This posting is specially for Hisham, Mahzan, Maria, Hidayah, Shaharuddin, Mariam and Hana - the grandchildren of Hamid and Kamisah. I ask for indulgence from readers other than the family because today I realised how I have committed a grave oversight for not putting my mother in the picture.
As children, we do take mothers for granted because they are always there, quietly getting on with the day to day tasks of keeping the home and hearth together. Father was the bigger picture because we were always reminded by mother that he puts the food on the table. So should it be but that should not diminish her devotion.
We had lunch with a book reviewer today and she talked about how as a child, her mother would always read her a book before she goes to bed. My mind then clicked and I exclaimed suddenly that as a child I was the one who read to my mum! It was because my mum was illiterate I explained. But that is a wrong word to describe a bright intelligent woman with a fantastic memory and who could inform you about the latest world and local news. Besides that she also looked after the family's finances without jotting down a single number. I could think of other words like unschooled, untutored, uninstructed, unlettered, uneducated, unread and so on. I think my dear ole mum is unfathomed and unrecognized. As a mother she resorted to her basic instincts and natural good sense. She was brought up by a stepmother who she loved immensely and it was difficult for her in her later years to be reconciled with her natural mother.
Most afternoons when I was about 8/9, my sister and I would take turns to have our lice, or nits picked from our hair. It was a laborious task for my mum. But it brought her a bit of joy because I had to read her a story from Cherita Jenaka while she got on with the job. Here are two pages from that book.
This is the inside cover of the book. The front is a mess because it has been in my keeping for years. It has travelled from Singapore to UK and back to KL .
You can see it is well read and well loved. Sometimes I would have to keep on reading even after her 'nit picking' was done. Those were the days sans TV !!
Righto kids, here are some pictures of your Atok 'Mok.
That's Atok 'Mok on the right with her elder sister Salmah taken in would you believe it, Geylang ! She was 17 in 1940.
On the back of this photo was written Mr and Mrs Hamid, Royal Air Force, Kuantan, 1941.
Kamisah was expecting her first child, Maznah - her expectation is barely visible.
My favourite picture of her - taken when she was 45/46 ?
All I can say to a wonderful lady:
O, Bulan ! Mana bintang ?
Atas puchok kayu ara ;
O, Emak ! Mana hilang ?
Kita orang rindu senantiasa.