Monday, September 17, 2012

Selamat jalan, Mak (Al-fatihah)

In hindsight, I would have changed certain things. In hindsight, I now know so much that I think I know how to treat mak's illness.

In hindsight, that is.

She has had some of the best medical minds trying to help her. Beyond local specialists (Dr Leslie from Gleneagles, Dr Rashidi of DEMC), she even had one Prof Dr Frank, a professor of medicine at the ANU (Australia) monitoring and advising Mak's medical conditions and needs. I even conferred with the UKM dean of medical faculty Prof Dato' Dr Raymond.

But in the end, Mak passed away at about 4.40 am on Sunday morning with nearly all her children in attendance. Mak has 13; everybody (except for Naza, who passed away years earlier, and her daughter who live in Australia) - K Sham, the blogger, Aboy, Ani, Ata, Rasi, Fadhil, Farah, Zali, Mas and Aishah (and her sister MC Kam, and some of her cucus)  - was there there at her death bed by 3.00 am paying their last respects, and was taking turn in reciting the syahadah to her ears, and/or reciting the yaasin. Many had not been sleeping for the past 40 hours, or more, by then.

She was never alone the past two months when she was hospitalized. I can vouch for that, for she would never allow us to leave her, and her children duly obliged her. At least one children was with her every time, all the time.

Everybody loves her so much; she will definitely be missed.

If I were to interpret certain events leading to her death, and the events proceeding it, it is not to portray her as a saint. She is one for sure, as a mother giving birth to 12 children and as if that was not good enough, adopted another. 

That's my mak for you.

When the nurse informed us that her heartbeat is falling - and her heart failing -  at about 3 am, we knew the dreaded moment has come. Earlier, I was adamant to let her fight on (and do the CPR to resuscitate her, if her heart fails), but in the end, I decided against it. I thought it would only be fair to let her go in peace as she has indicated to me (and others too) earlier.

As I was reciting the syahadah at her ear, I was watching closely her facial expression and breathing. Personally I could not detect any transition between life and death, other than the feeling that her breathing was getting slower and slower.

Alhamdulillah, she passed away peacefully in front of her children and grandchildren at 4.40 am. She was calm breathing to her last. Most were in tears, and controlled sobbing, when the doctor pronounced her dead. Aishah, her youngest, was the hardest hit perhaps, understandably so.

I left soon after thanking the doctor and team for their support of mak during her last days, and left for home at 5.00 am to start the process of burial. At home, the family had cleared out the living room and a bed was waiting in the living room for mak.

That was the very same bed that she was using many years ago when she was ill, in the same living room that we then had turned into her room as it was very spacious, and yet, private.

She was coming home at last. She had decided that my home was where she is heading, and I can't be more proud to accept the honour. It is once in a lifetime opportunity - one can only have one mother.

At she was nearing her destination, Hussein Onn was getting darker; it was about to rain.
At 7.02 am, Mak arrives in this van. It was still dry, but dark cloud starts gathering at BTHO at this stage
Her son in his baju Raya welcoming her as the van reverses into
the porch. It was the same baju raya he used to celebrate the last raya
with Mak at K Sham's.
Welcome Home, Mak. Mak disambut anak dan cucunya Arif (left) and Akmal (taking this picture).
All well dressed as a show of respect - after all it was still syawal and the house well-lighted
to welcome the most important person in our lives. This was her home for many times
whenever she visited KL, and she would stay here for long periods
I did not think so much about it then as I left HUKM in bone dry condition at 5 am, but later I was told that as she was about to leave HUKM for home (~6.30 am), it was raining heavily there.

And it rained all the way from HUKM.

I don't think it is a mere coincidence. I think there is more to it than normal KL rains.

In different circumstances, I would baulk at such preposition. But, as in many old Malays folk tales, langit yang gelap, dan hujan yang turun seolah-olah meratapi pemergian Mak, and hujan tidak berhenti sehingga Mak selesai dimandi dan dikapankan. At HUKM where the journey started, we were worried that it was going to flood. At the mosque later in the morning, I was worried that it would not stop and would cause problem with the burial process itself, but it did stop eventually.

To my relief.

And I believe that wholeheartedly that explanation - she is a mother of 13 children, so she was a special person in God's eyes. After all, paradise for her children lies underneath his feet. I do believe that yes, not only her children, and siblings, were crying for her, that even alam turut meratapi mak.

Before she was taken out from my house, I managed to have my last moment with her - at my (and her) home), albeit in the glaring eyes of everybody. Again, wrapping my arm around her, with her face cover partially opened up, I said to her ear, in a soft tone, that only she would hear me, "Selamat kembali Mak. Terima kasih kerana mak datang balik ke rumah Aman. I am so honoured Mak ada kat sini, tapi selamat jalan Mak. Perjalanan terakhir mak dari rumah Aman. Maafkan aman kerana tak dapat menolong menyembuhkan mak."

With that I kissed her cheek, and bade her farewell.
0845 hours - Mak leaving home for the last time for her final journey.
The rain has started, sharing our sorrow with the world. That I have no doubt.
Farewell Mak. Mak leaving home for the last time,
never to return again. View from my home as the van left my house
heading to the mosque. I feel like alam pun menangis pagi itu. Gerimis pagi

Personally I thought her last journey was as smooth as one gets, despite the rain. She arrived at my home by 7.00 am, she was taken away from my home at 0845 hours. I wish her last stay would be much longer than that. But redha since in the end Mak had returned home (to me), even though it was not in the circumstance that I had envisaged. By 9.30 am, she was all cleaned, and dressed up by her daughters, and all her sons.

Soon everybody was paying her last respect to her. By 10.30 am she was taken to the main hall, where scores of people recited the yaasin and was never left alone. By Zohor, the solat jenazah was performed on her - I did not expect the number of people turning up to be honest, for that I have to respect the BTHO community. Easily we got 5 saf on the men side; I can't dare to estimate the actual number though.

And the saf (lines) are very wide or long, if you must) at Surau Al-Amin, Bandar Tun Hussein Onn.
Anak cucu mak mengusung jenazah mak di Surau Al Amin
Bandar Tun Hussein Onn

By 2.30 pm, the last rites were recited for her. Again, all his sons were involved in burying her - a few had the privilege to be in the grave with her. I had told them earlier that I am waiving my right to be there; not that I don't want to do it for Mak for one last time, but I thought I have been with her for nearly 50 years, and I want to give that privilege to my younger brothers who spent less time with her.

I stayed on till later - even after most had left, we were advised to continue to be with her at least for 45 mins, so each brother continued our yaasin reading and left soon after we were done.

There was no hiccup at all for her final journey. Everything went according to plan. I am so glad for Mak. Everything fell into its place.
Farah menyirami air mawar

I am not sure if I could accept the fact that she is no longer with us (yes, I do know I have to redha). I know I am still in the denial stage. Thinking out loud, I believe she is at one of my sister's place, and that she would come soon to my home. I have not had a good cry - I choked while reading Alfatihah during the subuh payer that morning, but I managed to compose myself. I have seen her jenazah; I have seen her buried - and she was buried only 5 minutes from my home, but I am still thinking, "Mak masih ada, cuma not at my home saja."

The reality has not hit me (yet).

Throughout the time she was ill, I refused to say my goodbye. I was afraid that her motivation to continue to fight her illness would drop if she knew that her son did not expect her to last much longer. I tried to project an image of a son who knew that she would still be around for a long time. My only consolation is that I knew that most likely Mak has been satisfied with me (I hope). I don't think I had ever had a fight or major disagreement with her. I have always gone along very well with Mak. If she disagrees with certain of my actions, then I would take it at face value.

If A is her choice, then my choice is A. But should I think it was B, and I would try to convince her of that, and most likely she will agree with my opinion or change her mind. If someone hurt Mak, than I would deem that that person has hurt me too. If someone makes mak happy, than I am happy with that person too.

That's my relationship with Mak. It is unconditional. It does not matter whether she is right (or wrong). To me, she is always right!

A brother mentioned that I would feel lost without her, since she would - before she was ill - stay at my home for long period. I am feeling it. I would feel her presence in my house - her watching the telly, her room, her relaxing at the verandah by the pond, having breakfast and meals together with her, etc etc.

Aishah, anak bongsu mak
But he has only faint memory of her, little memory of her at his home, since Mak seldom went up North to his house.

I hope Mak redha dengan Aman. I do hope  - and believe - that I have always done my best for you, or with the best of intentions. I have always supportive of you in all of your endeavors. If you wish to stay at any particular house, I would tell you to go ahead. After all you are a mother, a sister, and friends to many people, and I know I should not monopolize you.

But as a son, I have my regrets too. I know I could have done better than I had done for you. I know I should have continued to admit you at Gleneagles or HUKM immediately after Raya. Why we did not do that baffles me to this day. You were getting better, I know that, but not much better and soon you were deteriorating again.

The last week (Sunday 9 Sept) at DEMC Shah Alam, her youngest sister Mak Su, at around 4.30 pm, was frantically calling for me, "Aman, Mak cari kamu. Dia cakap nak aman, nak aman, nak aman saja."

So she put her on the speaker phone. "Bila aman nak datang?" she asked me. "InsyaAllah, by 10 pm," I replied.

"La, kenapa lambat sangat?" she cried.

I knew Mak su and most likely MC Kam were there caring for her, and she was in good hand. I was planning to drive Akmal to college and though Mak was further away, I thought it would easy to continue the journey to see mak.

"Ok, aman datang awal sikit, lepas magrib aman terus datang," I tried to console her. She said ok, may be she had choice. I arrived there at 8.30 pm.

While I am proud that she had wanted me, I was baffled with my reaction. Why didn't I just start the car and make that short drive to Shah Alam? I have the car, and at that hour, it would take me may be less than 40 mins to Shah Alam, and be with her. Instead, I arrived later and by that time, she was already sleepy, so we did not talk much. 
Pondering and praying at Mak's grave. Fadhil is one
son yang tak pernah melawan cakap mak, and the last person to leave
her that day. I am sure Mak is proud and  satisfied with him

I could have been the perfect son for me, but I was not. 

Aman minta maaf (ampun) sangat-sangat for my shortcomings towards the end of your life Mak.

If I had known that this was it, I would not have agreed to you being sedated and intubated. I thought under the circumstances, that that would be your best chance for you to get well. Being sedated means that you will feel less pain, but I should have realized that you could not take it any longer. You have been sick since before Ramadhan (she left on the last day of Syawal) - so her strength has obviously gone.

I overestimated Mak's will and strength at this point in time.

I know from my 49 years of constantly being with mak, I had never met someone with the same resolve as Mak. When bapak passed away (in 1984), she was left with 13 growing children, with a roof on top of her head, but with little money. She single-handedly managed the family and kept everything and everybody intact. 

With Kak Sham and Aboy only earning meagre salaries, and with bapak's own meagre pension, we survived the worst period on the family's life.

Now that we are doing well, and with money no longer the issue, Mak left us forever. She had done her job. A job well done, and it is up to her children to live up to her name.

I had convinced her on the last day at DEMC (Tuesday 11 Sept) that she needed the bone marrow biopsy for the doctor to treat her. For that, HUKM would be ideal. Her response was an emphatic. "OK, then do it now. Why do you have to wait?"

I had to pacify her saying that it takes a bit longer to make transfer arrangement. But by the time she was at HUKM, her condition rapidly deteriorated that it can't be done on her.

Mak, I know that you know that I love you so much. That my love for you is unconditional. That you can always count on me. I have always been consistent in this aspect of my life (even if I said so myself, at this stage).

Paying respect one last time the mosque morgue, I told her that while I may have been a filial son, this time around I promise her that I will be an anak solleh for her.

That's all I could do for her now. I have no choice but to be a solleh son. I have to do more for her for the hereafter, than what I had done in this world. I am one of her main bridges from the existing world to her world (alam barzakh), and she would benefit if I am a pious one.

Semoga Allah mencucuri rahmat keatas ruh Mak dan dimasukkan kedalam golongan orang-orang yang beramal solleh. Ya Allah, Engkau perliharalah Mak sebagaimana dia telah menjaga daku sejak daku kecil hingga dewasa.

Selamat Jalan Mak. Alfatihah.
Selamat jalan Mak. She was about to be left alone for the first
time in two months, but our doas and prayers will accompany
her insyaAllah.


I have probably recited more yaasin the past month than I had my entire life, to be honest. So while I will continue to read them for Mak, I will not post it here.

This is a song I love because of the sad melancholic melody/lyric, but dreaded singing them. Now when I remember her, this song...

Terbayang wajah tuanya 
Membisik rindu
Memanggil pada ku


  1. Salaam abg Rahman,

    Takziah to you and the whole family. I still remember my 1st visit/sleepover at Tmn Sri Kota during your sister's wedding.

    I was suprised when Makcik gave me RM10 as I was leaving for home.

    A truly beloved mother that will be remembered, always...

    --Zali's friend

  2. Rahman, my heartfelt condolences to you and your family. May Allah provides her a place among the solihin and may He gives all the family members lots of sabr during this very difficult time. Alfatihah

  3. Salam takziah Man

    My tears dropped while reading your post, i missed/teringat my mother. She passed away in 2010. Your mother is lucky to have you as a son, she must be proud of you. You are lucky to be able to care for her during her sickness.

    Semoga Allah mencucuri rahmat keatas roh ibu-ibu kita dan dimasukkan didalam golongan orang-orang yang beramal solleh. Aamiin.


  4. Salam Rahman, auntie tak pernah baca blog sesiapa tetpi auntie amat terharu dgn blog Rahman sebab auntie kehilangan mak 9 bulan yg lalu. Memang kehilangan Bonda tetrsayang amt prit dan sayu mendayu tetapi kita harus melegakan perasaan by reminding ourselves that all our life and all her life, she was the centre of our affection and we hers! We gave her the BEST of OUR LOVE, as best as humanly possible. For sure we have one or two regrets. For example, I was telling my bonda that she cld go to a better plc bec she cld no longer talk and even move, for over two yrs. but now, there are moments i wonder if i had said the right thing. but then i console myself with the thought that she went before being hospitalised again, a plc she told us she did not to go to again. so, pl know that all of us, because we care, love and cherish our mother will go thru' all kinds of thoughts. so, pl just think of this, we had loved and given all we could, and SHE KNOWS THAT! Rahman, auntie n family turut berdoa yg terbaik bg kedua bonda kita yg tlh memberi kita all their undivided, unconditional and unquestioning love. They, bless their souls, have their place in Jannah.