Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Missing Her

I haven't been in the mood to blog lately - partly because I haven't been doing that much knitting, partly I had my nose in some more books and mostly because the wife of our Prime Minister, Datin Seri Endon Haji Mahmood passed away last Thursday after a 4 year fight against cancer.

Many many years ago, when Pak Lah (as our Prime minister is fondly nicknamed) was just a Parliamentary Secretary, our families were friends. Nori (daughter) was just a baby and Kamal (son) was my age. We would meet up at least once every two months or so for dinner or tea. Most of the time it was for Sunday tea which lazily lingered into dinner and then on to the late night supper. We had at least 2 holidays trips together.

Auntie Endon had a sharp, no-nonsense tongue, but underneath all her withering comments was a sincere soul with no hidden agenda. I appreciated her straight talking more than all that crap written about her graciousness and charm. To me, her "jeling" (it's a kind of contemptious rolling of the eyes showing irateness and fondness at the same time, no straight English translation) was worth more than a million of those politicians' wives who cry convincingly and conveniently in front of press cameras.

When my dad had a stroke, she was one of the first to advocate a tough love approach, "Make him exercise," she said, "Don't make it easy for him. Or else he will rely on you forever". Yet she was also the first let the security in the Residence know that Mr Larry was to be transfered directly to her whenever he called. I can't tell how many phonecalls she took from a depressed old friend who was frustrated by his health. She couldn't visit much but she took my dad's calls.

Every year I came back from studies in NZ, she'd insist I visit at least once before I went back. She would trade hair raising tales with my Mum about our university exploits (I spent too much money on clothes and Kamal spent too much money being president of the college gourmet club).

I remember her telling me that Muslim women don't get an inheritance from their husband's estate but they get to keep everything they received during the marriage. I took a look around her elegantly furnished house, full of knick knacks from every part of the globe and said " You're doing well for yourself, Auntie!" and she laughed.

Last time I bumped into her some 4 plus years ago, she asked me how many kids I had. "None?" she said, when she heard my answer. "Hrumpph!"
"Kamal has three and another one on the way, you know! You better catch up, no need to wait."

When I said goodbye, I told she looked really wonderful and kissed her hands.
"You should come and visit, don't be a stranger. Make sure you have a baby next time."

I never got the chance to show her my boy.

Goodbye Auntie Endon, you look wonderful as ever. You never took the easy way out and you never gave up.

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