When I was 7, my whole family had to go my father's PERKEP programme so they asked a long time domestic helper, Auntie Saras to take care of me for a week. She agreed and took me in without any hesitation. You see, she loved me like her own child because I grew up watching her iron our clothes and blabbering words so I could remember them.
Under her care, I would asked everything different about their home. "Kenapa patung tu ada banyak tangan? Kenapa gajah tu muka macam perempuan? Kenapa ada air atas pintu tu Auntie Saras?" and Auntie Saras would casually answer "Itu air untuk tuhan minum." only to be countered with a smart alleck reply like "Bukanlah, tu proses penyejatan." Yoges, Aunty Saras younger daughter sniggered, grabbed my hands and took me to her secret lab. It wasn't much of a lab. It was a small space in between two shady potted plants where she melts her plasticine and mix it with multicoloured dust whe stole from the neighbour's house.
I watched intently before Prem, Yoges's older brother claimed that is it his turn to play with me. We sat on a swing and he asked "Mau pegi mana?" and my usual answer was London, Paris, Turkey or Zimbabwe. "Prem, kenapa pergi Turkey lagi lama dari London?" Prem scratched his head and answered "Turkey kena naik unta, London by plane." "Oh...."
Dinner was amazing as usual and odd questions like "Kambing ni halal ke Auntie Saras?" didn't deter me from getting seconds. The entre is usually rassam and the main course is always mutton. Mutton curry, spiced mutton, mutton soup, mutton kurma and the occasional ayam goreng kunyit just in case I got bored of eating mutton. How can anyone ever get bored of mutton? After meals, Auntie Saras will get a tupperware of homemade sweets from a cupboard and forced some into my mouth. I wondered why she did that that so I asked. "Sebab nanti makan banyak sangat gigi rosak." she smiled broadly, revealing her perfect set of teeth.
Prem had to sleep outside because I was sleeping on his bed. For a week he had prepare his toto at the living room, tuck me in, pack the toto and make my bed in the morning.
"Afiq!!!!" Yoges's older sister shouted from the kitchen.
"Huh?" I answered sleepily.
"Sudah azan dalam radio. Pegi sembahyang!"
"Cepat, nanti tuhan Afiq marah!"
On Friday, Uncle Sam picked me up from his home and drove me and Prem to the mosque and asked Prem to wait for me outside the mosque and walk me home. On our way to home, he took a little detour to a convinience shop and bought me a Tora pack but kept the chocolate balls in his pockets. Just before we reach Auntie Saras's home, I saw Bapak's car at a curb. Prem piggybacked me and ran like a deranged athelete. "Ayoyo, kita sudah lambat. Nanti bapak Afiq murah!"
"Bukan murah lah Prem, marah."
"Betul lah, nanti bapak Afiq murah!"
Once we reached home, Auntie Saras told my parents how good I was and how much I ate. "Afiq makan banyak betol, tambah dua kali hari hari." As Umi packed my things, I looked for Yoges at the neighbour's house. "Yoges sekolah lah Afiq." Prem whispered in my ear. "Oh" I then rushed to Yoges's secret lab and put the Taro toy in her secret toy tupperware she hid under an unused clay pot.
We got into the car, opened the window to wave and I gave Auntie Saras flying kisses. Auntie Saras laughed when Prem told her Yoges taught me that flying kisses is how Indians greet each other. She returned my flying kisses and shouted from afar "Jangan lupa sembahyang ah Afiq!"