Wednesday, 11 October 2006

One Iftar, one Ramadan

I never forget a face.

The young girl who came out of the surau and gave me a cheerful salam looked so familiar that for a while I was somewhat distracted from performing my asar prayers. She had that sweet and engaging smile. But something was missing from that smile, something that could be the clue that I needed to pinpoint her identity.

I forgot about her briefly as I rushed to the refectory for iftar but as I was queuing for my date, I was greeted by the same familiar smile. And from that moment and before the call for maghrib, I wrecked my brain trying to put the face to a name. Usually I am very good with names. I have a knack for recognising voices, faces and mannerisms. This one mysterious smile defied me and I needed to find a way to ask her without being so obvious.

I remember the time when I was queuing up for my registration at the university, and was drawing imaginary motifs with my foot when I noticed a pair of fine slender legs firmly planted in a pair of shoes most students can’t afford to buy. I followed those legs right up to her face and almost immediately, I was able to place the famous face, which usually graced the gossip columns of tabloids and Hello magazine on account of being the estranged wife of a certain party leader and then gf of a certain dashing film star. But I had to be sure. The only way to do it was to start a conversation.

Feigning ignorance, I asked her whether we were in the right queue. She had a very posh accent and that nearly confirmed my suspicion. She said, “Yes, if you are a returning student, we are in the right queue.” I proceeded to introduce myself and she said, “I’m Jem*m*” and I continued looking as blur as sotong, as some would say, discussing the courses we were taking, in spite of the fact that the people at the registration desk were nudging each other, passing notes and eyeing her from top to bottom.

I could try that trick again with this mysterious girl but I had to act fast and direct. So I said, “You look familiar,” to which she replied with a question,”Are you from Malaysia, because my mother is from Malaysia.” Now, that offer of information was all I needed. But I continued and said “I am so and so” to which she replied, I am F”.

It could have been the effect of fasting, and it could have been the date, but I looked straight into her eyes and said, “No, you are not F, you are S,” The sweet smile still lingered at the corner of her mouth as she insisted that she was F. I stood my grounds and insisted that she was S. My children would have strangled me with their bare hands if they were around to witness such display of audacity. Finally her face fell and she said, “Alright, I am S”.

And with that we performed our maghrib, during which I thanked God that I had at last found her. I had known this sweet young girl since she was 12. We had both changed. I was of course very much older. She had grown to be a very beautiful young lady. We had both donned the hijab since we last saw each other.
She wouldn't have guessed I'd be back at university. She only knew me as a hack hounding for news of her whereabouts. And I would never have guessed that she'd come to my uni to do another degree. She didnt need it, or so I thought.
S was catapulted to fame because she was a gifted child who was accepted by Oxford Uni at an age when most children were still giggly and silly. She didn’t invite publicity but the press, including me, were at her doorsteps all the time. I spent a day with the unusually gifted family and came home and appreciated my children even more because at 12 they still had their childhood. S on the other hand didn’t have any friends except for children older than her that she tutored in Maths or those she played tennis with. She didn’t know any pop stars or pop groups and didnt play with pokemon. Even at uni, she couldn’t really adjust with life at campus, she couldn’t go to students gig or do’s like the rest of the students who were older than her. She was chaperoned everywhere.

Anyway, during her uni years, we left her alone at the request of the university but as if meticulously planned, after her final papers she disappeared and hit the headlines again. We were back on her doorsteps searching for answers for her disappearance. I even wrote her several emails to no avail. She only replied to the Daily Mail exposing a family drama no one suspected before. She explained her reasons for leaving in a manner so uncharacteristic of an obedient and faithful child. But the year she stayed away, she rediscovered her childhood, she discovered friends and she found love.

I remember my meeting with S that fateful day in Ramadan two years ago, as I broke my fast at the uni again today. It was a very matured and confident S who I met on the way to the surau that day. One who had chosen to go back and reclaim her childhood. It was that confident smile that threw me off my tracks.

You see, I never forget a face.

68 comments:

Ordinary Superhero said...

Oh that one! Now I remember.

At one time I thought you were talking about Jemima Khan...:)

Kak Teh said...

OSH, you are right. One is indeed JK. The other one, I think you know too - she was in the news a lot those days.

mama irma said...

Kak Teh,
I got goose pimple when you mentioned your meeting with THE Jemima!! I heard she had porcelain skin, betui ka? And the S, I'm happy for her too. It was a family scandal here in Malaysia once upon a time.....

rotidua said...

Jemima?! seriously. Pergh I would have melted.. no. I would just stand admiring her flawless face.

I don't know who is S. isk.

mommy@lif said...

photographic memory you have. wahh k teh nih asyik la jumpa high profile figures!

i think i remember S's achievements.. masuk prime news & news then...

sue said...

Jemima is one of my fav public figure, does she hav the same aura as lady D?

Hope S gain what she have been looking for, childhood memory should be full of colours, not just books and books :-)

bisutulibuta said...

Wahhh..me so very adore Jemima..Eh I also know who S is. S was in London last week on a working tour. S tu Samy Vellu kan ? I tot I saw him on TV the other day.

pu1pu3 said...

I remember S. Kesian dia.
Ah...jemima..

tee said...

i remember it well too. the fame and the runaway. alhamdulillah, to know that she's ok. the petty and innocent face.. :)

Nazrah said...

every kid deserves a childhood...am glad to know she's doing alright.

perihal JK, aduh lahh cantiknya diaaaaaaa...

alinlai said...

yezzarrrr...chek tau sapa S ni. Baguslah kalau dah OK...kesian juga kat dia :(

wonda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wonda said...

I, not only forget names tapi cam salah orang pulak! It makes me want to bury my head in the sand like an ostrich. Dulu,
yang lagi dahsyat ialah cam salah anak dan marah anak tu pulak! Budak tu same height, same haircut, same color T-shirt, and standing beside me masa tu. Mak dan anak Jepun itu terbingung saja. Lari kuat-kuat saya after apologising! Nasib baik tak kena dimarah!

Kak Teh said...

Mama irma, Yes the J had the poshest accent and her voice was eerily like the late D. As for S, yes am happy for her too.
rotidua, I couldnt stare too much as she would suspect - she was already looking very nervous because people atthe registration counter were staring at her. As for S - well, think back of stories abt runaway child genius .

mommy@alif, it happened only abt 2years ago - and I remember it so well because i was so excited and wanted to tell everyone -phoned friends and noone was around. As for S, i promised her I wouldnt write abther for the newspaper at that time.

Kak Teh said...

sue, it is funny similar they are. she and the late D. It was eerie - I had seen the late D at a garden party at the palace a long time ago and yes, I must say the voice, the mannerisms, the shy sideway glances.

BTB - yes, that S was also in London - but hehehe - it is not that S that I was talking abt. And stop drooling over J.
Puteri, Yes, I believe S did the right thing to go and reclaim her childhood.

Kak Teh said...

tee, ya, I often wondered how she coped with all that media attention when she was still so young.


nazrah, perihal J - she was my friend's lecture mate. And I had bumped into her a couple of times in the library and because th emedia had written abt her going back to studies in that uni..everyone knew abt it.

alinlai - dia sekarang dah kawin.

Kak Teh said...

wonda@alice, I am sp so so sorry that i laughed so much when i read this. Saya ketawa tergolek-golek. Alice tak cam tak apa sebab alice ada good excuse! nasib baik tak lari langgar tiang lampu!

ruby said...

Hi Kak Teh,

Here we go again...incognito via alphabets..ha ha. Woo Hoo...J! Terror nya. Dapat caka lagi. Dia memang sama aura with D.

Ooh S! I guess there is hikmah in everything that happened to us, no matter how we deem them, good or bad. In S's case it probably make her view life better now and perhaps appreciate life even more. Happier girl I'm sure.

And to think someone thought it was Samy Velu (memang lah dia tahu tu)..duh! Tergelak beso oghang (orang) Peghak (Perak) kata!

UglyButAdorable said...

oohh..itu jemima sungguglah ayu gitu..kak teh u got guts laa..i wud have just stared at her like others..now i know wht to do..

as for S, yes i remembered her..many things happen and see in my life that made me really appreciate my childhood kak teh..it wasn't all good..bad not too bad either..i am wht i am because of my childhood..

wonda said...

Oh Kak Teh, don't fall your chair, ya! "Emak" borek, anak rintek, in my case. In a DIY store, my son cam salah bapa pulak! He went to hold a man's hand and called him papa because he was wearing the same watch. Aiya.. my 1st kes - salah anak. 2nd kes - In a bookstore, I cam salah suami pulak - tapping a man's shoulder and calling that man "Papa" (that's what I call my hubby now). This "Papa" also wore the same color T-shirt and short pants. I can still remember the surprise look and the "controlled laugh" on his face. Nasib baik I didn't hold that man's hand! Tapi.... belum ada kes cam salah bini lagi! Phew!

marsha said...

On the surface, they appear to have it all...beauty, inteligence, money, popularity, family...etc. Then again...you lose a big portion of your life that if you don't catch it, will be lost forever. Childhood memories.

Tapi seriously, I don't know what I'd do if...I say IF lah kan....I had her brain and beauty. Sure mati standing.

may said...

must be fate for both of you to meet again. isn't it a wonder how we bump into our past when we least expect it?

good for S!

Anonymous said...

Kakteh, I remember watching the news about 'S' but it is now a very vague memory.
You must be pleased that you met her and that she has found a new her, perhaps a happier 'S' who has found the real meaning of life.

wonda said...

Kak Teh,
Wish I knew who J and S are. Had no clue and lost touch with the local news.

LifeBloom said...

KT, was J was doing the same course with you ka? About S - glad to hear that she is okay. Must have been awful for her to go through all that at such a young age.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,

Yes I do pity S when I read about her sad plight years ago. I remember her name as it's also my second daughter's name. Happy to know that she has regained her childhood. Thanks for sharing. As always Kak Teh, your entries are ever engaging! And am sorry to hear abour your mom. Take care!

wonda said...

Ah, Kak Teh, I ini macam katak di bawah tempurung. Sekarang I tau siapa itu S. Kesianlah dia but glad that she is happier now.

Anonymous said...

we never know what berkat Ramadan has in store for us. hearing how others have lost something should make us be more shukur for what we have. glad that she found what she missed.

(lovely collection of blogs by the way)

Kak Teh said...

Ruby, this time I had no choice but to resort to alphabets..haha! But in spite of them, people still know who S is - and i dont mean S V!!!

UbA, Yes, I think we owe a lot to the we we were brought up. And I am not saying thatthe way S was brought up was wrong, but as parents sometimes we try to give them the best - and personally too I dont know whatis the best.
Wonda, I have a related story - My brother in law took my sisterto the pasar - waitedin the carwhile she went off to buy something. My sister rushed down from the pasar, got into a waiting car..turned round - and saw that itwas not her husband!!! Her husband had moved his car forward and both she and the Chinese man screamed!

Kak Teh said...

Marsha - I think there should be a fine balance. And to lose one's childhood is a sad thing.

Judy, yes, i was so happy that I found her and we kept in touch while we both at uni meeting in the surau and also for breaking of fast.

Lifebloom, oh no! I was doing Traditional Malay Lit and she was doing studies in Near Middle East, I think. My friend was in the law class with her.

Kak Teh said...

DITH, everyone's heart went out to her when it happened. I supposed we sort of saw that it was going to happen. Thank you for kind words.


Wonda, aha - now you know. Well, I too am not quite in touch with certain developments but this happened here.

Bahan kelabu, thank you for your wise words and welcome to my humble blog.

wonda said...

Haha ! Sorry, Kak Teh, now is my turn to ketawa bergolek-golek! My "papa" pernah open the wrong car's door with his key but luckily tak ada orang dalam kereta, not so badlah!

Mama Rock said...

kak teh, you met jemima! i would be dumbstruck! baru jumpa anuar zain pun mama dah jadi cam tongue tied - seriously tak rock!

yup, read about S, good that she fares better now

JoKontan said...

As I was reading this post, sentence by sentence,. (sapalak S and J nii), satu habok pun tak tau.

Kondian, as I was reading the comments, Baru lah teringat sikit-sikit, kelabu kelabu asap. Haa, some child prodigy. Main tennis.

Once pokcik BTB hit it with SV, baru macam tersedar dari mimpi dengan keunikannya itu. :-)

Later, when DITH mentioned it S is the same name with her daughter, baru lah cerita ini unfold. Ingatan yang samar datang cerah kembali.


Whoa very engaging indeed !!. Sure lawar Mak Melayu, bapak Pakistan nii. Or,.. is it Bangladesh. ?

Erk !!! Mak Melayu Bapak Bangladesh tuu, Imad, anak Ailin..


Kak Teh mintak mahap panjang pulak rapuan Petang Khomis nii...Semalam Sahur ayaq sejok saja.

~ GAB ~ said...

You are lucky to have all the opportunities meeting famous people Kak Teh. Anyway, if ladies love JK, guys will be more than that.

Any opportunities to exchange words over forum or sth with that genius kid?

Erkk...GAB tumpang gelak with the story by WONDA... that's funny, you should be on TV WONDA...

wonda said...

To Gab,
Wakakakaka!! Kalau ada offer, I'm on. Rangkaian apa? Astro kah? Tapi must tarik Kak Teh's sister along too if she doesn't mind. Ada cerita lucu lagi, tapi panjangnya kalau tulis dalam komen.

oj said...

You sure meet some interesting people kakteh :-)

I read about S when the story broke a few years back, kesian dia. Sometimes I think to be so gifted is a curse, rather than a blessing.

Manal said...

KT,

And how fortunate that dastardly HG to be able to charm the knickers off those like EH-estee lauder matured model and JK-Goldsmith.

Poor S. I met her parents and youngest sista 5 years ago. Her mother has this strong personality and she said all that had happened was, no matter how numbing it was, a painful eye-opener. She seemed to remain persistant on how systematic she has raised her kids with her husband what with all the sacrifices they have made.

Kak Teh said...

Wonda - you must blog abt all these!!

Mama rock, in my business it doesnt help to be dumbstruck. Masa interview Imran Khan tu adalah lebutlutut sikit, tapi masih mantain cool!

Jo, hahaha - funny lah you ni - tak apa - boleh jadi guest blogger di blog kak teh.

gab - it is all in the line of duty. tapi kadang-kadang tu terserempak juga.

Kak Teh said...

OJ - lama tak nampak! Yes, adalah masa-masanya terjumpa dengan yang interesting. I think thatmakes journalism interesting - not one day is the same. As for S - yes - being gifted can be a curse. I did a documentary on gifted children and interviewed some child psychologists who feel that some of them might not be that successful in life.

Manal, yes, I have watched halimaton teaching them. I think she did it the fun way.

ubisetela said...

I remember reading about S, and for sometime I was trying to recall what S is in full.. duk ingat Salma, Semek (which obviously not the one). Finally I got it!

Sunflora said...

Re J: Hahah Kakteh awat tak tanya if she still believes in marriages and if so when will she be inviting you to her wedding? ;)

Re S: What is she taking as her 2nd degree? I'm assuming Mathematics as her 1st.

I'm so glad to hear that she is a happier person now. Alhamdullilah.

Kak Teh said...

Ubi,good you've got it!

sunflora - I think she was doing economics - yes, maths was her first.
as for J - the only thing i wanted to ask was, when she had time to do her dissertation!

wonda said...

Kak Teh,
Thinking about S reminds me of the movie "Little Man Tate" - a good lesson to learn about child prodigy. Oops, minta maaf... I got carried away with my so many comments. Was too excited over my first time to comment in your blog. To me, Kak Teh orang terkenal! Kalau salah komen, minta maaf ya!

MA said...

You - gasp! - interviewed IMRAN KHAN ????

I had a pin-up of him over my bed in my college and used to drool over him ( as a matter of fact, still drooling now *wink*)

~ahni~ said...

nice story

mak aji said...

S is married now kan Kak Teh? What about the rest of her siblings? Don't they feel that they are missing or losing their childhood too?

Kak Teh said...

Wonda, never mind - lebih banyak lebih meriah!!

MA, I 'did' him during the anti Iraq War protest march. Susah woi nak control cool!

ahni, terima kasih.

mak aji, ya, kak teh telah diperkenalkan kepada suami dia. Yang lain tu kak teh rasa doing okay. Yang bongsu pun dah pass periksa pada umur sangat awal.Kak teh pun tak keep in touch with the family.

kak elle said...

Asm kak Teh and selamat berpuasa dan menyambut hari raya.Yes I remember S very well the story lah.I am glad she is happy and returning to uni again.I hope her relationship with the family is back to normal.

Kak Teh said...

kak elle or shd i call you elle, Alhamdulillah, i think they are all fine. Thanks for the visit.

Kak Elle said...

Kak Teh I think I lebih senior dari you but age doesn't matter kan?

Kak Teh said...

elle, no age is just a number and it is all in the mind. Did you get my email?

Kak Elle said...

kak teh I've reply to your email and let see if I am right .. hehe

Kak Elle said...

KT I've added you to my link

Kak Teh said...

kak elle, thanks and yes, I received yr mail and yes - I admit that u are right. And allow me to link you at sentraal, okay?

maklang said...

Kak Teh...maklang blur..sampai habis baca , still tak click siapa S tu...

Tooolonggggg...

Kak Teh said...

Mak Lang, rasanya mak lang kena hantar emel lah. hehehe yang lucunya - semua orang yang baca tahulah Mak Lang, walaupun tak disebut nama.

Pak Tuo said...

Salam Kak Teh,

hai Kak Teh,

Lepas Raya ni ramailah yang kena pinang....
Sofiah tu dah ada B/F Kak Teh?
Jemima Goldstein Imran Khan masih solo Kak Teh?
'Only the Falcon flock with Falconies' Kak Teh

Tuanku dah tanya????

kakakakakak.........

Wasalam

Kak Elle said...

Kak Teh :)cuma kita aje yg faham eh and thank you for linking me at sentraal.Selamat hari raya kalau buat kuih byk2 hantar lah sedikit kat sini:)

MULAN said...

haven't heard about S for so long. ni tang ni baru lah tau. glad that S's doing alright. apa2 yang dah terjadi tu ada hikmahnya.. tapi kesian dia..

simah said...

U never forget a face? caya la kak teh...

but the blurry memory must be due to ur age* wink* heheheheh

it is good to hear she has reclaimed her childhood..how ca u grow up without a childhood? hmm..

Salam Aidilfitri utk Akak n family..
Maaf Zahir dan Battin

Kak Teh said...

Pak Tuo, yes, she is married. and abt JK - i dont know her status at the moment.


kak elle - tak pandai masak kueh!!!

mulan, thanks for dropping by.

Simah, selamat hari raya to you too. No, i didnt have a blurry memory - it happened only two years ago.

KC said...

Kak Teh,
Alhamdulillah S is doing alright.
Whoaaaa...Jemima...iskh iskh iskh...kalau sayalah sebelah dia masa tu, pengsan dah 10 X kot! LOL!

Selamat hari raya to you and family kak Teh! (hope it's not too early to wish)..takut nanti terlupa.

Kak Teh said...

kc, selamat hari raya to you too. Actually, Mrs JK tu macam biasa saja masa kat campus. Tak overdress or bermakeup - so, kalau kita tak perasaan - memang tak tau. I dont think she wanted to draw attention to herself. But orang yang keliling dia yang excited..hehe!

Arena said...

I hope S is foing alright..Kesian noo kalau tak dak child hood nih..

Kak Teh said...

rena, Insyaallah, she will be okay.

Ferdy said...

Oh My GOD!
She all over the news today. What went wrong????

Kak Teh said...

ferdy, ony GOd knows. let's hope she is alright.