Why Kampung And Not The City…

village-1-1SEVENTEEN years on, and yet they are a few who still question my decision for leaving my only son/child behind, to let him growing up in a small village.

Surely they didn’t ask me outright but from time to time they were making statements which insinuated that I could possibly be making very wrong decision 17 years ago.

Honestly, I do question my decision too. From time to time.

Unlike some single moms out there, I consider myself lucky. Even though I was going through my pregnancy alone, my parents and brother were there. And having a good job and stable income helped a lot too.

But once the confinement period ended I was planning to leave my family’s safe haven to return to KL with my baby. But my family was against it. Until I secured a good babysitter Mom wouldn’t let me take my baby away. She just didn’t trust anyone. And I was sure that my Mom was already in love with my baby after spending 24/7 with the baby for two months.

As weeks turned into months and I travelled every weekend to be with my baby. There were instances when I couldn’t go home for two weekends on stretch, it was almost sure that my baby fell ill or I would be ill. I guess we must have missing each other. Heartsick. Hence, I tried my best to be home cuddling him on Friday night after work (and after 3 and a half hour journey) and leaving him on Monday morning at dawn.

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From small age, my baby was exposed to what life in a village was all about. He learnt to ride bicycle when he was only three or four and praying at the mosque once a week.

From fishing small fishes in the stream around the house he “moved” on to fishing at the Muar river with friends which freaked me out, worried for his safety with the image of crocodile floating in my mind.

He also attended religious classes in the afternoon since he was seven. I initially barked at the idea of him doing all this at his age especially afternoon(religious) school because in my mind he was so young and must be tired from morning school. I, myself, attended religious school only when I was nine. Not seven.

However, the current trend was sending the kids to religious school at that age. So I relented, reluctantly. I know how important it s for Adam’s religious foundation in life.

Trust me I have got nothing against the city. However, in my situation as a single mom, my job required me to travel often, locals and abroad and also working late. Who would be guiding him, caring and keeping an eye on him when I wasn’t around then? He may end up loitering the shopping malls or cyber cafes or cinemas. And I don’t want that.

Living in my village, he has his uncle who loves him like his own son, his aunt and my parents who would be there 24/7.

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So what if Adam isn’t fluent in English. Which came across a lot. It is almost automatic question when they see me speak and write in English effortlessly. Gheez, I wasn’t fluent (in English) too until I entered university. Again, I am using myself as the living proof. If I could do it, my son and anyone else out there can too. If there’s will, there are ways…

Language can be learned. Strong root and foundation can’t. It has to be nurtured from young age for us to understand who we really are despite everything.

I will accept it whole-heartedly if my son is not book-smart but am bloody making sure he is street smart so he can survive anywhere in the world if he has to.

So what if my son didn’t go to International school despite having an English-speaking Malay mom, German blood runs through him and a Mat Salleh look complete with dark brown hair? He is as much as Malaysian Malay as the next guy. And he is proud to be one.

And of course, you are allowed to disagree with me. Despite all the uncertainties and doubts, I am glad I did the sacrifice 17 years ago, painful and yet necessary.

Looking at Adam now, how he is growing up nicely, grounded, calmed and collected and mature beyond his age, I would choose village against city anytime. I wouldn’t want a change a thing except, possibly, less tears between myself and Adam in those 16 years… A

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