Monday, 17 May 2010

My Driver Mum

Mum actually passed her driving test when she was heavily pregnant with my immediate younger brother. There was already five of us then so dad could really do with a hand in the chauffering duties. Mum took to driving with gusto going here there and everywhere, sometimes in the big old secondhand Studebaker, sometimes in the newer Renault, ferrying my elder siblings to school, getting the groceries, doing her hair at the salon, etc.   I was usually the chaperon following her around AND the reporter, reporting to dad just how every scrape and scratch on the car came to be. Not that mum wasn't competent, she was indeed, and she knew the roads around KL by heart.


 Mum and Dad and half the pack

Eventually there were altogether nine of us siblings. It was a wonder how we all could fit into the little Renault car for our balik kampung trips. Dad  always chose to make the 3-hour  journey from KL  to Melaka in the cool of the night when we kids were sated and sleepy after dinner. It was fortunate that we were all skinny and so could squeeze into every available space in the car. The three toddlers would be in the laps of mum and my two elder sisters. My two elder brothers occupied the rest of the backseat whilst my younger brother and I either crammed in between them or even settled on the car floor which in a Renault was quite spacious actually.

With everyone  asleep, 3 hours wasn't that long. Dad would drive the whole way without stopping - there were no refreshment or toilet breaks. Those days when the Federal trunk roads were single-lane, driving at night was easier than in daylight because you could see the headlights of oncoming vehicles, and this was especially useful round a bend when you could see the lightbeams approaching before the vehicle, so I was told.

The drive back to KL however was usually during the day after lunch at the grandparents'. As usual we children would be dozing and by the time we passed Seremban dad himself would be tired and sleepy. On one ocassion, mum offered to take over the wheel while dad took a snooze. And that was to be the last time mum ever drove outside KL.

Just before the dreaded Mantin Pass, a car from the opposite direction came into her path while it was overtaking round a bend . She swerved hard to the left, and went off the road onto a levelled bit of the hillside. In her panic mum kept on going but dad awoke just in time to turn the steering-wheel back towards the road and pulled the handbrake. It would probably have overturned had it not been for dad's quick reflexes in preventing the car going up the hillslope.

Here's a picture taken after the accident - the car didn't look too damaged but it couldn't be driven after that. There's mum, and my eldest brother who with a white nappy in hand, had the job of warning traffic about our stalled car,  and me peering into the car to locate my missing flip-flops. This was just before we were to be driven home by some people from dad's office I think.


When dad was transferred to Singapore a few years later there were no longer such trips back to Melaka because the girls were packed off to go to school in the Sleepy Hollow itself. And that will be another story for another day, I promise.

Anyway yesterday we marked mum's 83rd birthday which actually was on the 13th of May with some makan-makan which she herself organised and hosted. Despite her age and problems in the knees, she is still a sprightly lady with a can-do attitude that we marvel at and sometimes worry about, especially when she decides to get into the car and drive herself to the market or to whoever's house. But one thing we are sure of is she'll never drive herself back to Melaka.

 For all the May-borns, "Allah Selamatkan Kamu...."

17 comments:

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Zendra,
Your mum sounds just like my Mama, except that she's never been involved in accidents (touch wood) and has driven from KL to Melaka (and many other places) all by herself. Know what, driving from one end of Sydney to another, is a longer route than KL to Melaka. Serious! Three cheers for your mum and we wish her Happy Birthday too. purrr.....meow!

tireless mom said...

Semoga panjang umur and murah rezki to your mom. Tak sangka, mak cik pernah buat stunt kat Mantin ye. I counted the numbers, there are 9 of you? And that makes 11 in the car? Tell me that my calculation is wrong. If it is right, the car was overloaded hence the imbalance and unfortunate accident. Sempat ambil gambar lagi tu!

Zendra-Maria said...

Cat - it's so much easier to drive long-distance nowadays with the expressways and dual carriageways almost everywhere - just pay the tolls hahaha. Those days it was pretty dangerous with lorries and kamikaze taxi-drivers fighting for road space and road-courtesy was non-existent - well, almost.

And thank you guys for the birthday wishes.

Zendra-Maria said...

TM, fortunately on that occasion we didn't have the full complement on board for some reason that has escaped me. I still remember the very very bumpy ride on the dirt track where the car had jumped the longkang. Later some passers-by hailed a bus which took us into town for dad to make the police report. I was bare-footed all that time but those days nothing to it lah.

I'm not sure who took the pic though - come to think of it i wonder whether we were in the papers next day heheheh

Thanks for your doa, ameeen....

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Hey nampaknya u bolih kira anak lord kan? Dua kereta in the household…kakaka. Your dad look good there with his ray-ban (standard issue WW2 GI Joe / Top Gun pilot glasses), shirt buttoned to the neck, so cool!

Hmmm should I be ashamed to admit that I get chauffeured around in those olden days car that had skirting by the sides of the doors where u can stand on and stick signal lights that pops out the side as a turning indicator. I cannot recall the make, maybe an Austin?? And u need to get down & crank it to start at the front. No lah, dad didn’t need a chauffeur but was provided one by the company. No, I had never seen him sit at the back when driven around and he makes sure that none of us behaves like taukeh sitting at the back when the front sit was available. Pak Ali would de-tour & pick up his son b4 sending us to school together. Rashid & I basically grew up together & like best friends.

So Zen, u eventually become a mum driver yourself too, I supposed driving your Alfa bearing a bumper sticker, “My other car is a broom”……hahaha…sooo soli.

Birthday greetings to your mum; what a great lady; 9 kiddos to bring up! Wow totally unimaginable nowadays.

Tommy

P/S – TM, trust me they can & will fit 11 persons in a car back in those days when there's no seat belts law. Don’t believe me go to India or places like Cambodia, Vietnam to see for yourself…kekeke. BTW what’s the varsity record on the number of students cramming into a mini minor? People r crazeeee………

Zendra-Maria said...

Tommy, you anak Towkay sure kena protect day and night and no chance to get into mischief unless you played keystone cops with anak Pak Ali on the austin. My dad's renault also came with the crank option - but when both cars couldn't start even with the choke thing pulled, the lord summoned all the kids to get behind the boot for a push-start. T'was fun! Bet you never had to do that - life of privilege sometimes no fun :)

Tq for the birthday wishes - that makes it one each from the opposite ends down under. I'm sure mum'll like that.

Anonymous said...

let's try sticking all of the uncles and aunties into tokmi's present wira..

for old time sake..:)

azeim

Zendra-Maria said...

Azeim, it's a Honda City now... :)

Desert Rose said...

Happy Belated Birthday to your mom kak, she looks healthy and glowing despite her age...

I'm a May born too so, tq

Zendra-Maria said...

Happy Birthday Eja! Semoga panjang umur murah rezeki sihat minda hehe

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Zendra, Wow! I remember the Studebaker cars of those days. There were many running around then.
My father had a Ford Fairlane and I learned my driving with this car, later he switched to a Chevy.

Love the old pics....and your warm memories.
You keep well, Zendra, have fun, Lee.

Zendra-Maria said...

Lee, they don't make cars like they used to, do they? But I'd love a ride in a 2010 Beemer 5 GT anytime *winks*

DrSam said...

Wow kanda! your great mom can still look cool even after that Mantin stunt. Happy belated birthday to your lovely mom. Semoga panjang umur dan sihat sokmo bersama keluarga tersayang.

In away I have to thank you for this entry. It inspired me even more to hold on with my old jalopy and forget about replacing it with an MPV to fit in my 6 soldiers :)

Zendra-Maria said...

Dinda, tq for the wishes :)

Old days we did not ask for much, cos you don't miss what you know not and most other people were in the same boat too. But times have changed - you don't want ppl to see a nice car overloaded, would you? macam baru keluar estate (just an expression lah) hahaha

Capt's Longhouse said...

Zendra,

,,,talking about driving, back in Miri Bib does all the driving, in K.L. both my daughters don't allow me to drive cos they all say that i drive too slow, so only when back all alone in K.T. am free to drive like a turtle in my old 4WD Landy !. Unfortunately there is no roads on Kapas Island but there again my boatman does not allow me to master the pwr boat cos. he says i throttle too fast plus bloody scary even for him !. My eldest daughter now refuse to ride the ECBW if am the skipper but my 2nd daughter will take over controls from me and hit the wave head on !. My son is driving Bib's car when she is away but he is still under age for a licence !. Am scared of the trigger happy policemen for his safety.
,,,guess i have to get my sailing boat sooner at this rate-lah. Looking at a selection of Harley presently too as replacement or an old bus to covert into a mobile home ?. eerrmm !! decision, decision, decision...hj dollah has a 22 ft wooden sailing boat almost ready for sailing and its for sale too, but she is too small for my liking. A 36 footer is my minimum requirement. But am more keen on having a catamaran cos. it has more living space plus beaching capability. eeerrmmm !! The sea is calling me to sail across the sunset. My sailing buddies are inviting me to crew long with them too. Kapas is getting too crowded nowadays and i was offered to develop the unmanned pulau sembilan south of pangkor as a new hideaway too !!.
,,,maybe your mom might be interested to be my crew there ? hihihi. Am looking for mature hardy ladies as crew too nowadays. Its not that easy to be a pirateking nowadays yaa. hoohoho.
,,,by the way, we are opening a family run petrol station in K.L. soon, so i might just end up washing cars while at it ?. hahaha (will get Bib to manage it with Elin our eldest daughter)...am pirating on the island-lah.
,,,so guess that will keep me busy-lah presently after all the jazzing recently back in Miri.

Zendra-Maria said...

Capt Jazz-about, sorry we can't spare our mom cos she's badly needed here at the ranch where she's head honcho, unlike being just a crew at your resort. But why do I get the sneaky feeling you might want her to co-manage your old folks home? What's the progress on it anyway? So many plans on the drawing board yeop oii.... But the catamaran and sailing boat projects I loike moite!

PS Tell me when you'll be on cuci kereta assignment, I'll send over my kereta pencen for some of your elbow grease :)

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Hey Zen, do u remember this? Bolih pakai for your next poco2 routine or not?…kekeke

Rose Royce Car Wash

This one for our very own;

Skipper Capt

Have a good weekend all, I’m soooo looking forward to tonight top of the table clash in Aussie rule 'Aerial Ping-Pong' footie….kekeke.

Cheers,

Tommy

P/S - Capt, u can hire Paris Hilton to cuci kereta, sure very laku one leh :))