I am Opah's youngest cucu. She is 70 years old. Opah was so happy this Raya because she could perform tarawikh prayers almost nightly at the neighbourhood surau. At the moment Opah lives all by herself in Bedong, a small town nestled between Gurun and Sungai Petani, and an hour drive away from our house in Kubang Pasu. She prefers tranquility to the sound of bickering, especially involving my brother and sister who bicker incessantly for the sake of bickering, which isn’t music to her ears.
Each time we visit Opah, she has to endure another nightmare, and her frail heart beats faster than usual (and Mama’s too). I may smile like an angel, but like my siblings, I am no angel either. I am susceptible to inflict damages to her washing machine, fridge, TVs whenever my chubby fingers strike with unintended force. These gadgets have been with her like forever, as most of her other personal belongings. And I enjoy mixing up her tablets (the vitamin type, not Samsung, k) for no apparent reason, which she arranges nicely in a Tupperware box.
Near Opah’s house is a dense pocket of jungle where monkeys roam freely. But it is so difficult to see them hanging out, and when they do, they are not as cheeky and gentle as their counterparts in Langkawi or Gunung Jerai. And they love to ransack the rubbish dump.
Another highlight of visiting Opah is the stopover in Gurun to buy heavenly jagung rebus from one of the many stalls, run under the Program Usahawan Mikro Mara, stationed along the trunk road from Gurun to Alor Setar. Opah loves these boiled corn which are grown somewhere in Perak because they are so perfect, the corn kennels are evenly sized with no gaping hole in between and taste oh-so-original.
Another favourite stopover is the Laksa Mak Su stall, also in Gurun. The stall, situated in front of Mak Su’s two-storey house, is nondescript, but behind her house, hidden away from passersby, is lush garden of bunga kantan, so tall that the ginger plants almost reach the rooftop. The garish and bloomin crazy ginger torch flowers turn mak Su's backyard into a wild Gurun paradise.
Which brings us to another weird revelation about Papa – his favourite vegetable dish is asam pedas bunga kantan.