Saturday 10 May 2008

Mother of an excuse

We are planning a sisters get together, just for a few days but a precious few days for us. Kak Cik has already made her way to Geneva and she has already listed the places that we should visit. Lilah is packing her bags to make her way to London before we all troop off to meet her there. The last time Lilah was in London was in 1981, the year it snowed so heavily that Kensington Garden was like a fairyland. I remember that so well because she ventured off to the park with Oli while I was still in bed and both of them were stuck in the lift and we had to call the firemen to the rescue.

We are all excited, of course and we have planned a thousand and one things. My Rehana will be joining us from Brussels where she will be attending a meeting and then when I leave them to come home because of some work commitments, Rehana will try to bring them to Paris for a whirlwind tour – a snapshot with Eiffel Tower in the background will do to show the folks back home.

It is a pity that Kak can’t make it and Nisa has to stay at home to look after Mak.

Yes, Mak. At the back of our minds, with all this planning, is Mak. We are all praying that she will continue to be in good health, no emergencies, no problems. All the while, although she is mostly with Nisa, my sister-in-law and Ajie, she spends the weekends and holidays with Lilah and also with Kak Cik. But everyone is nearby and would drop everything to be by her side, when necessary.

But how do you tell Mak where and when you are going? For the last few years, our conversations with Mak are well scripted. All our infos must tally. They are not lies but we have to be economical with the truth. Because if Mak knows the real truth, then she starts fretting and finds excuses to go back to the house that Pak built for her.

This reminds me of those days leaving the children behind for some non-work related sojourns. It was always with excuses of going to the hospital, the dentist, or work. The number of times I used the line going to the dentist, if they were true, would have left me toothless by now, but at that time it worked.

I bet Mak used to do that on us when she had to go out for a breather. I remember her saying, “Mak nak pi tengok orang sakit. Mak nak pi doctor,” and we’d all be gullible enough to believe even though Mak was dressed in her finest to go for a hospital visit. And now we are playing the same game with her.

Lilah is dreading that moment when she has to tell her why she would not be around for a few days, in fact for a few weeks. It will have to be a meeting, a course – Mak understands that a kursus would take a few days. And by now, she must be wondering why Kak Cik has not been making her morning appearances with her breakfast takeaways. Am sure Nisa and Ajie must have fobbed her off with some excuses, like ‘Kak Cik balik Pilah, ada kenduri,” repeated a number of times.

I imagine her taking it all in with all the innocence of a child, and then she’d repeat the same question again fifteen minutes later. For all her forgetfulness, she knows when her offsprings are not around.

When Mak was looking after arwah Tok, once in a while, she too needed a breather. Tok wasn’t an easy person to look after. But Mak endured her last few years patiently putting up with a Mother who used to be strong and independent and a perfectionist. So, when she needed a break, she’d make a visit to Pekan Rabu or Lorong Sempit to get some new materials for her baju kurung. That was her retail therapy. She needed this time away, even for a short while, to come back and be a better daughter to her mother. Sometimes, she needed a longer time away and would leave Tok in the care of Tok Som, but all the while in Kuala Lumpur where she visited her own children, she worried about Tok.

When the time comes and Lilah tearfully says goodbye to Mak, and we all meet up in Geneva, Insyaallah, we know that for all the beautiful places that we will be visiting, we will have Mak in mind. We will look at the beautiful flowers in early summer and think of her because she loves flowers and gardens. We will feast our eyes on the intricate and fine crockeries in the shop windows and remember how she lovingly kept her collection. We’d sit around eating and joking and all the while each of us will be missing her presence. Mak always sits quietly, watching us banter at the dinner table, and all the while happy that her children were around.

Mak may not know that there is a day dedicated to her and she doesn’t even care. But from thousands of miles away, as a daughter who has not done much to look after her Mak other than think of her in her daily prayers and write about her in her blog, I offer my undivided love and gratitude for making me what I am today, and for letting me be where I am today.....without any question, without any condition.


More on Mak:

Mothering Mak

The lie must go on

The crying has stopped ...for now


Anonymous said...

Selamat Hari Ibu to you too, Kak Teh! :)

ubisetela said...

Happy Mother's Day K.Teh!

Everytime I call home, my mak keep asking 'bila nak balik', I feel like flying home pronto.

Kak Teh said...

Kenny dear, thank you and am sure there's a bouquet for your mum tomorrow.

ubi, thank you. I bet your mum asks you that as a habit. I do that now even though my children live at home.
"When are you coming home? do you know what time this is? hehe - wherever we are, we are just the same - mums!

Madam Tai Tai Again said...

Hi Kak Teh,

I'm sure your Mak knows that you are a filial daughter, eventhough you are not able to take care of her physically in Malaysia. Apa nak buat..itu la disadvantage nya kalau hidup merantau - jauh dari sanak saudara.

On Mother's Day tomorrow I'm just happy my mum is well and is still able to receive the bouquet of flowers I've sent her. She would know that we are thinking of her a lot despite our distance apart.

And I believe your Mak also knows that you are thinking of her a lot too..

Pi Bani said...

I still stay with my mom. Even when I'm just half an hour later than usual to come home from work (when some last minute matter crops up) she'd start worrying... and I am already 45!

wanshana said...

Kak Teh,

You ALWAYS write so beautifully when you write about your Mak...

I feel like your love for her just jumps out of the screen everytime I read the words you pen about her, and for her.

Happy Mother's Day, Kak Teh...and also to your Mak.

simah said...

happy mother's day to u akak!

thatz really beautiful peace...

Lee said...

Hello Kak Teh, happy mothers day to you.
Wow! I love those pictures of the Malaysian band marching so smartly at Buckingham palace grounds.
I had to look first thinking its funny see British soldiers dressed that way, then looked again, yes! Malaysian soldiers on parade IN LONDON!
Wow! Outstanding! Impressive! Beautiful!
You mentioned you felt emotional watching and listening to the band playing those popular songs.
Dalam hati saya will always be that day when the police bands march into new Merdeka stadium and playing Negara Ku for the first time and seeing the Union Jack being lowered, same time the new Malayan flag being raised.
And Tunku Abdul Rahman raising his right hand calling out, "MERDEKA!" 7 times.
I was there, a 15 year old, and even at that age, I felt very emotional. I still remember a lot of people had tears in their eyes too.
And to me, among the many emotional experiences I ever seen, or experienced, that day at Merdeka stadium will always be THE ONE I will never forget.
Love your well taken photographs, Kak Teh.
You have a happy mother's day and keep well, best regards, Lee.

Kak Elle said...

Happy mother's day KT and enjoy the get together with your will be nice kan?

Kak Teh said...

madam tai tai, it is the choice that we have made in life and we have to live with it. My mak understands and never makes demands , bless her.
I wait for the day when we make another trip home.

pi bani, that sounds very much like me. You should hear my children complaining!

Kak Teh said...

wanshana, it is the guilty conscience - not being there. have a nice mother's day with your loved ones too.

simah, thank you and do have a wonderful or extra wonderful day with your lovely children.

wonda said...

In UK, Mother's Day is celebrated somewhere in February, right? I wonder why.
Happy Mother's Day to you and your mother. I hope you, your family and your sisters have a wonderful time together.

Kak Teh said...

Lee, you were there? Wow! what a moment. For the 50th celebration, i had interviewed so many people who were there and i learnt so much from them. I have even interviewed the man who was in the committee planning for every little detail of the programme for that day. One day I will put it online.
Some of the photos are not mine - I was in the palace grounds and those outside were taken by someone from the Royal Malay regiment.

Today I was back with them - among thousands of people milling outside the palace and it was so hot - but i was glad to be there.
Take care Lee.

Kak Teh said...

kak elle, yes, Insyaallah. We plan to meet and have fun - a really good break for all of us.

Wonda, Mother's day in Uk is in double celebration for us.

Ms B said...

Kak Teh dearest,

Happy MOther's day to you! We always have our "mak" in our thoughts. I wish I can do more but she knows what I am going tru.

Take care loads! Miss you!

ms i & lil ms I

Kak Teh said...

ms Istanbul, have alovely time with your lil one. You two are a picture of bliss and happiness. Treasure these moments together. will meet, yes, we must.

ms hart said...

Kak Teh, you've said it all here, Kak Teh...that 'strategy' - nak pi doctor, nak pi dentist, nak pi familiar!!

Those days when I nagged my nenek for worrying unnecessarily sampai gastric, she told me, "Ati tak tau macam mana satu mak risau bila anak dia sepah-sepah.." i.e. her kids not under one roof...and now that I'm a mother myself, anak main basikal keliling taman pun I dah risau!!!

Happy Mother's Day, supermom Kak Teh!!

IBU said...

Salam Kak Teh ...

Wah ..syioknyer, gathering of the extended siblings roaming the beautiful places on earth (psssst...bule I jadi adik angkat & join sama? HAHAHAHAHA ...)

But can't help feelin sayu when I read about having to not be so direct with your Mak. And you said, I can also remember the time when my Mak told us that she's off somewhere to attend to something very important - ziarah org sakit ke, clinic ke, etc, tapi tengok dressing glamour or cam nak gi santai. But we obliged.

Dulu, our mother would be the one who take us to the hospitals & administer the medicine for us. Today, its the other way round. And remembering how tireless our mothers were doing it for us; 1 to the ratio of 6 of us, now the 6 of us to take care of 1 mother pun sometimes kena ada schedule & planning.

Indeed, our life goes on in a cycle. Soon, it will be our time pulak, Kak Teh!!


rendrazaleigh. said...

happy mother's day kak teh!

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Kak Teh
Happy Mothers' Day. My Mak is in Putrajaya and her grandchildren are taking her out for lunch.
I was to join them but my off day got cancelled.
I'm working and reading all the Mothers' Day stories being filed.

Anonymous said...

Salam Kak Teh. Ini pertama kali post comment walau selalu menjenguk blog ini.

Saya dah terlupa pasal Lorong Sempit, Alor Setar....bila baca kat sini baru teringat balik, masa dulu-dulu tinggal kat hostel, selalu lah ke situ bila outing.Sekarang jarang sangat balik kpg, jarang masuk Alor Setar.

Saya pernah jumpa Cik gu Zalilah, adik Kak Teh, cantik orangnya! Saya pernah juga jumpa Kak Teh kat Msian Hall, back in Nov. 1999.

Happy Moyher's Day Kak Teh!!

Kak Teh said...

ms hart, mothers eh, what can you say. Would you believe it if I say I'd wake up in the middle of the nite, phone my children to ask where they are and then get the reply that they are already in bed? I am too paranoid.
Ya, mak used to say, nantilah hampa ada anak sendiri!!

ibu, come, come, come! The more the merrier. The plan is we got to the lakes and then the mountains - so no shopping,. Geneva is too expensive I think.
Abt telling the white lie to mak, well, we have to be cruel to be kind. We cant tell her someone close to her is ill, or that her house was broken into. We simplified everything. But I think - she's a mother - she knows.

Kak Teh said...

azizul, thank you, thank you!

fauziah, I don't envy you. Why was your leave cancelled? Anything important happening? Will call you tomorrow - something's happening here. Hope your Mum had a good day with your siblings.

nona azizah, what a beautiful name. ANak kak teh pun Nona juga. Kak teh pun teringat Lorong sempit sebab Mak suka sangat pi situ beli kain nak buat baju. Kak teh tak suka sebab ramai sangat orang.
So nona dah jumpa Cik Gu Zalilah? dan kak teh juga? Tegork tak kak teh masa tu? Kalau tegork mesti kak teh berhenti untuk sembang. Terima kasih kerana sudi melawat blog kak teh ni.

Anonymous said...

Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers out there.

Kak Teh said...

aireene, Happy mother's day to you too.

Nazrah Leopolis said...

oh u tarik my tali hati lah!

happy mother's day my internet mommie!

may you always be blessed for hte good heart that you have.

i love you.

Mama Rock said...

kak teh...selamat hari ibu to you!

Kak Teh said...

intan dear, hope you had an extra nice day too. Love you loads.

Mama rock, same to you!

Unknown said...

Happy Mothers Day KakTeh...

lambat bullet train saya Kak..alih-alih sampai sini dah ramai datang berkunjung...

Your entry today hit me straight home... we all are playing the same game with our kids...same old ways of giving excuses whenever we need a breather... Love it so much akak. It reminds me of what goes round, comes round eh?

take care and here is one tight hug for you sis!


Kak Teh said...

radin, lambat train pun sampai juga. Thanks. and hope you had a wonderful time as well. We didn't do anything as we had our mother's day in March and close to my birthday as well.

yes, how right - what goes round comes round. I dread my turn!

Bebee said...

Salam Kak Teh,
Happy Mother's Day!
Another beautiful post, makes me miss my late Mum. Actually, I identify with getting up in the middle of the night, calling my children only to be told they are in their rooms sleeping! Kacccau la Mama ni!

Have a good time in Geneva! yes you are right, shopping is too expensive, except for Swiss chocs; beautiful tulips in Morges, and yes, head straight for les alpes!

Anonymous said...

I think it's too early for the wish. Still single :)

Tunku Halim said...

It is indeed Happy Mother's day to all mother's near and far . . . but always in our hearts. And a Happy Hari Ibu to you too Kak Teh!

jaflam said...

Salam Kak Teh,
Happy Mother's Day to you and your mum.

We celebrated Mother's Day at my mother in law house with Tahlil & Doa Selamat. Then of course the pot luck kenduri with all sorts of foods and cakes. My wife brought our home specialty 3 Grilled Honey Chicken & Pulut Hitam. It was fun seeing her so happy not for the food and cakes but just having more then 50 of us around.

Anonymous said...

One happy big family

OOD said...

nak ikut?

hope you Mother will always be in her best health.
she knows u love her kakteh, even in your physical absence. And happy mother's day to you kakteh. A wonderful daughter like you can only be a great mother.

Kak Teh said...

beebee,our children will miss us when we stop calling them, kan?
yes, looking forward to Geneva but not to shop. I remember i was there some years ago and couldn't find any mementos to bring back - except chocs. This is going to be sisters get together although I wish I have more of my siblings there with us.

aireene, ooops!

tunku halim, thanks. I still envy you your cottage. I imagine you writing this comment there and imagine that at least my blog had been to your cottage.

Kak Teh said...

jafflam, am sure it made your Mum in laws' day - having so many people around her. I cant imagine being old and lonely and not having people who loves you around. Alhamdulillah, my mum is surrounding by very loving people too - that's what i keep telling myself.

shinwee, thanks . I have visited yr blog too.

Ood - you are one good mum and a very good child too. Your mum would have been very proud. am sure she knows.

Mior Azhar said...

Kak Teh, Sorry I tertinggal keretapi lagi.... Happy Mother's Day to you too. And this tribute to your Mak, is simply beautiful.
My brothers and I pun kalau nak pergi holidays with our family will twist and turn our reasons whenever our Mak ask us about it... guilty hooo sebab tak dapat nak ajak dia sekali.

And during this year's Mother's Day, my daughters wanted to surprise their mak with a lunch. Penyudahnya I was roped in to help them in the kitchen. And guess what? I ended up doing most of the work....

Anonymous said...

Dear KT,

Belated Happy Mom's Day to you!

This is a beautiful piece although reading it makes me weep for my own dearest departed mom.

Enjoy beautiful Geneva with your sisters!

I'm sure you're brushing up on your parlaying skills [you know, that is one city where "parlaying" can mean two things]. :D

Kak Teh said...

mior, am sure you helped willingly for your beloved Yan's day! We didnt do anything as our Mother's day here was in March.

Mekyam, booked tickets last nite and just hoping that nothing happens during the time am away. Can't wait, can't wait parlaying or not...
my sis was telling me abt the sights of mont Blanc - sigh -AG cant go - babysitting youngest who is sitting for exam, while mama goes galavanting.

RoyalTLady said...

Assalamualaikum K.Teh,

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO YOU and to all your family members who they themselves are mothers and of course to your MOM. Lucky you, still having her around, to share what went through in life that she had not went through.

This is not a belated Mother's Day wish, as I considered Mother's Day is everyday of her life with her children, siblings and her spouse.

Please read my blog on Mother's Day at

Hahaha, I too got the chocolate (as she said the only affordable item to bring home?)from Geneva. Beebee , TQ for the constant supply. Nak lagi? Miss going to Sri Hartamas for cofe' latte after solat trawih with our children...

We shared the MD's celebration over here at our house with Pizza that was catered, marvelous durian cakes from Za and a delicious chocolate cake from Amir Harith to his Mama. We had three generations of MD's celebration, believe it or not?

KT, sorry to take up so much space in this blog of yours which I constantly visit to enjoy reading.