Thursday, September 27, 2007

Autumn in Korea

Kita kenal Korea pon sebab Winter Sonata, sebab Junsang.
Lepas tu Autumn in My Heart.
Lagi, cerita Taegutchi ke apa ntah tajuk dia, cerita perang tu yang ada dua orang adik beradik tu.

Kesimpulannya, orang Korea ni memang pandai buat kita menangis.
Baru 5 minit main cerita tu, kita dah pegang tisu.
Lepas sepuluh minit, mata merah, hidung berair.
Bila cerita habis, kita memang dah kena ambik anti-depressant pills. Maunya tak, kalau dah menangis sampai teresak-esak, sampai pening. Aduhai... siksa betul.

Pagi tadi, sampai ke Incheon Airport, Seoul. Tak menangis lagi.

Petang pi melawat kilang ginseng. Baunya, omak oi... keputak! Berair mata, merah hidung. Tisu takde.

Diberinya pulak cenderamuka sabun ginseng yang bernilai ratus-ratus USD - untuk memutihkan wajah. Tahan lagi. Takkan tak nak pulak kan? Perempuan mana tak nak fair and lovely? Balik bilik, tinggalkan atas meja, pegi dinner.

Sampai bilik, bau ginseng mekar semerbak sebilik. Lekat baunya di mana-mana. Di cadar, di bantal, di towel, malahan di selipar sekali pon.

Masa tu menangis. Dan muntah. Dan menangis. Dan muntah.

Orang Korea ni memang pandai buat kita menangis. Lambat deras je.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


We expect to one day bury our parents - never our children.

If the child really is Nurin as per indicated by the DNA results - al Fatihah.

If it is not - al Fatihah.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


The document declares Mak to have died at 5 pm on Tuesday of 11th September. Reason of death is stated as ‘acute pulmonary oedema’.

Right from after the Hospital Terendak little procedure, Mak had been complaining of a bit of difficulty in breathing. As the days progressed by, her breathing became more labored. Especially at night. So much so that she couldn’t lie down anymore. Many nights she would spend just sitting on the bed, staring into darkness. Only God knows what was on her mind then.

What should have been obvious to us was her preparation for death.

She told my sister, where her body should be put - in the living room right at that corner. She told my brother where her monies were kept and who should get what. She even told my sister how to pay for her funeral - use sedekah money. She went back kampong, paid all her debts, met most of the relatives, apologised and said her goodbye. And she called one auntie of mine to come over. She told this auntie that her job was done, she was contented and ready to be called.
On the weekend right before that Tuesday, she sent Bibik to my sister’s house. Being left alone, she cooked! Oh how she cooked! She had not been cooking since the amputation. But that day, she cooked all of our favorites - although my brother and me weren’t around. Then she cleaned up the house, gave away our Gila-Gila collections (that we have collected since its first edition), dusted the whole house down and even found the time to sew two pillows and two bolsters.

All the while, I wasn’t there. I last saw her when we were in Melaka. That was exactly a month ago. I last spoke to her a few days after that. I would live with the regret of not calling her more often. I didnt know, I didn’t get the warning. But even for those who did see the signs, of course wouldn’t think the worse. My sis and bro just brushed off her talks of death. Our mother couldn’t be dying! Not Mak!

On Monday night, her breathing got worse. Bibik ran to get help from a neighbour and so Mak was sent to hospital. I received the sms from my sister at about 7 pm. She said, Mak was admitted to ICU and the doctor said, her breathing could stop anytime.

I wanted to go back kampong right then and there but I didn’t. I reached a compromise with Yamtuan to leave in the next morning.

In the morning, my sis texted me that Mak’s condition had improved tremendously. Her lungs were flooded due to kidney failure but she was given oxygen and all that so some colours had returned to her face. She could sit and talk and chatted quite a bit too. In fact the doctor said, maybe later that day Mak could be transferred to an ordinary ward. She was getting better. How true thay said that Death played tricks on us. It gave us a bit of good news so we would be careless.

I boarded the 11am express bus and arrived at the hospital at 3.30pm.

Mak was sleeping. They have punctured a hole in her stomach in the attempt to drain her lungs and stomach from the excess fluid. She looked tired and there were too many wires and tubes going in and out of her - mouth, nose, chest, toes, stomach, arms. I didn’t have the heart to wake her up. At one point, the nurses nudged her to move a bit to the right because the liquid wasn’t draining out as fast as they hoped. Mak moved but she didn’t open her eyes, she seemed groggy and in pain. I could only watch.

At 4pm, my sis and I left her side for a quick meal. But not before we check the monitors. BP, pulse, heart beat, oxygen level all seemed to be okay. We came back ICU soon after but was denied entry by the nurses. We were asked to wait outside, the doctor wanted to see us later, they said. And so while waiting, we discussed how to care for her. Visitors were not allowed to sleep in the ICU, so my sis said, I would have to camp at the Balai Pelawat. Can, not a problem, I said, but can you ask Bibik to cook some snack for me, because without constant nibbling, I would be sick. We made the plans and all that.

At 5pm, they called us in. The doctor said, Mak stopped breathing at 4 and nothing they did could resuscitate her. I asked like an idiot, so how is she now? ‘Dia dah tak ada lah’ said the doctor. Mak died in her sleep.

The first thing that crossed my mind was, I had to tell Abah. I must tell Abah to look out for Mak.

By the time they allowed us to go to her, she was already cold. My regrets? Loads. Things that I should have done, or should have done better, and things that I should not have done. It was so easy if I could just blame Yamtuan for a lot of things. I could ruin my marriage that way and what good would it be?

For many many selfish reasons, I didn’t want her to go. Who would I return to for Hari Raya? Where would my kampong be now that the house would be barren of her. Who would care for me during confinement? Who would help me hunt for leaves and roots so I would be as good as new again? Who would pinch the cheeks of my children and find them adorable despite their antics? Who would love me as only a mother could? Who would know of all my many flaws – hidden or otherwise, accept me for what I was and still hug me close to her chest? I havent even told her of my pregnancy although she knew even before i knew. For my first two pregnancies, Mak suffered the morning sickness for me. I was spared, pregnancy was easy for me, but Mak would suffer. She would be green in the mornings, she would be throwing up and sensitive to a lot of smells. But not this time. A few weeks ago, i texted my sis, i said, 'I am pregnant and my morning sickness is bad, does it mean Mak is spared?'. Yes, she was. I should have seen it as a sign. But how was i to know?

When would I ever be ready to be without my Mak?

She had loved me even before I was born. Life was stirred in me when I was of miniscule size lying deep in her womb close to her heart. With each of her heartbeat, my little heart beat too. Who else would know me best? Who else would be able to accept me no matter how many times I failed her and hurt her. Only my mother.

I was 22 when Abah passed away. It got me angry. I was too young, I said! I needed my father!

I am 37 now and funny, I am not any more ready now than I was 15 years ago. When would I ever be ready? When would I ever stop needing my parents? Never. But there is no anger this time. Redha.

But Mak needs me now. I know that it is not my tears that she needs, things that she need I can still send. Prayers and prayers and prayers. And that consoles me somehow. You havent heard the last of me yet, Mak!

To all friends, Ummi H (my KJ), Kak Teh, Dena, Nazrah, Jo, Kak Ruby, Shidah, Mamagie & partner, Imp, Blabarella, Elisataufik and others who sent me messages. Know this, each messages help comfort me as i know each of your Alfatihah-s comfort my Mak.

Thank you.