Tuesday, 14 June 2005

Abang...

Ajie said that Abang left last week. He cried so much at the airport, as he waved goodbye to Mak and prayed that she will be there on his return. Insyaallah. I can just imagine Mak, at the departure terminal by the escalator, sitting in her wheelchair that we all pooled together to buy, clinging on to Abang, her lips quivering with emotions. Abang has left for a destination in the Middle East – the first time he left home since his wife left him two months ago.

Kak Cik said perhaps its best that Abang went. Since Kak Piah passed away, he’s just a shadow of himself. He goes from one sibling’s house to the another, sits down and cries – not the same Abang at all, not the Abang that we knew – the one who’d crack a joke a minute.

The trip and the job assignment overseas will hopefully take his mind off the loss. But I doubt it. Abang is family oriented. He cannot be without his family, his siblings, Mak and most of all sambal belacan, sayur keladi and kari kepala ikan. I wonder how he will survive. But I pray to God, on his return we will get our Abang back.

Abang had been a survivor but it’ll take a lot for him to survive this loss.

When we were young, Abang was the only brother in the family, before the arrival of Ajie. Thus perhaps he was spoilt. He didn’t want to go to school and Mak didn’t say anything. We learnt about his erring ways from the whispers of the elders. He didn’t make his Form Three exams and in our family, that was indeed something of a disappointment for Pak. But Mak never said anything.

We were then living in Yan, a beautiful little town by the sea, in the shadows of Gunung Jerai, where Pak was a government officer. One day, Mak woke up and found Abang gone. And Mak never stopped crying and prayed for her only son to come back. Of course he did, when his money ran out. Then, instead of continuing school, he mixed around with local fishermen. First, he would paint them as they pushed out their boats to sea. Then, he slept at the centre, waking up at the break of dawn to go out with them in their boats. When that happened, Mak would hastily put on her selendang and wait by the sea front for the boats to come in, all the while praying for his safe return. To lure him back, Mak would promise all kinds of dishes, his favourite, for him and his newfound friends.

He came back. And brought with him no less than five young fishermen, who frequented our house most days. One faithfully remained with us, looking after our father, our nieces and nephews and helped with housework, until he got married and later died of old age.

But Abang was not ready to go back to school. One day, the small quiet town of Yan came alive with people running out to the streets. Mak peered out of our government quarters’ window and saw Abang and company carrying a 10 ft python which they caught near the foot of Gunung Jerai. From what I heard, they made quite a tidy sum, when they sold the reptile to a Chinese businessman.

Mak never stopped her prayers and Abang finally succumbed to her plea to continue his studies. He made it to ITM on a very low grade, and did Arts and Design. Mak knew that from the mess of paints and brushes in his room, Arts was his calling. And it was the right decision. He then pursued his studies in Belfast. Mak cried again – this time with pride – her only son and the first in the family to leave for overseas. It was such a big deal in those days. The whole clan gathered at the airport. Abang wrote to us, pages and pages to tell us about the bombings in Belfast, about the riots and the troubles. Mak would eagerly wait for his news as we read and left out bits not meant for her ears.

“Abang kata apa?” Mak would ask.

“Dia sehat. Dia kirim salam kat Mak,”

“Ish, tujuh lai surat – dia kirim salam saja?” she’d say.

One day, we received a newspaper cutting. Abang had made it into the Irish newspaper – he had won an award for one of his art pieces and Pak said, Alhamdulillah. He has made me proud of him.

The newspaper had mentioned Abang as Mr Othman, Othman being Pak’s name and that pleased Pak enormously.
He made one phonecall a year and we would wait nervously at Pak Tam's house - our rich uncle in that big bungalow at the end of the road. Needless to say, Mak cried away those precious few minutes when she heard her son's voice from across the high seas.

Abang is known as Abang to family and friends, young and old. I’m not surprised that some people did not know his real name.

On his return, he headed several departments and several government bodies, earning him a recognition from the state government. A photograph of him and Kak Piah with the medal is still hanging proudly in the old family house, now unoccupied as Mak is too weak and frail to live on her own there.

Nothing changed Abang. He was fun, he was full of jokes and pranks. Our family gatherings in the house that Pak built was always filled with laughter. We’d book space for our families at night. And Abang would book right in front of the TV. And most times, it was the TV watching him.

And right into the night, from our own little kelambu’s, we’d chat away until Tok cleared her throat signalling her displeasure. There'd be silence for a while until Tok went back to sleep.

When we were young, Abang would be the one Mak assigned to wake us up for sahur. Being the creative one, he’d try different tricks. One would be, drips of belacan water and if that wasn’t enough, salt water, into our gaping mouth, till we woke up. Then, if that failed, he’d draw moustaches and beard on our faces with his charcoal sticks.

Abang loves to cook. On his return to Alor Star, he’d head for the garden and gather the keladi and made sayur keladi. After his early morning trips to the market, he’d sit himself outside in Mak’s wet kitchen and prepare the fish for the grill. Then came the sambal belacan. Our household is famed for this and uncles and aunties and cousins would come by the droves and fill Mak’s big kitchen.

Even when Abang came to visit us in London, he’d take over the kitchen. He cooked when Mak was ill, to feed the continuous flow of visitors. But funny enough, he never cooked in his own kitchen. With arwah Kak Piah, they would eat at the stalls or bring back take aways. And he must be missing this, missing her company now that she is gone.

Today, Abang will be spending his birthday away from his siblings and families, his sons and grandson and Mak. He will be missing the great food that Kak Cik would have cooked for him had he been around. But, he’d be spending this day with memories of his wife fresh in his mind. For the last words he said to her before she drifted away was, ‘Go first and wait for me.’

Happy Birthday Abang. We are waiting for you, too. Love you very much.

40 comments:

anedra said...

He's got another signature dish, ITIK GOLEK. He'd take all the time in the world to sew the poor duck up with stuffings and what not. When Mak Lang was around she used to help him with his feats on the kitchen.

What a sight they were.

He'll be ok. Just give him time!
Happy Birthday to Pak Lang! And although we don't say it much, we love you!

atenah said...

he's lucky to have his wife
u r lucky to have him as an abg
know what, you ALL are lucky to have each other, ajie kapai, kak cik, anedra, one big blogging family. oooh so much love...

Ely said...

A very touching story kak Teh. I am sure abang will be ok.

d'arkampo said...

Teringat cerita Abang..Rahim Razali.

Balik kampung, terjun sungai, main rakit..so much fun.

Kak Teh would be like..

Nur Kumalasari.

drbubbles said...

ish kakteh ni,

pagi pagi dah buat kita terkelu!

atiza said...

kak teh..first class in making people cried early in the morning

OOD said...

so much emotions in the piece kak teh. Now i feel like i know him too..

Hope his trip this time is one that heals and when he comes back at the end of it, the abang that you remember and miss will come back too.

OOD said...

atenah, ya ka? semua tu satu family ka? oh.... now i know. Bahagianya! Bestnya!

Anonymous said...

you must be really proud to have a "special" brother like abang...& i'm sure he'll be proud of you too if he reads this entry...your description of him is just so beautiful.

if i can only write as well about my abang.

- ummi -

onde2 said...

touching kak teh..I'm gonna cry.

AuntyN said...

Happy Birthday To your Abang Kak Teh. Insyaallah he will be fine. So much love given and received here Kak Teh. You have such a talented family.

MA said...

Kak Teh : He sound like a true Abang in his own rights.

I can emphatise with his loss - the way my Dad felt when my Mak passed away.

Happy Birthday - Pak Abang.

narfnarf said...

inshaAllah, he'll be A ok.

amin.

faux diamante said...

TISSUEEEEEEEEEEE....!!!!

*sob sob*

Anonymous said...

happy birthday to 'abang' touching indeed..belinang air mata

k.safiah

Atok said...

surely abang will celebrate his birthday in the most unique way he never had before, and probably the most memorable one.

epy besdey... have fun in the sand.

zaireen said...

ohh...sooo touching...*tsk...tsk*

Sang Kelate said...

A very touching piece of writing indeed. Kak Teh, you are VERY lucky to have Abang. People with empathy will not shy to admit that this brings tears to their eyes.

From an 'Abangless' & 'Kakakless' blogger.

SK

nadya said...

hi kak teh,

my 1st time to add comment here.( im a big fan of your write ups..)

terkelu hati baca your entry today.
menitis gak air mata,remaind me of my own abang.

happy birthday to ur 'abang' and insyaAllah..he's going to be okay..

MakNenek said...

bergenang air mata bila baca cerita Abang kak teh...

MassyLassy said...

Kak Teh! Sungguh terharu! Apapun, kita Semua Mengucapkan Happy Birthday to your Abang!

imzadle said...

goes to show that true love goes a long way, despite all the obstacles and shortcomings. very touching indeed. i hope i would be blessed to be able to love like 'abang' did.

5xmom ~chanlilian.net~ said...

Kak Teh, nasib baik got chocolate to sooth my soul. I am so touched with Abang's life. I got a great abang myself who accompanied me in Std 1 till Std 3, in school, never leave always wait at the canteen. My father died, he gotta work in Ipoh. I ran back from school the first day my #2 abang dropped me. Imagine a 9 yrs old girl, running in tears for about 2KM, chasing that #2 bro on bicycle (he wasn't aware)? I dare not blog this 'cos #1 abang's daughter is reading my blog and I don't want to make my big bro cry knowing that he meant so much to me. I memang tak guna, tak berani nak admit openly that I love him for the care he gave me when I was small. Pray that I had the courage to express this one day.

Kak Teh said...

I would like to thank each and everyone of you for the very kind words for Abang.
anedra, yes, I can still picture them arguing in the kitchen.
atenah: I feel truly blessed that God has given me these wonderful relatives -
ely, yes, I pray to God that he will be okay.
kampo - dont let your imagination run!
Is - clowns dont cry!
atiza...sowwwy!!!

Kak Teh said...

OOD, yes, I felt quite drained after the outpouring of emotions. In fact, teruih demam. Yes, those bloggers are family - and tenah terlupa AG pulak tu!!
Ummi, I think he reads. My family reads all my writings and they all sebek2 -nangis2 bila baca.
Ondeonde...I wish I could do more fore him.
auntyN- like I said - syukur!
MA:Thanks for the kind words.
Ayu & Nazrah: thank you, thank you ...nak satu kotak tissue.
K Safea...that's my sister-inlaw's name tu...
atok, yes, for all u know - he is celebrating there with tarian gelek and all!! hehe
zaireen, thanks for visiting again.

Kak Teh said...

SK, seronok ada brothers and sisters like i have - we have so much fun together.
nadya - thanks for the comment. am sure most of our older brothers have some qualities like him. so dependable.
maknenek & mas: terima kaseyyyyy!!
imzadale - thanks for the visit and yes - he too is blessed with all these love for him
5Xmom - that is so so touching too. Let him know...if not with words - some sort of gesture. Am sure he will appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

baru habis baca 1st para , trus i tringat kat abg man..

rupa-rupanya betul lah u wrote about abg man, my arwah kak piah's hubby...

arwah kak piah is my cousin, rasa mcm baru saja jumpa dia, listening to her conversation wif my mom, discussing bout cancer since my mom pun got cancer...

there are soo.. much things i would like to say.. but...

to abg man, happy b'day... do take care of urself...

JM said...

Very touching. Thanks for sharing, kak teh!

Leen Ash Burn said...

*sniffs* I hope your Abang will be fine Kak Teh.

marlinabaharom said...

I'm touched by your story kak teh...salam.

anasalwa said...

kakteh,
a beautiful piece written by a loving sister. no matter how much support we get from family members, there are times we need to be by ourselves to grieve in our own ways, maybe that is what 'Abang" needs.

Kak Teh said...

anonymous: i wonder if we have met before.
jm, leen and marlina: am glad to share - it takes things off my chest
anasalwa, am sure u are right. h needs time away.

shidah said...

abang borek, adik rintik .... in term of your talents, I mean....

Ewok said...

tak leh nak komen hari tu masa baca first time. very touching indeed. you and ur siblings are lucky to have him as abang. there's so much love in him

Anonymous said...

shidah: thanks
ewok:, hmmm nah tissue!

Ms.B said...

I echo Atenah's comment. SUCH a loving family you have .. I actually envy all of you. May I be able to instill this into my own little family in future. :)

And you made me cry too!!! *SOBS*

kak cik said...

kak teh. . . has it ever occurred to you what would life be without him . . . .

It's going to be daaaammnnn sunyi!

Frankensteina said...

This post made me all teary eyed... :}

Anonymous said...

To Abang - Happy Birthday
To Kak Teh - We are blessed with so much love in this family and I guess this love comes from Mak who alway have kind words. Abang will be fine insyaallah.

Aida said...

Kak Teh,

Ur Abang is a neighbour of my parents and our family visited his on ur kak piah's passing. Condolences on your lost.

First time visitor.