A tribute to Tok Wan

When I told my late grand father that I had to watch a video of a woman giving birth , he at first did not believe me. It was part of my training in becoming a flight attendant to know such thing,I had told him. I described to him that we were made to  watch the entire damn thing about receiving a new life into this world, right from shaving the pubic hair until the very end of pushing out the placenta.

He smiled and I thought he was very proud of me. My nenek giggled when I mentioned “cukur bulu”.

He did. They both were very proud of me for being the first flight attendant in the family.

He was the one who came to my rescue when I had no shirt to attend my first interview in Alor Setar. He gave me his well pressed long-sleeved white shirt and whispered to my ear…” Baju bertuah Tok Wan…ambil lah” and I wore that shirt with proud despite it smelled like two dozens of moth balls in its pocket.Maybe his blessing made me what I am today, a flight attendant.

( A mere flight attendant; yeah…am no executive!)

Arwah had a fearsome reputation in my hometown. I had seen how this old man went rampage with anger when things were on his way or not his way. He had twelve children and only three are girls. He guarded his daughters like an army marshal and no one dares to court them. My mother and her two other sisters had had to sneak out from the house in those old fashion big baju kurung and had them changed later at their grandmother’s house into those skinny, tight fitted Saloma‘s kebayas for the night out.

News somehow broke to him a few days later and he burnt the entire wardrobe of his young daughters.

Even after all his children are married and have given him almost three dozens of grand children, he was still in his elements; imposing and fearful personality.

However, this giant and fearful man was such a gentle person to me and one of my cousin, abang Man who died in a motor accident when we were only 18. He was my closest cousin and very dear to my heart. Each time I visited my Mak Long, I could still sensed his presence in the house and  many times I wanted to ask my Mak Long…where is Abang Man as what I always did when I stepped foot into her house when he was still alive. Till today, the same question had always manages to creep between my lips and only sensible mind stopped that from being uttered.

That was a second direct “anger management” Allah has taught my poor Tok Wan. The lost of one of his favorite grand kids had him mellowed down and he became much more calmer and patience.

The passing of my cousin has brought an old wound to bleed yet another time. About 12 years before that,my uncle who was my mother’s younger brother was stabbed in a cinema by my grand mother’s nephew. Uncle Din was brought home on a motorcycle by his peer whilst his legs were dragged on the rough tarred road. There was no skin left on all his toes when he was finally brought to my grand father’s house. In his dying breath, he asked for my Tok Wan’s forgiveness and Tok Wan was the one who had to teach him the shahadah or mengucap when he breathes his last. He died on Tok Wan’s laps.

The kampung people, Tok Wan’s relatives and all his children were holding their breath suspecting the bloody death of my uncle would continue with a blood bath.They were all wrong, Tok Wan was acting like an angel and softly cradling the lifeless body of his son in his arms, kissing his cheeks and finally putting him into his bed.

I was seated next to my mother, when the father of the murderer came, kissed his legs and tearfully begged my Tok Wan’s mercy to spare his son’s life. I was barely six or seven years old but I still remember vividly the entire scene.

He forgave him but he gently asked the man out.

The case closed and police report was never made. Langkawi was then very remote and such things were usually left unreported.

Despite his reputations of such horrendous temper, he was well-respected by all his children and he clothed them, fed them sufficiently even though they were dirt poor.They were all well discipline and well-behaved. There is no doctor or lawyer in the family but they have grown up to be the law-abiding citizens. As a father, he did rather well.

Tok Wan has left us for almost three years now. He is dearly missed. I hope, these three important people in my life are resting peacefully and being comforted by all his deeds and doa from his children. End of last year, my nenek took her rightful place next to Tok Wan’s grave and Al-Fatihah to them all.


  • Tok Wan        : Nick-name for grand father
  • Arwah            : The late
  • Baju Kurung : tradional Malay female costume, loosely worn
  • Saloma           : A famous Malay actress and singer; artist in the 50s and 60s
  • Abang            : Older brother
  • Mak long       : Aunty
  • Shahadah/Mengucap : Proclamation or profession of faith to Allah
  • Kampung    : Village
  • Nenek           : A grand mother
  • Al-Fatihah  :  AlQuran verses usually read as a doa for the dead ( For detail on this verse please google in the net for the elaborate meaning)

2 thoughts on “A tribute to Tok Wan

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  1. alfatihah for ur Tok Wan.
    Yang tak tahan tuh…baju saloma…hehehhee:P
    kalau ayam kampung apa aaaa in english ??:P*muka jahats*

    1. Kan…I still have those pics of my mom in that kindda skimpy kebayas.
      Actually the tribulations of my late grandpa were more sad than this story Andy. He had seen his younger brother drowned at sea etc. Well…that’s life rite andy?!

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