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Leading Zahrin and Datuk Ron to the kafetaria in Wisma Denmark (Photo courtesy of Shahabudeen Jalil

We made the decision to stop all procedures.

He had suffered enough. If it is time for him to go, we shall not stop him anymore.

We camped there all night, taking turn to stare at the monitor which shows all the graph. He looked very calm under heavy sedation.

 

Surprisingly, he wakes up in the morning like nothing ever happen. Physically he looks fine accept for some minor difficulty in controlling certain limbs. His speech is a bit slurred but recognizable. However, he lost all the memory of the past twelve hours. He keeps thinking he is in Hospital Sungai Buloh, and we keep reminding him that he is in SJMC. Until today, I do not figure out about this Sungai Buloh thing. I tried to trace any lead to it but futile. It linger as a mystery he than took to the grave.

 

He also mumbles things he never discussed before. He said he always wanted my sister to be a politician, I interrupt him and said, but you always hates politician.

 

Soon, he was moved to a normal ward due to the request we make earlier. As we gathered around him, Bah uttered something that none of us want to remember but we can never forget.

 

“Please forgive me, I am a loser,” he said. “No Bah, No,” Bu, my eldest sister argued while trying to keep her composure. “No Acik, I am a loser, forgive me. Please don’t be like me…”

“I should have stayed in the army, I would have retired as a general, you all will not have to face all the hard time…”

“No Bah, you did what you believe is right, we never wanted anything but for you to be happy”, my lawyer sis cried and hug my Dad.

“You could have been the general’s daughter, Intan”. “I do not want to be the general’s daughter, I just wanted to be your daughter”.

“I am a bad father, I could not give you anything”.

“Bah, you give us the world, we are happy”

“We are always proud of you Bah!” My brother in law finally breaks his silence.

“I should have stayed in the army, I could have retired as the general… I am a loser”.

There is no way we could stop him from all the rumbling. We could just gather around him and embrace him.

As we brought him home, Tun Haniff, his good friend waited at the gate to greet the Colonel. Tun keeps telling me, “It’s too soon. It cannot be. It cannot be.”

I arranged for my Ustaz friend to be with him that night. Ustaz managed to ask him few things and for the very first time, I heard my dad talk about something that he never talked to us before. I swear I remembered all his military tales but not these few things.

My dad talks about how his hand still felt the warm blood of his men that died during The Emergency and The Insurgency. He talked about all the promises he made to those fallen heroes.

This reminded me to one particular moment when Uwei Hajisaari asked my dad about the Communist Terrorist, while having lunch in PJ. My father said, if I was in Hadyai (Referring to the signing ceremony between the Government and PKM), I will stare them in the eye and will never shake hand with them, bandits!

In front of the Ustaz, my dad relates all the incidents and cited all the names of his men that died in combat under his command. He never had forgotten them.

Then, he started to move into another direction. He talked about those men and women that he had shot in battlefield. “Will God ever forgive me, Ustaz?”.

After the incident, Tun Haniff arranged for me to bring my Dad to Kunming, in PR of China, to seek alternative medicine there. Tun paid for everything. The entourage included the late General (Rtd) Othman “Otto” and his family. During the trip, I had to admit, my dad is half the man he used to be. He lost his pride. He felt worthless. He can only take five steps at a time. Then he had to rest. I never offered him a wheel chair because I know my Colonel well.

Back from China, my dad looks much healthier. We registered him for experimental drugs under the care of Nilai Cancer Centre. Nevertheless, every two weeks, he needs to remove fluids from his lung. We are now staring at our credit card’s bills. One by one started to reach its limit. Then my lawyer sister and my step mum started to borrow money to finance Bah’s medical bill.

Over the next twelve months, it cost both of them almost hundred K. Then, I started to feel Bah becoming more and more restless. He keeps worrying about the bills.

Murphy’s Law, my sis and step mum started to quarrel regarding financial. I cannot blame any of them. It was the lowest point in our battle for Bah’s survival. My lawyer sis is in the midst of marital problem with her husband. The pressure was hard on her, as she has to behave as though everything is normal for Bah’s sake.

At the same time, my marriage too heading south. I had to excuse myself from several family gathering just to keep thing away from Bah. One day, I invited Bah and my step mum for dinner. Both of us behave like nothing-bad happening. I grill red meat for Bah, as I know it is his favorites. Bah brought a set of Matchbox cars for Al and Wef.  Wef was very close to his Atuk and he does inherit a lot from dad.

That was the last time he came to our house. That was also the last time, my kids saw Atuk alive.

Two weeks later, while I was high of cocktail of drugs to consol my depression and tonsillitis, I received a message from my eldest sister. “Bah in SJMC. Not looking well. Please bro, he needs you here”. I was too high to drive but promised to be there the next morning.

Early in the morning, I was thinking whether I should bring the kids along to the hospital or send them to school. I make a fatal error of judgment.  Nevertheless, as I arrived at the hospital, Bah looks as buoyant as ever.

“You were away?” “Yes Bah”, I lied. He asked about the kids. I realized his blood pressure is very low and he looked very sleepy. We have a short chat before my aunties and uncles arrived. I make way for them and watch him from the other side of the glass.

At about two, the specialist called us. Bah’s kidney had failed. His blood pressure keeps falling. They are not going to do anything accept to continue administer him with drug to keep him calm. I was told that his cancer had spread to his bone and other organ as well.

I make another fatal decision. I choose to leave for home to see the kids and come back later in the evening. Before I left, I wanted to kiss him only to reverse my decision after watching him being surrounded by too many relatives.

I stop at Jaya Supermarket to get some food to store at home because I reckon I might have to be at the hospital overnight.

As I arrived home, I received a phone call from Bu, “Di, come now”.

I arrived back at SJMC around five thirty. Bah is already unconscious. Tun Hanif stands beside his bed. He keeps staring at the monitor. Every time Bah’s oxygen level temporarily increase, Tun will nod his head and shifted to look at Bah and turn towards the window and stare endlessly outside.

Within the next hour, all relatives and friends of Bah were there by his bedside.

Bah, looks very calm, both his eyes were wide open staring towards infinity. His mouth is gasping for air. Nevertheless, he is very composed. Around seven thirty, the nurse approached us and said, time have come to say goodbye.

From the bedside, I could hear the Azan. I whispered the shahada to his ears and recited the Azan.  Very soon, he leaves peacefully. I put my palm on his eyelid and push it gently. I lost my one and only dad. I am never going to see him again.

While waiting for all the documentation and transport arrangement, one General from Mindef arrived. He assured us that everything will be taken care off. At last, he received the honor he long deserved.  

The next day as I laid him at the liang lahat, I take a good look and whisper, “This is your Last Castle Bah. You fought for this soil and it shall be yours forever. Goodbye Bah. Goodbye Colonel”.

A man in military uniform extends his hand to me and pulls me up to leave my dad in his castle.

Bah, you had fought so many battles in your live. You win some and lose some. Today you have won the war.

Please forgive me for all the years of ignorance. Please forgive me for not being able to give you the love you long waited from me. I am so sorry. Please forgive me.