A Tale To Tell & Remember

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

My grandfather

Me beside my grandfather during the last days of his life

I'll tell you stories about my late grandfather. His name was Ibrahim bin Sulaiman and he came from Besut, Terengganu. He wanders all of his youth life with great adventure all over the peninsular Malaysia before landed a job in the army and retired by the ranks of Lieutenant. He served his time well during his army years and I myself grew up listening to stories of how he fought courageous battles during the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960). Among of his many unique stories of encounters with the Communist Terrorist were a recollection which at one time he was held by the rifle barrel of the infamous Shamsiah Fakeh after his platoon was ambushed. Another one was the tragic memories of how his British CO died in his arms after stepping on land mines during jungle patrol.

I guess my interest in history and high respect to those that fought for independence and nation building derives from him. After his retirement, he was offered a job in the police force, but he respectfully decline the offer though he's not interested to become a policemen. I still remember when I was a kid, he always tried to teach me something about the jungle survivor tips which he applied during his years in the army - ones need to be calm and embrace the jungle. It does proves helpful for me up to this day whenever I travels/ treks through the forest.

I can tell fond stories about my grandfather. To put into perspectives of his life achievement and unique experiences into one blog posting will do him no justice. He wasn't only a jungle warrior but also a nationalist especially when it comes to the Malay agenda struggles. He has been an active member of the UMNO party ever since he associated himself with it in the 1980s. I believe through him, I understood the importance of serving the people and somehow was influenced on the need to continue ensuring the Malay agenda that should be safeguarded/ uphold. He do loves to talk about politics and areas where should the government contributes to alleviate the poverty problem among the Malays. When I got a job in Putrajaya, I took the opportunity to bring him to tour around Putrajaya and the PMO Office. He was very proud of how far we have become since independence, considering he have seen it all. On his death bed, in his garbled words still he spoke on the need to help peoples around his village. That's how dedicated he was toward helping his village folks and on the pursuant of the Malay agenda.

My grandfather was a pioneer and one of the original settlers when they first opened the Gua Musang township. He lives a poor and simple life though he was a government pensioner. To be honest he wasn't my real grandfather by the bloodline, but by marriage to my grandmother. But he never treated his childrens or us any different among others. I personally believe he loves me the most among all of his real grandchildren. I can still recall vividly that he was and always been proud of my achievement in education ever since my primary and secondary school years as he hangs every photos of me receiving certificates and schools presents on the walls of his house as an example to every cousins of mine to emulate. He was always interested of what I want to do next in my life.

My grandfather was a keen gardener and a swell farmer. When I was a kid, he usually took me to his fruits orchid located at the fringes of the jungle to plant new trees. I never quite like it because it is an exhausting job and mud smeared activity, but after a long while it got embedded in me. Now I am a keen gardener myself whenever I have the chance. When I reached 18 years old, he once showed me the demarcation line of the orchids which belongs to my late father so that we the grandchildren wont fight each other to scramble the inheritance once he's gone. It never crossed my mind really as I have no interest in it. But knowing my grandfather and his style he was always prepared with a plan before anything comes by even his own death. It's the trait of doesn't want to burden anyone about his own life which I respected the most. He fought for the Muslim cemetery to be introduced and allocated by the state government for his village folks and left a will for him to be kept there once he died. That's what his children did.

My grandfather left us three days before the start of Ramadhan 2015. What he left behind were only memories of his good deeds. One of it was how during his life he tries to teach us the importance of keeping a family together no matter how bad it goes. In a large family, it does went bad once in a while and in his case was with his youngest troubled son that succumbed to drugs addiction. It was an ugly experience seeing someone within your family fall prey to such problem. I saw it a few times he had to do what a father have to do to save the son from drifting apart and to keep the family together.. sometimes at the expense of his others children's opportunities and comfortable life. He is the sole reason why the family aren't breaking apart when we face those test. But what is family if is not without test. My grandfather loves and enjoy the company of young kids. I believe I got that from him of how I also should enjoy the kids company, talk to them and treat them with compassion, tender loving care.

My relationship with my grandfather was not always sunshine and rainbows. I had a few disagreement myself with him. Its not bad but its just life perceptions vs current reality - the old and young understanding on how ones should carry our life in the modern age. During this disagreement I didn't talk or visit him for quite a while, not because I didn't love him but only because I didn't know how to carry myself better since I was too young to face a life disagreement situation especially with him. I'm sure everyone also went through this period of life. But he loves me too much to leave me the way I was and my regret was that my youth didn't help me much and nobody taught me how to maneuver myself into troubled waters of life perception (as I have no guidance from my elders, my father died in 1998). It got me into an uncomfortable period of entering adulthood with his avid protection and this always happened with paternal love all around us. 

As I grow old, the education gap and our thinking went further apart. I only keep everything to myself when it comes to our disagreement on life perspectives and we didn't talk much like we usually do. I had to ask through my cousins of how he was doing back at home but I keep sending some money for him on a monthly basis through my cousin Faiz. A simple phone call should do, but I was to young and arrogant to call him myself. Works kept me busy with my own life in Kuala Lumpur and with time passed by my grandfather grows old without my company. He began to lose the vitality of his good health and his condition further deteriorates. A week before Ramadhan, I was advised by my mother to pay him a long overdue visit at the hospital in Gua Musang as he was admitted by his childrens due to his waning health. He was struggling with breathing for the past six months. A week before Ramadhan I have a feeling that I need to spend time with him before any eventualities. It was the best decision of my life to drop everything I had with my work amid my ever busy schedule and rush back home to see him.

At the hospital, he didn't recognized me first, but after knowing that I was sitting beside his bed, he spoke to me with candor. It was so full of advice and the best of everything that he wished me for as what was like through all these years. He was very proud of me and of what I have achieved. He didn't gave that advice to his other grandchildren, but only for me. How special I was for him and how long that he wants to say those words to me. I took it one at a time with a nod and yes. At that moment of time I realized that it might be the last time I might be spending my life with him.

Three days later he left us in his sleep at 4am. It was good riddance after seeing him struggling with his breath on the hospital bed. I notice that I have good cousins as they tended my grandfather with respect, love and tender care for all the behavior of an old, disabled and sick man on a hospital bed. They are the greatest of cousins and earned my highest respect. I couldn't react the way that I should as his favorite grandchildren and my higher education prove useless when it comes to show love and care for old love ones on a sick hospital bed. I learned that a simple gesture of touching and tender rubbing is worth a gold to an old man on a sick bed. I learned that values of life by watching my cousins tended my grandfather to all his needs including cleaning excrement on his sick bed.

Family cannot be defined through a bloodline but on how much they cared and loves for you. My grandfather loves me too much and my youth couldn't handle his love at a time. I was young without a guidance, but his confidence in me remains the same. The life perspectives turned different but his best wishes for me were only for my very best. How I wish now I could spend more time with him. How I wish at a time someone would have guide me to carry myself better to spend more time with him even how different we've become. 

Indeed having a good work and being associated yourself with high echelons is glamorous at a time but nothing more meaningful than making your grandfather proud. At the end of it, everything you have is nothing compared to how much peoples like my grandfather loves me. You just can't substantiate it with any other things in life. My grandfather believe that I could do more with my life and I shall. Spending time on the last days of his life was the best decision I've made or else I would've regret it for the rest of my arrogant and self centered life. 

My grandfather had bequeath me with great values of life which are more valuable than anything and I shall carry it for the rest of my time. 

2 comments:

marina mn said...

En syah, takziah atas pemergiaan atok tersyg ke Rahmatullah. Semoga rohnya dicucuri rahmat & diletakkan bersama-sama dgn org yg soleh.
Post En syah Kali ni sedikit sbyk mengusik emosi & rs rindu sy kpd arwah nenek yg pergi menghadap Ilahi pd 16 oktober 2002. Walaupun pemergiaannya dh hmpir mencecah 13 tahun tp ingtan & kesedihan atas kehilangannya masih terasa hingga kini. Arwah nenek (panggilan 'Mok') pun bukan nenek kandung tp dia sgt ikhlas memberikan kasih sygnya kpd sy. Cucu2 lain semua tau Na (sy) cucu kesygan Mok. Mana taknya, "sikit2 Na" sdgkan dia ada berpuluh2 cucu lain lagi.
Celik je mata pagi ni, perkara pertama yg dtg dlm fikiran ialah kenangan bersama Mok. Mungkin terbawa2 pula perasaan lps bc post En Syah Mlm smlm. 
Al fatihah kpd kedua2 mereka yg tlh hadir mencurahkan kasih syg tanpa mengenal batas pertalian darah.Sy doakan En Syah diberikan kesabaran dlm menempuhi kehilangan ini.
Biarkan kenangan thdp mereka terus Segar dlm ingatan & kt teruskan hidup ini dgn terus menebarkan kasih syg kpd org lain di sekeliling kt.

Teddy said...

thank you Marina for your kind words. I'm sure you are blessed with such love. The reason why I wrote this ode is for my friend not to take for granted their elders that loves them very much. I'm sure you are still blessed with your loving parents. My prayers is with your grandparents. Thank you again for sharing with me.

Faces of Tun Teddy

Faces of Tun Teddy