Alang, the title bestowed on the third child in the family. Mak Lang, the female acronym. To me Mak Lang is the most giving person I have ever known.
She was widowed at an early age. She just got her second daughter and their family is about to join the Felda program when her husband passed away. All her plans came to a standstill. My grandparents took them in and there they stayed. Mak Lang was a pretty lady, a lot of men asked for her hand but not once did she even considered those proposals. Her reason was that she worries for her daughters, their welfare, if she is to give her life to another man. To raise her daughters, she helped in the paddy fields and tap rubber. She worked hard. Amazing thing is, not once did she complain, about anything. Least of all about the cruel blow that life has given her. She worked so hard, that her hands, in the later years athropied. We suspect it was the chemical that she used for the latex and those in the paddy field. She refused to be sent for treatment.
I was close to her and her daughters. When I started sailing, there was once when I visited them and over lunch just casually mentions that it has been quite some time that I have eaten pucuk manis, a village veggie she normally collected in the rubber estate where she works. I did not give any further thought to that matter and left. Instead of going back home, I went to visit another sailing buddy. Spending a night or two before I get home. On getting home, there was a bunch of pucuk manis and some young coconuts in the kitchen. According to my mother, it was Mak Lang, she came from Linggi alone, by bus to deliver those things to my house in Cheras. She is illiterate and has never travelled alone before but insisted on doing it as she can't bear the thought of me going away for months on end on a ship without having tasted the foods that she thought I crave. I was wrecked with guilt, there I was having fun with my friends and here is this lady summoning whatever courage she has to venture into the unknown just to make sure I get to eat those veggies. This happens in the early 80's, since then I never again mention such things if they are not already on the table or in the kitchen.