..once in a while, this old coot made trips to Kota Bharu, which is about 20 kilometers from home in Bachok..ten years ago those trips were a daily affair, and in my Peugeot 405, I covered the distance in 15 minutes, sometimes less...
..now in a Kancil 660, I took 45 minutes to one hour.. at a fair clip of 80 kph..but traffic has quadrupled..and jams in Kubang Kerian are a common feature..more so with the Ramadhan Bazaar near the traffic lights drawing the crowds and aggravated with this peculiar Kelantanese habit of parking their cars as near as possible to where they intend to shop..
..on a trip back with the missus one Friday evening, after getting a week supplies of groceries and knickknacks from Tesco, we were caught in a slow crawl just before the bazaar..we were talking, yet not really talking..a family with three very young children in tow was trying to cross the road..
..suddenly the missus became nostalgic..she remembered her eldest son, Afiq, now 22, when he was three..he was a bit sickly when small..and prone to diarrhea..there was this particularly bad case when he spewed shit all over the house..and the missus remembered how she went through the house with a rag and a pail, collecting shit as she went..
..she chuckled as she told me that as a girl she could never stand excrement of any kind..be it human or animal..she would vomit..hmm..I did not know that..she never told me that before..and the way she handled all the shit from our five children without a shudder, I would never would have thought that possible..
..I looked at this woman whom I married when she was 26 and me at life's beginning 40..after decades of marriage, we are comfortable even talking about shit..
..how come?..I asked..she pondered upon an answer..by now the family with the three kids in tow had safely crossed the road..their son had a fair resemblance of Afiq as a kid..
..oh, I don't know..she said, without looking at me, and without realising it, she spoke for all the mothers when she continued, 'somehow when it is your own life and blood, it doesn't feel like shit'...
..I was silent for a moment..thinking.. ..the measure of a mother's love..unreserved and unconditional..shit and all..