Sunday, October 12, 2008

Of Ayah, Bapak and A Father

I grew up without a father - he abandoned a pregnant wife for a girlfriend - and that coloured my perception of men ever since. I know it's unfair, tarring all men with the same brush, but the pain never healed for Mak. Neither does it, for me.

I have no wish to speak ill of the dead. Suffice to say, that one single act of betrayal has lasting consequences.

The man I called 'Ayah' (father) all my life until he died some 15 years ago was my step-grandfather. He was the kindly man my grandmother married upon the untimely death of her first husband, of high fever, during the Japanese Occupation.

My grandfather's death at 24 left grandma a widow in her early 20s, with four young children; the youngest, a baby. She took to sewing, renting a stall in the Kota Baru market, to feed those kids. That was where Ayah met her.

I was foisted upon the couple at the age of nine days. My grandmother, not one to conceal things, never spared the details of how I ended up in their care.

But I never worked up enough courage to ask my mother about it. She knew that I knew, and that was that. There was nothing left to be said between us.

I loved my mother dearly and couldn't even begin to imagine how much she was hurting, how emotionally tormented she must have been, when she did what she did.

In the 1950s, there still wasn't a name to post-natal depression. Women were supposed to give birth and get on with life. Depression was considered part and parcel of the whole birthing process. So what's a little mood swing?

But consider this. She was hardly 20, with two children aged two and one, and the third on the way. Three months into her pregnancy, her husband upped and left for an old flame. He never returned.

And when she finally gave birth, abandoned, unloved and alone, who could have faulted her if she snapped? And snapped she did. Many women have lost it for less.

Grandma said she went to the market one morning and left me, then nine days old, in the care of Mak. I must have fretted or cried, like all babies are wont to do, when she calmly submerged me in a tubful of water and held me down.

Grandma said she arrived home just in time. "Kalau awak tak mau dia, bagilah kat Cek, biar Cek bela." (If you don't want her, let me have her). Those were Grandma's words. And that was how I ended up being a spoilt brat for the next 15 years of my life.

The 'surat cerai' (divorce papers) came via mail three months after she delivered, by which time my mother, a stunning beauty in her heyday, had a suitor.

The young bachelor married her in due course, taking her second son and raising him as his own from the onset of their married life together. They were blessed with five beautiful daughters, my dearest sisters.

The couple did live happily ever after. The marriage lasted more than 40 years, until Bapak died peacefully in his sleep 10 years ago. Mak passed away in May this year.

As for my biological dad, he did marry the erstwhile girlfriend and they were blessed with five sons.

Sadly, much as I tried, I could never muster any feeling of affection for him. I was numb emotionally. He broke my heart before I even saw the light of day. I forgave, but forgetting was well nigh impossible.

He remained distant in my life, even when he was close, physically. I respected him as a father, however miniscule his contribution to my upbringing (well, it was nil). I didn't respect him as a man. On both scores, I never wavered.

I visited him and his wife occasionally, so that the children could get acquainted with their grandpa and step-grandma. But that was just about it. I was dead inside. I shed the customary tears at his funeral, but I didn't and couldn't (and perhaps, with total honesty, wouldn't) grieve.

May Allah (swt) forgive me for my heart of stone.


Kak Teh said...

puteri, its a very touching story but you've done very well for yourself.
Take care.

Anonymous said...

hmm..kak teh dah dapat no. 1..

for sharing...purposes..i tried very very hard to forgive..
forgave i did but not the love..
yes it is dead very dead and cold inside

for your it is different you can love another man..

i am trying very very hard here
because of "taat to allah and rasul" i obeyed..but love is for me to hold

too phobia to get hurt by any man..

untill maybe someday..

laptop said...

You win some.
You lose some.
Now dah dapat Pak Abu yang handsome.
Syukur alhamdulillah :-)

anon October 12, 2008 9:55 AM
Kena arm yourself .. mmng susah ... How do you mend a broken heart?

talqin said...


" Aku resah dalam kisah
Doa mungkin dijawab entah
Kerana aku abdi yang leka
Seringkali melakukan dosa
Mana mungkin kuperoleh cinta
Andai hati dicemari lara..."

Errr... bole ke?

Pp said...

ermmm, sebak i baca!

Salute to ur mom, grandma, grandpa and ur self.


lenzaidi said...

Well said and written. Coincidentally on the same boat, this couldnt pass without noticed. Keep writing Kama.

Anonymous said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yang alim.

Saya fikir, kata Pak Malim sambil duduk berzikir, Kama adalah seorang yang tabah, kata Pak Malim sambil memakai jubah.

Anonymous said...

to laptop..

every time i tried to let someone in..wajah getir ibu menjelma..

airmata ibu yang tak pernah mengalir..sama bersagat berparut di dalam hati anaknya..

mungkin satu hari ada anugerah dari allah dan saya tak mungkin dapat menghalang..

mana lah kak raya open house lah kut..

talqin said...

To anon October 12, 2008 9:49 PM,

kak kama u pi meneropong bakal menantu..

MrsNordin said...

I didn't realise you have such a colourful life. A very sad story indeed.. but not all men are the same, right?

Thanks for sharing.

Angelita Atractivo said...

perhaps one day, Allah might forgive my heart of stone, too!

[is there stone-est, u think? ;p like big, bigger, biggest... cos if there is, then mine is stone-est! ;p]

Puteri Kama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Puteri Kama said...

angelita...hehehe.. that's a cute one! i think we are forgiven our hati batu, under the circumstances..

Puteri Kama said...

Kak Teh - i find writing therapeutic. the whole being feels lighter once the words tumble out. ..

Anon 9.55 - walau dlm kegetiran amat sangat, bila kita ingat Dia, lega sikit rasanya..

Lap - broken heart takyah mend. biarkan broken. simpan the pieces baik2. macam pinggan, sompek sikit pun masih boleh pakai kan..hehehe..

talqin - pandai u berseloka

pp - i pun sebak masa tulis, bergenang air mata bila ingatkan kisah silam..

lenzaidi - senasib kita .. tq for the kind words.

kepada pak malim, kucing ray yg alim
itu semua Tuhan nak duga
kata kama yg termenung tepi telaga
kama nampak si ray pakai jubah
terus dia jadi gelabah
sebab atas kepala ray bertenggek lebah
(alamat ray nak kena sengat tu..:) )

anon 9.49 - kama pi karaoke kat lake club..baru aja balik..

talqin - kamu ni kan nak kena piak..:)

Mrs N - true, bukan semua men mcm tu.. Pak Abu sure mr N dan awang goneng pun sama baiknya.. :)

talqin said...

what a dotter if not piakable by a mom.. hehehe piakable i am.. :-) singing Jimmy Ruffin's, What Becomes of The Broken Hearted..tell me..tell me..tell me..oooooo. <<--the song..[ma u dont mind i'm putting the url here for sharing rite? if u do, u may piak me as much as u wish ;-)]

Anonymous said...

Salam to all avid fans of Kak Kama,

(fans ke best friend ke, all lah)

someone mention about satar that day, and I found out from friends the best satar in town can be bought at Pantai Dalam..gebu gebu they said..

dah suruh depa bawak mengadap..apa bestnya satar niih..

stoneaged kl girl mana nak tau ni semua..

wah kak bring culture to my life...he he he..

The Inner refugee said...

Ooo Kak Puteri, that was so sad n terribly tragic. N so honorable of you. If I were in your shoes, I m not sure I would be able to visit and respect him as a father, whatever. I d forget him and be damned with the consequences.

talqin said...

Bestnya satar tu bila cukup rasa ikannya, lemaknya, manisnya, pedasnya.. best anon.. betul best..

Kalau di commercialkan satar ke london laku gamaknya..

Anonymous said...

to Talqin,

Awan naa. tak ada apa apa lagi dalam blog..

nu..sajak nu..baguih dah tu..letak sana pun tak pa..

kak kama dak posting..

bila kerja kerja ni..suka cup sana sini..bila stress.. dapat yang haru.. tu baru tersengeh sengeh sensorang.

Anonymous said...

alamakk..kat sini tak leh edit yek..

tu dah silap taip tu Talqin..

bukan awan..tapi awat naa..

Puteri Kama said...

inner refuge - half of me had wanted my heart to rule my head. But I knew it would not serve any purpose apart from prolonging the pain. Also, I didn't want to deprive my children from knowing their grandfather and his family. It's a tough balancing act, but what to do.. I am his flesh and blood after all. takut jadi anak derhaka..tak cium bau syurga.. takut sangat2.

Pak Idrus said...

Kama, indeed a touching story and I believe your mom and step father gave you all the loves and that is I believe one reason you are as successful. What happened is history and for that matter which family do not have a history of sort. Forgiving is a bold doing and it takes a great heart to do that. You did right by forgiving.

Have a nice day.

Zulhazmi said...

Kak Kama,

Salam, my name is Megat Zulhazmi b. Megat Abdullah Rafaie..we are cousin...
I do feel really sad reading your story...When I was studying in ITM Dungun, I did went to your mother's house...such a nice lady...I was surprise that I have a relative in Dungun, Terengganu.. at that time I can't relate the family connection...

I hope to see all of your family in Kuala Kangsar this coming 26 October during our family gathering...

Have a good day...

Puteri Kama said...

Pak Idrus - Although raised by grandparents, I was very fortunate to have the love of both Mak & Bapak as well. They instilled a lot of old-fashioned values in me, for which I am eternally grateful. "Yang sudah, sudahlah." That was my grandma's oft-quoted mantra. She taught me not to harbour ill-will.

Zulhazmi - what a pleasant surprise! it's always great to discover yet another sedara. So you hv been to my mak's house in Dungun, eh. Indeed she was a gem of a woman.

Btw, we met your dad just before puasa, at the wedding kenduri of Megat Mentaha's son in Setiawangsa. There were so many Megats and Puteris I didn't know who was who Insyaallah, we may make it to Kuala Kangsar on oct 26.

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

Thanks for sharing this very touching story of yours. Can't imagine how you felt those days. Tak pe lah, ini lah yang dikatakan qada & qadar.

You are a very strong person, I can see that. And you are doing the right thing too. Take care yah.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Kay - tq for the kind words. we all cope the best we is too short to be spent brooding over past sins... :)