Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Lost Diary of an Almost Retired Woman

10 July - Crazy Friday. Hectic Schedule being the last day of my working life
10 July - Mir (that's my hubby of 26 years) left for Perak for UPM's agricultural expedition
11 July - What a glorious day! My first day as a RETIREE
11 July - Lunch with Elaine at Maharaj, KLCC (ex ESOL student from China)
12 July - Lazy Sunday. Mir came back from Perak
13 July - Lunch with Syida (ESOL lecturer - ex colleague at Olympia College, and ex ESOL students, Siti (from Indonesia), Elaine (from China), Su (from Sri Lanka), Sharon (from Mynamar) at KLSE
14 July - Lunch with ex Nielsens - Tun, Nor, Liza at Haja's Cafe, PJ
15 July - Lazy Wednesday. Read "Accidental Wife" by Rowan Coleman
16 July - Lazy Thursday. Continued reading "Accidental Wife" by Rowan Coleman. Started blogging.
17 July - Lazy Thursday. Continued reading "Accidental Wife" by Rowan Coleman. Went with
Khairul (my eldest son) to Mai Auto, Taman Permaisuri to book his Satria Neo
18 July - Mir left for Temerloh. Finished reading "Accidental Wife" by Rowan Coleman
19 July - Went marketing. Sorted out documentation for Satria Neo purchase at Mai Auto. Had Tea at SupUtara, Bandar Permaisuri
20 July - Lazy Monday. Started reading "Another Woman's Husband" by Sarah Duncan at 8:30 p.m and finished the 344 pages book at 3:30 a.m. What a feat!!!
21 July - Lunch with Marina at Meizhuan Chinese Restaurant, Quality Hotel City Centre, KL
22 July - Lazy Wednesday
23 July - Lazy Thursday
24 July - Mir on leave. Went to 1/ Immigration 2/ PNB 3/ Pusat Zakat 4/ Tabung Haji
25 July - Khairil's (second child) birthday and Gothama's (ex ESOL student) birthday. Didn't do any birthday celebration for Khairil as he was busy with the production of the musical theatre, "Merchants of Bollywood"
26 July- Lazy Sunday
27 July - Had lunch with ex PBB colleagues - Nizam, Nages and Osna at KLCC. Dropped by my favourite haunt, Kinokuniya. Bought 6 books.
28 July - Went to EPF and Pusat Zakat KL, and RHB
29 July - It's my 26th wedding anniversary. Has anyone ever imagined celebrating their wedding anniversary at HUKM? Well, I just did today!!!!!
30 July - My little girl Ina came back to KL (FROM UTM, Johor) for her friend's engagement reception
31 July - Left for Langkawi with Mir (Mir's UPM management meeting cum 26th wedding anniversary celebrations)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mak 1.0 - Mak, I love you so very much - you're the sunshine of my life.....

Mak: A Very Caring Mum

Mak took a train all the way from Penang to KL on 14 November 1993 as she knew that I would soon deliver my fourth baby.

As it turned out, the train was delayed as the track was flooded due to a heavy downpour the night before. She was stranded in the train for 5 hours. She was supposed to reach KL at 6:00 a.m but only arrived at 11.00 a.m. Poor mum, I was sure, on hindsight, that her back must have ached terribly, having to sit in the train for almost 12 hours. She was 63 then.

After my husband took her home to Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras, she slept as soon as she reached our house, as I presumed, she must have had a sleepless night on the train. I went about my life and was at work on 14 November 1993. I was still working at that time as my baby was not due till 30 November.

At 6:30 a.m on 15 November , I felt a slight cramp. 15 November was the day I was supposed to go for a check-up at Assunta Hospital. Because of the slight pain, my mum insisted that she accompanied me to the hospital.

I recalled that despite the pain, I was still very calm. Due to the cramps and because of my past history, I quietly packed my bags with the essentials to bring along to the hospital in case I delivered that day. Once we were ready, I told my mum that I wanted to go for breakfast first, as I had longed to eat Lontong (pressed cube rice with creamy santan gravy). We stopped at the nearby stall and savoured the delicious Lontong. Boy, it tasted so good.

All along, I had cramps on and off but dismissed the pain as something normal in pregnancies. Once we reached the hospital, and after I had been examined by the gynaecologist, we were pleasantly surprised to know that I was almost fully dilated. I knew then that morning was the morning. It was going to happen. The baby was going to say hello to his grandma 2 weeks in advance.

When I was in the labour room, mum was outside with my 2 elder boys and my little daughter. She kept them entertained and had to field questions about the impending addition to their family.

When the pain became quite unbearable, I asked my husband to call my mum in, and she brought some holy water (air kacip fatimah) for me to drink (it was supposed to ease the delivery) and rubbed some of it on my tummy too. She chanted several verses from the Quran. Soon after, I felt a certain calmness enveloping me despite the excruciating pain, and knew that the baby was ready to face the outside world. After the pain persisted for about 30 minutes, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy (that completed my family of four, 3 boys and a little princess).

As the delivery was normal, and as both the baby and I were healthy, we were allowed to go home on 16 November 1993.

Due to the change in environment, (try to imagine the hostile situation the baby had to endure). From the comfort of a snug and conducive and wonderful womb, it was jolted into the uncomfortable delivery room, then the ward, albeit slightly more comfortable as most hospital rooms are air-conditioned, and then to my house which was like a furnace, back then, my fourth child was screaming his head off due to the heat at home once we took him back (those days, air-condition was unheard of especially when the parents were struggling to make ends meet).

I did not sleep the entire night as I had to pacify the screaming lad and both of us only fell asleep at 5:00 a.m, with the little rascal happily latching on to my breast. And just as I thought my life had returned to normalcy, I heard running footsteps on the staircase and a loud frantic knock on my bedroom door at 5:45 a.m.

I scrambled to my feet and went to the door, only to find my maid, panting badly and saying something unintelligibly. I could hardly decipher what she was saying. After calming her down, she mouthed that my mum was having breathing difficulty. It really jolted me out of my stupor and I flew (yes I actually FLEW) down the stairs, little mindful that I had just delivered a baby 2 days earlier.

When I reached the living room, I saw my mum sitting agitatedly. She had removed her blouse and was only in sarong, fanning herself frantically with a piece of paper, despite the fan being turned on full blast. She was groaning and gasping for air. She was a poor sight, and my heart went to her. I screamed for my husband and when he saw her ashen face, he knew that she needed immediate medical attention.

With much effort, we put on a blouse for her, and literally dragged her to the car, all the while, forgetting I was in pantang (confinement) and once we put her in the car, my husband raced her to Universiti Hospital, accompanied by my maid.

After they left, I sat down quietly in the living room, at first weeping softly, and later sobbing uncontrollably, whilst praying very hard to Allah that my mum would be okay. Later, we were told by the doctor that my mum had suffered an acute cardiac arrest.

Drearily, I slowly climbed the staircase to my room and was happy to see that the 3 day-old baby was sound asleep. Grateful, I fell asleep next to the baby.

I woke up with a start when I heard the phone ringing and when I looked at the clock it showed 11.30 a.m. It was my neighbour, who alerted me that there was a handbag on the shoes shelves outside my house and my gate was left open. In his haste to take my mum to the hospital, my husband had forgotten to take my mum's handbag and had also forgotten to lock the gate. Thank God, the bag was left untouched.

My neighbour was shocked to learn that I had given birth as she was aware that my baby was not due till a fortnight later. And when I mentioned that my mum had been taken to the hospital and with my maid not being around, she kindly offered to cook lunch for me and the kids. I was eternally grateful to her as my mind was numb.

I was walking in "drunken stupor", not knowing what to do, with four screaming and hungry kids, and worried sick about my mum as I had not heard from my husband since he left for the hospital at 6:30 a.m.

My husband came back at 3:00 p.m looking wretched, and exhausted. He related to me that upon arriving at the emergency unit of University Hospital, she was immediately wheeled in, and her blouse was cut open, as by then, her condition had taken a turn for the worse and she was unconscious. I sobbed uncontrollably in my husband's arms when I heard this.

My heart ached for her. "Allah, please don't let her die, please, please, let her stay alive. I've not told her that I love her!" "I've not spent enough time talking to her. I've been busy with work. I've been busy with my husband. I've been busy tending to my kids. I've been busy traveling. I've been busy doing other things, but spent time with her. I've been neglecting her!". =

"So Allah, please, please give me another chance so that I would be able to spend more time with her and give me an opportunity to tell her how much I love her!". I fervently and quietly prayed to Allah.

And my mind flashed back to 1984. See Part 2.

Mak 2.0 - Mak, I love you so very much - you're the sunshine of my life.....

Continuation from Mak 1.0

My heart ached for her. "Allah, please don't let her die, please, please, let her stay alive. I've not told her that I love her!" "I've not spent enough time talking to her. I've been busy with work. I've been busy with my husband. I've been busy tending to my kids. I've been busy traveling. I've been busy doing other things, but spent time with her. I've been neglecting her!".

"So Allah, please, please give me another chance so that I would be able to spend more time with her and allow me an opportunity to tell her how much I love her!" I fervently and quietly prayed to Allah.

And my mind flashed back to 1984, 1986, 1989. When mak heard that I was almost due, she rushed to KL to be with me when I delivered my babies respectively in 1984, 1986, and 1989. That's mak - never failing her duty as a mum even though I myself was going to be a mum.

In 1984, when I delivered my first child, a son, mak came down from Penang to be with me a few weeks before I delivered. It was just as well, as my first bundle of joy decided to peep into this world 2 weeks ahead of schedule.

And every night, she would begged me to hand over the baby to her so that she could take care of him to allow me to sleep peacefully. I was adamant in not allowing the the baby to be with her, as I wanted to spare her from having a sleepless night, and more importantly, I wanted to care for my baby myself as I was nursing him and I was steadfast in my stand not to bottle feed him while I was at home.

Mak took great care of me and my baby, giving me delicious pantang food and making sure that the baby was well taken care of, given that this was my first child.

And in 1986, along came another son. The little rascal followed his brother's footsteps by peeking into the world ahead of schedule, this time 15 days earlier. Hence, Mak couldn't make it in time for his delivery, but she rushed to the hospital, together with ayah, upon hearing that I had given them another grandchild.

Again, she took great pains to cook yummy pantang food and helped to take care of my eldest son, while I tend to, and nursed the new kid on the block.

My second son, Khairil was sickly as a baby. He developed asthma and it was a challenge taking care of him, as the slightest irritation can trigger an attack. When he was 2 years old, he had an acute asthma attack. Thank God, Mak was with me at that time, so when we rushed him to the hospital, Mak took care of Khairul, our eldest child. Mak, was always there, when I needed her. She was truly my tower of strength.

In 1989, I was pregnant again, and this time, mak came down a month ahead of time to be with me, as she knew my history of delivering babies well ahead of time. She was spot on as Khairina (my little girl) decided to beat her brothers by venturing outside the womb, 22 days ahead of my due date.

On the day I went into labour, Mak prepared me well for this delivery as she recited special Quranic verses and apply Air Kacip Fatimah on my tummy when the contractions started.

That morning, I had a check-up at Assunta Hospital. And because of my past history, I decided to pack the necessities in a bag and also took my mum along for my check-up.

And when the doctor did an IE, he was shocked to discover that I was already dilated. So, I was pushed to the labour room. Nevertheless, I recalled him mentioning that even though I was dilated, it'll take a few hours before I delivered. And I still remembered the nurse telling him to go for breakfast after he had examined me.

But, lo and behold, even before he could step out of the labour room, I could fill a very strong urge to push. And at that time, the nurse had not even prepared me fully, i.e, my hands were not at the hand bar to pull, and my legs were not positioned properly on the push bar.

As the urge to push grew stronger, I screamed and when the doctor turned, he realised that the baby's head was almost crowning. He rushed in and I actually delivered within 30 minutes of the onset of the first contraction.

Mak, if not for you, my deliveries would not be so effortless and almost painless. Due to God's grace and your faith in the special water of Air Kacip Fatimah, and your relentless effort in reciting the Quranic verses, I had a wonderfully easy births for all my deliveries.

Mak, I also recalled how excited you were, for me, I believe, when Amir told you that I had delivered a little girl, because you knew how much I wanted a girl.

In fact, when I was pregnant with Khairina, I had this strong instinct that I was carrying a girl, the feeling was so different from when I was carrying Khairil, because at that time, I knew I was going to have another boy.

During my entire pregnancy with Khairina, the name "Khairina" kept surfacing in my head, maybe because the two boys' names begin with Khai, so I decided to use "Khairina" as my computer and email password (I was using a totally different password before).

It was really uncanny and amusing that I did not select any boy's name this time around. And when she came along, I told ayah that I had aptly chosen "Khairina" as the first part of her name and I gave him the opportunity to select the 2nd part of her name.

Ayah then consulted the Babies Names book and carefully selected "Izzati" which means...

Mak doted on little Khairina, and bought her lots of little dresses. And it was during these period before 1993 (my last delivery), that I had noticed little things about her which did not seem right.

Sometimes, when she was trying to put on her slippers, she'd just slipped on one side and left the other one behind, without even realising it. I was later told, that that was the first signs of stroke. When she was in Penang, she used to tell us that sometimes, when she was trying to turn the door knob, she would fall to the floor. Again, another sign of weakening of the body system.

But, mum being mum, she refused to believe and think that there could be anything wrong with her, so she gallantly kept on doing household chores and taking care of my dad. And occasionally, she would come down to KL to spend time with her 8 children and the growing number of grandkids.

She kept her house spotlessly clean. When everyone has long retired to bed, she would still be scrubbing the floor until it's spotless. She would not stop until everything is kept away and clean.

Mak, I miss you so. I long to touch you. I miss your warmth, your caring voice, your special touch, your superb dishes, your deep concern and scarifices for all your kids.

And I remembered once again 1993. That was the year I gave birth to my youngest child, a son.
To be continued.