Listening to tales from Opah gives me a mashed up feelings of happiness, sad, enlightenment and other side emotions as well. Since she's not well after the mild stroke, her speech was impaired and she's not strong as she used to be.
So this semester break I'm here with her, keeping an eye on her just in case Bibik needs any help. So last night during dinner, we had Maggi Kari because Opah was longing for it. She said:
'Opah ni teringin nak makan Maggi. Makan nasik dah muak. Bibik! Masakkan Maggi, kita semua makan Maggi malam ni. Tapi, diam diam tau. Jangan bagitau mama. Nanti mama marah Opah.'
We laughed, then I assist her to the kitchen. During our secret dinner, she starts telling stories how she met with Atok in the 50's. Opah is telling her version of 'How I Met Your Atok' in between her mouthful.
She met with Atok via a friend. Atok, from Sungai Besar Selangor, was in MCKK, Perak and Opah, Pasir Putih Ipoh origin, was in a mengaji school in Ipoh. So the friend approaches Opah telling her that someone wants to get to know her, and she wasn't that reluctant to say no. From there on, they sent letters with photos of each other, with good news and bad news, with a date to meet and so forth. Opah told me, she only met with Atok about 3 times because Kuala Kangsar and Ipoh back then was quite far by bus, and Atok wasn't from a rich background.
The first time she laid her eyes on Atok, butterflies were all over her stomach. She felt queasy and anxious. It's no surprise, because Atok was heavenly handsome. With the MCKK uniform, white shirt and trousers and shining black shoe and hair was combed to the side with a curl in front, those were the heart-throb fashion back in the days.
She continued her stories from when Atok went to ask for her hand, their first house, the children, the ups and downs of their life, and her last moments with Atok before he died of stroke.
'Masa Atok meninggal, Opah langsung tak nangis. Dari hospital, kat rumah masa ada jenazah, sampailah kebumi. Opah tak rasa apa apa. (pause) Tapi bila malam tu tidor Opah nangis sampai Subuh sebab baru Opah rasa sunyi sangat malam tu tak ada Atok..'
By the time she finished her stories, clear tears shed from her eyes. I heard she murmured silently 'Opah rindu betul Atok, insyallah nanti jumpa.' and Maghrib was called upon. She got up, went to her bedroom and I stayed there in the kitchen. It made me realise, she's strong on the outside but on the inside she is very fragile.