Okay. Two intervals. Time to get this sequel to Cerita Chenta over and done with, huh? ;)
About a week after his Swensen's proposal, Ayah and I had to part ways. He had to go back to the UK to start his housemanship at the QE in Gateshead, while I had to continue with my chambering in Kampong Attap. By that time, Ayah had already discussed with his parents as to the next step which we had to take to ikut adat, i.e. merisik.
I can't remember clearly what actually transpired. The only thing I remember was that my (then "future") MIL had called my Mommy to discuss on the most suitable date for Ayah's family to pay a visit and bawak cincin tanda. And I remember my Mommy telling me to be prepared to meet Ayah's parents, uncles and aunties on one of the Saturdays in September (or was it October?!) 1993.
And when that Saturday finally came, I was numbed...I was petrified! It was scary enough meeting the parents at his place, now the whole Kac**r clan of his Pak Long, Mak Long, Pak Ngah, Mak Ngah, and not forgetting his parents, etc., were coming to meet my Abah and Mommy for the first time, and of course to see me for themselves, and Ayah was not be around! It felt like I was put under a microscope that day!
The whole time Ayah's rombongan was downstairs with my Abah and Mommy, I was upstairs in my room. I knew the whole purpose of merisik was for the bakal mertua (and segala pakcik makcik) to see the bakal menantu for themselves, but, I just couldn't bring myself to go down to see them. Macam nak pitam!! Finally, my Aunty Wah came up and knocked on my door and asked me to go down with her.
God...When I was walking down the stairs, I could feel all eyes were looking at me. Finally, I got to meet the Kac**r clan whom Ayah had talked so much about! I salamed everybody as I was introduced to each one of them, (and I guessed they were curious, too, to know who I was, how I looked like, whether I was worthy of Ayah, etc!) Ayah's Mak Long then beckoned me to come to her, and then asked my Abah and Mommy if she could sarung the cincin merisik on my finger. And just as she was slipping it onto my finger, she said, "Cincin ni tandonyo niat 'tok masok 'minang lopeih ni, den haghap di-boietau pado somoghang yang Haizal dah "booked" Shana ni nak dijaiekan isteghi..." (in her thick Nogoghi dialect!) Alamak...I dah kena "booked", you all...Hahaha!
I remember going straight into the kitchen after that with Aunty Wah to help serve the food and tea for Ayah's uncles and aunties, trying VERY hard not to let the plates clang against each other, or slip from my hands. It was so crucial for me to create a good impression on the Kac**r clan! The two parties then agreed on a date for the engagement that December.
It felt like forever before Ayah's rombongan merisik finally went back that evening! Phew...What a relief! And right on cue, Ayah called after they left to find out how it went. I guessed he was anxious, too, of the outcome of course. Mana la tau, kot-kot my Abah "reject" ke pulak last minute...Hahaha!
And then, the preparation for the December engagement ceremony began. Ayah was lucky to have his sister Ly** who was in Nottingham then to help him get all the hantaran from there (except for the kain and tudung). I think they actually spent 3 weekends to shop for the stuff in London! And I was helping my Mommy to get and prepare everything in KL. It was pretty difficult, in the sense that his Mom insisted that the colour of the material I was getting for Ayah for his hantaran Baju Melayu MUST be the exact same colour as the material she had got as hantaran kain for my Baju Kurung, etc. But, in a way, it was a blessing in disguise as I had to discuss things with her in Ayah's absence, and the pre-engagement period became the time when I got to know my MIL, and for her to get to know me better (without Ayah lurking around...Hehehe!) But, of course I couldn't help but feel VERY sad at times, going about preparing stuff, etc., for the engagement on my own, when I see other couples doing it together. And I was really missing him...
So, it would be an understatement when I say that I was SO happy when Ayah finally came back to Malaysia a week before the engagement ceremony. The most important item for the engagement had yet to be acquired - THE RING. At least Ayah was with me when we chose the ring, and that meant a lot to me.
But, it wasn't as easy as it seemed. I lost count of how many PKs, HJs, WCs, Ss shops we went to within that one week, just to find the ring that both of us agreed on. And his Mom would always be there with us, NOT to dictate which ring we should get, but as our expert haggler. She's a pro when it comes to haggling for jewelries. I never knew that one could actually go down as low as 50-80% discount from the original exhibited price of diamond rings when one haggles!! But, leaving it to the expert, Ayah and I just let Mak do all the talking whenever we found the rings which we liked. And we finally found the perfect ring at PK @ The Mall just a couple of days before the ceremony. The 5 digit numbered price was successfully haggled by Mak to become a 4 digit numbered price at the end of the day. Phew...lega! THAT shows how "terror" my MIL is when it comes to haggling maaa!Hehehe!
And the day for the engagement ceremony finally came. With 7 dulangs from Ayah's side, and 9 from my side, surrounded by families and friends, I officially became Ayah's fiancee when his Mom slipped the ring onto my ring finger on that morning of 19th December 1993...
And 3 days after that, Ayah had to fly back to the UK, leaving me yet again, in KL...
To be continued...