“Other relatives called him Tok Tam because of his dark complexion, but he would point out that he was tall and handsome, too! “
But Tok was different at home. He wouldn’t make long speeches or lecture us,” said Lara. “It was not his style.
He would be subtle, indirect and we often had to read between the lines. What he left unsaid was often as important as what he said.
“He would often sit me down and tell me that humility was the greatest human asset, and that greed and materialism were wrong.
“We should just live with enough and not more.
Respect one another and value each other’s strengths and weaknesses... also to be compassionate as he was to people less fortunate and animals, and to always learn to give back,” said Lara.
Tunku Khadijah Tunku Abdul Rahman (second from right), Sharifah Menyalara Hussein (third from right) and her daughters Natasha (right) and Natalia. Tunku Abdul Rahman with his family members. On his left is granddaughter Sharifah Menyalara Hussein, or Lara.
In fact, admiration for Tunku stretched even to the humblest man in the street.
Surprisingly, Tunku was an excellent cook and would make succulent roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
In fact, his daughter, Tunku Khadijah Tunku Abdul Rahman has written a book called Tunku’s Recipe.
“He was an avid sportsman, who played golf and swimming till his later years. And he loved horses,” said Lara.
“He had many friends and was very popular even in his old age. There were visitors every day from all walks of life and race.”
That was the beauty of Tunku. He was colour blind in that aspect.
Tunku was not openly loving as that was not his nature. Since he was brought up in a strict environment, he would transmit that kind of environment at home, too.
So, he was quite strict and not openly affectionate. He would show affection in other ways.
“He wasn’t the typical granddad you could just warm up to.
|Tunku Khadijah Tunku Abdul Rahman (second from right), Sharifah Menyalara Hussein (third from right) and her daughters Natasha (right) and Natalia. Tunku Abdul Rahman with his family members. On his left is granddaughter Sharifah Menyalara Hussein, or Lara.|
And because there’s so much respect, you keep your distance,” said Lara.
“He was also so busy and preoccupied, so you hardly got to see him.”
Tunku would always tell the story of his mother, Che Manjalara, the sultan’s wife. She gave birth to a boy in February 1903, and that boy was Tunku.
“As a grandfather, the values he taught us were invaluable and I don’t think I would be the way I am without having learnt so much from him and watched how open, honest and humble he was.
“And incredibly, he didn’t need to accumulate material things because he always told us he had been bestowed with spiritual richness.
“Just a very simple man,” Lara concluded about Tunku.