This week we are in a new block, Hematology or ‘blood 101’. For those whose currently not in medical sciences, blocks are sorta ‘chapter’ which are divided by body systems (e.g. cardiovascular system, respiratory system) or certain medical fields (e.g. environmental health, family health). But I haven’t finished revising my last block yet, which was Musculoskeletal or ‘muscles and bones 101’. In fact, there are still Genitourinary (genitals and kidney related) block notes untouched (aaaaaaaarrrghhh!!!!)
I was revising the orthopedics tumor notes, when I came to the Osteosarcoma, cancer of bone. The most common one among a few more malignancies of bones. Reading about it reminded me of my late grand uncle, Tok Ayah. He passed away not so a year ago due to this disease. It was a rather tragic event. Not the dying, but the lost.
You see, my baba’s father died when he was in standard two. Leaving behind a widow (my beloved phlegmatic Che’) and 7 children, baba being the 4th. Tok wan (my real grandfather) has many sibilings, but only him and Tok Ayah came from the same biological parents. Baba said Tok Ayah has his elder brother’s face. Not only that, they both also share the similar great minds. They were both teachers, Tok Wan was former Principal.
To baba, Tok Ayah was a father.
During hari raya, whenever we visit houses, since little, I would always stick to my mama who will (like the usual) chat *or gossips* with the makciks, and my other male sibilings will be with baba while he’s entertained by the male host. But when we visit Tok Ayah’s house, I’ve always find it interesting to sit near him and baba while they chat. Primarily because they gossip less (duh~) and talk only about the things that matters. Whenever he opened his mouth, I hear and see only wisdom and knowledge, inspiration. He is what he read. He talked perfect English. (He spoke Kelantanese with us though). With him around, I listened about education, development, world happenings, previous and current leaders, in a very factual, unpoliticised way. And somehow I believed he was aware that there was a girl really listening to what he was saying, for I noticed, he only talked a bit about politics when (he thinks) I wasn’t listening. He knew politics are too much conflicts rather than knowledge for a child to listen to. When I grew up a little, he started to consider my opinion in matters as well. Although only a bit, sometimes when he asked me about certain things, I feel important. And wise, too. ;P
I never knew, that he got any disease.
One weekend, in my second semester, baba picked me up at hostel. He said we will stop by at Tok Ayah’s place. I was so happy because we seldom visit him if not on Hari Raya. Then comes “Lamo doh tok gi umoh Tok Ayoh, baba pung bz. Sian ko Tok Ayoh, sakit kuat.” And I was, “Huh??”. Silence. Straight face. We arrived at Tok Ayah’s place, I stepped into the house, not finding him clapping a book close with his thick glasses nor smiling at me. In another part of the house, I saw him lying on a mattress, eyes half closed. Baba shook hands with him. I kissed Tok Mek (his wife) and sit still beside her. Too shocked to speak. Tok Mek told him that we were here. He tried to get up with baba’s help. He gasped for air, tried to speak. Baba and Uncle Din, his son, forbid him to. Uncle Din explained that the Ca went to his ribs, and metastasized to his lung. He knows I’m in medical sciences, and showed the MRI and X Rays films. Tok Ayah called for him and asked for a few things. Seemed like he could breathe better by then. Baba tried to make a light conversation, to fill in the silence, but he seemed in delirium, can’t really make out what he was going to say next. Then baba said “Takpolah, tok payoh kecek lah Ayoh, rehatlah”. I could see the despair in baba’s face. Though he exhibited a straight one. I could see he was hurt. Anticipating a lost that could never be replaced. He lost a father once, he was going to go through it all over again. No one to talk of pure wisdom with, no one to turn for the good old days to. I could feel it right then, and it seemed I inherited the stone-face too. So I resumed talking to Tok Mek about the symptoms, what, when, how…yadayadayada…till baba ask permission to head back. Baba shook his hand and kissed him. For the last time.
I didn’t get the chance to attend his funeral, because of classes.
How I wish I had spend more time with him. How I wish I had ask him more of the world. How I wish I had talk more to him, tell him about all the things that matters in my life, so that, maybe, he can advise me how can I lead my life to be as deep and thoughtful, as serious and purposeful, as philosophical and poetic, as sensitive to environment, as detail-contious, as conscientious and idealistic as him.
But I am grateful though, to have observed and listened, thus learnt a great deal while he was alive.
This is just merely a memory. Nothing much to take from. But if there’s something, please, be accessible to your family like, ALL the time. Never forget them in your prayers, don’t make study (or boy/girlfriend) as an excuse to neglect. You never know when might you lose one. The memories, their words for you, and their prayers are the things that gonna help you go through and get better in life, when they’re gone. Well that’s my opinion.
And yeah, please please please, keep yourself, AND your family healthy. Suspect any disease, GO FOR EARLY CHECK UP. 🙂