Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jom jadi anak-anak yang soleh

Alhamdulillah, I was told by one of my siblings that somehow they got bored reading my entries on Mak as they seems to portray that I was such a good son to Mak. I smiled when I heard that, thank you very much for the reminder. The problem is that I don't remember having big/major disagreement with Mak; I tend to agree with her most of the time. So I don't have that much - if at all - to tell in term of disagreement with Mak. In other words, the bad sides of my relationship with Mak.

Hence my story lines in previous entries have been very consistent, and I standby on my stories.

It was not my intention to show off, or brag to all and sundry. What's point? Would I be richer? Not really, I am not gaining anything, material-wise. I am only seeking jannah through Mak's blessing. That's all. Uwais al-Qarny said this to his mother, when she asked him if he had asked for forgiveness from Allah for all of his own sins (other than asking for forgiveness for his mother's sins):

"Dengan terampunnya dosa ibu, ibu akan masuk syurga. Cukuplah ibu redha dengan saya. Maka saya juga masuk syurga. "

That's exactly what I am hoping with Mak. I do hope that she is satisfied with me. Indication from my other sibling who talked to her is that she was. I can only hope; I don't know for sure. So if anyone feels like I am bragging, I seek His forgiveness for doing that (hopefully without intention). Bragging is normally done to seek someone's attention - or favour - and that someone is no longer around to see, or read my entries.

You see, filial piety is not a zero-sum game. If I have done my part for Mak - I hope I have, then it does not mean other siblings have not done it. If you have done it, on the other hand, it does not mean I (and others) have not done it. It is not like that only one person in the family can do good things to Mak. 

Everybody could, and many have done them.

In other words, we need not compete with each other. Even if we are not endowed with similar capacity financially, and hence may create some form of competition, but if one were to use percentage in providing for Mak, then we can equalize things. My ringgit may not exactly be worth the same as your ringgit, if you know what I mean. A poor person's ringgit is valued higher than the same ringgit donated by a rich person.

But then again, our loves, care for Mak and the likes, these are things every children can bestow upon their parents, regardless of their financial position or worldly possessions. If Kak Sham can care for Mak with such loves that Mak can be (really) satisfied with her, there is nothing stopping me from doing the same thing - technically speaking, that is. If my youngest sister could take unpaid leave to care for Mak, now that's something that I have not done for Mak.

Mak could be with us until the judgment day, most likely I will not have the opportunity to do what she did. I'll be the first to admit.

So everyone of us could do the same things, or do something totally different, or even more, and Mak (and we) will be rewarded accordingly.

But to be honest, when I read the Chinese filial devotion stories, my heart just stopped.

I felt so small going by their tales, and what I have done for Mak seems miniscule. Too miniscule.

How can you surpass this woman who cut her own liver to feed her mother; or the boy (he was eight) who was shirtless the whole night so as to draw the mosquitoes away from his parents; or the man who sold himself to servitude to pay for his father's funeral?

YOu can read about them here. This was also featured by the The Star many weeks ago.

The shirtless boy Wu Mang said, "All my blood comes from my parents; if this cannot be given to the mosquitoes, how can I do something to honour my parents when I grow up."

Who would you value more, should you need to choose, between your children and your parents? Most would say that we would never be in that position having to choose one over the other. We hope so. Most likely we can cater to both of them. But you'd be surprised how challenges (dugaan) can be put on your pathway by Him that would warrant you to think of that. I was given one at the height of Mak's illness. I had mistakenly thought at that time that my children are more important that Mak. After all, I thought, they are the future, and should be treated accordingly. And I excused myself by saying that Mak also has other children to care for her in my absence.

I was totally wrong when I read the Chinese filial stories where parents are everything. I would like to seek Mak's forgiveness for even thinking that way. This is my regret towards the end of Mak's life for even having such thought. She may never know such thing had crossed my mind, but the regret is here in my heart nevertheless. Something I could not deny.

Kuo Chu AD265
Kuo Chu has three sons. His mother reduces her food in order to give some to her grandsons. He then discusses with his wife: "I feel very sad, our mother always spares her food for our sons. She herself does not actually get enough food. You can give birth to more sons. Could you give birth to our mother? Hence, better it is to bury our sons and let our mother have sufficient food." His wife agrees with him.

Three feet deep they have dug in the ground, but instead of burying their sons, they find some large pieces of gold on which it is written: "God of wealth gives this gold to the filial Kuo and his wife!"

Masya Allah, such a beautiful story. Something I could not emulate in my lifetime, even if I am given another. If you still have a mother or father, remember Kuo Chu. You can read more of him and other filial devotion stories in Twenty Four Stories of Filial Piety with Pictures and Poems.

Why I am quoting such Chinese stories here in my blog? Filial piety and devotion cut across all boundaries and cultures. It does not matter if they are Chinese or Middle Eastern, they are something for us to cherish in the modern world where monies are more important than devotion to our parents.

There are more stories from our own religion.

I cried when Dr Harun Din (he's such a good story teller) related in Mekah in 2010 the story of Uwais al-Qarny whose devotion to his mother is second to none. Someone who had carried his mother all the way from Yemen to Makkatul Mukarramah for the Haj. Can I be one? Would I be able to do such thing? No way. I know I am not Uwais. Not even close. 

Read the exploits of Uwais Al-Qarny.

I did not even go with Mak when she was doing her Haj when I should have, let alone carried her, and I was the eldest son. Instead she went alone, all by herself. Shame on me. Luckily nothing untoward happened.

You know, irrespective of how we had treated Mak when she was alive, we can all be anak-anak yang soleh, and anak-anak yang soleh is - like filial piety - not a zero-sum game. The two phases of Mak's life may not necessarily be identical, as far as we, her children, are concerned. Everybody can change, and I am now adamant too to be an anak yang soleh.

For Mak. And Bapak.

Because I was not. And I am nowhere near being one at this very moment.

But neither is this a competition amongst family members, and everyone can be one. The more the merrier for Mak and bapak, and insyaAllah, our own children will be one themselves. For our own sake.

When I pray that we will all be granted the status of anak-anak soleh, one should aminkan the prayer/doa. It is for us all, and not meant to show off to everybody that I am an anak soleh.

I wish I am.

I asked my eldest sister K Sham a week after she arrived in Mekah (for Haj 2012) to pray for all of us to be anak-anak soleh, knowing well this would be our tickets to be in touch with Mak (and bapak) again, and to help them in the afterlife. Once someone has passed away, their connection to this world is over. Whatever we have accumulated in term of wealth, whatever our shortcoming previously in dealing with Mak, will no longer be of used to her.

The only way we can pay back our non-deeds (if I may term of it that way) for our parents would be by being an anak-anak soleh.

I bought this book Dahsyatnya Doa Ibu last week. Actually Arif bought it, after I argued that the book is of no use to me anymore without Mak. There is a chapter towards the end about berbakti dan berdoa selepas ibu tiada, and that's very relevant to me. It is a good reminder of what I could still do for Mak eventhough she is no longer with us. It lists down everything that we could as children of our parents.

It is full of anecdotes, and stories that we could emulate. It talks about

1. mendoakan ibu
2. melaksanakan wasiat dan nazar
3. silaturahim with kerabat
4. berbakti kepada ibu saudara sebagai pengganti ibu
5. Menziarahi dan berdoa di kubur ibu
6. Bersedeqah untuk ibu
7. Menunaikan haji untuk ibu

I am told that berbakti kepada ibu dapat menebus dosa.

It talks about seven deeds yang terus mengalir pahalanya. It talks about the virtue of doing good deeds to and for our parents.

There is a story that is quoted from Irsyadul Ibad. It was told by an ahli ibadah. Beliau bercerita, "Aku bermimpi melihat ramai ahli kubur keluar dari kubur mereka dan mengutip sesuatu. Antara mereka aku melihat ada seorang ahli kubur hanya duduk di atas kuburnya tanpa mengambil apa-apa. Aku pun mendekatinya seraya bertanya, "Apakah yang mereka ambil itu?"

Dia menjawab, "Kiriman hadiah dari kaum muslimin iaitu bacaan doa atau Quran."

Lalu aku bertanya lagi, "Mengapa kamu tidak ikut sama mengambilnya?"

"Aku sudah cukup," jawabnya.

Aku tidak memahami maksudnya dan bertanya, "Bagaimana?"

Dia berkata, "Setiap hari, anakku mengirimkan hadiah untukku. Dia menjual kuih di pasar."

Keesokan paginya, aku pergi kepasar dan mencari anak ahli kubur yang aku mimpi kan malam tadi. Ternyata anaknya seorang pemuda. Aku melihat bibirnya asyik terkumat kamit. Aku bertanya kepadanya, " Mengapa bibirmu asyik bergerak-gerak?"

Dia menjawab, "Aku mengucapkan ayat-ayat Quran dan aku hadiahkan untuk ayahku yang sudah meninggal dunia."

Tidak lama selepas itu, aku bermimpi lagi. Aku melihat semua orang mati dalam kubur keluar dan orang yang duduk dahulu turut mengambil kiriman ayat-ayat qur'an dan doa seperti kawan-kawannya. Apabila aku terbangun daripada tidur, aku segera kepasar dan mencari anaknya yang menjual kuih. Apabila aku sampai di situ, ada orang memberitahuku, pemuda itu sudah meninggal!

Just imagine, there are 12 of anak-anak Mak still living. If we can all be like that pemuda whose mulut terkumat-kamit berzikir and membaca qur'an, just imagine how wonderful it would be for Mak. And bapak. That's the beauty of someone who had given birth to 12 children and adopted another. This is not something I could even get close to with only two children of my own. Now I can see the beauty of having many children. 

Ya Allah, jadikanlah kami semua anak-anak yang soleh yang terus berbakti untuk kedua ibu-bapa kami. Amin.


If I have been less than polite in pin-pointing some of our shortcomings in our relationship with Mak, treat it as a reminder form an elder brother. Treat it as a base from which we can improve our deeds for the next phase of Mak's life. 

I may be right, I might be wrong, but in the end it does not matter at all to us. I am not important; I am just the messenger. I write from the heart. Unfortunately it may get in someone's way. I can't help it there to be honest.

But if there is any fact that is wrong, let me know. I stand corrected.

Treat it in a positive manner such that we would all be heading to be anak-anak Mak yang soleh.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mak's Coin Collection

This one is not something I got recently from Mak. Definitely not at her deathbed. I got this years ago when she came visiting me. Then she was well, alive and kicking, if I may describe her in that way.

And just for the record, I did not ask Mak for it. Honestly. :)

"Coins ni kebanyakannya Pak Long (my dad's eldest brother) bagi. Mak ingat Mak nak bagi kat Aman lah. At least kat rumah Aman, terjaga sikit," she said, matter-of-factly.

It was given to me many years ago. I don't remember the exact years - but I would think at least five years ago. The treasures in that trove are the RM1 coins, dated from mainly the 1980s, so they are over 30 years. They are at least 3 cm in diameter, so they are big, much bigger than our last copper ringgit coins. All the coins have the parliament house engraved at the back.

The oldest of the coin dates back to 1971, making it over 40 years old.
Some of my ringgit coin collection. The one on the left is dated 1971.
I am sure not many would remember these coins - I don't, but
obviously I remember the copper coin.
There is another one with the Tun Hussein Onn profile engraved on the front.
This Hussein Onn ringgit coin is engraved at the back with
"Rancangan Malaysia Keempat 1981-1985"

Obviously we should remember the copper coin as it is more recent.

Copper ringgit from 1990
Since then we have gone back to the past. There is currently no more ringgit coins. Now we are back with the ringgit note, albeit now they are all no longer paper-notes but polymerized.

Other treasures from the coin album are the Australian coins - the 50 cents coin, again mainly from the 1980s. But there is one from 1969, making it even older than the ringgit coin that I have. I think these coins were mainly coins she kept during her trip to visit me in Melbourne in 1986.

Australian 50 cent coin have twelve sides.


I am not sure if it was worth anything beyond their face values to be honest. But surely that they are worth more than RM3.00 that the cab driver was asking to drive bapak from Taiping train station to his house at Sri Kota.

A fee that he was not willing to pay. In the end, he ended up walking the 2.2 km route. Could we have used these coins to pay the cab? I am sure we could.  I am sure he has enough cash to pay - may be he thought it was exorbitant, hence he refused to pay it, and would rather walk.

This is what you called fate?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Chronicle of Mak's Illness - Part III (Mak's Best Raya)


I have, for many years, pestered Mak to start celebrating Raya in KL. Half heartedly, I must add.

On one hand, it would save us time and effort in battling the traffic jam with the exodus of people heading North from Kuala Lumpur. Those from North would have an easy drive to KL anyway. On the other hand, we were so used to celebrating raya in Taiping, that it is hard to imagine ourselves enjoying Raya anywhere else beyond this wonderful hometown of ours.

It is Catch 22 for us, and hence there was no political will on my side to change the Raya venue.

But this Raya was fated for us to celebrate it in KL.

Let me get one fact straight. It is not true that Mak pretended to be fine so that she can be discharged and be able to celebrate Raya at home. For someone who had been in charge of Mak's two admissions (with K Sham), I monitored Mak's health continually, and K Sham would do it religiously. I was almost always be in touch with Mak's doctors, and they would always update me when they saw me, so I was a privy to Mak's health then. Furthermore, Mak was subjected to all kinds of tests - blood, urine and temperature, and there was no way we, or Mak, could have manipulated the results in Mak's favour to get her discharged. I cringed when I read that story. There was no such thing. Mak did not pretend she was sick, and neither did Mak pretend that she was well so that she could be discharged.

Dr Leslie, on the other hand,  did not try to prevent us from discharging Mak, so while she was ill, she was not extremely  ill at Gleneagles. And with her available medications, we knew we could handle Mak at home at this stage. In other words, the decisions for her discharge from Ampang Puteri and Gleneagles were decided by K Sham and I. May be we should not have discharged her on the pretext of celebrating Raya. May be we should have celebrated it at Gleneagles, I don't know.

(But Mak confided in Teti later that this Raya was her best, so we knew we had made the right decision. She had an enjoyable Raya with her children, I can attest to that.)

Still, I took full responsibility on any decision (medically) that has been made for Mak then. That decisions would be mine and K Sham alone, and Mak knew that in totality, so much so when her other children (Teti) wanted Mak re-admitted, Mak told her that to ask K Sham and I, if she should be re-admitted (at DEMC later).

For the record, Ani was there when we checked Mak out from Gleneagles.

Mak's best Raya (20 Aug 2012)

We woke up very early that Raya morning, even though we slept late getting those Raya dishes ready. Read about them here. After packing them up, soon we would be on the way to K Sham's house in Ampang. I had wanted us to be early. The earlier the better. If I have my way, I would want to be there while it was still dark.

As if that we had been sleeping over that night. But we could not have slept overnight since we need to chip in and do our share as far as foods were concerned.

On the way, we dropped by and bought over 3 sticks of lemang and some more dishes. No choice there since there was no way we would be cooking our own lemangs. It is too much of an effort for us to do this. It is easier to just buy them.

The hosts were not ready yet when we arrived at about 7 am. It didn't matter for us - we were ready, and we were not guests. The foods were already on the table, and my brother Fadhil's family was also already there. K Sham was about to get Mak's up and ready for Raya. It was a chore for Mak, but she got up willingly. I am sure she understood the significant of this Raya for her, more than even her own children. Soon I saw K Sham and Mak headed to the bathroom for bathing.

It took awhile for K Sham to groom her. Things were done at a much slower pace, so I guess it was only about 8 am when she was ready to have her Raya breakfast at the table with us. She took some Raya tidbits - lemang perhaps, with rendang (there were three types on the table, I guess), may be ketupat, I am not sure now.

But she had her last Raya breakfast with her family - the family of her three lucky children.

When I looked at this picture, I knew I am privileged to be on the same table with Mak for her last Raya breakfast. I looked a tad too serious when the picture was taken - it was so early in the morning, especially with Mak since it was a chore for her to get up and be at the table.
We weren't really ready for this picture - Arif was testing
the setting and it was a bit dark. I can see lemang and rendang
on her plate - not sure if there is ketupat, but she ate her Raya breakfast
that auspicious morning.
More pictures, now with KSham and Fatimah coming into the frame.
Mak's attention is now centred on her namesake granddaughter.
Taken at 0805 hours. Foods were traditional, and simple at best. We did not
have the time to prepare due to Mak's being in hospital mostly through out
Ramadhan, but in the end, Mak's presence is all that made up for any shortcoming.
I did not ask Mak if she could go for solat Raya. I know she was weak and was not in the position to do it, but I should have asked if she would want to be around the mosque (which is less than 100 m from home).

In hindsight, obviously, I should have asked since this was to be her last Raya. But then I had no inkling that it was so - may be I refused to see it. Knowing me, that could be the case.

I am not sure what transpired at home when we were at the mosque for nearly an hour after the breakfast. For that privilege, I would have to ask Sarah and Dida, since they were at home with Mak, while we were at the mosque, and will update accordingly. 

K Sham getting Mak ready for the photo session, with Sarah
looking on. Pic at 1003 hours
I think we finished our solat at Surau Taman Dagang Avenue by 9.30 am; there was nothing much to tell about the solat itself. We were praying in the temporary tent or may be at the corridor. Still it was a full house at the mosque.
I love this candid pic of Mak - Mak adjusting her new bracelet,
while Arif was posing for the camera in this test shot. 
When we returned home, Mak was already in her room. Soon we would be stuck there, as the hosts had (external) guests immediately after solat - Jabar's friend from Indonesia, who was doing his PhD at UIA, and his family. And the ladies soon were greeting Mak in her room and praying for her recovery. After they left, only then we were able to take family pictures, which was a tradition for the family.
The 2012/1433 Hari Raya Family Photo,
taken at 1016 hours, with her three lucky children and their family. I
should rephrase it. We were not only lucky - with the grace of Allah. In my case,
I seldom if ever Raya anywhere else. In KSham's case,
her home was chosen by Mak and by default since she had taken care of Mak
with distinction. Fadhil was also by choice, decided that he is going to,
by hook or by crook, raya with Mak.
Honestly, I had never raya anywhere else the past 10 decades, unless I was in Houston. I am talking about the first day or first day's morning of course. In fact, let's make it the past 20 years. I seldom on my first Raya morning, Raya-ing with my in-laws first. In the early days, I would raya with Mak first; then we would head to our in-laws house which was about 40 mins away. The last 15 years perhaps, as a rule of thumb, I would almost always be in Taiping to be with her.

Fortunately my family had never complained - partially because of their understanding, and partially due to - to a certain extent, I guess - them not being given a choice. I have no regret with that decision, and I thank them for their understanding. They knew how important Mak is in my life. To them, raya is where ever I was. 
My last family photo with Mak. I am cherishing this
till the end of my life.
Fortunately for me. They had been there for me through thick and thin, respecting my wishes to be with Mak.

Originally, Mak was planning to Raya at my house this year. She told me this when she was at my home prior to her getting ill, and I was looking forward for it. But the plan had to be changed when she fell ill, and with K Sham having taken care of Mak with such distinction, I had no choice but to accede that privilege to her. I was in no competition, and I gave up willingly.

Her home was the perfect home for Mak. There was no question about it.

But my tribute for this Raya is for my bro Fadhil. I was not surprised when I was told by my sis that Fadhil was coming later that Raya eve, and I was actually glad to see him and his family early that morning. He told me later - I am not sure when, but probably while we were chatting at the ICU - that he was so lucky to have been able to Raya with Mak this time around.

He was not sure that he could celebrate Raya in Kuala Lumpur. This brother of mine, even though he works for Intel and his wife works for Tourism Malaysia, financially they are not well off, at least not yet.  Theirs is a young family, struggling to have surplus cash and that perfectly understandable. I was that way too in my early days, not as bad though, I must add.

And there was nothing to be ashamed of to be in that position. In fact, his response to this problem will alleviate his status.

"AbgMan, Fadhil sebenarnya tak sure if I could be in KL and beraya dengan Mak. I only have RM200 to be honest, and it is barely enough for me to start the engine for the drive south to KL. Tapi fikirkan Mak sakit, dan satu opportunity nak beraya ngan Mak, cekalkan hati juga datang," he confided in me at the ICU.

I am glad you were around, Fadhil, and I am sure you are glad that you were around for Mak's best raya. I am sure, InsyaAllah, He will reward you with more rezeki in the future and I will pray that you will dimurahkan rezeki. I am sure you now have no regret looking back.
I am sure he has no regret for being in KL this raya to have this
picture taken
Personally I thought more should have been there during the early morning session, and not just go there as guests. I know each one of us have our own reasons - both valid and invalid. Of course we all do have our own excuses and reasons. But it has always puzzled me why some people can't be there for Mak early, especially if they have nowhere else to go (especially if you are single). What if you were not in the mood to celebrate Raya? Not in the mood to celebrate Raya? With Mak? Hmmm..I pray for your forgiveness, and hope that you will not have regrets for the rest of your life.
The hosts and Mak. My sis had so lovingly taken care of Mak
when she was hospitalized, something that I could not have given myself.
Thanks to my bro-in-law Jabar for his understanding in allowing his wife to care for
her mother. I know of a husband who disallowed his wife to care for her mother.
And especially if there was no financial constraint.

I am not talking about this year only. I remember in 2009, my family and I was the only family there during Raya, sans Aishah (and Tajuddin) of course. I was the only one there in the morning, and it was a quiet Raya morning like no other. You can read about them here.

Last year (2011), I was nearly a week (too) early for Raya! I took the train to Taiping and spent my Ramadhan days with Mak alone - just the two of us. That's my attachment to Mak - Arif had to drive the car later on to join me in Taiping with the rest of the family.  Fortunately for me, I work for my own self, so it is easier for me to decide the course of my own life.

Yeah, I know. Many have spouses, and unlike me the dictator, they have to consider raya-ing with their in-laws too. That's perfectly alright to me. But what if you no longer have (parent) in laws to celebrate Raya with? Do you have any excuse then?

Anyway, I digress.
The two Fatimahs, three generation apart.
After kissing her hand, I was about to kiss her forehead
that Raya morning. Something I don't normally do
until this Raya and daily at DEMC. I remember the best hug I got from her
when I told her that I was the best SRP student at that house in Aulong.
I was jumping with joy and Mak ran to me and hugged me.
That was in 1978 - actually early 1979.
The hug from her grateful son Fadhil. He normally did not mince his
words or deeds in showing his affection for Mak - for that I love this  bro of mine.
At the ICU, he would put his head on Mak's sole, kissed it and slept at her feet. "Mana nak
dapat dah, abgman, nak cium tapak kaki mak," he told me later, "syurga kita di tapak kaki Mak."
Allahu Akbar, you could not be more right, Fadhil. I wish all of us are like you.
Arif paying his respect for his grandmother. 
Akmal, according to his Nenek, is such a polite boy and is
always seen smiling. I am sure Mak had enjoyed listening to
his piano skills when she was staying at my house. While Mak
did enjoy music, I am sure bapak would be equally proud of Akmal's
musically talent, something he did not get from his own children, despite
buying a Yamaha organ for his children.
There are many pictures from that morning - perhaps too many for me to post it here. But I have to say while these were our traditions, and traditionally there would be many more in attendance like in the past Raya

It was typically a serious and solemn affair, when we kissed her hand, and hugged her. One by one, one at a time. This in my mind is a tradition and I have all the pictures say from the past decades to show for it.

But not all were serious affairs that Raya morning. The duit raya giving ceremony is typically is a fun affairs, not only for the giver, but especially to the children receiving. They would normally be teased before they get their hand on the green packets.
Arif handing out his first Raya packet to his cousin Sofea, which amuses
Mak so much so that she was practically laughing. I think somehow
Sofea and Alyaa were too shy to get their shares from Arif, and this
created a jovial environment that Raya day.
Mak is still amused when Fatimah receives her green packet
from Arif. I am glad we had brought joy to her that morning.
Mak this Raya has prepared RM50.00 for all her grandchildren - the biggest ever. I guess she knew that this was to be her last Raya and hence the big sum. (To be honest, for the record, I did not feel that this was the case - that this was to be her last Raya.)

May be I was more hoping that it would not be her last. Obviously I was wrong and she was right. As usual, and hence I had never argued or disagreed with Mak.

My sis Ani and family with Mak at 1137 am. As the day
wears on, Mak can be seen smiling more. I think by this time,
she felt better, compared to early in the morning.
I love this pic for the fact that Mak is smiling and she looks so sweet
when she smiles.
I left that noon as her other children started trickling in. Ani and family came at about 1130 am, and Zali by 12 noon. I left for Seremban knowing well that the house is still full with her children, and that I would not be missed.

More foods also with each new entry.

Personally I have no qualms to have K Sham's house as our base for Raya in KL, as I have mentioned, my raya is typically where Mak is. K Sham is after all our eldest. May be I would not be sleeping over as my house is only 30 mins away at most, but like what I did this Raya, I can be there very early.

When it is still dark, and when the hosts have not even taken their bath. It is not a problem to me, and my family. We would be happy just to make our presence for Mak.

So while there was nothing spectacular about this Raya - it was normal Raya like previously, it was made memorable by the fact that this was Mak's last Raya. I will cherish the moment when I kissed her forehead, when I had seldom done that in the past. I love it when looking at the pictures of her smiling seeing Arif giving away his green packets. I love all the pictures that we took what show Arif, Akmal, Sarah, Dida, Jabar and the children kissing Mak.

I am glad that Allah has given us one last chance to celebrate Raya with Mak. Physically, and personally. Like I have always done in the past. 

For that part, I have no regret whatsoever.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go, where prayer has not already been

The moment the doctor declared that Mak's gone, I knew I was left all alone in this world. I have lost the blessing of a mother who has been there with me all of my lives.

I have lost not only a mother, but I have lost a confidante, and a protector.

Protector in the sense that she is someone who had always doa (pray) for me; and her doas had always opened many doors for me throughout my life, and I am sure, protected me from harm.

Protecter in the sense that she has always been there for me. Physically, in spirit and morally. All the time, every time.
Mak and her grandchildren in cold and wintry Oklahoma City
during Christmas 1998. I was working in Houston then, and took
Mak for a 1 1/2 month holiday in TX that included New Mexico
and Oklahoma. Did I mention Louisiana? That too :) I was still a student when
I took her to Australia in 1986. For these kind of memories, I have no regrets.
I once read in a friend's FB, a poster that says that the once you lost your mom, your lost her blessing and her prayers. I could not agree more. I have always looked up to Mak for every challenges that came my way in the past. Big and small.

"Mak, tolong doa untuk Aman," I would ask her. Or when the challenges become bigger, "Mak tolong sembahyang hajat bila-bila Mak senang. Ada problem sikit."

She had never said no to my request. It did not matter what's the problem - from the simplest of things to the most difficult challenges that I have experienced. It didn't matter even if she was not in the most perfect of health. She would do it without any hesitation - most likely for three straight nights (worth of prayers).

A mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled. [Emily Dickinson]

She had always been the pillars of my strength. From when I was young, to even now when most of what-ever remaining of my hairs had turn white. For nearly fifty years, I was totally dependent on her, and her doa.

If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go, where a prayer has not already been. Robert Brault can't be wrong at all.

In a saying attributed to Abraham Lincoln, he said, "I remember all my mother's payers, and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my lives."

Indeed Mak's prayers have clung to me all my lives.

Now how do you expect me to start living without her at this time and age?

I have to, I guess. I want to be an anak soleh for Mak. And bapak.

Ya Allah, jadikanlah kami semua anak-anak yang soleh yang dapat berbakti kepada kedua ibu dan bapa kami.


I am reminded of this posting from an unknown author. Although it is too late for many of us who have lost our mother/s, but it should serve as a reminded to continue to do good deeds on her behalf.

(I have posted this in this blog many years ago.)

Orang kata aku lahir dari perut mak..

Bila dahaga, yang susukan aku.....mak
Bila lapar, yang suapkan aku....mak
Bila keseorangan, yang sentiasa di sampingku.. ...mak
Kata mak, perkataan pertama yang aku sebut....Mak
Bila bangun tidur, aku cari....mak
Bila nangis, orang pertama yang datang ....mak
Bila nak bermanja, aku dekati....mak
Bila nak bergesel, aku duduk sebelah....mak
Bila sedih, yang boleh memujukku hanya....mak
Bila nakal, yang memarahi aku....mak
Bila merajuk, yang memujukku cuma....mak
Bila melakukan kesalahan, yang paling cepat marah....mak
Bila takut, yang tenangkan aku.....mak
Bila nak peluk, yang aku suka peluk....mak
Aku selalu teringatkan ....mak
Bila sedih, aku mesti talipon....mak
Bila seronok, orang pertama aku nak beritahu.... .mak
Bila bengang.. aku suka luah pada..mak
Bila takut, aku selalu panggil... "mmaaakkkk! "
Bila sakit, orang paling risau adalah....mak
Bila nak exam, orang paling sibuk juga.....mak
Bila buat hal, yang marah aku dulu....mak
Bila ada masalah, yang paling risau.... mak
Yang masih peluk dan cium aku sampai hari ni.. mak
Yang selalu masak makanan kegemaranku. ...mak
kalau balik ke kampung, yang selalu bekalkan ulam & lauk pauk.....mak
Yang selalu simpan dan kemaskan barang-barang aku....mak
Yang selalu berleter kat aku...mak
Yang selalu puji aku....mak Yang selalu nasihat aku....mak
Bila nak kahwin..Orang pertama aku tunjuk dan rujuk.....mak

Aku ada pasangan hidup sendiri....

Bila seronok, aku cari.......pasangan ku
Bila sedih, aku cari......mak
Bila berjaya, aku ceritakan pada....pasanganku
Bila gagal, aku ceritakan pada....mak
Bila bahagia, aku peluk erat....pasanganku
Bila berduka, aku peluk erat....emakku
Bila nak bercuti, aku bawa....pasanganku
Bila sibuk, aku hantar anak ke rumah.....mak

Selalu.. aku ingat pasanganku
Selalu.. mak ingat kat aku
Bila-bila... aku akan talipon pasanganku
Entah bila... aku nak talipon mak
Selalu....aku belikan hadiah untuk pasanganku
Entah bila... aku nak belikan hadiah untuk emak

Renungkan: "Kalau kau sudah habis belajar dan berkerja... bolehkah kau kirim wang untuk mak? mak bukan nak banyak... lima puluh ringgit sebulan pun cukuplah"...

Berderai air mata jika kita mendengarnya. ....... 
Tapi kalau mak sudah tiada....... .... MAKKKKK...RINDU MAK..... RINDU SANGAT....

Berapa ramai yang sanggup menyuapkan ibunya....
berapa ramai yang sanggup mencuci muntah ibunya.....
berapa ramai yang sanggup mengantikan lampin ibunya......
berapa ramai yang sanggup membersihkan najis ibunya...... .
berapa ramai yang sanggup membuang ulat dan membersihkan luka kudis ibunya....
berapa ramai yang sanggup berhenti kerja untuk menjaga ibunya.....
dan akhir sekali berapa ramai yangsembahyang JENAZAH ibunya......

Seorang anak mendapatkan ibunya yang sedang sibuk menyediakan makan malam di dapur lalu menghulurkan sekeping kertas yang bertulis sesuatu. Si ibu segera mengesatkan tangan di apron menyambut kertas yang dihulurkan oleh si anak lalu membacanya.Kos upah membantu ibu:
1) Tolong pergi kedai : RM4.00
2) Tolong jaga adik : RM4..00
3) Tolong buang sampah : RM1.00
4) Tolong kemas bilik : RM2.00
5) Tolong siram bunga : RM3.00
6) Tolong sapu sampah : RM3.00
Jumlah : RM17.00

Selesai membaca, si ibu tersenyum memandang si anak sambil sesuatu berlegar-legar si mindanya. Si ibu mencapai sebatang pen dan menulis sesuatu di belakang kertas yang sama..

1) Kos mengandungkanmu selama 9 bulan - PERCUMA
2) Kos berjaga malam kerana menjagamu - PERCUMA
3) Kos air mata yang menitis keranamu - PERCUMA
4) Kos kerunsingan kerana bimbangkanmu - PERCUMA
5) Kos menyediakan makan minum, pakaian, dan keperluanmu -PERCUMA

Jumlah Keseluruhan Nilai Kasihku - PERCUMA

Air mata si anak berlinang setelah membaca apa yang dituliskan oleh siibu. Si anak menatap wajah ibu,memeluknya dan berkata,"Saya Sayangkan Ibu".Kemudian si anak mengambil pen dan menulis "Telah Dibayar" pada mukasurat yang sama ditulisnya.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Chronicle of Mak's Illness - Part 2


I am trying to recall, either on my own or through my siblings, the time line of Mak during her last 3 months (may be 6 months if I could). I believe that there are missing links in Part 1, especially timelines prior to July 1 event. I believe Mak was staying with me for quite sometimes, mainly the weeks after the renovation of my house. During those weeks at the height of the renovation, she was staying at K Sham, as remember telling Mak that my house was a bit noisy with drilling and knocking, and it was after the main renovation was completed, that I brought her home (to surprise her with the renovated house). 

She was still at my house while I was changing the sliding door for the dining room, as she related to me the progress of the new door when I returned home from office.

Ampang Puteri - 1-13 Aug 2012 (Continuation)

While I was displeased that APSH has not been making much progress on Mak's illness, the specialist did tell us about the two possibilities that might ailed Mak. One of that possibilities is that Mak might have cancer. When I spoke to Mak (or was it the doc herself?) about this possibilities, Mak was adamant that she had none of it. "Mana ada keturunan Mak yang kena cancer?" she asked us, matter-of-factly.

I didn't answer her, but neither can I deny her statement. I can't, for the life of me, think of any incident of cancer in the family. Yes, diabetes we have; yes, hypertension is an issue in the family.

But never cancer.

So with Mak not keen on bone marrow biopsy, I did not think twice of agreeing with her decision. A decision I still regret to this day.

I continued to be there with her during the day. I knew I can still get some (minor) work done at the hospital - wifi is available at APSH, and my BB works anywhere anyway. But being there during the day is the easy part; taking care at night is the harder task, a task I normally left to my sisters. We decided to take a second bed so that the night care-giver would have an easier task, and be able to sleep (properly) whenever the opportunities arose.

Normally I would leave Mak at around 6.45 pm. By that time the traffic had receded, and going home on the MRR2 was a breeze. I would normally be at home for breaking of fast with time to spare, if I were to leave at that time. For breaking fast with Mak, there would always be Ani, or Aishah. Or K Sham; so she was in good hand. So it is not true that traffic in KL is bad at that hour. As long as you don't come in at 6 pm, you should be ok. From my observation from Mak's room at APSH, at 6.30 pm or later, traffic was light.

Leaving at 9 pm should be an easier task too. I've done it countless of times.

(So I am not sure why some people would complain about KL traffic at magrib time, or use that excuse not to visit Mak. Ampang from PLUS highway using DUKE should be easy too. If anyone had been using that excuse to NOT visit Mak for bukak puasa, honestly I think you had not plan to come at all, and were looking for excuses or scapegoats.)

Raya was getting nearer; I was getting ready with the duit raya myself. So one day I called my new bank manager to get some new notes for Raya for me. When I related to Mak, she wanted some herself. "Eh, mak pun nak sama," she told me.

So I had to double my quota of the new notes from Public Bank. Luckily it was a non-issue with him - ample of new notes at the bank, I supposed.

During one of those breaking of fast session, Mak had inadvertently mentioned to one of her grandchildren that she would be handing out RM50 for Raya. So we knew that they would eagerly wait for Raya day. (With a caveat, but i forgot what it was.)

That morning we (K Sham, Mak and I) were busying ourselves in counting the new notes - on Mak's hospital bed. It was quite an amount that Mak had changed, so we were facing difficulty in counting (yeah, we had to get the accountant to do it for us), and getting it ready for the big day. And there were countless of ringgit notes all over the place at that time.

So there was no question that Mak would be coming home for Raya then.

Generally speaking Mak was ok (read: not too bad), while she was at Ampang Puteri. Her fever mysteriously came and went, irrespective of the antibiotics. She would be shivering heavily, so much so at times, I thought she would go into convulsion. No matter how thick her banket was, she would shiver endlessly. Most of the time, we even had her room's air-conditioned off. Her vertigo was an issue then; but none of these were life threatening. She would be able to chat with us; at times watching the Olympics. She, at times too, would be able to walk on her own to the bathroom - without my help, much to my delight.

I had to be on standby only, just in case.

So after thirteen days, and after the last experiment of a new antibiotics, we decided that we should be taking her out (and get second opinion somewhere else). I by then had decided that APSH is unsuitable for Mak, and thought a hospital nearby would be better for her.

But we did not go straight to the next hospital. We thought a change of pace at home would do her good, since she has all her medications with her. We knew she had grown tired of staying at the hospital, and I don't blame her.

Gleneagles (17-19 Aug 2012)

View from Mak's room at Gleneagles Hospital.
Taken on Friday afternoon, on the 28th day of Ramadhan.
Mak stayed at K Sham's for a few days, until we brought her to Gleneagles. There is a reason why I thought highly of Gleneagles. Many years ago when Mak was very ill (so much so I had put up a bed in the living room for her, and turning it into her private living quarters), we brought her to APSH, but she continued to be ill.

So one day, I thought I had enough seeing her not getting any better, I thought we should be getting a second opinion.

"Mak, jom kita pegi Gleneagles; kita dengar apa kata doctor yang lain," I said to Mak. Mak was weak, but she was ok with that plan; she had been lying in bed for days, and weeks. So in my then main car the SLK - the Sweet Little Kelisa, I drove her from my house to Gleneagles, and of course we brought all of her APSH medications.

Honestly we were not suitable to be in the SLK, but I had no choice then. It was not comfortable - both of us were big in size, and that car was the reverse.

At Gleneagles, she put herself on the doctor's table - she was that bad. She did not bother sitting; she was lying down on the doc's table. After examining her, the doctor decided to throw away all her APSH medications and put her on a new medication regiment. Strangely, he did not even recommend hospitalization for Mak, but with His grace, Mak was soon back to her normal self. 

I am not sure how long it took her to recover now, but recover she did. 

I think that was circa 2004-ish (since I bought the SLK in 2003).

How bad Mak was then? Othman (a neighbour, and a friend of my bro) called and asked if Mak dah nazak at my house. Nazak? I was not sure where he got his info from, but while she was very ill, but she was not in nazak state. A couple of days later, my bro from up North dropped by to visit her, I believe that stemmed from that conversation with Othman.

How bad Mak was then? I had to turn my living room into her living quarters, with a bed on the side. It is more comfortable, and better for her. Any guest would enter the house via the dining room. I had even given her phone to call me, if she needed me.

So Mak and I had fond memories of Gleneagles, I thought, and I was hoping that the doc there would know what ailed Mak and would be able to help Mak this time around.

(So I have had two chances or occasions to care for Mak -Alhamdulillah.)

We were a bit clueless as to the specialist we should take Mak to. So we had to look at the list of available specialists, and chose one for her. Dr Leslie Chai, who did his medical degree and post-graduate training in London, was ready to see Mak without appointment.

Immaculate in dressing, and with intelligence to boot, he was full of authority, and yet he is so unbelievingly gentle and nice. He took Mak's blood sample, and in the end, held the cotton against Mak's skin to prevent it from bleeding - all by himself. He seems eager, and seems to know what would be needed to get Mak healthy again. The kind of doctor that Mak would need.

And he wants Mak warded so that he could monitor her.

It was a quick admission via Emergency, and soon was put into a two-bedded room.

Not for long though. As soon as her urine test indicated infection, she was transferred to a single bed room. The regiments at Gleneagles were pretty much similar to APSH. As the days went by, his confident aura of the specialist seems to be missing. "Where is this thing hiding?" he asked, not expecting answer from me obviously. He had referred to a thick reference book on antibiotic, done enough tests, and coupled with the report and tests from APSH, I thought he would soon nailed it.

But nailed it, Dr Leslie didn't (but not due to his incompetency, I must add).

"I would recommended that a bone marrow biopsy be done on your mother." Mak cringed upon hearing it. "What's the risk doc?" I asked him. "No risk, no risk at all," he replied.

"Would it be painful?" I was probing it in front of Mak, in order to convince her. "We would put her on local anesthetic, so it would not be painful." How long is the procedures would be other question I would ask of him.

"There you go Mak; you don't have to worry. It is not that bad." I told Mak, after he had left. I knew Mak was not totally convinced, but we were getting there I guess.

By then, Saturday had come, and we were expecting Raya on the next day, so we did not pursue it. By now we knew Mak was more serious than we initially thought, but we were still puzzled and stumped by it.

But even Dr Leslie did not think she was terminal, so I was quietly confident eventually they will nail it soon. It was a matter of time, and since Raya was coming, we had no qualms telling the doctor that we were discharging Mak on Saturday, before the Raya eve, but not before asking if he was going on leave himself, should we needed him.

Gleneagles had not taken any deposit from me upon Mak's admission. I told the cashier that I was impressed that they had not bothered to ask me for the money upfront for Mak's hospitalization, so I asked if this was the SOP upon Mak's discharge. Actually it was not; we should have been asked to deposit some money, but I guess they may have missed it.

For that, I am pleased. We were at last being treated as human being, and not as a cash vending machine for the hospital!

"Naik kereta engkau lah. Kereta engkau rendah sikit, senang masuk," Mak told me. By then, I had already told Ani to pick hers to send Mak back to K Sham's, so I told Mak that Ani had gone off to take her car. I had thought she would prefer the three-pointed star car, but apparently mine was more suitable to carrying her.

So with Mak back at K Sham's, we decided to divide the tasks of preparing for Raya the next day. I volunteered to prepare the ketupat and kuah kacang. I knew Sarah are cooking the rendang, and so early Raya morning, I would need to just get a couple of those lemang tepi jalan.

I did not stay long. I had job to do myself preparing for Raya, and I am going to personally contribute for the tasks.

I knew this Raya would be like no other; I had, a long time ago, told Mak to start celebrating Raya in Kuala Lumpur and may be this was to be her first Raya in KL - ever.

What I did not realize was that it would be Mak's last!