Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Tok Nah: Selamat Hari Ibu

When I was a tiny baby, Mak left me with Tok. Mak said I was too young a baby to travel on plane, and my sister was only one year old. Having two small babies were too much for Mak to handle on her own. So, Mak, Abah and Along went to Sabah without me. I stayed with Tok for the first few months of my life.

I was too young to know the dramas that went on in her life. Mak and Abah took me back soon after all the duit susu that they sent disappeared under mysterious conditions. Sometimes it was the rats, sometimes monkeys. For some unknown reasons, the wild animals in the forest behind were always stealing money from her.

Tok lived alone. Tok Bak left her to be with a ‘perempuan kabaret’ (such drama!) and life was tough on her. With eight children to rear and no income, she had to start living on welfare and the sympathy of others. She came from a noble family; she wasn’t used to difficult life. Having to live such life made her somewhat bitter. But I am not about to start on that.

House was a very run-down ‘studio’ pondok behind her sister’s double-storey house. The only electricity that she had was this one bulb of light. The controlling switch was in the sister’s house so it was pretty much ‘rationed’. She gathered kayu api for cooking from the secondary forest behind her pondok. Her bathroom was a perigi tanah, some 200 metres away. You have to always be alert if you bathe there because you wouldn’t want to be attacked by wild boars. IT made bathing such exhilarating experience! Toilet was wherever you wish along the river. Now this was the fun bit. Right after your product went ‘kabloom’ into the river, ‘tuntung’ or fresh water turtles would be bobbing around your product feasting on it. National geographic at its best.

I would spent almost all of my primary school holidays with Tok. She was the Nenek Kebayan to me. I loved her pondok, I loved to go kutip sayur from the forest with her. I loved to cook using her dapur kayu, and I especially loved to watch the tungtung feasting. There was no television, and food was always very simple. But I loved every moment spent with Tok. And I sayang Tok an awful lot.

They say good things never last. An uncle pitied Tok living alone so he gave her baby daughter to her (why anyone could give away their children is a mystery to me, but I am not about to start on that). That was the start of a major mistake, Tok’s downfall and the girl too. Maybe out of loneliness, Tok really doted on the girl. She was a pretty girl, having a Hindustan mom. Tok was totally smitten, and the girl was spoiled rotten. She was Tok’s very own ‘Anakku Sazali’. She became her flaw.

Mak started to fight with Tok a lot; they were always about the girl. And because Mak disapproved, I visited Tok less and less often.

The girl is now in some rehabilitation center somewhere. Booked in for drugs and prostitution. She is HIV positive and her youngest son has it too. Poor kid. My heart bleeds for them, especially for Tok.

I haven’t seen Tok for years now. In a way I am thankful that I did not become THE Sazali, someone else did. But I am also sad that in the end, Tok still lives alone. Her own children are wary of her and angry at her. All because of her Sazali.

But despite all the dramas, and the bitter person that she has grown old into, I still remember Tok romantically, as the good and magical Nenek Kebayan.

And I thank God for choosing her to be my Tok.


Blogger Kak Teh said...

This takes me back a bit (actually a loong bit) to days spent with my arwah Tok Jam. We had to take the rakit to cross the river to her place and I can relate to that experience of bathing in the river. Waaaah, plenty to blog but no time. So, not fair. But while I cybernate for a bit , keep on blogging. Will resurface for air once in a while and visit.

12:54 AM  
Blogger hana_kirana said...

Things happen. And sometimes I just cant understand why people must keep on blame the others for their mistakes. U know, benda dah jadi.. so what to do? All we can do is improve the situation not keep on blaming. I feel really sorry for your Tok. She must be feel really lonely at this moment.

Opss, I blog-hopped from our very femes n fofuler Kak Tenah's. :)

6:11 PM  
Blogger OOD said...

Kak Teh,
i need professional help, i have become a blog-junkie. There are SO many captivating blogspots, and you read their postings and you feel like you know the person already. Haya... what LITTLE work i DONT have now is left not done.

Hana Kirana,
i think if a child is bawah umor and buat perangai, boleh lah bising kat orang tua dia sikit tapi kalau dah dewasa, dah tau beza buruk-baik, patut pandai sendiri lah jadi baik walau tak di ajar. Sigh...
Thanks for dropping y. Atenah tu real something kan?

10:25 PM  
Blogger atenah said...

a ha!! korang dok mengata i nooo, hah i caught you :) what do you mean something? something good or what? i ni concious gilerrr, nak blog pun tapis berkali

10:50 PM  
Blogger Kak Teh said...

OOD, okay,okay, (Kak Teh putting on seluar jerut on top of pants superman style) take a deep breath, dua tiga kali, walk to the kitchen back and forth - try not to think abt blogging. Say BLOGGING IS BAD, BLOGGING IS BAD. Kalau tak jadi jugak, blog abt it. Then, keep coming back to blog to check comments.

12:06 AM  
Blogger hana_kirana said...

Ohhhh... yessss.... ATENAH is REALLY SOMETHING...!

*kak tenah oi, aku dah caps lock kan pujian aku tu... jangan lupa ole-ole dari US yer.. hihi

OOD, i ni bukan takat dropping by ajer.. dah add u in my favorite list pun. :)

8:35 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home