Only quite recently that I realized mak is fairly annoyed that my kids call her ‘tok ampang’. She quipped with much irritation, “apasal lah awak mesti panggil kita tok ampang? Lepas tu panggil kuat-kuat kat shopping mall pulak tu!”. “Why must you call me with that name and embarrassing me in a large crowd at the mall?” We can’t help but laugh at poor mak with her slight, yet painful predicament.
You see, to differentiate between the two grandmas we had to assign these matriarchal figures, names according to the places they hail from. Thus, as mak was and is still living in Ampang, Tok Ampang aptly became her calling name. And my late mom in law was Tok Kuantan. They may sound crude but we were never into calling their real names with tok prefixes in front. Furthermore, my mom is known as Yon and ‘Tok Yon’ sounded comical, reminding us of the small and bald, bluish green mischievous apparitions.No wonder, mak was quick to demand the rest of her grandkids from my other sisters to call her ‘mak tok’ which sounded more civilized to her, at least. Ironically we had no such problem with the grandpas. My dad goes by the simple name of Tok Mat, yet my kids still find him stern and a no nonsense figure. And my father in law is plain Aki to them. Even though Aki is easygoing, he can sometimes be sharp tongued and you wouldn’t want to be in his bad books!
Whilst adding relatives’ profiles in the Geni family tree website, my hubby can’t remember his brother-in-law’s mother’s name. So he just named her ‘Mak Geng’. Tok Geng is a fond name their grandchildren gave them as grandpa is a jovial chap who loves teasing his grandkids making them refuse to befriend him and he would jokingly say, “tak nak geng ek?’. Thus the name stuck. At least we can boast that we are related to a mafia clan or so it seems!
Now that I have mentioned about Geni, our family tree is growing wild like fire in the forest! (pardon the pun!). The shoots are sprouting eagerly and the branches are extending as though the roots are being doused with a mega dose of organic fertilizer! Since our last raya visit at grandma’s place in Muar, we were able to add several generations up and down the tree, after much digging and revving of info from our aunt, Kak Uchu. Notice the paradox here, how an aunt is considered a sister? Well, you see, my side of the family is also never so much into calling people according to their ranks in the family. Age is more of the essence. As Kak Uchu who should have been Mak Uchu is the youngest and relative young back then, OG and I, (or is it Kak Uchu herself ? hehe) felt more comfortable calling her as such.
Unlike my hubby’s side, who sticks to the proper name-calling hierarchy, an aunty gets the prefix Mak even though she may be years younger than you! Thus, Mazyah becomes Aunty Mazyah when she married Pak Man even though she is more than 10 years younger than us. And Farah who is hubby’s cousin is called Aunty Farah by my kids even though they are of the same age!
When we started Geni, hubby’s tree was much bigger to begin with as he had already recorded his genealogical lineage, several ancestral tiers up, few years ago. So when OG and I recently shifted gear and accelerated at full speed, we had already out done his side. Together, we had a good time bantering as we see the plus numbers escalating and overtaking his. OG even had the cheek to text us this, when were on our back home, “Where are you guys? Stopping by in Temerloh to search for 50 more relatives eh?”
Our Geni tree is so colorful in the true sense. Half of OG’s tree is Chinese, from her hubby’s side which incidentally was the initiator of this whole thing. Half of mak’s tree should have been of Chinese roots as well but we are not able to trace them yet, so we consider mak’s adopted family as our own and we are proud of it, needless to say! My hubby’s side of the tree is just as colorful if not more. With a Panglima as a great grandfather who fought for the Sultan and married an ex-wife of Mat Kilau the warrior giving rise to this particular lineage, who would agree less? And if you look deeper into the branches, you’d see that Tun Khalil Yaakob who will bestow Shah Rukh Khan with a controversial datukship, is actually hubby’s cousin twice removed, or is it thrice?
Strangely, this family tree thingy has sort of brought us back together, never mind that it’s only virtually. Some have not met in years but are able to communicate again. Who knows, maybe this tree would merge with Bush on the left and Obama on the right. Nothing is impossible!