Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Forget McCain and Obama, We've Got Politics of Padang Tenggala

If you know my grandmother and grandaunt in person, you could tell that they're polar opposites of each other. This is the story of Ba'aisyah and Meriam, the people who put "gala" in Padang Tenggala, Bota.

Opah Ba'aisyah, a tiny figure with a big heart. She is a woman of few words. Often her silence speaks for her wisdom, patience or even anger. By few words, I honestly mean few. If you touch that tray of apams she had religiously prepared for Raya right before everyone's back from solat, she'll mouth a simple "Ish!" and you immediately know when not to touch. That and a few occasional pouts would give you an early warning that she's not liking what she's seeing. That is Opah for you. The moment you see her, my advice would be for you to triple-check that you've worn your kain samping the right way or that you have saved a portion of rendang Tok for her favourite grandchild: Lop Yen. Oh yes, blatant favouritism is her forte too, have I told you that?

Opah Chik Meriam, a whole lot of personality. She is my muse, one who was born with wit and sarcasm, proving that those don't only exist in the Cohens' supersize McMansion and Gossip Girl's cardboard acting. Her only source of interaction to the outside world is an ancient radio, where she picks up on news like the Acheh tsunami, inflation, or even George Soros. I remember the times when she invited us kids to her house and starts telling about her stories growing up in the Japanese occupation era. How she cracks us up everytime she tried to pronounce tsunami as "sunani", and calling my sister Hanani as that too. She once made headlines, for having survived a burglary attack on a random night, with the help of only a torchlight, her pet cat and her loud voice. "Setan, kluo kamu, mude-mude dah pande-pande nak mencughi ye? Aku ni tue ape ade?" (Syaiton, kluar kau, muda muda dah pandai nak mencuri ye?)

So Opah and Opah Chik are basically in-laws, but seldom talk to each other. Opah Chik's loud mouth and sarcastic remarks on Opah's tight kebaya and excessive jeweleries would be the reasons why. For two lonely hearts who live only a stone throw away, they sure have the biggest ego. Opah has a can't-care-less attitude; the more you talk about her, the tighter her kebaya gets. All she cares about is for her kids and grandkids to visit her often and for them to succeed in everything they do. This is where Opah Chik lacks. Not that she's evil-hearted and wishes the worst for her family, but because she doesn't have any grandchildren to begin with. With only one daughter and no husband, she practically lives all by herself.

So Raya is the time when you finally see Opah and Opah Chik put their differences aside (temporarily). I remember one Raya not too many years ago, when Opah scooped a scoopful of Rendang Tok, previously saved for Lop Yen, packed and handed it to myself, while saying a mouthful: "Pergi bagi kat Opah Chik, kesian dia takde sape, tengok die dah makan ke belom." And all of us cucu-cucu will then spend the next couple of hours listening to Opah Chik yapping away on the what's what and who's who in Padang Tenggala and beyond. And yes, you've guessed right. You would have to wait until the next Raya to see this happen again. Until then, it's the same tight kebaya and the same foul mouth.

Can't wait to go back home and salam cium tangan with both Opah and Opah Chik.

6 comments:

yaya schmaya :) said...

Obama & McCain hey?

Mohd, you're soooi indieee....tapi, if I call you 'indie' too often, then you become 'mainstream' then, no? hihi

I enjoyed your Opah & Opah Chik's story, loverghh :)

Najmuddin Mohd Aminuddin said...

obama who?

yaya schmaya :) said...

wewwww. haha

word verification: experelt

sikurusberkasutpetak said...

wuuu.
cucu sweet.

Najmuddin Mohd Aminuddin said...

i knoi hey. btw lover, opah chik is my version of pah mimi. i should introduce you to her one fine day=)

yaya schmaya :) said...

oohhh im lookin forward to that :))