This wooden door has stood here still strong and sturdy for over a 100 years and had withstood numerous number of big floods and small floods. Upon's great grandfather's (Haji Muhamad Doboh) insistence all his children had this door built at their own houses (it served as the main gate in those days) and this is the door at my maternal grandmother's house built at the end of the 19th century and it still stand in the compound of my family's house. It is a simple wooden door made out of 'cengal' wood (maybe?), there is not much intricate design on the door and with steel bars supporting the roof. There was a pair of round ringed door knocker on the outer side of the door made of copper and these have been stolen (kita jumpa di akhirat ya....wahai si pencuri!). The door is barred from the inside using a piece of iron rod 3 inches thick (I remember it as being very rusty when I was a kid). All the doors of Muhamad Doboh's family has a roof over it, maybe the original roof was made of tiles later changed to zinc and now being upgraded to tiles again in 1995 with the supporting brick pillars.
We still hold on to this door upon the advice of great grandfather to maintain it as a mark or rather a symbol for who knows in the future our far flung relatives might one day come back and be reunited with us. For practical reasons, this door block the driveway for cars to drive out to the main road. As of many years ago another bigger gate was built at the other end of the compound and we had to reverse the car every time we want to go out on to the busy main road.
There were several doors similar to ours that were still around in the 60s but were later pulled down for various reasons. It was common to find this type of door in front of other family houses but with different designs because it was a trend back in the 19th century.
When we were kids we used sit on the bar across the door to watch the traffic goes by but then in those days there were not many cars on the road but a lot of bicycles and the pushcarts that was filled with tree barks (kulit kayu) used for cooking on wood stoves. As seen in the picture above the bar seems to be at ground level now when in those days it was higher up by a foot or more.
Indeed great grandfather's prophecy that this door would someday bring together his descendants was proven when two incidents occurred to my sister Teh and in her own words...
When we were small children, we often used the Jalan Sultan Ibrahim to visit our paternal grandparents, and Jalan Sultan Ibrahim was where the police headquarters was located. We noticed a similar wooden door at a traditional house along the street identical to ours. We were told that the owner was our maternal grandaunt, Tok Ngoh Som who was then deceased. Much later, my foster's sister's cousin married one of Tok Ngoh Som great granddaughter. We realized that she was our cousin when her husband told me that his wife's family was negotiating sale for a piece of land at that particular place. I made an effort to meet his wife's mother to see whether we are related. Definitely we are related, the mother Kak Yoh or Safiah recalled that as a child she accompanied her grandmother, Tok Ngoh Som to visit my grandmother whom she called Mak Teh Jah. She even recalled and remembered my own mother and my aunts. She told me that my late grandmother loved to organize feasts for her relatives, friends and neighbours. Exactly what my mother used to tell me!
The second incident occurred when I was working with Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. I met a new colleague, who just started to work there. To me she seemed familiar and once we started to know each other, I found comradeship in her. Later she, who happened to hail from Perak, told me that she had relatives in Kelantan and used to visit a house on my street. She recalled that the house had a wooden door with a roof. It clicked that she might be a relative because all of my maternal grandmother's siblings had that type of door. I called my mother and she confirmed that her cousin, Pak Teh Daud's wife's sister had moved to Perak in the 50's. Guessed what, I paid her family a visit, to visit her grandparents and her own mother in Parit, Perak. Her grandmother had a fine time recalling and getting informations of relatives she had left behind.
Discovering long forgotten relatives is wonderful and this wooden door did play an important role. Isn't it?
'SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDIL ADHA' to all muslims readers who happened to peek into this blog :)