• بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ


    17th March 2023 | 1100PM

    The guard at the counter was well aware that we were summoned to go up to the ICU. Kak Yan, Mak, and I, went up first. I pressed the intercom on the left wall, and we entered. The nurses and on-call doctor greeted us. I took both of them to see Abah. Mak immediately cried seeing her husband behind the two sets of glass doors, barely breathing with the help of tons of machines. Beeping continuously, breaking the silence of the room. Mak stood near the glass doors, her eyes fixated on Abah. She mumbled prayers under her breath. 

    She seldom showed us this side of her. At that frozen moment, Mak was scared, that fear wrapped the three of us. The nurses asked us kindly to wait in the waiting room outside, as the doctor would like to talk to the whole family. So we walked away hesitantly.

    Eleven of us were seated in a circle in that quiet cold room. Only a repeated beep was heard from across the room. Mak was dry-coughing, and sometimes baton-passing it to Kak Yan. Sniffles of a runny nose from a few of us. The stillness was too loud, it was deafening. We waited eagerly for almost five minutes before the on-call doctor greeted us with a smile behind her face mask. She sat closest to the door and asked each and every one of us, who is who. She said a few sorries to Mak and asked if she was doing okay since she heard Mak was coughing.

    She started her sharing by saying her whole team has tried their best, but to this very moment, Abah's condition keeps on declining. Kak Farah was seated right next to her, as she's the most familiar with all the jargon she's using, to simplify it and throw the information back at us. 

    She added that there was no improvement in his condition and even the blood pressure medication, didn't help. At this rate, CPR wasn't gonna help, the risk of broken ribs, would only lengthen Abah's suffering. Being critically ill and the severe infection resistance to the antiviral and antibacterial, she was worried that the whole organ would collapse by the ticking clock. The kidney, liver, heart, and even the brain, all would be affected due to his intubation. She nervously cackled, under her voice saying that this was her first time handling a patient that needed up to 5 administrations of blood pressure medication. By the layer of her nervousness, she didn't want to sugarcoat the current situation, but at the same time, she was respectful enough to not throw us with the hard-swallowing facts, that we might be counting down to Abah's very last moments. 

    In brief, she apologized to everyone, especially to Mak. She repeatedly said that all we could do now was to pray as hard as possible, but again, the possibility that Abah's recovery was slim chance. She hoped that the whole family would prepare mentally, and physically, cause Abah's condition at that hour was too fragile. She won't make any promises, and before she excused herself, she apologized to Mak once more. 

    The room was enveloped in loud silence again. Mak quickly stood up, and we turned to her almost instantaneously. 

    "Nak tunggu apa lagi ni? Jom balik" She muttered in her cracked voice. She sniffled. Wiped away some tears left from her eyes. We got up and took the lift back to the lobby. Everyone's eyes were red from crying, from fighting off sleepiness, from the scary feeling of the night that would change the course of our lives, forever. The night shift stays, Kak Farah, Abg Mie, Along, and Kak Long While Angah, Kak Ida, the kids, Kak Yan, Mak, and I, be on standby at home. 

    Though Kak Yan drove smoothly, I felt every little bump of the road cause it was overwhelming to process. I rubbed some balm on Mak's chest, to relieve her coughing. She immediately lie down on the couch when we got back, I fed her cough syrup, to push down the phlegm. She whispered Astaghfirullah under her breath. I curled beside her on the floor. My head was heavy, like a pressing gavel, I need to catch some sleep, not much, just by a little. 


    18th March 2023 | 0130AM

    My phone rang at around 0122AM, it was the inevitable call. The ICU asked whoever was available or near the hospital compound, if anyone at all, would like to take a look at Abah, could go up to the ICU at level 4. I told the Whatsapp group, asking Kak Farah, Along, Kak Long, and Abg Mie, to go up to the ICU, cause Abah was critically ill. 

    Kak Farah took a photo of Abah with a message, asking for everyone to come, Abah's blood pressure dropped to 40. It was just a waiting game now. Kak Yan squatted beside me, she poked me cause I fell asleep. My half-asleep body was registering her pointing to the phone, with a text from Kak Farah. 

    "Kalau dah tak ada siapa yang nak tengok, doktor nak off machine" There was a cold shiver up my spine. Abg Ngah and Kak Ida sprinted off back to the hospital. I heard their car drive away. Kak Yan was sniffling when she asked me to wake Mak up. I collected myself, and the both of us lean closer to Mak's small frame. I shook her body, and her eyes snapped open. 

    "Mak..." she let out a loud sigh. Her eyeballs moved between me and Kak Yan. "Kenapa?" she asked softly. 

    "Mak, Abah dah tenat...doktor nak tutup mesin pernafasan Abah..."I choked at my words. To my surprise, Mak was unfazed, she remained calm, took a deep breath, and looked beyond the four walls of our living room. 

    "Takpelah, kalau dah tiba masa dia nak pergi, Mak redha" she wiped her face. Mak exudes a strong acceptance spirit. She won't show it, but I know her heart sunk deep. 

    The very next task at my hand was another heavy hitting one. Kak Yan whispered,

    "Dik, prepare mesej nak announce Abah meninggal siap-siap, nanti nak blast dekat semua kenalan dia." That was the hardest one-liner that I have to type and save on draft. My hand was shaking, but a job needed to be done.


    It was a simple text from Kak Farah. 

    "Abah dah tak ada dah..." Mak and I were asleep when that happened. I was awakened by Kak Yan's strong poke. The 24hrs stay over at the hospital really took a toll on me. I read the text, trying to connect the straightforward dots. In four words, Abah has passed away. 

    That morning felt awfully hushed. As if the whole world was standing still. The trees stopped swaying, and no heavy clouds puffed over. the sky was clear. There was very little wind, all I knew was that we had to bear the news to Mak. She was huffing in her sleep. I pulled her blanket to properly cover her little feet. Kak Yan and I leaned over, once more. We both shook her body at the same time, gently. 

    She turned to us, with sleepy eyes, waiting for us to deliver it straight. "Mak...Abah dah meninggal," She sighed in Innalillahiwainnalillahirojiun under her breath. She cried softly, but the inner sobbing was too loud it pierced through the quiet night. Both of us offer ourselves up to her almost instantly. She collected herself to get up. 

    "Mak nak pergi mana?" She just walked into her room, ever so silently, and took the ablution and perform solat. I was still rubbing off the sleepiness in my eyes, but the porch outside is already well-lit, Abg Mie got back from the hospital and started cleaning up and threw out the carpets, moved the dining table, to free up the porch. To make space, for Abah's body. 

    Later that morning

    We had to shake off the doozies. Kak Farah, Along, and Kak Long waited at the forensics for the body. I heard Kak Ida and Abg Ngah park the car after a while. Kak Yan handed me Abah's phone, it's my job now. Spreading the heartbreaking news. It was 5AM in the morning, and you could've imagined people picking up the phone with their half-awaken voices. I kept my composure with the same script from one number to another. 

    "Hello, Assalamualaikum. Ni Ustaz XX/Cik XX/, maaflah telefon pagi-pagi, saya Anas, anak Ustaz Mad, (they always am puzzled when it comes to this part), nak bagitahu, Abah baru meninggal." I brought up the news, and it was a repeated cracking Allahuakbar from the other end, every single one of them. It's like a loud and painful scream, but expressive only with that one powerful word, ALLAHUAKBAR! Everyone was in shock. The details entailed afterward. When, how, when will the body be brought home, when is the burial, where is the burial. 

    I was never prepared for such a role, but when things like this happened, you just gotta do it. No questions asked, do it and be done with it. That breaking dawn, me and Abg Mie chased after Abg Lan, the bilal who performed Azan at the surau in front of our house. Broke the news, he screamed so loud, it brought tears back to both me and Abg Mie. He was disbelieved. Repeatedly saying he has learned so much from late Abah, who should he ask for? He still got a lot of questions. He cried in Abg Mie's embrace. Wiped off his sniffles, and collected himself. We gave enough information for him to spread the news around, and he walked away to call the Subuh prayers. 

    More phone calls in between, more Allahuakbar shrieked from the other end of the line, more hearts were broken, our aunties and uncles, close relatives, called us back to confirm the news, heavy liest the job of a news bearer. 

    Jemaah from Seksyen 5 started coming in, neighbors who heard the news, me, and Abg Mie were outside all the time, to greet them in, and share more information of how the business would be sorted that morning. Double confirming the cemetery for the burial, who's handling it, and when the body will be brought back. How is it gonna be, for how long? All these questions were asked like million-dollar questions.

    It was around 8AM+ that Abah arrived home. The house was already filled with people, close and far away relatives, neighbors that I could tell by their faces and know half of their names. It was cramped. They gave way for Abah to be placed inside the house. My whole body trembled. Cloaked in whites, frozen, sniffles and gloom shrouding the house. I could hear Yassin being read, around the clock. Cik Ton, a dear friend of our family sat behind me and Mak. 

    All guests circle around, and Ustaz Faiz led the Yassin recitation. While, Kak Yan, Abg Ngah, Kak Farah, Mak, and I, sitting in front of Abah. Mak leaned closer when they opened up the cloth that covered Abah's face, Mak wept, silently but the tears were too loud, and every single soul in the room started crying. 

    I took a long hard look at Mak, her eyes were fixated on the floor, and her face was tilted down, she was just lost his husband, All I could tell was that Mak was broken, shattered into million pieces. The view I would never wanna see, not from Mak. The Yassin recitation was still ongoing, and slowly, I reached for Mak's left hand, and gripped it tightly, in hope that I could collect the pieces, and if not put it back together, at least I wanna let Mak know, we were here Mak...your children are all here right by your side. Cry all you want Mak, he's the love of your life. Cry all you want Mak, he's been the breadwinner of the family for so long. Cry all you want Mak, he's the father to your children. Cry all you want Mak, he was loved, he lived well, he got to perform Umrah for the last time, with you by his side, and he passed peacefully.

    More and more people came in, our small house was already cramped and it was hard to make who's who. One by one, they stood ever silently in front of Abah's frozen body, with their heavy gaze, almost like a final goodbye. One of our aunties came in and hugged Abah tightly, and cried heavily, she didn't wanna let go, and Kak Yan had to calm her down. She was the closest to Abah, as she was the youngest daughter in the family. The clock struck 930AM, and people are still coming in and flooding the heart of the house, but we had to get Abah to be bathed, put on his last clothes, final prayer for him, and have the burial. 

    Along and I hopped in the van, I hold on to Abah's temporary casket, whispering Al-Fatihah under my breath. The van drove off to Masjid Batu Arang for Abah's final worldly business. It is the responsibility of the sons, to bathe, clothe him in his final shroud, pray for him, and to bury him. 

    The committee of the surau, briefed me and Along, that we're the ones who should be handling Abah's final bath, cause we're the sons. They will guide and teach from step A until the finish, but they trust us to follow thru and do it with our sincerest hearts. This is one of the few final acts of service for Abah. Angah, Abg Mie, a few of my male cousins, one of my uncles, and a neighbor joined shortly. But most of the steps were done by the four of us, Abah's sons. I didn't hesitate at all, I need to see that Abah is all clean, if not like a newborn baby, I want Abah to be neat. There were a few needle spots at the back of his hand, that I massaged gently, my heart shrunk, knowing all the pains he must've dealt those 48 hours at the ICU. He can rest now. 

    Before Abah was pat dry, we performed his last ablution, to finish the bathing steps. The white kafan shrouding Abah was perfumed well, and we position Abah over facing Kiblah. Opened the door for family members to come in and pay final respects. We took turns kissing Abah, hug him, and when all is done, we placed him back on the carrier, to be carried inside the mosque. The main prayer hall was already filled with people. I could count up to 3-4 lines of Jemaah, standing by to perform solat jenazah for Abah.

    This was actually my first time experiencing that after the prayer was done, they opened the carrier back, and those who haven't got the chance to see Abah, shall do so. The first to come forward was Along, then Angah, then Abg Mie, then Kak Farah, then I came in. As if we don't wanna let him go, I kissed Abah for the longest time, hugged him ever so tightly, and retreated back within the Jemaah circling Abah. Some familiar faces took turns, even Abah's old friends drove all the way from Sungai Buloh and god knows where just to pay their final respect to Abah. I saw Cik Pah, our long-standing almost bonded by blood ex-neighbor, who was super close to Mak and Abah, even called Abah and Mak as her younger siblings. She came slowly, looking at close distance, downwards at Abah, and quickly wiped her falling tears with her handkerchief. 

    Some of my friends came too, to my surprise, and they felt the love of the people who came to visit Abah in that big prayer hall.

    The Burial

    Did you know that in that very cemetery, by the start of my parents moved in the township, all who passed away before them, were buried there. This would include Cik Ton's husband, dear Haji Ropi, our supposedly latest princess addition to the family was also buried there. Mak's best friend, Cik Laili, our dear Opah (Abah's paternal mom). And to our surprise, when we got there, Abah's final resting place, was on the same row as Opah's. 

    The weather was clear, with no signs of rain. Along, Abg Mie, and I jumped in the grave, to carefully lay Abah in his final resting place. I embraced Abah's lower torso, gently snuck him in my hug, lowering the body together in sync with Along and Abg Mie, and mindfully placing the earth-balls, to support Abah's back, the side of the cheek as the pillow, and lastly, I arranged the wooden planks to cover Abah's up. I felt heaviest when arranging the final piece of wood. Once I cover it up, there's no more visual of Abah in his white shroud. That's it, it's time to fill up the grave, it's almost done. 

    Abah's grave was slowly mounted with red soil. I watched from a distance, shaking off the remaining soil and dirt in my hair. Finding my bearing to stand still after the whole ordeal. We sat down near the grave, and the Imam starts the talqin.

    "Dari dia kita datang, kepada dia kita kembali" the talqin was loud and clear. All who came scattered under the tree, sat in the nearby hut, just to get close, The imam finish it off with Al-Fatihah, and slowly, bit by bit, they disperse and left the cemetery. Some may head to our house to pay a visit to Mak, some may go straight home for a full rest of the weekend. 

    The rest of us walked over to pay Opah a visit. 

    "Lapan bulan je, dia panggil anak dia balik." Angah mouthed, which struck as deeply to us. Opah left us late July of last year, and now we had to say goodbye to Abah. As if they had promised to each other, that they wanna be this close, till hereafter. Then we walked over to our niece's grave.

    To think of, how we were supposed to celebrate and welcome her, grandiosely. Show her all the love she could get from this beautiful unkempt, temporary unfair world, filled with hearts of balance love, and hatred.

    I could never imagine how Mak is dealing with all this. She was so so strong. In between takes of lives, she lost her granddaughter, her best friend, her mother-in-law, and her lawfully wedded for 44 years of husband. 

    "The eyes are shedding tears, and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation."

    We shook hands with all the Jemaah, say our many thanks, and were grateful that they come and pay final respect and pray for my Abah. A few hugs were exchanged, and goodbyes for now.

    The worst part of all this was, you have got to keep strong, chin up, keep a straight face at work, keep laughing off small jokes from your friends, and keep coming back home to the absence of the most prominent figure of the house. I know if I were ever to feel missing his presence, my mom would feel 10 times more devastatingly horrible. Between her and me, she lost the love of her life, her life partner, her lawful husband, and her shoulder to lean on. And I know for a fact that being completely alone in a quaint space, that feeling so vast it echoed. 

    44 years of living with your significant other, and abruptly living without. Adapting is the cruelest part. But we all got roles to play, collecting our little strength to get back up. Keep moving forward, even though a little piece of ourselves, a little piece of myself, was still stuck on the glass doors of the ICU ward, looking in. Waiting for someone to wake me up from these horrid dreams, whispering it's all a fake scene, and my Abah stands well.

    But I need to realize, that this solidity I'm projecting, is for my mom. Keep going strong, keep holding on for as long as I could, continue waking up every single day, and keep on being the youngest kid, even though I don't get to have a dad anymore. 😔

    -to be continued.

  • There's nothing quite fearful of losing someone most dear to you, let alone, your own dad. This log would be my personal record of how I remembered Abah's final moments before his passing. This would be a hard pill to swallow.

    بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

    16th March 2023 | 1223PM

    Firstly, I remembered that the day was as bright as the sun that afternoon. All is well, but there's this little hunch of what's left of my guilty heart, that I decided to leave Abah, Mak, and Kak Yan all alone at home. Unfortunately, that very hunch is what came true all along. Around that afternoon, when to my knowledge that my whole siblings were out and about at work, we got a ping from Kak Yan, saying that Abah fell. 

    With her little coarse voice, she shrieked, begging for someone nearest to hurry and help, cause Abah was gasping for air in front of the bathroom door. My heart shrunk, the intimidating fear shrouded my afternoon, I left work as soon as I could, even asked the driver to drive quickly but go carefully. 

    My SIL and her two kids were the first to arrive, followed by Abg Mie. The family group on WhatsApp was busy with updates on their whereabouts. I had to be dropped halfway since they made it to the Hospital Al-Sultan Abdullah (HASA) UiTM, Puncak Alam. Abg Mie picked me up, and he stepped on the gas harder than a rock. When I got there, I literally ran to the reception counter, and asked the emergency department, since we arrived from the main lobby. 

    I saw Kak Ida (SIL) and my niece with her boyfriend busy filling up the registration form, she started crying, "Anas, macam mana ni, Kak Ida menggigil bawa kereta, Abah tak sedarkan diri" And that was probably the worse statement that I don't ever wanna hear again. We both walked to the emergency ward and were greeted by a doctor in pink outfit. She asked a lot of questions, how did it happen, how long Abah had been down with a fever, did he went abroad, how long, did anyone in his close contact is also having a fever, and for me, at that very moment, I thought my brain couldn't process it at once, so I answered briefly, and hopeful that that would be sufficient for them, to help them understand Abah's condition.

    He was placed behind the glass door. Right in front of my eyes, Abah was helpless on the cold bed with a blue bedsheet, his body was wrapped with tubes and wires and straps and it was awful to watch. My heart sank, seeing his weak waves of breath. His chest was moving up and down, ever so slowly, and the gaping mouth, panting and gasping for as much air as possible. The worse sight I would never forget.

    Allahuakbar - never could I imagine Abah would end up in this state. The nurses showed us to the waiting room, just a few steps away from the glass door. But we went outside first to the registration counter since Along, Kak Long had just arrived and they were waiting with Abg Mie, and my niece and nephew. I helped my niece fill up the registration form. pass over Abah's pensioner card, while Kak Ida guides the rest to the waiting room in the emergency ward. 

    They peeked at Abah's weak body through the glass window, and we gathered in the waiting room. Minutes passed, and we got the first visit from a specialist doctor. He was calm and articulated each detail of what was going on. Abah's heart rate was fast, but his oxygen level was super low, at a reading of 82%, hence he couldn't control his breathing and often gasped for air. His lung was weak, and his body was still fighting the bacteria. The doctor pre-diagnosed Abah, with a lung infection. There was devastating silence in the room. Processing each word and bad news from the doctor. He then asked for us to keep on praying hard, they'll monitor Abah's condition until further updates are at their disposal. 

    An hour passed, and another doctor came in, the emergency ward's doctor, same questions were asked, the same updates, but no good news yet. My heart was suffocating, eager to hear at least one good news from any of them. Then came in another doctor, the On-Call doctor, same roll. Questions were asked, same updates of what they pre-diagnose Abah with. Then came another doctor, the anesthetist, asking if Abah have any history of heart condition before, has Abah admitted or hospitalized before, did he showed any symptoms of asthma, did he took any supplements, be it traditional or any sort. We said no the two later questions, but Abah did get a neb once, over a year ago cause he was complaining that he had breathing difficulty. 

    There were stories shared between the five of us, Kak Ida was on her way to my parent's house, as he prepared crab soup, requested by Abah the night prior. The rest of us were at work, we haven't had our lunch yet that time, and the clock struck 4PM. My stomach was growling, luckily Abg Mie ran to his office to get his stuff and brought some drinks and bread. Since no one is at home to look after the two sick members, Abg Mie decided to go back with the kids. At least someone should be at home to look after the two. 

    Secondly, I called my cousin to look after my Mom and Kak Yan, and she take note of that. Before sunset, the earlier anesthetist call us up, since they were administering new medicine for Abah, he needs to be intubated, and moved to the ICU. They called us up and let us see Abah for the first time, the second I saw my dear Abah, he was wide awake, slouched his body forward, and his face was bitter and tired. He immediately saw his kids behind the glass window. My eyes went blurry as quick as I saw him set his pair of weak eyes on me. I gave him a sign to stay strong, put my fist up on my chest, and pat my chest, signaling that Abah needs to fight it, I know he could. He nodded softly. I know he tried to carve a smile, I put my hands on the window, Along, and Kak Long waved to him, and he nodded again. All I could hear was a loud sniffle from Kak Long, and maybe Along too. But I was to laser-focused on my dear Abah.

    I mouthed "Abah kena kuat, Abah kena kuat, Abah kena kuat" He tried sitting straight from his slouch, and he was trying to take a look at us, and I mouthed "Adik sayang Abah..." God knows if he could read my lips, but I'm sure at that time, the message was loud and clear. Glided through the echoing emergency ward, though our voices couldn't be heard, and it was probably a muffled sound to him, I knew, he understood that his kids loved him so very much and that we needed him to recover. I wanna take him home, and massage his legs when he's tired of walking and driving. Thousands of vivid memories of him and I, replayed in my mind in that quick passing minute. The nurses looked at us from inside the room as if understands that we can't waste much time and that he needs to be intubated and moved to the ICU. My whole body shivers at seeing his frail frame, we slowly walked away from the glass window, probably the hardest steps I took my whole life, and I could see him following our shadows, hoping to see his kids again. 


    There weren't any hustle and bustle over at the emergency ward, everything seems to be in order, very calm, and collected. The big orange ball sets soundly, and the cold wind seeps in.

    Though I only had one piece of bread, I wasn't so hungry at the time, the anxiousness kicks in, and I just want my Abah back standing on his two feet. Prayers were like chains, going round and round, in an endless loop, in the request of any good news bestowed upon us. The small prayer room was my only witness that I cried, wailed, whined, howled, and bellowed like a lost soul. I would trade everything in my possession that night, for my Abah to get better. My sight was blurred by the overflowing tears, my heart was heavy, and the realization was too painful to be processed. 

    There was the first call from the ICU since I put my number as the emergency contact. They were asking for consent to plug in the cardiac output machine, which will cost around RM800, and they're administering the 4th meds for Abah. I straight away gave my consent without any discussion, cause at that time, I believe that was the best for him. And it has been almost 7 hours we waited with no good news from them. The hospital operates on a standard operation hour, so the lobby was quiet by night time. We nestled ourselves in the discharge lounge and take turns reciting Yassin, praying, catch a difficult nap for a few good minutes. The second call was around 10PM when the ICU doctor asked us to go up and see her. I went up with Kak Long. Again, there wasn't much improvement, rather than his heart rate has been normal, his temperature receded, and his breathing was much calmer than before. 

    We updated the family. What items do they need, such as Linovera Oil for Abah's legs, to circulate the blood better, stockings, disposable Pampers in size M or bigger, and wet wipes. Kak Farah arrived from Penang around 1230AM. Along, Kak Long, Angah, Kak Ida, and I, decided to be on standby at the hospital in case the doctor would call us up. Abg Mie and Kak Farah would be on standby at home to take care of Mak and Kak Yan. That's the first day shift.

    At around 2AM, we were all fast asleep at the purple sofas, curling like shrimps cause it wasn't big enough to sleep on, to begin with. I was awakened at around 3AM by the clicking heels of the guards that took turns changing shifts, I got up, went to pee, did a brief solat hajat again, recite some Yassin again, pray some more, and whimper like a wolf. These were not just tears of sadness, these were tears of feeling helpless. There's so much you wanna do, but you can't. You just gotta keep waiting, for hours, with no good news, and preparing your mental check for the worst. These were tears of frustration, and I want so much to be by his side, and whisper the kalimah Syahadah, ask him to fight it off, I know his strong enough, he has shown nothing but endurance, for the past 31 years I've known him. These were tears of hopefulness that he would wake up again the next day. 

    I'm not giving up on him. Not tonight, not today, not ever. 

    17th March 2023 | 0717AM

    Right after Subuh prayer that morning, I straight away called the ICU, and asked for any update on Abah. According to the nurse on duty, Abah's BP was normal at 107/74, his pulse wasn't as fast as yesterday, and his SPO level was at 100% with the maximum capacity of the machine that helped him, but that's also credited to his willpower to fight off the breathing issue. That was some sort of relief to hear, that I quickly updated the group and called my dear friend, just a mere update of what was happening. And he asked me to keep strong, and he said that though he knows that it was almost impossible to do so, knowing how fragile our condition was, he urged for me to try, and he prayed for the best of news, he prayed for us, he prayed for Abah. I choked, breathless, swallowed my undeveloped words, and couldn't hold the overwhelming feelings that flooded my brain.

    We end the call, and I wiped away the falling tears, and the sky was gloomy at first, but the sun rose up and her rays filled up that morning. The rest of us had our breakfast that morning, and we freshen up. We managed a few smiles in our dry conversation, it's the beginning of a new day, and we got to visit Abah this afternoon according to the visitation hour. 

    I tried calling again around 9AM, but I was scolded by the staff, cause obviously I just called earlier at 7AM, and now urging for another update, she kindly advised saying that, if we wanna call up, yes sure go ahead, but they won't be having any hourly updates, let them call us for new information. To I obeyed. The four of them went home first to freshen up, shower, and change clothes, and I stayed at the discharge lounge. Listening to the TV when they're replaying tasbih, tahmid, and takbir. I prayed along, quietly. 

    1230PM | Visitation hour

    Kak Long and I quickly queued up, but to our surprise, there was already someone registered to visit Abah, and they were already in the ICU. They were couple who managed the agency that handles Abah's trip to Umrah. So we had to wait. No one told us anything about anyone coming to visit at such early time. We had to wait around 10-15 minutes before they came down, and we exchanged salam. No time to waste, Kak Long and I jolted to the counter, and we headed toward ICU at level 4. 

    It was another scene that I could never wipe away from my memory, seeing Abah intubated, with the full-fledged machine over on his left, right, above, and below. Tubes, wires, and straps, doubled from the ones in the emergency ward. He was separated by two glass doors, not one, but two. We couldn't go in, it was another case of seeing from behind the glass doors. We waited for the On-Call doctor to explain to us his condition that afternoon. 

    No significant progress from Abah so far. They're still administering 4th meds for him, fed him sugar solutions as his source of energy and food, and his pee was too little for his weight, and they slowly reducing the dosage of the 3 meds to let Abah fight it off on his own, and the reading wasn't significant enough to call it an improvement. According to him, unless they stopped one of the 4 medicines, not so much progress from Abah's initial condition. We let ourselves out, and Along and I went to the nearby mosque for Friday prayers. 

    It has officially been 24hrs since I've been in the hospital. Didn't shower, had very little sleep, and worried sick of my Abah. That evening, we decided to rotate our shifts. The five of us to go back, and the other two to take our place at the hospital. We agreed almost instantaneously. The four of us had quick lunch, that evening, I collected my belongings and went home with Angah. Along and Kak Long stayed for a while longer, waiting for the other two to arrive and they'll take turns between the four of them. 

    I greeted Mak, she had this puzzled look, of where could her youngest child be the whole day. I smiled lightly. Kissed and hold her tightly. Had my shower and a proper meal. Kak Farah and Abg Mie were already there on standby. Kak Long and Along were there too after they went home for a change of clothes.

    At around 850PM, I got another call from the ICU. I updated the group, the infection was getting worst, they ran a MERSCOV test, but the result was still pending. They administered the fifth meds to Abah now, called Meropenem (perhaps the strongest) to supply calcium directly to his heart. His heart rate was super weak, and when the on-call doc made her rounds, Abah's BP was also low at 73/85. They started antibiotics and antivirals. They've already called the kidney specialist to read on ureal complications in case of any issue since Abah didn't pee much. There was a possibility of dialysis. 

    It was indeed a long night for the whole family. I immediately called up whoever was available that night shift, to go up to the ICU, cause the doctor would like to see the next of kin. Kak Farah and Kak Long went up. Abg Mie has just arrived, and he got up too. 


    Kak Long video called the whole family. The medical doctor requested for us, as she has something to discuss with the whole family. Kak Yan and I woke Mak up. She startled, but almost immediately she could read the room. 

    "Mak, doktor nak jumpa semua ahli keluarga" I muttered. 
    "Sekarang ke?" she asked. I nodded. We helped her get ready and drove over to the hospital.

    The night was pitch black. Everyone was maybe getting their fully deserving rest for the weekend. The road was quiet, only a few cars passing by, as it was quite late. We got off at the main entrance, holding my Mak's hands, and she was ever so strong, stood there for a while, adjusted her posture, and walked with us. And just when I thought everything was over, it was far from done. And in fact, it was just the beginning of this shitty feeling that your heart can't ever be content. Forever longing. 

    -to be continued.
  • بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم

    Did you know that a few days before my 31st birthday, Abah texted me and asked me to join him for Umrah next year (March 2023). With a heavy heart, I didn't even reply to the text, cause I know how persuasive he could be. I'm still juggling my finances and all, In fact, he did ask all 6 of his kids to join him for that Umrah. Eventually, he managed to get my sister's (Kak Yan) interest to join. (*after a certain extent of negotiations too). 

    Long story short, their Umrah trip was scheduled from 4th March - 15th March. The 15th was their touchdown in Malaysia. So before the departure, we were talking about my parent's preparation for the pilgrimage, their health check, their mental check, and who's going to take care of the house, cause only my brother lives here beside them. There were these questions passed around between me and my siblings. What needs to be settled first, cause you know the saying of people going to Umrah/Haji, they shouldn't be worried about what's left at home, as they need to correct their intention of performing ibadah.

    4th March 2023

    If I could remember correctly, there were a few times that I checked on both my parents that night after I arrived home. Whether they have all their goods ready, clothing, medicines, towels, and toiletries, but a lot of the discussion was between me and my sis, since she's the chaperone. She was concerned of who'll be driving them to the airport, and what time shall everyone gather together before one trip there. So that morning, around 2AM, Mom's younger sister, Bik Ani arrived with her family. Did I tell you that she'll be joining the trio, so it's the four of them. 

    Since the departure was scheduled for around 845AM that morning, and all Jemaah needs to check in luggage at least 2 hours before that, and the agency requires them to be there even earlier than that, Kak Yan asked everybody to gather around 2AM+, which I laughed it off, cause knowing my family, we won't be on time, and that stresses her out. I remember we departed from home around 320AM and reaches KLIA at around 4AM. Wasn't so bad right? Plus we can't really go in and check in luggage, cause according to the agency, the counter will only open at 6AM. 

    So there goes the waiting game. The whole available seats in level 5 were occupied by Jemaah Umrah from various agencies and tourists waiting for their flights. There wasn't much going on, and we only talked amongst each other. Making sure my mom, Bik Ani, Abah, and Kak Yan were fully rested. Around 5AM, the agency distributed breakfast to all Jemaah, and Abah only ate the rice, cause it's fried rice with fried chicken, and Abah can't eat chicken. 

    After we checked in luggage, we gather around, exchanged stories, and pictures were taken, big smiles on everyone's faces. It was almost 8AM when they were allowed to pass the gate to go to the immigration so before that, there were hugs, kisses, and cries. I kissed Abah, Mak, Kak Yan, and Bik Ani a few times on the cheeks and forehead, and I was quickly disheartened by the fact that this was goodbye, at least for now. Cried a little, but I taught myself to show strength, cause heck my Mom was super steady, she even overtook the rest of the Jemaah to be in the front row, how even?

    The rest of my siblings went home almost right away when the shadows of the four of them disappeared at the departure hall, but Kak Farah, Kak Ida, and I went ahead to the observation deck and waited a few more minutes to see them pass us by. I even managed to get a video of Abah waving at us, gloriously as if saying, "Abah pergi dulu, jaga diri." It wasn't necessarily sad, but more of a humbling feeling. 

    We sat there, waiting for their flights to take off - but since it was still early, we saw the bus drive away to Terminal 3, and their plane Oman Air was waiting for them. So after a long empty look, we took off. 

    In Between 

    Kak Yan updated a few photos of how picturesque Makkah and Madinah were. You could feel the holy city, and everyone let out this humbling vibe of trying their level best to be the most obedient servant to the greater god, Allah swt. 

    Just that, on the 4th day of the trip, Abah fell sick. He was having an on-off fever, and lost his appetite to eat heavy meals, which then leads to him not having enough energy to perform wholeheartedly in Makkah. Kak Yan was overwhelmed and often shared to us that she's worried of Abah's condition. 

    Lucky for Abah, he was taken care of by the amazing Jemaah in the agency, they gave him meds, made sure that he have something to eat, and got plenty of rest. According to Mom, Abah even manage to do all the ibadah wajib, if not with a companion, he did it alone. The cough he was having, that fever, he kept saying, those were his tests.

    We did text occasionally throughout his trip there. Abah dekat mana? Abah dah makan ke belum? Abah mcm mana harini? All the cliche questions we would ask our parents when they were away from us. He did tell me that his fever made him uncomfortable. He was having a runny nose and lost his appetite to eat. So being a bossy youngest child, I told him to wear a few layers of clothing during nighttime, drink a lot of air zamzam, don't forget to eat his meds, and take vitamin C, which atypically, he only replied with ya, InsyaAllah. 

    It was around the same time that all 4 of them fell sick, cause of the weather changes. So Kak Yan updated us on how's Mom, and Bik Ani's condition was, but since Kak Yan herself was sick, she couldn't talk much, cause her chest was heavy with a dry cough. 

    Abah updated me with pictures surrounding his hotel room. The sunrise, with the caption: Suria pagi dari bumi Madinah. Though it wasn't the best sunrise picture in history, that's the most special sunrise picture to me. The same day he was sharing that last night, he was feeling super cold and his whole body shivered and he felt like dying. To which I responded "Abah pakailah dua tiga lapis baju", and he replied with a simple "Ya."

    Occasionally, he did share some pictures, and videos of himself during the visit, some selfies from the group, and updated that he was doing okay, that he had already eaten his medicine, and last one was when he told me that he was waiting for Asr prayers at 350PM. 

    15th March 2023

    I swear it was super early in the morning that my lazy ass usually needed at least 3-4 sets of alarms to get me to awaken, but it was almost automatically that I'm wide awake. It was right after Subuh prayer that Abg Mie and I drove off to KLIA. The air was cold, the sky was still dark, and just a little brim of lights on our way there. I put on the Flight Radar app on my phone, and the plane safely landed around 7AM sharp. That morning was rather calm, with not too many people hustling out, I waited patiently at the International Arrival gate. And there I saw Bik Ani and Mak walking slowly, and Abah follow suit, but Kak Yan was left at the luggage collection. 

    The three of them look lethargic, perhaps the jetlag. There was some issue with Mak and Kak Yan's luggage that needed settling, but Angah drove off with Mak and Abah first. 

    All I know was that they slept like a baby for the first few hours when they arrived home. Adjusting to the timezone again, adapting to the home country's weather again. It all seems normal at first. until we all gather for a meal that late evening, Abah didn't join us. When I went to check, his temperature spiked, and he was shivering crazily. 

    Panicly, I went to get a wet towel to pat his head and the balance coconut drinks that we bought earlier this morning. For him to drink, so that he could pee away the heat. Fed him some soup, but he refused to eat it, he only sips a lot of the coconut drink, and I gave him a couple of paracetamol. 

    So the fever prolonged even after he touched down home. We were worried-sick, and asked him a couple of times shall we take him to the clinic, but again, he shooked his head. That night after Maghrib, I bathed him, and the temperature receded a bit, and he manage to sleep it off. 

    Along and Kak Long came to visit, Along massaged Abah's leg gently, and Kak Long cooked some rice porridge. If I knew then, I should've stayed to take care of Abah that night, but I left cause I gotta go back to the office the very next day.

    I was praying hard that Allah could grant him his health back, fight off the painful fever, and bring Abah back to his feet. But I know nothing of how the story will go. And to how long I was dueling with this heavy feeling, it's like flickering lights from a candle that's been burning to its wick-end.

    -to be continued.