6TH SEPT 2007
I have made this a personal goal. Everytime I returned back to Kelantan, I will look up at least one "long lost" relative.
I aborted my final cycling leg to Kota Bharu at Merang. I desired to arrive back to KB earlier, to have an extra time with my mother. When my brother Rahimi arrived to pick me, I suggested to him to go to Kg Guntong and look up some long lost relatives before going back to KB. Good idea, he said. Being the younger brother he was, what else can he say!
So where is this Kg Guntong? It's a village along the main K Trengganu - Kota Bharu road, before Jerteh if one drives from KT. Who are there?
Like a reporter, I drew a Family Tree after all the surprises and pleasantries of meeting after more than 30 years. From the family tree, I know that Mak Su Jah is my Emak Sepupu, best translated as my mother's cousin. Rokiah is her daughter and therefore becomes my second cousin. Halimah is also another second cousin, but from my mother's other cousin, Pak Cik Omar (deceased).
Mak Su Jah and Pak Chik Omar are brother and sister. They were brought by their parents, Tok Chu Som and Tok Chu Hassan (both deceased) in the early 60's to open up the jungle of Kg Guntong. Tok Chu Som was my late Grandmother's sister (Mok Bidah).
Mak Su Jah has some semblance of my late grandmother. Their genes seemed to have been passed on to a daughter (of mine) all the way to Dublin! That means both Mok Su Jah and my late grandmother are highly intelligent but humorous species. (Notice I used the present tense!) Some of the humorous traits must have rubbed on to me too, ha...ha...
Locating the first second-cousin Halimah was easy. About a year ago, she located me, via my handphone. I don't recall having met her before but I recalled that her house is besides the Kg Guntong mosque. She was home when we gave our salam. The husband was in KL so we suggested to her to bring us to the other relative house. We went to Mok Su Jah's house and Rokiah came later. I remembered Rokiah as she was younger than me by several years.
Understandably I faintly remembered her mother, Mok Su Jah.
Mok Su Jah has 5 children - Rokiah, Rohani, Sabariah, Zakiah & Zaki (twins). Rokiah has 12...that's right twelve children. I dared not ask for the other siblings CV's! Rokiah was the eldest and life then must be pretty boring in the Ulu, and most times in darkness without TNB supply, so I guess that explains the massive output.
I was quite prepared for another shock when I asked Halimah. But she meekly held out only 1 hand with 5 outstretched fingers. Phew. Rokiah would need both hands and 2 toes.
Halimah had 4 other siblings, Fariza, Fauziah, Zubaidah and Suhaini. Her 5 children are Suhaimi (Policeman in Klang), Suhairi (immigration officer), Sukri, Hafizah and 1 other which I failed to record the name. Bad reporter!
Recalling my earlier days in the early 70s as an undergraduate in Universiti Malaya, I used to stop at Kg Guntong to visit them. Those were my earlier motorbiking days where as an undergrad, having a motorbike was FREEDOM and it was only a 90cc Suzuki Wolf. I used to travel back and forth KL - Tumpat during the semester breaks on that 90cc motorbike and Kg Guntong was one of my "must stop" stop. Of course I now ride a motorbike with no engine!
Recalling their early days, Mak Su Jah said the family came to Kg Guntong to teroka tanah. They were the new settlers and life was difficult. They opened up jungles to plant rubber and palm oil. Tigers were often seen but never liked humans as their prey. That's probably because there were still plenty of their preys then. Tigers would have changed their diet now but they are extinct there anyway, thanks to development.
Anyway, I was glad I made the trip. I was sure my brother was equally glad though he was still wet behind the ears when I was visiting Kg Guntong in those early years. We stayed for about an hour and went back with a sack of Cempedak and rambutan. The smell of the Cempedak lingered on in the Kelisa for a few days, but the memory of the visit lasts longer.