Sunday, 24 April 2011

Mothers - (CsH)

Walking around and about Leicester these past years I observed many mothers pushing their tiny tots in prams and baby buggies.  Some of these portable kids look as old as 4 or 5 - they should be walking!

I do feel sorry for these little children for all they get is a worm's-eye view of the world - merely visions of shoes, feet, sandals, trousers, edges of skirts and coats (depending on the weather).  They also breathe in a good dose of carbon monoxide and dust especially when they are being trundled on the roadside.

I also note the same habit in Singapore in the last few years although not so much in Malaysia.

I remember a train trip from Bombay to Neral, sometime in the early 1980s.  I was standing next to an Indian lady carrying a toddler in her arms.  We both had to stand for the duration of the journey, which took over an hour.

I could not help but notice the bonding between mother and child.  Each time the train came to a shuddering stop, the little one would clutch her mother's neck for comfort and the mother would reciprocate with a little squeeze. The child would play with the mother's colourful plastic bangles.  It was like she was counting them or sorting them according to colours.  But that was how the toddler kept placid and happy.  This was a very poor mother and child and certainly the mother's arms must ache from carrying her baby.  But I do think  they derived a great deal  of reassurance and solace from this physical proximity, especially for the child.

You can't get this stuck in a baby buggy can you?

I have also been stuck in my own rut, sorting and scanning the old black/white family photographs.  I was quite chuffed when I found photos of  mak mendukung  my brother Mus.

Singapore Botanical Garden, 1947.
I also recalled how she would carry Akim in an emban just like these Malay ladies from some years ago before my mother was born.  It took me a couple of days to excavate these pictures from my treasure trove of pre-war and post-war books.

From a 1930s Journal of the Empire
The caption for the above picture reads  :

Malays are devoted to their children who up to the age of fifteen and sixteen are most engaging creatures.  They trot about with their parents, and when a baby is tired, the mother swings it on to her hip and twists a sling for it out of her sari [it's actually a longish and wide selendang or a sarung]  to which it rides happily and comfortably.

This came from a 1936 Primer

From Grace Garnier's "Paddylands" circa 1930s (?)

Mak (2nd from right)  and her mates in Geylang 1940, I think

Mak would carry on with her  cooking and cleaning and sweeping the house while carrying Akim in her emban.  He would fall asleep in her arms as she got on with her domestic chores - lucky devil!! 

I can just imagine the sense of security and snugness that these bairns absorb just from being tucked in so close to their mothers.

I  recognize that feeling.  Whenever there occurred a thunderstorm at night, mak would come into our bedroom, cover the mirror with a blanket and then move over to our bed to pull the blanket over us. That intimate touch and the scent of her closeness was magic comfort and I fell asleep again knowing that I was well-protected from the thunder and lightning and the storm.

Akan ku abadikan keramat kasih-sayang mu.


Wan Sharif said...

Such a simple act.. carrying a toddler in mother's dukung or arm or in emban.. induced natural bonding that will never be there when the toddler is put in a buggy...
Actually using whatever we are endowed with is sufficient and add more barakah to our life.. modernization add cost and reduce barakah..
This can be seen in our eating habit for example.. using our hand not only save cost but it bring in barakah and we are following Rasul's sunnah.. Oops! I better stops before it became a morning sermon ;)).

anak si-hamid said...

Dear Wan Sharif,

We do make our life very complex so that others may profit.

Don't worry about Sunday sermons. Everybody's doing it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I like reading yours, however, because there's no self-righteousness.

And thank you.

BaitiBadarudin said...

Dear AsH,
Such valuable images of the past.
I remembered almost slipping off my eldest sister's hips when I was a toddler. She had a kurung made of some shiny textile.
My late mother too used to 'gendong' my nieces in her 'batik lepas' and walked some six blocks to the market and back. I didn't know it's called 'emban'. Thank you for the photos and the info.
Salam from PJ.

ph said...

i want to get a emban for Mocha, i think she will like it.

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you BaitiBadarudin,

Oh yes, my mum used a kain batik lepas. And you know, they are not easy to find nowadays.

Amazing how things change in just one generation

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you ph,

I suggest you get Mocha 4 pairs of shoes as well!