Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Mak, oh Mak!

The scene is clear in my mind. Mak is sitting on the sofa, folding the clothes. It gives her quite a satisfaction to be doing something like that. She feels useful. It is the safest task to give to Mak these days as it is no longer safe to allow her to hang clothes or wash the dishes. Once in a while she looksup to watch the programme that Kak Cik is watching in between her sewing. And then suddenly, she drops the bombshell.


“Dia tu dok belakang rumah Zaharah, ” Mak said.

“Sapa, Mak?” asked Kak Cik puzzled.


“Dia tu laa, yang dalam TV tu. Masa Mak pi London, dia dok di belakang rumah Zaharah,” she told Kak Cik.

Kak Cik almost dropped a few stitches upon hearing this. The “dia” in question was none other than America’s queen of chatshows, Oprah Winfrey. And how she came to be my neighbour behind the house, was Kak Cik’s mission to find out. Thus the text message that she sent me.


These days, text messages from my siblings about Mak would throw me into a gamut of emotions. This one had me almost rolling on the floor laughing before sadness set in with the realisation that Mak’s memory is getting from bad to worse. What goes on in that mind that used to be so sharp, no one knows.


Over the years Mak visited me three times and she certainly enjoyed her stay, not once complaining about the cold. Abang used to tease her; "Mak pi London berapa kali dah, tak pass, pass pun!"


Before her first trip, Abang had prepared her with a few important English words. He told Mak, “Kalau immigration tanya apa-apa, Mak kata; Yes, No, Alright!”. And she’d just laugh because Abang was forever teasing her. She had missed Abang a lot when Abang was in Belfast but it was impossible to visit him, not when bombs were exploding everywhere. And again it was impossible to visit Kak Cik when she was in Kansas. With me in London, and Tok Su and Mak Cik also in London and Kak Niyah in Kent, she felt it was time to visit.


Mak came in the summer of 1980, bringing with her, her crisp cotton kebayas and kain batiks and high heeled shoes. She was quite stylish. No amount of coaxing would make her wear trainers or walking shoes when we went walking in Kensington Gardens or Hyde Park. She loved the parks as she loved the roses and the summer blooms.


The second time Mak came was after Nona was born. Again it was in summer. I remember how my friends would look forward to dinner at home because it was truly home cooked food. But what I don’t remember is anyone with any remote resemblance to the chat show host and now close friend and supporter of Obama.


But we do have a close friend from Kenya who visited us often when Mak was around. Perhaps it is Jane then that she had mistakenly thought was the great Oprah. But if Mak wants to believe that Oprah was my neighbour, then let it be.


I hear Mak is now chirpy and happy. And without her teeth. She had misplaced her set of teeth that had sent everyone looking under the bed, under the pillow and even in the bin. But it is gone. The last time she misplaced it, it was found in the drawers. This time it is gone forever. But Mak will be flashing her happy smile soon, because a new set is waiting for her at the dentist!


More on Mak:

Mothering Mak

Raya with Mak

The Lie Must Go On

The Crying Has stopped ..For now.


54 comments:

Queen Of The House said...

Kak Teh, oh Kak Teh .... kalau Oprah once was your neighbour, oh wow, wouldn't you too be a celebrity in your own right? Eh, you are, aren't you? Celebrity blogger.

Laugh and appreciate light moments with your Mak ... they'll be the happy memories in years to come.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

What can I say - there is a lump in my throat, yet I am laughing, reading this... love her while there is still time..

Kak Teh said...

QOTH, wah, mana ada celebrity?
yes, I certainly treasure every moment with her. Even though I am so far away.

Puteri, I cant wait to go home. and I must find time to go home. Insyaallah.

Pi Bani said...

Oprah neighbour you? Tumpang mintak autograph boleh?

Arwah Opah (bukan Oprah) I pun used to say things which would leave us all in stitches. There was once we told her about a kampong-folk who just died. Apparently all the while she thought the guy dah lama meninggal and so her immediate response was, "Bukan ke dia dah meninggal sekali hari tu?" She made it sound like boleh meninggal banyak-banyak kali!

Kak Elle said...

KT sad to read abt your mak it makes me thinking of my late mom who died in her 50's...

Whatever make her beleive that Opray is staying behind your house...kalau jumpa tolong minta kan tickets to her show ye esp during xmas banyak give away tu...hahaa

mamasita said...

Aww sedapnya entry you about your mum's sweetish and endearing ways! All old mums are so very enchanting and amusing..yours is probably one of Bill Cosby's students! Always buat semua orang happy je!Ada je kelakar dia.
Yes..memang ada bab yang make us sad and thats part of the growing old gracefully..kita pun akan melalui the same path. Enjoy while it lasts!

Manal said...

Is it possible to see her photos during her early visits to london in her kebaya , kak teh?

U might wanna send this one to Oprah herself and lets see how she thinks of it!

isabelle said...

If ever I had that much love for my Mak like u do...
*sigh*

Zabs said...

Salam Kak Teh,
Semoga Mak Kak Teh sentiasa sihat hendaknya.

ray said...

Komen Pak Malim kucing ray yg alim.

Mak sangat bertuah kerana dikelilingi keluarga yg menyayangi, kata Pak Malim sambil pakai minyak wangi.

Kak Teh said...

Pi Bani, when my children went back recently, my Mak kept calling Hafiz, Taufiq. She has not seen Hafiz for a long time. But after that, she kept asking Hafiz why he had not visited. There are things she remembers well.

Kak Elle,
Okay for you and Pi bani, I wil try to get tickets and autograph..when I see her across the fence. I will holler out to her and then we'll chat across the fence about this and that. and we will exchange kueh-mueh..hehe!

Kak Teh said...

mamasita, mak is the most loving soul ever! She has given so much, and she still thinks she has a lot to give. But her energy and memory are failing her now. My siblings are doing a wonderful job looking after her.

manal, I do have her photographs in London, but will need to scan - and that will take time. Insyaallah , I will.

Kak Teh said...

Isabelle, I am sure you do!

Zabs, terima kasih.

Pak Malim, mak memang selalu dikelilingi orang yang disayang, kata kak teh sambil ambil air semabahyang. Dia juga sangat murah hati, teringat kak teh yang duduk atas peti.

Madam Tai Tai said...

Kak Teh,

This posting makes me miss my Mak very much lah! And she has a set of dentures too, which thankfully has gone wandering off yet. Still intact dlm mulut. :-)

My Mak visited me once in Dhaka in 2006. She didn't like it here at all. Since she doesn't travel much, I think she missed the comfort of her own home more than anything.

I do hope you make your way back home for holiday very soon. I'm sure you'll get to see that dazzling smile from her new set of dentures. Cepat book ticket, Kak Teh!

mama irma said...

Kak Teh,
Your mak is so cute, she remembers even your neighbour in London!
You must be in her thoughts all the time....

AyKay said...

salam Kak Teh,

How lucky you are to still have your mum... some only have theirs in the memories.

Baraqah to your mum and family.

kay_leeda said...

Kak Teh,

This entry is so heart warming. But kelakar pun ader jugak. Hummppp...Oprah eh, was a neighbour of yours!! Rasa-rasa when will Obama & Michelle mai bertandang pulak..heh..heh.

Typhoon Sue said...

whoa..berjiran dgn oprah ghopenye kakteh nih...hahaha.. glamour siut!

i imagine your mum was quite a sight walking around london in her kebaya and high heels, eh?

Kak Teh said...

MTT, My mak now cannot hear the word London. There's a conspiracy among my sibling never to mention London in her presence because she'd want to come. and she really felt at home here because she had her nieces here - working and studying. and one cousin is married to a local. Alas, her health wouldnt permit her to travel anymore. Yes, am looking forward t see her flash her smile with that new set of dentures!

Kak Teh said...

Mama Irma, she rememers certain things, but most things are jumbled up. But the most improtant thing is that she remembers all of us. even when my children went back recently, she remembers them.

AyKay, yes, I agree. At least we can still se and touch and hug her. My brother still sleeps on her lap.
and we still behave like small children around her..which amuses her no end.

Kak Teh said...

Kay, when Obama and Michelle visit, I will have to make sardine rolls and karipap and go over and give to Oprah. hehe, i am waiting for the day, when my sister text a message to say - Obama tu dulu dok buat my garden. Hah - tu baru dia cerita besark!

Kak Teh said...

Sue, she had her heels on, and didnt even want to wear socks. but it was already summer when she was here. And as for baju tebal2 jenul dok berletiark kat dia suruh pakai jumpers and cardigans. She is still very particular about what she wears , even now. Her clothes must be matching, and well ironed. Dia kata, walaupun dia sakit, dia mesti nak pakai cantik2. Talam makanan dia mesti beralas. beg tangan pun, walaupun taka da apa - mesti tukar sekali sekala. tapi semua ni tak turun kepada anak dia yang dok london ni. Yang ni - pakai tak match pun tak pa.

Aida said...

Kak Teh,

This reminds me of my grandma back in Kelantan. She's 86 but her memory is starting to fail.

Naz said...

I had a good laugh reading your post this time. If Oprah is behind your house, I can only imagine who is your next door neighbour!
With aging mother like ours, I really think that the ability to laugh and to see things in the right perspectives are more imp than ever.
ps:that bit on the yes, no, allright was hilarious too :D

masterwordsmith said...

Kak Teh,

You ed me on a roller-coaster ride of emotions int his post. I lost my mom when I was 11 and took over 30 years to get over her death. Reading your post brought tears to my eyes as I wish I could have her with my like you have your Mak.

Just when the dam would burst completely, you pulled out the plug and made me roll in laughter re the dentures. Aiyo...from tears of sadness, to tears of mirth...

Thanks so much for sharing from your heart.

love the way you write - regardless of whether in BM or English...cos u rock!!!

hugs,
Paula

Ida Hariati Hashim said...

Salam Kak Teh,

Pilu mengenangkan our parents yang dah tua, and kita yg semakin sibuk dgn kehidupan kita sendiri.

Ur mom's memory is still intact as she could still remember meeting Jane, the Oprah from backyard. Moreover, she particularly said 'belakang umah' bukan sebelah umah..(Jane tu memang dok belakang umah u ke?).

I cannot blame her for generalizing any Oprah look alike to be ur neighbour. I have had difficulty identifying my Japanese friends when I was in Japan, actually, bila mula-mula dok Warsaw pun susah nak cam muka omputih ni as lebih kurang saje..
Jadi I rasa ur Mak punya memory still good.

P/S: Ur mak dok teringat kat u masa dia tgh lipat kain, maybe dia ingat her good times in London, tu sbb namapk je something terus relate to u..I wish her good health and murah rezeki.

Kak Teh said...

Aida, I know, Ithink you must have told me before. My sister was telling me about our Mak, and she is seeingthe funny side of not having her dentures. She said she is so comel without her teeth!

Kak Teh said...

Naz, la ni kena tengok the positive side laa. Whenever I go back, i love to hear her stories esp about the old days - there's so much that she still needs to tell us. But I think your mum is younger than her. It is difficult for us coming to terms with an ageing mother - one that we depended on when she was young. we thought she'd remain strong for us.

Kak Teh said...

Paula, my mak is my best inspiration. She has loads that will inspire me to write on about her and I have quite a collection about her. This is my way of dealing with memories of Mak - I want to document everything - in writing, in tapes. I have quite a collection of tapes that I did of her whenever I go back.

Kak Teh said...

Ida, mak suka lipat kain and she does it so meticulously and neatly. She took pride in whatever she did and satu pun tak turun kat anak2 dia. I have never inherited her cooking skills nor her sewing skills.

Yes, perhaps you are right - she must have generalised everyone that she met - that is not white or Malaysian.

maszuzu said...

kak teh..kalau la oprah tu neighbor kak teh..nyosal eden tak kenal kak teh maser kat london dulu...hahahhaha...

Kak Teh said...

mas, hahaha - kalau dia my neighbour, lama dah kak teh jadi assistant dia. Tolong bawa bag pun jadi laa.

Lyana Mauseth said...

kak teh,

tergelak i bc cerita your mom ni haha...selamba je dia kluar ayat tu kan...:D...kalaulah oprah tinggal belakang rumah u....sure u tinggal area celebrity kan...nnt kalau hugh grant pindah dok sebelah rumah u, bgtau i okeh...

one of the reasons i nak pindah balik ni is because of my parents lah....dulu masa i kecik2 degil, selalu melawan ckp...now dah dudk jauh baru i tau haha...padan le muka i rindukan mak ayah huhu...

Kak Teh said...

Lyana, kalau Hugh Grant neighbour kak teh, kak teh akan jemput semua kawan2 blogger mai tea parti. hehe.

eloklah jugak lyana nak balik. Am sure depa tak sabark nak tengok lyana and family - especially the cucus. Baliklah kalau dah ada peluang. Kak teh ni boleh balik cuti saja, buat masa ni. Entah apa yang ada pada masa depan belum tahu.

Kak Teh said...

Lyana, kalau Hugh Grant neighbour kak teh, kak teh akan jemput semua kawan2 blogger mai tea parti. hehe.

eloklah jugak lyana nak balik. Am sure depa tak sabark nak tengok lyana and family - especially the cucus. Baliklah kalau dah ada peluang. Kak teh ni boleh balik cuti saja, buat masa ni. Entah apa yang ada pada masa depan belum tahu.

DrSam said...

you have a really lovely mum Kak Teh and she is blessed with wonderful children to look after her with full of love.

Every now and then I always remind myself to go back to my hometown and visit my parents on a more regular basis, while they are still around. Your entry has really put me in a burning desire to do so. Tq..tq..

Kak Teh said...

Dr Sam, we are blessed to have her as our mak. Bagi you dekat - kalau rindu mak boleh cepat balik. Kak teh susah sikit - bulan senang nak melangkah ke sana.Tapi Insyaallah Kak teh akan cuba balik tahun ni.

Salt N Turmeric said...

Mesti mak Kak Teh rindu kat you sbb tulah tetiba mentioned about your 'neighbour'.

When are you going back? MAS is having sale for travelling by May 09.

[danial][ma] said...

hej! Kak Teh...it won't be feel so far away anymore with those technology thingy to get close with the one we loved...wish your mak will be happy smiling with new set of teeth soon and enjoy the life for years to come...;-)

Kak Teh said...

Farina, yes, something must have triggered that thought in her mind. and it happened to be Oprah!!
well, that fare is from malaysia, kan? I will have to see how i can go about it - must plan well. Thanks for telling me about it.

Danial, everyone is waiting for her to flash that smile!!and how i wish i am there to record it.

AuntieYan @ Makcik Blogger said...

Salam kak Teh,

Macam Kak Teh cakap la, memula tuh kita rasa nak tergelak le kan?...lepas tu bila dipikir-pikirkan balik, rasa sedih dan sayu lah pulak.

Mak I dah pun masuk 80thn. nak masuk 81 September ni...alhamdulillah, takat ni dia masih boleh di kira ok lagi...kenkadang je dia lupa...dah sembahyang, dia nak sembahyang lagi. :-)
Kerja rumah pulak, kalau boleh semua dia nak buat.

tireless mom said...

Dear Kak Teh

Sedih nya ... rasa nak menangis dah. I can relate to this because I think my mum pun selalu miss her children although we live only an hour away from her house. Dah tua tua rasa nya sensitive about all these.

Kak Teh said...

Auntie yan, mak i pun solat dua tiga kali. kekadang tu dia dah lupa, sama juga dengan puasa - tapi nak buat macam mana, kan? dia buat juga. I hope mak you sehat.

TM, if you are in the same country, state, senang sungguh nak visit. macam kak teh ni - kena pikiark sepuluh kali. Tapi insyaallah, tengah plan ni.

nadya said...

ur mom always remind me of my grandma. very cute one. they - the elderly mmg comel kan?

kalau oprah is ur neighbour, i'll beg u to get her show ticket!

Dalam Dakapan Ibu said...

Dear Kak Teh,
You got my eyes all welled up...

It's sad when the person we love is not the same anymore. My Tok will be 90 this year. She's still ok, - no penyakit - only a bit bongkok & sakit lutut. Her eyesight & memory are still good.

I just can't imagine her changing... sigh...

Kak Teh said...

nadya, i am glad you have met her and you can feel the warmth in her. Ijust cant wait to see her again.

DDI, It is indeed sad, but they have only changed physically - and because we depended on them so much before, we couldnt accept those changes. I think it is hard for them too to realise that they cant do things they used to do before. They feel helpless and useless.
It is important that they know they still have a role to play.Alhamdulillah, i hope your Tok continues in the best of health. My mum's health has only just deteriorated. If not she was fine.

Fao said...

kak teh you made me cry...i miss my mak...

Andrea Wh@tever said...

Kak Teh, you got me "pinging" for my mom to logon so that I can give her a cyberhug and kiss. And when she did logon, guess what she said: What have you been drinking, girl? *laughs* Talk about poignant moments *sigh*

elviza said...

Dear Kak Teh,

I did not receive any email from you. Do you mind to send it back to me?

p/s: sorry this off topic.

Mama Rock said...

kak teh, at least she still remembers her trip to your place - though the pictures were scattered in her mind.
imagine oprah speaking with a british accent :)

Kak Teh said...

FAO, Sorrrrryyyyyy! :(

Andrea, that is one perciaous poignant moment. Treasure it.

Kak Teh said...

Elviza, thanks.

Mama Rock, ya - at least she remembers the visits. Am glad she had the opportunity to visit before she got too frail.
Oprah speaking with British accent? Oh my!!

Pak Tuo said...

Kak Teh,

Mentioning about our past writers/sastrawan,I wonder
dimana menghilangnya penulis angkatan
70'an Zahara Nawawi.

Beliau juga seorang penulis/sastrawan yang gitu.
Ranjau hidupnya boleh dijadikan contoh.

Kak Teh said...

Pak Tuo, I think Zaharah Nawawi is still around..and yes, certainly, she's one of our literary greats.