Thursday, October 12, 2006

Al fatihah

About a month before Ramadhan, I received an email from a stranger. He must have done a bit of search on the net and somehow the outcome landed him on my blog. It was a short email, asking whether I know if Seha has children living overseas. And it ended with a simple statement, ‘I think Seha is my mom’.

I seldom read newspapers. I especially don’t read the entertainment section. I know almost nothing about Seha. And being the private person that she was, if ever she appeared on the newspaper it was always about Seha the entertainer, never Seha the person. I know she was married and left the country. And then I know that she came back, and cut a few albums. But I didn’t know anything about her personal life. Divorced? Kids? I had no idea.

I replied in all my honesty saying that all I know of Seha is her songs and dance steps. But I assured him that I would try to find out.

And then I got busy. Went overseas for two weeks and came back only to be buried under tonnes of work. I did not ‘try to find out’ anything about Seha at all. And this delay would be a regret that I will have to live with.

On the first day of Ramadhan, I went kampong to buka puasa with my family. After the meal, I saw that there was an article on Seha on the first page of Berita Minggu. She had cancer. And she was looking for her long lost son. It was pure coincidence that I even read that article. Like I said, I don’t read newspapers. If I buy at all, it would be NST or Star for the job advertisements.

The moment we reached KL, I opened up my email inbox and looked for the email I received a month ago. True enough, it was signed by the same name as Seha’s son. I immediately wrote to him with the little news I had and spent the whole night worrying that he would not be contactable anymore. I was also worried on how I should deal with the matter. I wanted to seek Kak Teh’s help but she was too far away and then I thought of contacting Maya and hoped that through her connections, she could help reunite mother and son without the press knowing. Seha was sick and the son still a kid. But Maya is busy enough as it is.

Morning came and with that the realisation that the easiest way to do it is to contact Berita Minggu itself. The writers of the article had visited Seha at her place. This would definitely be faster than if I were to search for Seha myself.

And I called BM and asked for Suzan, the reporter. I told her that I might have the son’s email address.

I soon received a reply from Misha. He sounded shaken. And he told me that the situation was somewhat delicate and he didn’t want the father to find out.

The next day, Suzan came to my house with Roslen, her boss. They probably wanted to check whether I was genuine or not. They were Seha’s friends. They didn’t want to give her false hopes. And they told me that Seha was very sick but she was fighting the cancer stoically.

On the 5th Ramadhan, Seha called me. We talked about her health and her children. As promised to Misha, I gave Seha his address. She told me that she knew all along that Misha would be looking for her. And how now she could see the rahmat behind her years of cancer. She walked me through her memories of Misha and how she lost him and how the thoughts of him gave her the spirit to fight cancer. Somewhere along the conversation, to me, Seha ceased being Seha-of-Freedom. She became simply kak-Seha-a-mother because that was what she really was, first and foremost – a mother. At that point too, I became convinced that the path was perfectly laden that son and mother would be reunited.

I wrote to her the next day, I said, ‘I think God wanted you two to meet. Everything seems so beautifully orchestrated that the only possible outcome is your reunion with him. Looks like you have no choice kak Seha, but to get better. I suggest you DO IT NOW!’.

She updated me of her emails/chats with Misha. She told me her surprise when at one time during a chat, Misha cut it short because it was time for prayer. A heavy burden was lifted from her chest when she discovered that Misha has retained his faith.

And she also remarked how well-mannered Misha seems to be and for that she was able to forgive her ex.

Her last sms to me was a hopeful one, ‘Misha said he wanted to come visit soon’.

Like kak Seha, I was hopeful too.

On 18th Ramadhan, at about 9.30am I received sms from Suzan that kak Seha had passed away. My immediate response was, no way. I called Suzan and she confirmed it. Let’s just say that the day passed by in bluriness. I wasn’t able to get leave because kak Seha was not exactly family. And I wasn’t exactly a friend either. I had no inkling at all that her days were that limited. She sounded absolutely fine over the phone. She was just a bit breathless.

I am crying as I write this. Not so much for kak Seha, because I believe that in the other world, you will only long to meet God. If there are any regrets, it is only for the ones left behind. My grief is for her children. For Misha, to have finally found her after all these years, only to have the final 14 days of her life. For Karissa, to be orphaned at such young age. We don’t always see the rahmat behind anything that we feel is bad that happens. My hope is one day, the kids will be able to look at today and know in their hearts that God knows what is best, and so this must be best.

Al fatehah untuk kak Seha. Semoga kak Seha berada di tempat yang jauh lebih baik dari sini. Semoga kak Seha aman dan berada didalam rahmatNya.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Make Love Not War

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A dear blog-friend chatted with me yesterday and asked the most bizarre of questions, ‘do you still do laundry after midnight?’. I hated to disappoint her but my answer was a definite-firm-muktamad-saya-gandakan-wang-anda kind of NO. No, I don’t hang clothes after midnight. At least not anymore.

Since Ramadhan started, I do my laundry at a more decent hour i.e after sahur. And I have discovered that it IS the best time of the day to hang clothes. It gives me that wonderful nostalgic feeling of watching the school’s head boy raised the flag during assembly back in school. I have always longed to do it but they never made me the head or the boy. And so raising my many little flags with stripes, stars and polkadots and no less gemilang than our flag, certainly make me feel all patriotic. I will be awashed with a sense of accomplishment and so much pride. Yes, it doesnt take much to make me happy.

And after everything is securely and majestically flapping away, I will sit at the balcony, to admire my masterpiece and watch the birth of the day. Nothing beats the smell-sound-sight of early mornings, hazy or not.

Smell of coffee, and something garlicky or gingery or soysauce-y. Yumm.

And the greetings from birds hidden among the leaves of trees. Yes you birds, salaam to you too. And I wish you get many fat worms and bugs today too. And please don’t drop your chalks on our car! Just washed it yesterday! Too late you say? Oh well.

Watching the day yawn, stretch and unfold from the privacy of the balcony, hidden behind the laundered materials, I get to be a nosy neighbour too. I get to see who is tip-toe-ing back home. Careful, Romeo, you don’t want to wake HER! And who is about to leave too. That swagger might just mean the lucky fellow had a wild date that ended with a You lucky sod!

And I just realised that one of my neighbours left for work very early. Before six! It makes me wonder just which estate does he work for. Maybe some estate in Perlis? To have to leave that early! And then I wonder if they wonder about me (us) too. We left for work quite late. Maybe they think we are estate owners. Or rubber millers. What they don’t know is, I work for a very small estate. We don’t have much trees to tap money from, and the trees are mostly old trees. Bent and ugly. Most of them are overworked, overtapped and very much undernourished. But despite all that, most are overweight too.

And mornings are best to do a lot of thinking too. I get ideas for my best-seller books (which I will never write), and I make mental sticky-note about friends that I must contact and chores that I must do (my mental sticky-notes don’t always stick).

Best of all, I get to have some selfish-me-me-me time for myself. The kids are asleep, no fighting no shouting no crying. Gencatan senjata is always good. The hubby is asleep too, no where’s-my-other-sock no you-should-have-watched-crouch’s-goal-last-night. I get to be my hippie self. Peace. And grin like a junkie.

All this to substantiate my claim that I DON’T HANG CLOTHES AT MIDNIGHT anymore.