Darling Datuk -- January 29 2008
Bapak's youngest grandchild, Sharmaine maybe only 10 months, but she knows her Datuk is one fun guy.
Playtime with her Datuk is usually in his room. You can hear Sharmaine's squeals of laughter whenever she's there.
You'd think that Bapak is tickling her all over, or making funny faces. Well, it's nothing like that.
Just the other day, I couldn't resist peeking into Bapak's room when I heard Sharmaine squealing almost uncontrollably.
I had expected Bapak to be swinging Sharmaine around the bed, or doing a "timang tinggi-tinggi".
It was nothing of the sort. My step-mother was holding Sharmaine up on the bed and Bapak, who was lying down, was just softly calling her name.
"Sharmaine. Sharmaine. Siapa tu? Sharmaine, ya. Cucu Datuk, ya," Bapak was saying, his eyes twinkling and his face grinning.
Sharmaine was thrilled and loving every second of this little "game" with her doting grandpa. She was squealing, her little body jerking with delight.
This little scene, which takes place 3 or 4 times a day is a replay of bygone years everytime there was a new baby in the house.
Only that Bapak today is a less energetic grandpa.
Bapak was a young grandfather when his first granchild, Jasmine, was born.
Jasmine is the eldest of Kak Ton's and Abang Ani's two children. She was born in Sungai Petani Kedah when Abang Ani was a Magistrate there in 1972.
I remember how excited Bapak and Mak were the day Kak Ton and Abang Ani were expected to arrive with their bundle of joy.
During Kak Ton's pregnancy, we were coming up with all sorts of names. And they were all boys' names.
Abang Ani was driving a mini cooper and then an Opel Manta.
So, we'd come out with "Adam Cooper", "Iskandar Cooper" and "Afandi Cooper" just for fun. And then they were "Adam Manta", "Iskandar Manta" and "Afandi Manta".
We never counted on Kak Ton delivering a baby girl.
Oh, I'd be using superlatives just to describe how my parents doted on Jasmine. They simply adored their first grandchild. The way grandparents did their grandchildren.
As for Jasmine's aunts and uncles - they spoilt her rotten.
I was in form five then. Kak Ton did not have a nanny yet by the time she had to resume work after her maternity leave. So she'd leave Jasmine in Mak's care. Somehow I got to babysit Jasmine throughout her stay at our house. I'd bathe her, put her to sleep and play with her until Kak Ton came to fetch her.
I enjoyed taking care of her and would rush to be with her the minute I got home from school. Even after she finally got a maid, Kak Ton would still leave Jasmine at our house. Invariably, it would be Mak who'd be taking care of Jasmine.
It was like that with every grandchild.
When my eldest nephew, Irwan Hakim, was born, we were all ecstatic. Not surprising that he was a little king in section 16. We'd "kidnap" him every chance we could.
In our household, the youngest grandchild gets to enjoy superstar treatment. He or she gets to ruffle or pull Bapak's hair or mess up his work desk. Older ones ONLY get to mess up his bed or bedroom. That had always been the unwritten rule.
Lalin's youngest child, Sonia, is still very attached to Bapak and Mak Cik. She is the second youngest grandchild and still gets the privilege of "monopolising" Bapak's TV remote control. I have caught Bapak many a time watching "Totally Spies". One cartoon programme after another.
Never mind if a special programme on Benazir Bhutto was on BBC.
While Bapak was under ISA detention, only one grandchild was born-- Kak Ton's second and youngest child, Jehan who was born in 1977.
After Kak Ton's "confinement", she took baby Jehan to see Bapak regularly until Jehan was three years old. That was when Kak Ton was transferred to Johor Baru to be Bernama's Johor bureau chief.
By that time, little Jehan had already got to know her Datuk.
In 1980, Kak Olin completed her law studies and returned home. She got married soon after, while Bapak was still in detention.
I was still in Boston then and returned home just a few days after her wedding. I also missed Kak Eda's engagement ceremony which was a day after Kak Olin's wedding reception.
Kak Olin's eldest child -- Khairil Ahmad -- still retains the honour of the grandchild most spoilt by Bapak.
When he was born in 1981, the only other grandchild around was Irwan who was, by that time,
Kak Olin stayed at Bapak's during her "confinement" and when she had to get back to work, she'd leave Khairil with Mak.
As I was still single and was living with my parents, I'd be the one who'd be babysitting him. Khairil grew to be pretty attached to me. I adored him.
Bapak was the quintessential doting grandfather. He broke every rule on parenting. He seemed to hold on to the maxim that grandfathers exist to spoil their grandchildren.
He'd take Khairil to Jaya Supermarket everyday to buy him....a toy. Khairil had He-Man, Transformers, dino-riders, star-com and lego...and all manner of toys. You name it, and Khairil would have it.
Kak Olin would be shaking her head and would be making such a fuss about Bapak's over-indulgence with Khairil.
"Stop spoiling him, Bapak," Kak Olin kept reminding Bapak.
Did Bapak listen? Did he even care?
If Bapak today is as active and energetic as he was in those "Khairil" days, Sharmaine would be one very spoilt little lady.
I do believe I can hear a sigh of relief from Nina...my youngest sister and Sharmaine's mummy.