The unassuming ‘kekabu’ tree, which grows profusely along river banks and in the kampongs, is a source of income for one gritty widow. Puan Radziah Yeop Ibrahim, 60, sells ‘kekabu’ filled pillows and mattresses to eager buyers from as far away as Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Local customers too are aplenty. The soft and silky texture of the cotton-like fibres found in the ripe and swirled-up pods make good fillings for pillows and mattresses. “It has some therapeutic values,” said Puan Radziah or Mak Cik Wok, as she is popularly known. “It’s good for the body as the softness of a kekabu-filled pillow and mattress cushions the head and back when one lies on it.”
Radziah is a mother of two. Eldest son, Nor Hisyam 21, pursues a degree course at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris Shah, Tanjung Malim while daughter, Norlizatul Akma 14, studies at the Methodist Girls’ School, Ipoh. Her ex-soldier husband, Zulkefli Mat Yatim, died five years ago and since then Radziah has been raising her two kids on her own. Her only source of income is derived from the ‘kekabu’ pillows and mattresses. Lately she has ventured into the traditional cookie business making dried jelly for the market. Her dried jelly, sold in packets, is found at a retail outlet in Megoplex, a popular shopping mall in Gunung Rapat. Radziah hopes it will be a hit with customers.
“It’s tough raising two kids with my meagre income,” Radziah told Ipoh Echo recently. But Mak Cik Wok is determined to persevere despite the insurmountable odds. She rents a single-storey terrace house at Taman Harirela, behind Hillcity Hotel from where she makes her pillows and cookies. “I’ve to set aside RM280 for the house rent every month. Sometimes it’s difficult to make ends make, especially when orders take a tumble.”
This gutsy lady needs our help. Those keen on sampling her hand-made products can reach her at her house, No. 6, Lebuhraya Harirela, Taman Harirela, Ipoh, or her mobile 016-536 6174.