Sunday, October 5, 2008

When Love Comes A-Calling ( IV )

May 2001

SHE felt terribly guilty. It had been three days since her mother returned from performing the umrah (small haj) and she had yet to drop by her sister's house in Shah Alam to visit the old lady.

At the back of her mind she knew, if she kept deferring the visit, she might just miss Mak altogether, for the old lady was itching to return home to Dungun as soon as she could, to her flowerbeds and potted plants and the odd cat or two that always strayed into her compound.

At the office, work was piling up. The client was being particularly difficult - pickier and pettier than before - and as senior consultant, she had to bear the brunt of their frequent outbursts.

The pressure to deliver was also mounting that she sometimes felt like leaving consultancy work altogether. Perhaps she should return to the less challenging, definitely more manageable corporate PR.

As far as affair of the heart was concerned, she had not really given it much thought. The idea of taking the friendship with Ashburn to the next level wasn't in the works. At least not on her part.

Ashburn seemed a decent enough guy and she felt comfortable with him. They had known each other all of two months, so she wasn't going to lose sleep over anything. That just about summed it up.

She found him down-to-earth and likeable. She appreciated his humility despite the high perch he occupied in the corporate world prior to his early retirement to devote his time to golf.

She was also privy to some personal heartaches that he carried within him. Further, she knew he loved his three children (then in their late teens and early twenties) to bits (he spoke gushingly of them), although he had not spent time with them often enough.

It was during one of their frequent 'teh tarik' sessions that they discovered their paths had crossed once before, in London in the early months of 1976.

He was then 23, in his final semester at the University of Westminster, and due to graduate in mathematics and computer science in June.

She had recently turned 21, had been married for two years and had just given birth to a baby boy three months before at the University College Hospital in Euston Square.

Her studies had been put on hold due to her 'brought-forward' marriage and she had intended to continue it when they returned to Malaysia in due time.

[She married on the 100th day of her late father-in-law's death, to fulfil his final wish made the night before he was assassinated, that he wanted so much to see his eldest son wed and to receive his first daughter-in-law. Suffice to say her simple 'aqad' was a tearful occasion.]

They both had frequented Malaysia Hall in Bryanston Square for different reasons; he, to play table tennis with friends and she, to have her meals at the cafeteria while on weekend outings with her baby boy.

It was a marvel that they both remembered each other. He recalled a tall and fair, fresh-faced woman who looked too young to be a mother, yet she was. He told her that he often wondered the identity of the woman.

She recalled an unkempt student with owl glasses and torn jeans, always spending time at the pingpong table. She told him that he stuck to her mind because of his messy, nerdy appearance.

It was a Saturday when she finally made it to her sister's house in Shah Alam. Her mother wasn't in the best of health before going to Mecca - her knees were giving her trouble - but while in Holy Land she was able to walk and climb unaided. And she certainly looked fit after her return.

Her mother had always been firmly anchored, a woman of few words. But this time she just couldn't wait to relate her Mecca experiences to her eldest daughter.

"Mak ada benda penting nak cakap kat awak ni," she started in a rush. "Masa Mak panjat Jabal Rahmah* tu, Mak asyik terbayang muka awak aja. Mak rasa awak ni nak bertemu jodoh." The words came tumbling out, breathlessly.

["I have something important to tell you. While climbing the Jabal Rahmah, your image kept flashing in my mind. I think you are about to meet someone you will marry."]

She almost choked on her tea. Jodoh? Kawin? Who with? Who's talking matrimony?

"You've got to be kidding, Mak," she responded incredulously. "I have been single for so long I don't think I want to kawin anymore. Whatever for? I am 47! I don't have the urge to kawin. On top of that, I don't even have a calon (candidate) and I certainly don't know of anyone crazy enough to marry a decrepit old woman like me!"

But her mother was not to be denied. "Tak percaya tengoklah. Jodoh awak dah sampai," (wait and see if you don't believe me, for your time has arrived) said she adamantly, with such conviction that it sounded almost believeable.

That, well and truly had her feeling somewhat unsettled.

[Note: According to Tradition, Jabal Rahmah, also known as Mount of Mercy, situated in Arafat just outside Mecca, was the place where Adam and Eve were reunited after being thrown out of Paradise. Unmarried pilgrims usually say a prayer here asking for Divine intervention and blessing to find their life partner].


Anonymous said...

alah..merendah..dirinya..masa bila tah dia decrepit..lawo jer selalu..ari tu tengok gambor gambor awok tu ler..

tapi agaknya bila dah beranak anak camtu ler rasa kita bila semua dah kena di tarik dek graviti..nak ke selatan semuanya..alahai..tanda nak di tarik masuk kedalam lah juga..

puteri kama at-tarawis said...

hehehe.. betul sesangat..:) once the children dah besar panjang, terasa amatlah tuanya....

Anonymous said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yang alim.

Terima kasih kerana sudi menjawab komen saya yg terdahulu dengan pantun, kata kucing ray yang penyantun. Pantun itu sangat bagus, kata Pak Malim sambil mengunyah Sugus. I am so impress, kata Pak Malim sambil naik bas express.

Anonymous said...

How can I meet you and Pak Abu in the Royal Lake Club?

jaflam said...

salam kata kama,
Considering that people live up to 75 nowadays, 47 is still young to go for another marriage. That is of course if you meet the right partner and mind you there many great people around but the trouble is they stay too low for the scanner.

I believed the mother gut feelings has some truth and hope her doa at Jabal Rahmah will come true.

Anonymous said...

It is already a done deal! And they are living happily ever after...

Kak Teh said...

puteri - it gets better and better!
London is wet, cold and gloomy - so i need so me more of this hot stuff.

Anonymous said...

Cagey, me too, i getting addicted to ur blog....LOL


puteri kama at-tarawis said...

Wahai Pak Malim, kucing ray yg alim

isy, jangan makan sugus, rosak gigi tak bagus, kata kama sambil kesat hingus (eewwww!)

Anon 5.10 - you can find us both at LC's Batek Bar almost every Sunday 8pm onwards for karaoke. Most times, we were the only Malay couple there. Come, let's hv coffee/hot lime with us.

W'salam Jaflam - at 47, I felt 67..hehehe.. penat semacam..

Anon 7.04 - :)

Kak teh - akan ku hangatkan hari2 mu dengan more hot stuffs.. LOL

Oi Snowy! - My orang kampung and fellow chatter! tq tq for visiting so often. One day we must do the mamak thingy again..