04 May 2011

Maid Story - #3 Embah

When Maid #2 was sent back, I was without a maid for awhile. Mom came up and stayed in KL. Dad was at that time working in KL. We bought a house in Hulu Langat, not very far from my rented house. We passed the rented house to Mom and Dad. It all falls in like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. 

Every morning we send Azhar (on motorbike) to Granny. Every evening, after work, we will stay until dinner and then go home to sleep. It was a new housing area - - read: no electricity and no water piped into home. It was quite a miserable life but it is something we have to go through in order to own our very own house.

Not many people stayed in the housing area of less than 200 houses. My neighbor send her son to an old lady staying a few doors away. So one day, we asked the old lady if she would mind taking care of our son too. At that time she was only taking care of one child (my neighbor's) and had ample time on her hands since her own son has just got married. 

Embah (granny in javanese) is like any other grandmother. She dotes on the kids. If she needs to go to the lorry selling vegetable/fish, she would carry both boys in two slings (javanese style) crossed over the shoulders. She asked the kids to call her Embah. By this time, Azhar was almost two years old (same age as Firdaus, the other child). Dia tak ada bezakan anak2 yang dia jaga. She would feed both kids at the same time, by mixing the rice with fried fish and vege and kicap all in one plate. If we let her have her way, she would not allow us to take our kids back in the evening! She really took great care of our boys. 

By this time, I was expecting my second child. Four months into my pregnancy, Embah's son asked if we mind taking in their mother. The son got a promotion and had to move to another town. Embah chose not to follow them. We welcomed her with open arms. Talk about 'bulan jatuh ke riba'! By that time, Firdaus too was taken care of, by his own granfather.

Having Embah live with us means a much2 pampered life for me..especially since I was pregnant. We never had to worry about Azhar..if fact Embah had started to 'kidnap' my son as early as eight every nite. And when I delivered my second son, I 'berpantang' at home. Huhu..it wasn't much of a pantang since after 3 weeks, I was already out in town getting baby items for Embah's daughter who was giving birth soon after.

Embah stayed with us for more than two years. When Faizal was two, Azhar went to stay with his grandmother in JB. Dad has retired and moved back to JB, so to keep them occupied, they asked to take care of Azhar (who was more than delighted to be the apple of grandma's eye!) So Embah had only Faizal to take care of. Every time she goes back to her home town, she would also take Faizal along. So I never had to worry about who takes care of my kid when the maid/babysitter takes leave. Embah cooks all the lovely javanese food. There is always some kueh on the table. So Faizal grew up plump and chubby. My nephews too enjoys coming over to stay. Each time she comes back from Sabak Bernam, my kitchen will be full of bananas which she will make into banana chips, pucuk2 ulam and all the kampong food.

Meanwhile Azhar lives the jetsetting life. He started his kindy and then his primary schooling in JB. He gave his grandma joy and pain. I remembered (hearing from his grandma) him having "accidents" in school and grandma/pa have to drive to school with his clean pants. I also heard about him judo-kicked another kid in kindy and that kid's grandpa showed his fist at Azhar whenever they crossed paths. I was told that Azhar paid the RM1 insurance and promptly fell at the canteen, that required stitches in his upper lip (talk about making full use of the facilities). Every school holidays, his aunt will send him to Senai airport and the stewardesses takes care of CTA (child travelling alone) until he reaches Subang Airport. At the end of the holidays, we will send him off at Subang back into the arms of his aunt in Senai. If the timing is right, he even gets to spend his holidays in Sabak Bernam with Embah. That went on until he was 12 years old. 

Living with Embah also means my children gets to pickup a smattering of a third language - Javanese. Although my dad is 100% javanese, he doesn't teach us the language. In fact, that is the language he speaks to mom when they have secrets to share! So I get to hear my kids go.. manok (bird), ewak (ikan), oooo toman (chiding) and many more. This was when I understood a little bit of javanese (passable to scare my future Indon maids, it seems).

But all good things came to an end. One day, Embah's son in London, invited her to come over and stay with them. They also dangled the carrot in the form of Haj. Initially Embah did not want to go to London because she could not stand the cold. Her knees ached even in the Malaysian cold weather. But the call of Haj was stronger this time. So she left for London.

Next: Maid story - #4 Sweet Sarah