Friday, September 01, 2006

The biography of Che and Nyang

For sometimes, Alia has been asking me to write about the family lineage on both my and Yati’s side. In would not be an easy assignment because I have a tendency not to bother much about the so called ‘susur-galur’ (family-tree). To top it, I have a problem remembering the many names of the many ‘sedara-mara’ or as someone put it ‘sedara-broya’ (family of crocs ?).

Alia’s Aki, my ayah that is, (I have to note this because up till now Adlan still need a convincing about how an ayah can be aki vice-versa) came from Pekan, Pahang though he grew up in Kemasek. Wan, Alia’s grandma, my Mak, came from Losong, Terengganu. Nyang Man, Wan’s father (Alia’s great grandfather) left Losong to work as a driver first for Polis and later before the end of Emergency for Thong Aik Omnibus Company. It was in Kemasik that Aki and Wan met and married.

Further up the family tree, both sides of Wan and Aki claimed an interesting lineage history. Legend was the line from Wan’s side was from Hadralmaut (now Yemen), shipwrecked, saved by ‘ikan k’acang’ and miraculously delivered to the beach of Terengganu. The family claimed that it is a curse that any of the descendents is forbidden from eating that kind of fish as a gesture of gratefulness. Those that tried or inadvertently eaten one suffers a bad rash. The slight Middle-East blood was apparent that our nose ‘doklah kepek sangat’. On Aki’s side, the claim was that the family originated from Pagar Ruyung in Sumatera, a royal bloodline (albeit royal refugee) traced to Sang Sapurba of Bukit Siguntang. Aki Wel (Nyang Wel to Alia) would talk about this excitedly every time we nudge him into tale-telling perhaps trying to convince his skeptical ‘cucu’ of the history.

Let me keep only to the history to that I heard first hand.

Che and Nyang Man
Hajjah Wan Mandak binti Long (d. 1991) and Haji Abdul Rahman bin Awang (1913 – 1994)

Nyang Man, though born in Terengganu used to grow up in a palace in Pekan. The late Bonda Tuanku he claimed was his ‘bonda angkat’ and the effect of his stay in the vicinity of the palace, were quite visible in his manner. He ‘must’ be properly served at every meal. His plates must be neatly arranged in a ‘talam’ and I can still picture Che sitting ‘bertimpuh’ beside him, not eating together but ever ready to serve him, pouring the water to wash his hand, passing the cup and all that. And meal time must be a quiet time. We the ‘noisy’ cucus better be quiet or else. Nyang was also famed for his temper. ‘Bekeng’, we would say of him. But despite it all, he was a dotting grandfather, he would visit us every day without fail and there would always be some ‘roti bata’ or fruits and the occasional apples, grapes or oranges. Then, those were a luxury and expensive. So the apples must be sliced for everyone to share. His temper were sometimes downright scary that we chose to run away. I recall one day he lost his temper because we were making noise while he was eating. We were so scared that we sneaked away when he started praying. So sacred we didn’t even tell Che’ we were running home. Our house was like 2 kilometers away through a ‘jalan kampong’. Not long after we get home, we could hear his motorbikes and we hide. ‘Pah kuane budok-budok?’ he asked. Apparently when his temper subsided, he was worried of the missing cucus’. Being the only cucus, we had his full love. He would be mad at us one moment we must not be around, and the next moment he would miss us and took us home. Even with his meager bus driver salary, he would ensure that we would always have some pocket money. Even if it was just five sen. There would always be a ten ringgit gift, every time we went back to boarding school and later to universities. He would also ensure that there will always be a ‘duit raya seringgit’ for us all, even after we were working, because that is his ‘duit raya’ and that gift must be accepted even when we were already in his word ‘biar mung kaya doh pong’.

In his younger days, Nyang was a trader plying on ‘Perahu Besar’ between Terengganu and Patani to barter trade in rice. This trade he kept until the early days of Japanese occupation. When war ended, he joined the Police Force as a driver and moved to Dungun where he continued through part of the Emergency. He used to relate the many experience driving the Mat Salleh Tuans and Mems through communist infested Bukit Bauk, all the way to Fraser’s Hill in convoys guarded by the Ferret Scout car. The killing of Sir Henry Gurney in Fraser’s Hill (7th October 1951) he said, happened no long after one of his trip there. Fearful of the constant ambushes in the area of Bentung Pahang, Bukit Bauk Dungun and everywhere else then, he decided to leave the Police Force to be a civilian. His driving experience landed him the job as a bus driver with Thong Aik Omnibus, a job he kept till his retirement in 1971.

I have to make a research as to when Nyang and Che were married. But it would be interesting to note that it was an arranged marriage between ‘dua-tiga pupu’ - distant cousins. Wan was born at the end of war. Despite the seven children, Wan was the eventual ‘anak tunggal’ as others passed away at a very young age. Perhaps it was destined that we the 14 grandchildren would somewhat replaced his six early departed children, at least in making up the number of the cucus he might otherwise had.

When we were staying in Kampung Padang Polis, Nyang was working as a bus driver and Che was next door to our house running a little sundry shop. Perhaps it was that business exposure, ‘helping to count money’ (ha ha…) that put me a business now. That shop I recall, was most memorable for being the stop for the traveling Clorox entourage. Tens of small cars (was it Austins), a blaring van with speaker horn and ladies in white uniform. There were also the Dumex tour where my mother would exchange coupons with plates and dishes and the ‘Minyak Afiat’ sales van with a very catchy jingle. Almost daily also the lorry from the sundry supplier or the ‘bottlers’ (air lamnet and later F&N) would stop by to deliver supply and I got to help choose the ‘goods’ – biskut cotek, biskut lapis, biskut kapek. One incident I would never forget was when my brother, Ajik, then about the age of five, ran to the very middle of the road, stood up and raised his hand to the incoming traffic. It was pure commotion. Che, and everyone else was screaming. And a lorry, the bottlers lorry, screeched to stop. The lorry was thankfully slowing down to stop at the shop. Otherwise it would have been a tragedy. The next day, a timber fence went up around the house.

Che’ used to tell stories about the era of her childhood. One was about the first plane she ever saw. Once, an amphibious plane landed in the Sungai Terengganu near Losong. The whole village was thrilled with such amazing bird. Many including her father took a boat and rowed near to the plane. Excited, she hopped on board. ‘Tapi Che dok tengok menda satu pong, che’ n’usuk dalang perahu, t’takuttang.’ she said laughing, The next time, planes appeared, she related, it was the Japanese Imperial Army bombing the fuel depot in Pulau Kambing. For that she became fearful of planes right up to her old age.

Of Che. I recalled her as a quiet and graceful lady. An exact opposite to Nyang but nevertheless a perfect companion. In her, I see pure strength. How else could she accept losing six children and carried on with life full of gratitude. I remembered once she told me of her dream she had after the lost of her last child, a boy at the age of six. She was so depressed and lost. Until one day she had a beautiful dream. In her dream, she saw a chariot in the sky. On the chariot waving to her was the Prophet. It was I think the greatest gift she ever had and she always said to me that she believed that in the day of judgement, all her children will be waiting for her at the gate of Paradise.

May they both be blessed by Allah and remembered forever in the prayer of us grand and great grandchildren of them. Al-Fatihah.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is some really good stuff here,
senyum s'orang-s'orang bila baca blog ni...
lama sa'ngat doh weh dok cakak b'asa teranung.