Our family just lost our beloved grandma, Ariah Sanin. We call her, Nenek Umi (from ummi in Arabic, or ibu in bahasa Indonesia). She died on Wednesday, 2nd June 2010, at 3.55am. It was a peril to us, Ariah Sanin’s great family. I don’t remember exactly her birthday, but I know she was around 90.
It is a tradition in Minangkabau that a mother in her old days lives in her daughter’s place. Nenek Umi had two daughters, my mother in Padang, and Aunt At, my mother’s little sister, who lives in Dumai (Riau). There are three other children of our grandma, Mak Dang (great uncle, the older), Mak Uniang (middle uncle, the fourth), and Mak Uncu ( little uncle, the youngest). My mother is the second. And, we, Rusydi’s family, are lucky since Nenek Umi stayed in our place longer than others.
The long interaction with Nenek Umi had made her so important in our life. She was our guardian, our teacher, our friend, and lately she became our role model. It was she who taught us reading Al Quran (with tajwid) for the first time. She encouraged us, sometime by force, to attend to surau (a traditional muslim school for learning Islam in Minangkabau). She challenged us to memorize Al Quran, often by promising some gifts. She liked to cook and her cook, in our subjective tongues, was the best in the Universe. When she was in the kitchen, she was like a magician, can turn every single thing into a delicious meal. No one who eat her cooks can argue more than that! Apparently her cook’s skill descends to my mother, and hopefully to me 🙂
I heard she joined Indonesian’s army in her youth, made her as veteran and all rights for her special citizen (including pension). She told me once that she was around 10 or 11 when Soempah Pemoeda event. If this memory was correct, she should be born around 1917, or she died at around 93 years old. She witnessed colonist (Nederlander and Japanese) murdered local heroes, jet fighter flied above her land, involved at several combats, and also served meal for local combatant.
After independence day, she was back to her original nature: a farmer. Her parents were farmers, her grandparents were farmers, her great-great-great-great-grandfather (I don’t remember how many “greats” I should use) was one of the founder of the village called Sumanik, some where in Batu Sangkar town, in West Sumatera. It made her had some quite large and wide fields to farm. Every time we go to Sumanik, we love to walk on her sawah, swim and fish in her ponds, play around in her inherited great house with nine room and a rankiang in front (rumah gadang nan sambilan ruang dan rankiang di depannya).
No doubt she loved all her grandchildren. Nonetheless, subjectively, we, from Rusydi’s house, felt as her most loved grandchildren. Probably like other grandma in other part of the world, she liked to cover us from our parents’ anger if we did something wrong. She always be forgetful even we did some terrible things, even to her. When I was around 10, in one early morning, I accidentally messed up her clothes closet, whereas she just finished putting everything in order. My mom was not in the mood that day, that made her angry greater than normal. Plus, I foolishly answered back all her words. I thought my doom was coming very soon, until Nenek Umi came and defended me. I always remember that and always make me cry. Since then, I learn not to answer back my mother’s word. In most cases, it is not good to debate our mother, believe me!
She admired guest a lot. That was my observation since kid. She always gave hot sweet tea or black coffee to every single guest who come to our house. It does not matter who they are, invited or not! In some case, she persuades the guest to eat. If she cooked, she cooked more than enough. If she was asked, she answered “just in case there will be some guest today”.
She never rejected anyone asking for help. She never suspected anyone. She really had a pure white heart, thing that we believe had made Allah saved her many times. Yes, it occurred quite often some bastard tried to manipulate her, took advantage of her good will and soft heart.
She was energetic. Woke up at three and slept at nine – two things that had became her nature, no alarm needed. She spent most of his life in the kitchen. Before her health dropped, around her 80’s if I remember well, she even went to market and shopping by herself. She periodically went to Sumanik to check her farms and ponds, also by herself. Or visiting Aunt At at Dumai, 12 hours traveling from Padang by car.
When her health dropped, didn’t make her lazy. She still liked to be in the kitchen, made sure everything went in order. Her life was also in order. All her schedules were tightened to salat’s times, amazing. Adzan was her bell. When her hearing became bad so she cannot hear adzan properly, then she begun to use clock. I remember she asked me to buy a small flashlight. She complained that her room was too dark so she cannot see wall watch at night. She needed a flashlight to make sure it was a proper time to sleep or to wake up. Subhanallah.
I think, I inherit her discipline in life schedule. At least sleeping and waking up time are my nature, I need no alarm to do these things.
When she was almost 90’s, when normal old people begin to be senile, she still remembered everything. Especially us, her grandchildren. She can remembered perfectly my wife’s name, Ira, and my brother wife’s name, Uni Nining. She even knew some more details such as specialties, jobs, hobbies, and some habits. I think that because she loved her grandchildren purely.
She broke her right leg a month before my little sister’s wedding day. It made her so desperate. She was really eager to attend, since it was in Padang. She was not allowed attending to my brother’s wedding (in Jakarta) and mine neither (in Bogor). When she knew my little sister’s weeding would be held in Padang, she was so enthusiastic. I knew she cried every day, but my mom eventually can calm her back.
Around month ago, she was carried to the hospital. Her health dropped badly. But few days, she was okay and went out of the hospital. Everything back to normal. Until Friday,30 Mey 2010, she slept too long and something not normal appeared in her face. My mother, who had dedicated her time to stay as much as possible near her, brought her to the hospital with my Aunt Mai (wife of Mak Dang) and my little brother Ilhamdi. People who saw Nenek Umi that time would believe she was gone. But, it was wrong. She was hospitalized, her condition weakened everyday, but she kept breathing.
On Sunday, when I was teaching astronomy in SMA 1 Gresik, I got calls and text messages to hurry up my flight to Padang. Nenek Umi was dying, some says it was her time. Original plan, I was going to Padang on Wednesday, 2 July 2010, and my wife had bought ticket for me. I was expected to go directly that day (Sunday), but I cannot make it. Once I got back to Surabaya, I bought a new ticket for Monday.
My journey begun. I flight to Jakarta at 4pm and flight to Padang at 5.30pm. I arrived at Padang 7.30pm. Ilhamdi picked me up around 8pm and we went directly to the hospital. I saw my grandma with all medical equipments connected to her body. There were my mother and her sister beside the bed. Their other brothers, my uncles, were in other room, since only few people are allowed in the room.
Before I came, people were wondering why she was dying too long. My father had the answer: she gave chances to all her children and grandchildren to visit her. Some thought I was the last person she was waiting for. So I was there…
I witnessed her struggling to keep alive. She was too weak even to open her eyes. She still can move her hands a bit, but not to speak. The only word came out from her mouth was “Allah, Allah, Allah….” She said it often too fast, made her caught many times.
I hold her right hand and I felt she knew I was beside her. She hold and caressed my hand weakly, her mouth didn’t stop to say “Allah, Allah, Allah….”
My mother was in a great doubtful. She had decided to dedicate all her time for her mother since the recent years. But, that night, on Monday around 10 or 11, there was news from Bandung my little sister had to give a birth… via medical operation. She knew she must be there. And later on I got the story that Nenek Umi worried, there was time that she needed greatly my mother in her side but at the same time she knew my mother must go to accompany my little sister to give a birth. And the time came that night.
The decision had been made: my mother stayed in Padang, my father went to Bandung. Aunt Mei went with my father, since she is an expert midwife. And I was asked to go to accompany them.
My little sister gave birth on Tuesday, 1st June 2010, at around 8am-9am. Her baby is a boy, healthy and clean, nicknamed Ismail. Nenek Umi dead on Wednesday, 2nd June 2010, at 3.55am. We believe, she was waiting for her great-grandchildren…
(I am going to upload the video of Ismail crying)
People found Nenek Umi’s body was extremely clean. I remember when I was beside her I smell nothing from her body, neither from her breath. It was found her urine and feces were also not smelly. My mother and people around her at her last time witnessed that she spoke laa ila ha ilallah very clearly, the clearest words she ever said during in the hospital. We hope, she died in husnul khotimal. May Allah bless upon her, forgive all her sins, and put her in the best place.
My mother and all her siblings did all the way to Nenek Umi’s burial. Ilhamdi and our cousin Rifaldy (son of Aunt At), in my opinion, are the luckiest grandchildren of Nenek Umi, since they took a whole part of the process. Nenek Umi was prayed in Masjid Darussalam in Dhuhur time, our housing complex’s mosque in Padang, and brought to Sumanik after that. There, she was buried in our family graveyard.
Death is a certain, all life will experience death. May Allah allow us to death as a muslim, in husnul khotimal state, and ease us to say tauhid words. Amiin.
Nenek Umi, goodbye, we never stop loving and admiring you.
Ismail, welcome to the world, we will make you know what a superb grandmother of your mother was.
Other story: “Nenek 1”