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.

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