinary skills – something I learnt and honed during my scouting days. It is finger-licking good and is comparable to Kentucky Fried Chicken. I’ve always guarded this secret and will take it with me to the grave.” We were impressed with his knack for cooking and the gift of the gab; we gave him a standing ovation.

Thereafter, we sang campfire songs and shared stories of our individual shenanigans – some stories thrilled, while the rest were filled with hilarity. After thanking everyone, especially Jeremy for making it a memorable night, we dozed off.

The next morning, we were awakened by the sound of waves crashing against the rocks. The sun had risen and the warm blue waters stretched as far as our eyes could see. A more unforgettable sight awaited us. There were leftover pieces of chicken on a paper plate. We were shocked when we took a closer examination. There was nothing spooky nor creepy about it. However, the morsels of chicken were charred beyond recognition. We looked at one another with disbelief!

We could not fathom we had wolfed down the charred food so heartily. In the pitch darkness, even a burnt chicken was tantalisingly good. Heightened by our hunger, we had lost our sense of smell and taste!

Everyone looked at each other and understood what needed to be done – no words were required during such intense moments. We spontaneously ran towards Jeremey and caught hold of him who was caught unawares. Nevertheless, he sportingly allowed us to carry him. All six of us excitedly threw him into the sea in recognition for his “splendid” culinary skill coupled with a resounding speech.

All of us had a good laugh of what had transpired in the blurriness of the night. The “sumptuous” chicken delicacy was eaten ravenously more than thirty-five years ago; however, the taste of it and Jeremy’s accompanying “Oscar-winning” speech still lingers as I walk down memory lane.

*Names have been changed.

By: Shaji Thomas Varughese

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