Saturday, October 30, 2010

KakaGagaDada...Abahhhh.

Zara playing 'chiak' with Abah.
Since about two days ago, Zara has suddenly started vocalizing more. Previously she had always just had a repertoire of 'Aaaah' in various tones (from Cute to Screeching!) And then, completely out of the blue yesterday, a whole bunch of new sounds came out from her mouth...

Her new words... Kaka, Gaga, Dada and Abah... yes, Abah! But I doubt she actually does mean her Abah, though it would be lovely if that was her first real word!

Zara particularly likes the words Dada and Abah, and throughout my one hour grocery excursion today she was Dada-ing and Abah-ing all the way, with lots of drool thrown in for good measure.  

Now I wonder when "Ma.....ma..." will make an appearance!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Uncle Geev.


Dear Zara,

Mummy wants to tell you a story about a dear friend named Uncle Geev. Uncle Geev passed away three days ago - I dont want to tell you how it happened because I want this to be a happy story - but let me just say that it was sudden and a really terrible way to lose someone so close.

Mummy and Uncle Geev were high school sweethearts; we met at a Mamak Stall under a tree in front of Aunty Casey's house. We were both 16 and a half, very young and very naive. We started out purely as friends, seeing each other from afar at first, and as we spent more time chatting with each other and learning about one another, our friendship blossomed into young love.

I remember sitting with him in the rain at a bus stop near Aunty Casey's house, when he first told me he loved me. How innocent we were then... thinking we knew what love was! But let me tell you Zara, the best love is always the most innocent.

As we spent more time together, I discovered that Uncle Geev and I were very different. We may have shared many of the same friends but as I got to know him better, I began to understand that not everyone in life was as fortunate as Mummy was, to be brought up in a nice home by both parents and to always have pocket money.

For some people, like Uncle Geev, life was hard. Mummy always had a lot of free time to study and hang out with friends, but when Uncle Geev came home from school, he was always helping his Mum at her small restaurant, making Appams and Thosais, and delivering food to other people's homes. Sometimes, their electricity was cut because they couldnt pay the bills. And sometimes, they didnt have enough money to fix the old red van that Uncle Geev used to drive when he delivered food. I remember more than a few times when the van broke down and Uncle Geev had to push it as far as he could by himself. And he would often spend time fixing the van himself to save whatever money they had on more important things.

When the shop closed for a while in the afternoon and then later for the night, Uncle Geev would finally have some time with his friends, and that's when he would call me from a payphone to talk to me about his day. If he could get the van to himself, sometimes he would come to visit me at Aunty Casey's house after tuition.

When we all finished high school, Mummy went to a nice college, but Uncle Geev had no money to continue his studies. His dream was to become an automotive engineer, and because he knew he didnt have the finances to study that at college, he spent lots of time educating himself. Uncle Geev was always at the mechanic's shop, watching, learning and helping. He also spent a lot of time fixing my old car.

One day, your Nana decided to help pay for him to go to college. It wasnt much, but Uncle Geev was so grateful to get the chance. Unfortunately, we couldnt help send him to a college that taught automotive engineering, so Uncle Geev studied IT instead. Uncle Geev made many dear friends in college, and everyone loved him because he was such a funny guy. Soon after though, Mummy went to study in Australia and it was there that Mummy broke his heart.

When Mummy came back from Australia, Uncle Geev was so kind to give Mummy another chance. But it wasnt meant to be for us. After 7 bittersweet years together, we had grown up and grown apart, and Mummy wanted so many things that Uncle Geev could not understand.

Mummy will always be sorry that she broke Uncle Geev's heart. But looking back, it was the best thing for the both of us. After Mummy and Uncle Geev went separate ways, Mummy eventually found Abah, and Uncle Geev started working with AirAsia. It was there that Uncle Geev got the chance to study aircraft engineering - not cars, his first passion - but certainly close enough. Uncle Geev took this golden chance so seriously and worked so hard to pass his exams. While studying, he continued to work on his other job at AirAsia, and on his off days, always returned to Klang, our hometown, to help his dear mum with her restaurant. Although he was tired, he was always working hard to better his life and to lift your God Aunty Paramas' burden.

Three weeks ago, after so many years of hardship, Uncle Geev finally graduated with a Masters in Engineering and became a Licensed Aircraft Engineer. He was the happiest man in the whole world! He told all his friends that he was going to buy a house for God Aunty Paramas so that she wouldnt have to work anymore, and that he was going to marry his new sweetheart next year. Fate was finally beginning to smile for Uncle Geev, and he was overjoyed the day he received his first salary as an engineer.

Sadly, that same night, Uncle Geev went out with some old friends to celebrate and never came home.

It was the saddest day of Mummy's life. Uncle Geev was just 31.

Mummy learnt a lot of things from Uncle Geev's short, but full life. Despite Uncle Geev's many hardships and disappointments, never once did he complain about his life. Although he didnt have many material things growing up - no nice car, no nice house, no fancy degree - and having to work so hard to help his tireless selfless mum, he was always very pragmatic about things, he never gave up and never forgot to smile. Uncle Geev made friends every where he went - friends of all races and backgrounds - there was no one too beneath him or too high above him that he couldnt get along with.

The other special thing about Uncle Geev was that he was never too tired or too busy to help anyone - he would always be there whenever you needed him. Mummy would know... even after Mummy left him, Uncle Geev helped me many many times when I was down on my luck. He never forgot me, and despite everything, had only the nicest things to say about me. 

Mummy's two biggest regrets are that I never thanked Uncle Geev enough for being such a blessing in my life, and that he never got to meet you, my sweet angel. Mummy was always 'too busy' to meet up and because of that, you never had the chance to meet someone so important to Mummy's life.

Mummy wants you to learn some things from Uncle Geev's life.

First, always be grateful for what little you do have, and dont waste time thinking about the things you dont have.

Second, always be good to people, no matter who they are or where they're from. Good memories are the greatest legacy a person can leave behind.

Three, always work hard to be a better person than you already are. If you have a dream, pursue it! Dont let things like money (specifically, the lack of it) and hardship pull you down. If you really want it, you will and can find a way.

Four, never forget the people who sacrificed everything for you. No matter how hard Uncle Geev's day was, he never forgot to return home to help his poor tired mother.

Five, dont let heartbreak stop you from living. From what I know, Uncle Geev dropped out of college when I left, but it didnt stop him from bouncing back and trying to be a better person. In fact, he went on to become the best person he could be!

Finally, never take people for granted. Mummy had so many things I wanted to say to Uncle Geev, but never did. And now he's gone. Always remember to tell people you love them, and never be 'too busy' to spend time with those you care about.

I love you my little Zara, and I am so sure Uncle Geev would have loved you too. I wish you had had a chance to know him.

I hope you can offer him a prayer every now and then, that he may be happy in Heaven and that he knows he is not forgotten. 

May Mummy's story about Uncle Geev live on in you always.

R.I.P

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Act (or Two) of Kindness.

As of today, I am now thoroughly convinced that having a baby with you on an outing tends to bring out the best in Malaysians.

I find this funny because when I was heavily pregnant - 8 months and dependent on a walking stick to support my failing pelvis - I honestly encountered the worst. Hobbling in the rain from the carpark to my office one day, I slipped and fell in front of a car, dropping my laptop, umbrella and files all over the sodden wet concrete. And what did the driver do? Stop and help? Nope, he HONKED at me! Yep, that's right.

Oh, and the countless times I had elevator doors close on me right before I could enter, all because I was too heavy to move faster and the rude ass in the lift couldnt be bothered to hold the door open for me! Or... the times I tried to exit a lift and streams of people just came pushing through, regardless of the fact that I was the size of an elephant and needed plenty of time and space to get out!

So... it was with genuine surprise and deep gratitude that today, I encountered not just one, but two kind people who managed to change my mind about apathetic Malaysians in general. 

The first was at Ikea, as I tried to load a trolley full of stuff into my car while Zara was strapped to my chest in a baby carrier. Believe me, this is not an easy feat. She's over 8 kilos and lifting anything, even if it's 'flat-packed', is a challenge. Just as I stood there helplessly contemplating my idiocy at attempting to purchase such large items on my own, a nice gentleman came by and asked if I could use some help.

Ordinarily, being the bodoh-sombong prig that I am, I would say 'No no, thank you, I'll be fine", the way I used to even when I was 9.5mths and about to pop anytime! But this time, I knew Ikea had beat me and there was no way I could do this without assistance. And so, with a defeated 'yes, please', Encik Salihin loaded my boot for me and then went on his way, but not before I shook his hand and thanked him profusely.

I thought about this incident all the way home, and for the first time in a long time, my heart swelled with pride to be Malaysian. I felt so good I even let several cars potong me at a double line... that's how good it felt.

When I finally parked my car at home, Naz was already waiting to help unload the boot. As we discussed how many trips we'd have to make to get the stuff upstairs, another nice gentleman came over and offered a hand. I was really quite gobsmacked... TWO kind people in less than an hour? Allah must be smiling down on me today! And so, nice gentleman No 2 - Mr Raymond - carried up some of our stuff and then he too went on his way.

Back in my living room, I sat down to marvel at my fortune today. And I realised that, just from the simple acts of these two gentlemen, I had had a great day.

My perception of what it was to be a stranger, a woman, a mother, a neighbour, and most importantly a Malaysian, had changed instantly. I have always been too pessimistic about people (Rude Mr HonkHonk 10 months ago had served to cement that belief) but now I'm quite sure there are more good people than bad out there, and it seems that having a sweet innocent baby with you simply opens people up and makes you more approachable, less of a stranger.

These days, whenever I have Zara with me, I'm able to have conversations with the most random of people, and it usually starts with the phrase 'Berapa umur baby?'. And then the barriers that divide us, that made us strangers, miraculously melt away. Now if only people were that nice on days Zara isnt with me! But why cant we be nicer to each other? Why cant we hold lift doors for people and let others exit properly before we barge through? Do I have to carry a baby to have people do so?  I'm sure we can all do better. As for me, I will now make an effort to smile and be kind to people every day, because who knows? Maybe I might help someone's day go from being just ordinary to just great!

Thank you again Encik Salihin and Mr Raymond for helping me angkat my barang and most importantly, for opening my eyes.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Zara's First Raya!

This post is a long time coming but it really has taken me that long to get my Raya pictures in order!

Zara's first Baju Raya!

Our first Raya family photo!

 
 
Nanie let her try roti...


...And Zappel (!)...

...And even Ais Kacang! Naughty Nanie!
 
Passed out from all the excitement...
Yes, and as you can see, at just 6 months, Zara had already learnt that the Malaysian Raya experience was generally typified by new clothes, (lots of) eating, and plenty of exhaustion by the end of the day!

Oh, and we found that Zara just LOVES duit raya... chewing the packets, that is!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Zara's Progress Report - 7 Months, 3 Weeks

It's wonderful how fast a baby can progress in just a matter of weeks, sometimes even days! The things Zara learns on her own and from watching other babies never cease to amaze me and I often find it hard to believe that 7 months ago, she was just a tiny grub who couldnt even hold her head up and didnt do much except cry and poop (a lot!).

Today, my tiny grub is a lovely little girl with lots of character who can make her Abah's heart melt even when his football team plays like crap. And she is the only thing in the whole world that can make her Mummy tear up when she flashes her goofy (gummy) smile while doing the Zarafunnydance.

In fact, one of the main reasons I quit my fulltime job was so I wouldnt miss those moments, and by golly, do they zip past fast! So it is with a great amount of pride and an equal amount of relief that I can present Zara's progress report to date, knowing that I managed to catch every one of her great milestones so far...

First Real Smile: 45 days

First Slept Through the Night: 2 months

First Rolled Over (Front to Back): 2 months, 1 week
video

First Giggle: 3 months, 3 weeks 

First Sat Up Unsupported: 4 months

First Stood Up Supported (by the sofa): 4 months, 1 week 

First Solids: 4 months, 1 week

First Drink from a Sippy Cup: 6 months

First Pulled Herself Up to Standing (using the cot): 6 months
video
First Crawled (after the remote control!): 6 months, 1 week

First Stood Without Support: 7 months

First Steps (from Mummy to Abah): 7 months, 4 days
*** Cant seem to load this video... must be too long :-( ***

First Jigged (The Zarafunnydance): 7 months, 2 weeks
video
Some people have commented to me that Zara seems to have developed quite fast for her age, but I always remind them that she is also the most ungraceful crawler (which she is!) and quite clumsy too (she's so gelojoh about doing everything that she's always falling over and getting bumped in the process). I believe the two main reasons she's gotten a headstart with things like sitting, standing and walking are because she's extremely impatient and that I'm always around to guide her. So I guess everything sort of evens out when you look at the big picture.*

Needless to say, as any mother would be regardless of their child's rate of progress, I am incredibly proud to be Zara's Mummy. I can already see myself standing in the bleachers when she's a teenager at her Sports Day, embarassing her terribly by waving about wildly and cheering her name. And then I remember my own Mum doing the same for me when I was a kid (though perhaps not to the same degree), and realise a Mother's greatest achievement is usually always her children.

Yes, Zara, you are by default already my greatest achievement, and Mum, thanks for embarassing me as a kid - I love you and always will!

*If there's anyone out there whose kid hasnt yet done any of the above, please rest assured that every baby develops at his or her own pace; it's perfectly normal and certainly not an indication of their intellectual development! 

p.s. Dont you just love phones nowadays? I think I took every one of these pics/videos with my Berry! Yay to being able to capture all baby's milestones on camera!