Abang has returned. For his summer vacation. Three months. Home in Malaysia. I was really looking forward to see him. Talk to him. Discuss things with him. Things that matter to him. And to me. Two guys talking.
However, it has been three weeks since he arrived. I have yet to do any of those that I wanted to do. Well, one or two maybe. But, not as I wanted it to be. I am seeing him less. In fact sometimes I forgot that he is home.
Every morning, I will leave early. He is not up yet. Even if he is awake, I will be too preoccupied with my morning routine to sit and chat a little with him. I learned from Ibu that occasionally he would send Acik to school and back home. He will drive my Black Proton to do that. At night, when I returned, late as always, he would be there in the living room, eyes glued to the computer. He would dutifully shake and kiss my hand. I would go up to change and pray, if I haven't in the office. Thereafter most likely I will check on Ibu and fall asleep quickly. Some time, I would be able to go down, chat a little with Abang and promptly fall asleep on the couch before I could say anything meaningful.
It has been almost 4 and a half month since I returned to work. New job and new demand. I didn't realise if it had changed me. People around me say so. People I know say so. I don't feel so but I must have. I feel so enthusiastic in things I have to deal daily that I'm lost in all of them. I need sometime or something to do always to reclaim my private space. I tend to value too much on spending my private time by myself that I am only aware the weekend is over when I woke up Monday morning. I don't seem to have time for others including those important to me. And I will forget the limitations that were imposed on me and continue with my pace that would worry those caring for me.
Adik's birthday is coming up. Ibu and I are busy thinking of what special gift to give him now that he is 16.
'He likes to listen to music. So, let's get him an ipod touch. His old ipod is already giving problem. Maybe he'll like a new one', Ibu suggested.
I am not too keen on giving him ipod, simply because he would then be lost in his own world. I know I would. I am more concerned that it was quite difficult to get in touch with him when he is outside with his friends or at school. The Blackberry he's using, the old worn out handed down by me seemed to have its own mind and preferred its own working hours. It is difficult then to reach Adik whenever we have to tell him of any change in plan or if there was gonna be some delay in picking him up due to one reason or another.
'I think it is better for him to get a new iphone. The phone would solve all these problem of communicating to him. And the iphone also has ipod facility, so that would address his current problem with his ipod', I tried to reason with Ibu.
But, Ibu being the ever Minister of Finance enforcing economic austerity programme that goes on forever came back to me with just this simple reply, 'But, iphone is more expensive than an ipod touch'.
So, I finally decided that Adik is big enough to decide on what he wants without us having to make his every decision.
I spoke with Adik, 'OK, this Sunday we go to Pavilion. You see what you like and tell us.'
'Alright Ayah', Adik looked relieved.
'Yea', Ibu said, short.
Semenjak balik dari Kanada, aku sangat terminat untuk memanjat Bukit Broga di Semenyih. Bukitnya tak terlalu tinggi. Kalau orang asli mengukur, dia akan cakap tak sampai setengah batang rokok pon udah sampai ke atas. Tingginya hanya lebih kurang 400m sahaja. Tapi mempunyai 3 puncak yang tidak terlalu jauh antara satu sama lain. Namun begitu, aku cukup puashati jika aku hanya mencapai puncak pertama sahaja kerana pada aku tiada bezanya antara puncak pertama, kedua atau ketiga.
Aku tak tau kenapa aku terlalu tergoda dengan bukit yang tidak seberapa tinggi ni. Mungkin kerana mudahnya untuk mencapai ke puncak tanpa perlu mengeluarkan terlalu banyak peluh. Mungkin kerana panorama kehijauan yang mengelilingi laluan ke atas. Mungkin juga kerana udara bersihnya di pagi hari. Atau keceriaan pagi hening sebalik sinaran matahari yang muda. Mungkin juga kerana gelagat dan ragam manusia-manusia yang sama-sama memanjat bukit atas satu alasan ke satu alasan yang lain.
Rutin aku pula ialah aku akan memanjat samada pagi Sabtu atau Ahad. Sebaik selepas solat Subuh, aku akan akan terus memandu kereta menghala ke Semenyih berbekal sebotol air mineral, topi merah, iphone dengan koleksi lagu khusus untuk memanjat, tuala kecil dan Canon T2i aku. Selalunya dipuncak, aku akan mencari sudut terpencil bagi bersendiri, dengan earphone melekat dan DSLR di tangan. Aku suka merakam saat Matahari mulai naik di balik bukit, embun yang menutup hehujung pohon atau saja kelaku orang lain yang sedang memanjat atau mengelamun sendirian di puncak seperti aku.
Waktu aku bercuti lama dahulu pun, aku masih dapat memanjat dua atau tiga kali meskipun Doktor melarang. Hinggalah saat memang aku tak langsung dapat melakukannya selama hampir dua bulan yang mana kerinduan aku kepada nya amat memanggil-manggil. Bulan ketiga, aku sudah tak tertahan dan mula memanjat kembali. Kini, aku berusaha memanjat sekali seminggu selalunya di penghujung minggu. Pernah juga aku memanjat di hari orang sedang berkerja supaya aku dapat bersendirian dengan bukit itu, di pagi Hari Mengundi 2013 dan pada Hari Raya Cina. Aku paling tidak menyukai kalau terlalu ramai orang bersama memanjat kerana ini bermaksud akan banyak botol dan sampah sarap yang akan ditinggal manakala dahan-dahan mungkin mati dipetik oleh tangan-tangan yang gatal. Mungkin, satu hari nanti aku akan memanjat di waktu hampir senja dan melihat matahari jatuh.
Aku pernah mengajak Ibu memanjat sama, tapi kadang Ibu terlalu gayat untuk sampai ke atas dan hanya menunggu aku di bawah. Faim pernah juga ku bawa naik. Walau pun pada awalnya dia agak ragu-ragu tapi bujukan dan galakan aku berjaya juga melihat Faim sampai ke puncak.
'Isn't it great Faim, to reach the top?', tanya aku ingin memberi peransang dan galakan atas pencapaian Faim sampai ke puncak.
'Yeah', jawab Faim ringkas sambil mengunyah biskut bekalan Ibu.
'So, we come again next week?', tanya aku lagi.
'No, Ayah. Next week, in the morning I just want to climb down my bed. That's all!', jawab Faim selamba.
Aku pon diam.
Baby Faim is now not a baby. A 10 year old boy whose preoccupation is Minecraft and Disney Channel. Adik is in his own teenage world, oblivious of everything else that's going around the house. Once in a while he would ask about current happenings ie the MH370 or situation in Ukraine.
Abang is proceeding well with his study at Carleton. His earlier plan to transfer to Vancouver had to be shelved for now. He seems happier these days. Abang is coming back this May. I can't wait to talk to my adult son.
Ibu is fine. Busy running the household. I am fine too. Got a new assignment. Slogging through.
Minggu lepas Ibu minta aku hadir persembahan teater Adik di sekolah kerana Ibu perlu bawa Faim ke majlis ulangtahun kawan Faim di seberang KL, jauh dari sekolah. Oleh kerana aku memang minat teater, terutamanya yang bersifat 'experimental', maka aku pon bersetuju.
Mengikut programnya, Adik diarah berada di sekolah selama 24 jam untuk mempersiap diri bagi latihan kepada Teater tersebut yang dipanggil 24hr Theater. Ke semuanya ada sebanyak 14 mini teater yang berdurasi antara 5-10 minit. Aku dapati Adik terlibat secara langsung dalam 2 persembahan yang mana salah satunya dia memain peran utama. Dan, sememangnya aku menikmati ke semua teater yang dipersembahkan di samping cuba memahami maksud tersirat yang ingin disampaikan.
Aku memang lama ingin Adik melibatkan kegiatan seni teater dan seni lakon ini. Pada hemat aku, Adik ada ketokohan dalam bidang ini kerana dia mudah membuat kami terhibur dengan kelakuan dia semasa dia sedang membesar dahulu. Lagipun, pada aku Adik ni jenis yang suka kepada benda-benda ringan dan menghiburkan tidak seperti Abang yang lebih serius dan intens perawakannya.
Selesai semua persembahan, aku menunggu Adik di kereta. Nampak dia berjalan dengan kawan-kawan sambil tersenyum riang dan bergurau senda. Aku dapat merasa kebangaan Adik dan kawan-kawan ke atas kejayaan penghasilan teater tersebut. Dalam kereta aku cuba mengukur sejauh mana minat Adik kepada bidang teater ini.
' Dik, that was a great show. I enjoyed it so much especially your second performance. Can you explain a bit to me', tanya aku.
' Thank you Ayah. The second one where everyone seemed to carry the boxes and moving them to different places on the stage refer to the competing demands and priorities we put on our lives. Sometimes, we put education up front. or Health and maybe security. At other times, they are at the back. Ocassionally we put two or three boxes together to show how equally important they are to us at certain particular time in our life', jawab Adik panjang lebar.
' Oh, yea. I guess that much also. Umm will you continue with this. You can make a career out of it you know ', aku cuba menduga sedalam mana minat Adik.
'I am not sure. Maybe. But what is important is that I have done this', jawab Adik.
'You know, sometimes the play call for a kissing scene and you have to do it', aku cuba mengusik Adik dengan menambah 'inducement' yang tak lojik.
' What are you trying to say, Ayah ', jawab Adik menjeling tajam kepada aku.
' Well, at the rate you are going, that could be the only way you get a girl to kiss you. Only through a teater. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA', aku gelak sebesar-besarnya.
' Hey, that's not fair', jawab Adik sebelum tergelak sama.
Dua tiga hari lepas, aku balik awal dari pejabat. Saja la nak balik awal sebab selalunya aku balik lepas Maghrib. Lepas, mandi, solat dan makan, aku duduk depan TV menonton Astro Awani. Terdengar suara Ibu menegur Faim, ' Go find something to do, don't just main komputer aja '.
Kesian pulak aku tengok Faim. Musti dia sedang bosan dan tak tahu nak buat apa. Aku pon panggil Faim naik dan bertanya,' Do you want to play Chess, Faim?'.
Mata Faim bersinar-sinar dan dia mengganguk-angguk kepala tanda bersetuju.
'OK, let's set up the board, I'll be black', jawab aku.
Kami pun sama-sama menyusun buah-buah catur dan bermain. Faim pernah dulu mengambil kelas asas bermain catur jadi dalam acuh tak acuh, ada la juga kami bermain hampir setengah jam sebelum Faim akhirnya memberi kemenangan kepada aku kerana Permaisurinya telah dijadikan santapan.
'Do you want to play again, Ayah', tanya Faim sambil merenung ke muka aku.
'Hmm maybe not Faim. I want to continue watching the news', jawab aku.
'OK', jawab Faim pendek tanpa banyak kesah.
'I think that's enough time entertaining you, right', tambah aku tersenyum.
Faim mendongak dan menjawab, 'Actually Ayah, I am entertaining you. I know you must be bored'.
I have been writing now for 9 years on these pages. Of course, as other demands becoming more demanding and frequent, the quality and frequency of my jottings suffered.
Anyhow, the kids have really grown up and have their own story to tell. So, I have actually been spending more time with Ibu. My faithful companion and friend who I know will always be there for me. The one I share all my joy and happiness as well as sorrow and worries for nearly 20 years. Humm... that would require another separate blog. But, never mind that now.
Abang has already left for his study abroad. He is coping well with his studies and the challenges of living on his own. Though, there are occasions when he would skype us about things that he wasn't sure about, Ibu and I would try very much to help ease his process of self-determination. I realise that his outlook on things and life has also undergone a little change here and there. Well, that should be expected, although sometimes as parents we feel a bit hurt when he really express his personal thoughts, but I always remind Ibu that we should not be worried so much but continue to give advice that hopefully would be accepted. I personally don't want to control his thoughts process as long as the original design on the white cloth are still neat and unblemished. In one of our conversation, he let us know that we are a pair of conservatives parents compared to his progressive views of the world. We just nodded.
Adik is the big brother at home now with Abang gone. With his teenage mood swing and his coping with the high school academic demands, Adik can be a tough challenge at times. However, after going with through with Abang, I know that I can handle Adik with a better and wiser approach. I have decided to allocate dedicated lunch sessions with Adik on most Sundays where I try to moderate his thoughts and behaviors. I know he is aware and trying very much to see our extra attention to him as something positive. I know that Abang occasionally chat with Adik on skype and give some wise words as well. He's playing my role, thank God. Nevertheless, Adik remains a bubbly boy and well loved by his friends. And definitely by us.
The smallest boy. Now that is another story. Nine years old this year. Baby Faim. He is the baby of the house though he is no longer a baby. Cheeky, mischievous and impish all in one. Loving and caring, always reminding me of his mom. Always eager to try something new. Swimming, piano, basketball, wipeout obsctacle course, fishing and boy does he love all the games on the computer. I no longer try to work on my PC on weekends anymore. I am certain that he is like Ibu in many ways when Ibu was that age.
Adik and Faim are the two boys at home now. As boys they will quarrel endlessly and they would be best of friends at other unexpected times. I learned to cope with their own created quality times.
As time goes by, I realize that I am more attached to them than they are to me. I am really looking forward to weekends and spending time with them. I would also ensure that I could take a day or two leave from work every month so I can see them on weekdays too. I enjoyed just taking a day off to send and pick them up from school just so I can spend those times with them, undivided. It is no longer them looking for me to spend some quality family time, but the other way around.
I am sure that by next year, I may not even have time to write very much what with the children having their own issues to deal with in their ever growing world. I just hope they would keep some small space for me and Ibu. but, these boys are my boys and I love them so much.
Shazzam(aka Chitty to others in the house) had once again displayed her canny ability as a predator cat. If usually, she would bring back lizards or moths home to show us, today she brought back a sparrow or 'burung pipit' to some of us nationalists at heart.
Ibu and Faim who saw Shazzam, quickly chased her away and forced her to drop the almost still bird. Faim nearly cried looking at the bird while Ibu examine the bird and saw some puncture marks on the bird's chest. Quickly Ibu took the all purpose super elixir, minyak gamat, and rub it all over. Impatient Faim kept asking Ibu if the bird was still alive. The bird was barely alive. We have the technology to make it first bionic bird.
Ibu instructed Faim to put the bird inside Shazzam carrying cage and hide her in Nenek's room. Just in case that dastardly Shazzam cat would come again and snuff it out for good. Ibu is definitely unhappy with Shazzam's showing off her natural talent and scolded her at every opportunity with Faim adding more reprimands immediately.
Anyhow, by the next morning, the bird appeared well enough and started to move around in the cage. Faim, the unappointed care giver, busied himself gicing bird seeds, water and warm cloth for the bird's comfort. By mid afternnon, the bird, a she according to Faim, has a name already. Lucy although Faim insisted it is spelled Luse. Faim started to miss his hourly dose of cartoon network on TV and minecraft on the computer. He doted on the bird and nearly sleep with it in bed.
On the third day, the bird was seen eating and drinking properly. Faim was happy but. Shazzam was still lurking and looking for opportunity to finish off his thwarted effort two days earlier. Finally, when Faim was in the toilet, Shazzam managed to show her face to the bird causing havoc inside the cage. Faim came and chased Shazzam away. He understood the bird would be in constant mortal danger from Shazzam. Maybe a heart attack from seeing Shazzam face could kill her anytime. So, he came to Ibu and asked to release Luse in the park.