The last chat with my brother left me with a despondent mood that is not about to lift any moment soon. As usual the topic of conversation was Mak. She was insisting that some one takes her back to the house that Pak built for her. But that is nothing new. She does that on a daily basis these days.
Yesterday, as my brother was getting ready to go to work, she insisted that he takes her to work with him, and leaves her at a certain junction where she would proceed to her house. Considering where he works is somewhere near Melawati, she has got a long way to go indeed, back to her home town in Alor Setar.
But what is more worrying is that when Ajie asked her where her house is, she went quiet and looked very confused and couldn’t even remember where her beloved home is. And this is sad. The house that she keeps yearning to return to, the one that is keeping her alive in her waking hours and one that fills her dreams when she goes to sleep, is nowhere near her radar screen these days. In her mind, the house still has a garden that is perpetually in full bloom and orchids with a riot of colours that would stop people in their tracks and stare in admiration. Somewhere in the deep recesses of her mind, they are still there, awaiting her return. But for now, she couldn’t place where that house is.
These last few years, Mak has used the same excuse that Pak never wanted her to leave the house that he built for her. We never heard this when Pak was alive. Pak would have wanted Mak to stay where she would be cared for by her children. And that is where she is now. There is no denying that Mak feels closer to Pak when she is there. She wants to go and visit his final resting place and offer her prayers. She also wants to offer her prayers to Tok, but that big house is no place for her, not even with a companion or a carer. For now it has become a place to go back to during Raya, and once in a while in between. And that is certainly not enough for Mak.
That Mak is feeling this attachment with Pak who left us some thirty years ago, is rather touching. When we were growing up, we never saw even a hint of lovey-doveyness between them. I suppose in those days, a public display of affection, even in front of their own children, was a no no. There was no Yang or Abang, or any such terms of endearment that we heard. But the loyalty and devotion were obvious for she cared for Pak right until he breathed his last. The companionship that they shared was evident. They were hardly apart – except of course when she went to Mekah and when she spent time looking after Kak when she gave birth.
Looking back, I remember that they spent most of their time together in the big kitchen. While she prepared food, he helped peel and chop the onions so finely and top and tail the taugehs. At other times, he kept her company reading the Straits Times or doing the Crossword puzzles while she went about doing the chores.
Pak was housebound most of the time since his accident and this meant Mak was practically on her own when she went to kenduris and do’s or visiting friends and relatives. Pak was contented with being at home with his newspapers and TV. Once in a very long while, he’d take us to the cinema – in two trishaws. And that was a treat indeed. One treat that I remember to this day, was the trip to Penang where we stayed at a resthouse. And yes, he bought us Black Magic chocolates, which in those days were like gold dust.
It is anyone’s guess what still remains in Mak’s mind. Whatever it is, it must be some beautiful thoughts and memories of time spent with Pak, in the house that he built for her.
She may seem to have forgotten, but she hasn't. really.
D dearest, I would like to think so too. Really.
Kak The, that house reminds me of my grandma's house, where I grew up in. Rupa pun sama macam tu lah - a typical rumah Kedah. Your Mak surely still remembers the wonderful times she had in her house and that's why she wants to return. I hope she gets to see it again, with all her children and grandchildren filling up the house. Buatlah one more family balik kampung trip for her ....
Queen, along that road alone, there are four or five houses yang macam tu..memang typical kedah house kut.
Ya, my siblings do take turns to bring her back..but the journey back is also tiring for her. And once there, susah pulak nak pujuk dia balik. Of course, there will be more trips for her, Insyaallah.
This reminded me of my late grandfather. He wanted to go back really badly. When he finally did, he passed on peacefully in his sleep not 1 month after, in his own home.
Aida - in tears now...
Beautiful! I wish my children would remember me and their father like how you reminisce about your mak and pak in their kitchen...
kakteh we don't know how forgetful she is if she still can the house kan? I know its sad for her and if I am in her shoes I too want to be in the house that was built for me.
Sama2 kita doakan yg terbaik for her:)
oh kak teh...only the beautiful things stay in her mind now.
aida, when is back in that house, she is so happy - almost like a child. And it is painful having to coax her back, to leave it again. Well, I am sure my siblings will take her back again - they do, to see that the house is in good condition and to make sure Mak feels at home again.
Al Fatehah to your grandfather.
Mrs N, its littel things like that that remain in your memories for a long time - beautiful memories.
kak elle, thanks. Yes, her memories come and go. My niece was online yesterday - in India and was so worried that bythe time she finishes her studies and returns, Tok dah tak ingat dia.
mama rock, yes, that is true. She always talks abt the good times. She is also happiest talking abt her trips to Mekah.
Dear Kak Teh.My name is Azizul and a friend of Ajie (ITM days). I always have fond memories of your mum as she always care for all of us. I still remember the sambal ikan bilis & kacang that she had prepared (in a medium-size Nescafe bottle)to whip our appetite during the fasting month. Knowing that some of us may be deprived from such 'care & attention', she had made sure that Ajie shared everything (food) with all his friends. I sincerely hope that she will be better and fit to travel back home to Alor Setar soon. My salam to her.
Thank you azizul. Your comment brought tears to my eyes. That is indeed our mother - she likes to pamper and care for anyone. Such a selfless soul and she has love and affection enough for everybody.
Insyaallah, I will let her know through Ajie of yr salam.
Kak teh - this posting tugs at my heartstring.. sebak saya, apatah lagi my own mother baru aja meninggal. Alhamdulillah, in her hazy state of mind, dia has sweet recollections of her beloved husband.
Puteri, Al Fatehah to your mother.
Mak sometimes surprises us with things that she can recall. I hope it will come back to her, where he beloved house is.
I am very sure everyone in contact with your family feels a sense of belonging just like Azizul.
I feel for your mother's longing of her old house and sweet memories. When she was back, she needed coaxing to leave. I felt the same way too when I go back to hometown.
I would feel depressed for a week or two upon coming back to work in this town.
halus menyucuk kalbu kak teh,
teringat rumah kampung saya kat Jitra, Pak dah tak ada, mak tak berapa ingat ada kat Kuala Lumpur. Bila teringat kat orang tua-tua kita dengan pengorbanan depa, terus rasa dan keluaq air mata. Kpeada Allah sahaja yang boleh kita panjatkan doa. wassalam.
hi&lo, she has that ability to touch people she meets. We have a lot to learn from her.
jitraman, macammak kak teh lah. Pak lama dah tak dak, mak kena duduk dengan anak-anak di bangi/kajang. Sat-sat dok sebut nak balik. Ya, kita hanya mampu berdoa untuk mak pak kita.
Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yang alim.
Saya fikir rumah itu mempunyai banyak memori, dan mengimbau nostalgia yang amat mendalam, kata Pak Malim sambil memakai seluar dalam. Sori! kata Pak Malim sambil naik lori. Tutup aurat, kata Pak Malim yg kena kerat.
kak teh menulis sampai tak larat,
apa yang kena kerat,kata snowbell yang sedang sarat.
memang rumah tua banyak memori, kata kak teh sembunyi dalam almari.
They'd usually remember the old memories better than recent happenings...
Hai..your mum's love story is very common in the last generation.Whatever happened in our generation ye?Susah dah nak dapat cinta sejati or true love semacam ni nowadays.Sayang tu sayang.Tapi sayang suami atau isteri dengan seikhlas2nya sampai ke mati payah dah..zaman sekarang banyak sangat cerita bertrayals and infidelities..zaman dulu punya cerita betul-betul 'everlasting true love'..'ebony and ivory'..'lagu dan irama'..'Romeo n Juliet'etc.
There's no place like HOME. I'm sure all fond memories of the house are welled deep in your Mak's heart. She might not be voicing it in so many words though.
Just keep talking to her, it's therapeutic and it will surely uplift her spirits.
SELAMAT HARI RAYA.Selalu ke sini, but this is the first time i left my comment here.
Tersentuh baca kisah ni. Teringat mak saya di kampung. Usia dah cecah 85, masih segar ingatannya, tetapi badannya kurang berdaya. Melihat ibu tidur sewaktu pulang beraya di johor, rasa sedih dan terkilan kerana tak berdaya bawa ibu tinggal bersama di kl. Bukan apa, orang tua - mana hendak dan betah duduk lama2 rumah orang lain.
Oh ya, saya makin sihat,
kirim salam pada abang wan dan anak-anak.
KARIM dan keluarga.
I'm sori, kata Pak Malim sambil naik lori. Sebenarnya nak bagitau saya terharu membaca blog Kak Teh kali ini, kata Pak Malim sambil berenang di Tasik Chini. Tak tau apa lagi nak cakap, kata Pak Malim sambil makan ikan siakap.
That's very touching, Kak Teh. The house that Pak built sounds so beautiful and inviting. No wonder your mum dreams and thinks of it every day. She gives new depth of meaning to the phrase 'life partner'.
P.S. This Pak Malim and you, Kak Teh, are hilarious, by the way. Adik jenguk-jenguk aje, I say.
pi bani, that is very true. She remembers things that i was up to when i was small - dok cerita kat anak2 i pulak! I wish she is more selective.
mamasita, what they had then was the unwritten loyalty and dedication. No questions asked. sekarang ni terlalu banyak janji-janji kut. Thanks for the visit.
kay, my sisters evenbrought back some of her plants and each house would have some things/plants to remind her of home...tapi memang tak sama.
Karim, kak zaharah sungguh terharu kerana karim sudi menjengukkak zaharah di blog ni...merapu meraban memanglah jadi tabiat tapi sekali sekala nak juga luahkan perasaan.
Mak karim lebih muda daripada mak kak zaharah..Alhamdulillah, seronok kak zaharah dengar karim dah semakin sehat. Dua tahun lalu, anak kak zaharah melawat karim di rumah, tapi Karim masih di hospital..dia bawa sedikit buah tangan dari London. Kak zaharah seronok sangat dengar karim dah mula sehat. Insyaallah, kita jumpa lagi.Kirim salam hawa dan anak-anak. Buat kueh ke? boleh nak order? do email me.
Pak malim janganlah terharu,
kak teh ligan tabby yang curi ikan cencaru,
kak teh meluahkan perasaan dan ringankan ketegangan, kata kak teh sambil berangan-angan.
argus, my memories of the house - one that is always full of laughter - especially when all of us are around. The old house comes alive when we are all back - one day, we will all be there to bring mak home.
as for Pak malim, hehe - he is challenging my wits!
Ala Kak Teh, this is really sad. Its hard when someone slowly losing the memory. Im sure its stil there just that sometime its stored somewhere thats not easy to locate. Something that sometimes come with old age. And something that's not easy to hear when someone lives so far away from home.
p.s tht conversation between u and Pak Malim make me baca 2-3 kali lah pulak. hahaha.
This is such a touching family story. It makes me think of my grandma's house in Taiping that was burnt down - how we loved to visit and play in the garden and what a lovely cool house it was. And now there's not a trace of it left, except in our memories.
mendoakan kesihatan yg baik-baik unk mak kak teh.
Kak Teh, you have written a beautiful love story here. What is love but the longing, yearning and pining for that someone who makes your heart throb everytime.
Your Mak's love for your Pak is embedded in her veins. How can she forget?
Farina, i see the change in her over these last few years. Dia tanya berkali-kali. But some of her others memories are remarkable.
abt pak malim...yes , that's the entertainment factor here..hehe!
yang-may, just imagine, when we were living in it , we took so many things for granted. How sad that the house was burnt down! It must be awful.
maszuzu, terima kasih banyak. kak teh pun doakan mak mas sihat.
myheartbleeds, i suppose in those days, love grows slowly and gradually rather than the instant love that we have now. yes, in her confused mine, there must be some beautiful memories.
Salam Kak Teh,
Your story telling has always been captivating. Yes, it must have been the wonderful memories of/with your Pak which has kept your Mak so attached to the house/hometown.
Saya membaca entry ni dengan perasaan sayu, Kata NJ sambil minum susu...P.S I love your wit bantering with Pak Malim...hehehe
nj, welcome back, kata kak teh sambil menggalas bag!
ni dah jangkit demam pak malim!
Kak Teh..this entry made me want to cry..*sniff*
I guess she wants to re-live all the sweet memories again..eventho it's just in her mind..
I sat, I paused, I internalised, I tafakkur, I sobered... and kept on reading "The house that Pak Built - where is it?"
I, too am looking for that house. Searching every corner of my heart for that house, so I can show Mak where it is.
Let her have those sweet momories of the house with the perpetual blooming orchids. It's quite touching, really. I just hope when I get to be that age, I will only remember the good things.
By the way, I was quite surprised to see my blog in Sentraal Station - thank you for hooking me up.
Hello, Ka Teh`s!
Really beautiful posting. Nice house, flower and pretty colors!
Have a nice weekend.
Kak Teh, my mum and fight (laser melaser) each other but when they are separated even for a while they always talk about going back to home to take care each other.
So might be Mak is thinking she still have a thing that she haven't yet done for Pak in the house Pak build for her.
My mum always said the first place her parents would come as a spirit on the eve of Eid is the house of their daughter and son.
atiza, that is true. kita pun nanti tua nak ingat yang elok2 saja.
Count Byron, thanks and i am sure once she is on the way, she knows where it is. It'll come back to her.After all, all her memories are kept there.
farizahb, kak teh link you kat situ dah lama. Thanks.
david santos, thanks for the visit.
wahaza extra, you could be right. there might be some unfinished business.thanks for the visit.
Hello Kak Teh, Omigosh! I replied you in wrong blog? Funny? I thought I kliked into your blog?
Ni la habis cherita, old age catching up, ha ha.
Minta ma'af Kak Teh....nasib baik it was not asking you for a date pergi Serpentine Lake have coffee and scones, ha ha.
I got no engagement ring or link with you...but Kak Teh it is alway a pleasure and an honour you come by my post. Terima kaseh seribu.
About Mak, I guess its loneliness, her age and strong imagination. I have been reading of similar experiences here too....
I guess maybe we have to go along with her, ensure she is happy and talk to her....in this saya tada experience. But feel sad reading about it. I can imagine how you feel too Kak Teh.
Rumah tu yang Pak built is beautiful. I have always loved Malay houses as I grew up next to a Malay kampong, played with Malay friends...
I love those look like Minangkabau style, as well those Alor Star and Malacca style homes.
Kak Teh, always a pleasure have you visit, you keep well and have a nice day, best regards, and regret taking the wrong bus, ha ha, Lee.
lee, you not only took the wrong train, stopped at the wrong station and went to the wrong house! Aiya, this is really showing your age.
Anyway, thanks for finally finding your way here.
I had a wonderful tour of Toronto, thanks to you.
Salam dan slamat hari raya to you ad family.
My mum juga tak mahu tinggal rumah usang yang anak-anak bina selepas our dad meninggal 34 years ago.
Kami anak-anak ajak mak tinggal dengan kami sama ada di KL,Shah Alam, PJ, Batang Kali, Alor Star atau Bukit Perak. Dia refuse dia tetap mahu tinggal di rumah usang itu. mahu tidak mahu kenalah kami up grade rumah kesayangannya untuk kami 11 beradik dan 45 cucu dan 11 cicit serta menantu-menantunya berkumpul pada setiap hari raya.
For your info my ma just celebrated her 81 years last night but she is very degil dan tak mahu berganjak dengan keputusannya untuk kekal tinggal di rumahnya keseorangan.
katanya rumah itu memberinya ketenangan dan memori yang dia hanya hayati.
So setiap hari we have to call her to tanya akhhar and my elder sister or her children who stays in Aloar Star has to dro by at my mum's house each and everyday.
susah betul nak jelaskan kat mak why she have to stay with us. No no and no her answer. The most she could stay with her children 2 weeks then macam-macam excuses dan tempernya mula naik.
We luv her very much but she love her house more.
Kumpulan selamatkan bukit mahkamah.
member selamatkan bukit mahkamah,
alahai, this is indeed a blast from the past!!!
selamat datang ke blog saya.
Cerita mak you macamlah cerita mak kak teh. Degil tapi dia tau dia tak boleh duduk sendiri di sana lagi. Dia tau kalau dia balik untuk sekejap-sekejap saja. Rumah tu memang terjaga, diperbaiki, jadi bila balik sekali-sekala boleh buat kenduri. Bila buat kenduri dan rumah tu ramai, penuh hilai ketawa - dia suka sangat. Baru saja buat kenduri di sana. Ramai saudara mara datang...ya rumah usang pun memang banyak kenangan.
Selamat hari jadi belated kepada mak you...errr, boleh tak reveal identity you sikit...sebab kak teh ni otak dah berkarat dan zaman kita berkempen tu dah lama dah.
Dear Kak Teh,
I cared for an aged parent for many years till passing away.
I am very angry that your mother's request is not seen to by any of her children.
What is the sacrifice - what is the difficulty - in taking her back to the house in the desa?
For goodness sakes, she talks about it daily, she even told her son to take her to work so she can walk from the junction back home.
Can't anyone see the desperation in her request?! She would even WALK to be HOME!
Old people are not senile. Old people sometimes pretend not to remember. Yes, even at that age, they are considerate and love their children.
Think not about the literal meaning of that word - a literal place - a material place.
Haven't any of us being back, literally and physically back in our house, and feel so - HOME - in a metaphoric sense?
'I am home - home at last! Home where I belong! Home where every crack in the floor, every creak of the wood, has a history inside of me' - inside of your mother.
For God's sakes, take her HOME.
LET HER BE HOME, and be at peace.
No sacrifice is too big.
angry tears, dont be angry - they do take her home. It was quite recently that she was there and spent time with my elder sister. and she was there to see that the house is repaired. Of course she says that everyday she wants to go home. They took her home one day, the next day she forgets and asked to be home again. They took her home and then after two days, she said - oh i have been back for too long now - take me back to KL. So that is the state of her mind.
Dont get me wrong - they do take her home. It is good that you cared for your aged parents - no sacrifices to big or too small for one's parents.
Thanks for your contribution.
I owe you and your siblings an apology, then, Kak Teh.
Perhaps your posting reminded me of my siblings - who wouldn't help out at all, and what they thought was a 'help', they thought was such a big sacrifice on their part. They also could not get along with her, and thought our parent was grumpy, cantankerous, stubborn, moody, forgetful, etc - exactly the same things said here by so many people about your mum.
It was none of those things. My siblings never thought of just loving her, and what that means in practice. I too found the same as my siblings initially, but as time went by I found that she wasn't all those things at all. She needed to be loved. I needed to love her. She was actually lucid and in full control of her mind as ever. She just needed to be loved, needed appropriate attention,needed not to be talked down to as a child, needed not to be talked down to as a deaf old person, and so on.
I am not saying you and your siblings are the same, just sharing. My apologies again and thank you for your patience at my rudeness.
anon, dont worry - the initial anger and reaction is understandable because sometimes I react similarly when my siblings tell me this and that. They try to accomodate her and she is surrounded by love. I owe my siblings and my sisters and brothers in law a great deal - they dote on her while i look on, i listen from afar. I dont do much in terms of what a child should do - so I blog. If you see to the right - a compilation of what I had written - to purge my own guilty conscience. This is how I deal with it.
It is good to share - because not one experience is the same and we do not use the same yardstick.
I think the hardest challenge is for a child to look after their ageing parents. The few times I had with her, made me realise how much my siblings and in laws had done.
Thank you once again. and take care.
Mak must have been loved so very much.
It's so sad that she is so far away from her memories.
Do you think photographs help??
clarisse, thanks for dropping by. I really dont know what to say what helps now as her memories lapse so much. Am sure this raya haji they will make an attempt to celebrate in Alor star - but the journey is tiring for her. Even taking the flight back , which she normally did, is tiring.
Thanks for your concern.
My mak wouldn't want to leave her old wooden big house in Kuala Kangsar where she had spent her wonderful times with our late father.She stays there with her Indon bibi and refuse to stay with her chilren in kl.We're worried of course, tapi tak tau mcm mana nak pujuk lagi dah...So I boleh faham how your mak feels,fond memories and wanting to return.
Kak Teh I noticed all old folks remember their younger days much clearer than the present and then they like to every now and then talk of those good old days and sometimes can be repetitious. I also noticed that they love to be in the home where they've spent most of their life. My mum had always told me nothing like your own house and bed! You know, from taking care of my mum, I found out that she can become disorientated when we move mum from house to house. She tends to forget where she's waking up from! In fact I myself experienced that too when I moved to stay with mum for that short duration and thereafter returning home and waking up thinking I was still in mum's house and to think I'm so much younger! Seeing the behaviours of your mum and mine, I now wonder how I would be when I'm their age!
anon 3:36, thank you for sharing. Yes, with us its almost a game, weeks of preparation of what to say to get her to go to KL. She'd be okay for a while and then she'd want to go. For me, looking and listening from afar, may be sometimes i dont understand and i'd want to pay for her to fly back - but her health doesnt allow that. She used to fly back but now even the flight tires her. And we cant leave her with a maid. At night the gas tank kena tutup, semua pinggan kena cuci, if not she'd wake up and try to cook something and then leave the fire on, or she'd wash all the dishes and then dia penat. They'd allow her to hang up the washings - and she'd be pleased with that - lepas tu penat. I think its the sense of being useless. She feels useless when she used to do a lot before. We feel she need not do anthing anymore - which i supposed is wrong. Thank you for sharing.
Ilene, this coming so soon after your own mother's death. You have spent time with her and looked after her, i haven't.
I know how disoriented they can be. My mother moves from one house to another - nearby - my siblings are all nearby for that very purpose. And of course she feels unsettled. But sometimes we feel she wants a change. But one thing is for sure, she loves being with her cucus..they adore her.
Take care Ilene.
Kak Teh, I dont know whether i could bear being away from my mother if mine is like yours...
i guess, thats the stream of life, we row it merrily...merrily
Rozilah, when I left, she was strong and healthy - that was nearly 29 years ago. she even visited me three times. The woman who was the pillar of strength for everyone had to grow old and sometimes we cant accept that. i think she cant accept being dependant on others. It is only quite recently that she turned fraila nd forgetful - but then she is 90 over. It is always hard to lewave whenever i go back on holiday...but as i have said many times, we made certain choices and we live with it.
kak teh, you are soo strong... i always draw courage from meeting sisters like you...
rozilah, thanks. Sharing makes the load much easier to carry.
Salam kak teh...
This is touching. Though in fragments and unclear vision, it remains in her long term memory till today... Sebak rasa. I don't know what else to say....
Macam mana nanti time kita pulak?
p/s Is that really the house? Beautiful indeed.
"I suppose in those days, a public display of affection, even in front of their own children, was a no no. There was no Yang or Abang, or any such terms of endearment that we heard. But the loyalty and devotion were obvious for she cared for Pak right until he breathed his last. The companionship that they shared was evident."
Oh KakTeh, it's so true. In my case, my mum left all of us to be with my dad within 9 months after my dad's demise. Such was their promises of 'sehidup semati'.
Ibu, that is so true. We dont know what fate has in store for us. Ya, that's the house, sayangnya sebab kosong.
OSH, welcome after a ling hiatus.
Oh, I am so sorry to hear that. For some they feel there's no more reason to live. My mother had to go on because she had to care for her Mak - she she had that added responsibility to make her feel she needed to go on.
satu entry yang amat menyentuh perasaan..terlalu banyak persamaan antara kita. mak saya pun amat merindukan rumah yang arwah Pak dirikan di Alor Setar. memang kami adik beradik tidak begitu memahami perasaan mak. kami adik beradik lebih sukakan mak di KL bersama kami..mungkin juga kami mementingkan diri sendiri. bila membaca entry kak teh, terasa sedih yang teramat..mungkin mak juga seperti mak kak teh.
wahwo, terima kasih kerana mengongsi pengalaman dan cerita. Kak teh rasa ramai yang ada cerita macam ni.
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