Monday, July 11, 2011

An Empty Nest

In my old classroom, you will find a bird's nest tucked in a corner. It's not much to look at, being composed largely of mud and tattered feathers. Inside, you will find 3 or 4 chicks; and by God, they are ugly little things. They were noisy too, especially when they were hungry. When not hungry, they would be busy adding to a pile of bird faeces on the floor below the nest.The chicks' mother would enter and leave the classroom through a broken window, and once shat on my friend's table (beside the window) while flying out.

Despite all that, though, I find the nest to be a thing of beauty. I admired the way the mother bird would return ever so often to feed its ravenous chicks, despite the troubling presence of 20 students and an irritated teacher in the classroom on weekdays. I loved the way the mother bird sat in the nest, flighty but all the same firm. I had no doubt that she would defend her chicks with her life if the need arose. Something I am sure my parents would do for me too…

I am sorry, Mama and Papa…I didn't mean to hurt you.

I totally forgot to tell you about my change of plans on Sunday. I don't know why I forgot – maybe I was too busy. But one thing is for sure, I didn't purposely hide my plans from you just to hurt you. And despite your claims, it is untrue that I do not prioritise my family.

Adik sent me an sms yesterday. She told me how Mama cried, and how it seemed that I only I see you guys as my ATM or my chauffeur. I don't. I see you as my parents. I love you guys, and I am really sorry that I don't show it most of the time.

I was as down as you guys were that day. I hate letting you guys down. I am your first-born, and I shouldn't be doing things like that. But maybe the whole problem is because I am the first-born. Maybe it is difficult for you to let me go.

I do admit that we have grown apart. I don't know when and I don't know how. But we have. Once upon a time, I would to come back after school and excitedly tell Mama about my day. I used to climb all over Papa as a kid, when Papa was still as tall as a tree to me. I used to "manja" with Mama up to the age of 15. I don't know how things between us grew awkward. Maybe it's a phase of my growing up.

But it's not because I want to. I still love my family very much. In Adik's sms, I was told that I don't have emotions attached to my actions. It doesn't mean that I don't have emotions at all. It's just difficult for me to show it.

You guys have no idea how much I think of you. Ask my friends here. I once told my friend why my Mama is my hero, and I gave plenty of justification for it too. Just last week, I told my mentor group the story of how my Mama and Papa met and fell in love while working in Public Bank.

I won't forget you guys. I was not raised to do that.

Yet I am in the course of spreading my wings; I am leaving the nest. The process won't be easy, and as this incident shows, it will hurt. I still live half-an-hour away from you guys, but it already feels like another country. What will happen when I further my studies overseas, which, InsyaAllah, I plan to do next year?

It's hard for me to say all this to you through an sms or a phone call. Or even face to face. Like I said, I just find it too hard to do. That is why I am telling you this the best way I know how to convey a message; through my writing.

I have started leaving the nest quite a while ago now. It won't be long before I finally take off. Don't worry, though, Ma and Pa. The nest won't be empty – there are still 3 ravenous chicks left to feed after me. And Adik has grown up to be a very mature lady indeed. It was obvious in the sms she sent me.

The last time I checked, the nest in my classroom was silent. The mother nowhere to be seen. She had died. A friend told me that the mother bird had run into the ceiling fan one day and died. The chicks had starved to death by now.

I do agree with you, Ma, when you told me that our close-knit family is something to be valued; because we don't know how long it will last.

I'm sorry Ma and Pa, for not showing how I truly feel. I love you.