Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ties of Kinship

Yesterday we decided to drive all the way to Taman Murni, on the way to Kajang. Its like going to he other side of the world, so to speak. It does seem far if we do not use that route often. As usual we rushed off without any breakfast so we decided to stop at a row of small stalls to check the place out.

Cheap and Tasty Fare

Alhamdulillah! This stall right in front where we stopped was bursting all over with every kind of delicious looking food. My brother went straight for the Malay friend bihun (rice vermicelli)fried with some chili and I took a banana leaf wrapped nasi lemak (fragrant coconut cream rice with some friend peanuts, cucumber and a sweet and slightly hot chili sambal. Could not resist the hot crispy flour and veggie fritters so we had that too. Iced coffee as went down really well - have to admit that it was not a very healthy breakfast but there was not not much choice (excuses excuses).

Actually I also bought some lontong (pressed rice and vegetables in coconut gravy) for my dad (his favourite food lately) and my brother tried a fried otak otak popia and I also tried some beef bihun soup laced with hot chili padi sauce. This is already brunch, not breakfast.

Visiting Ah Kum

She is my late mother's best friend and sister in law. They were each other's confidantes when we were just little children. She is now 82 and we visit her every few months (should be more frequent) but we really need a few hours just to get there and back.

Maintaining Ties of Kinship

We go there to maintain ties of kinship and to continue the warm relationship my mother had with her. Ah Kum is a very cheery and positive person, full of kindness and though she did not have much money (uncle was sick for a long time and she had to raise the kids herself) she is a very rich and warm person. All her poor relatives from villages would use her house as stopover and she had to find money to buy food to feed them. She could never refuse anyone of them.

She used to tell my mom "I may not have money to help the needy but I use my time, skills and energy to contribute". I feel sad she is not Muslim yet. Sometimes the behaviour and attitude of such people are much better than those who claim to be Muslim. Allah knows best.

This lady has self dignity and never announced her need for help. She would share her problems and joys with mother and be there for each other.

Dignity in Poverty

Yesterday we had a long conversation. Reminiscing old times. She remembered my mom and shared this with me, about her poverty and how she felt sometimes :

"One day your mother asked me to visit her as she needed my assistance. I had to walk from Kampung Baru all the way to Bukit Bintang where she stayed. I was too shy to tell her I needed money to travel there. Walked with my eldest child in my hand, just kept walking until we reached there. Do you know how far it is from my house?" Yes it is really far.

"My daughter was really tired and kept asking me to travel in a trishaw (rickshaw with a bicycle at the side). I told her I could not as I had only 5 cents in my purse. I figure that may mean around 5 dollars (ringgit) these days. I told my May that we could not afford that ride."

"Just then a plan flew overhead. May then said why don't we ride in that plane if we cannot ride in the trishaw? I felt so sad and overwhelmed that tears just poured out from my heart. "

Those were her exact words.

Tears Just Poured Out from my Heart

I am touched by her phrase that tears come from heart and not from the eyes. People with all the comforts of this worldly life will not know the pain and suffering of the needy. Yes my Ah Kum was dignified even in poverty. She kept repeating that only my mother shared her food and clothing with her. Others just took everything for granted.

She said an aunt was even angry with her for accepting my mother's help. I never knew that - how can people be so mean. If they think its wrong then they should make effort to help instead of criticizing.

So Hard to Break the News

Now my mother has passed on I do try to maintain ties of silatul rahim with her friends and there is another favourite aunt in Singapore who has to be informed of my mother's passing I dread calling her as she would be very sad to hear this. When I finally called Ah Kum, about 2 months after my mother passed away, she burst out crying over the phone. She kept asking why I did not tell her my mother was seriously ill.

How can I tell her?

How can I tell her that? She herself is already elderly and would need her family to take her to the hospital. If they had no time she would be even more upset. She would have to walk a great distance to reach the ward. And they do not lend their wheelchairs to anyone other than patients. I did not want to trouble or alarm her.

Its Taqdir - Allah is Most Merciful
to take her away from worldly suffering

I had been rushing to the hospital daily and then the hospital transferred her to another place, which turned out to be a disaster. She had a stroke there and they did not even realise it. Its such a shame. I accept its taqdir (fated) but it tells us about the quality of service and attitude towards patients, especially the elderly.

I never expected my mother to go just like that, hardly 3 weeks after her heart treatment. I know we can go anytime but we always have hope....

Are the Elderly worth less than the Young?
What gives them the right to judge?

Are the elderly not worthy of better care and treatment? All the old folks have a rich history and had many achievements which may be forgotten through the years. They raised their families and made many sacrifices. Some were heroes and heroines in their own way. Now people just call them old people. They do not have much time or respect for the frail and aged. Do not forget that one day, we will be considered as plain old people too.

Did Anyone Really Listen?

Everything seemed fine and organised at the hospital but being a training hospital, every doctor who wanted to speak to me did not have any idea at all about their new patient. They asked the same old questions and were not really listening to me about her special needs. Even after I had written a lengthy report to explain her particular condition and background. Wonder if anyone read it at all.

Do People Go to Hospitals to Live or to Die?

Just hope they do not continue to treat others in this way. I accept what has happened but do not deprive others a fair chance of surviving though the date of our departure in this world is predetermined by Allah SWT. People do not go to hospital to die - they go because they want to live. At least let them live well until its time to go. That's all I ask.


  1. Assalaamu'alaykum sis,

    :( Brought tears to my heart..

    Kampung Baru to Bukit Bintang?! That's really far.. and the heartache of the mom to realise that she cannot even pay for the trishaw ride, let alone a plane ride.. subhanallaah..
    May Allaah protect us from taking for granted whatever we have, ameen.

    You must still be pretty frustrated over how they handled your mom.. oh we really miss her, sis :( Inna lillaahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon..

  2. We were in the hospital much of the time. Just imagine the elderly who are sent there from the kampungs. No families with them and people do what they like with them. May Allah SWT make it easy for all of them. I do not wish others to suffer the same fate.

    No doubt we know it is a purification process but we are only human and sometimes our feelings overwhelm us as we are so helpless...