...I was already back home and looking forward to a wedding in Taiping.
One week before raya, while on my way to the island, the bride-to-be called me. Strange but true, earlier that morning, I visualized the scenario of her wedding...where relatives gathered...and while trying to look happy for the bride it would actually be tears shed silently at the thought of this girl who would be beaming if only her mother was around. I had thought of not attending the wedding since the day I received the invites...but with Nabila's call, I decided otherwise. I just can't disappoint my niece. At least I'm doing it in remembering her mother...
Her mother, Nyah, was my late first cousin.. I have fond memories of her. Nyah, in Perak, means the second eldest sister. She was really my big sister than she was a cousin. That is the way our big family operates...cousins are practically siblings. But Nyah and I, shared the same passion. We loved to cook and bake. Every year, when raya approached...(oh dear, I feel awkward to mention her in past tense...) she would call me and ask about my cakes. I think of all the cousins, we were the most communicating ones. As always, our conversations were filled with funny banters. And coming from an English Language teacher, it was hilarious when she 'Manglish-ed'!
Over the years, news got to me that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Everyone was devastated. I did not get to visit her until she was re-admitted to undergo a mastectomy. After many treatment, her cancer was on remission and her life was back to normal. In April 2004, my father passed on. She was with us during our trying times and really, it felt so good to see a lot of her. The following months, just before Raya, another news shocked us when the cancer relapsed. It had spread to her vital organs. But she was a fighter. During Raya that year, I still could not find time to visit her. I tried calling her but every time I dialled her number, I cry buckets already thus abandoning my intention that so much so, I never got to speak to her at all.
It was destined actually when another cousin took my mother along with MyC and my niece, Nadiah, to beraya at her house in Taiping. I did not go because my elder sister was sick and I kept her company. When my mother and the children came back later that evening, MyC came to me with a message form Nyah... I was clueless when MyC rushed to hug me tightly. But when she conveyed all the words Nyah had for me, it all made sense afterwards. Nyah had this to say: Balik nanti, peluk mummy untuk Wan Nyah macam ni...bagitau mummy, Wan Nyah mintak ampun dan maaf. Halalkan makan minum Wan Nyah...Wan Nyah sayang mummy. With those words, I broke down like a bursting dam. Still, I wasn't ready to see her. Not in her very bad condition.
One late March 2005 saw me picking up my courage to visit her. By then her condition deteriorated and she was given a quality life in the comfort of her younger brother's house in KL. This means, I had to travel further down than a mere half an hour to Taiping. See, what procrastination can do to you. Okay, I wasn't procrastinating...but I was scared...
I travelled to KL with my youngest sister and a brother. We were advised to appear calm before her. When I reached my cousin, Shazalli's house, he was already waiting for us. I went inside and greeted my aunt first who by now, on seeing us started to cry. She cries easily...no wonder anak saudara dia ni cengeng! I entered Nyah's room which had an atmosphere of a hospital ward. After all, Nyah's youngest sister is a doctor. I scrutinized the room. There were bouquet of flowers and numerous cards adorned the dresser...testimony that Nyah was much loved by her friends and students.
I saw her looking all frail and weak, lying, with an IV drip attached to her, and an oxygen tank nearby her bed. She managed a weak smile but I knew she was mustering her utmost energy to appear strong before us. One look at her I knew she was drifting away fast...but only God knows when.
I reached for her hands, kissed them a few times before I sank my face into her cheeks and kissed her forehead, and holding back my tears very hard. Inside, I was screaming with sadness but I kept my cool like I was told. I felt a lump in my throat when I whispered into her right ear, "Nyah, I'm here..and I love you so much. You're my kakak dunia dan akhirat...." She smiled and nodded her head slightly, squeezing my hands too. With that, my eyes filled.... Sometimes, some questions had to be stupid and I asked her, "sakit, Nyah....?" She closed her eyes this time and again nodding her head. I held her hands until she fell back to sleep.
We stayed until nightfall that day. Before we left, I went back to her room to bid her goodbye but she was heavily sedated and slept tight.
A week after my visit, my beautiful Nyah, passed away peacefully a day after my late father's first anniversary. She was survived by her parents and siblings. But her husband did not make it in time. Always at funeral, the cousins re-united again. Yes...all the cousins in KL. No matter how busy they were, but for the last time for Nyah, they came. I heard they were all there, including my ever busy brother. Nyah's body was brought back to her house in Taiping. This allowed most of our relatives in Perak to attend her funeral.
I was there too...sitting by her bed again. Only this time Nyah did not respond to my whisper...
At Bila's wedding, my aunt did it again....
..excuse us while we cry.
Thanks for dropping by, y'all! ;)