web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: A Simple Kampung Wedding
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004
A Simple Kampung Wedding

How long does it normally take for one to get into the swing of things after Hari Raya is over? It's Wednesday on the second week of Syawal, and I am still in malas mode.

(Okay, okay, I hear you : malas mode is the swing of things as far as I am concerned)

On the third day of Raya, we took a trip to Terengganu. A young cousin, still in university, was getting married, on the 17th of November, of all days. 17th November was also my wedding anniversary and incidentally, I too, was a student-bride. I had great empathy for my cousin : her wedding plans were about to be overwhelmed by the Conjugal Contingent.

Weddings are cue-words for my mother and aunties to get into battle-field gear. Each wants to play General, regardless of resources or the (small) number of soldiers. (Oh, guess who gets to play soldier?)

On the third day of Raya, we travelled - and with three kids the journey had to be punctuated with stops at the Genting Sempah McDonalds (that's barely 50 KM from our house) , at various pump stations for leak breaks, and once because Aiysha and Aliya were fighthing over who gets to sit in the last row in our Unser and Aiysha pasted chewing gum on Aliya's hair for good measure. We stopped by Chendor to admire a friend's house and eat nasi dagang (the only time in our entire trip). We stopped in Batu Rakit at 11pm because my mother wanted to buy keropok ikan tamban and the stall was still open. Those kind of things slowed down our pace, and by the time we reached the bride's house in Alor Lintang, Besut, it was just after midnight.

Time is of no importance to the Conjugal Contingent. The Conjugal Contingent never sleeps, or at least, it expects that its soldiers do not. (Scratch those plans of checking in at the hotel)

Upon arrival my mother and her co-general, Che' Ngah, discovered that none of the wedding gifts have been decorated or completed, and there in a corner, was a pile of brass pahars (traditional tray with a central stand) cobwebbed and tarnished. They complained, they worried and they fussed, in that typical way Kelantanese mothers are wont to do. My husband, bleary eyed from long-distance driving, took up a rag and Brasso and started polishing. My mother, Ayah Sa and I sat ourselves among purple organza and satin ribbons and started to conjure up hantarans, while my children fell asleep around us.

The next day was the day of the nikah, and in the bright morning light, my mom could better see what else needs her directions. The bridal room was in bright yellow, on the bed was a satiny cover, the colour of turmeric, with green ruffled edges. Over the bed was a pelmet with equally bright plastic flowers and behind them, a swathe of material that could have been remnants from a Brazilian (or Kedah) soccer fan club. My mother had a quiet heart-attack, but said nothing to the bride's mother, my auntie, Che' Yah. It was certainly ghastly, but Che' Yah probably liked it because she had paid money to the woman who decorated the room and who had put up the pelamin, too. (The pelamin, or the wedding dais, was in yellow and and purple)

No matter. As soon as Che' Yah drove off to the market, my mother whipped out her own bridal linens - white jacquard with little pearl beadings - that she had made for Elisa's wedding. She moved out furniture, ordered the rugs to be changed. She made me wrap ivy around the dressing table to tone down its Barbie Doll pink. Then she called Che' Nor, her younger sister, to bring in vases and flowers and lace table runners and electric stand fans from Che' Nor's mother in-law in Pasir Puteh, where people are presumably more civilised and had less darat tastes. (darat = peasant) .

My mother and Che' Ngah had instructions for everything and when nothing more could be done, both would sigh and go : "Tch, ho tulaaah, patutnyo wat gini.." (It should have been done this way). Che Yah could only go, "Ho ikut panda lah..", (Just do what you think is best). She was resigned to the fact that the Conjugal Contingent, who crowded her driveway with their big German cars, was about to crowd her eldest daughter's wedding with big-city frou-frou.

I can't say I wasn't guilty : I don't know why but it seemed important to me that the high table had bowls of flowers floating in water, and that the fruits were presented in a watermelon basket and not arranged simply on a plate. I can't help it. My husband ( an honorary gay at weddings) insisted on tall fluted candles in silver candelabras and by God, we went to every kedai bunga in Jertih looking for some. (We had to settle for the long ones you use in a black-out)

In the flurry of activities, above the din of commands and injunctions, I saw on the living room wall, a family picture of Che' Yah, a staff nurse, her husband Ayah Chik, a former army cook, and their six children. It was a photograph taken in a studio, and Ayah Chik was wearing a kain pelikat (sarong for men) and rubber sandals. Beside the picture, were plaques proclaming their daughters best students in STF and Sri Puteri. Here was an unassuming man, who was obviously proud of his children, and placed no importance in whether the lace for the bunga rampai (potpourri) was lilac or cream, and whether there were scented candles or fresh orchids in the house.

He wanted a simple kampung affair, with plenty of good food (which he cooked himself) and a welcoming host. After three days of ceremony - nikah (day of the marriage vows), bersanding (the newly weds blessed on the wedding dais) and menghantar ( the bride sent to the in-laws) - Ayah Chik was perhaps terribly exhausted, because he plain neglected to thank the Conjugal Contingent.

In the end, the wedding turned out fine, in fact, much better than mine. Mine was an unqualified mess : my parents were going through a crisis, my fiance had invested my dowry in the stock market, and my sister Elisa gave me an early wedding gift. Thanks to her, three days before my nuptials I contracted chicken pox.

Thanks to her, my husband has since promised I get another wedding. He is praying it is to the same man.


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