The following entry portrays Hilmi’s beloved family members. It was originally published in www.cekmi.blogspot.com on February 15, 2006. Gosh, he does have a family.
Whenever my colleagues look at this nicely-framed picture on my desk, they will typically give such annoying remarks as “Where are you?” or “Is that you?” or even worse “It can’t be you!”. Okay buddies, it was really me, proudly me – a slimmer version of Cekmi where the fat was out of sight. I can’t believe that my physical look has changed so much – the sacred versus the profane.
This is actually one of my favourite family photos. It reminds me of the vanishing world of blessed ignorance, of the time when everything was easy and simple, of the things I took for granted. I remember Kak Lun once commented that I looked so innocent (and naïve too?). Maybe yes. I was a lot different back then. My family had once shaped my personality, so fragile I hardly recognize after years of getting lost in the sinned world of urban life.
Before I go on with my laments, let me tell you who is who on the photo. Taken some time in 1996 during my eldest brother’s convocation in UPM, the picture shows all my family members except my second sister who was at that time studying in Egypt. Being the only one who ever made it to the foreign lands to study, she was the toughest and most persistent iron lady in the family. This strength provides the fire in the family that keeps burning the sparks of love. Oh, she is still strongly single and available.
Now, standing on the left was my eldest sister, the idol of the family who is now happily arranged in a perfect marriage to a perfect husband with four adorable kids. And with her newly-bought house in Kota Bharu, she is the role model of the family I always envy – the kind of anak emak who always follows the tradition of the family with all its dignity and pride.
Next to her is my late Ma, who was always mistaken as my other sister in the family (doesn’t she look young and pretty?). She was the most excited person on that day, knowing that her first son had made her proud, done his best and received a degree of Binjal dream (my brother was in fact among the pioneers in my kampung to ever enroll in a public university).
In the middle is my brother, the brother who first established the honour of education in the family, which was later followed by two UKM-raised sisters, two IIUM-educated products (me included), one Azhar University origin, and one is to be determined – that makes almost all of us proud graduands of various ‘U’s. He is also happily arranged in a beautiful marriage to a beautiful Pasir Mas lady, and further completed with two lovable kids. Lecturing in Sabah, he keeps insisting me on pursuing my career there (which, yes, I will consider after getting my master’s degree).
Standing next to my brother is my father with his never-let-go kopiah. Apparently, he is the coolest figure in the family, but it could get ugly when he shows his bad temper through his subtle gestures and sounds that only my siblings and I could understand (like his famous hissing, pongoh sound).
Oh, next to my father is you-know-who – the black sheep of the family. Hah! Yes, I am the soil of the family who is supposed to be the opposite of my fiery sister. Being number four out of seven siblings, I am always caught in the middle and, to an exaggerated extent, abandoned (so four is sei, ek?)
Now, sitting on the right side is my youngest sister, my closest sister. She is merrily doing Laws in IIUM, and the fact that we share the same IIUM sentiments could be the very reason why we are so ngam. Whenever we are together, we will giggle, laugh, giggle, and laugh hysterically over petty things, as if everything is funny and amusing, as if the world has never warred, as if we share highly classified information, as if we have never been apart for even a day. This ‘girlish’ behaviour sometimes makes people around us irritated and think that we are weirdoes from some alien planets. But, I always enjoy her company.
The smallest brother sitting shyly is the youngest member – the spoilt little brat who will later hopefully gladden the family with his SPM result. Poor brother, he missed a mother’s love at such a tender age. But, he is surely going to make his family proud.
The one with a Kelantanese turban is my grandparents’ brother. His presence takes me back to my root that harmonizes and binds the family ties. And the last person sitting on the left corner is my younger sister, now married to a Law-graduate husband and gifted with a charming son. It is weird to have an adik ipar who is older and more matured than me (If I were a woman, I would have gotten all those langkah bendul gifts.)
Oh, my younger sister’s marriage was arranged too. As the trend shows, all the married couples in my family are blissfully match-made. And it has been amazingly successful too. However, my IIUM sister and I have plotted that, for the second generation, let us define (and find) our own definition of love – American way (hah!).
And that makes nine of us in the family. Yes, I still have a family.
Warm note: After three years now, Hilmi has some new additional members in the family. His father is remarried and he now has a lovely Ummi and her dear son. Plus, there are three more nieces and one more nephew! The family is certainly growing. Maybe Hilmi should consider getting one for himself.