Thursday 5 October 2006

The crying has stopped. For now.

For now, she has something to look forward to. For now, she will busy herself with packing, unpacking and repacking her small bag, rearranging her neatly ironed clothes before the promised flight home.The crying and the sulking have stopped. For now.

These last few years have not been easy – not for Mak and not for those looking after her. But my siblings, my sisters and brothers in law soldiered on, sometimes with excuses but sometimes with necessary white lies. And most of the time, by pretending not to hear.

That Mak has been whining and fretting to go home to her house that Pak built for her, has been the topic of our phone conversations, ym’s and sms’es. I had never heard Kak Cik sounding so exasperated the last time I spoke to her. Mak had tried everything; crying, sulking and even refusing to eat as a protest. She feels unsettled, a nomad, even in the homes of her own children who dote on her day and night.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
That Mak can no longer be on her own is something we had all decided a long time ago; since she fell in the bath room, since she put a burning mosquito coil under her bed, since we caught her trying to tie her plants together in the garden, since a chest of drawers fell on her when she pulled it to get up from the floor. And more importantly, since she was diagnosed with the big C. And lately, Nisa informed me, she would eat, sleep and wake up thinking she is still fasting. Her forgetfulness is worrying.

We got her a maid but the maid ate earlier than Mak, slept earlier than Mak and woke up later then Mak. So, we packed her off home. We have decided that we cannot trust anyone outside the family to look after her.

Mak wants to be with her chickens, ducks and geese – she has forgotten that they are no longer there. She wants to water her orchids and plants and the melur garden that Tok left her. Kak Cik, in her effort to make Mak feel at home away from home, had taken some of her orchid plants and planted them in the gardens of every house in Kajang and Bangi that she lives in, so that she can see a bit of her garden wherever she goes. But that is still not enough. Her strongest argument remains: Pak never wanted me to leave the house that he built for me. With this, they had to pretend not to hear.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Listening to all these, I am left with this feeling of helplessness so much so that in conversations that I usually have with myself in the kitchen, while preparing for berbuka, I argued the possibility of just leaving everything and everyone here and spend the time with her, the last few years of her life, and make her happy in that house that Pak built for her. If I have tons of money in the bank and not have to run around earning a living and worry about bills and children’s schooling, yes I’d do that. With a PC and an internet connection in that part of the world, I can still earn a living. But while having a supportive husband who will not say no to such a noble intention, what about being absent during the most important year in my son’s schooling? And even if I can stand the pangs of separation from my loved ones here, can I cope with looking after an ageing Mak who has lost most of her faculties?

I remember spending time with her in her hospital room. I just looked on like a bystander, as everyone fussed over her, Even young Eena knew how to cope while I looked on. As an excuse, I filmed her on my video camera, only to let my emotions go in the privacy of my own home when I watched it again, and again and again.

There was this time, I took her to the toilet. I had to turn away as she undressed. My Mak has become a child who needs looking after. So, I shouldn’t really be looking away, but I did. And during the night, when I slept with her, this child, rolled off the bed and fell. My siblings looked after her for years and she never fell off her bed, and that one night I slept with her, she fell and hurt her head. And I could only cradle her in my lap, as she had cradled me when I small. And look at the time I was left on my own to change her nappies. I am quite hopeless.

Mak sleeps a lot these days, I was told. Which is good as she has less time thinking about the house that Pak built for her. I remember looking at her while she slept, and at times I was tempted to put my finger near her nostrils to check her breathing, like I used to when I was small. I was so scared that she might just stop breathing if I took my finger away. I am still scared.

Yes, for now, Mak is happy and looking forward to that journey home. Everyone will be back celebrating raya in the house that Pak built for Mak. The front of the house will be filled with cars again, the house will be filled with laughter and the front room, with assortments of sleeping bags and suitcases. The kitchen will be full of activities. Mak will be looking forward to see the new table we bought her last year. And she will be looking forward to visit Pak and Tok again.
So, the crying has stopped. For now.


Jo Kontan said...


Kak Teh,. All my Prayers is with ur mom.

Alinlai said...

nanti lepas raya mak kak teh terus duduk kg ka ikut anak yang lain pulak? dia sedih tu sebab tak boleh duduk rumah yang suami dia sediakan...tapi keadaan dia tak mengizinkan hmmmm sure anak2 pun serba salahkan?...tak pe sabaq je la.

Fauziah Ismail said...

Kak Teh
To me, God's biggest test onto a child is anything which relates to the parents. Semoga Kak Teh dan keluarga tabah menghadapi dugaan ini. My prayers for your mom and family.

Kak Teh said...

Jontan, thanks. Much appreciated.

Alinlai, Dia tak boleh duduk sendiri lagi - mau tak mau mesti duduk dengan anak-anak. Memang serba salah.

x-matters, how true - it is the greatest test. Thanks for your prayers.

Ewok said...

your Mak is a wonderful and warm person. I had tears in my eyes last year when she hugged us before before we left.

This entry makes me miss my mum, but I won't start crying for if I did, then I can't stop.

UglyButAdorable said...

kak teh...prayers for your mom..the hardest is when we're not there for them..but i'm sure your mom have raised u well and wanted you to give your children the best just like she has given to you n the siblings...

lets doa together for our moms and all moms in the world...

Anonymous said...

Kak teh, reading this article brought tears to my eyes. I do empathise with you. I know how hard it is to be torn between two places/two sets of loved ones. Your heart wants to do all you can for your mum and to be with her yet you feel a need to be here for your husband and children. May God bless you with a real sense of peace to be in the right place at the right time.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,
My Deepest Sincere Thought for the family, especially myself facing it,thus the reason of us being back home,and with a capital S.

All I can say is ...pray..with the ramadhan, that Allah SWT will grant all, and bless us with Hasanah and Sakinah, in Dunia and Akhirah.

Bless You All,
and thanks for the hospitality you showered upon us in the short while we known.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,
My Deepest Sincere Thought for the family, especially myself facing it,thus the reason of us being back home,and with a capital S.

All I can say is ...pray..with the ramadhan, that Allah SWT will grant all, and bless us with Hasanah and Sakinah, in Dunia and Akhirah.

Bless You All,
and thanks for the hospitality you showered upon us in the short while we known.

Pak Tuo said...

Salam Kak Teh,

I heart with you Kak Teh.I am going through the same patches as you do.

Innnas Sabiri Kak Teh.
Tidak ada jalan mudah untuk ke surga I suppose.God's willing we goes through with extra lot of patience esp.durin Ramadan

Wassalam.Selamat Berpuasa.

mak aji said...

Kak Teh,

Your story brings tears to my eyes. Made me remember the tough time,emotionally, that my family went through when my own mum was gravely ill 19 years ago.

I pray that you and your family are given the strength and patience to go through this test from Allah. Especially in this month of Ramadhan.

madame blossom said...

That house looks very nice. I like kampung houses.

Kak Teh.. I cried reading ur post ni..

For the mother who once cradled the children, who was once in control, to be in that state now.

For the fact that you as a child who loves her so much, feel helpless.

For the fact that one day, insyaAllah, we may grow that old too, and go through it - I wonder how we'd be then.

May you and family AND ur mum, be able to get through these hard times.


Anonymous said...

such a poignant entry, kak teh.

"at times I was tempted to put my finger near her nostrils to check her breathing, like I used to when I was small."

I used to do that too. you're not alone in that fear.

sorry I can't offer much to make you feel better except for my prayers and a big virtual HUG.

anedra said...

she may be awfully forgetful these days, but one thing she never forgets is to always give us that lovely kiss she has. And now that she is forgetful, she forgets that she's already kissed us, and so we get repeated kisses from her all the time!! Aaahh..bliss.

Hugs Oteh..Hugs.

MA said...

Kak Teh,

My heart goes out to you. I can understand the dilemma your siblings are going through as we are going through the same thing with my Dad.

I guess it's true that they say : "Dugaan ibubapa ialah anak-anak; dan dugaan anak-anak ialah ibubapa. "

AuntyN said...

Hang in there Kak Teh. For sure we try our best and at times we will feel so helpless and hopeless too. As anak buat sajalah yg termampu. Insya Allah, Allah akan menilai keikhlasan kita.

Nazrah Leopolis said...

i feel you kakteh.tiada kata yang boleh membayangkan perasaan ni.

i pun tak boleh lupa her hug and kiss when we first met. and the length and depth of her gaze penetrating into the darkest places of my heart, filling it up with as strange kind of love.i remember how her skin felt when i kissed her hand. she is one special person in my heart, and i am sure, she is a hundred-million times more to you

insyaAllah she will be alright.

mommy@lif said...

tersentuh hati baca entry kak teh & blossom's comment

my mak selalu kata, anak 10 sorang mak boleh jaga, tapi mak SEORANG belum tentu 10 anak boleh jaga- how true!

and i share her joy & happiness to reunite with her home though for a short time

hugs & doa from me

KakNi said...

Mmmm... macam mak mertua saya jugak Kak Teh, minus big C dan lupa. Asyik ingat kat rumah tu aje lah. Agaknya nanti (bila kita dah tua) kitapun macam tu ke Kak Teh?

Queen Of The House said...

Kak Teh, that house that your Pak built looks a lot like my grandma's house which I so loved. Many houses over there from that era look like that, don't they?

I am sure your Mak misses her house... but she can't be left alone there, so perhaps the only thing that can be done is to pretend not to hear her ..... it is so sad. I hope your whole big family stays strong through all this.


I am hugging you from far KT. I still remember her hug and even in her frail state, her hug was tight and warm...As though I was one of her own..
sabar ya KT.

Anonymous said... really make me cry lah! :-) My grandma is also in the same situation already and I can see the way my parents fuss over her and all that. She knows that her journey is nearing the end. This reminds me...I'd better make a trip back to Penang to see her before she GOES.

Kak Teh said...

salam all, am really touched by your comments and will try to reply to all.

ewok, she reaches out to people so easily. Thatis one amazing quality.

UbA, i know you are going through a lot yrself. And you are lucky to be there. Be strong too. and yes, we will pray for our mothers and for us to be strong.

Judy, thank you so much. Sometimes, people think itis easier to be far away - butit is not., The guilt that u have to bear- itis heavy!

azrin, thank you and I hope nenek will be spared of any sufferings. Insyaallah we will meet up again, take care and salam to Mar and hugs to Tia.

Anonymous said...

salaam KT,

sedih sesunguh-sungguhnya! you know, being eldest in my family, almost everything falas on my shoulders. i dua-beradik aje and to cut long story short i foresee i (and parents) would go through old age sooner or later. i praythat allah gives strength to you and family and makes it easier for all of you in facing life challenges ahead. ameen. insyaa allaah. *virtual hugz*

Kak Teh said...

Pak tuo, such wise words. We have to go through these moments at some point in our life and we need to be prepared for it.

Mak ajie, thank you. Like i said, we will have to face this moment. For you itcame much eralier butthe meories linger on.

blossom, yes, i do think about my old age and how my children will cope. Itis justinevitable.

Kak Teh said...

may, i remember it so well. She'd fall asleep after a hard day's work in the kitchen, and i'd crawl up to her and feel if she was still breathing. Putting finger near her nostril is the only way a child of five will know. Thank you for yr kind words and hugs.

anedra, take care of her for me. I think of her in my prayers all the time.

MA, true, u are also going through the same thing.It helps to share our feelings cos we know that we are not alone.

N, thank you and inysaallah, manalah tau - ada rezki. Dan kita cuma boleh merancang. Tuhan yang menentukan.

Kak Teh said...

nazrah, i am glad you met her and you, putri, ewok and Mak andeh know whatI am talking about. She reaches out to people. Thanks and doa's for yr mum too.

mommy alif, memang betul tu. Mak jaga kita senang saja, kan?

ahni, kalau boleh kak teh tak nak lah lama sangat. Tak tau macam mana anak2 kak teh nak cope dengan maknya yang dah tua - masih nak blog and chat! he heh.

QOTH, yes, the houses around that area esp. semuanya macam tu..same style. ya, sometimes, itis kinder to pretend not to hear.

puteri - have a good long hug with your mum now thatshe is home. and treasure that moment.

Marsha, yes, it is best not to wait.have a good time with her when you are there in penang.

Kak Teh said...

Tangis anak,
sedu anak,
yang jauh,
sapa tahu.

Anak mana
mahu ibunya pergi
tapi demi ringankan sakitnya,
kurangkan penderitaannya
bukankah lebih baik begitu?

tangis anak yang jauh,
siapa yang tahu?

thanks for your prayers. I pray that we too have the strength to face these challenges.

Jane Sunshine said...

Kak Teh, No words can be of comfort but I can give many, many hugs. And its going to be a joyous Raya for mom-I think all of you are taking it one day at a time which is good.

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

kak teh,

*a beary hugs to u*

Honeytar said...

Kak Teh: HUGS! My prayers for your mom.

They say 'laughter is the best medicine'. Mother's happiness is her children. The unexplainable inner strength.

Rockybru said...

hey ah, pass this message to x-matters please. she's been leaving her message for you on my blog! my salams to everyone. got me worried. mak's the word!

anggerik merah said...

Ahhh...teary eyes reading this..

Itulah kasih ibu & kasih anak.

BIG hugggg to you Kak Teh.

Kak Teh said...

Jane, thank you . We must celebrate after this fasting month - if you know whati mean.

Tee, hugs to you too. Thanks.
Tar, oooh another hug! Thanks - I feel good now.

Rocky, really, ah??
Salams to u and yours too!

AM, aaah, another hug...can sleep better now, Thanks.

Anonymous said...

My heart and eyes weep as I read this. May Allah look after your mom, Insha'Allah.

Anonymous said...

Reading your post brings back memories of 3 years back. It was my mother-in-law, yet I do not see her as an in-law. She was very frail in her last years, and when a minor stroke hit her, we knew we can't leave her on her own, even though there were relatives nearby willing to 'jenguk-jenguk tolong tengukkan'. We brought her to KL where most of my wife's siblings were. I can relate to the constant whining to be brought back home, to water her plants. Right to the end. She's home now. Semuga Allah mencucuri rahmatNya.

Kak Teh said...

blabs, thank you.

rkaru, Al fatehah to your mum in law. It is sad watching someone who used to be a tower of strength, reduced to one that is almost helpless. Thank you for sharing your story.

and to those who emailed me..thanks for kind words and insights.

Lollies said...

i understand what you mean. me being in kl and my mum nearby pun I have never clean up her diabetics wound. tak sanggup. thinking back...hmm..I don't know..I feel shamed for myself.

nak nangislak

Kak Teh said...

Lollies, with me I think it is having all those more capable siblings around me. And I do feel so inadequate.

nyonyapenang said...

such a touching and heartwarming post, kak teh.
a blessed bulan ramadan to your whole family. ;)

sue said...

semoga tabah selalu dlm menghadapi dugaan.tempat jatuh lagi dikenang, inikan pulak mahligai yg dibina suami.

salam ramadhan Kak Teh & family

Kak Teh said...

nyonyapenang, thank you for the visit. Would really love to link you at

sue, how true. we just didnt see it that way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kak Teh,

I have exchanged notes with friends before, it is the same everywhere, that most moms wouldn't want to live anywhere but their own homes. So it is a natural reaction for most moms to want to go back to her familiar surroundings as after all she is the queen of her own home.

Go with the flow. Take care my dear.

ubisetela said...

I feel for you KakTeh *hugs*. My prayers for your Mak.
Your Mak reminds me of my Tok, she never wanted to leave her house although hers was just next to ours.
I can't wait to see my Mak, she accidentally dropped a knife on her foot a few days ago and had a big cut.

nyonyapenang said...

kak teh, i'm truly honoured.
i shall put you in my links too, if it's ok with you.
terima kasih banyak banyak. ;)

Sunfloraa said...


It is trying times for you, your mum and your siblings. I've been there before and knows how it feels being in your spot. But at the same time I always believe that Allah knows best and may He grant you and your family strength and peace of mind always.

Take care of you and follow your inner voice.

csabapu said...

Hi, Kak Teh! You have a fantastic header, I like chocos very very much, not only my children...

Kak Teh said...

Ruby, it is indeed true - most of my friends said so as well. We will try to bring her back as often as possible but making her leave again is heartbreaking. Thanks.

Ubi, oh dear, I hope she is not in too much pain. Is she alright now? My mum pull a chest of drawers to get up and everything fell on her frail body!

nyonyapenang, yes, please, please.

sunflora, thanks for kind words. I feel so comforted by such caring words from people all around the world, some of whom I have never met before. Thank you.

csaba, i love chocs too...and that explains the banner.

S.P. said...

alah kesiannya. i surely do understand how ur mom feels. my doas to ur mom for ketenangan. tho i have not met ur mom, seems like i have known here for many years.

Ely said...

oops, that was me KT heheh.

Sri Diah said...

Dear Kak Teh;
Your story brings tears to my eyes. Memang hanya dia mak kita - kita tak ada mak yang lain. Semoga emak Kak Teh terus bahagia mendapat anak-anak yang memahami jiwanya. Prayers for your mom and Salam Ramadan.

HCI said...

Kak Teh, THANKS for the entry. While my heart goes to you and your mum in prayer for the best; the entry reminded me to be good and patient to my mum who is with me, who still made sambal and grilled fish for me, though I could not eat too much of all those now.

Ordinary Superhero said...

Dearest Kak Teh, bersabar dan berdoa lah. Apa lagi lah yang kita boleh buat jika berjauhan. Insyaallah semuga Tuhan sentiasa memberi rahmat dan perlindungan kepada Ibu Kak Teh dan anak2nya.

Kak Teh said...

ely, kak teh ingat- eh pandai pula si sid tulis in malay sejak balik dr singapore nih! Anyway, thanks for kind words.

Sri, kak teh cuma mampu berdoa dia diringankan segala beban penyakit dan semoga anak-anaknya mampu menghadapi apa apa cabarn pun.

has, yes, we have to appreciate those moments with them. Sometimes, so very2 often we tend to take them for granted.

OSH, thank you and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

LifeBloom said...

KT - I can really empathise with your feelings. I know you would love to be able to help her through the pain of living away from what she has known all her life as home. Tak sama rumah orang macam rumah sendiri. Walaupun rumah anak. I went through that with my grandma. But you and your siblings are doing a wonderful job of taking care of your mum and I am sure she knows deep down that you all are doing this out of concern for her.

Raya is just around the corner. She will soon be reunited with the house that your Pak built for her.

Take care KT.

Unknown said...

My prayers and doa for you and your mother.

Atok said...

semoga raya membawa berkatNya dan memberi damai di hati...

ManaL said...

Kak Teh, your Mak must be silently proud and very happy indeed that she has managed to raise her children well.

Kadang2 kita ade issue with our mum, but when i read your encounter, it was a "slap on me forehead" kinda thing.

Semoga Allah meringankan beban sakit mak and memberi ketenangan pada kak teh and family.

Mama Rock said...

oh kak teh, susah nya bila kita rasa helpless kan...hopefully mak kak teh will have the best raya in her own home this year, insyaAllah.

nadya.s said...

oh kak teh,
my Prayers is with you & ur mom.

still remember her warm kiss and hugs on you and the love in her eyes.

Sofian said...

Sorry to hear about your Mak. My prayers go with you.

I must make another trip to see Nek Ngah; before its too late.

Kak Teh said...

Lifebloom, she will be so happy when she goes home. You can see it in her face. tapi once she is there, no one can control what she wants to do..and there's so many things she wants to do around the house.

anasalwa, thank you for prayers.

atok, terima kasih.

manal, itu yang kak teh selalu minta, supaya diringankan bebannya.

Kak Teh said...

mama rock, yes, i was with her lastraya - seronoknya dia tak terkata bila berhari raya di rumah sendiri, dikelilingi anak cucu.

nadya, thank you for your prayers.

esah - yes, pls do..this thing abt blogging and sharing experiences - we help to jolt and cajole each other's conscience. kalau tidak kita take things and people for granted, kan?

Blur Queen aka BQ said...

Dear kak Teh, I am so touched by your entry - actually cried when I read it. 8(

I doakan Allah give you and your family the strength and patience to go through this. *hugs*

Mushu said...

growing up, growing old, and getting young all over again is a cycle we cannot avoid. but what makes a difference in such situations is the ability to stand strong with the help of our loved ones. i may be young, but i'm already impressed by the love you've shown to your mom. i've got loads to learn from you.

stay strong.

Lydia Teh said...

Dear Kak Teh, It is so hard to see a loved one suffer. But your mum is blessed with family members who are patient care-givers. Be strong.

Mushu said...

oh, I'd like to add the link of your blog in mine...if that's okay with you. :)

Kak Teh said...

bq, thanks for yr doa and hugs.

vern, wise words from someone so young! I have wanted to link you at eversince u visited my blog and eversince I read your piece on merdeka but never got round to ask you. Pls, i 'd most honoured if you link me and I will do the same for you at sentraal.

Lydia, i knew you went through this too. Thank you for such kind words.

Azer Mantessa said...

wow ... been a while for ur entry but this time with a 'bang'...

very touching...

Unknown said...

Kak Teh, this is the greatest test we - the children, will have to endure one day. Be brave. My prayer is with your mom.

Kak Teh said...

azer, thanks. can I link you at sentraal station?

nur raini afsana, thanks for dropping by and thank you for your prayers.

Anonymous said...


Moga kita anak-anak di jauhkan dari rasa beban dan penyakit hati waktu menjaga ibubapa kita. I feel for you, Kak Teh. You take care. My doa goes to your mom and mine.

Kak Teh said...

Rotidua, thank you. We we do need the strength and the patience - mak cuma satu. I pray for yours as well.

cakapaje said...

Kak Teh,

Salam Lebaran kepada semua di sana. Mohon maaf ye kalau ada bahasa terkasar, tersilap atau maksud tersalah faham.

Kak Teh said...

cakapaje, kak teh pun sama - minta ampun minta maaf kalau ada apa yang tersalah dan tersilap.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu'alaikum kak teh,

Dilemma yg kak teh adik beradik lalui memang amat lumrah dalam keluarga melayu.Mak bila bapak dah takdak memang susah nak handle.
Dia akan cepat kecik hati dan kelaku dia akan buat anak2 serba salah.

Kalau mai dok ngan anak2 tak sampai seminggu dia dah berkira nak balik. Tambah2 lagi anak2 bekerja dia rasa terkurung di rumah kita. Dia tak rasa tenteram.
Mula lah minta hantar dia balik rumah dia. Kalau tak mau hantar( ..." mak tau hangpa semua sibuk ,payah nak amek cuti")dia kata dia boleh naik bas sendiri.

Mak saya pernah pi dok pondok 2 tahun semasa adik bongsu masih di UiTM. Haru kita semua sebab dia bukan sihat. Bila sakit, ustazah akan talifon. Adik yg di kampung lah terkejar-kejar pi ke pondok dan bawa balik ke hospital.

Alhamdulillah bila adik bongsu tamat belajar, baru dia mau balik rumah dia.

Kak teh beruntung kerana adik beradik very supportive dan bersabar menjaga mak kak teh.

Kak teh, kita nanti jika ALLAh izinkan panjang umur akan melakukan perkara yg sama. kita akan lebih senang dan selesa tinggal di rumah kita sendiri walaupun rumah anak2 kita lebih baru dan modern.
Kerana rumah anak bukannya rumah kita.itu lah yg mak-mak kita rasai sekarang ini.

Saya doakan kita yg masih ada mak( yg berusia dan selalu sakit-sakit) akan terus bersabar mejaga mak dan hati mak kerana ganjaran ALLAh amat besar sekali.Ameen.

Ayub Tulakang

Kak Teh said...

salam ayub, kak teh turut terharu membaca tulisan ayub dan terima kasih kerana berkongsi pengalaman ni. Memang kak teh bersyukur sebab ada adik, kakak, abang dan ipar dan sayang dan jaga mak dengan baik...kak teh cuma dapat doa saja.