Welcome to the Family
A while back, our Mak Lang passed away after suffering from the Big C. It was heart wrenching for us to watch her day by day deteriorating and slowly losing grip of life. All the while the family was with her, at the hospital holding her hand, rubbing her legs to make her feel better, reading the Quran to soothe her and when we were not there, she was always in our prayers. She still is.
Never once leaving her side was Pak Lang. Coaxing her and fighting the battle with her with soft words of encouragement and appearing strong and optimistic for her as though everything would be ok although the doctors had told us, that it was just a matter of time. Whenever I visited her, I could not help but shed tears. Not only because I was sad for Mak Lang who had to bear the pain, but for Pak Lang too, who left everything, just to be by her side. There wasn’t anything that he would not do for her. He read to her, he held her hand, he took in all the anger that Mak Lang let out due to the frustration that the pain brought. Never once did he complain, never once did he say anything hurtful to her back but instead he just smiled at her and stroked her thinning hair lovingly.
The day came when she left us. Pak Lang was left alone, suddenly without what it seemed like, any direction in life. His wife who had been his sole purpose in life was gone and it seemed like he did not know what to do with himself anymore. He was no longer the Pak Lang we knew. His smile was always paired with tired, sad eyes and he never joked as he used too. He walked with a subtle slouch as though he carried the world’s hugest burden not having Mak Lang with him and he was like that for a long, long time.
Last week, after a few months of not seeing him, I met Pak Lang at my home for dinner As he stepped into the doorway, I was pleasantly surprised. Gone were the lonely sad eyes, gone was the slouch he carried and he bore the huge, warm, cheeky smile that we remember so fondly of. He was back! As I hugged him and welcomed him into my home, I saw a small figure hovering behind him. He turned towards her an introduced me to her. “Anedra, this is your new Mak Lang.”
I had heard of the news. In fact Mak Lang’s (the old Mak Lang) family had been very much a part of pairing the two together. I was in shock as I wasn’t prepared to meet her. Being the naturally over loyal person that I am, I couldn’t imagine him being with another woman. Not that it was anything I had a say in. It was something I sort of ignored for a while. So, ss I faced her and put my hands out to salam, I just said, “Hello Aunty”. I think Pak Lang expected me to address her as "Mak Lang", but I just couldn't get myself to. It was too abrupt. I hadn't rehearsed it yet. I wasn't ready. But it was strange though, I couldn't stop stealing stares at her. She looked a lot like Mak Lang, only that she's a slightly younger version.
Throughout dinner I felt like breaking into tears. Seeing the new Aunt brought back memories of old Mak Lang and made me miss her so. I wish she were still alive for me to hug and kiss and stroke her hands like we did during her last final days. And memories of her having late night coffee with us on our terrace seemed so fresh in my mind, it hurt. But then I saw how happy Pak Lang was and how gentle, mature and caring the new Aunt was with him. I knew he would be in good hands. And although she looked almost like Mak Lang, she was very different from her, in a nice way. I was happy for him. Perhaps this is one of God’s ways of rewarding Pak Lang for all that he did for Mak Lang before. He deserves this happiness.
She won me by the end of the night. Looking at Pak Lang so happy and back to his normal self was worth having to accept this new lady into the family. Anyway, I’m sure Mak Lang would have wanted this too. It’s not as though she is replacing Mak Lang, she’s just a new addition to the family, just like a new cousin or something like that. Our Mak Lang will always be there, in our prayers and in our thoughts and always very much a part of the family.
They shall be married soon. I still don’t know when I can call this new Aunty “Mak Lang”. Perhaps I never will. But that’s not really important is it? I have always believed that we only get one chance at life and we ought to be happy. So if this is what it takes for Pak Lang, I’m all for it. So to the new Aunt, come ere. Lemme give you a big welcome hug!