My grandmother is a beautiful lady. Charming, graceful Javanese lady. If we were to stand side by side, and at the same age, I’d be pale in comparison. My grandmother with her fair skin, great complexion, a sharp nose that is the envy of many, slender figure, and at 72 she looked like she’s 60. She walks with a grace and stands up straight. No osteoporosis. She’s soft spoken and polite.
Her secrets? Well, these are among the tips that I managed to get when she was alive.

1. Healthy diet of fish and boiled vegetables.
My grandmother didn’t eat much. And so do her daughters. She’s a good cook. A great cook, actually. But she eats just right to live. Never eats like there’s no tomorrow.
Her diet consists of (A) ‘sayur bening’ – vegetables (carrot, spinach/sawi, baby corns) boiled with a bit of onion, garlic, salt and sugar; (B) Fish – usually fried marinated with spices, curry, grilled or taucu; (C) Self-reared kampung chicken (she’d never eat otherwise) as soup, bakar, curry or fried marinated with spices; (D) Soy sauce (Kicap) -based dishes – chicken, beef, eggs.

2. Limau nipis/limau purut as shampoo
No chemicals. Just plain lime, squeezed and lather onto hair and scalp. Great secret for soft, smooth hair.

3. Jamu
My grandmother is a pure Javanese lady whose ancestors are from Solo, Indonesia. Solo was one of the most cultured area in Java Island, being the center of government once upon a time. In Indonesia the best jamu comes from Solo.
My beloved grandma makes the jamu herself, from spices that mostly could be found in the kitchen. I meant to learn to make them myself, but I didn’t manage to do so (even after years staying next door…). My aunt Cik Uzi did keep the list of ingredients for the jamu, but I’m not sure if she knows how to make it. It’s a shame that such abilities are lost down the generations.
Jamu does not only make you feel healthy, it gives you energy to go through the day. Complexions better. And it’s supposed to be all natural. My mom (her daughter-in-law) and aunts (her daughters) did not ‘pantang’ too much during confinement (the food they take throughout life are what others may call ‘pantang’ food, anyway),but they took the jamu she made. That’s how all my aunts stay slender and young – you won’t believe their ages!!!

4. Hard work
She simply can’t sit around and do nothing! No sitting around watching soaps. No sitting down at dinner tables and chatting away. No hanging around other’s home gossiping. That’s so not my grandma. And she can’t stand seeing people do that too!
She cleans, she cooks, she bakes, she prays, she reads Quran.
My uncle once thought that she never sleeps. Because when he wakes up she’s already bustling away in the kitchen, and when he sleeps she’s still up doing something somewhere in the house.
Rolling stone ain’t gather no moss. An active woman ain’t gather no fat!
Oh….I’m so ashamed of myself by now….

5. Pure heart
Beauty is skin deep. Or really?
In the end it’s your heart that matters. My dear grandma was loved by her family, her neighbours, the kampung folk..I remember those years following her to the mosque during Ramadhan and Eid, how everyone was excited to see her there, how she’d hug everyone with her famous big hug, how she’d listen to everyone’s cries and sighs even though for a short while, how her eyes would show her empathy to those around her, how her soft voice and gentle words soothe the feelings of many amongst us. That’s the true beauty of my beloved grandmother.

Oh…now I miss her so so much.
Alfatihah.

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