Monday, October 20, 2008

What Will Be, Will Be (Final)

IT was a whole new world out there in Kuala Lumpur, running around covering assignments of all manner and kind, and enthusiastically chasing after stories, as rookie reporters are wont to do.

Assigned to the afternoon daily, The Malay Mail (then the only noon paper around), my life revolved around work and nothing much else. The hours, long and arduous, were at the expense of my social life, but being social was the least of all my concerns.

Journalists (then and now) tend to date and eventually marry each other, and I was no exception. Having a fellow scribe as one's spouse in a way eliminates potential misunderstanding and mistrust as he/she understands the nature of one's work, especially the long hours involved.

I dated N, a fellow journalist, whom I eventually married, followed him to London where he was posted as a correspondent, returned home with a baby in tow and moved to Kuantan on yet another posting, where two more tykes came our way.

The close proximity between Kuantan and Dungun saw us driving up to visit Grandma and Grandpa often, mostly to let loose the children on their doting great-grandparents. Occasionally we would take in Kuala Terengganu as well, day trips mostly, to shop and poke around.

It was during one of those trips that I inadvertently ran into my erstwhile suitor Z, the English teacher. My two little boys and I were looking at some batik and brassware in the marketplace of Kedai Payang while their father was somewhere ahead at one of the stalls, when Z came sauntering down the narrow pathway.

We chatted civilly for a while, with him making the appropriate kind comments about the children. But when I asked about his marital status, his face changed: “Hati yang luka masih belum terubat dan sekarang sakit balik bila tengok you dengan anak-anak you.” Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

[My heart has yet to heal and now it is wounded afresh when I see you with your children].

It has been 29 years since that fateful meeting in Kedai Payang. I have not met him since. Wherever he is today, I hope he has found love and happiness. Z was a good man with good intentions. Only time wasn't on his side where I was concerned.

In 1980, my indefatigable grandmother passed away of cancer at the age of 59. Her sudden departure left a void so big that until today my heart aches at the mere thought of her. She was larger than life and when she died, part of me died with her.

A year later N was posted back to the head office. I took the opportunity to return to school, entering Mara Institute of Technology (ITM) as a full-time student, to study tourism management and administration.

I had earlier applied for a place in the School of Mass Communications, but was unsuccessful because I did not possess Higher School Certificate (HSC), and my MCE together with journalistic experience were deemed inadequate. Tourism was offered as an alternative, and I took it as other options were unappealingly business-based.

Be that as it may, at 26, with three children age 6, 4 and 2, I was the oldest student in my class and the only one given the NR (non-residential) privilege because as a wife and mother, I couldn't possibly board at the hostel. I graduated top ten of the class at the age of 30, mighty pleased with my own little academic achievement.

While I rued the fact that Grandma wasn't around to see me earn that scroll, I was happy Grandpa was, to share my joy. He died of old age in the mid-1990s. With the passing of the two beloved, a key chapter of my tumultuous life came to a close.

The year 1985 marked both a low and high point of my life; low because I had to decline offers from a couple of universities in the US due to N's adamant refusal to allow me to further my studies, and high because of the unexpected and unplanned yet welcomed arrival of my youngest child.

She was my muse in my moments of despondency due to N's reluctance to give me an opportunity to achieve my ultimate dream - to become an English lecturer. In more ways than one, that was a contributing factor to the big D.

After failing to to continue my studies, I returned to my old life in the Malay Mail, but the marriage began crumbling from within. I was firm in my belief of "bertolak ansur" (give and take) in a marriage. The will of one party should not be imposed on the other.

Where I had expected support, I found strong resistance and outright denial that left my dream in tatters. The marriage ended in 1987. I am not proud to say I initiated and walked out of it, bt I did.

Not long after the split, I made a major shift in my life's direction. I left journalism for public relations, because working under the same roof with an ex-spouse after a divorce proved both awkward and uncomfortable, especially if you kept bumping into each other at the coffee machine!

The split was, however, an amicable one and we remain friends until today. While N remarried a year after the big D, I chose to stay single, raising my four children alone. I was happy and contented as a single mother. As God wills it, Pak Abu came into the picture in 2001.

Today, the kids are working and living on their own. Two are in the media while the remaining two are in advertising. Pak Abu's three children are also in the workforce and leading their own lives. None of the seven are married. Yet.

By the way, I am not done with school. I started my Masters programme in communication studies in UiTM five years ago, but gave up soon after due to overwhelming workload at the office. I couldn't cope with both work and study.

At 54, I am now semi-retired, doing public relations consultancy work for a select clientele. I have a few loose ends to tie before the curtains are drawn on my life. I would like to pick up where I left off, studywise. And I would like to teach. English, if possible. It's self-actualisation.

Funny how life turns out. I have come full circle. Those days I couldn't wait to pack my bags and quit school. Today I am hankering to go back to the books.

Looking back, my protracted academic journey, with all its unexpected twists and turns, was as meandering as the placid and lazy Dungun River itself. But I have no regrets. Whatever the obstacles, life has alway been beautiful, and by the grace of God, will continue to be.


bergen said...

Here's to you, ma'am. Salute!

ummi365 said...

have a great day ahead kak kama.

Kak Teh said...

puteri, continue with the MA. when i did it , it was like a new lease of life.and am sure you have all the support now.
Gosh, I didnt realise all these while what you went through - am standing up while typing this.
Take care.

Pi Bani said...

Tabik spring!

Pp said...

kama :-)

u took me on a roller coaster of emotion reading this entry.
u have gone through so much, no amount of my imagination can come close to your personal experience! one thing come out louder than others - you know what you want, and you pursue them.
May you dream of self-actualization comes through.

Regards and salam to pak abu!

ArahMan7 said...

Got you from Cendana287. Great chap.

Anyway, love reading your post. Life is ironic, isn't it? When we were kids, we couldn't wait to get off school. But now, dekat umur senja ni we love to go to school again.

If given the chance I would love to study again. Guess I've missed a lot during those turbulent days.

See you around. Greetings and lots of love from Kuale Kangsor.

a malaysian in riyadh said...

Bullish that your wish will be granted, insya Allah.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

bergen, ummi, pi, amir - tq for the kind words.

kak teh - i intend to, especially so after knowing of your own 'kecekalan' in doing yr MA just recently. Insyaallah.

PP - having inner strength (and a perpetual nag for a grandmother) help... heheheh

arahman - aha! this must be one of my kin. in kuala kangsor, throw a stone and you will hit a megat or a puteri at the third throw..LOL.. tq for dropping by; yes that mat cendana is a class act.

Anonymous said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yang alim.

Seperti yg saya katakan dahulu, kata Pak Malim sambil mengunyah kuih bahulu, Kama adalah seorang yg tabah, kata Pak Malim sambil memakai jubah. Semoga kesabaran dan ketabahan Puan mendapat ganjaran, kata Pak Malim sambil memegang joran.

p.s : Saya suka kawan dgn wartawan! kata Pak Malim sambil meminum teh secawan.

lenzaidi said...

Thanks for sharing what seems to be a strong conviction to the story of your life.The way you pen down your story leaves lots of vacuum, that i believe they are still untold lol.

Be back to the fore soon okay.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

len - a lot of things remain untold because they affect people in my life who are still living. Glossing over is good enough.

Pak malim, kucing ray yang alim
kama tegas sebab nak hidup
takmau hari depan kama redup..

mamasita said...

Wow!You have your own very amazing 'steering wheel'driving thru all the 'potholes' and very 'winding roads'!A great inspiration to so many!

Ida Hariati Hashim said...

Some things are better left untold. We are the rightful owners of our memories.

I have things that I long to do, but I just do not know how and where to start. My other half has been very supportive, perhaps that is why I am reluctant to leave my comfort zone.

Thanx for sharing a slice of your inspirational story. :)

Pak Tuo said...

Your story brought memories of Jln.Riong.Same as you are I started working right away after
6th.Form in 78.
My first encounter with urban life of KL.We shared an apartment right across Jln.Riong ie.Jln.Bawal.The apartment next to YPM building kipping for the UM student then.
My apartment is of transit point for most cadet journalist freahly graduate from the ITM Mass Com Sch.A few head liners now,seems a long way home I reckon.
Well.that life.
The nasi minyak Den along Jln Riong.was my stop after work.Taking the Bus Mini 14 from Jln.222 a daily hazard.
That where I learn the jurno lingua and after work yaking on topic of the day.For sure I have my daily free edition.
Feel like going home to M'ka,I will tumpang the lorry distributing the NST to M'ka but the journey will begin after press circulation at 2am and arrive only after the round is made by the lorry driver but I arrive closes to my mum door steps somewhere around 6am.

Why am I telling you this,I reckon my stay at Jln.Riong teaches me the Life is Like a newspaper,we flip the next paper for more stories reading line after line with patience,preserverence and tact.

I like you story Puan.


JLKM Page said...

My conclusion, after reading all, kaMa is the ketegaq type.
Dia kata hat tu, hat tu laaa dia nak.

kak enon x-mbsc said...

Orang ketegaq selalu dapat apa yang dia nakkk....:D

psstt jlkm...lawa blog LOL..

Kama At-Tarawis said...

mamasita - tq for dropping by and for the kind words. now my life is commplete sebab dua2 dah datang visiting! my salam to him :)

Ida - you are lucky to hv a supportive other half. I hv nothing but admiration for such husbands.

Pak Tuo - tak sangka you pun alumnus Jalan Riong! welcome to the club. Yes, so many memories there, kan? I remember nasi minyak den..sentiasa penuh customers berkerumun.

JLKM - if put that way, I hv to agree. saya memang ketegaq sikit (I would say tegas than degil though). my late grandma had a better way of saying it..the pooor woman: kama tu tok buleh patoh anging dio...

kak enon - cikgu, pahabaq? tq for dropping by. you have been missed.

talqin said...

Laaa abis dah...

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Yes Talq - abih dah, and a whole load off my man-sized shoulders :)
AND.. kelibat you masih tak nampak lagi anywhere near Tmn Tun? Cikgu Teluk Intan pun rendah hati dtg jumpa kak dia..u pehal? Ma must letiaq.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kak Put. Stumbled upon your blog and been reading for a while now!I am leaving some comments only after you mentioned DTA - I am one of the 2 "Aliens" in your class "Mid" & "Mod". I am the "Mod'.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

MOD!!!! This is such a pleasant surprise! How hv you been? We must get together soon.. I am willing to play host. Are you in contact with any of the Class of 1984?

talqin said...

Tudia.. letiaq dah..

lenzaidi said...

i 'drool' while reading your stories as if its not you who is potrayed.
i read word by word patiently not to miss a word.For i admired the string of words put togather in a sentence before it excudes meaning.
Once again thanks for sharing and Sorry for asking more.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Len - awww, there's nothing to be sorry about. you know what? my fingers are itching to write again, I don't know yet what about, but rest assured this antiquated mind will reach deep inside to unearth something..:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kak Put. Left my details in your email. Can't wait to see you!

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

WoW, you are some determined lady!!I really admire you, come what may, you are ever so ready and to come out in the open to face the challenge.

And you are one courageous lady too, I must say.

Perhaps this quote is most apt to describe you.

"Some people dream of success... while others wake up and work hard at it."

Keep pursuing your dreams.

Mat Salo said...


I read the whole chronicles in a single sitting! I've been traveling you see, although I've been having 'sneak peeks', in a Jakarta hotel room for instance, muttering to myself, 'she's not done yet'. So I waited. And now I'm glad I waited until I'm suitably comfy (if being in a steel container on a floating junk can be described as 'comfy') so I can digest it all in one go!

And what a story it is. It gripped and moved me because I found parallels to it in my life too. You've done well, Kak and thanks for sharing something that was probably not easy to share. But glad you've put it all behind...

Kak Puteri, you're that Freshie Queen once again, and now go finish what your heart tells you to.

P.S. In a past life when Terengganu was my 'playground', I used to borrow anak towkay Lim's Toyota 4WD (yes, of the cinema) 4-WD and aimlessly wonder here and there. I ended up by the river a lot. It was such a serene place to be, and I imagined seeing the same sights you did...

Unrelated anecdote - I'll be posting a 'Raya' story soon and the jewelry you see adorning the apple of my eye (my only daughter who's just turned two) was procured - where else - in Dungun. Hmm, is it really cheaper there I wonder?

Mat Cendana said...

Thanks for your comments at my "Recovery" site.

Thought I should mention here that although I'm very quiet here (unlike at Mamasita Mamamia!, for instance), I come to this blog quite often. It's just that I simply don't know what to add! So I just read quietly...

BTW I was aware that your maternal site was from Pasir Mas. The connections from the paternal side were new to me.

And Pak Abu from Kuala Krau... That's now at least FOUR people I know who come from Temerloh; the other being Sherry (Chenor), a frequent visitor at my blogs. The other two are those I knew while at Gambang.

I don't know Pak Abu, but the others from Temerloh I mentioned are GREAT people. Must be something to that place...

mekyam said...

dear puteri,

you are already an awesome teacher.

of english and of life!

Kama said...