Sunday, 10 May 2009

Selamat Hari Ibu, Mak!


Mak opened the cupboard to take her selendang and from where I stood, I was rendered breathless by the wonderful scent of jasmine flowers that Mak picked from Tok’s garden to scatter amongst her clothes. And from the layers of neatly folded kebayas and baju Kedah, she took a pinkish, round container which held all her precious possessions. She picked one item and put it in a handkerchief and wrapped it carefully and placed it in her handbag.

“Mak nak pi mana?” I asked, afraid to be left behind.

“Pi ginjat,” said Mak with a knowing smile.

Mak’s ginjat activities were quite well known amongst us siblings. She usually did it some time in the middle of the month, when Hari Raya was near or when there were kenduris to attend. It was not something to be embarrassed about anymore. It was almost a necessity.

Even in the high heels that she bought from Lorong Sempit on the way to Pekan Rabu, Mak was still pint sized. So, she still needed to ginjat to hand over her precious belongings; a diamond ring, the long gold necklace or perhaps the strands of bracelets, through the iron bars, in exchange for some cash much needed, perhaps to pay for our school fees or to buy our school uniforms.

In exchange, she was given a piece of paper with lots of Chinese characters, which told her to return at a certain date, with certain rates of interest that she had to pay. That slip of paper she folded neatly and put in her handbag again.

We never questioned why Mak had to do what she did. We always had food on the table and nice clothes to wear. But sometimes, just sometimes, we’d be short of money and Mak had to make that trip to town. Pak’s pay as a clerk at the land office wasn’t much, and later his pension saw to it that we had just about enough of everything. Pak was never one to save. He’d treat us to anything that we wanted, and then when there’s nothing left, we’d have to wait until his next pay. So, in the meanwhile, Mak had to ginjat.

Other then that Mak made kuehs. Early in the mornings, Mamak Ghani would knock on the door to collect the kuehs and placed them in his baskets before making his rounds in the neighbourhood. One morning, I remember, Mak was still in her telekung, giving her salam when Ghani came. She grabbed the trays of kuehs and made for the door, the kitchen lights shining behind her. She must have looked quite a sight in her telekung at that hour of the morning for Ghani left his baskets and ran off for dear life. We had a good laugh when Mak told us what happened and Ghani never heard the end of the story after that and I bet he repeated the story to his family when he finally left for India.

Where Mak got her strength from, no one knows. After making the kuehs, she’d turn her attention to the bales of cloths at the sewing machine. She was the local seamstress, just like Tok, and both mother and daughter were known for their fine stitchings and even finer tulang belud. The income from making baju kurung would increase during raya time and these were spent on new curtains and perhaps her new set of crockeries. She’d buy us raya clothes with money Pak gave but most of the time our clothes were never quite finished as she was always busy finishing other people’s clothes.

Mak did try a hand at selling clothes and kain batiks that she bought at Pekan Rabu, but business acumen was somewhat lacking in our family. Tok, who during her younger days did just that, didn’t quite like it when Mak went selling kain batik. Once I heard her say to Mak, “Amboih, pi dengan matahari balik dengan bulan,” and Mak didn’t like that but Mak wasn’t the sort of daughter to reply back. She just bit her tongue and kept quiet. Even when Tok was fussy and very frail and couldn’t move, suffering from bedsores, Mak was very patient with Tok. She was her only child. When Tok scratched off clumps of flesh from her back, Mak was forced to take desperate measures.

“Yun minta ampun minta maaf, Mak,” she’d say every night as she tied Tok’s hands before she went to sleep. Tok would look at her with pleading eyes, like a child. But Mak had to be cruel to be kind. To not tie Tok’s hands, there’d be clumps of flesh on the mattress in the morning, with fresh sores where Tok had scratched herself.

Mak was never tired of looking after Tok, her Mak. When Tok got too cranky, Mak went for walks to Pekan Rabu, or Lorong Sempit. Or if it got worse, she went to Kuala Lumpur to stay with Kak to release her tension. But she never spoke back in anger to Tok. When she came back, she came back a better daughter.

As a mother and as a daughter, Mak sacrificed a lot. This one day of Mother’s Day is not enough for all that she had done, for all that she had given. Nevertheless, Selamat Hari Ibu, Mak. Your children will make sure you will never have to ginjat ever again!!


Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers for their undivided love and sacrifices.

66 comments:

ilene said...

SELAMAT HARI IBU TO YOU TOO KAK TEH!

Am feeling too emotional at this time of the season. Everything I read on Mother's Day would bring a tear or two, yours included.

masterwordsmith said...

Dear Kak Teh,

Thank you so much for sharing with us the sacrifice and love your mom has for all of you. I am certain that the investment of love she put in you and your siblings has paid dividends that cannot be computed!

You and yours are blessed to have her just as yours are blessed to have you.

Take care and may you carry on the wonderful work that you are doing in all aspects of your life.

Thanks for the inspiration.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!Salam

madam gold said...

Happy mother's day to a wonderful and beautiful mother..kak teh.
I am sure you too had sacrificed a lot for your children, mothering in a foreign land, lacking close support from family.
You are one great mother,give a pat on your shoulder!

Kak Ezza@makcik Blogger said...

Kak Teh

Selamat hari ibu buat kak teh..
cerita kak teh ni buat saya sayu ...
cerita sebegini ada lah sebahagian dari kita...terima kasih kerana sudi kongsi cerita kak teh...

Madam Tai Tai said...

To Kak Teh, Kak Teh's Mak and all the mums around the world,

Happy Mother's Day!

My Mak often made trips to ginjat too!

madam gold said...

Kak Teh, at this moment I am watching "Cerita apa - sarapan di mana" featuring your story and your AG.Dapat tenguk muka kak teh dgn jelas.

Kak Teh said...

Ilene, I am so sorry, I know today you must be missing her most. Take care and try to enjoy yor day with the children.

Paula,our mothers' sacrifice cant be measured. and i think mine jst pales in comparison. Happy mother's day to you too.

Kak Teh said...

Madam Gold, mothering in a foreign land is indeed challenging, Tuhan saja yang tahu. Have a wonderful Mother's Day.
And btw, they are still showing that programme? adoi dah repeat banyak kali dah and I have yet to watch it. Aaah, I remember that interview on the steps of Ayah's old house.

Kak Teh said...

Ezza, banyak yang mak kita korbankan,ya? Tak terbayar dan tak terbalas.

MTT, same to you. and your mother too? I bet she is taller than mine. But ginjat is ginjat, right?

Anak Mami said...

Happy Mother's Day Kak Teh!

Kak Teh said...

same to you, anak mami. take care!

Zabs said...

Salam Kak Teh,

Selamat Hari Ibu kepada anda dan juga semua Ibu2 yang amat kami semua kaum bapa, banggakan. Tanpa ibu2 semua siapalah kami pada hari.
Semoga Allah memberi ganjaran sebainya kepada semua, InsyaAllah.

lizaimen's blog said...

Happy mother's day, mak teh...still remember when you 'mothered' me on my first day of school with my sun-burnt face and the teacher thought that I had some ghastly skin disease!!! I was terrified but each time I looked at the window, you were right there, waiting for me...thanks mak teh for everything you've done for me...I love you!
Tok is certainly a gem of a mom although I'll be the first to admit that I've yet to inherit her patience and tenacity...Happy mother's day, everyone!!

mekyam said...

kt,

happy mum's day to you and all your readers who are mums.

i'm just too choked up to say more.

my mum's day will be spent reading suratul-yasin for mine.

MHB said...

Selamat Hari Ibu to wonderful mom and daughter Kak Teh and her blessed mom!!

Thanks for sharing your story!!

Fiona1 said...

This a beautiful piece of writing. Thank you for this

l!zs @)--- said...

happy mother's day to u kak teh.am sure u're a great mom too..

Kak Teh said...

Zabs, terima kasih. Ya, siapalah kita tanpa Ibu. Tiada kata yang tepat untuk menyampaikan penghargaan kepada mereka.

Oli, I was priviledged to be able to mother and care for four of my nephews and nieces. I remember feeling as if I'd die whenever you all went away or were taken away from me. That day at the school, it is slowly coming back to me.

Kak Teh said...

Mekyam, my doa and prayers to your mak too.

MHB, thanks for reading and happy mother's day to you too.

Kak Teh said...

Fiona, thanks and have a lovely day yourself. Let's meet up soon.

Kak Teh said...

l!zs@--, thanks for kind words and enjoy this day and beyond, too.

Mia's Mom said...

Salam Kak Teh,

As usual your entry on Mak will always bring a tear or two. Hopefully all us mothers will be blessed with children who will never forget us in their prayers. Happy Mother's Day to you, Kak Teh (:-D)

Kak Teh said...

Salam Mia's Mom, Happy Mother's day to you too. Just came back from your blog - lovely black and white pictures you've got there!

mamasita said...

Hai KT..Happy Mother's Day to you and your mak..
I wasn't sure what ginjat meant..then baru it dawned to me that it means gadai..
Yeah..my late mum pun had to resort to that..what a memory..we were so poor masa kecik..she even gadai seterika..imagine that.
Thanks KT..we have been blessed with wonderful parents! They have made us very humbled and kind people.

Kak Teh said...

salam mamasita, yes, those were the days - ginjat mengginjat tu begitu lumrah...seterika pun digadai, ya? Tapi yang bagusnya, mak kak teh akan cepat2 tebus barang2 dia kalau nak pergi kenduri kawin.

Nazrah Leopolis said...

It's especially difficult to go through today because it brings back memories of breakfasts in bed and bouquets from the garden that would light up Mak's face without fail every Mother's Day. What I would give to see her eyes light up again.

Mak is no more, but I am most fortunate to still have my MIL and my cyber-Mom to watch over me and to make du'a for me.

Happy Mother's Day Kakteh! I love u very much. Minta ampun if I don't visit your blog as much as I used to, especially when I am giving blogging a long break.But you are always in my thoughts.

I miss you so much that I am planning to visit you this summer.Wait for me okay? I need a hug. A big one.

Kak Teh said...

intan, i know it must be hard for you...but her memories live on in you. and you are a good mum, just like her. Take care. Hope to see you here.

NanaDJ said...

Kak Teh,
Such a beautiful tribute to your mum. Happy Mother's Day to you and all the wonderful mothers out there.
I didn't know orang Utara use ginjat for gadai, nowadays we have Islamic Pawnbroking or Ar Rahnu, am proud to be one of those who pioneered it in Malaysia, but only for gold items. It is a fairer system where one is not charged interest on the loan, instead one is charged upah simpan payable only when you reedeem your loan or 6 months whichever is applicable. You don't lose your barang either, id you can't pay back your loan, the barang will be auctioned off and will be used to pay your loan, upah simpan and a small administrative fees. It is also done discreetly in special room at the Banks, no longer over the high counters at the Kedai Pajak Gadai, with curious and busybody eyes witnessing the whole thing!

Kak Teh said...

NanaDJ, what a wonderful plan! Alas, My mother;s ginjat days are over - or rather I would say, thank God it is over. The children now have to look after Mak's needs. God knows how much interest she had paid in her life time! I dont know abt this scheme. Is it well publicised?

happy mother's day to you too!

Kak Teh said...

oh NanaDJ, we used the word ginjat because the pawn shop usually had this high counter with grills around it, suppose for security reasons. Mak had to ginjat because she is short. well most people have to, i think.

Naz said...

Selamat Hari Ibu, Kak Teh.

Kak Teh said...

Naz, same to you and enjoy the day with your lovely children. Also, salam Hari Ibu to your Mak. I hope to get to meet her some day.

Raden Galoh said...

Selamat Hari Ibu kak...

Nginjat itulah yg mak saya selalu buat dulu kak...untuk bantu bapak besar kan anak2 dia yg 9 org ni...

sayu pulak this year saya rasa dgn hari ibu ni...

take care kak. hugs.

Kak Teh said...

Raden, nampaknya nginjat culture ni memang berleluasa dalam masyarakat kita dulu, kan? Alhamdulillah, kita semua mesti lalui masa2 yang sempt dan pert sebelum mengenal apa itu kebahagiaan, bukan?

Happy mother's day to you too!

NanaDJ said...

Yes, Ar Rahnu is very popular even non Muslims use the scheme. The conventional pawnshops are forced to change their image, now you see glass doors and proper counters at some of the Pawnshops. Loans are given based on 65% of the value of gold kept at the Bank. Its useful when you need quick cash and have a few gold chains and bangles that will not be worn or missed.

Kak Teh said...

NanaDJ, thanks for the information. Can you imagine how the unscrupulous money lenders used to squeeze people who are desperate. How thepoor would just become poorer and fall into more pits of debts.

And yes, ah longs are somethng else!Those days , there were chettiars - but they were not that unscrupulous.

kay_leeda said...

Happy Mother's Day to Kak Teh and Kak Teh's Mak.

The love and sacrifice our mothers have for all of us, memang tak terbalas. Only they know what's in their hearts of hearts. Susah senang, pahit getir, it's them who endure.

Thanks for sharing Kak Teh. You have a great time with the family yah :)

Kak Teh said...

Kay, thanks and I hope you had a lovely tme with the family too. And with your Mak, of course . Mak's is a never ending story, kan? Betullah, ibu tu ratu hati kita.

tireless mom said...

Dear Kak Teh

A return visit on Mother's Day. Thanks for sharing and Selamat Hari Ibu.

Kak Teh said...

TM, you are welcome!!

simah said...

happy mother's day akak...!!! take care :0)

Kak Teh said...

simah dear, happy mother's day to you too. Am sure you had a swell day with your lovely children.

Ida Hariati Hashim said...

Salam Kak Teh,

Ni baru first time tau apa tu ginjat. Tq so much for the new Malay word.

This is such a heart warming story of your Mak. Indeed, she has sacrificed a lot for her loved ones. How inspiring :)

Come home Kak Teh, whenever you have the opportunity. I am sure she misses you tremendously.

Selamat Hari Bonda, sis..

Kak Teh said...

Ida, ginjat tu, standing on the toes to lift your body up, perhaps to reach something. In this case to exchange jewelleries to pawn with cash. memang nak balikkkkkk!

Chahya said...

Wishing you likewise, Selamat Hari Ibu Kak.

jabishah said...

Hi Kak Teh,

A beautiful piece. Brought tears in my eyes.You know, I sometimes wonder would my children look up on me as how I do towards my mom.

She did it & still does it alone. No helping hand. And here I am not working but having a helper around. Their perception of a mom I bet is nothing like mine!

Zendra said...

Happy (belated) Mother's Day to you Kak Teh. Your posting touches all our hearts for sure.

And I get reminded of Rasulullah's SAW reply to the question "Who should we love most?"

Your mother, your mother, your mother ..... and then your father!!!

Hazia said...

Happy mother's day, Kak Teh. A beautiful story... it's mothers who make the impossible possible, no matter what:)

Mama Rock said...

kak teh, thanks for sharing...brought a tear to my eye. happy mother's day to you too!

Andrea Wh@tever said...

Hi Kak Teh,

Thank you for that beautiful piece which captures the essence of a mother's unconditional love, and of her children who lovingly rally around and care for her, as unconditionally.

Ironically, it's only when we become mothers ourselves or mellow into yearnings of motherhood that we come to appreciate all the little things that our mothers do for us which we had taken for granted too easily.

Happy Mother's Day, Kak Teh to you and your mother --altho' my mother pointed out that I am a month late in wishing her!! 'coz I keep forgetting lah! *laughs*

Shahieda said...

What an extraordinary woman!! Our moms surely sacrifice alot for us, don't they??!! Hope you had an awesome Mother's day!!

Kak Teh said...

Chahya, thank you.

Jabishah, I think as modern mums we had it so easy this days. All the gadgets, all the help and all the takeaways. Bayangkan ibu kita dulu menggiling rempah, tumbuk beras, - well I remember mine did. Sekarang dah senang. Yes, we look back and think of all these hardwork and appreciate our maks. I wonder too if my children who see me ordering takeaways and sitting typing at my desk to earn a living as hard work. Hard work here comes in the form of bringing them up, the waiting up, the challenges we face as modern mums...so, that evens out, I guess.

Hope you hadf a wonderful day too.

Kak Teh said...

Zendra, indeed - Mak comes first. love the way your children celebrated your day - just wonderful.

Hazia, how true. Can you imagine, kalau tak ada duit, suddenly she can make it appear. Rupanya dia pergi ginjat!

Kak Teh said...

Mama Rock, thanks and hope you had a great day too.

Andrea, sadly that is the way...we realise when we are mums ourselves. Mak selalu kata, nanti lah jadi Mak...! and now I say that to y children.

Shahieda, thank you. When do you celebrate Mother's Day in your country? was it yesterday too?

DrSam said...

Frankly speaking Kak Teh, I read your entry more that twice before I got some nerve to pen down my comment here. Your entry had really touched me because I remember my mom used to do the same, 'ginjating' the pawn shop during the hard time - some are her precious 'emas pusaka' from her beloved parent. She never got a chance to get them back.

To all the mothers out there, happy mother's day. Kamu semua insan yang hebat!

DrSam said...

BTW, firt time hearing the word 'ginjat'. TQ for sharing. Will surely remember to acknowledge you when mentioning this word :)

Kak Teh said...

Dr Sam, I wonder why only mothers do the 'ginjating' and not fathers? Yes, i gather that most of our mothers at some point had to do that. I think Mak lost some of her jewelleries too, but I think she had a rapport with the kedai pajak gadai - she cld take them back - on loan- when she needed them for kenduri or impt occassions.

Oh dont worry abt crediting me - I think the word ginjat was widely used. let's say the ginjating culture was widespread. Ginjatisation was rampant when money was thin on the ground.

alas, my mak and your mak were amongst the ginjaters! :)

DrSam said...

Hi..hi..my vocab is getting richer and richer.

I think one of the reason why fathers do not really into ginjating probably because there is not much in their posession (emas permata e.g.) to ginjat in the first place. Another logical reason is ginjatisation culture doesn't look cool for men :) I guess.

Kak Teh said...

Dr Sam, hehe - lets continue to enrich the language. When i was at the bbc -my indonesian colleagues translated political vacuum as kevakuman politik. How's that?

Ya, real men dont ginjat! There shd be a story in this.

Shahieda said...

Yes we also celebrated Mother's day yesterday, have been trying to update my blog but failing miserably, hehehehe!!

But will do so soon, as it was quite an emotional day for my mum, since she lost her mom to cancer 2 years ago. They continue the tradition they had when her mom was alive, only at the eldest sister's home instead :)

Mia's Mom said...

Salam Kak Teh,

Thank you for visiting my blog (:-D) Appreciate it. Have a Good Day, Kak Teh.

Royalshoppingarcade said...

brought tears to my eyes reading what you wrote abt ur mak. we had a small celebration with our mama who flew back to riyadh on 11 may. it was our first time in many years celebrating mother's day together with her. Happy Mother's day to you too kak teh. you are truly and exemplary mother and so is your mum,no, ESPECIALLY your MAK. take care.
my word verification: LUSLY, ish, tak sesuai sungguh.Mushy would be more apt.

Kak Teh said...

Shahieda, am sorry about your mom's loss. We get to an age where we hear more about people leaving us, alas. Still we are thankful that we have another yaer, another day with our mother.
Take care.

I have not been able to update my blog as well. So much happenng and yet, i cant write - am pysvhing myself for a travel this weekend and its going to be hectic.

Kak Teh said...

Ma's mom, please dont mention. I do try to visit blogs but sometimes it is just impossible to fnd the tme. so many interesting blogs to read and so little time...so unfair!

Puteri, awww, am sure you enjoyed your day with your Mak. Mak yang dok jauh pulak tu! Thanks for your kind words. Take care.

saungweb said...

Selamat hari ibu buat para ibu dan calon ibu.. kasih sayangmu tak hilang sepanjang hayat..
Semoga Allah membalas semua pengorbananmu….. I love you Mother

roha said...

Salam.
Selamat Hari Ibu.