In Ramadhan…

My beloved grandfather would work twice as hard as he did during other months. He used to cycle from their place to Klang city (about 15km away) to sell pineapples, to and fro, everyday, and on many days my father would follow to help out (he was 8). In Ramadhan he’d cycle there twice.

He’s the imam of the small mosque near our house. His tarawih was fast, and the mosque would be full with people. He knew people have to go to work early the next day, at the same time they would want to fill their ramadhan with proposed activities.

In Ramadhan I’d sometimes ride with him to the mosque at night. Just me and my grandparents. I could still remember the nice smell of their car, of my grandmother’s telekung… I didn’t know until I was quite grown up, that he couldn’t see much at night, so he’d calculate the speed and the distance, and would time his drive so that he’d turn into the junction at the right place!! My grandpa is well known for his mathematical skills. He was able to calculate off his mind, the price of chicken which is weighed in pounds! He’s the man to go to when one needs to divide a property based on syariah law. No wonder his children are mostly doing math-based jobs – engineering (1), auditing (3), a great add maths teacher (1).

Someone asked me before, “What’s your grandfather’s secret? He has  10 children and all of them comes back under one roof, happy and united.” Umm…well….I don’t know. He wasn’t happy. “Surely he must have some kind of ilmu to be able to do that. He may have passed it to his sons, and sons to grandsons. Hey, ask your brother! He must know!” Ummm…no, I don’t think so. My grandpa don’t believe in such things. This person wasn’t happy still. He didn’t believe me. Well…

I told my aunties and uncles about it, and the first thing they said was, “Ilmu hisab lah! (Maths – the skills of counting -, of course!)”  And one of them elaborated, “Of course. With 10 children you need to be fair. If one gets blue baju raya, the others must get the same blue baju raya. If one couldn’t get something, the others won’t too. So nobody would be jealous or unhappy.” Wow…I learnt through experience that it’s true!

Back to my topic…

Towards the end of Ramadhan my granpa would lovingly by cartons of carbonated drinks for us, grandchildren, to enjoy during Hari Raya. There’d be root beer (my favourite!), F&N orange, sarsi, and 7Up. They come in cartons of 20 glass bottles.We won’t be able to finish a bottle on our own, but sometimes we’d open them without thinking of sharing. But they’re all finished, anyway. Maybe the adults did it for us. 🙂  My grandmother didn’t like it at all. She’s so not a big fan of unhealthy, artificial food and beverages. But she didn’t say much.

He’d ‘make’ one raya biscuit. Well, made money to buy them, actually. You know the biscuits with sugar on top, each with different bright colours – blue, pink, green and white. Kids loooove them! I remember my (very) little sister would share with another cousin, Hanif. My sister would bite off the biscuit base (she doesn’t like sweet things), and Hanif would take the sugar topping. They were so cute!

One day he bought some kacang hijau (green peas) for my grandmother to cook – he wanted to eat some bubur kacang. Thing was, he bought the whole ONE KG of the green peas, and there’s just the two of them at home! She wondered and wondered whether he wanted her to cook the whole thing or what…

My grandpa loves his sweet drinks. My grandma would make air gula (thick sugary water) so that he could add into his drinks, and she’d put them in 1.5L mineral water bottles, in the same row as the cold plain water in the fridge. One day (finally) my grandpa thinks that his milo was too sweet. So he reached into the fridge and pour some, emm, water, into his milo. And when he sipped it….LEGGHIIII!!!!!! (Javanese for “so SWEEEEEET!!!”). My dad and grandma went into stitches!! She made him a new cup then.

My brother told me this. In addition to sweet drinks, he loooooves his icy cold drinks. What he’d do is put small bottles of water in the freezer compartment. Before maghrib he’d take them out, then when he goes to the mosque during isya’ he’d take them in an ice box. By the time tarawih is over, before starting tadarus, some of the ice would have melted. So he’d pour those out into a glass and drink it. Wooooow……I’m sure it must’ve felt like heaven for him…..

The rest of the ice would melt along the way throughout his tadarus.

Oh, and his diabetes. Haha. He’d still drink all those sweet beverages, and compliant to his meds too! He’d say, “It’s ok if my sugar is high. I have my medications at bay!” It’s not fair to control it too strictly anyway – when he was young he didn’t have the chance to enjoy all these small luxuries that we all take for granted.

My grandpa is a lovely man, very gentle and polite. He’s so soft spoken and never speaks ill about others. The above are just some small things that he did. There’s just so much more to talk about, but I need to stop here.

I know he’s gone a long time ago, but in my heart he’s always alive and well.