Despite my really tired, totally exhausted condition, I forced Ibu to drive me to the Stadium to watch JDT game last Saturday. Ibu who has just arrived from picking up Faim from a friend's birthday party only had enough time to pray and a gulp of water.
'Don't worry I'll get you the usual burger from the Stadium', I said with full confidence.
Ibu just nodded and focussed on her driving while I directed her to our destination using Waze.
After not more than 30 minutes, the Waze informed us that 'you have reached your destination'.
I was confused. Something must be wrong.
Ibu quickly asked, 'why is the stadium dark, Ayah?'. Are you sure they are playing here?'.
I had to think fast. Quickly I checked FAM website. Several cars were slowing down and zipped by without stopping. Obviously as confused as we were.
Éh.. Ibu, they moved the venue to Selayang la. 'They are not playing here', I said quickly without raising my head.
Ibu laughed out very loud.
'Why are you laughing, Ibu', I asked slightly hurt.
'Well, I heard of Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark. But Playing Soccer in the Dark is totally brand new', Ibu answered.
I look out the window sheepishly and said, 'Let's just go'.
Forrest Gump: That day, for no particular reason, I decided
to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there,
I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town .... For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran
clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I
might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I
figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on
It has been 11 long years.
Alfaim the baby in Ibu's tummy when this blog was first conceived is now getting to be 11. He is still a baby to us though. Adik soon will be 16. Slogging through his study.In a year and a half he will complete his high school and then another phase of his life will open up. He will remain a delightful challenge to us. Abang is doing as well as he could in his study at Carlton. He is coming back for the Summer holidays this May. I need to ensure that this time I'll have more time for him.
Ibu is still the same. A little older and much wiser. I can always avail myself of her wise counsel. I thank her for her able running of the household. While I could focus on my things to do.
Last year remain a tough one for me. I am still in recovery phase. Physically, I don't feel much different than a year before although every kind soul keeps reminding me to take things easy, lower paced. Occasionally, things that are unseen would disturb me. That's when I start to worry others. I think I can manage that now, difficultly.
After I left the hospital, and after two months of taking things slow, I began on a quest to do Broga. I climbed whenever I had the opportunity, weekends, public holidays or even when I was on sick leave. My target; 52 Sundays since two September ago. Last September I achieved just that. And then ventured on a another forward looking self motivating journey. I started entering running events. My target is to collect 12 silverware to probably signify 12 months or another one year of survival. I have collected 9 so far and have 3 more running to complete before I probably go on another similarly natured quest.
Early this year, I lost a friend and a mentor. Same illness.
Here's looking at another year of a fulfilling life...
Aku menuruni cerun mengekori Faim yang mendahului di hadapan. Sambil merentas halangan kami juga menyelit sedikit sebanyak bercerita. Satu ketika kami berhenti rehat kerana Faim mahu meneguk Gatorade.
'You got another speeding ticket, Ayah?', tanya Faim.
'Yea', jawab aku pendek. Mesti Ibu yang kepohkan kepada dia ni.
'You better pay Ayah, or I will have to defend you in court later ', sahut Faim pula.
'You need a lot of training and experience before you can be a lawyer. But yes, I would want you to defend me. Err.. How you are you going to defend me? You plead guilty, and I ll go to jail?', tanya aku sambil sedikit tersengeh kepada Faim.
'Well, I think I have a good defense for all your speeding', jawab Faim sambil menyerah kembali Gatorade ungu kepada aku.
'What is it?', tanya aku sambil menyambut dan menyimpan botol pada bag yang aku galas.
Aku bergegas menuruni bukit menuju ke arah belakang. Lutut kanan aku yang merah berdarah melambatkan gerakan aku. Aku tidak peduli. Bukan sebab ia tidak menyakitkan, Tetapi luka dan cedera di lain-lain bahagian badan membuat aku tidak memperdulikan.
Jauh di sebelah kanan, berkepul-kepul asap dari loji Normanton yang terbakar meluru dan menutup pemandangan dan menyesakkan paru-paru. Tapi, aku tidak punya masa untuk meneliti itu semua. Aku harus segera sampai ke Alexandra.
Akhirnya aku sampai juga. Tapi aku sudah terlambat. Mereka sudah lebih awal tiba dari aku. Kedengaran suara-suara halus menjerit dalam kesakitan dan ketakutan, meminta tolong. Aku tak tau samada itu suara pesakit atau suara jururawat. Mungkin antaranya suara Alexandra.
'Alexi, di mana kau', aku bertanya dalam hati sambil mengagahkan langkah aku masuk dari ruangan tepi rumah sakit. Tangan aku memegang erat belati Kepten Rix. Darah masih mengalir deras dari kaki kanan ku meninggal jejak garisan merah.
Perlahan aku menolak daun pintu dan melangkah dengan sangat berhati-hati. Melihat ke dalam, aku tidak terkejut. Badan-badan yang kaku bergelimpangan dan berselerakan. Darah merah seolah tersimbah di serata penjuru. Hasil tangan anak buah Mutaguchi. Aku yakin.
Aku sentuh salah satu sosok yang tergelimpang. Suam-suam. Baru saja 45 mungkin. Aku putarkan kepalanya supaya matanya yang terjegil tidak lagi merenung aku. Aku harus segera bergerak mencari Alexandra sebelum terlambat.
The same spot I first met her two years ago. Tired, worried face and constantly checking her watch. I asked and offered help but was kindly rebuffed. Still I saw that she was in trouble. So, I stayed with her until help arrived. I was late for office that morning. Something out of character for me. But, I would be late for many other mornings as well, from then on.
During such mornings, for about half an hour, I get to speak to her. And as the days went by, I learned more about her. She worked the whole night. And sleep mostly in the day. She was someone's favorite. 'Someone important'. She told me she was tired of the whole thing but could not do anything. She was trapped in a situation she can't figure a way out. Truthfully, I think she was afraid to find a way out. I knew it was most likely because of her daughter. Her cute 3 year old girl who meant the whole world to her.
As we became more familiar, we talked more about ourselves. Things we were ready to share. I was always excited to hear about her little girl. She would show photos of her antics captured in her handphone. I enjoyed everyone of those photos.
We would talk until someone working for 'someone important' would arrive to fetch her. Back to her place she called her hideout. Away from the prying eyes. But, I corrected her, calling it her sanctuary. Where she can be herself; a lady and a mom. Those mornings continued for about a year until my health temporarily kept me away from those moments.
Not long after, troubles started to show their ugly faces. It wasn't surprising to me though, as she had forewarned me that this 'someone important' would not take kindly my knowing of her. The threats are nothing. It did nothing to me but made me more determined to resolve the issue at hand. But, soon the threat became physical.
Despite her strong protest, I turned to the authorities. Not for my safety, but for hers and her daughter. Soon after, they took them away, of course. The police did. But, not before promising they will put away the source of the threat on her, her daughter and indirectly on me. It also meant that I won't be able to continue my morning chat with her. It was a small price to pay for her happiness and new lease of life. I promised her I wouldn't regret my decision.
It has been two years. And, although I know I won't see that face here, I will just find myself driving to this spot. Not wishing very hard, maybe, to see her sitting calmly sipping coffee, eager to show photos from her handphone. Smiling at me when I open the glass door. But, no. That won't happen.
Still, I am here anyway. Just to remember those times. Those moments. Moments when I was standing here with purpose. At this spot. In the early morning like this.
One day you'll wake up and realize that all the games that you played have reached the proverbial injury time. You'll realize that the ref and the linesmen would no longer be siding with you.
You will notice that the pitch could now be soggy and laden with water. The grass are too long. The ball is too soft. Your boots are one size bigger or smaller.
And the crowd would not be cheering your every move anymore. But they be more discerning and judgemental. They will remember all the fouls you committed, all the fake dives, the hand's of God that you employ and the shirts you pulled. They will be less forgiving.
Then, it would be too late. To late for everything. Too late even for me to save you.
You can turn to me. But, I'll be waving the board with your number on it. And another number so you know that your time is up.
Sometimes, when the night gets too cold, I would just wake up and I remember.
I remember the day the damn bike just would not do what I want it to do. The day the damn brake just would not grip strong enough. The day the stupid handle would not budge to the left enough. The day the stupid truck would not stop long enough.
I remember holding you. But, I don't know what to do. I don't know how to keep the blood to stop flowing from your bloodied everywhere. I don't know how to keep you awake and your eyes to open. I don't know how to keep you labored breathing to continue or to last longer.
I remember holding close but losing you at the same time.
And, on those nights when it gets too cold, I remember hugging your warm body getting cold. I remember my warm tears running down my cheeks and falling on your face getting cold.
I remember your warm smile telling me everything will be alright.
But, they never did.
So every night when it gets too cold, I will hold my body warm and I remember.