Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tuesdays With Bapak

Why is it that we become reflective of certain events, and people long gone, during Ramadan?

I remember when I was younger, and Kak Piah, Kak Ton, Abang Med or Kak Olin was abroad, Mak would say at the start of Ramadan : "Dah setahun kakak awak (or abang) di Canberra (or Sydney, Ohio or London)".

Ramadan would always be the time when Mak would make that point. It was her way of saying it out loud, that she missed her children and Ramadan gave her that perfect excuse and timing to do so. And that it was okay for her to display a little bit of emotion.

After Mak passed away, we'd feel it the first day of Ramadan, that she was gone "for a year". We'd start reflecting and reminiscing about Mak and what she would usually be doing during Ramadan.

"Eh...baru puasa lepas Mak ada, ya?" we'd reflect. Oh, we'd always do a great job of reminiscing.

It was the same with Kak Piah and Kak Eda. The first Ramadan without them brought that tinge of sadness and loss.

This time last year, Ramadan arrived as Bapak lay gravely ill.

He was admitted to the Pantai Hospital's ICU the week before Ramadan.

It seems like yesterday that we were going through the roller-coaster of those 12 days at the hospital, waiting anxiously to see signs that Bapak would make it through.

He died on the fourth day of the blessed month.

The sadness, the grief and the hollowness have not quite gone away. They remain fresh. Busy work schedules are a distraction. A panacea, even.

This time last year, I was doing my own thing. Thankfully. As I was able to be at the hospital when I was needed or when I needed to be.

Memories of Bapak's last days are crystal clear. I've learnt to store them somewhere deep inside. There are times, as I indulge in a little reverie, I play them, like a film but where I could pick the scenes at will.

I don't know why I want to remember those moments. Perhaps, to remind me that he is no more. That he is gone. Or, simply to remember.

Throughout our time at the hospital, our buka puasa was either in one of the guest rooms at the ICU, or at the cafeteria.

Because he died during Ramadan, we spent "buka puasa" together (in our section 16 family home where our youngest sibling, Nina, now lives with her family)), opting not to accept invitations outside.

Aidilfitri celebration was subdued. Friends and relatives visited during the first two weeks of Raya but we did not hold the customary open house for Bapak's close friends.

Bapak's final days were not all that I remember, of course.

Now that Bapak's gone, memories of our Ramadan childhood come flooding back.

Those days, there were no neighbourhood "pasar Ramadan". The only "real" one was in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.

Weekdays, Mak would make her signature kuih kosui, ondeh-ondeh or kuih lopis. Mak would also prepare Bapak's (and of course, our) favourite dishes -- bamia, soto ayam, laksa johor, mee siam or mee rebus as a special dish (in addition to rice and other dishes) -- spread throughout Ramadan.

Bapak never bought dishes for buka puasa. He'd buy certain kuih, and only on weekends.

That's when we'd accompany him on that long drive to Kampung Baru. Something we'd always look forward to every Ramadan.

Pasar ramadan in Kampung Baru was not as massive as it is now. It was manageable then (in the 70s). We could find a very decent parking space not too far from the rows of stalls.

We'd start from the first stall and make our way to the end. We would drool just looking at the delicious and delectable kuih. Bapak was a load of fun. He'd tell us that we could buy anything we wanted but when we made our pick, he'd playfully discourage us, saying that the kuih did not look nice, the colour's too bright yada yada yada. He'd end up buying what he liked. Which was actually a good thing because we'd end up with a delicious fare. Which were always the same kuih-muih.

The visits to Kampung Baru stopped after Bapak was detained (under the ISA)
By the time he was released (some five years later), the Kampung Baru appeal was no longer there for him, nor for us. Besides, it was also when pasar ramadan began mushrooming in local neighbourhoods which was a good thing although it took a while for these "pasars" to be like Kampung Baru's.

The ones in Section 14, and then Section 16 (Petaling Jaya) became his regular Ramadan bazaar.
Then, it was our turn to take Bapak to these places.

Later on, old age forced Bapak to remain very much indoors.

It's a Ramadan ago that Bapak was with us. And left us. (Al Fatihah).

How time flies. Ever so quickly.

But Ramadan will be Ramadan as we celebrate its glory and blessings with the ones we have and are with us.

And it is always during Ramadan that we feel the most that sense of loss of our loved ones who have left us. Al Fatihah.

But we will always remember them...Amin.

Selamat Berpuasa!


armouris said...

banyak info tentang puasa kat sini - Puasa @ Info-Kesihatan-Anda

Anonymous said...

al fatihah..

Roslina said...

Hi Nuraina,
Your post reminded me of my father who passed away in 1988. I still remember that day like it was yesterday - my helplessness watching him suffer and my prayers to God to end his suffering. I wish that he could see my kids - I just gave birth to my eldest child when he passed away. I'm glad that he saw her and played with her. Everyone told me that I was his favorite, I wished that I told him that I love him more often. People say that you will only know how much your parents love you when you have your own children.

Has Adel called you from Canada? My son is leaving for UK soon and as much as I dread that day, I am happy that he will move on to a new chapter in his life - a University student !

Retrogina said...

*HUGS to Kak Ena*

I pray everyday for my Mak & Bapak to be healthy so that I will be able to, one day, spend Ramadhan or Raya with them.

It's been 5 years. *sigh*

Rocky's Bru said...

Memang, seperti semalam saja. I was going through pictures on my Facebook and there was one of me with Zam and your late dad.


Baharudin said...

Salam Nuraina,
Sad & nostalgic indeed when one reminisces about Ramadan, on loved ones, relatives and friends now gone. Last Ramadan I was in Dhahran, and this one in Ajman, UAE... all the same, sweet sad memories... Ramadan kareem to you & family.

Basrjee Rakijan said...

Setiap ramadan dan aidil fitri memang selalu mengingatkan kita kepada insan tersayang yang telah pergi. Inilah masa kita semua bergembira dan semestinya mahu orang tersayang ada bersama.

Dan bila teringat ayah bonda yang telah pergi, saya selalu baca semula sajak Datuk Usman Awang yang terkenal, "Ke makam bonda".


mr ketam : terima kasih.

roslina: yes, that is true. when i was conceiving adel, it really hit me what my mom went through to have 10 children.
tahniah to your son.

Adel left for Canada early Sunday.we stayed up after Sahur and got ready to go to the airport to wish him bon voyage and all the best in his academic pursuit.
his father accompanied him. how lucky he is!

he txted me and called me after he was a little settled there, to wish me a good buka puasa and to say that he missed me and hope i was ok and also to say that he was ok and not to worry and that the weather was cold even tho it is summer.

i know what you mean -- it is a new journey and a new life for him away from home in a faraway land...


gina -- five years already? wow....long time... Inshallah your prayers will be answered. Allah SWT moves in mysterious ways.

take care and hope to see you again soon.


baharuddin : selalu di perantauan, ya. there is the good and of course, the pain in that but we always try to make the best of situations.
thank you and ramadhan kareem to you too!

basrjee: ramadhan memang begitu. nanti masa aidilfitri menjelang memang siap lah air mata berlinangan kapan mendengar takbir.
terima kasih kerana sudi ke sini.


rocky: it was at his birthday dinner or a raya open house? i remember that.

macam semalam dia melayan you and kawan-kawan over lunch.


Al Fatihah!

Hayden said...

Kak Ena, your posting wants to make me appreciate my parents and siblings even more. Life is short and my parents are getting older...
Ramadan has a way of evoking many emotions, especially about our loved ones.
It's weird how Ramadan has that affect on all of us- every year

Anonymous said...

Salam Nuraina,

Reading your post and comments bring out tears to my eyes. I don't know whether it is sadness or happiness. I remember lining up to buy the famous popiah during this period at Section 14 Pasar Ramadhan. You gotta queue at least 30minutes before you get your turn and I think it was 60 sen a piece a couple of years back. Its probably has gone up now but that has not deter customers to buy them. I must say it tastes good and worth the wait & price.

Ramadhan Kareem to you & family....

donplaypuks® said...

very nostalgic and poignant.

we are all of 1 race, the Human Race

Lenggong Valley said...

I lost my mother in august 2006 and father in 1991. We will always cherish them.

I was there when ur dad was laid to rest and you were there at my hse the day my father's body was brought home.

patriot jawa johor said...

dear kak ina,
this posting of yours reminds me of my beloved mother. she also passed away during ramadhan 16 years ago. I remembered reading the surah Al-Yassin as my siblings assist her with the Shahadah before her last breath that ramadhan morning. My mom was the pillar of my family. A strong woman who guide her nine children through the thick and thin of life. Her last wish to me was for me to marry my long time girlfriend. I did so two years later (cant did so earlier as i was yet to have a steady job). My first child, a daughter was also born during ramadhan. When Pak Samad left us, I felt it rather deeply. Its because my dear father had at that time just passed away two months earlier and that both arwahs were of the same age. Even the way they left us was almost identical. I went through what you had to endured on those last days of our beloved father's life. Your postings of those days reminds me of all the pains and my heart goes out to you. Ironically, the first time I had the opportunity to spend time with you was when out of the blue you invited me for dinner about three months later. At that time I really felt like you are my big sister for what we share in common. Somehow this "Tuesday with Bapak" posting does bring back that mood of those day. Thanks Kak Ina. Al=Fatehah for all our loved ones who are no longer with us.

PS I also called my father "bapak" and my mother "mak"

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Old Fart said...

Told you, I like your Tuesdays with Bapak....they have this special ingredient that makes me want to read.


hayden (fairuz) ; yes, fairuz. Life is short. do what you hve to do while you can with your parents and your siblings..
salam ramadan to you!

namza: reflecting on days gone by when the people we love were still alive always makes us teary.
much like looking through an old album ... everytime you open it, one of those people in the photograph(s) would have passed away...then, when one day you open the same album,.,,everyone in the photographs have passed on. especilly those black-and-white photos.

oh yes oh yes...the popiah mamak in section 14. too die for...i remember queuing up petang-petang. my family loved the popiah. especially Bapak. kalau beli, mesti beli se-dozen...tak berbaloi queue lama-lama and beli lima or enam. and must makan cepat-cepat. simpan lama sikit, basi.
i can remember how the mamak prepared the popiah. kalau you minta sedozen, dia lay out sedosen popiah skin, spread the sauce, and then methodically and very swiftly "sprinkle" the different fillings. and then roll the popiah.

later, i think his brother or son or relative opened up a popiah stall in Lucky Gardens. Also ramai customer, every day.

thanks for the memories!


donplaypuks : please don;t be sad...:-)
thanks for always visiting.


lenggong valley: Al Fatihah.
1991...hmmm...lama dulu.
Kita dah jadi yatim piatu.

Take care.

patriot jawa johor: sama-lah kita. Mak died 19 years ago.Your mum, 16 years ago.And my Bapak and yours passed away the same year. Al fatihah.

We remember them always in our prayers.

take care.


Old Fart,

Aaaw...you just don;t like me talking politics. :-)

Thanks for visiting.


mutalib saifuddin said...

salam, kak ena

well, today, it's been a year since his passing. al fatihah.

bila nak bukukan TWB? agak curious di sini. i think it's time to have another volume of Journalism and Politics-this time from his own daughter! he'd be proud of you, i'm sure, if he's still around.


Theta said...

Now that I've aged (ever so gracefully, if I might add), I'm always nostalgic and melancholic of the yesteryears during Ramadan. Your post echoes this longing of happier times with my family.

I guess it all boils down to perception. As a kid, life was much simpler - it's all fun and games. For instance, we happily equate Raya to getting Duit Raya which corresponds with the number of days we fast. We were not exposed to the vagaries of life, nor do we care about the nuances of emotions in the adults' world.

I guess I'm just missing those carefree days.

Have a blessed (second-half of) Ramadan and a victorious Eid!