“You’ve got mail,” the reminder box atop of my computer screen is blinking endlessly with the three words. My new friend, Susan Loone, from Bangkok sent me an email about the International Women’s Day which falls on 8th March 2007. The good Ms Loone also urged me and her countless email recipients to dedicate a post about women in our lives. Ah, where do I begin Susan?
My pencil ceased its movement on the battered moleskin, ensued by a long pause. I can’t do this; I am too emotional a person. I drummed my fingernails on the table, my thoughts are aplenty but scattered. At last I relented. I have been avoiding this demon for far too long. When it comes to Mama, my highly articulated world doesn’t seem to find appropriate words to aptly describe my feelings. Suddenly, all of the words become perfunctory.
The guilt, the love, the anger and the affection are running havoc in my mind right now. I could hear her in a distance as she reads to my son in her halting English. I surreptitiously watch her and see her kissing the utterly spoilt grandson with fierce passion. My heart is in agony but I must try to write from my heart. My childhood wasn’t as breezy as it was supposed to be. Mama was constantly juggling to make ends meet. Ayah was a lowly officer with KTMB and with his meager salary he had to support two families; his first family and our family. My mother was a second wife. Mama used to beat the crap out of me. We didn’t get along at all. All that I can recall throughout my childhood and teenage years were the shouting rows we had. On the other hand, I got along famously with my Ayah. This seemed to annoy her endlessly.
Mama said I was a wanton child, “degil”. However, grandma contradicted her statement by saying that mama was lashing her anger at my dad through me. Ayah and I were completely alike both in physical appearances and mannerisms. As I enrolled in the boarding school at the tender age of fifteen – I earned my long awaited freedom. In the heart of my hearts, I was so relieved not to live under her roof anymore. I soared my youth in solitude, much to my happiness. I never looked back. I always thought Mama raised me because she didn’t have any choice. Our differences became more apparent as I entered womanhood and Ayah passed away. I missed my father dearly and I mourned him for years.
One fateful evening on my 31st birthday, God gave me a gift. Luqman was born into this world after a difficult childbirth. God had shed the light on the dark path between me and Mama. Mama, I am sorry for being so stubborn all these years, I am sorry for thinking that you hated me. I am sorry for always trying to keep a distance between us. I am sorry for hurting your feelings. I am sorry for smoking cigarettes and blatantly lied about it. I am sorry for all those time I made a face at you. Now I know that you could have not possibly hated me. You love me as much as I love Luqman. Mama, I hope you forgive my foolish ignorance. I hope you will live with us forever. I hope you stop thinking about going back to Kota Bharu. I am what I am today because of you, Mama. The strength in my veins is inherited from you.
I thank you Mama for raising me. I thank you for supporting me from primary school right up to law school. I remembered you waking up at godforsaken hour in the morning to make “kuih” for sale so that you could financially help Ayah. I remembered your frugal manner when it comes to money to ensure Adek and I would have the best that you can afford. I appreciate it Mama.
And now as the end is near for this posting, I feel truly relieved. Lastly Mama, let us just move on from this anecdote and start afresh. I love you Mama. (I am switching off the pc and taking her out to eat the carrot cake she loves so much from Secret Recipe – we got a lot to catch up)