MY mother was born in Perlis 74 years ago, the eldest daughter of a schoolteacher and telecoms clerk.
My grandparents were landowners, so mum wasn't born into hardship, but her upbringing was strict.
Mum was a sassy and smart girl. So smart that she was enrolled in Sultanah Asma Girls School in Alor Star. Back then, for a budak peghelih (someone from Perlis) to go beyond the borders of Sanglang was unheard of.
She aced her Senior Cambridge and was one of a few who could boast of a Kirkby Teachers' College education. She travelled across Europe in the late 1950s.
She married a senior from Kirkby and settled down in Alor Star until dad read law in England.
So three kids down the line, she resigned from the civil service, they sold their belongings, packed up their stuff, lugged three young children and settled at 114, Ifield Road, London. That was in 1968.
As dad was a struggling student of law, he did a lot of part-time jobs to supplement his income, including a stint at the Malaysia Hall kitchen.
It was mum who mainly supported the family.
She taught in an elementary school in London, which required her to change two trains and a bus.
This meant she had to wake up early, drop us off at the childminders, take the Tube and the bus to make it for school time, and vice-versa on the way home.
Almost always, she had to leave our safety to fate as us kids had to walk home without supervision. By the time she got home, it was dark. She then did her chores and fed us. How tiring it must have been for her.
She played hostess to many gatherings and dinner parties organised for visiting Malaysians in London. There was not a single dignitary then who didn't come to our home.
Looking at pictures back then, mum (I was between 4 and 8) was the most beautiful person I'd ever set eyes on.
My husband calls her Sophia Loren. Long wavy hair, always in style, slim and smart.
Her Mary Quant nail polish, groovy specs à la Austin Powers and bell bottoms. I didn't know it then, but she was offered to read law in one of the Inns of Courts, but dad wouldn't let her, lest she turned out to be a better and smarter lawyer than him, I bet.
That is only the tip of the iceberg in mum's life.
It was mum who stood by his side on our return to Malaysia. It was mum who gave all her support when he quit the legal service and opened his practice. It was mum who stood by dad's side through all the good and bad times over 50 years.
Mum gets anxious when dad's out of sight. She won't say it but she's still madly in love with him.
Today, this 74-year-old wields her cane with surprising strength. Despite her chronic ortho-arthritis, she is agile and sprightly.
She still hollers and screams at my driving. She is still particular about her appearance; her jubah colour must match her tudung and her cane. She still speaks the Queen's English.
Most of all, it was mum who had a daughter like me. The rebel without a cause. The student whom the headmaster introduced as "someone most likely to fail". The social butterfly who had difficulty recognising and staying within her boundaries.
The one who always argued. The most stubborn of all daughters in the world. The one who had more failures than successes.
The one who can never repay her mum for all that mum had done for her.
Having children of her own, this daughter now recognises that it's not about the economic nor laborious hardship that makes a great mother.
It's not about how many children she has or how many of her kids are successful graduates.
It's about the emotional attachment mum will have with her children.
It's about struggling with them when they struggle. It's about hurting when they hurt. It's about crying when they cry.
It's about the hopelessness she feels when her child is in trouble.
It's about motherhood and the challenges, the trials and tribulations. It's about the unconditional love for her children.
It's about biting her tongue and being cruel to be kind.
It's about hiding the pain when her daughter hurts her and she doesn't realise just how much.
It's about hiding the joy when her daughter loves her and mum didn't realise just how much. It's about being a mother until the day she dies.
It's about things that only a mother will comprehend.
I am just glad that after all these years working, I am now closer to you in spirit and in body. I love that I take you out gallivanting and shopping.
I love how we gossip with each and grumble and gripe over everything.
How lucky you and dad are at your age to have all your children and grandchildren near to you.
I don't know if I'll ever be half as good a mum as you have, but I hope it's in the blood.
Most of all, I love you, mum. Just how much, you will never know. I can never repay you for all the hurt, pain and sorrow I have caused, and the joy, happiness and love you have given me.
I can never even try to make you as happy as you deserve. I only hope I never stop trying to be as good a mum as you have.
To the greatest mum of all, Happy Mothers Day, today and every day.