Tuesday 1 January 2008

A Letter to my Sayang Mamas

To my dearest sayang mamas,

A very happy 2008 to all of you minding the fort while we are away. And let’s hope for a fruitful year, blessed with happiness and success. Insya' Allah.

It looks like I have to update you on last year’s events and this, hopefully will be more than the usual rushed phone calls and brief sms’es of things GUiT.

The latest on GUiT is that Daddy was invited to read sections of his book at Seksan’s organised by Sharon Bakar. It was held on a fine Saturday afternoon in Bangsar, quite near where we got married 28 years ago. Daddy’s hair, I must report, was getting a bit long and how I wished Taufiq was around with his electric gizmo. Daddy thought it was okay, but I persuaded him to let me have a go trimming a bit here and there with Cik Su’s scissors.

A lot of people turned up and according to Sharon, it was a record number – well, I counted at least five of Daddy’s cousins, some old friends who came with their own copy of GUiT and some people who had perhaps read about GUiT in the media. You know that gentleman with the white beard and long hair, whose talented son, As, came and strummed his guitar for the cats? Well, as you know he is a well known national laureate who married an old classmate of mine. Both of them came to give Daddy some moral support.

There were other readers, like Dina Zaman, who actually interviewed Daddy two weeks ago. Then there was Patrick Teoh, a veteran broadcaster, whose dulcet tones and perfect diction and pronunciation earned him the title “The Voice of Malaysia”. It was great listening to him ‘live’! We don’t have anyone like him anymore.

I was a little nervous for Daddy as he had misplaced his reading glasses. The first reading was okay but I thought he struggled a bit with the piece on Besut. But all in all, everything went well and copies of GUiT brought along by the Pizzaman went like hot cakes, with one lady buying about ten!

That night we went back to Bangi as Pak Ajie had a small feast before your cousin Ummar makes his way to his secondary school up north.

But I bet you’re dying to hear about the Kuala Terenganu GUiT launch and booksigning. It was, needless to say, something way beyond our expectations. It was great and Daddy was visibly touched by the response and the reception.

He had insisted that we took the bus to KT and later I understood why. He wanted to take in all the sceneries along the route. He had not been back for a while.

I know how much all of you wanted to be here and there was not one moment when I didn’t wish that you were all here witnessing Daddy’s important moment. He had repeatedly said in press interviews that the book is dedicated to his children. And he said that not without a lump in his throat.

We stayed at Daddy’s cousin’s house – and the morning before the launch at Alam Akademik bookshop, Daddy ironed and wore the blue shirt that Hafiz bought for him just for this occasion. He told several people this. Ngah and cousin Mi managed to persuade him to change his shoes but I couldn’t make him part with his old rucksack which now looks a little tattered. So, off we went, tattered rucksack and all and at 10.30 people were already milling outside the shop. So, the signing began half an hour earlier and stopped only briefly for a press conference. The signing continued until after four.

I must say, I was in the limelight too as a few bloggers and blogreaders turned up and requested my signature as well and had my pictures taken with them. What a day! My feet were aching and I ended up wearing Japanese slippers.

Daddy shook hands with so many people that day, and at one point the queue was so long that it went right outside the shop, spilling into the street. There was a bit of a carnival atmosphere with bright yellow banners and posters of Awang Goneng being displayed everywhere, even on vans and neighbouring shops. While he signed, they played ‘Baliklah Wok’ or “Come home, My Beloved Child” – a very touching and sad poetry in Trengganuspeak. I couldn’t understand most of the words but I felt tears stinging my cheeks and I knew Daddy was also trying very hard not to let the dam burst.

We didn’t have much publicity before this but people came clutching their GUiT. Daddy’s English teacher, Mr Wee and his history teacher, his schoolmates and classmates came after hearing of his return. I was so truly amazed. People who knew him when he used to come to Pok Loh Yunan’s shop to get a copy of Utusang Melayu for Tok Wan, still recognised him. “We want him to come home,” said one Chinese friend who dragged another one still in his Pagoda singlet.

There were lecturers and professors and some important looking people whose appearance caused excitement among the local media. We didn’t know who they were and they queued up quite patiently like the rest. The event was open to everyone. But the next day, pictures of Daddy appeared in the papers with them and that was how we knew who they were. I wish the media had latched on to another interesting angle, i.e. the presence of the oldest surviving member of the Pok Loh Yunan clan.

When Daddy went for his prayers, I was approached by a lady who addressed me as Kak Teh and told me that the Chief Minister was inviting us for tea. Oh dear, how does one behave in such company? But if you must know, the CM was a very simple person who does not stand on ceremony. As soon as his iron gates swung open, he appeared in his kain pelikat and we sat and enjoyed tea with his lovely wife. I was tempted to have second helpings of murtabak Kelantan which was so delicious but really, I must behave myself. There were some funny moments that afternoon that we had tea with the CM. Sitting outside the porch with the breeze from the South China Sea gently blowing in, Daddy and the CM sang the Trengganu anthem!

Anyway, it was a long day, but a wonderful one.

The next day was Boxing day, but it was also the anniversary of your grandma’s passing away. We walked to the cemetery and I sat down saying my prayers to the mother-in-law that I am only beginning to know through GUiT. Later that morning, we went to the house in Tanjung. Ngah and Cik Su had already washed the floor and swept the dust and we sat down and did the tahlil for her. The house still holds many books, but sadly, many are now hollow. The silverfish had devoured the contents but I believe Daddy beat them to it. I stood at the window looking out to the new buildings outside but I imagined the qasidah and prayers that Daddy used to hear being recited from the nearby surau.

Even at the house in Tanjung, people were coming over to have their books signed. Many came to confirm and share stories about events and characters that Daddy had written about in the book.

I wonder if you have read the chapter about the unfortunate incident experienced by cousin Dah? Well, we visited cousin Dah, who from a distance beamed and giggled, recalling the day she was knocked down by a tok peraih on a bicycle carrying fish to the market. Ngah even took pictures of the junction where the fishy incident took place. There were many, many memories being rekindled and many were amazed at Daddy’s memory. I was dumbstruck too as I recalled the countless times he came back from shopping without most things that I had written on my shopping list. But that’s by the by.

Daddy’s cousins and uncles and aunts all wanted to feed him – so we were constantly being fed with kerepok lekor, laksa Terenganu, roti paung and many more which I can’t pronounced but are mentioned in GUiT.

This trip back to Trengganu is indeed an educational one. Daddy took me to Makam Tok Pelam and the caretaker was kind enough to allow us in. And once the door to the Makam was opened, lo and behold, there were the two bird’s eggs that Daddy mentioned in GUiT in the chapter on Eggs in a Net. Even some of the locals didn’t know of the existence of the eggs.

In some of the chapters where Daddy spoke about his father, he also mentioned a colleague of Tok Wan, someone called Pok Mat. Well, we got news that Pok Mat had had a stroke and we went to visit him. The poor man was in great pain. He couldn’t recognise Daddy anymore and Daddy was moved to tears to see his father’s dear friend in such a state. It was really very sad.

This is becoming a little too long. But let me tell you how Daddy is coping with this instant fame. He is stil not used to being in the news. He is more comfortable writing the news, doing the interviews. But now he finds that people recognised him as Mr Awang who wrote GUiT. We were having breakfast at KLCC when a Uruguayan lady approached him for a signed copy of GUiT. He was all flustered and embarrassed. Oh well.

There’s a lot more to tell, but this will suffice for now and I do need my beauty sleep and lots of energy as I am now managing Daddy the Awang Goneng. He is no doubt enjoying his rest in Gombak and I am sleepless in Bangi.

Take care my sayang mamas, take care of each other and love you lots.

PS, GUiT was knocked down to number three best seller two weeks ago but has gone up to number two again this week. We will be on the move again.

Have a good and prosperous 2008!

Oh, PPS...On the way back, Daddy pointed out to me the haunted house he mentioned in Whispering Wanderers!!!


ubisetela said...

I get misty-eyed reading your letter k.Teh. A 'surat rindu' with loads of happy news (and some sad ones)... awwww...

'Baliklah Wok' made me cry buckets the first time I read it few years back. Rasa nak balik masa tu jugak!

I have to say I envy those who get the chance to see you & AG and have their GUiT signed.

MA said...

Wow...like Ubisetela, I too get misty eyed. I am sure your Sayang Mamas (and the rest of us!) appreciate the story behind the GUiT launches.

Have a pleasant time the rest of your stay here Kak Teh & Awang Goneng.

Kak Teh said...

Ubi, it is indeed a surat rindu. We have not left them this long on their own. Baliklah Wok was indeed a tearjerker. Insyaallah, we wil meet,Ubi, one day.

MA, it was an emotional and sentimental journey home. Even as someone who is not orang Terengganu kite, I felt it. It got to me. Terenganu and her kind people got to me in a big way. Their kindness and hospitality - there's no way we can repay them.

mad redo1 said...

am I one of them cik ubi? hehehe... not to worry, right kak teh? ubi will get her time soon with the now famous and soon to be rich AG...

Kak Teh said...

mat redo 1, rich? Insyaallah! But you dont get rich writing books unless you are author or HArry Porter and in the case of malaysia, you write abt love and such things, yes, you can make money. But who knows, eh? The bookshops get more than the writer who goes promoting and signing books. But we will get by, Insyaallah.

Dewangga Sakti said...

Salam Kak teh,
Seronok mendengar GUiT mendapat sambutan hangat.

Kak Teh said...

dewangga sakti, ya memang betul. Seronok bila jumpa orang yang menghargai buku dan tulisan tu. Rasanya berbaloilah. Tak sia-sia kak teh siapkan teh dan biskut kering untuk penulis! :)

Jane Sunshine said...

We should organize a GUIT tour of T'gannu! I so want to see where the Tok Peraih knocked Cik Dah down...those Eggs...and the food! GUIT left me salivating with all the gorgeous food.

GUIT is quintessentially a book about T'gganu but manages to capture a slice of Malaysiana with such charm and candour. Really, every Malaysian should read it.

So sad to have missed to have missed Readings. Sharon had a really nice write up and felt even more- AG recited nasyid and sang. Dang!

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh
I felt jolly reading this letter. That blue shirt is not DKNY I'm sure (he he). If you must know, I was visiting the CM's old classmate in Alor Setar before she left for hajj recently, and she said we look so much alike. Well, it is the lush grey hair, I suppose.

Kak Teh said...

Jane, I kept looking out to see if you'd come. But certainly you need to put your feet up. We have plenty of time to catch up. And when we see you next,there's the new special addition to the family. I am so looking forward to meeting the little one.

Kak Teh said...

aMiR, you are right there! DKNY??? what is hat, I hear him say.
Aaah, if you look like the CM, then the two of you must be brothers with AG's brother - it's his mop of grey hair. Very distinguished looking people I must say - but doesnt have the same effect on women.

Anonymous said...

Oh Kak Teh... tersentuh hati saya membaca surat ini.

I wish I could half as well to my children in the future.

I am awed by GUiT's fame & success now. I suspected so anyway.

Congratulations to the both of you.

p/s: a lot of my ansara friends who read GUiT reviews bought the book. They love it; least that's what they told me.

Selamat tahun baru Kak Teh. Semoga dipanjangkan umur dan dimurahkan rezeki Kak Teh sekeluarga

Karim Omar said...

Part of AG's Seksan GUiT reading where he rendered the nashid of "ingat-ingat serta fikir" can be viewed nere:


Sorry for the poor lighting provided by the host.


Mior Azhar said...

Kak Teh,
When Kak Teh spins a yarn...its simply beautiful. A book by Kak Teh is next. A must.
And thank you again for the signed copy.

latape said...

hey kak teh...been reading ur blog for quite a while...how long will you be back here in malaysia....

will definitely get a copy of GUIT...

by the way i am currently on research here in malaysia studying about malaysians who blogs...and would love it if you could participate in this research...

do e-mail me at latape@gmail.com . I am sure a person of your experience would be able to add so much substance to the research.

i do hope to hear from u soon...

Take care

Theta said...

A poignant recounting of GUiT-related events.
It's heartening to read and feel how things work out very well.

p.s. Sorry I couldn't make it to Bangsar. InsyaAllah we'll see each other someday. :)

ZABS said...

Salam Kak Teh,
Happy New Year to you and AG. Thank you, for this N3. Glad to know that GUiT has been very succesful here in Malaysia. All the best for the new year. Salam to AG as well. TQ.

Dewangga Sakti said...

Kak Teh perlu bukukan pasal Malay sailors di London tu.Saya pasti buku itu akan memberi banyak manfaat kepada semua.

Anonymous said...

Hapi New Year Kak Teh, I kam bring warm hugs for you for the new year :)

Anonymous said...

"Baliklah Wok" is on the CD presented to AG.
I will be bothering you two again before you escape to Merry Ol England.


Salam Kak Teh,
So glad to read about the Success of GUIT. membuak2 rasa hati nak baca. Am sure you miss your children. Hope the rest of the book tour will go smoothly.
Reading about how peaceful and serene the country side is, rasa nak pack up and move from stressful KL.
Take care Kak Teh.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, the GuiT Tour of Trengganu sounds like a fab idea... Kak Teh, you and Awang Goneng can be the tourguide couple... romantik, kan? ;)

Lydia Teh said...

Hi Kak Teh, GUiT is doing so well, congratulations to both you and AG. Looks like the up trend will continue for a while yet :)

jaflam said...

KT, so touch reading your "missing you" letter to kids at home.

At the same time so very happy on the success of GUITs and the way things are moving forward for Wan. He is so lucky to have a supportive wife and good manager to mange his success here. Wish both of you bigger & higher success in 2008.

dith said...

Kak Teh,

KKL called me immediately after her chance meet with you this morning, asking me to guess whom she had met! :))

Unfortunately KKL doesnt know that I am actually in the very midst of reading GUiT and have followed every bits of news about both of you here. If not she would have told you how avid a follower of GUiT I am today!

When Keng wrote that he was there in KT to give both of you support, I regretted not going then or I would have had the golden opportunity to me 3 famous bloggers in one sitting!

Truly, GUiT is a quaint book written with such poignant hues that many local can associate with. Never mind that some chapters are repetitive and never mind that I can easily read them in his blog. Having a copy of GUiT is a must, especially when you call yourself a true blue blogger!

*drroza is wondering how she can get AG, Kak Teh and Keng to co-sign her copy*

kamalmusa said...

your letter to them so touching la Kak Teh..
Glad the GUIT success everywhere


zulomar said...

Assalamualaikum Kak Teh,

Nice meeting you at Keda Pok Loh Yunang. En. Karim has emailed the photos from your camera.

Yours and other blogs inspired me. My new year resolution is to have my own blog (need to get tuition from Mad Redo1 though).

Please send my salam to Faizal and Nazri when you go back to London.


Anonymous said...

Kak Teh, so wonderful to read about Awang Goneng's GUiT success. Never realised that you tak sangka GUiT would receive the response it got. It could have been perfect timing considering the Agong is from there and these series of "Cool 'Ganu" adverts on TV lately. I really like the one about sailors returning after three years. Somehow it all seems to fit into place, like putting in the last piece of the jigsaw, the GUiT I mean! I am learning a lot more about this blook phenomenon too. We need more feel good stories like yours. Syabas Mr and Mrs Awang Goneng!

SimplyMas said...

What a success Kak Teh! Surat rindu ini penuh bermakna untuk sayang mamas dan kita semua! Thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful letter kak teh! Bila agaknya kita boleh mendapatkan buku ini kak teh? Have a wonderful time there!

Tunku Halim said...

Kak Teh,

These are really very precious memories being created. May you have many many more.

LifeBloom said...

Salam Kak Teh

Happy New Year and thanks for this surat for sayang mamas. I am sure your babies read it with much sayu-ness and missing you both terribly....This post (for me at least) also doubles as info update for GUIT readers. Special thanks very much for the photos of the two eggs at Makam Tok Pelam.

Where will you be this week? I finished GUIT in the two days I was at Bukit Lowick at Cameron Highlands. It was virtually un-putdown-able. Would be great to finally meet you and have your AG sign my copy of GUIT :-))

Unknown said...

Kak Teh,
GUiT has been very successfull, congrats to AG and you.
This letter, well, what can I say, I am touched.
Anyway, I hope I am syil not too late to wish you Happy New Year. May all the blessings and prosperity smiles on you and your loved ones.

Anonymous said...

Well done Awang Goneng!
Well done Kak Teh!

Such wonderful and successful trip in Malaysia. You guys deserve every bit of support and coverage.
(been reading write-ups on GUiT)

What a lovely end to 2007 and a great start to 2008!

Your letter home (to the children) is v touching.
They are very proud of you guys... am sure.
Enjoy the rest of your stay.
Congratulations again.

And AG, you still need to sign my copy of GUiT!?

Lis x

dith said...

Kak Teh,

Check out my latest entry

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,
Somehow, strange though, when you are back in Malaysia, I feel you are so far away even though we come from the same country and Malaysia is even nearer to Japan. It think it's probably cos we "met" in blogosphere when you were in UK. Happy to hear the good news ab. GUit.

wonda said...

Oops! Anonymous 7.53AM is me. I did type my name but I don't know how I appeared to be anonymous.

Unknown said...

Hello Kak Teh,

What a lovely letter to Sayang Mamas. I bet they are so proud as to how great their parents are doing. Well done you two.

Having met AG, I doubt the new found fame would affect him in any way, though it is a bonus as I don't think he was looking for it. He is too level headed to be bothered with such stuff. If anything he might be amused and entertained too..he he! That's what I think anyway!

But attaway to go..just go go go..my dear.

Looking forward to meeting up with you again. Take care!

P/S btw, reading that tea do at the MB's house tickled me, cute lah (him in kain pelekat and you restrained from having seconds..ha ha) and it was all such an informal affair..how lovely!



It could not have been any other way for Hulaimi's GUiT!

I am just sooooo happy for him and for you.

I am sooo proud of him.. ANd of you.

And I sooo sayang him... ANd YOU!

bye bye Ah.
Jangan lupa coffee/tea sebelum pulang ke London.

Ordinary Superhero said...

Thanks to Pokku that I had the chance to listen to 'Baliklah Wok'. It's truly amazing piece.

Again, congrats to AG and to you too, Kak Teh.

NorAiniJ said...

Salam Kak Teh,

The letter is so sweet and at the same time touching. Your sayang mamas must be so very proud of you both.

Just like Ruby, that tea ceremony at Trengganu's MB house is cute.. with the man of the house in his pelikat and all..so humble..

Again, congrats on GUIT's success.

Anonymous said...

alaaah, missed the reading lagi i.e you two! it was hubby's deadline weekend :-(

where in Bangi are you anyway? entah-entah dekat dengan my folks' at fasa 3...!

mad redo1 said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR 1429, Kak Teh!

Anonymous said...

Wahh AG was in MHI on TV3 channel this morning, showing the haunted house.

kak e said...

salam kak teh,
happy new year 2008 and happy ma'al hijrah 1429!! may this year be filled with baraqah & His blessings for u n family. "hijrah itu perjuangan & pengorbanan".

Anonymous said...

Dear KT,

This charming and tender letter caps the GUiT launching chronicle for me.

I haven't got my GUiT copy yet. No one took pity on us Malaysians yang terdampar on the granite-coast side of North Atlantic. (sob!)

I'm also probably going to have to fly to London to get my copy (no, make it copies) john-hancocked, to use a yank parlance. But insyaAllah! ;D

I just came home myself the day before and spend most of today devouring everything written about GUiT on AG's blog and others, religiously following all links provided in the comment boxes, downloading every single pix of AG and you and the GUiT signing, the GUiT reading, the GUiTwhatever that I came across in the process.

Finally a question I've long wanted to ask... do any/all of the Sayang Mamas also write like a dream -- with the same infectious humour, and wit that's wry yet gentle -- like their talented and immensely readable parents?