Thursday, May 13, 2010

There's Thing That Money Can't Buy

"Ummie, Mak Long dah meninggal pukul satu suku tadi."

"Kat mana mayatnya sekarang?"

"Dah kebumi empat setengah tadi."

"Rose, Mak Long tu masih nak hidup lagi."

"Betul Ummie, betul..."  
Inna Lillaahi wa Inna Ilaihi Rooji'uun.

I was shocked at the 4.35pm phone call as I was about to call Rose's mother, Kak Enon.
I saw Kak Enon's missed calls several times although I did not hear the phone ringing.
I thought of calling her around 4, when things at home are more settled because talking to her is at least an hour affair.
There's just so many things to talk about.

"Ummie, macamana ni? 
Adik beradik Mak Long semua dah tanya barang kemas dia! 
Semua orang tau berkepuk-kepuk pulak tu!"

"Pegang dulu. Uruskan untuk diri Mak Long dulu. 
Lepastu Zakatkan.
Hajikan dia.  
Puasa dia macamana?"

"Rasa macam ok, tapi tak taulah kot."

"Kalau nak sedap hati, bayar Fidyah. Lebih tak pe, jangan kurang."


"Sembahyang dia macamana Ummie?"

"Itu... tak delah orang yang boleh bayarkan." 
 It's Mak Long and Mak Long stays in my mind for now.


I had just met her 2 weeks ago, at Rose's housewarming gathering.

"Macamana Long rumah kat sana?"

"Dah sewakan dah semua pintu... Jadilah Ummie, duit kocek sikit-sikit."
Her statement in most conversation as I remember:  
Sikit-Sikit, Tak De Duit, Tak Cukup, Mana Ada.

"3 pintu sikit Mak Long? Kalau sayalah, tiap2 bulan pergi holiday. 
Long, kita holiday sama2.  Long cakap aje kat mana, saya uruskan perjalanan."
For ages I've been asking her to enjoy her money, up to a bit of showing off, for her sake, hoping gratefulness to be instilled in her.

"Mana ada duit Mi, ni Long dah tak kerja lagi ni. Mana ada duit masuk..."


I could see Mak Long's very happy face with the newly bought terrace-house that Rose and her husband bought 2 months ago.
She finally decided to settle there.

A 68 year-old spinster, Mak Long never believe in man and marriage.
So as age caught up on her, she insisted that its her eldest male sibling's duty to look after her.
It just happened that Long is closest to Rose, being the youngest child.


When Kak Enon's children were younger, they often asked her to get married but she snapped,  
"Simpan jantan kat rumah ngabiskan beras aku je."

Not long after all the children were married and moved out, Kak Enon was diagnosed with tumor in the womb.
She was hospitalised and operated on.
After almost a year, her house, next to mine, was left vacant.
Her only son sold it, let the mother went for Haj together with me, and is now living with any of her 5 children.

The mother is a hot property as the 5 children are always eager to have the mother in their house.
And that's what makes Mak Long, her house just opposite the road, wanted to be 'wanted' too.


Mak Long was then spending her days alone in her meticulous house.
Before, she would spend her after-works and evenings in Kak Enon's house.

After Kak Enon moved out, she would spent many daily hours in my house.
Although she denied it, I knew she was lonely.


She could not work anymore when her legs condition gave in after years, since her 20s, standing-up doing ironing in one of a garment factory in JB.
She defy doctor's advice to rest as she feared of losing the monthly income.
She took overtime daily until the day she was hospitalised when her legs swollen and darkened, not because of diabetes, but just not enough blood flow to both legs.

Until the last time that I saw her, which was 2 weeks ago, she still could not overcome the fact that she could no longer work, although there's SOCSO's monthly allowance to tide her monthly spending.


The fact that Mak Long is illiterate is no hindrance for her not to be involved in shares and investments. Lady-luck, it seems, was always smiling at her then.

For the time being, it's only the many figures in Mak Long's several bankbooks for her 7 siblings to savour as all books are without nominee.

Her berkepuk-kepuk jewellery?

"Long, Rose jual satu gelang Long eh. 
Rose nak kena bayar cengkeram nak masukkan Long rumah orang tua-tua swasta. 
Rose tengok Long hari-hari macam biasa sekarang Rose tengok ni."

Tears rolled down her cheeks 2 days ago...


Mak Long slipped in the toilet and lied motionless on the cold, wet toilet floor for 4 hours before she finally screamed out Rose's 6 year-old daughter's name.
She told the girl that her Tok Long has had a fall when Rose, her daughter and one month old twins were about to go out for groceries.

All those while, Rose, a month into her maternity leave, was in the house.
She repeatedly asked her Mak Long what's taking the old lady so long to be inside the toilet - The lady's answered: She'll be out any minute.
Do not worry about her, she's fine - Mak Long was too ashamed to be seen not covered.

Mother-children commotion in the house, Mak Long could clearly follow from the toilet.

After 4 hours, when Rose was instructing her daughter to find her car keys, that's when Long realised she could not afford to spend another likely 4 motionless hours.


The minute Mak Long was about to be sent to hospital, all her 7 siblings were informed.
What Long needed now is physiotheraphy, her doctor said.


She was supposed to be discharged 2 days ago, but there's no sight of any of the 7 turning up.
When asked, their almost unanimous reply,  

"... campakkan aje kat rumah orang tua-tua. Sapa suruh tak nak kahwin? Susahkan orang je..."

Rose, who has had operation for delivery this time, never fail her daily visit to the hospital.
Sometimes, with her 6-year old daughter and the one month old twins in tow.


After discussing with her mother and sisters, hiring a maid is the only way out.
But it takes a minimum of 3 weeks and hospital beds in JB are never without patients.
There's always a very long Q.

Things have to be done fast.
Old Folks Home is the only temporary transit before Mak Long will be home with Rose again.
Tears flowed as Old Folks Home was mentioned but that's the best Rose can do to Mak Long, her father's eldest sister.
After a 2-day buying time with Mak Long's siblings, with or without their permission, action has to begin.

The day Long was supposed to be sent to Old Folks Home, she passed away.

The body was sent straight to the grave as there's no more buying time, this time.


"Dia nangis, dia tak nak pergi rumah orang tua-tua. Dia nak balik rumah Rose."
Said the diabetic amputated lady, next to Mak Long's bed.
The diabetic amputated lady witnessed Mak Long's final journey.

Mak Long had left us in her long, final journey but her house stood still.
It is just across the road, visible from my verandah...
To Her Soul, Al-Faatihah.

***Changes Made
***Let This Be Reminder To Me Who Always Remind Her To...                   


Anonymous said...

Ummie - We do not know how the end of our chapter of life will be like. I always pray - "Ya Allah, hidup dan matikanlah aku dalam kemuliaan".

Have a blessed Jumaat Ummie!


Uncle Lee said...

Hi Ummie, regret to read the sad news, but may she rest in peace.
Interesting captured a very heartwarming episode here.
Best regards, Lee.

Ummie said...

She's not a person who can confide to anybody,
And her body was still warm when sent to her final journey.
That's why this post is more for me,
A reminder to me,
Of any unpredictability can be.


Uncle Lee,
For her acceptance of me in her life,
My prayer that her soul will be in peace.

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