The One With Mak

Where shall I begin…

The thought of Mother’s Day each year makes me really sorrow, but as they say, there is no grief like the grief that does not speak, thus I chose to bemoan through words, despite being harsh to self for refusing tears streaming down my cheeks for each word as per I write…

How can I put the next sentences in the most delicate way?…

I hate Mother’s Day. I hate everything that associates with Mother’s Day. I hate the month of May, and this is why…

1999 was the year I lost Mak. I was 20 years old, and yes, she passed away on the morning of Mother’s Day. By 1999, she had suffered kidney failure for three years.

It was 1996, one afternoon after a typical coming back home from school, I was shocked to see Kak Ti at home. I was even surprised to see nobody else there. She said, “Let’s go to the hospital. No need to change the uniform”. I did not say anything. I was not thinking too much either. In the car, Kak Ti said again, “Mak sakit“. That was the only conversation we had in the car. My logic at that time was maybe Mak just had a normal fever. For all I could remember, I hardly saw her sick, or maybe, just maybe, she was good in hiding her unwell from me. Upon arriving at the hospital, I saw Kak Nan, Abang Jam and Kak Ina. Ayah was nowhere to be seen. After seeing my sisters and my brother at the hospital lobby, everything seemed so blury to recall back the memory. All I know, everyone was silent. No one spoke to anybody. We were waiting for a nurse to call up our names. I remembered when my name was called, I saw a nurse, a doctor, the doctor taking some of my blood. He did some assessment, and I was exited from the room. Again, it was filled with silent.

The nurse escorted us to a ward. There, I saw Ayah sitting next to Mak. She was lying on a bed. Her face was pale. She smiled. I smiled. Again, the ward was filled with silent. Maybe I was just too young to do own mental questioning, but somehow I could sense we were all waiting for a news. The doctor came few minutes after that. I did not anticipate much. I thought she was just having a normal flu, a normal stomach ache, a normal sickness a human being could possibly get. “The test result shows the youngest sibling is the most suitable candidate. Let me be clear, due to her age, the risk of operation is extremely high and, it is not advisable. However, we will let you all have some privacy”. The doctor and the nurse left the ward. I did not understand what was going on. “Tinggalkan Mak dengan Nani”. In that ward, there was only me and Mak…patiently, I waited for her start the conversation. “Dah makan lunch?” I nodded despite I had not. Long paused. “Mak sakit“, were her words. “Sakit apa?”. Long paused. “Sakit buah pinggang“. Long paused. “Tapi kita ada dua buah pinggang“. Long paused. “Dua-dua sakit“. Long paused. “Oh, so the blood test and the…and what the doctor said just now…”. “Yes”. “Ok, so how many I need to give to Mak? One? Two?”. “None”. “What? Then how? Mak has no kidneys?”. Long paused. “There is a reason why God gave two kidneys, two lungs, a heart, a pancrease…those were the organs that God gave to you. You have no right to give to others, I, your mother, have no just to ask from you, my daughter. I have seen the world. You are still young. Your father and I talked about this just now, and, we will figure out something. All I need now is a hug, and I know you were lying. You have not eaten lunch yet”. “But what if I wanted to give you my kidneys? Nani tak nak kidneys ni“. “No. Your organs are yours to keep. You can only give them back to God”. I lied next to my Mak, playing with her fingers. I love playing her fingers – I have been playing her fingers since I could remember. Her fingers have a magical touch to me. Her fingers made me feel safe. Secure. Loved. Her fingers soothed my sleep each night. The door was knocked and entered Ayah, my sisters and my brother. Several days later, she came home. Fragile. Weak.

That was how I knew about my Mak’s kidney failure…

A new chapter of her life began. A new routine needed to be adapted. She had gone back and forth from our home in Kuala Terengganu to the General Hospital. By this time, Kak Ti, Kak Nan and Abang Jam had gone back to the City Centre, leaving my parents, Kak Ina as she was still working in Public Bank Kuala Terengganu branch, and I, who were still in my Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia year. Either Ayah or Kak Ina would drive her to the hospital for dialysis every alternate days; followed with all sorts of medicine that she had to eat with a strict diet and insulin injections. The problem was, dialysis machines at the hospital were not at their best condition. Often she had to change the machine during her dialysis treatment because the machine was out of order. After a family discussion, we decided to enter her into a semi private dialysis centre. Half was paid by the government, as Ayah was a government servant, the other half of treatment, we had to pay ourselves that excludes Insulin. Trust me, it was not cheap, and she needed a lot of Insulin injections. Everytime she came back from dialysis, she was so weak, so fragile and so tired. I saw her less and less after that. I talked to her less and less. I needed to learn to be less dependant to her. I cooked my meals by myself. I tried to be less demanding. I washed the dirty laundry, hanged and folded the clean ones. I helped her where I could – household chores, sometimes when she was so weak to stand, I would bathed her and make sure she was all clothed before Ayah or Kak Ina sent her to the centre. I needed to change – change from a-spoilt-youngest-child-who-always-Mak-this-and-Mak-that to less-selfish-daughter-that-needed-to-understand-her-mother-was-ill. Trust me, at 17, a rebel age, it was not easy to cope.

Things changed when Kak Ina was promoted to the Kuala Lumpur branch. My brothers and sisters decided it was in her best interest to get the treatment there. Ayah was too, not in his fittest level of health. As I was only few months away for the exam, I had to stay at home. It was indeed a difficult year. She was my home tutor for so long. I needed her to teach me, to answer my questions when I needed an answer with my homework. I was scared. I was furious. Why Mak was the one who needed to suffer? Why not other mothers?… She tried talking to me through telephone whenever she could, but it was not the same… Every time we talked through the phone, she always, always said to me “Tuhan takkan bagi ni kat Nani if He knows you are not capable. So, you are”. Her voice was so frail…

Alhamdulillah, I managed to secure a place in UiTM, Shah Alam after Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.

Seeing her in a wheel chair, getting weaker and weaker each day, getting fragile and fragile every day, getting strengthless as days went by making me feel helpless. By this time, I had lost count in seeing her passed out. I lost count in seeing her vomiting. I lost count in seeing her antipathy in the treatment, the injections and the drugs. Each time that I could, I would help her taking a bath. I would cut her nails short. As you know, people who suffer Kidney failure are prone to Diabetes. Therefore, she was very delicate. She could not have the slightest cut on her body or the cut would be infectious.

It was in my semester holiday in 1999. It was on Mother’s Day. Kak Ina left her car with me to drive her to the Dialysis Centre. I woke up at 8a.m. that day. I took a peak in her room. She was sleeping, that was my assumption. I thought of making her Chicken Soup that day so that she could eat it while waiting her blood washed, so I thought. 11a.m., I took a peak again in her room, she was still sleeping, so I thought. Let her have a few more minutes of sleep, so I thought. I took a bath, getting myself prepared. I took a peak again in her room, again I saw her still sleeping. I woke her up. “Mak, bangun. Nak kena mandi“. No response. Her body, her body was blue. Her body was cold. I woke her up again and again and her again. She was stiffed. I checked her pulse. It was nowhere to be found. No breathing from her nostrils. She was gone… How could I let it pass?… Why did I overlook her?… The good night kiss on my forehead the night before was the last…

I called Kak Ina at her office. I waited for my brothers and sisters at home. I sat down on one of the stairs at the staircase. I sat there even when my brothers and sisters arrived at home. I sat there even when my aunties and uncles arrived. I sat there when the ambulance took her. I sat there when my brothers and sisters went to the police station. I sat there waiting for Ayah to arrive from Terengganu. I sat there when she was properly wrapped and bathed. I sat there when Yassin was read. I sat there from afternoon till late at night. I sat there crying. I sat there feeling unjust, angry, disappointed, despair, dejecting, morose… I sat at the very same spot saying to myself over and over again, Mak dah tak ada

Then, it was the time to pay her last respect. It was the last time I would be seeing her face. Her smile. I could not any longer hear her voice. What if I wanted to?… I was the last one who kissed her forehead. I tried to stop tears from falling down my cheeks. I love Mak so very much. I would give my life for her. I would give my only heart for her. It is so, so, so unfair to me that I lost Mak when I was only 20 years old when others still have their mothers even when they are 40s. I wish I could have Mak till I am 60.

It was late at night when she was buried at Tanah Perkuburan Islam Mont’ Kiara. The rain had just stopped. I saw her being taken six feet under. I heard Ayah read the Talkin. His voice was shaking; refraining himself from crying. I sat there even when people were slowly dispersed. How I wish I did not let her sleep that night. How I wish the conversation that I had with her that night would not end. How I wish I did not let go her fingers that night. How I wish she did not leave me… I love Mak so very much. She was the best Mak a daughter could possibly ask.

A year before she was diagnosed  with Kidney Failure, I gave a Happy Mother’s Day card. In that card, I wrote a special, a very special song to her from Boyz 11 Men – A Song For Mama

“You taught me everything…
And everything you’ve given me…
I always keep it inside…
You’re the driving force in my life…

Yeah…

There isn’t anything…
Or anyone I can be…
And it just wouldn’t feel right…
If I didn’t have you by my side…

You were there for me to love and care for me…
When skies were grey…
Whenever I was down…
You were always there to comfort me…
And no one else can be what you have been to me…
You’ll always be you always will be the girl…
In my life for all times…

Mama…

Mama you know I love you…
Oh you know I love you…

Mama…

Mama you’re the queen of my heart…
Your love is like…
Tears from the stars…

Mama…

I just want you to know…
Lovin’ you is like food to my soul…

You’re always down for me…
Have always been around for me even when I was bad…
You showed me right from my wrong…
Yes you did…

And you took up for me…
When everyone was downin’ me…
You always did understand…
You gave me strength to go on…

There was so many times…
Looking back when I was so afraid…
And then you come to me…
And say to me I can face anything…
And no one else can do…
What you have done for me…
You’ll always be…
You will always be the girl in my life…

She said she loved that song, and Hotel California was another her favourite.

My silent wish in my heart is that, I hope I made her proud somehow. I hope she felt proud of having me as her daughter. Only Doa after prayer and Yassin that I could give her as presents.

So, I do not have anything against Mother’s Day, but because of this incident made me hate this special day, and I would not know when will I be fond of Mother’s Day again…

But there is a secret garden, she hides…

~Nani Mansor~

 
May 8th, 2011
My Beat Around Bush

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