Thursday, September 10, 2009


This morning as I was waiting for the green light at Chukai's only digital traffic light, my mind suddenly flashed back to arwah Tok Ngah. He was the elder brother of arwah Tok Wan, my grandma.

Most probably, I was sitting right smack on the site of Tok Ngah's house. Actually, long time ago, in the sixties to be more exact, there stood a rather big wooden house at the traffic light.

The house was more of a half-way house or free hotel for relatives as well as wayfarers from Kelantan and Besut back then. I remember seeing so many strangers sleeping in the spacious hall.

They not only slept there, but actually lived there for the duration of their stay in Chukai. They cooked, they had their meals and chatted right into the night there.

The famous Hai Peng Kopitiam was already there, but it was just a small coffee shop then.

I remember going there to buy coffee for Tok Ngah. Back then coffee was just placed in bottles or more often in used condensed milk container - nothing fancy like the present day plastic cups.

In front of Tok Ngah's house, the present day Public Bank perhaps, there stood a bakery. It made wonderful crispy Bengali bread that everybody loved.

I used to bring spoilt Nipah cigarette wrappers there in exchange for free bread, They used it as rope for securing the bread which was wrapped in old newspapers.

According to the late Pak Su Rahman (my mother's younger brother), dignitaries like Dato' Abu Samah, Tan Sri Hamzah AbuSamah's father, used to stop at the house. They were somehow related in some way, that was what he told me.

That means that I have somehow got to dig up from him how and in what way we were related. Searching for my roots has always been my favourite pastime, but things get difficult to find the connection now.

According to arwah Tok Wan (Mek Cik was his name), her mother was Sharifah Fatimah Zahrah from Beserah. She married a non-Syed man by the name of Daud and lived in Besut, thus she did not get the Sharifah name!

Tok Wan was rather low profile and did not want to meet relatives who were all Syeds, Syarifahs and Tuans. She was so humble.

To anybody from Beserah who happens to know Sharifah Fatimah Zaharah or her relatives, please call me. I just want to meet them.

According to my mother, many of Tuans and Syeds in Kemaman back then offered her to bring her to meet with rerlatives in Beserah, but she declined. "I'm a poor lady." That was always her excuse.

Tok Wan and Tok Ngah were very close. I remember very well how they looked after each other. Tok Ngah used to walk all the way from his house to Bukit Kuang, just to visit his sick sister, and vise versa.

A few hours before he passed away, he called his sister close to him to teach him the verses that their mother taught them. The verses that would make the passing away easier...

I always pray that they both were blessed by Allah. They had been very good people - good to everybody.

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