Thursday, December 11, 2008

SOLDERING FAMILY TIES

Since getting married and living in the east coast, plus a job that involves awkward working schedules, attending family occasions like weddings, engagements, births etc have been almost impossible. Thus, I have been lagging in many things pertaining to my parents’ side of family, so much so, I can’t recognize almost half of the young faces that I mingle with in family ado. Thanks to Geni, at least I now know who is who, how many kids and grandchildren (yes, some are promoted as grandparents now!) my cousins have and from their avatars, I can put faces into memory, unless they opt to put caricatures or even disguise as Donny Osmond, like some do!

The recent Eidul Adha visits proved to be a ritualistic practice, especially for my mum. The typical route would begin at Mak Cha’s house and followed by Mak Kintan’s. The next house would be anyone’s guess, for it depends on impromptu suggestions and the best lobbied option wins. Usually the bandwagon would pick up size at Mak Cha’s where Mak Lah and her cohort (this time it was Abang Hamzah’s and Hamdan’s families) join in.

At Mak Cha’s we got to meet Kak Ah and Abang Chot with some of their many off springs (lost count). Ironically I used to call Abang Chot , Uncle Chot due to unclear reasons, hehe. What I remember well about this great couple goes back to umpteenth years ago when they were two carefree hippies, traveling together during their semester breaks, stopping by at our house in JB. Those were their flower power days! Though they are no more proponents of such carefree life, their big happy family is testimony of those days.

Kak Jah was as matronly as ever, serving us with the pot-luck spread. She has been a permanent member of Kak An’s family, taking care of their family needs, since long ago, thus you will notice that all her comments carry Kak An’s and Abg Duan’s names as well. Unfortunately, as we were tad too late, we missed Kak An’s family.

Mak Cha and Mak Kintan are both amongst the oldest living family member and it’s good to see them both well albeit the usual health impediments.

After Mak Kintan’s , Mak Lah who is well known for her persuading powers, lured us to Abang Harith’s abode. Abang Harith was his usual blunt bantering self, making comical and sarcastic remarks that would put any stand-up comedian to shame! His wife, Sharifah, is a cat lover with a capital L. All her priced long haired feline kin are being kept in the master’s bed-room and Abang Harith allegedly claimed that he sleeps with them with no qualms at all! Abang Harith, you sure have come a long way, brother! :p. As for Sharifah, you should appear in Katztales column of The Star any time!

I hope to be able to meet more kin in the next family occasion, a wedding perhaps? Hmmm…Dilla?


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

THE PASSING OF A DEAR GRANDMOTHER

Tok Muar. That was the name she was fondly known to us. A woman who was full of grit and determination in the inside but exuded calmness on the exterior. She was 90 when she passed away last Sunday morning after a short spell of ill health. My family and I were on our way down to visit her when we received a call telling us that Tok had passed away at 9 am. It was fated that I was not to see her in the near hours before her death. I last saw her last raya and she was her usual old self, full of her bantering antics. Among her favorite phrases were “datanglah lagi jenguk tok kalau tok tak mati lagi” (come and visit me again, if I am not dead yet) and “tok dah tua tapi tak mati2” (I am old but still not dead).

Undeniably, Tok was loved by everyone around her, especially her grandchildren. Old age had caused her to be bent over with fragile bones that had twice fractured in her hip joints and her eye sight too had betrayed her. Did all these hamper her? No. In fact when she broke her hip bones, unlike many others with the same predicament, she recovered and even started to walk and be mobile again, albeit with a limping gait. Her grandchildren simply adore her because, despite all her health difficulties, she still made an effort to enquire about everyone’s wellbeing and latest development. Most importantly, she had an elephant’s memory that enabled her to recall and narrate to us salient details about everyone’s development. In short, she showed that she cared about us and this was pertinent in her effort to remember all the explicit details.

She had only met with my former maid once, but she never failed to ask me about her, each time we met, specifically mentioning her name. She remembered the places where each and every one of my children is studying without faltering. She could remember details of events that could even put us the younger ones to shame. Even at her death bed, when she was asking for me, she managed to rattle that Azmi had gone for a second treatment but this time it was non invasive. Imagine!

Tok was indeed a pious person but she never made it obvious. In her quiet moments, I would see her lips reciting softly the dzikir and her fingers would fervently move the worry-beads. She never failed to start her ‘puasa enam’ (non-obligatory fasting) at day 2 of raya which we would only attempt after the first week. And I am sure that she regularly did her supererogatory night prayers too.

The last thing I could do to show my deep respect and love for her before her burial was to help in the ‘washing/bathing’ of her body. Incidentally I was the one to hold her head in place, each time they maneuver her and I am honoured. She appeared to be very peaceful. Insyallah, one of the things we, the living ones can do now is to pray for her soul.

Tok, even though we seldom visited you, due to distant and time constraint, you are always dear to our hearts. We will always remember you as a caring grandmother with a big heart. For some of us who couldn’t make it at your death bed, we apologize but you know we love you….as I write this, I can still recall your warm voice , your loving words and your smile….may all these memories be etched eternally…May Allah swt place you amongst His loved ones….Ameen Ya Rabbal al Ameen
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