Saturday, 31 March 2012

Agri Carnival

When the Ministry of Agriculture held a three day two night fair at Atok and Nenek's housing area, Mama and the children took this opportunity to enjoy ourselves there. Bro H joined a colouring competition but he didn't win, of course. (He finished first and jumped down from the stage to join Mama and Sis A, leaving his painting behind. And Mama was busy running after this boy to bother with his 'masterpiece')
There were also some matches (sort of ) like 'tug of war', 'musical chair' and also cooking classes. Mama was more interested in the food that was offered at some stalls and also the novel way of decorating the stage. They used vegetables instead of flowers!!
But more importantly, for two nights in a row Mama managed to spend some time alone with Bro H. (Sis A was already asleep by 8.30pm on both nights). He seemed to enjoy himself spending time with Mama too. Usually Sis A would monopolise Mama's attention. So on both nights, we leisurely spent the time looking at the exhibitions, enjoying our candy floss and guava juice while watching the 'Dikir Barat' troupe performing on the stage. What is Dikir Barat?
From Wikipedia:

Dikir barat is typically performed by groups of ten to fifteen members,though there is no actual set size,even in competitive environments. A group usually sits cross-legged on a platform, sometimes surrounded by the audience. Where the dikir barat is performed competitively, the two competing groups will both be on the stage at the same time.
Originally, dikir barat was limited to competition between neighboring villages, [4] but in the 20th century, as its popularity began to spread (aided by the ability to record performances), it became a national phenomenon. Today, dikir barat competitions have become wildly popular across Malaysia, and each year there are national champions crowned, not only for the dikir barat groups as a whole, but there also are national champion in the categories of tukang karuts and tok juara. Top tukang karuts are famous and popular, much like rock stars in the West.

On both nights Bro H ate a lot. He was usually a picky eater, eating only fried noodles. Then when we went to the food stalls, Mama allowed him to choose his own food and drinks. Then Mama realised that the children should eat out more often, so that they will have more choices to choose from and not to eat the same boring food again and again. Note to self : Trying out new places will be a monthly agenda from now on.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Wordless Wednesday 14

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Monday, 26 March 2012

It has been three years ...

since Abah left us. When Mama was choosing the pictures for this entry, Mama cried silently. Looking at Abah's pictures brings a lot of happy memories. Abah in the car, obligingly posed when Mama asked him to. Abah smiling at the camera barely a week after our wedding. Abah at the optometrist, trying out his new shades. Abah and the children, barely 5 months and one year plus at the time.And lastly, our wedding picture.
Mama was 40 when Abah was (sort of) introduced to her. Abah fell in love with Mama straight away (that's what he told Mama) but Abah was 15 years older and a widower with 6 children. Mama was not even slightly interested. But Abah was determined. He called Mama every night without fail. He told Mama he was sincere to make Mama his wife. He was looking for a wife for him, not a mother for his children so Mama need not worry about the children. Mama was still not interested and even introduced some of Mama's friend to Abah with the hope that Abah would eventually go away. But no, he was still there. As determined as ever.
A month later, Mama dared Abah to come and see Atok and Nenek and ask for Mama's hand in marriage. Mama thought her parents would somehow say no. But Mama was mistaken. Atok and Nenek were so relieved that someone was actually interested in their spinster daughter that they said yes straight away. Mama and Abah was married a month after that and the rest is history.
One of Mama's friends said despite what had happened (Abah's death), Mama is actually a lucky person. When Mama asked her why, she said that after being a single girl for so long, Mama finally got married at 40 (Some people don't get married at all) And not many people are lucky to have babies / children although they got married at a younger age. Despite Mama being an "elderly primagravida" (the doctors kept repeating this term during Mama's pregnancy check ups), we are blessed with a boy and a girl. And Abah didn't spend days in hospitals because God knows that it would be difficult for Mama to care for him with two very young children(Some people spend days and even months in hospitals and takes a toll on the caregivers especially the spouse).
Today marks the third year Abah left us:- Mama, Bro H and Sis A. The children seem to be accepting the fact that there are only three of us in the family. When people ask them about Abah, they'd readily answer, "Abah mati" (Abah is dead). There is no sadness in their voices, they are still too young anyway.
Well, life goes on but being human, Mama sometimes asks herself, the ifs and the hows.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

We Rejoice

The STPM and SPM results have been announced early this month (STPM) and last week (SPM). How many of us teachers had to cringe waiting for the results to be announced? Mama for instance couldn't really sleep the night before. If the English Language results is better compared to previous year, it is a relief. But what if there is decline in percentage? Mama couldn't bear thinking about it. SPM is not everything, Mama kept telling herself but tell that to the principal.. hahahaha..
Anyway, the students didn't disappoint us. As a matter of fact, Mama's school was in the limelight for both exams. One of the STPM candidates was in fact one of the best STPM students in the country. And for SPM, one of the straight As students was one of the 18 best students of the state (Kelantan). Not bad, huh for an unknown school. As it is, the success of the these students and their friends have spurred Mama and colleagues to continue teaching our students.With more zest. With more enthusiasm.
Mama's advice to PMR/SPM/STPM candidates this year would be this: try your very best, but do not kill yourself. Life is bigger than exams. It certainly does not end with a bad exam results.

Friday, 23 March 2012

As Pea Am

Last Wednesday, the 2011 SPM results were announced. Mama couldn't really sleep the night before thinking about it. Mama guess Mama was more nervous than the candidates then. Some of you (not Malaysians) might wonder what SPM is.
From Wikipedia (as always):

The Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), or the Malaysian Certificate of Education, is a national examination taken by all fifth-year secondary school students in Malaysia. It is set and examined by the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate (Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia).
SPM is equivalent to the O-Level and is the second last public examination at the secondary school level before the entry into a first bachelor degree course at a university. The Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM), being a pre-university study and equivalent to the A-Level, is the last public examination at the secondary school level. Other available pre-university studies in Malaysia include matriculation, foundation study, A-Level, etc., which are conducted at a college or university.

Mama and fellow teachers could not contain our joy when we found out that the SPM results were so much better than last year's results. Almost all subjects have more students who scored As and the percentage of passes increase as well. Some students surprised their teachers with their excellent results and this was clearly shown when whoops of joy were heard now and then.
Mama had her share of joy and disappointment too. Last year Mama taught two form 5 classes. There were only 4As from Mama's science-stream class and 2As from her art-stream one. Alas, this is part and parcel of an English Language teacher.Fewer As doesn't mean Mama is a less-than good teacher, does it? And life goes on...

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Another Wedding

On Saturday, my stepdaughter, E, got married to his long time boyfriend, Mie. The 'akad nikah' was held at a mosque near their (my stepchildren's) house and then the 'kenduri' (wedding feast) was held later at the bride's house. The following day, Sunday was the 'hari menghantar' to the bridegroom's house in Tanah Merah (which is about 45 km away from Kota Bharu).
From Wikipedia:
A Malay wedding proper begins with the akad nikah (marriage contract) ceremony. The groom signs the marriage contract and agrees to provide the bride with a mas kahwin (mahar,literally 'marriage gold' in form of money or goods or anything as requested by the bride).The mas khawin is a symbol to show that the men is willing and are prepared to build a family with the lady he chose to get married to. The contract signing is done before a religious official and is accompanied by prayer.
For the 'bersanding' ceremony, the couple's hands are dyed with henna during the berinai besar (great henna-ing) ceremony. The bride's hair is also trimmed, eyebrows shaped and make-up applied by a beautician, known as the mak andam. Then the bride puts on her tudung (hijab or headscarf) to cover their hair and a selendang, or embroidered and beaded shawl over that. A crown is also placed on top of the shawl.
The pelamin, the focal point in a malay wedding, where the bride and groom will sit together throughout the celebration.
The actual wedding day is the Bersanding. This literally means the "sitting together of the bride and bridegroom on the bridal couch". Known as the Pelamin, this couch is the centrepiece of the whole ceremony.
After the bersanding ceremony, the wedded couple and their guests attend a celebratory feast called the makan beradab (formal meal). This involves the bride and groom feeding each other sweetened rice. The celebrations are concluded by posing for family photographs.
E was a lovely bride on both days. If Abah were there that day, he would have been very pleased and happy.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Finally, A Belated Celebration

As Mama had mentioned in previous entry, Mama had planned for the children to celebrate their birthdays at their kindergarten - with friends and teachers. If we celebrate at home, there'd only be the neighbours' kids (and Atok & Nenek) who would eat the cakes. Mama wasn't there to take pictures but luckily Teacher Mummy used her handphone to record the event.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sarina Restaurant

Oh my, it has been ages since Mama updated her last entry in this blog. There are lots of events and stuff that Mama wanted to put here but as usual, Mama has lots of other things to do and she tends to procrastinate hence the silence.
Well, this evening Mama went again to this restaurant with the children. Mama comes here at least once or twice in a fortnight. The first time Mama was here, Bro H kept telling Mama about 'abang biru' ('elder brother' dressed in blue). The 'abang biru' in fact was one of the cooks there so after they finished cooking our food, they tend to hang out near the counter. The name stuck even after our several visits later although the cook didn't wear his blue t-shirt any more.
Why do you think Mama always comes here and orders the same menu (fried noodles for Bro H and fried rice for Mama and Sis A)? It's because of the hospitality they had shown Mama and the children the first time we came. When our order came to our table, Bro H refused to eat his fried noodle at first. This is because they put ground peanut on top of the fried noodle and Bro H pushed his plate away saying 'sand.. sand' (because the ground peanut looked like a small pile of sand). The waiter took it away smilingly and understandingly when Mama explained and apologized. He said it was okay and didn't make Mama feel guilty for asking him to bring another plate of noodle. Now, when we stop here, Bro H always go and watch the cooks preparing our order and they don't mind it at all. In fact, they are a warm bunch of people and understand Mama's difficulty in managing the children. They help to look out for the children when Mama is tucking into her food. They even know Bro H's and Sis A's names.
The Sarina Restaurant is not new. It has been there when Mama was still a little girl. The food is tasty of course but you can find tasty and delicious fare in any restaurants in Kota Bharu or other places but what is hard to find is the hospitality and the empathy shown by the staff there to a mother eating out with two boisterous children.