Thursday, May 14, 2009Some cultures have specific name or title for a particular member of the family. A close friend of mine who has Bengali roots is Dada to the children of his sons while his daughter's kids call him Nana and his wife Nani. His brothers' kids call him Chacha and his wife Chahchi while the children of his sisters call him Mamu and his wife Mami.
The Chinese too have specific names for members of the family. The eldest auntie, father's side is called Kuma while the eldest auntie on the mother's side is called Tai Ee (Big Auntie).
Terengganu families are not that rigid or elaborate. The eldest auntie is Mak Long from "Sulong" which is the first. Eldest uncle is Pak Long or Ayoh Long. Another variation is Wa (from the word tua or old). So your eldest auntie is Wa and your eldest uncle is Ayoh Wa. The next older auntie is Mok Ngoh/Chek Ngoh and the uncle is Ayoh Ngoh or Pok Ngoh. This is fairly simple to deduce because the second one is in the middle (tengoh).The youngest sister of your mother is Mok Su (bongsu-youngest) and the youngest brother is Ayoh Su or Pok Su. A variation of Su is Chu as in Mok Chu or Pok Chu.
This works well if your grandparents had only 3 kids. If they had more they were given titles that did not reflect their seniority at all. Some are called Cek Teh because they are fairskinned (putih) or Cek Tam because they are dusky (hitam). Some are even called De (from the word muda) because they are younger but not the youngest. Since uncles too might be called De or Ayoh De, there are aunties in that particular position called De Mek. Unlike the Bengalis or the Chinese, Terengganu Malays use Mak Long for the eldest auntie on both the mother and father's side. To avoid confusions, the auntie's or uncle's name is affixed. Thus we have Mok Long Selamoh or Pak Chu Mang to differentiate them from Mok Long Haji Lijoh or Pak Chu Beraheng.
In extreme cases where one is the only child,your cousin's kids would call you Ngga (from the word tunggal or only one). So to my cousin's children I am Ayoh Ngga- the Lonely One. Lonely shall I retire to ponder why I call my father's younger brother Bah Abang, their late mother Mok Tok and my father's cousin who is younger than me Mok Adik. I have never met my paternal or maternal grandfather. I was born after they were gone. Thus I do n't call them Ki or Tok Ki. Whatever I would call them, I am sure they won't answer.
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