Tuesday 26 December 2006

Missing my sayang mama

My daughter had to practically drag me away from the screen. “Mama, you can’t watch the plane taking off from that screen,” she said, half exasperated, half amused. The MH7 due for take off at 1805 had already registered that Gate 26 was already closed and my Taufiq had long disappeared behind the screen, past the passport and ticket checks, carrying just one rucksack. I drowned my sorrows in a plate of pasta. My husband sipped his tea in silence. He had tried to delay Taufiq going in for as long as he could, with last minute reminders and small talks.

Anyway, that moment came and went and suffice to say, the fog had lifted but there were flash floods at Terminal 3 Heathrow.

It must have been about a month ago when the organiser of the Youth Exchange Programme rang me up and asked whether any of our children would be interested. I had suggested Taufiq. He is sixteen and it would really do him good to join a group of Malay youths born and bred around the world, to take part in an exchange programme that would make him get to know his country and culture better. He was apprehensive. “I don’t know the host family, mama. I don’t know anyone,” he said. “That’s the very reason why you should go, “ I cajoled. And three weeks later, the excitement got to him while I felt apprehension setting in. “It is too late to change my mind, mama,” he said cheekily.

Yes, I must let him go, I told myself as I ironed his boxer shorts and folded them neatly in the bag. It must have been only yesterday that I was ironing his Thomas the Tank Engine undies and Batman pyjamas and now he only wears M&S boxer shorts and Calvin Klein pyjama bottom!

He has brought with him his favourite Barcelona stripes in case he has to play football there. As I ironed his black baju Melayu, I felt a lump rising in my throat. This raya, who is going to help him with the sampin? He may be 16, but every morning, I still tie his neck tie before he goes to school. And this raya, I will miss him doing the takbir in that voice that signals he is already an adult. I miss him most during subuh prayers when he does the iqamah, standing there beside his father, the imam.

I hope by sending him back in this exchange programme, I am not only letting him explore and learn more about the country and the culture that is his and ours but also to let people there know that being born and bred away from the homeland does not necessarily make one forget one’s root, culture, identity and religion.

Taufiq will be living with a host family in Rembau and till today, I still do not know who the host family is. The week long programme starts on 29th December and he will spend Hari Raya Haji with them.

It is every parent’s hopes that a child’s behaviour reflects his upbringing.
“Don’t forget to salam with everyone you meet, say thank you and be respectful of the elders,” And even as I uttered these I knew it was unnecessary for I knew he would do so. As for prayers, it was he who reminded me most of the time. “It’s nearly asar mama,” or “Let me do the dishes, maghrib is nearly over.”

It is these little things that I will miss during the next three weeks. The conversation that we have during our shopping trips, the laughter, the whispers and teasing as we watch our favourite tv programmes. All these years, the chubby toddler who used to sit with me as I typed my work, had grown up to be a friend that I can confide in.

“Yes, I will miss him too,” said the father as we were shopping for biscuits and chocolates to send home. "he is a good friend." And suddenly the dam burst right there, between the chocolate and dairy shelves at Tesco. Although, he didn’t say much, I know that the father will be missing the discussion of world events with him. Just before he left, they were discussing the developments in Somalia.

Both of us kept reminding ourselves that this programme will certainly do him good.

This year had seen him more matured beyond his years, not least because of the responsibilities he had been given at school. Being elected Deputy Head Boy, I am proud to say that I have seen changes in him. He played no small part during Remembrance Day and just recently, was in the panel interviewing candidates for Head Teacher for his school. While he tried hard to promote a positive image of Muslims in his school, the behaviour of some boys who played truant after Friday prayers, meant that the privilege of going for prayers at the mosque outside the school was withdrawn. He fought for the small group of Muslim students to be given a room for prayers and then led the prayers. I remember him preparing the sermon for his first khutbah. In his first message, he reminded his fellow Muslims the importance of tolerance and patience. I think he did quite well. In fact I think he did very well.

Since his arrival he has already met his uncles and aunts, cousins and Tok. He is having a crash course in Nogori speak from his Pak Ngah who hails from Pilah. We told him, when he goes to Rembau he must ‘sopeak proporly’. And yes, he has already gone shopping, with a generous angpow from his uncle JC and his older brother. Tomorrow he meets Malay youths from saudi and together they will travel to Rembau.

Take care sayang mama. And we have you in our doas everyday. See you next year!


Marlene said...

At his age, he´s beginning to know you very well, so well that you´ll always miss his presence, as if you needed somebody to tell you who you are.
Funny thing is they may act differently, because they´re unique, but you always find yourself in their thoughts.
And we love them.

Anonymous said...

uwaaaaa.... kak teh! when i sent abang idin to his 1st day in std one a few yrs back, i felt like losing my son to the world. oh! sayu nya... hope your son will enjoy his xchange programme.

p.s. shopped at Tesco? gud...gud... every little helps!

Theta said...

Your narrative reminds me of my own mother who has trouble letting go of our youngest and only brother, as he goes through different rites of passage in his life - residential school, university, girlfriends....
Only the passing of time slowly loosens her attachment to him.....
Therefore, I can totally relate with your trepidation - after all, blood is thicker than water! :-)

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh, I could almost feel the lump in your throat while you were writing this. I know how it feels when you write something like that about your beloved child.
Any mother would be proud of a son such as Taufiq. Congratulations on being elected as Dep Head Boy.
He will be fine and just keep telling yourself that three weeks go by very quickly.
Soon he will be home chatting to you and AG about his trip and what he has learnt and sharing things again like friends.

ManaL said...

How long must he stay in rembau, kak teh? is there any plan to be around kl, bangi and so on? Will he be watching life animal slaughtering during eidul adha?
He's quite softspoken when i met him before. And he looked a bit like u. Rehana resembles more of her dad, i reckon.

Jgn la sedih sgt. He'll be back in one piece before u know it and hopefully tougher and wiser nonetheless.

Close-knit family eh....

Ely said...

i couldnt finish reading the post KT. reminds me of my son...how i miss him so.

hang in there, sayang mama will be back soon.

Anonymous said...

You have such a good boy. No worries, Kak Teh! He'll do fine. With a wink of an eye, he'll be back to tell you his adventures of Malaysia.

melayudilondon said...

alahai KT, jgn risau! kalau emergency, boleh suluh lampu batman kat langit. mesti dia datang.

AuntyN said...

kak Teh: Pejam celik,pejam celik 3 minggu habih sat saja. Ni pun dah nak habis setahun dah.

He will be fine. Kut-kut nanti omak angkat terbekenan nak buat menantu tu, hehe.

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

Sorry kak teh komen keluaq 2 kali pulak dah. Gila kuasa pulak dah AN ni no?

Kak Teh said...

woman at the well, thanks for yr wise words again. I am sure you have been through all these too.

ibu, there's tesco all over the place here. I understand that Pak Lah will be here in london to launch the halal section of tesco in march.

theta, we are paranoid, arent we? well, i think its what mother's do best - worry. My husband does too - but he doesnt show it.

Kak Teh said...

Judy, am counting the days. Am surehe will have a great time and i certainly dont want my worry, his worry to get in the way. thanks for the email.

manal, he was in bangi, now in gombak and will be going to Rembau tomorrow. Insyaallah. One day during the programme, i think there is a visit to KLCC, which I think is not a very good idea. yes, he is quieter and more reserved. speaks only when spoken to type. BUT wait till he meets his gang laaa!

ely, yes, i was wondering how you deal with not seeing Mat. But I am sure he is fine and must be thrilled abt the new sister as well.

Kak Teh said...

wonda@alice, read yr good story in yr blog. am so happy for you.

sriperwira, what if he forgets the lampu suluh???

auntyN, kalau nak bermenantu kena crash coursein bahasa rembau dulu!

Anonymous said...

hi Kak Zah! bloody hell not use 2 dis blog thin. Nywayz, my dad insist me 2 read dis particular blog n wanted 2 know which part of rembau T will be stayin. Memandangkan my dad is from rembau (orang kuatla katakan)+ we have an orchard, tot of gettin T to hang wit us. Catchin sum fish, eatin dragon fruits + chasin ayam kg. + b able to pass him all d weddin stuff dat we were suppose to like mail to u / tok din few months ago(blame eki ok!). so tell me yah! send my luv to every1! x - tiara

Anonymous said...

he'll be back with great memories...

(and proly missing someone in rembau, hehehee).

... next year, u nak ambik sorang? boleh i masukkan nama awal2. :D

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel
I felt the same way too
Not once but many times
Seeing my children grow
Seeing them growing their own feet
And seeing them seeking their own destiny.

Let me share with your one of my favourite poems by Kahlil Gibran.

This one is about children. He wrote:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Kak Elle said...

kakteh if ever T plan to come to sg do let me know most welcome to stay I ahve extra room and the mrt stn just 3 minutes walk.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh, when I read your post, I had to choke back my tears, my son is 11 now tapi I can imagine this scene in the not too far future. Don't worry he is in good hands, god will take care of him.
Also regarding Judy's kind post about Lat's visit to my kopitiam, can you tell her that you are the real deal lah, When I did a search for Lat's e-mail address your June 19 2005 post came up. I e-mail him aje, Kak Teh know him personally, siapalah yang fehmes? Not me!!

Anonymous said...

3 weeks will fly past very quickly for Taufiq but not for you as I'm sure you're busy marking your calendar daily and calling him up daily too! Try not to worry so much. You have brought him up well Kak Teh. Taufiq will definitely find this programme an eye opener.

Selamat Hari Raya Haji.

Kak Teh said...

tiara, I've already sms'ed his number to you. Call lah! and i've told him abt yr plans.

atok, next year???? aiyaaa, my house so many kucings laaa.

kak elle, how very generous of you. thanks for the offer. but he is not likely to go there - not this time anyway. thanks again.

Kak Teh said...

firehorse, well, no need laaa to say who femes, femes. its all part of my job what. anyway, he is someone we shd all be proud of, kan?

ilene, as i am typing this, he is on the way there already. (not to mention several sms'es already! and its only 0052!) am sure he will frind the programme interesting and liek you said - an eye opener.

Kak Teh said...

abang malaya, your words are always so comforting. i will treasure these especially "Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable."

Anonymous said...

Helloooo Kak Teh, went to Judy's blog saw your comment, thought I would drop by but maybe too late you sudah pi lala land ady I think looking at the clock on your blog. Izzit, my kopi got caffeine ah, datz why cannot sleep. solly ya.

Anonymous said...

KT, that's wonderful! It'll be a good experience for your boy.

What to do, we have to loosen our apron strings some time, yeah?

Kak Teh said...

firehorse, still up wan! just replenished my 10th cup of coffee..butnot as strong as yr kopi tiam laaa.

Lydia, dont tell anyone, but i just sms;ed him and he said they are teaching them how to greet! aiyaaaa...! anyway, when he is done with this programme will ask him to go and find yr book.

ubisetela said...

you've raised a good kid, kak teh.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me so much about the day my brother left Penang to study in KL. Domestic flight k? My mom was also teary-eyed and soppy. Your son has achieved so much and he's out to achieve so much more! You must be very proud of him Kak Teh. And I'm sure he'll make the most of his trip here in Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

He'll be all right, ma'am.

Kak Teh said...

ubi, insyaallah. he'll be alright. we try our best to do what we can.

vern, yes, of course i am proud of him. yr mum sounds just like me..what to do , mums, eh?

anon - thank you.

nyonyapenang said...

hugzz,...hugzz... :)

Anonymous said...

I know how it feel to let him go. Wish that they stop grow just stay as baby..

Selamat hari raya aidil adha to Kak Teh & family.

Anonymous said...

kak teh, just drop by becoz feelin a bit blue lah, almost every blog I visit today ada something sad happening. Either illness or death. Very sad :o(

Honeytar said...

Kak Teh! Ask him to drop by at the restaurant & I'll teach him what "Field Rice" taste like! :))

Anonymous said...

From Thomas the Tank Engine to M&S boxer shorts.. from morning azans to world events discussion, and now Taufiq is on an exchange programme.. I admire your family.. especially your son, Kak Teh. May your family be blessed always.

Count Byron said...

From Thomas the Tank Engine to M&S boxer shorts.. from morning azans to world events discussion, and now Taufiq is on an exchange programme.. I admire your family.. especially your son, Kak Teh. May your family be blessed always.

Kak Teh said...

nyonya, thanks for the much needed hugs!

AM, I think we mums dont know whatwe want. masa depa kecik kita nak depa besar, then when they are big, we want to curb their independence. entah laah.

honeytar, you know waht? when he goes back from rembau, he will be in Gombak - quite near yr field rice restaurant, kan? nanti suruh cik su dia bawa dia pergi.

Kak Teh said...

I know what you mean. I read ilene's and feel so sad for her. let us pray for a healthier 2007 for all of us.

CB, I have spoken to Taufiq - he is indeed the youngest in the programme and has already been given a big responsibilty for tomorrow. Will let you know the outcome. Mak dia dah tension and nervous.

Anonymous said...

Sayunya mendengar betapa hati kak teh di bawa pergi oleh Taufiq...

Anyway...jgn bimbang dia berada di bumi tanahairnya....Insyaallah dia akan pandai membawa diri...dan memandangkan betapa kak Teh telah berjaya mendidik dia menjadi anak yang di idamkan oleh ramai ibu2...kak Teh tak perlu risau...cuma rindu tu memang sukar untuk diubati...lebih2 lagi Raya akan menjelma...


Kak Teh said...

anonymous, betul tu. Kak teh tak risau sangat sebab ramai mak-mak saudara yang menelefon juga. Ya, rindu sangat. Bila jam dia sepatutnya balik sekolah, kak teh dah menunggu. bila nak makan juga teringat dia. Bila solat berjemaah, lagi-lagi lah rasa ketiadaannya. Bila dengar suara dia rasa terubat juga.
Selamat hari raya to u dan selamat tahun baru.

Anonymous said...

a'kum kak teh,

read this, you'll be very much delighted... :)


Anonymous said...


Kak Teh said...

1bloghopper dan 1bh (one and the same?0 terima kasih kerana memberi link ini. gembira sungguh kak teh dan suami membaca.

tokasid said...

Salam to kak teh and semua,

Rindu ibu pada anak memang tak boleh sapa pun nak challenge. Rindu ayah juga begitu cuma ayah ni jarang2 tunjuk( keras hati atau nak maintain macho kot kami ni). Taufiq is in good hands InsyaALLAH kakteh. And I'm sure he is enjoying everyminute of activities in Rombau.

Kak teh ni baru anak pi exchange program dah tak tahan. Kalau nanti anak nak menikah macamana gamaknya kak teh??Dah tu pindah dok tang lain?
( Rasa-rasa cel la..macamni lah mak kakteh masa kak teh menikah and pindah ke London dulu? Mak cek macam tu la masa adik pompuan pi US).
Kak teh one thing for sure ,there will be lots of laughters bila Taufiq balik nanti. And tentang semua kisah2 "mind your language' yg dia bawa balik nanti. Kisah2 'sopeak proporly'.

Kak Teh said...

tokasid, itulah yang dinamakan mak, kan? Pak pula memang control macho habis. tapi sekali sekala dengar juga dia kata, "ish, dia dok buat apa gamaknya laa ni?"
dua tiga hari ni dia dok cerita juga bila kak teh telefon dia. memang dia seronok dan banyak cerita..mesti dia sepeak proporly tu! kalau tidak malu omak bapak dio!