Monday, September 26, 2011

To Mama, a Farewell, Not a Goodbye

To ask me to speak (or write) about the life, and all I remember about my grandma, my Mama into a few minutes (or a few words) is like asking me to write the history of the entire world unto a tiny piece of scrap paper. It simply isn’t possible. And I never will begin to think it is. Yet I shall try my best and write whatever comes to my heart in regards to my beloved Mama.

“Mama very love you, you know?” Those are the words that meant the world to me, and they still do, so much more than anyone could ever know.

For as long as I can remember, Mama was always there. Strongest lady I’ve ever met. Mama and Kongkong loved each other. They’d always get into arguments and Kongkong would let her win. I still remember a squabble they had when I was about 10 or so. Mama said that Kongkong was “siao”(crazy), and Kongkong on the other hand said that Mama was “kurang ajar”(insolent). They loved each other. Now Kongkong and Mama are finally back together again. I’d bet anything that Kongkong missed Mama too much, and asked God to bring her home.

Daddy used to always make fun of her, and she’d always shrug it off. Every single time. Deep down, I know she loved it. She was fun. She loved us all, and even when people made fun of her, she’d just go “cin bo eng” (useless), in the most loving way possible, as my family loved to do.

I remember Mama calling us at home, and when I answered the phone, she’d go “ah miao keng ha?” (that’s how she pronounced Malcolm). I loved it. Or everytime when she’d call mummy in the office, she’d ask “po nek le to ti ko?” (mummy was known as po nek)(where are you?) or “po nek le to opik ha?”( you’re in the office?) Do correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe she was also the person in the family who started the whole point of saying “he (sounds like hair)” among my mother and her brothers and sisters. Even today you can still hear them saying that when they talk to each other.

My cousins will all agree with me on this next point – we always say that Mama was “so cute!” She didn’t know very much English at all, but what she lacked of in quantity she more than made up for in quality. Plus she possessed (arguably) the greatest confidence of anyone her age. When she was full, she’d say “a bad word” (ask the cousins or myself if you want to find out what this is). There’s also a story about “funny, letchego” but again, ask the family. As such, so many phrases in our family were actually coined by Mama.

Mama was very opinionated about things and when she hated something, she hated it with a passion. When she loved something though, I’m convinced that no force on Earth could possibly stop her from getting it. I was blessed to be on the receiving end of her love. At one point of time, she followed a Chinese drama on TV (it aired every night from 10-11, I believe) and if ANYONE were to call during that time, she’d ignore the phone. Best part of it, she even WARNED us that she was going to do it. Yet I can remember that once, not realizing the time, I called from Canada during that time, and yet she took some time off her show to talk to me. Granted, it wasn’t the longest chat in the world, but she did. And I never will forget that.

The truth is, I might have seen this coming. While I was on a missions trip to North Africa, I got word that Mama wasn’t feeling too good. I begged God to allow me to see Mama, and not to take her home yet. He did. I spent every week of the summer going up to JB to see Mama, and those were some of the best memories of a few personal times I’ve had with Mama.

Mama was a great storyteller. Just over the holidays, she told me stories about her family, how she used to speak/read Japanese, and how her family ran a convenience store during the Japanese occupation. She also told me something that possibly not many people knew about, that her father was Baba. Even mummy never knew that. I felt super proud, super special to know that.

One of the things I miss (and will continue to miss the most) is her smile. The last few times I saw her, she was really down. She wasn’t too well. And I could tell. But every single time I looked into her eyes and smiled at her, she’d look back at me and smile, with the brightest, truest and most loving smile you’d ever see. And at that very moment, just for awhile, everything would seem normal again. All the chatter about her being unwell would die down, the fact that she wasn’t holding her food wouldn’t bother me. At that split moment, she was just Mama. My Mama.

If I were to write every single story regarding Mama and the effects that she’s had on my life and that of my extended family, all of you would be sitting here for days! If you ask me personally though, I’ll tell you stories, great stories of my lovely grandmother.

And hey, you can say that I’m selfish, I don’t care. But I really really rather have the grandma that I love back in Malaysia waiting for me when I come home for the holidays rather than in Heaven. I guess it just wasn’t fair to keep her away from Kongkong for so long.

“Mama very love you, you know?” I’m sorry Mama, I never had the chance to let you know. I love you more. Always have, always will. I’ll be waiting for the day when I see you again, back with Kongkong, at the Pearly Gates. Meet me there.