Friday, 16 February 2007

Love in the Autumn Years II

It was 14th February 2007 and I was in the grand surroundings of a stately home somewhere in the outskirts of London tucked away among clusters of quaint English villages along the M25. It is a grand imposing building built in 1883 and had survived the war. It's beautifully decorated walls have been witnesses to so many interesting happenings but that day I left with one story that made my day.
We were in the opulent surrounding of a room specially built for Queen Victoria. The ceiling, I was told, was painted with real gold paint. It has an Oriental feel because Queen Victoria liked it but sadly never visited it. But that day in that room I met a couple with a precious story to share with me.
For all of his seventy odd years or so, he was still the perfect officer and a gentleman. She was slightly built, dressed in a suit befitting an officer's wife. Her Oriental genes saw to it that she didn't look her age although she admitted she is a few years older than him.
They met while he was serving out there in Malaya and the nineteen year old lad from Berkshire fell hopelessly in love with the Chinese lass serving him from behind the counter. A whirlwind romance in turbulent times but they decided to get married in England. She packed her belongings, said farewell to her only aunt and boarded the ship bound for the London Docks.
There must have been many anxious moments as the ship sailed in sometimes turbulent waters matching her anxiety; the prospect of a new life in a foreign land, the thoughts of meeting her in-laws-to-be for the first time and all sorts of other 'what ifs' that intruded her thoughts during the long lonely nights in her cabin. During the day, it wasn't too bad as there were many other Chinese passengers she had befriended during the voyage.
He, in the meantime, had flown back to await the arrival of his bride-to- be from the East.
As she stepped out on to the gangway after the ship had docked, an officer in a bluish uniform rushed forward and swept her off her feet and began kissing her, ignoring her protests. Her Chinese companions too had protested, hitting him and telling him that that wasn't the 'done' thing! When he finally put her down, she breathlessly asked him who he was, as she didn't recognise him at all in this new surroundings.
The plans to get married didn't go as smoothly as the voyage; there was still much resistance from in-laws who didn't think marriage to a foreigner from out there would last.
"Today, on Valentine's Day," he said as he toasted his drink to his smiling wife, "we have proved them wrong. We are still married after more than 50 years and we have grand children. And she is still as lovely as ever," at which point I shamelessly let out a loud sob!
Last night, we were back at our weekly tazkirah and I was feeling a tad melancholic. Most of the surau mates are oldies like us; familiar faces at terawikhs, tahlils and religious discussions. There were many new comers and many young faces; students who wouldn’t miss the weekly gathering to hear the wise words of our young ustaz.
Last night, I felt almost like an invisible observer watching the goings on in that small room. I watched a friend chatting with my husband. And suddenly his head tilted a little to the direction of a familiar cheerful voice. His wife had entered the room, having arrived early from her work place to join us. During the previous weeks, this being winter, she could only make it to the gathering when we were done with our Isya prayers, and she was only in time to gently guide her husband up the stairs and across the road to their car. She has been his trusted pair of eyes during these last few years since his eyesight began to deteriorate. She edits his writings for he is a fervent and prolific writer. And that made me think, how much more we depend on each other during these autumn years. How much more we feel the need to be each other’s eyes and ears, to share more than just the odd pair of reading glasses .
So, we can only offer our syukur to Allah for blessing us with our companions. Some, like one other surau mateI have known all my life here, managed only a few years together before her husband was taken away after a sudden illness. Her picture of her young self in kebaya and kain ketat remains on her shelf next to one of her and her beloved. She accompanied him here as he needed to finish his studies. But his illness took him away. To this day, she could not face the reality of leaving the land where he is buried. Going home for good, would be like abandoning him. So, to this day she devotedly tends to his grave, pulling out the weeds and making sure it is clean. She once spoke to me about returning home for good, but I doubt it. Her love for the one who left her some twenty odd years ago, is still intact and strong. She will stay on to be with him.
Two weeks ago, she told me, she didn't even have the chance to reply him, when he uttered his final 'I love you' .

30 comments:

edelweiss said...

sambung lagi kak teh...pls pls....well they really proved its worth to risk everything to be together kan...

pokmang said...

kak teh,
inikah yang dimaksudkan,

gunung sanggup kudaki
lautan sanggup kuredahi
demi cinta ini.......

ps: tanya abg AG...betul tak?

Hi&Lo said...

Kak Teh,

Oooh, you sobbed out of joy for their happiness.

k.d said...

Oh gosh...lovely..wonderful..an epic of love! True love indeed.

strawberry shortcake said...

pls continue kak teh, ni mcm kes "you jump i jump" saja...
i'm always a sucker for all things romantic (i love Keanu-Sandra's The Lake House)

wonda said...

Kak Teh,
A romantic movie ran in my mind as I scrolled down and then ...... INTERVAL! Suspense saja!

Hi&Lo said...

Encore! encore!

FireHorse said...

oh please do continue, this is very very romantic, but I might be late coming back since its CNY eve and got to clean house, but I will be back.
Kak Teh, Judy's closing her blog so I am asking her friends like wonda & ilene, to keep me inform as to her well being from time to time, can I ask that of you too? I dunno what else to do :o(

tokasid said...

Salam to kak teh and all.

Asam di gunung garam di laut
Dalam kuali bertemu jua....

Kak Teh said...

edel, there's no doubt at all abt it.

pokmang, betui tu...

hi&lo, sobs of happiness, yes!

k.d. memang boleh buat movie cerita depa!

strawberry shortcake, alas the continuation is not abt them, but i hope it is something we can all appreciate.

Kak Teh said...

wonda, sorry after the interval, it was a new story but same theme tho!

hi&lo, encore? yes, another 50 years for them!

firehorse, am so upset that she is closing shop! but i think she must have her reasons and we shd respect that. am sure she will be in touch .

tokasdi, yes, betul tu.

Hi&Lo said...

Kak Teh,

We already have the song in our hearts. You are just singing to us when our memories fail.

Your anecdotes coincided with Valentine season.

Besides our religious and cultural celebrations, we have birthdays, anniversaries as milestones to strengthen ties.

Of course relationship is an everyday affair but special occasions add the sparkle to the meaning.

Well, today is CNY eve. I am far from home but anyway the people around me are my family. I will be celebrating reunion with a family.

Greeting is extending our blessings. So, Gong Xi Fa Cai to Kak Teh and family and all her regulars at Choc-a-blog.

missie said...

beautiful..

Kak Teh said...

hi&lo, have a wonderful chinese new year wherever you are! And have a prosperous year ahead!then come back and tell us ll abt it. You can tumpang my blog.

missie, thank you.

NJ said...

Salam Kak Teh.

Another beutiful piece.

Indeed, true and sincere love renders accepting what it was, what it is, what it is gonna be and what it is not gonna be.

ruby ahmad said...

Oh Kak Teh, I visited your blog for some cheer and laughter, but your entry made me cry. Tears of both sadness and joy.

Sadness: at the pain and yearning, you vividly portrayed esp in the last story.

Joy: blessed to have the presence of our loved ones around us, as you portrayed in the first and second story.

Thank you. Your entry reminds us to be more appreciative of our loved ones around us today.

Kak Teh, I'd love to learn more about you, so I am tagging you. Please visit my blog and you will know what it is all about. Thank you for being sporting.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

Ah,

so touching....

Kak Teh said...

nj, well said and i think the biggest danger is too much expectations and then taking things and each other for granted.

ruby, aaah, its not meant to make you cry but something for us to reflect upon. time really flies, even for us who are slowing down.

ena, thanks and be happy.

Manal said...

The power of love.

All i can say.

Kak Teh said...

manal, so very true. oh yes, met rashid and mrs!

simah said...

menangis saya baca love in the autumn years entries ni..

u r one hell of a writer la akak.. ni true story kan?

Kak Teh said...

simah, yes, these are true stories.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,

lovely and sad too...and the previous entry really touchy!

Anggerik M

atiza said...

hi kak teh..

after seeing both my parents and in-laws, i realised that it'll be just you and your spouse until the end of your life..the kids will eventually move out and live their own lives anyway..

thanks for the lovely stories (and reminders)

Clark Gable of Pulau Duyong said...

Dear Kak Teh,
Mr AG romantik tak? From his blog i deduce that he is a very meticulous man.I need to know more though hahah ,one fanatic fan you got here.
Adakah dia mooosang? or jiwang2 macang Emamanang? keseniang jalang sorang2?? Or tenang macang air di lautang?

Whatever he is ,he must be a poetic man.Trg people memang poetic punye.Sebab puisi dalang bahasa Trgspeak is very easy,all you have to do is to add G and it start to rhyme.
So to you and Senimang AG ...semoga berkekalan keanak cucu.

Buah Rumbia dulang hidangan
Berulam makan santan berlada
Puan Bahgia sehat berpanjangan
Tumpang gumbira segala yang ada.

loveujordan said...

kak teh,
The power of love remains forever.....sebak I baca this n3 ..macam tengok drama TV.

Kak Teh said...

AM, thank you.

Atiza, welcome back! and yes, that's the reality - buat rumah besar pun nanti duduk dua2 orang saja. So might as well be very good friends with yr spouse..hehe!

loveujordan I hope drama makers are reading this...boleh buat drama tv kan?

Kak Teh said...

clark gable of pulau duyong, do you know i visited pulau duyong a long time ago and met that french woman but she didnt want to be interviewed. anyway, back to AG - aaaah, let's say he is the strong silent type. romantic? ish susoh nak kata.

Buah Rumbia dulang hidangan
Berulam makan santan berlada
ucapan tuan jadi kenangan,
sepanjang hayat selagi ada.

D said...

two thumbs up!!!

Kak Teh said...

d, thanks!