my father used to train for karate at Jalan Masjid India. The training was at a 3rd storey building they called ‘dojo’ twice a week after work. At that time he was Head of Credit Control at BBMB Kewangan based at Jalan Tun Perak. My mum was working as well, and on the days my father trained, she would take a taxi to the dojo usually some time around dusk.
The area to the dojo was dark, dinghy, and no less than a real slum. The trainers / masters, two Chinese men, were possibly gangsters with scars on their faces and were jobless. Knowing my father worked in a finance company, the two of them asked him for a job. My father told them, the only job he could get them was as repossessors.
30 years later, the two karate masters still remember my father’s full name. They were indebted to him for helping them start a life which led them later on to starting a second hand car business. They looked for him after losing contact, and now treat him like friends.
I wish I had a story like that for my Muhammad Ali.
Being in confinement with my mum has helped me conclude at least one thing - nobody understands the challenges of birth and being a new mother more than your own mum. Confinement is beyond just the pantang diet, beyond just urut, beyond feeding the newborn. It is about understanding the pain that labour wreaked on my poor body, and being able to respond empathically to the pain I felt for at least 3 weeks post birth. How do you tell a person who has never given birth that your tailbone hurts so freaking bad, that your knees feel weak standing more than 2 minutes, that your whole body is nothing more than living corpse? I couldn’t even lift my body out of bed without feeling like dying all over again, each stitch at my nether regions felt like pins and needles for weeks after the birth. Whatever muscles I had were now like someone going through muscular distrophy. The only thing I had the energy to do was feed my baby. I couldn’t even get a drink for myself, and I was too embarrassed to ask anyone else to get things for me. And nobody, no one understands that more than a mother. No matter how someone else says they can care for you, if mum is alive and strong, mum will always be my first choice. Happy Mother’s Day, Mama, in the strongest sense of the word. Lots and lots of love.
demons come by in the shape of cloaked humans. They fly, this way and that, and they land there just by your elbow. They are tall and dark, their face hidden in the shadows. They whisper things you never thought of, they ask you questions that make you change into someone not so trusting, not so kind, not so loving.
They tell you that you shouldn’t be nice and that your hatred is right. These cloaked demons stoke the fires of jealousy with burning embers.
There were five of them all with a mission to destroy what was once happiness in my life.