Mother, I’m Home
Memories tumble down the steps of the old Malaysian house-on-stilts where my mother, and I, used to live.
Not all buildings are pulled down to make way for the new. Some are left standing, unattended and forgotten, fading by inches and worn down by the rain and the sun, corroded gently by gentle time that passes like the relentless flow of the river, where upon its banks it sits.
No.833, Lorong Gajah Mati is such a house. A house sitting forlorn and alone, hidden by fences and undergrowth, ignored by its neighbours and forgotten by me, who once stayed there. It sits by the bank of the Kelantan River, facing death as death comes in stealthy steps, crumbling to little pieces yet still holding onto memories of a time 40 over years ago.
As I stood there on Sunday afternoon, taking in the battered remnants of what was once a house, I was that sapling youth once more, coming back home to my mother…
…It was a house on stilts almost seven feet high. She peered through her glasses and through the window where she was sewing when he first arrived, huffing and puffing with a suitcase full of clothes and books. He rested at the stairs. After almost 20 years, her youngest son Mamat returned to a home that was not hers. But for the next couple of years, it was to be his home, too.
Now, I stood there upon a Sunday afternoon. I saw her face through the window, and I saw mine clambering excitedly up the steps.
She died 14 years ago.
I stood there facing the stairs, and I heard her voice as I kick-started my Vespa.
“Mat, mu make doh ko? Duk du moh getek gah,” as she pedalled on her Singer. Mat, have you eaten? Can't you stay home once in a while? As I rode away through the lane of Gajah Mati...
This post was originally published on Pakmat in October 2010. The blogger is a 65-year-old retiree who writes about life in Bachok, Kelantan, Malaysia.