You were in the kampung just last week, and you are going again?
I just kept quiet. The embedded or implanted on purpose, devil advocate was quite right. I did not have a solid excuse that could be turned to reason. But the heart said, I needed to be back, just that.
This time I listened to my heart.
Emak was so happy to see us. I could see that in her grin. I saw the sparkle in her eyes. Seeing her beaming, I said in my heart “you have just given me the very reason for being here”
Spontaneously I said “we are going to Kluang to see Pak On at four” and it was half past two.
“Yes Mak we are. You said last week that you wanted to visit your favorite cousin”
“Aaaah Mak dah 2 TAHUN tak jumapa dia. Dialah sebaik-baik manusia” emak giving the often repeated testimony
She was ready in no time. By the time she told me she did not have Pak on’s address we were already on the trunk road to Air Hitam.
“Nombor talipon Pak On Ada dalam buku kelabu” referring to her address book that contains her who and who.
Half way to Kluang I dialed using my ancient communicator
Harap maaf nombor yang anda dail telah digantung sementara” I redialled and purposely put it on speaker mode for emak to hear. It was the same massage
“Talipon pak Naim, talipon Gani“she commanded
We finally got the direction to the house courtesy of my good cousin Gani.
Sampai roundabout pertama klg masuk kiru pukul 9. Lebihkurang 1 km mask kanan (sblm tu Akan jumpa satu simpang Kanan abaikan) jalan 50m masuk kanan kemudian 20 m Masuk kiri. Trus sampai hujung 80 m jumpa rumah pak on sebelah kiri
That was the SMS text by my teacher cousin Gani which look like an essay to me. Genius, was the guy who invented addresses I conferred.
” I will give it a shot, this is Kluang not Subang Jaya” and I was right,
After just two wrong turnings I manage to get to rumah Pak on. EUREKA!!
Pak on and emak have been extraordinarily close for cousins. He addressed her as Kak Ngah
“Bila Besar jadi kerani macam pak on.”
It was the weekly routine for pak on to be back at his maternal home and Mak would frequently joined the gathering with me tagging along.
Emak would put me on show that I could read. Me a kampong boy at just 5 able to read. She had every reason to be proud . Yunus and mahfuz my 2 pals in parit bajuri were not able to display such impressive ability.
And Mak Pe’ah, she was the modern woman, impeccably dressed courteous and friendly to the hilt,the right match for pak on the clerk.
I did not expect the deterioration in 2 years to be that bad. She was there at Isma’s wedding. Isma is my neice.
It hurt me to see her bedridden, with toes missing on one and a stump remaining what was before a full other limb.
Two double beds were adjoined together. At one end a flatscreen. I saw a printer on the shelves, two bottles of cookies under the bed, a study table for the school going grandchildren with the bed serving as the backless seat.
“we all sleep here, all 5 of us. Bibik sleeps on the floor” Pak on explained.
At a time when Mak and abah and us all were in poverty, dignified not abject poverty luckily, this was the couple who was so kind to us. Here was the couple who always welcome us with open arms and impeccable hospitality when we visit them too frequently. These were the people who let is sleep in the master bedroom when we visited them
Images of wak khir the mualaf they took care of, the mee soup with reddish meats that I refused to eat,thinking it was pork, the house with electric fans and electric iron and fridge. It was my epitome of luxury, the nearest I could get to see , feel and taste luxury.
Is this the inevitable suffering of old age that everyone would go through. Do we have a choice?
I believe we do. We could plan, put effort and pray that the rest of our life is the best of our life.
Seeing suffering of old age at close range brought that fleeting realization. It is prevention, precaution, the food you eat and the lifestyle you lead that is just waiting for pay back time.
I said fleeting because minutes later, at the mandatory pitstop, Kluang Station, it was coffee C, pau bilis, roti bakar, half boiled nasi lemak, mee Siam and mee gemok. All in moderation, was the excuse and only at Kluang Station,my launchpad to the world.
All the way back, emak did not stop talking. I must have made her day.
O lord plan the best for me for you are indeed the greatest planner.