My late mother, Zaharah bt Ambak, is not a remarkable woman. She has not climbed any mountain, done any charity work of any significance nor is she a Datin. She was only my mother…but what a mother!
If you asked me if I could remember a time or a moment when she has been unkind or spoke badly of anyone. I will say never!
Did I remember a time when she has put herself first before my father and us? Never!
What I do remember is of her in her “telekong” at prayers and sitting after prayers to do her “doa” and then her conversation with ALLAH! And always that wonderful face of hers covered by her telekong peering out at us as we respectfully enter her room to ask her whatever it was we needed to ask her…for our meals, our own needs and most of all for her presence back amongst us after her time with ALLAH! But always we know that ALLAH came first!
Mother was my father’s First Cousin! I was told that they have known each other from a very young age and being first cousins must have certainly sealed their love for each other. I can just imagine them meeting at Kenduris, Hari Raya’s and all those social occasions where relatives gathered….exchanging glances and having hurried conversations whenever the opportunity arises. My Father had a mind of his own and a temper to match while my mother was the personification of calmness and had the patience of an orchard owner waiting for his Durian to fall day after day after day after day! Nothing flusters her. So I guess the maxim that opposite attracts is true for these two. I have a sneaking suspicion that our relatives came over to our house as often as they did because they wanted to be with my mother. My father was tolerated and accepted for what he was – a civil man who would welcome anyone to our house but do so with a lack of enthusiasm and warmth….but that was the way my Father was!
My memories of them together are many. Always they will sit and have tea together after Father comes back from work. Just the two of them sitting on those cone shaped plastic rattan chairs and partaking of goreng pisang, pulut udang, keropok or whatever tit bits was the order of the day. And my memory of my Father was he sitting there in his sarong and white singlet in happy conversation with my mother. We were never invited to sit in with them. That was their time together. For my wife and me our time together now is just as precious. Good habits we have seen stays with us forever.
My Father was lost without my mother. Hari Raya was no longer Hari Raya for us. For what was that day without a Mother to go to on Hari Raya mornings? What was life for my Father without the love he had known from his teens? Now that I have children and grand children of my own I know how much pain and heartache my parents must have felt to have me and my family away from their life when I went to live in Australia. There is no regret on my part only some thoughts of what might have been if things were different. If only I had been able to understand then that what my parents wanted for me was that I have the best life possible. I want that too for my children now. But all over the world families go through these skirmishes and life goes on.
I am the better for having them. For that I am eternally grateful and in the moments that I think of the two of them I can tell you that the fond memories and the love I still have for them gives me a warm glow even as I contemplate what the future holds for me and my dear wife.
It is now 10.20 a.m. and I must start to get ready to go and visit my wife at Hospital. It jas been a week yesterday since she was admitted. I first have to walk over to the Bus Stop then take a 40 minutes ride on the Bus that stops just outside the main entrance of the Hospital. Then a five minutes walk to her room. She will either be asleep or awake –either way I will still get a smile when she knows I am there to see her. We hug and then we talk. And I know that what my Father and Mother had in their life, I now have in mine.