Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Today, she is in much pain...

I went to Kak Hasmah's house to visit her for the 2nd time this week with another colleague who also loves her very much.  The journey to her house was a sombre one and the dark, murky sky seemed to confirm our instincts that something bad was  happening. Yes, something did happen for she had been taken to the emergency unit at Hospital Kemaman 30 minutes before we reached her home.

We went back home thinking of repaying our visit tomorrow but along the way back it started to rain.  I have always had this association of rain to death especially when I know that someone is ill and so I pleaded Kak Masz who also had the same feeling to turn back and visit her at the hospital instead.  I hate hospitals, I really do and I hate to visit ill friends because I don't know how to bring myself but today I felt that I had to put my hatred for hospitals and illnesses aside in the name of friendship.

We went to her ward and already there were a huge number of visitors which potrayed how much Kak Hasmah is loved.  People were crying and reading the Yassin and I feared that she might have passed on but as I looked at her on that bed, she was still alive. Her husband was there reciting Koranic verses in her ears as he rubbed her gently and lovingly. One thing for sure is, today she is battling for her life.  She was grunting silently and kept repeating the word "sakit" which means pain unlike Sunday when she only lied on her bed and tried to sleep.

The doctor says that she is now in a critical condition, suffering from liver malfunction and  the cancer, not satisfied with what it has consumed of her has also greedily spread to her brain.  I know her loved ones are now counting the seconds they have left with her and I know they fear the worst to come..

Sunday, September 27, 2009

To Watch Someone Face Death..

Kak Hasmah, a senior colleague who used to be in my school was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago and had her left breast removed.  I bumped into her 1 year after her surgery  and she looked as fit as a fiddle that one might query whether she had been through cancer or not.. However, my meeting with her today was not like how I met her last year in the hustle and bustle of that Tuesday night market. Today, she barely knew me!

The doctors from Hospital Putrajaya discharged her after confirming that she was terminally ill and also for the fact that they could not do anything else to stop those damn cancer cells from happily gorging on what's left of her healthy life. We were told not to expect much from her as she was also enduring short term memory so when I paid her a visit this afternoon with Kak Tie, we weren't greeted by her usual warm and humorous self, that being due to the high dose of morphine given to her and also because of  the effects of her cancer I suppose, but that blank look on her face suggested that she somehow knew  we were her friends.

As she laid on her bed, I wanted to massage her legs and arms but I dare not do it for fear of hurting her even though Kak Shick told me that  I could do that.  They say that she is in much pain and massages could help to ease it.  From my bare eyes, I did not see any pain from her although she does grunt once a while. To me, she didn't look miserable, not at all, just exhausted and I think that God has spared her from any pain because in her healthy life, she was tremendously a nice human being who never wounded others through her action or her words.  She was tired, very very tired..to me that is,but what she endured, only God knew.

I started to battle the tears that nearly came down to my cheeks. I know I shouldn't cry because we need to show her strength but I was amazed and touched by how her daughter who is merely 14 or 15 years old was stronger than the rest of us in that room that she was able to caress her dying mother's hair and kiss her cheeks without any signs of sadness..

I don't deal with this situation quite well so all I could do was to cite some prayers for her..not for her to be healthy again knowing that that is impossible being in the final stages of cancer, but I pray for her safe return to the arms of God. Please friends, do pray for her..do pray for her..

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The feeling of Eidulfitri..

Tomorrow marks the end of the fasting month with the celebration of the first day of Syawal, a celebration of the victory for most muslims who have succeeded to conquer their desires and lusts for a whole month.  A myriad of people will be going to the mosque in their latest fashion of Baju Kurungs and Baju Melayus.  Glitters of gold and silver, diamonds and emeralds decorating the bodies of the women, young and old, massive amounts of food accompanied by chit chats among the cousins and uncle and aunts while the children are nowhere to be seen for they are in search of Raya packets from the surrounding houses whether they are known or not...what a sight to be seen, what a feeling to be felt! 

This year my Raya will be celebrated in Segamat, the hometown of my husband. Although I would love it more than anything else to be with my parents and siblings but I can't help to feel the excitement of Raya here, especially at my husband's grandmother's house where tiny faces of the cousins seem to follow you everywhere you go, their laughters ringing in your ears and the shouts  from my children tickled by their uncles and aunts who are merely 4 years older than they are  seem to fill the air.  Sadness happens to be non existing here and happiness is the only feeling you are allowed to have!

However, in the moments of exhiliration, I just can't help to run away from the  feeling of longing...longing for my parents and siblings and no matter how better  Segamat is in terms of celebrating this festive day, the quietness and loneliness of Selayang where my relatives have forgotten the way to our home, where my childrens' voices are the only melody to fill our house, Sg. Tua is still the place where I want to be because sharing the laughters and tears with my own family is everything that I can hope for and it is more satisfying than 100 people coming in and out of a wooden house in Labis.  Oh, that is the feeling of Raya..

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kak Mike

Kak Mike, an acquaintance of mine, passed on to be with God more or less 3 months ago and since then her death had become an obsession of mine!

In the mornings, when I am showering to get ready for work, I would do a breast self-examination to feel for alien lumps on any parts of my armpits or bosom.  Even knowing that there weren't any did not leave me satisfied, so I had to look at them in the mirror to see whether there were any abnormalities invading my flesh.  I would constantly ask my husband to look at my breasts to see whether there was something different and forced him to feel them if he sensed any lumps and millions of times he had to reassure me there were none. And there isn't a day that goes by without me surfing the net to know everything about breast cancer  even watching videos on masectomy, lumpectomy, chemotherapies, radiotherapies and the whole nine yards which concerns cancer; specifically breast cancer!  I was practically addicted to cancer! Learning about her death somehow left this void inside of me and I needed to fill it back in, so I surfed and surfed on cancer.  I even read her blog numerous times that I  swear I could remember her words but nothing managed to fill in that hole in my heart.

My husband was taken aback at my interest and attention to the late Kak Mike's  life before death, posed a question that left me speechless.  " Are you holding any grudges against her? If you do, just let it out!! She's gone and forgive her!"  I thought to myself, did I?  Firstly, she was merely an acquaintance who shared a flat with me and some other girls when we were in college so what significance did she bring to my life?  Secondly, yes, I was upset with her because I liked her a lot as a friend and she breached my friendship but for all I know, I might have been the cause of that. I thought and I thought and I let all the feelings inside of me out for my dear husband to hear.  Finally, I manage to say" Kak Mike, please forgive me...and I forgive you!" 

But did it make any difference? Nope..there was something, some feeling lingering inside of me in which I did not know of and I needed for it to come out but I could not because I did not know what was upsetting me.  Just yesterday, I was back at my mother's home in Sg. Tua when I had the urge to pass by her house.  My husband, god bless him, obeyed my intentions and there we were, right in front of her house.  The house looked lonely, sombre, still in grief and very quiet.  And as we were reversing our whale of a car, which took ages  because the road was narrow, I saw some life when her parents ( I guess) came out to the side porch and a baby; fair, chubby and healthy  was held lovingly and protectively by whom I think is Kak Mike's  mother  and there it was.. all my feelings poured onto my lap in forms of tears.  I couldn't contain myself any longer and I wept like a baby..

There it was, the gap in my heart now filled with the last drop of tears.  It was then that I understood, what I was searching for wasn't about her but it was her..the baby she gave birth to.  I felt sympathy for Qays for never ever having the chance to know his mother who fought for dear life to bring him into this world.  This sadness I have for Qays is much much more than what words could explain..this is because I am a mother, and looking at my Qayyum, Iman and Khalida I could not bear the thought of them losing me or even me losing them to death.  Poor Qays, at such a tender age, being grabbed of the only priceless treasure any human could ever have..But like I would say to friends, those who are tested by God  is only because God has them constantly in His thoughts.  

 If that baby were to be Qays, then Kak Mike, you have nothing to worry about because he is very well taken care of!  But then again, I know you have prepared your family very well for your departure.  May Allah bless you in His embrace...insya-allah.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A parody of my ME TIME.

Hubby :  Let's go out, just the two of us.  I know you need new pairs of shoes.
Me : Okay..great!      

So began our journey  today to Kuantan without the kids to make the dream of having my ME TIME come true!  Boy, would it not be pleasurable for some who have kids to be able to just leave the kids at home with the helper and to have a jolly good time without having to bring the baby bag filled with diapers, baby wipes, extra pairs of clothes for 3 and not to forget their milk, well in my case 2 different types of formula.  It would also have brought some immeasurable excitement to go shopping without having to think of others' needs but your own, to be able to flip thru each and every one of the blouses on the racks and to satisy your lust for shoes and to try on every single pair that tickles your fancy.  Wouldn't you desire that?  Well, I do ALL the time and today I got it but was I happy? NOPE!!! Not at all!!!

When we arrived at East Coast Mall, I was like a child in Dylan's Candy Bar with loads of money to spend and to top it all, without any parent to say no to this or no to that! This is haven, I thought thinking of the shoes I would buy, the bras and undies, a tube of mascara from Estee Lauder and oh ya, a new pot from Tefal.  I rushed immediately to the cosmetic counter to have my first purchase when I saw this cute little girl with 2 ponytails on her head. Hmm, girls are adorable aren't they in their summer dresses embroidered with roses and lilies in hues of pink and yellow.  Yeah, Iman loves wearing dresses and beautiful sandals to match it.  Iman, my second child uninvitedly came across my mind!  Then when I thought of her, the two other kids at home started to haunt my thoughts with their adorable antics of sibling rivalries and bawls.  That was what kept my mind going ..What on heavens  were they doing?  Are they fine? Do they miss me? And then..it was all about the three rascals I intentionally left at home.  My mind was glued on them and nothing else.  SHIT!!  This is MEEEEEEEEE time!

I pulled my husband up to the 1st floor where the lady's department was for my lingerie, (it's been a while since Hubby dearie got hold on new sexy negligees)with the objective of shaking my kids off my mind but when I reached the first floor, I scurried to the fourth when I saw blaring signs of discounts on children's wear. 70%, 50%, Buy 1 FREE 1.  My heart skipped 10 beats! This deal is a steal!  Qayyum needs new playtime attire, Iman needs some more pjs and Khalida's bottle is already a year old. Need these stuffs pronto!  And that was it, my ME time turned THEIR time AGAIN! All the purchases I made today was for them, the citizens of Munchkinland.

I spent the whole afternoon buying things for my dear kids and none for me.  Seeing this my Hubby brought me to a handbag shop but looking at the price of a Bonia bag, it nearly gave me a seizure.  With that kind of money on the price tag, I could buy a pair of shoes for each of my offsprings and remembering that Aidilfitri was just around the corner I decided to do just that, so off to Crocs I went.

It was time for the breaking of fast and we ate pizza at Pizza Hut.  Hubby loves chatting during meal time but this time he did not because all I had to say about was how the kids love eating pizza and how Qayyum had already promised to take me and Iman on a date to Pizza Hut this week.  I told Hubby that I felt guilty for eating there when I promised my two kids that I would bring them this Thursday, then I kept on yapping and yapping and yapping about the kids....

We finished our meal and had 1 hour and 30 minutes more before the shops would start closing down.  Hubby wanted to bring me to Starbucks for coffee and in normal times I would have jumped at the offer but not today because all I wanted to do was to go back home to be with my Mini Mees.  Hubby smirked and  warned me to never complain about me not having time to do things for me.  Hahahah...yeah right! As if I do..(do I?)

That's the glory about being a Mum.  You complain all the time about not having time to do things for yourself or to satisfy your flaming desire to burn a hole in your pocket but when God grants you the chance to do so, you give it all to your kids.  It makes me wonder all the time, when will I ever get the chance to buy my things, to spend hours and hours on a shopping spree, to visit jewellery stores etc, etc but it doesn't sadden me at all when I don't have it because while I want to fulfill my own wants and needs, it gratifies me even more when I put my husband and children above anything else.  Think on the bright side, while some don't have much left in their spending account, I have still got tons to waste.  So, Louis Vuitton here I come...maybe ten years from today that is!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dampened Spirits...

She looked at me with a frown on her face, nothing else to accompany me during that long never ending moments being grilled in the interview room. She was sitting there emotionless while dissecting the contents of the file that held my academical results and after she was satisfied she threw me a sharp gaze that had almost killed me.  I remained quiet waiting for the next question but she stared at me, just sitting there lifeless for the whole 10 longest seconds in my life when suddenly I sensed some life  coming from within her when the  parabolic crease below her nose twitched into a smile, a cynical smile that doesn't put you at ease. "Rosfida, tell me one reason why you want to be an English teacher."  I simply replied, " I love English and am darn good at it and I have clear intentions to spread this love to my will be students. Who else better to teach it, if not me?"   And that was it.

I was given my first posting at a school in Kemasek, Terengganu which is situated by the roadside with buildings that resembled blocks of untempting carrotcakes and buttercakes.  When I entered the school compound, I remembered the warnings I got from the officers at the JPN who told me that I would have a tough time as an English teacher as these students do not warmly accept the language.  At that moment, I started to turn back but it was my husband who saved the day for he caught hold onto me and forced me to trod the path I myself had chosen.

As I made my way up to the office to report for duty, a girl with a grin on her face that best described grinning from ear to ear greeted me softly. Marlia Fatin was the name printed on her name tag and with her simple “Assalamualaikum, Teacher” it gave me the courage and strengthened my spirits to go on.  However did she know that I was an English teacher when in fact I had never met her before in my life? That was the sign..a good sign.

I started my first task teaching English to a hoard of unruly 13 and 14 year old boys and girls who most of them have never set foot out of Terengganu.   The class I enjoyed the most, naturally would be the class with the most knowledge of English.  I still remember those students who were always ready on the go to learn every time I entered class and were indeed willing participants in all the tasks that I had laid out for them.  They accepted English as a part of life and had this positive attitude towards learning it.  There was also this class I was entrusted to, 2W4, if I am not mistaken and although their level of English was way below satisfactory, some had always enjoyed the English period and even tried speaking to me in English.

Life is indeed not a bed of roses though.  Being a person who thrives on the challenges and thrills that learning and teaching English offers, therefore I was deeply disappointed by the attitude and behaviors of a majority of students in my school who have blocked their minds into accepting English.  At the mere mention of an English word, be it just ‘hello’, with cheeky looks on their faces they start to mock you as they try  their very best to don an impersonation of a ‘mat saleh’ which they failed horrificly.  I tried my very best to change their perspectives on learning English being the most difficult task and to accept that one has to try speaking the language to be good at it but I failed!  I refused to entertain them when they spoke to me in their local dialect and I imposed that they should at least speak to me in English eventhough it is jumbled up with many Malay words but they remained adamant that they did not want to try and in the end my English lessons were all conducted in Bahasa Melayu, a language they clearly understood. 

I kept on reminding all my students that it takes a lot of practice and effort for a person to be good in the language and it is insufficient with mere homework alone but sadly my advice had fallen on deaf ears.  You need to speak, eat and drink the language, if I may say, to get a firm grasp on it.  Sadly, that is not the situation laid on some English teachers' paths. Instead, we have stubborn students who want to get As or passes for English but are  lazy to bring their textbooks and dictionary, students who expect teachers to read their literature book aloud for them, to give free translation services, to ignore the fact that they haven’t completed their homework, to do this and to do that and the list is never ending.

It is not easy being an English teacher especially when professionals such as doctors, engineers or even religious teachers who themselves don’t give proper credit to it.  But it is even more so difficult when you are an English teacher in a society of adolescents who feel that life can go on without the perks of learning English.  These, are the walls that have been prohibiting my love for English to become an addiction among my students.  

It’s okay because I shall wait for the icing on the cake..but how can I get it when there is NO cake to ice?  Hahaha… Well, don’t get me wrong, this is just plain me printing my ramblings for the world to see… Hmm, guess I’ll have to cancel vacationing this December and focus on my cupcake business..at least I know my invisible customers would not kill my love for baking.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

At least 3...

I must admit that I was never known to be an excellent writer nevertheless this fact has never deterred me from words that I grew to love through my readings.  I love words because through them I have learnt to express myself, that is, in my mediocre ways as my friend had said once to me. 

My passion for words came during those cold, peaceful nights in November when the rains would play tricks on you and boggle your mind into thinking whether it would drop or not.  I was with my mother and no one else except for the quietness of the moment to entice us with nature’s best companion; the clouds in the dark sky hovering above our heads like black balls of cotton.  The only irony of that moment was in between the darkness of the night was a streak of yellow coming from the moon giving light to the feeble creatures on the planet. It was then, like a strike from the fairy godmother’s wand that I had the initiation to write.

My first born story was about the ups and downs of being a vertically challenged person which, I thought could amuse people. But then again, at the age of 12 it was excusable for me to be naïve!  Thinking that my anecdote could regal many lives, I wrote without any stop signs or junctions to abide to.  I wrote what I felt, the sorrows of being called numerously a midget for the simplest sin of standing at 4’ 5” foot tall, or the times when I would pass by perfectly beautiful evil girls and they would say “Hi, Ewoks” just for the fact that I was short and fat, or when I would put my hand up in class but no one would take notice or even when they sometimes nicknamed me Mrs. Invisible for being heard but never seen.  That was not hurtful enough, being blessed with the toughest of hearts I managed to face it all, but my heart sank in the courtyard when a boy failed to notice me for he thought I was a Grade 4 girl. Juvenile! That was his description of me!  And so began the story of how badly I was treated and name called and my unrequited love and on how Zulfadlizan only noticed me when he wanted porn materials from my brothers.

I managed to pour out all my thoughts onto paper and proudly I showed it to my mother to whom I regard as my worst critic.  Worst depicts her precisely for she had no mercy when she commented on this frail 12 year old girl’s virgin writing. “Mediocre” is how she had begun her first phase of skinning me alive.  “You don’t have style or even good choice of words. This work is so hurried” How was I supposed to feel?  Shattered? No, not me so the following day without any inspirations to begin with, I rewrote my story on the hazards of being short. Only this time I managed to put some thoughts into it before I had executed it on paper.  I chose my words carefully and strung them neatly like an expensive piece of a pearl necklace that you would see displayed in Mikimoto in my attempt to amuse my beloved mother. I tried to add the void of style by referring to books I was fond of reading and when I finished, I presented the paper to her like a student to a teacher.

She read it with a tinkle in her eyes which I thought meant her approval of it.  But no for she did not when she said to me “It’s good Kida, but not good enough.” She paused a moment there and I knew she was scrambling for nice words to utter “There is so much emotion lacking in it.  You should not hurry when you write” To think of the time and effort that I had put, how could she have said that my feelings and my thoughts were written in a haste? And that is when my heart got broken and never was I able to mend it again.  I was crushed to the ground.
I restarted my passion when I was surrounded by all sorts of people who were very apt and able in English when I was an undergraduate in TESL at an old but distinguished quiet college in Cheras.  Seeing that these friends of mine were on a writing spree, I decided to join in on the bandwagon and like a déjà vu, I remembered the annihilation by my mother reprising itself when they too, my new found friends, called me mediocre.  I knew there and then that I was never ever meant to write on the wonderful workings of the world or even on the interesting yet peculiar beings that I would stumble upon in my adventures.  I was hurt, yes, embarrassed, true enough, but most of all I was torn!  It was then my so called passion became dormant in an instant as I had been given the same comments that had attacked me aggressively 6 years ago.

When things repeat itself countless times in your life, you tend to believe the messages that it signals you.  I knew it was a sign to stop and I understood it quite well but as a person who is as hard as steel, I started to write again when my son came as an inspiration to me.  I am now 32, and like it was during my naivety and mediocrity, bullets would come forth shooting me straight to my heart to wear me down when friends to whom I seek approval of, would say the same darn things “hmm..Fida, honestly, you just don’t have the flair” or “mmm.. it is quite on the surface or just too shallow”   and not to mention the ‘not deep enoughs’.  
Why is it that when every time that I send my writings on what I feel, on my own thoughts, in my own way, about my own self, I need to conform to the ways of others? I have to admit my writings are naturally stunted but that is just me and this is how I am comfortable when putting my thoughts across. But then again, has it ever occurred to anyone that if I were to have the same flair like some bereaved Mr or Mrs. X, than it just would not be me? 

However, despite all the negativity, at least you will have fans of your own who would add zest to your mundane life and although life may be cruel and bitter, but it tends to ooze out its sweetness too.  Just a simple yelp helps to patch up a broken skin, but the ‘oohs’ and the ‘aahs’ heal it almost immediately. 

Hence, it is indeed a luxury to be able to have dear friends, who are not scared to be inconspicous of their opinions but it is a treasure to have friends, be it just 3, who manage to feel your emotions without comparing it to other wonderful works, and it is even nicer when one of them says to you “Why should you make it any different? It is your work, your thoughts and your emotions! To characterize your life in accordance to the way of others would just not make your life yours, now, would it?”  To which I would like to end my mediocrity by typing, to hell with all the negativity and not too much feeling in your story.  At least I have found my greener pastures in friends who love me for being mediocre me, even if it is at least 3.     

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

There is a silver lining behind every clouds!

A week before the recent school holiday started, my school was given another week off as a safety measurement against the H1N1 pandemic that was attacking the country.

60 of our students had been going to the Klinik Kesihatan that was  around the corner over a period of 2 days which alerted the doctor to carry out check-ups in the school hall when another 40 students came down with fever the following 2 days.  That was when the PPD finally declared our school grounds unsafe and we were put into quarantine. There were mixed reactions between the teachers and students upon knowing about these sudden days off.  Some were put into a state of euphoria for it meant extra relaxing time as the school holidays would continue immediately after the quarantine period but for others it meant far beyond that, something as close to a death threat.  Personally, it meant a bit of both. 

Today, no more students come to school with temperatures that reach 39.8 degree celcius and today there is no more relaxing time but today we were given a shocking news.  As usual, I would reach school at 7.25 (which is considered bloody late, but hell I need to settle my kids first)just in time to miss all the long announcements and presentations during the morning assembly.  As I was emerging from the corridor, everyone was in a state of  lunacy.  Teachers were talking among themselves with serious looks on their faces and hands waving in the air gesturing the seriousness of their speech, students who cared nonetheless about the announcement, were giggling as if they had found a sack of gold and the Vice Principal was telling the students to calm down only to fail in vain.

Oh, no! I said to myself..thinking about one possibility that turned instantly to Oh, YES! Yes again! Are we on another week off? Come on, let's bring out the champagne and celebrate!! To think of the late morning wake-ups and still be lying in bed at 10.30 managed to put a disgusting grin on my face when a colleague of mine took a jackhammer and shattered those fine thoughts to tiny little pieces when she said, "Fida, do you know that we have to replace 4  school days because of the H1N1."  

What??..replacement for days off that we never applied for? Well, that's typical. This isn't the first time that the government has given us surprises as such!  Remember the time our state minister announced a public holiday because the state won in a soccer tournament? Remember what happened after that? A replacement day! So this 'shocking news' failed to amuse me, but what is with all the fuss?  It's not like it's the end of the world.  Yeah, I know that replacing school days is such a nuisance for us and it means our rest days are cruelly snatched from us, meaning less time spent for children and all and it is more so depressing that we had NEVER applied for the leave but was ASKED to go on leave but what kept me unperturbed was the fact that I have learned to handle these situations calmly based on previous experiences.  I now hold on to this rule of thumb, when you are a civil servant, ALWAYS expect the unexpected!

Look on the bright side, if it were not for the H1N1 holiday, we wouldn't have postponed the examinations to commence this week to the end of next.  And that means no teaching with a loud voice to avoid your students from becoming sleepy, no chasing around after scoundrels or even repeating yourself over and over and over again for at least one week and a half during the fasting month which means a whole lot than to use up 4 of my Saturdays to replace the lost school days and it means a whole lot more considering the fact that this is Ramadhan.  Knowing the students in my school, since 2 Saturdays will be used during this fasting month, I dare bet RM1000 to say that only a bunch might come so, not much teaching again.  Isn't that something positive to look forward to?

Frankly speaking, I would rather replace those lost school days than not being able to satisfy my thirst completely after my throat has been dried out by teaching with a cold and sweaty, tall glass of iced lemon tea especially when the days are scorching hot . Would you not agree?

Well, this is it for my plain ramblings today.