samedi, octobre 30, 2010

An Ode to My Grandmother

Rahmah Nik, the only daughter of Nik bin Besah and Yang Chik. granddaughter of storyteller Bebunga from Endau. An avid reader, Syair Ken Tambuhan, Hikayat Tajul Muluk and Hikayat Abdullah enthralled her. It was the 1930s, life was charmed yet turbulent with her policeman father travelling around the country. He was honoured for saving Dato Hussein's life during the war.

My grandmother
Young reader
Lovely daughter
Cikgu Rahmah Nik, young teacher in her teens. She taught school children during the day and adult literacy classes at night in Pekan, Pahang. At a school fair, a visiting teacher - Jaafar Awang Pekan bought a blue muffler she knitted from her. Little did she know, Jaafar fell in love with the hazel eyed vivacious teacher in kebaya there and then.
My grandmother
Young teacher
Beguiling beauty

Puan Rahmah Nik, married at eighteen years of age. This was not an easy endeavour as Jaafar was engaged to another in Chenor. The break up caused a minor family riot which took years to settle. But both Jaafar and Rahmah were very much in love and remained so for the rest of their lives. Remembering the war, she spoke of tapioca days and thread made of pineapple leaves, saving matches to last the day. Hiding neighbours in the kitchen, masquerading as maids. Sisters masquerading as boys. Later they were involved in the National Teacher's Union, fighting for a better life, then for the country. There were conferences and rallies to attend. She gave up jewellery and time for the cause.

My grandmother
Good neighbour, quick witted
Passionate about Malaya

Tok Rahmah Nik, grandmother at age 41 when first granddaughter was born far away in Australia. Together with Tok Jaafar, they were pioneers, he as headmaster and she was a teacher at the first Felda school in Lurah Bilut. Life was hard at the Rumah Kongsi - she negotiated with the Orang Asli for supplies as they loved to barter for batik, and other household stuff.

My grandmother
Knew hardship first hand
She kept the family together

Mak Chu Rahmah Haji Nik, back in Chenor was mother of ten, and Wanita UMNO leader. The household doubled up with nieces and nephews coming to stay. It was not luxurious but everyone had enough to eat and most importantly, the discipline to study hard. Everyone of the children and adopted children earned a place in residential schools.

My grandmother
Generous as she knew how
Problems to be solved - now

Tok Rahmah Haji Nik took in her eldest grandchild, yours truly who needed to be schooled in AlQuran and religion. At age 10, I could not read the Al-Quran nor understood the need to pray. Grandfather, Grandma and Tok Lebai took charge and I finished reading Quran the year after. Long after I left Chenor, I was told how Tok Lebai Ismail praised my ease and determination to read the Al Quran until his dying days. He passed away when I was overseas in Canada.

My grandma cooked breakfast for the poor students in school and entered craft fairs. She held Tupperware and Arcopal parties for the ladies. At night, she would faithfully prepare her notes for lessons the next day and she wrote in the most meticulous and beautiful handwriting I have known.

We watched Peyton Place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, P Ramlee on Friday nights. School holidays started with Tok Jaafar going to the train-station in Mentakab to fetch my aunties and uncles who returned for the holidays from MCKK, STF, SDAR, SEMSAS, STAR and more. She took me to do my IC. When I was to be sent to boarding school, Sekolah Seri Puteri, Tok Jaafar and Tok Rahmah drove me to Kuala Lumpur. We stayed at Hotel Asia.

My grandmother
Showered me with attention
Told me stories - Ken Tambuhan
To think through problems
Always surmountable

Hajah Rahmah Haji Nik went to Mekah after Tok Jaafar recovered from a prolonged illness which left him bones and skin. Whenever he was ill, that old blue muffler faithfully kept him warm. He recovered and they went for pilgrimage the year after. This started a passion for travelling in Tok Rahmah. After Tok Jaafar passed on, Tok Rahmah travelled to Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. She bought a little camera and used it with sheer delight.

My grandmother
Late starter traveller
Stories from abroad

Hajah Rahmah Yang Chik, passed away after being cared for by my mother in Taman Melawati. She was in pain, we told her stories and she wanted to hear Ken Tambuhan for the last time. As always, the Classic Nasional on the radio was by her side. She had always wanted her final resting place to be in Pekan where her father and husband were laid to rest. So we gathered as family in Pekan, the sky was overcast, there was the gentlest of drizzle.

My grandmother
Is no longer with me
Her last quiet breathe
Softly exhaled
She left gently

A lifetime of purpose.


You will find more reflections on Grandma here.

13 commentaires:

Wan Sharif a dit…

What else could I comment.. save for agreeing with you on your conclusion.. she has led a life.. a lifetime of purpose.. May Allah blessed your grandmere and put her with the Muqorrabin..
I would not mind if I manage to achieve 10% of what she had achieve with her brood(love ones)..

Cat-in-Sydney a dit…

Aunty Ninot,
This is so beautiful. Wish someone could write an ode to me when I had left this world....purrr....meow!

Wan Sharif a dit…

Tumpang lalu Ninot..
CiS, that would means 9 cats are said to have 9 lives..

Cat-in-Sydney a dit…

Ayoh Wang (sorry Aunty Ninot),
Wouldn't that be lovely? Then Aunty Ninot can publish a book of odes - Nine odes for a cat with nine lives. har har har *evil laughs*

psst...mana tuan rumah ni?

ninotaziz a dit…

Dear Ayoh Wang, CiS and all blogger friends who visit ninotazizpurplemusings from time to time,

Thank you for all your kind wishes during a time of responsibility and letting go for our family.

Incidently, it was gently drizzling in Pekan Pahang when we put Grandma to rest for the last time. Perhaps the beginning of the monsoon season...

Honestly, I feel blessed I had the guidance of my grandma for so long and that all my five daughters got to know her.

For my reflections on yet another phase in our lives:

The reason why I have included the links here is to share how I personally appreciate the elders in my family, as I am sure we all do.

And who knows, perhaps there is a chance someone out there was an old student or friend of hajah Rahmah Haji Nik, and this news would have reached you.

Al Fatihah.

Yes CiS - come to think of it "Odes for a cat with nine lives" sounds like a VERY good title for a book of poetry!

Sherry Blue Sky a dit…

What an amazing, rich life your grandmother lived, of utter dedication to family, students and others. You have written well. What a glorious matriarch, she set an amazing example to the women in your family. My bond with my grandmother was strong too, like yours with your special grandma. I, too, am fascinated with the stories and history that lived in them. I love what you have written, which allows me the privilege of seeing and understanding a very special woman's life through difficult times. By the way, Nino, I saw the cover of the book Rice Mother on your blog, and am reading it right now. It is amazing, and also makes me understand better what your grandmother lived through in the war years. Women do hold families together. Thank you for sharing this history with us. I love that your grandparents stayed in love, and that your grandpa used the blue scarf all his life. What a strong foundation they built for your family. Really admirable human beings.

signed...bkm a dit…

Amazing story of a strong, strong is women like this that make the world a better place, hold families together and passed down the love of God to their children and were blessed to have her as a grandmother..blessings...bkm

Carrie Burtt a dit…

Your grandmother certainly did lead a life with purpose, and her love and passion for life live on in your life...a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life have been in my thoughts and prayers.

Cat-in-Sydney a dit…

Aunty Ninot,
I'll gladly pose for the book cover. purrr...meow!

BaitiBadarudin a dit…

that is so sweet ... and inspiring!

ninotaziz a dit…

Dear Baiti,
Thank you for being here.

Jingle Poetry a dit…

you remind me of my own grandmother.
original and very fine tuned poetry.
keep it up.

Jingle Poetry a dit…

welcome join our poetry community, a place poets share and encourage.
I signed in to follow your blog.

hope to see you share a poem with us at our potluck tonight.

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