Monday, 10 October 2005

A Small Malay Kampung by the A40

Taufiq didn’t really buy my story when I told him that I didn’t eat much ketam sambal at Holiday Villa. So, yesterday, he decided to go out on a crab hunt. He enlisted the help of his friend Sufian, and targetted Oriental supermarkets nearby which might have frozen crabs. Ita, Sufian’s mum phoned to say, yes, Chris – Ipoh mali - and owner of a supermarket nearby, do sell crabs but a pound more expensive than others. She even offered to make me crab masak lemak with nenas, to which I immediately agreed.

You see, this little town of ours has a small community of Malays from Singapore and Malaysia and exchanging food and enlisting help from one another are not uncommon. It is like a little Malay community. It used to be bigger. Ita, who used to live down the road from us, just moved away last year when her husband changed jobs, but not too far away...just down the A40, cross the road and she’s tucked somewhere behind a leafy neighbourhood that reminds me of Petaling Jaya.

Ita used to be a few doors away, and just across the road from her was another Malaysian family, but they have gone back to Malaysia. A few streets away, just by the A40 is Swan – her parents came here in the 60’s and she has been here ever since. Across the road from her, is the family we have adopted – the one from Singapore, who used to look after our children – kakak and abang. They were the reason we moved here. Quite near the tube station, another family. They too sent their children there on our recommendation. There you go..a ready made Malay kampung!

It was good when Ita was around. It meant that when she made Laksa Kedah, there’d be a generous bowl for me. And of course, we deposit Taufiq at her place when we couldn’t come back in time and she’d do the same too. In fact, throughout her pregnancy, which was quite frequent, when she couldn’t cook, I’d do a take away service and leave them for her children. When we were short of belacan or asam keping, Ita’s was the place to go, cos she has loads of supply from home. She is never short of ikan kering and she’d gladly trade this for my mee goreng mamak.

Oh, just behind our place, is Man and Syikin and daughter Aliya from Singapore. They too moved here because they shared our kakak for a while and then had Ita to look after Aliya for a while too. It is really good having Man and Syikin nearby and now they are moving away because as Aliya is growing up, her educational needs become their priority. They will be moving to a place closer to a nursery which is quite cheap but good and nearer to their work place. Man helps me out with my editing once or twice.

So, yesterday, with the crabs that Taufiq and Sufian bought, I decided on a repeat performance of crab sambal and invited Man, Syikin and Aliya over. They came with some roti jala and kari ayam and we all sat on the floor Malay kampung style and ate with our fingers tanpa segan silu lagi!

It’ll be sad to see them leave the neighbourhood, but we know we’d still meet and visit each other. Their’s is one of a few houses that we visit. I will miss seeing Aliya outside my house playing with the cats. She always insisted that they stop by on their way home so that she could pat the cats. Its a nice small community - we don't live in each other's pockets - there'd be months of not seeing each other, but we know we'd be there for each other when the need arises.

The other family I used to visit is the one next to Ita’s. A loving closeknit family. I used to meet the husband on the number seven bus home late at night. He after his cake making classes and me, after my – whatever work I was doing. It was a few Ramadans ago, that I used to frequent their place – they wanted me to prepare their children for Malay language exams for when they return.

They were such a loving couple – not young, but it was always a pleasure watching them walking down the road to do their shopping, hand in hand, all the time. And just when they thought they were done with having children, the eldest being in his twenties, she got pregnant and they were so over the moon with the arrival of the little one. But, it wasn't long that she learnt she had the Big C...but still they walked hand in hand down the road to do their shopping together.

Two weeks ago, I received an SMS from a friend. She’s gone. The Big C had taken her away from her loving family and the little baby will grow up not having his loving mother by his side. I don’t know whether he will remember her. I hope he does for I can still see the glow on her face as she held her baby close to her.

Now, walking down the road, in my mind’s eyes I still see them walking hand in hand, pulling their shopping trolley up The Fairway. Al Fatihah.

45 comments:

bergen said...

Yours is one of the blogs I've bookmarked as guide to good writing.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,
I love crab too, so I understand your cravings. This morning, I was so moved about the story of your friend who died of Big C - al-fatihah.

Farah Nizam

Lydia Teh said...

KT, Kesian the baby who has to grow up without Mama. I hope Papa and older siblings' love will make up for it somewhat.

anedra said...

Alfatihah. So sad...I'm sure the baby will somehow remember the mother kan? Why the Big C??Why??

Anonymous said...

sedih betul baca nieh.
kak z i hope the baby grows up to remember his mum, if his dad tells him lots abt her. one of my nephews lost his dad when he was a baby, now he keeps asking us, how is he, what he's like etc.

-rafthah-

Kak Teh said...

Bergen, thank you.
Farah, thanks and yes - it is sad.
Lydia, I am sure the baby will have all the love - they were so , so loving.

anedra - yes, why indeed? no one's life seems to be untouched by the big C.
raftah..memang kesian, tapi I am one hundred per cent sure, the baby will not lack love and care.

AuntyN said...

Kak Teh it is so sad for the couple. At least he the husband is loving and caring. The baby will have his/her memory to cherish.

But for the nurse's children? I really hope they are not traumatise.

EM&EM said...

AlFatihah for your friend who died of Big C.

nour said...

Alfatiha....

Uja said...

You know wat KakTeh, when the baby reads this blog he will at least get a piece of a memory that his late mum created. What a nice thought.

Malay kampung it is! Is Kakak and Abang the parents of the nice lady with the cute kid who came to my place when you were here?

Pls send salam to Syikin for me.

Kak Teh said...

auntyN - yes..its a sad irony of life , isnt it? I have yet to read the story about the nurse. I wish I can get my hands aorund the husband's throat!
em and nour - thank you for the doa.
uja - yes - he will grow up knowing he came from a loving family. Insyaallah will kirim yur salam to syikin and yes, kakak and abang are the grandparents of the cute little boy running around your place that afternoon of my visit!!

mobilemom said...

Kak Teh,

I got your sms on the crab thingy. Now my keyboard dah ok. Balik Malaysia memang nak pekena ketam puas puas.

Anyway, I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I know, it's hard to deal with illness like the Big C. It has always been the most difficult part of my life and that is declaring my war with the Big C. Some are lucky enough to survive it and some are not. My MIL is one of those who survived for 14 years. She is still healthy and going strong. I supposed that is why my husband is really determine to find a cure for me even know the uncertainty is there.

We take one day at a time. A child losing a parent at that very young age is sad especially a mother's love, effection etc.. That's why I'm determine to fight for the sake of my children and husband. They have always been the key of my inspiration and the strength to fight this Big C. Please send my condolence to your friend's husband. As I feel for him and his family. Be strong.

Kak Teh said...

Mobile Mom, your courage and your strength have been such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your fight with us and we, in return offer you our doa's.

Nadia said...

kak teh, I was smiling when I started reading...but then ...goosebumps came and then sorrow.....inna lillaahi wa inna ilaihi raa ji'oon.

My mum was touched by the big C too years ago. She got better alhamdulillah. You know, recently Hurrican Rita hit the gulf area of the US. I have a friend in Houston Texas. She and family didn't get to evacuate but alhamdulillah the hurricane moved further to the east so they were spared heavy damage. But there was another Muslim family who did get to evacuate to Waco TX. So when the hurricane passed, they drove back to Houston, but they got into an accident. Husband, two children passed away, wife in coma. Shows that when it's time, nothing can stop it. One would think the hurricane would be the imminent threat but accident instead. Gives me goosebumps..sometimes I think...would I rather die slowly or quickly but on high impact. ish...if even the prophet SAW's death was agonizing..apa lagi kita ni. Let's just pray we have a good end insyaallah..when it comes.

hugs

AdieJin said...

sedih...lost fer words.

Hari said...

Beautiful story!

CikNi said...

kak teh, kita tak tahu 'time' kita nanti macam manalah agaknya.....

Jane Sunshine said...

Kak Teh, I am saddened by this.

Ely said...

lagi kak teh nih ckp pasal ketam lah. aiyoh, sini belum ketam season yet (mahal sekarang), maybe in a mth or so. but for now, i berangan ketam jer ler.

cili crab cili crab cili crab (thats me chanting myself to sleep).

ubisetela said...

I love crab too! my 1st request to Mak when I went home last June was 'nak makan ketam'.*drooling*

A sad ending. AlFatihah to arwah.

Kak Lady said...

al-fatihah buat yang pergi..kehilangan mereka yang kita sayangi...adalah satu kesedihan yang tidak terungkap...

Lollies said...

it always happen to lovely people and good mum. I hope the baby grows up knowing the fact that he had a loving mother.

Kak Teh can you elaborate the part that they ask you to prepare for their children's Malay language exam

kaezrin said...

crab sambal yummylicious..

alfatihah to ur friend

mumsgather said...

You made me want to cry. The big C took my mum away too. I was the youngest of the brood at 10. Mum had just one year from diagnosis till the time she had to leave us but as a mother myself now, I think the hardest part for her was not the physical pain but the emotional pain of leaving her family behind. So sad for your friend and the loving image you conjured up. At least the baby will not be lack of love.

Kak Teh said...

Nadia, am so glad your mum is better. and am so sorry abt your friends. Sure, we cant tell how and when we are going and just pray that we meet Him in iman.
cik ni - tu lah..harap2 masa kita akan senang dan dalam iman.
jane - yes...and good to see you here.

Kak Teh said...

ely and ubi setela - yes, we now have crabs coming ot of our ears. thanks for the doa.
kak lady, thanks for visiting and kind words.
lollies - part of my job here is to teach malay - am also teaching malay and many parents want their children to be refamiliarise with the language sebelum balik.
kaezrin .terima kasih.
mumsgather - am sorry abt your mum and am sorry to remind you of the pain. but it makes us appreciate each other more, right?

bergen said...

Sure thing, Kak Teh. Hook me up to sentraalstation or any station you wish.

BQ said...

*sob* Such a beautiful story, kak teh. I was so moved. *sob* And alfatheha to your friend. Maybe Allah swt has other plans for the baby.

Ms.B said...

I'm numb..

minah blur said...

Kak Teh - Al Fatihah to your friend

Kesian baby tuh, I wish the father strength to raise their children especially the little one

fatihah said...

this reminds me of the classic;

pulau pandan jauh ke tengah
gunung daik bercabang tiga
hancur badan dikandung tanah
budi yg baik dikenang juga

perginya Bonda menghadap Pencipta
insyaAllah di kalangan yang beriman dirinya
bg yg tinggal kasih Allah tetap bersama
mudahan tetap tabah dan redha

and komen pasal ketam laks.. hhmmm.. leceh tapi sedap. heh.

RedKebaya said...

Alfatihah & dua's to ur friend's family KT... it's hard but life must go on.

semoga di limpah ketenangan, kekuatan dan kasih sayang.

faux diamante said...

the attitude that we do try to adopt is to consider the big C as one way to give one's life a major overhaul, spiritually especially. however no words can best describe how scary it has become.esp if the big C has taken away way too many good ppl from us.When it hits closest to home, even talking about it is so difficult.
Allah knows best.

anggerik merah said...

Kak Teh, the last story is very sad. Semuga Roh nya dicucuri rahmat. The boy still have his father and other siblings

Mutiara said...

So many sad stories concerning Cancer. I am lost for words. Hope arwah bersama orang-orang yang disayangi Allah.

ibuVouge said...

Kak Teh
ketam,
puas cari petang tu, xde gak...yang ada pun dah lemik..xpe ni dah 8 ramdhan, a few day to go tu bulan penuh,minta la sempat sebelum deliver.ehe
kalau Kak Teh dekat..boleh sampai satu mangkuk

baby and mama
sedihkan..InsyaALLAh ALLAH mudahkan kehidupan dia

atiza said...

Al Fatihah..may Allah bless her soul

me said...

masa I lost my friend who died of Big C 2 years back, I just gave birth to my daughter, and I had so much fear, worries of how my daughter would live without knowing me, everyday when I leave her for school, I would think, this could be the last moment seeing her. At the same time, I had fear of what will my state iman be when I malaikat maut come... and to me the later is the most scarry, cause I can never return to ammend my faults/mistakes. But for my daughter I believe, she will be in great care of Allah.

Anonymous said...

kak z, totallyy out of topic,
just realised you're reading small island currently, bagus dak? I keep coming across the book, want to get it but have doubts he he he he.

-rafthah-

lion3ss said...

Al fatihah. I hope the baby will grow up remembering the mama as a wonderful woman you described..

dr in the house said...

I used to feel pity for those living abroad thinking that you don't have the luxury of local delicacies. How wrong was I, huh!

Nice to hear that you've got that small niche there.

May your friend get Allah's blessings and may He protect us from the big C

OOD said...

kak teh,
sad. I dont know what to say. How old is the baby?

elisa said...

mak cik kak teh

boleh link elisa punya blog dekat sentral station

anasalwa said...

Kak Teh,
Doa and alfatihah for the mother. How young is the babby now?
Speaking of laksa, is laksa kedah similar to laksa penang?

Kak Teh said...

thank you all for the doa's. The baby must be about three now I think.and he is very lucky to have a very loving family.
as for the ketam..hehehe - so sos sorry to test you at this time! ujian ramadan!
anasalwa..laksa - selalunya laksa penang usually ada nenas - and lain sikit drp laksa kedah. I prefer laksa kedah.
raftah - the book is a unputdownable! - funnya nd sad..yes - i recommend this to all who wants a good read.