I can’t believe it’s already 17 months. It feels like only yesterday I was holding your hands and whispering yaasin to your ears. I remember telling you that I still need you and you need to fight to live. I was being selfish mak, as always. Obviously Allah had better plans for you, and in some way, I am glad you would not have to suffer anymore. I can still feel tears welling up whenever I think of you.
The wound is still fresh, but I need to move on.
Azim and I are settling in okay in Cardiff with your sweetheart Khayra. I was depressed and disturbed after you left. I felt like we had not been doing enough to make sure you would survive the big C. Even Azim kept consoling me whenever I broke down in tears, I know he was way weaker than I was at that time. He still is. Whenever he thought of you he would burst in tears. I kept to my job a few months after you left, but eventually called it a day. I remember you had been my most loyal reader, and only Allah knows how much I miss that early morning phone calls to remind me to keep a copy of the newspaper, just because there was a news story written by me in it, albeit how small it was. I never kept my articles, but you took pride of my work and had every single piece laminated. It hurts too much just by looking at them, and I just couldn’t carry on. Even though I kept telling others that I had to quit my job because of a better offer, the truth is, I lost it when I lost you.
Azim and I opened a boutique a few months after. I am not sure if it was worthy of risk or not, since we failed and the boutique was closed after much commotions, but we were proud of it. You once taught me that there is no such thing as failure, because experience always is a great teacher. I learned a lot of things, especially in managing my time well, taking care of people and most importantly how to appreciate the smallest value. I also learn the art of trusting people and keeping the faith. If you were still here, we know you’d be the person who would help us with everything from ironing to managing of the store. You would also stand by me against people who bullied me. You always were, mak. I don’t want to talk about it since I know how much you hate it when I kept thinking about a problem rather than going out of it. All in all, we were doing great.
Both Azim and I got a place in Cardiff uni. YES BOTH OF US. It was sponsored and we couldnt be more grateful. It was like a dream, mak. Just when we thought everything was over, Allah granted us something beyond what we deserved. Do you remember our series of talks about studying abroad? You’d be the most busy person helping me packing if you’re still here when I was about to fly. Do you know I am still lousy at packing that I have left lots of things (or almost everything) ? I know you would just shake your head and laugh at me – that kind of laugh when you saw me all panicky in that Inai tragedy on June 3. I miss those laugh, and the way you shook your head in disbelief.
That’s the kind of laugh I would never forget.
Khayra is doing alright. She still remembers you, and to our surprise, she can still point at your picture and tell me it’s ‘mok’, as she fondly called you. Do you know that when we were reciting Yaasin at you, Khayra came and slept by your side, with her head resting on your right hip? She even refused to be moved as if she wanted to embrace the last moment. She was barely two, mak. She slept peacefully for a few hours that we had to move her eventually cause we need to prepare you for the burial. Masyallah, I can’t describe the love between you two, as it was the most genuine of all. Khayra has taught me so much about it.
We are in the midst of potty-training her mak. It’s so funny that she would keep asking me to bring her to the toilet every 10 mins on the first day, and she would show disappointment because most of the time, she failed and peed on her dryers. She is so determined, I guess she gets that spirit from none other than you. And she loves drawing too. I keep every single piece of her artwork, stashing them away in a purple file, just like how you did it with my articles. You always appreciate little things mak. I wish I would be as amazing as you were with my children.
Ayah is doing well. Eventhough he seemed lost a few months after you left, we realise he looks much calmer now. He misses you so much that he gets teary eyes whenever he talks about you. But ayah being ayah, he is rather secretive about his feelings. Sometimes I try to evade talking about you with him cause I can’t stand seeing him struggling to find topics to talk to afterwards. I can’t start talking about ayah. I just can’t.
Kak Long takes a very good care of him though. She has been wonderful, as always. She has been taking over your role after you left, and she makes sure that we are all alright, even when she has to sacrifice her self-worth. I know you knew she would excel in the role. She’s our main source of reference now, after ayah, that sometimes I feel guilty if I keep things out of her knowledge, even when I am entitled to discuss things alone with Azim. Sometimes I think she has given too much that she doesn’t have things left for herself. Allah will grant her bigger things in the future, Insyallah. It’s funny that whenever problems cropped up, we will look for Kak Long first. Even Azim bugs Kak Long whenever he needs to talk because he told me about that special feelings he have towards Kak Long. She is just special, as you once described it to me when I was pissed at her once. “She does that because she won’t let anything bad happens to her sisters. You’ll need her one day eventually,” You were always right, mak.
Kak Ngah has been a great mother. She is natural at motherhood, and I always seek for her advice whenever I feel like I couldn’t cope with Khayra’s antics. She is a great listener too. Sometimes, she reminds me of you since she would help me to dress up and help me decide on what outfits would do me best. I remember I was always lousy at fashion and I kept wearing the same clothes which I felt the most comfy. And you’ll be terribly worried. Now, apart from Kak Long’s generous clothing fund, Kak Ngah helps me with fashion idea. She resembles you in many ways, especially when making funny sarcastic remarks whenever she doesn’t agree with my fashion sense. Do you remember how worried you were because I always don dull clothes and then to pair them with old-fashioned scarves post-birth, as you were afraid that Azim would not find me attractive anymore? You’d buy me lots of clothes and hid them behind Azim’s knowledge because you’re afraid Azim might feel bad about it, since we were recking up in huge debts at that time and couldn’t afford mall shopping. Now Kak Ngah seems to have taken the role.
Aura and Alisa are the cheekiest monkeys ever! I haven’t seen them myself for months, but they look awesome. I was told they have been talkative too. Do you know that Alisa could point the picture of you hanging on Kak Long’s longue wall, and tell us it’s nenek? It’s magic mak. Have you been visiting and playing with her, mak? Sometimes we made jokes that you have been taking care of Alisa all this while, as Khayra always told us that you were in Behrang, at Kak Ngah’s place. As if she could see you. We were joking but deep inside, somehow we believe that it could be true, if Allah wills. Maybe you have been visiting us all this while, albeit in our dreams.
Ana is doing well, and she has just got a promotion. She is a career-driven woman and I admire her passion in what she’s doing. She looks exhausted but content. She’s still funny and silly – what makes her a remarkably fun person. Her other issue needs some thoughts, and I hope it would be sorted out soon. Please pray for her, mak. I’m sure if you are still here you’d know what to do. She deserves the best things in life. She looks younger everyday and people kept thinking she’s younger than me. I need to take care of myself well, mak. I look older everyday while my sisters are getting younger. That’s a thought that needs follow-up, as you’d jokingly told me when I started off worrying of how hideous my outfits were.
Ariff has been a great brother. A gentleman, with a bit of humour. He doesn’t talk much, as always. But he’ll be the person who keeps reminding us to recite Yaasin for you. He’s doing well in his job. He went to lots of adventures and trips lately, and I think he must be doing something to distract himself from wallowing in your passing. Farhana is amazing, she’s a nurse for real now! I’m sure you knew she’ll do well in the profession. It was you who insisted her to take up nursing courses, as if you knew you’d fall sick one day and won’t need strangers to do the dressing and cleaning of the operation wound. Allah has catered everything, and never a day I didn’t think of how lucky you were because it was laid out as He gave you the opportunity that not everyone are entitled to. You were indeed special mak.
I’m sure you must miss your baby Lah so much. She’s in her final year in university and she has been getting good results! She is a bright girl for sure. Still manja and doesn’t mind to be kissed and hugged repeatedly. We will take care of her, mak. Do not worry. She’s strong, much stronger than the rest of us I guess. We won’t let her to get carried away, as you kept reminding me. She has five crazy big sisters and three big brothers behind. I am sure she’ll be alright.
I have great sisters, brothers and a wonderful husband. Plus three little monsters who somehow make our lives much meaningful. But above all, you are still sorely missed, mak. The thing about your girls are, we are not expressive enough with our feelings. We don’t gather and shed tears for any thoughts of you, but we keep things cool, as they way you would handle things. We would reminisce funny things about you and would laugh about it. Deep down, we are all weeping inside. It hurts losing you when we still need you so much. We won’t stop needing you, even if you’re gone now. How do we manage to carry on without you is a struggle we keep to ourselves.
All in all, we are doing alright! Do not worry much, mak.
ALLAH says: And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient; Who, when calamity strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to ALLAH, and indeed to HIM we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided. (Surah Al-Baqarah 155-157)