Wednesday, July 6, 2011
14 September 2009
And in one very poignant and heart-wrenching scene, her daughter screamed and collapsed upon hearing that her mum had died. It brought back memories of the morning when your 4 grand children heard a piercing scream, a sound which I did not realize actually came from my own throat. The sound that escaped my throat that day was so eerie that it shattered the usually peaceful morning in my household.
That was the day your 8 kids lost you, Ayah. Ayah, we know that you were on loan to us from 9 September 1921 to 13 December 2008. Ayah, we were grateful to Allah for lending you to us. However, your passing away caused a deep void in our lives. It was difficult for us at first to accept the grim reality that you would cease to be with us, and that God had taken back what belonged to him.
And the deep regret I felt after hearing that you're no longer with us will haunt me for the rest of my life. I regretted the fact that I did not spend Hari Raya Haji with you in 2008. As Amir, your son-in-law couldn't take long leave due to heavy work commitments, we were not able to go back to Penang to celebrate Hari Raya Haji with you.
And when you came down to KL for your medical check-up after Hari Raya Haji, I could not visit you immediately as I was lecturing and very busy with work. In fact we were planning to visit you that weekend at Ocah's house (your third daughter).
So, Ayah, you can imagine my torment when I recalled that fateful morning.
Ayah, I woke up feeling very excited on 13 December 2008 as I was supposed to join Amir at Negri Sembilan as he was attending a three-day meeting. That was the day Khairul was supposed to drive me to join my husband at the hotel.
For some strange reason, your granddaughter, Ina woke up early that day. Usually, it'll be mid day before this sleepy head would welcome the sun. All my boys were still fast asleep as I packed my bag in my room, with Ina hovering around.
I was jolted out of my reverie when Ina's phone rang. And my heart skipped several beats when she said, "Ma, Babah called, and he wants you to sit down first." As I turned my head to look at her, the look of total horror on her face sent a surge of terrible foreboding racing through my body.
I grabbed her phone and my husband repeated what Ina had said to me earlier, "Sayang, please sit down. I've bad news to tell you!" Somehow, my brain froze, and deep in my heart I knew something had happened to you Ayah.
And when Amir continued, "Sayang, please take a deep breath, and no matter what, please stay calm. Sayang, Ayah has passed away."
"NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!! That was what I kept exclaiming which was interspersed with piercing scream and uncontrollable sobbing. No! No! No! Ayah. You couldn't have passed away. You couldn't have been gone. I just spoke to you two days earlier and you sounded cheerful, far more cheerful than ever before. So how can my husband tell me that you have passed away!!
"Ya Allah. Please, please tell me this is not true. Please, please let me wake up from this nightmare. Please, please tell me that it's just a dream."
Ayah, all I recalled was sobbing uncontrollably with Ina hugging me tightly and rubbing my back, like a mum would a child. And all I did was to continue screaming and sobbing.
The tears shed freely. And with it came a feeling of deep regret. I tried hard to stop everything, even the beat of my heart, so that I could think with a clear head. One second of total clarity was all I craved for. One moment of stillness so that I might advance confidently into a million moments of undoubted mayhem from that point, that moment when I finally realised you have left us for good.
Ayah, that was also the day, Ina became the mum, the one who comforted me, the shoulder I cried on, the one who kept holding my hands as they trembled non stop and the one who held me as my lips quivered with wrecking sobs.
That was your little cucu Ayah, the cucu who would unashamedly embraced and hugged you tightly and kissed you lovingly and warmly everytime she met you. The cucu who would gladly make cheese poppers for you (she would actually take several slices of cheese and popped it in the microwave and let it cooked until it popped). She knew how much you love to savour that special delicacy created by her.
Ayah, Ina was the one who woke her three brothers up and with a heavy heart, had to slowly break the news about your death. How brave she was. I did not recall her crying. I guess she had to put up a brave front given that I was a total wreck, given that my husband was away and she knew instinctively that I'd need support.
Ayah, I recalled my sons waking up, crowding around me, not knowing what to do. They were as devastated as I was and they felt totally lost as their dad was not around.
Ayah, I remembered going back to my packing and had looked inside the bag. And without even realising what I was doing, I had taken out all the clothings I had put inside earlier for my trip to Negri Sembilan and had automatically reached for other clothings more suitable for this sombre occasion. The loud sobbing had ceased, and was now replaced with soft, wrecking weeping. I felt as if my heart was going to burst.
I couldn't recall much whatever unfolded later. An hour later, Amir rushed home from Negri Sembilan to be with me, and when he walked into my room, tears of distress filled my eyes and rolled down my face. All the pent up emotions of the last couple of hours had ruptured. It was like the flood gate had been released.
Ayah, as Amir hugged me, I clung to him for the longest time and started bawling again. This time much louder than before. It was as if I had lost my mind.
Amir comforted me softly, and kept whispering in my ears to stay calm, and kept whispering that Allah had taken back what belonged to him. That you were only on loan to us. That I should be grateful that God had extended his loan of you to us. And that you have had a fulfilling life, surrounded by everyone who had loved you, your four sons, four daughters, four sons-in-law, four daughters-in-law, thirty three grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
Ayah, right after that, everything was a blur for me. I recalled reaching Ocah's house with all the bags packed for our journey to Bukit Mertajam.
Upon reaching Ocah's house, I was greeted at the door by Jude and Zaini.who enveloped me in a hug. And once again, the floodgate was let open and the dam burst again.
And once I reached your bed, where your body lay lifeless and cold, I kissed your forehead and cheeks tenderly. I kept holding your hands and stroking them gently.
Ayah, you couldn't have passed away because you looked as though you had just fallen asleep. Your face looked serene and calm. And your face belied someone whose soul had just left the body, where Malaikatulmaut had just finished his task of separating and returning your body from your soul. Ayah, you have been recalled permanently from the physical world back to the primordial spiritual world.
At the graveyard in Bukit Mertajam, all I could do was watch your body being lowered six feet under. For weeks later, every time I looked at your photos or looked up the contacts in the handphone and came across your name, I would sit down and weep again. Suddenly I was afraid. I was afraid to have lost both you and mak. I'm now an orphan.
Ayah, up till today, I'm not sure how I survived the first 24 hours. But after the initial shock had worn off, huge waves of emotions had hit me. And I must have cried throughout the day, throughout the night, and probably throughout the month. Everything was a blur.
And today, Ayah, I still cry, but instead of weeping, I would summon your image again. I would reminisce the good times we've had.
I'm thankful to have been born into this family. I'm thankful to have been loved by you and mak. I'm thankful that you've had a fulfilling life with Mak and all your 8 kids, grandchildren and great grand children. I'm thankful to have been your daughter. Thank you Ayah for being my dad. And thank you Allah for lending you and mak to us.