“Ah Bah’s Money” Summary: Catherine Lim Short Story

Ah Bah's Money Catherine Lim Summary Short Story
“Ah Bah’s Money” Summary

“Ah Bah’s Money” is a short story by Catherine Lim, a Singaporean author known for writing about Chinese culture, about a boy who hides his money from his alcoholic father. Here’s a summary of “Ah Bah’s Money”.

“Ah Bah’s Money” Summary

Ah Bah has his money on a handkerchief and is reluctant to put it away. He’s been looking at it and stacking it in various ways. He remembers where each of his coins came from, including the largest, a fifty-cent piece Kim Heok Soh paid him to stand at the front of her house and tell people she had gone out for a while, although she was home with someone the whole time.

Ah Bah counts the money and wraps all $5.87 in the handkerchief, puts it in a tin and hides it in the cupboard. His father took his money once to buy beer, so Ah Bah worries that he will find this stash as well. Drinking usually puts him in a bad mood; once he threw a beer bottle at his wife but missed. Ah Bah’s mother takes it in stride. When her husband is out, she likes to gamble at cards at Ah Lam Soh’s.

Ah Bah is excited with the approach of the New Year, which means ang pows—gifts of money in red packets. When the season is over, Ah Bah is thrilled to find he has a good new pile, including eight paper notes. His total now is $17.25, and he’s afraid because his father knows about it. Determined to protect his money, he puts the full amount in his front pocket. He’s not sure how to keep it safe.

The next day, Ah Bah returns from the village crying. A rough-looking man had pushed him down and stolen his money. His father berates him and hits him. His mother scolds him gently and gives him fifty cents. He’s moved by the gesture.

Ah Bah takes his mother outside to the secluded hen house and shows her that he’s hidden the money in it. She compliments his scheme and warns him not to go to the hen house too much or his father will notice.

Soon after, Ah Bah earns a little money and puts it in his hiding place. As he comes out, his father is there, restless and pacing. He wants beer but has no money. Ah Bah pretends to be looking for fire wood until his father walks off.

That night, Ah Bah dreams of the worst. Early in the morning he checks the hen house and his money is gone. He runs crying to his mother with the news, who reminds him she warned him about going there too often. She tells him not to say anything about it or his father will go into a rage.

Ah Bah’s mother is glad when he quiets down. She has to get to Ah Lam Soh’s for cards with the seventeen dollars in her blouse. She got rid of the handkerchief and tin. The fortune teller said she’s entering a period of good luck.

I hope this summary of “Ah Bah’s Money” by Catherine Lim was helpful.