Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father Felt Like Eating It

Rays of street lamp rested on Father’s greasy face. He didn’t comb his hair like he used to. Mother was there too, standing a little shorter than Father at the parking lot. I noticed he was very tired from the way he loosened his spine. He didn’t stand ramrod. His poor sight took him a while to find me until I saw him cocked his eyebrows and grinned tiredly when he saw me standing by the lobby’s entrance door with a backpack and a big navy coloured baggage fixed on a trolley. He had a habit of occasionally fixing his thick eyeglasses when smiling. I inherited his way of expressing relief – he exhaled heavily a mouthful of air, fluttering lips under his thick mustache. I had to push the baggage trolley, carefully watched out for cars passing by slowly to drop and fetch people, balancing it as the wheels rolled over the coarse tarmac, avoiding wild shingles sprawling over the dropping bay at the entrance door of Sultan Mahmud Airport’s main building. The renovation works for adding more infrastructures at the airport have been going for so long.

I placed the last item I brought along from Sarawak in the car’s boot – a paper bag filled with a stack of glossy papers printed with fancily presented information about the October 2010 convocation ceremony. I received my Bachelor’s Degree scroll without my parents witnessing it when everybody else’s parents did. Thump, the boot was shut, and so was my bittersweet journey at the faraway land across the ocean. Mother was about to hand me the car’s key. I passed.

We were passing by the airport’s security guard post when Father panned his head towards me sitting at the backseat and said, “do you bring anything home from Sarawak?”

“What thing?” I said, bewildered.

“I asked you to buy me ikang terubok, remember?”

“I didn’t buy anything. No terubok fish. No nothing.”

“Why you didn’t buy it?” Father asked me.

“I ain’t got enough money,” I answered. “Didn’t spend on anything but food to eat.”

“Why you didn’t buy it? It’s been a long time I haven’t eaten ikang terubok,” he said. I remember I heard him making a heavily disappointed sigh afterward.

“I said I don’t have enough money,” I said, a little harsher, feeling aggravated.

“But I feel like eating it,” Father said.

There was a moment of silence inside the car. I gazed outside the car’s window, seeing neon light and cars’ lamps disappeared behind us like fading watercolors. I had never seen Father acted that way.

“You know, Along? Ayoh (Father) is not feeling well today,” Mother said.

I didn’t respond.

Mother added, “he got nocturnal fever ever since you flew to UNIMAS. So it’s been a week. For the rest of the whole day – he’s good. Already told him to meet a doctor. You know him. He relies on panadols.”
“I feel like eating satay,” I said.

“Satay? Where to find satay right now? It’s almost eleven,” Mother said.

Father spoke, “there are a lot of greasy-spoons by the roadside. Just slow down the car, let’s see which one we shall go.”

“Ah that one’s full,” Mother said. “It’s now school holidays. Already expected that.”

I watched out for any restaurants that we can go in. That night, all of them were jam packed with customers. I hated all those cars parked along the grassy roadside with the registration numbers that didn’t start with a letter T (registered in Terengganu) for being uninvited cockroaches swarming this land. I cannot eat satay because of them. Fuck them all.

“How about that one?” Mother slowed down the car and pulled over. “Along? How about this one?” She signaled to a restaurant that wasn't appealing for me because I saw no customers even though the lighting was vibrant. Everything was not right then. Things seemed to happen in wrong situation, world's moving around not under my direction.

“I don’t feel like eating satay anymore,” I said sullenly, sinking my lower back.

“You sure?” Mother asked, “You can eat something else. I didn’t cook at home. No meals in the kitchen table.”

“Not feeling like eating satay anymore,” I repeated what I said.

“Are you sure? Have you eaten along the trip?” Mother said.

“Already had my lunch at McDonalds in Kuala Lumpur. Still feeling full,” I lied.

“Alright. So where are we going now? You sure about that?” Mother asked.

“Home,” Father interrupted.

“Home,” I said, disappointingly.

Father died a month later.

Happy Father’s Day.


  1. I know it seems heavy, that burden of remorse on your shoulders. And in time, all expressions, sighs, words are amplified by the time tunnel.

    Just focus on your Fatihah and doa for your father when you think of him.

    And mind your language!

    1. "... are amplified by the time tunnel". Wow. Thanks. I'll plagiarize your prose in my upcoming posts.

      Mind my language? Maybe I'm still a young man at heart. Ihiks~!

  2. That's precisely how I feel every Thursday evening and the whole day of Friday and half morning of Saturday in Kuantan. The influx of cars with license plate that starts with T. They are just everywhere.


    1. I think we all feel the same. I won't swear at them if they drove Audi R8 and the likes. Hewhew~!

  3. Pok Deng Matrix Londang kah? P(F)23?

    1. No sweetheart. Your Pok Deng isn't as cool as Sir Pok Deng. Matrikulasi Pahang all the way, mate.