A Tribute To My Other Mother (Che Yoh)

Che Yoh (CY) was single.She used to be married once but that did not last very long ( but of course longer than Roslin Hashim with that ugly betty).She was our auntie and we loved her, of course, through out her life. I remember to visit CY every now and then when she was living near the river in Pasir Mas (the town side). For that we called her “Mak Sungai”. Her characters were hard and determined; a very independent lady. She never listened to Grand Ma and for that she was outcasted and lived at the riverbank; when most of the family lived in Kampong Dangar, further inland. We had fun visiting CY, as I remember it, because she would treat us well. She had no child of her own. I could see that she was surrounded by loving people there; our distant relatives who lived near that river bank.

Later, Grand Ma insisted CY to come and live with us in Kampong Dangar. There was a plot of land and a small hut for her to live in. She agreed and moved in. That place happened to be next to our house; so we are neighbors now. From then on life had never been the same again. Our life that is because CY was always on her own and lived her own life; no matter what people said. CY was a dress maker , so were her sisters including my mother. She had a place in the market where people would go and order a dress or mend their clothes. It was not a good job but enough to make a living. Later on my mother joined her at the market to make dresses and sewed sarong for a few cents. I liked to join them every now and then when school was boring and nothing else was there to learn. As I was so fond of CY, my mom and dad asked me to accompany CY at her house. So I would stay or slept over at her house, which was a few step from my house, many days in a week. Until one day CY decided to “adopt” me and asked me to stay with her and be her son. I did not really understand the arrangement but remember staying with her for a few years during my early child hood.

Living with CY was not easy but quite comfortable as I was the only child in the house. Back at my own house we had about 8/9 of us during that time ( altogether I have 12 siblings). So life was luxurious for me. CY was one tough lady and you would have your days numbered if you do not do things her way. And she was always right. But she was a good “mother” to me, caring and loving, although she has her own way of showing them. Once I had a homework that I could not do—-the peribahasa (language stuff) and I was really worried at that. It was getting late at night and I was sobbing in the bedroom for not getting it done. As she could not do it as well, she would go over to my house and asked my brother to help me. I finished the long list of the peribahasa that night and was amazed how CY would do anything for me. But as CY was a very difficult lady; she could not keep a good relationship with everybody; my mom, dad and grand ma. They seemed to hate each other’s guts most of the time. Later I remember the fightings, the shoutings and the tongue-lashing had become so severe that the relationships between them were not good at all. Most of the time they fought over me; until one day Dad decided to take me back. So I was back at the house. CY was devastated. When I asked Dad why; he would tell me that CY had spoilt me too much and Dad wanted to make sure that I would pass the Std Five Exam and go to a good secondary school like my brothers and sister. I guess that was a good decision as I was admitted into a boarding school a year later. Although Mom, Dad and CY could not face each other; I had maintained a motherly relationship with her all the time. Even after getting a job and married she had always been my CY. Every month I would fill her bank account (the tabung haji account) with a portion of my salary until the day she died. I did not have a chance to say goodbye to CY ,as I was in the UK at that time; but she will always be in my dreams and prayers. We were together but somehow life deemed us otherwise. Circumstances that I never knew to comprehend and will continue to wonder what would happen if things had been different. For her good heart, she will always get my prayers. May Allah put her soul in peace and bless her in the Hereafter.

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