Kasmiaton bt Kasimun, that was the name typed in the maid biodata form sent to me by an agent in Pekan Baru. It sounded Javanese and our call to the agent afterwards confirmed it. Her picture with an apron on looked kinda funny and she had that awkward smile too. Well, what would one expect of a “petani” trying to look her level best like a professional domestic help.
We had no choice as that was the only "decent" biodata sent to us. Being the desperados that we were, we just had to make that gamble and take in this elderly woman as our maid. And that was how it all began. Seven years ago, sometime in early 2002 Bibik Kasmiaton became a member of our family.
Bibik’s first commitment test came when Nissa was down with high fever and was hospitalized at SJ*C. Nissa was only 1plus then and was a real cling on every time she was not well. That was also the time when I just started work in the organization that I am now. My preschool project was just commencing and there was no way that I could be away from the office for a long period of time. So Bibik was my savior. She attended to Nissa night and day till she was discharged. I was running to and fro, office – hospital – home like a mad person checking on both of them. Alhamdulillah we survived that trying times and of course Bibik was a major contributor at putting things under control.
So that’s how it has been in my household…it’s Bibik here, Bibik there, Bibik this and Bibik that. So much so Mom said that she doesn’t know how I will cope when Bibik is not around. Bibik cooks, does the ironing, cleans the house, walks Nissa to sekolah, goes to the market on weekends…the list is endless, the chores she did for the Zs household. She was in fact still ironing Abe’s work shirt last night, after she finished packing her own stuffs. She still fussed about everyone not eating enough at Sahur just now, hours before she was due to depart. Well, that’s Bibik…always putting US first before her own self.
The four Bibiks in the family. With Bibik Kasmiaton leaving, only three left. Sulastri (first from left) is Bibik's replacement. She's also Bibik's daughter in law.
After she returned from the holidays last year, she told us that it was time for her to call it quit, her tenure as a domestic help. She said, “Saya sudah tua. Badan udah penat. Saya usaha di rumah saja lah.” I knew this was coming someday. I couldn’t keep her forever in my house, no matter how much I wanted to. She’s bound to return to her family one day. I negotiated with her on her return date. After sitting down to discuss matters, we both agreed that she goes back before Eid. Bibik was elated, but I was devastated. However, I know I have to let go….no matter how painful.
As I write this posting, Bibik is already on the plane, somewhere above Malaysia’s air space still and in less than an hour and a half, she’d touch down at Bandara Soekarno Hatta Jakarta. From there on, she'll continue her journey to her kampung in Lampung. She had gone round to say her good bye to her friends and our neighbours yesterday. My sisters and family also dropped by yesterday to meet her and it was very much to her delight. I know deep down she was not expecting anything, she just wanted to be appreciated.
I promised myself not to be teary when she leaves. But I just can’t help it. In the car before we left for LCCT she had this to say, “Assalamualaikum….tinggal ya rumah. Bibik balik dulu ya. Selamat tinggal Malaysia.” I turned away when tears welled my eyes; hoping no one would notice the sudden burst of emotions.
Now back at home it still feels like she is walking around doing this and that. It is going to take a while for all of us to adapt to Bibik not being around us. We will surely miss her nasi briyani, asam laksa, roti jala, just to mention a few plus all the other juadah she has mastered at preparing for us.
To Bibik I have this to say.
Hanya Tuhan sahaja yang dapat membalas jasa baik Bibik kepada kami sekeluaga. Terima kasih kerana Bibik telah menyinari hidup kami selama ini. Kami doakan agar Bibik sentiasa dirahmati Allah, diberikan kesihatan yang baik, dikurniakan murah rezeki dan panjang umur hendaknya. Semoga Bibik juga gembira berada disamping keluarga.
Selamat Hari Raya Bibik dan Maaf Zahir Batin dari kami semua.
Read how Bibik started in the Zs household here.