A Silent Prayer -- Tuesday, July 29 2008
I remember one evening some time in the 1970s when I silently broke into tears just thinking about Mak. About when she'd leave us all.
It was a morbid thought.
And then I shook my head for I could not ever believe that Mak would leave us. That Mak would, one day, die.
Mak was going to live forever. She was going to be around when I'm old and grey. Mak would be surrounded by her dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
That made me smile. And I never had morbid thoughts of her since.
For that was why her death in 1990 affected me so deeply, as it did my siblings. It took a long time for me to come to terms with her passing. For the pain to heal.
I never had such thoughts about Bapak, though. Not that I was thinking about him leaving us or that he'd live a thousand years to see many things, many changes.
I just never thought about his mortality.
Until, of course, the last couple of years when he showed clear signs of aging -- physically and mentally.
We're quite used to Bapak's lapses in memory. There were times we felt that Bapak was just pretending to forget names and events. We couldn't be quite sure whether his lapse in memory was for real. Because there were a great many times he was lucid and clear. Crisp and detailed.
But it was that time just before Father's Day that I felt really affected by Bapak's behaviour.
He had asked about Kak Eda.
"Lama Kak Eda tak datang," he told me. He had a faraway, longing look about him.
I told him Kak Eda had passed away.
Bapak was shocked.
"Nobody told me," he said. I told him Kak Eda died of cancer last March.
"Bapak. Of course you know that Kak Eda passed away. It's just that you cannot remember it now," I said softly, stroking his arm.
Bapak was silent for a long time.
I didn't know what else to say or do. I kept silent too.
I wondered -- does he remember that Mak and Kak Piah are no longer with us? I dared not think aloud, fearing that my suspicion would be confirmed.
Bapak's physical well-being has taken a turn for the worse. He is no longer even able to take that few steps to the bathroom.
He rests most of the time.
We are naturally so disturbed by this.
Dear, Bapak. I wish I could turn back the clock just a little to when you were hale and hearty, and your mind sharp and alert.
That is, of course, impossible.
And I so do miss our chats.
So I pray for your well-being. That we -- your children and grandchildren - are not a distant memory. And that when it is your time, I will be there for you. With you.