With each passing weekend, my intention is to capture not only the physical essence of the home but also the intangible spirit that lingers. The smiles shared over cups of tea, the stories exchanged during family gatherings, and the wisdom imparted by my parents, whose hair is now touched by silver strands – all of these moments deserve to be etched into time.
Through the lens of my camera, I aim to encapsulate the essence of ‘rumah mak,’ preserving it as a testament to the love, resilience, and continuity that defines our family, Insyallah.
My mom usually wears my dad’s old white pagoda shirt as her everyday outfit. They both wear the same kind of shirt, but my dad always adds a sweater because he gets cold easily, even when it’s warm outside. One day, I asked my mom why dad feels cold all the time, even when it’s hot. She told me that maybe I’ll understand when I’m as old as he is. She said this often happens when people get really old. Nowadays, even a gentle breeze from the fan makes him uncomfortable.
In my mom’s house, there are three folks I jokingly call “aliens.” One is Sumayyah, who’s really loving and helpful. We fondly call her “Dedek,” like “little sis” in our slang. Since it’s a school holiday, breakfast happens at 2 p.m., and most of them get up around 11 a.m. Mom and Dad are the early birds, waking up at 5 a.m in the morning.
Back when I was a kid, the sink was always full of dishes. But these days, it’s less crowded. Now that my siblings have grown up, I remind my nieces and nephews to clean up at my mom’s house, because grandma isn’t as strong as she used to be.
To me, the kitchen is like the heart of our home. Every laugh, every exciting gossip, every “What have you been up to?” chat, every sharing of failures, and every talk about heartaches used to happen during meals. When we all gathered there, you could easily imagine the happy chaos.
When I go to see her, her shirt is usually wet from cleaning. I ask her, “When will you stop looking after everyone?” She says, “When I’m asleep forever.”
Isn’t it true that everything tastes awesome at Mak’s house? Even if it’s nasi lemak you bought in the morning but had in the afternoon, it still turns out great! Even simple fried chicken becomes crunchier and tastier when mom cooks it. I always playfully tell my mom that she’s keeping a tasty secret from us, and she just smiles in reply.
Meanwhile, in his room, Dad is spending some quiet time with his Creator. Dad’s hearing hasn’t been great lately, so we often have to raise our voices to communicate with him. It’s quite funny because even after all that shouting, he still sometimes doesn’t hear us, and we end up laughing a lot. Sometimes, not catching every single thing is like a hidden blessing.
Every wrinkle and line on her skin tells a story, like pages in a book. She takes care of my dad, siblings, grandkids, and great-grandkids. Yet, she never complains. Growing up poor, my mom taught us to appreciate the little things. She remembers how her dad, after work, would cycle to the market and buy discounted food to feed nine kids. Even having a meal, even with small fish, felt like a luxury back then.
Both my mother and I have a shared fondness for listening to music while we’re in the kitchen. It’s like a mini therapy session during cooking – enjoying the DJ’s chat, and when a song starts playing, it carries us back to cherished memories. She got a small radio from Shopee, spending almost RM70 on it. According to her, it felt pricey, and the sound quality didn’t quite meet her preferences.
My mom shared that Sumayah colored the cloud in orange. “Why orange?” my mom asked. I replied, “That’s her imagination. Just let it be.” I suggested not explaining to them how to do it; let them freely use their creative minds to color wholeheartedly.
The three musketeers proudly display their school holiday project. Khaled got the inspiration from a YouTube channel and convinced his dad to get the required materials. My niece, Raudah, always eager for fun, joined the effort. I hope that whenever they look at this picture, it reminds them of the enjoyable moments at Grandma’s house.
Khaled, Fateh with his green hair, Raudah with an orange face, and Pink Sumayah on a beautiful day. The house wouldn’t feel complete without them, and my mom and dad would be alone. So, it’s the perfect arrangement that they’re around to keep my mom and dad company.