P.S. I love you, Ibu

"A'kum," I began the conversation. "Salam," came the cautious reply on the other end of the line. It was a voice I haven't heard for a while, and I momentarily enjoyed hearing her confusion. It is a feeling I know well: my number doesn't appear on Malaysian phone numbers for some reason. "Ibu," I started again, "it's Hakim. Happy birthday."

She sounded pleasantly surprised, that I would remember her birthday. I didn't tell her that I have it well-marked out in my diary. Not that I needed to. It's highly unlikely that I would forget anyway.

We spent the next fifteen minutes or so talking about things. Inevitably, things veered towards politics. In the past few years, she had become more outwardly political than ever before. The reasons of which, I can guess, but it's not likely to be ventured here. Nevertheless, I listened, mainly because as the conversation progressed, I realised how much I missed hearing her voice.

I missed kissing her hand every morning as she dropped me off at school, how I used to make a cup of tea for her every time she walked in back home from work, how all of us would settle down for episodes of 'The X-Files' together, how we used to celebrate my own birthday with nothing more than the nasi kunyit that my grandmother had cooked up and the solitary mancis serving as the candle. That was arguably the most special of birthdays I've ever had.

Special, because we were all together. Nowadays, with everyone being all over the place, such gatherings and celebrations are further and fewer in between. As such, the phone call is placed, and costs are picked up. The little that I can do, I do.

"Won't this cost so much?" my mom pointed out. I had exhausted my international calling card, and forgot to get a new one. As such, I was actually putting money down the drain. But I know where it's going.

"It's OK," I said. "After all, you carried me for nine months, and spent a lot more during my lifetime. A small price to pay."

And it's well worth it.

Happy birthday, Ibu. I love you.


san said…