My cousin Hawa wrote a piece about his late father who was my uncle that we called Pak Hitam. Reading it I could feel how very much she missed him at the same time transporting me back down memory lane that I sometimes do not wish to revisit. But I know I must somehow if I want to be at peace with myself. Yes, I could not lie to myself, I miss my Abah very much as well.
Pak Hitam and Abah shared a similar trait that I inherited. Both of them did not like sad occasion and most of the time would want everyone to be happy. Both sort of happy go lucky and loved to be a friend to almost everyone they met. No matter where we were in Malaysia Abah never seemed to be far away from his friends. That was amazing feat that still amazes me considering the kind of technology at our disposal now. Due to our near nomadic life I did not have the opportunity to get very close to Pak Hitam. Only once is a while during school holidays when we were back at Gali that I got to meet him. Then he was a young teacher living together with his young friends next to Aki’s house. When at Aki’s house I could hear their voices and the antics that they were in. In the evening they would be playing their guitars and singing on the veranda sometimes to the chagrin of my late grandpa. At night I could hear them starting their Vespa, no doubt, going to Raub town. Being a kid I just loved them and hanged around. Pak Hitam would tease us when he saw us. Once in awhile we got a treat of ice cream.
Abah being the eldest was the one all my uncles and aunties looked up to and his word is the rule especially after Aki passed away. But I knew despite him just being a policeman his sisters and brothers respected him, especially Pak Hitam. I still could remember the night that Abah passed away Pak Hitam was the one who called me. Pak Hitam was Abah’s designated driver whenever we were back in Gali. Abah would just borrow a car from somewhere and asked Pak Hitam to drive us somewhere. Once we went to PJ for a holiday and we took along Pak Hitam’s only daughter, my cousin Hawa. One of the places we stopped was the old Mimaland, the then 'Sunway Lagoon', in Gombak. (Hawa do you remember that?)
As I grew older I saw less of him and only heard stories of him from the conversations that I heard. Had not for Hawa’s piece I would not have known, for instance, that Pak Hitam used to teach and stay at Fraser’s Hill. The hill resort that now being one of the places we normally go just to relax. I guess that was when in one occasion Lan, Long and myself got a ride home in his car for Mak Cu’s wedding. I was in college then and Pak Hitam to me was the same Pak Hitam. I never knew he loved to travel as I do as well. I guess it is all in the family. Abah was one who could never want to stay around at one place too long and naturally we do as well. So Hawa keep on writing as it is our family biography.
The time I received the news of his passing I felt like time stood still as I felt just only recently I lost my Abah. Both of them being almost similar in look and mannerism made it even harder for me. During the funeral I mentioned to my cousins, in a crude way, that the time for our uncles and aunties to go one after another was here and we had to prepare ourselves for the worst do not neglect to visit one another more often. Pak Cu followed Pak Hitam a year or two later, then Pak Anjang and Pak Ngah. Pak Ngah passed away when I was oversea on assignment. I do not know how old Abah should be now but for what ever it is he lived his own life and he was his own man.