Thursday, December 30, 2010

Homecoming Part 2

Safiyah’s younger brother Shafie picked them up at the airport.
Assalamualaikum, how are you kakak, how’s the journey?” greeted Shafie while taking the hand luggage from his kakak – sister and they exchanged hug.
Wa’alaikumsalam, I’m good, alhamdulillah – all praise be to Him, the journey was good but I couldn’t really sleep, Husayn was crying along the journey, he has cold.”
“Oh sorry to hear that, no worries kakak, you surely will get proper rest at home.” Safiyah smiled.
Look at you; this must be my little hero, Husayn. How are my hero?” Shafie smiled at him while bending at his waist and kissed Husayn on his forehead.
Come salam - shake hand with your Pak Cik, my dear.” Asked Safiyah to Husayn. Husayn extended his hand and shake his uncle.
Don’t forget to kiss your Pak Cik – uncle’s hand.” Said Yusuf and Husayn did as told.

The journey from Kuantan Sultan Ahmad Shah airport to Safiyah’s hometown, Chukai took forty-five minutes and Yusuf sat on the front sit next to Shafie. Both of them tried to start a conversation and avoid the awkwardness and break the silence. It was the first time they met each other. Last five years ago when both Safiyah and Shafie got married in New Zealand, none of Safiyah’s family managed to attend their wedding.

How’s mak? Is she much better?” Yusuf broke the silence by asking about his mother in-law.
She’s much better alhamdulillah. She’s got prescription by the doctor and had to attend the chemotherapy every month” replied Shafie with a smile. Puan Maznah was diagnosed to have brain tumor last year, one month before her husband’s death.
Alhamdulillah, that’s good, insyAllah we’ll look after her while we’re here.” Said Yusuf. Safiyah and Husayn were sleeping at the back.
Look! These fellows have never loved their lives, rempit here and there and simply overtake people without signalling! I hope there’s a grave hole waiting for them in front there.” complained Shafie when there were three youngster rempit – speeding their bikes and almost hit his right sight mirror.
O man! That’s very stunning though, but it’s dangerous, didn’t the police take any action on them?”
They did actually, but there’s no way to stop these fellow from rempit!”
That doesn’t sound good.” Replied Yusuf but he couldn’t find words to give more comments as he was afraid if his opinion would be an offence even in fact he had something to say- “Why do people here ride their bike on the highway? Bike could be dangerous for a long journey. And without helmet?” But he just kept those questions for himself.

There were many small villages scattered along the way of the journey. Yusuf enjoyed the view and at the same time tried to learn the Malaysian eastern culture. Tall coconut trees grew wildly everywhere by the road. There were cows, buffaloes and goats mowing the grass just by the roadside. There was one time Shafie pressed the emergency brake when there was a buffalo crossing the road. Husayn and Safiyah awoke from their nap and Husayn started to cry. As Safiyah expected, he would stop crying in any second when he first time seeing a big buffalo through the front mirror.

Mommy, look at that, a big black lembu – cow”.
Ha ha, no sayangku – my dear, it’s a kerbau – buffalo
He was amazed seeing a herd of buffalo mowing the grass by the roadside and some of them were in the river.
Whose buffaloes are those, Mommy? Why don’t they let the buffaloes in their farm?
Those buffaloes belong to the villagers here. And there are not many farms here, so they will just let their buffaloes mowing by the roadside
Poor anak kerbau - little calves! They would have no shelter to stay from hujan - rain

Everybody laughed hearing to Husayn. His intelligence in reasoning and thinking. Husayn picked up some Malay words from his mother and Safiyah spoke Malay with him so he would not have much trouble when returning to Malaysia. Above all, Safiyah really hoped that would at least make her mother happy to learn her grandson could speak Malay even he was brought up in Kiwi’s culture and born to a Syrian father. Safiyah really wanted to prove her mak that Husayn was not different than any other Malay kids. Safiyah was lucky when Yusuf was also keen to learn some Malay from here.
I don’t want you to mengumpat – backbiting me.”  Yusuf once told a joke to her. He was keen to learn anything about Malay culture and he succeeded those. Except one thing, Yusuf couldn’t stand Malay hot and spicy food like Safiyah. Safiyah was indeed a lucky wife. Yusuf was every woman's dream husband - loving, soft-spoken, patient, pious, funny, helpful and name all the good qualities of a husband.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Homecoming Part 1

Summer 2005 – Syawal 7, 1426H – the month of Muslim celebrated Eid after one month fasting in Ramadhan – it was when Safiyah first time took her Syrian husband, Yusof and their child, Husayn back to Malaysia. Five years ago was the last time she was home. Last time she met her late father, Encik Hassan. The last time she kissed goodbye before leaving back to Wellington for her final year. And the last time Safiyah hugged and promised her mother, Puan Maznah to come back right after her graduation.

But only on that Syawal 7, she managed to fulfil her promise. Yusuf really wanted to take Safiyah to see her family. And she did hope to introduce Yusuf to her family since long time ago. But only that year she managed to. Only after five years of their marriage with a three year-old son. Safiyah couldn’t really expect what and how her mother would react to her first time homecoming after her marriage. She remembered how unhappy her mother was to hear about her decision on the marriage.
“Didn’t you learn anything from your cousin’s marriage?”
Mak, please…”
“Married to a Lebanese for only two years! Only two years I remind u!” Puan Maznah continued before Safiyah could defend herself.
Mak, please listen to me..”
“No! You listen to me! Didn’t you remember, her husband was brought up here, here in Malaysia, but what happened to their marriage? Still didn’t work out! He cheated on her and left her! What happened to their kid? Believe me; this kind of interracial marriage will never work out,”
Mak, we are different, Zaleha and me are different. Her husband and Yusuf are totally different.” she tried to control her voice. She was almost crying at the end of the line.
“No, those Arabs are just the same, it doesn’t matter where they are from and brought up. They are all cheaters!”
At that moment Safiyah really cried.

And Puan Maznah was even more mad when her late father agreed to Safiyah’s decison to marry her Syrian western-brought-up husband, Yusuf. It was only because one reason - Puan Maznah had already had her dream son in-law for Safiyah, her best friend - Puan Zainun’s son, Faris. A lawyer and he was Malay, a pure Malay. That was the most important criterion Puan Zainun wanted in her only son and daughter in-laws.

Safiyah was very unfortunate when she couldn’t be at her father’s funeral last year. She was afraid if her mother thought of her as anak derhaka – disobedient child for not paying the last respect to her father. Safiyah really wanted to be there but they had financial problem when the incident occurred and she was indeed very worry if her homecoming would merely grow hatred to her mother.