Friday, August 24, 2012

The RM37 journey eclipsed by a 36-hour journey - Part I

I thought I was doing the noblest thing this Raya, but I guess many others would be more noble than yours truly. It was a lifetime lesson, in sacrifice and gratefulness, and piety, I guess.

Obviously I knew I had to attend a wedding in Kota Bharu, and there was no two way about it. He has  been working with me for 3 years, so when his big day arrived, I simply knew I had to be there. It is a long journey to Kota Bharu, and on holidays like this Raya holidays, journey to KB or back to KL could take 12 hours or more (instead of 6 hours for normal day journey).

But Kota Bharu was my home during my teen years, so there were enough reasons for me to go back to. I can think of a list of people I would love to meet again, and catch up on lost time. After all the last time I was there was nearly a decade ago.

So I took the 1325 flight out of KLIA. That was my first time using my privilege as a parent to an Air Asia staff on a domestic flight.
OMG, I still could not believe what I had to pay to go to KB, so much
so I would be telling anybody who is willing to listen how much
money this cheapskate had to fork out to meet up with them.
Lousy me! I should be telling them (my teachers) how I had to
scale the mountains to see them instead.

They made me pay RM37.00 for my seat - this Air Asia airlines. OMG, It was cheaper than an 8-hour bus journey to KB. I could have made this trip a thousand times now.

In about an hour, I was being driven out of Pengkalan Chepa to Kota Bharu town.
First time in Kelantan for nearly a decade. I only wish
that Petronas had chosen Bachok as the gas landing area
so that I have professional reasons to return,
but it was not meant to be, I guess.

Upon checking in at Ridel Hotel for a room with no window (Arif was adamant that I should not have done that for safety reasons), I booked a cab at 5 pm to take me to HUSM, but with KB being under sieged by migrant Kelantanese returning home, it could only arrive to pick me up at about 6 pm, and only at 6.30 pm I arrived at the HDU. I thought it was a bit late. A crowd of people was already there and not seeing Cikgu Nik or any familiar face, I would not have a clue of how to see Cikgu Norbibi.

I felt like a stranger in a strange land where people talk in funny slang!
I was not supposed to enter through this door - there was side door
on the right (not seen in this picture), but I didn't know any better.
I decided not to take any picture - I thought that it is rude to do so,
so I only took this picture to show that I was there.
I can see someone organizing and controlling the blue shirt that one must wear inside the HDU ward, but he kept on giving to others, taking turn to visit this one patient. I could only watch in despair as the 'queue' is long (even if the turnover is high), and the fact that I didn't know any of them.

So I had to ask who this popular patient is.

"Nor Bibi," came the response.

"Of course, Cikgu Nor Bibi," I blurted out. I was seeing the same exact patient.

"Are you her student?" he asked back, "batch no berapa?"

Apparently Tabira is her 4th son, and once he knew that I had came all the way from Kuala Lumpur, he quickly took me to introduce me to his dad.

Soon I found myself alone facing Cikgu Nor Bibi. She is unconscious and she was breathing very heavily. I called up to her, introduced myself and wished her a speedy recovery. I was sure that she heard me because I thought I heard non-syllabic response (though I can't be really sure). It was good enough for me - I didn't want to stress her out, and  I knew there were many other wanting to have a chance to see her. 

But I was hoping that she would hear me, and I do pray that Allah will fulfill our doa for her.

(I remember seeing Cikgu Wari at her ICU bed; she was conscious, but she was breathing heavily and sounded like she was in pain.)

A day later, I found out that a senior (Kak Siti Munirah) had driven all the way from Melaka to KB to see Cikgu NorBibi. Apparently she had arrived at 7 am in KB, went to see her at noon, and left KB by 10 pm. If I don't have my cheapskate ticket - and a wedding to attend to, would I have done what she did?

I don't think I even want to answer that question, and I do feel so small, to be honest. Others would b e scaling the mountains, and the deepest sea to be with her, while I was only doing the molehill, so to speak.

I felt so miniscule.

On the other hand, I normally would be coming armed with my SLR, but this time around, I didn't feel right about doing it. There was no way I would be taking her picture with all the tubes and mask surrounding her face. It would be rude and too demeaning to be honest. I could not comprehend those who did that and would even had the cheek to pose in FB.

That I totally agree with another former teacher of mine Cikgu (Dr) Fatanah.

Apparently she had chided a few visitors who were talking too loudly among themselves in the presence of patient. Some even had the cheek to 'pose' smilingly (read: tersengih) with ICU patients. It is not proper and it is not right, no matter how noble your intentions were.

I already have a one on one picture with Cikgu Norbibi. While it was taken about ten years ago in KL, that's how I would remember her.


View of riverfront at Ridel Hotel at 7 am
"I'll pick you up at the airport, and you can have my car (for you to go around)."

That's Cikgu Nik Faridah's hospitality for you.

I could not take her offer for various reasons. For one, it is Raya time and I don't want to trouble her. I am sure she had many guests to entertain in the first place. Secondly, it is Raya time, and I am sure KB traffic could be notorious, and not knowing the road, I am sure I would not survive driving in KB.

Thirdly, I thought I'll do my part to boost the local economy, in my own small way. (Don't take this in a negative way please. I am not implying on the state of the economy at all.)

In the end, obviously she did much more than that.

She was driving me around taking me to see Cikgu Wan Nasihah, and even to the wedding of my staff. "It is ok," she said, "I am free today." But a teacher like her, having taught thousands of students would never be free on the auspicious day. There will always be one visiting and paying their respects.

May Allah bless you, Cikgu.

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