I was doing some gardening two days ago when Hanna came out of the house - smiling ear to ear -
“Ibu.. Ibu.. Berat Hanna dah turun satu kilo! Dah 2 kali Hanna timbang tau…”
I said “Bagusla.. Ke penimbang tu rosak kot..”
“Taklah Ibu, Hanna dah dua kali (lain hari) dah timbang.. dok macam tu jugak”.
My maid Nani laughed and said “Alaa… Hanna tu kalau makan roti, kanan-kiri poket ada roti..” and burst out laughing.
And Hanna walked away… she was obviously hurt by that remark. Especially when it was said in front of her other siblings and maids.
Hanna’s my third child. I remember feeling the hot gush of tears coming down my cheeks when she uttered the word “Ibu”. Although she was my third baby, she was the first to call me “Ibu”. My first two babies, Haziq and Husna are special children… thus they can’t speak. So you can imagine how I felt when Hanna first said the word. That first time. Nothing could describe how I felt at that moment… It felt so wonderful inside…. For a second there, it was like the world stopped moving.
Having an older brother and older sister who are ‘special’, before Hasya was born, Hanna had no other sibling she could talk to – so she stuck to me like glue whenever I was at home.
Hanna’s going to be 11 in September. She had her menses when she was 9 yrs3mos. So you can understand where her sensitivities sprouted from. She’s tall for her age, wears a size 7 shoes and a size 27 for her Levi’s. A bit on the plump side, but a fit body, thanks to her swimming, squash, badminton and sometimes table-tennis sessions.
When she sat there at the porch, I knew she was sad. I slowly walked to her, sat on the floor at her feet and asked, “Hanna, do you like yourself?”
No answer. The welled-up tears came running down like a faucet.
“Hanna, what do you think of yourself? Do you think you’re ok, atau gemuk sikit atau gemuk sangat? You tell me”.
“Gemuk sikit” came the answer. Air mata berjurai-jurai. She tried to wipe the tears but couldn’t cope with the torrential rain.
“Do you think you’re pretty?”
A shake…. My God… this really broke my heart…
“Hanna, look at me….do you know that you’re pretty? Ramai dah orang cakap Hanna cantik. Cuba tengok gambar Hanna… You’re pretty even tho’ you think you’re ‘gemuk sikit’ “.
A smile… that was enough for me. At least she believed what I said.
“See.. cantik pun senyum tu… so, if you think you’re ‘gemuk sikit’, you have to stop taking breads after having your meals…boleh tak?”
“Tapi Hanna suka roti tu…”
“I know you like ‘em… but you can reduce the amount… kalau Hanna nak makan dua, just take one. Kalau nak tambah nasi dua kali, tambah sekali saja instead of two...that’s how nak kurangkan makan... Boleh tak?”
“Wipe your tears, ok…my pretty girl...Go mandi, pastu sembahyang..”
Hanna smiled…. And wiped her tears. I gave her a hug. I watched her walked with Hasya and Haifa into the house.
The most amazing thing was – Hasya (my 9yo) and Haifa (6yo) were there during the conversation. And they just sat there listening without uttering a word. I was afraid they’d make fun of their big sister crying. Guess I was wrong… my girls are becoming more understanding persons now...