Thursday, July 07, 2005

It Was Time

I declared today as an off day for myself as a reward for working so hard for the past few days. The holiday was requested by myself, submitted to myself and approved by myself. No question asked. Yipee!! Ms Myself is such a generous boss!

This morning, I loitered at Kompleks PKNS in Shah Alam. I wanted to find malay and hindi movie vcds to be sent to Intan and a cousin in Kent. Where else would I be able to find the whole collection of weepy sarokhan and rosyamnoor’s movies if not at a malay dominant shopping complex?

I got distracted by a book store. Went in and found a gem. The gem is titled ‘Sajak-sajak Saleh’ and ‘Poems Sacred & Profane’ (yes, two titles, two languages but one book) by who else but Salleh Ben Joned.

Reading the book on the train-ride to office (yes, despite the day being declared as a non-working day), I wept as I felt his pain in Ria, a poem written in the memory of his daughter, Maria.
‘Now you are dead, I want to dream
Your physicality
Back into this house
In which you hardly lived.
Defiantly, I filled the rooms
With your laughing faces, defiling
The ritual of denial
I’d been taught to observed.

You were nearer to me, my Ria,
Than my own jugular vein.’

To lose a parent is heartbreaking but I guess losing one’s child is far more painful. But who am I to grade pain and sorrow?

I remember clearly the day my father left. It does not feel like a memory, it feels more like watching a scene in a movie with all too-familiar faces playing in it, so surreal was the day.

I remember being able to tell that death was about to visit us on that particular day. It was hari raya and my newly wed sister was to fly to Sarawak for honeymoon. When my brother did not want to go with us to the airport, a voice in my head said, ‘but you will be left alone when we die’. For some reasons, I was so certain that we would all die that day in a car crash. There was no fear, just little butterflies in the tummy. I dressed with care, even making sure that I had put on decent underwear (did not want to be caught dead with torn undies!).

Abah insisted that Mak sit at the back. He wanted me to be next to him and I was more than happy to oblige. The trip to the airport was uneventful. Abah was not in a hurry to send off my sister. He was a bit heartbroken when my sister got married. To Abah, Along was still too young. In his eyes, we would always be his little girls. Along did grow up too fast. And I knew that Abah missed her.

On the way back, Abah drove faster than usual. This was not like him. He was always a patient driver the kind that keep the speedometer at a speed that the police would approve. Clearly he was rushing to be home. And he asked me to help remove his shoes and socks. All this was done while he was driving. I braced myself for a crash, a swerve, a skid but it did not happen.

We reached home intact and the death warning wisped away from my thoughts. Oh, not today then, I thought. You see, the fear of losing my parents was always at the back of my head for as long as I could remember. As a kid, I would be sitting by the window of our kampong house nursing my worry as I wait for their return every time they went away. My prayers were always, ‘God, take ME first before you have to take them, for I am a weakling. I don’t want to live in a world without them.’

Abah did his solat and sat watching tv with me. Soon, a friend came for raya and Abah asked me to get the guests drinks. And when I handed him his glass of sirap, he looked down into the glass and refused it, ‘ada semut’ he said. I went back to get him another glass of sirap and as I approached him in the living room, he looked at me, smiled and lied down. The guests laughed and Mak told him to sit. He did not get up. Eyes still on me, he kept on smiling. And I knew. It was time.

And he died then. Just like that. Gaze fixed on me, and a smile. And I died many painful deaths.

It was a circus after that. I called 999 but the operator said, nobody responded because it was after all hari raya, a neighbor rushed us to the hospital just so a Doctor could pronounce his death officially. And Abah felt so cold and that smile that smile that smile...

When he was taken home after that, laid in one corner of the house, I curled up next to him and spent the night watching him smile in his deep sleep, willing him to wake and say it was all just a big fat joke.

Faces came and left. Hugged me and kissed me. And they told me not to feel, ‘Tuhan sayang dia lebih dari kita..’ they said and that got me angry. It was like telling me, that I did not love my Abah enough. And his death was a punishment. And I got angry and I stayed angry at God for many many years. The years after his death was of confusion and anger.

I was 21 then, just graduated from ITM. And I wanted so much to be able to afford buying him better shoes and send him to Haj and graduated from a proper university with jubah mortar hat and all. The list of things that made my heart ghalat. Wouldnt it be easier if he were to be sick and suffer for months so i had the time to do my bakti to him and in the process be more prepared for the time when it does arrive? His death seemed to be easy. Maybe it was easy, but only for him. Not for us. We were not prepared. But then again, when would anyone be prepared for death of the loved ones?

Such was my traumatic experience of losing Abah. He was only 48!

I am a parent now. As I prostate my small self to God, my prayers remain, ‘God, take ME first before you have to take them, for I am a weakling. I don’t want to live in a world without them.’ Except my ‘them’ now means my Mom, Sis, Bro, hubby and children.


Blogger Kak Teh said...

OOD, am so touched and so said reading this. my Pak went a long time ago and we were there knowingthat time was near too.
and btw, you know the sajak abt Ria? I will email you the story. Its sad because know Salleh.

12:45 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

Kak Teh
i LOVE Salleh! Just bought his Sajak-sajak Saleh. In a lot of his other sajaks, Ria's name appeared again. He must miss her so much. Email me!

12:58 AM  
Blogger Utter Rubbish said...

I am a weakling too... always worry more than I should...

2:07 AM  
Blogger AuntyN said...

My ayah died last year, I cannot blog about him. Despite all the things that happened in his live, he had a smiling face as well, my younger sister pointed that out to me.

I'm sure your abah is now in a better place. Insyaallah HE is looking after your abah.

3:27 AM  
Blogger MassyLassy said...

OOD! Am moved by your post today. Sigh! Donno wat else I can say! Just sad!

5:02 AM  
Blogger Ely said...

*Ely dabbing her eyes*, ood, thanks for the cerita. sungguh sedih. very touching and what a self reflection. i felt that way when i was young. takut mak bapak mati dulu sebelum kita dan kita tak real gitu. take me first and i rela.

6:31 AM  
Blogger faux diamante said...

very touching piece indeed. *sniff sniff*

7:54 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

OOD, so saaad! I understand yr prayer too.. I sometimes think the same..Life would be so empty without my loved ones. But that's life OOD, and we have to go on, no matter who goes before us. All that said, I'm a fellow weakling too!

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Si Nana said...

I am touched. Deeply.

6:46 PM  
Blogger ummi said...

that memory of having him gazing at you, must be VERY special to him...very special indeed!

when my Abah died (15 months ago)...i was in KL...not even sure whether he was thinking of me....

10:31 PM  
Blogger Jade said...

ood, i'm a weakling too. but life goes on..

2:30 AM  
Anonymous nong said...

Sedih... Your story makes me wanto balik kampung & jenguk my abah. He's 79.

5:22 AM  
Anonymous atn said...

very touching, have been thinking of blogging abt my father's death too but its too hard.

5:59 PM  
Blogger OOD said...

Utter Rubbish,
even after that test, i dont feel that i get any stronger. Yes, i survived, but another loss will be another new test.

AuntyN & Atenah,
writing this piece wasnt easy. I wasnt planning to re-live the moments! It was salleh's Ria, made me melancholic and missed my Abah terribly. Writing it down was like transferring over the emotions to a non-feeling medium. It helped a bit.

MasslyLassy & Ely,
you know what, my most ghalat is that i took him for granted. I thought 'death' would never happen to us. I thought Abah would forever be with us. What i wouldnt give to spend a little more time with him!

Anedra & LadyJade,
when he left, i lost all purpose of life. It all seemed so pointless after he died. A degree, a master/phd, a good job, what for if he wasnt around anymore? Or so i thought. Now that i am a parent, i know that as a parent, i wouldnt want my children to live their life for me. It was too big a burden for them.

Nazrah & Nana,
the bleeding has stopped although i havent really scarred yet. Maybe another 10 years! :o)

sigh... i wish i have a 79 year old abah too. Go bighug him!

15months after my father's death i was still very much crippled! I was in UTM Gurney then, far from home. I would practically call mak everyday to make sure that she did not die on me. And was still shaking fists at God, angry and daring (wanting) Him to take me too!

Thank you all.

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Tj said...


OMG, am I moved by this post.., called Abah right away, and we talked and talked.


11:28 PM  
Blogger anasalwa said...

A beautiful piece. I have tears in my eyes. You're special to your father as I am special to my Abah. He died 11 years ago and I still couldn't bring myself to write about him.

6:59 PM  
Blogger OOD said...

i am glad. Lucky Abah of yours.

i am still pained. Havent really recovered. Probably crippled for life. Writing it wasnt easy too. Cried throughout. Feeling very spent afterwards. It is comments from you and the rest that makes me feel that what i am going through (despite the years) is not really unique. There are other survivors too. Thank you, Anasalwa.

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cinta kasih pada manusia, manusia akan mati...
tapi cinta kasih pada Allah, selamanya akan hidup.

the life we are living now is just temporary, should worry more of the life we are going to live after death, that's the REAL life indeed, and forever, without any more deaths.

sorry if i sounded untouched by your story.

10:11 PM  
Blogger OOD said...

no worries. Not offended. You are right.
You sir/maam, must be a true Jedi ;0). One day, may i be like you too.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so what is a tru Jedi like? I'm not a Star Wars fan/follower, but my guess is someone who is able to keep his feelings inside until he shows no feelings at all?

well, kehendak Allah menjadikan setiap manusia mempunyai perasaan (me included and I am no Jedi), the difference is how we deal with our feelings.

I heard some good reminder from IKIM radio at 7 this morning, I would like to share them with u.

Allah Maha Mengetahui tahap kesabaran & keimanan hamba2Nya, tetapi di beri kesusahan berupa kesempitan wang, kematian dan penyakit kpd hamba2Nya, agar di akhirat kelak hambanya yg dapat bersabar diatas ujian yg menimpa mereka akan dapat berkata, ya Allah, Engkau berikan ujian berupa kesakitan/ kepayahan/ kemiskinan di dunia tetapi kami bersabar dan redha atas itu maka pada hari ini Engkau redhalah juga atas kami.

Dari hadith Qudsi,Dan org yg beriman yg diuji dgn kematian 2org yg disayangi (ibubapa) tetapi bersabar dan redha atas ujian tersebut, maka Allah akan beri syurga kpdnya di hari akhirat nanti.


7:47 PM  
Anonymous pak chu said...


dah been tested with any loss?

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to pak chu : yes, and many.

not only of deaths, but a job, $$$ savings, but alhamdulillah, Allah keeps me strong and gives me patience.

Allah takes only a little, but Allah gives in plenty.

saya bersyukur, semiskin manapun saya, sesusah mana pun saya, ada org lain yg lagi susah drp saya. never look up, always look down the wise ppl kata..


7:02 PM  

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