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.