I should count my blessings for being granted a whole month of company by the man who has fathered me for 37 years; yet saying goodbye was torturous and deep-cutting. I soon discovered that it was not only me who drenched pillows, but the children also did the same. I pulled each of them in my arms and whispered to them to be strong as well as grateful for the pleasures of life that He showers unto us. Deep in my heart, I prayed hard that He will take all the pain away... as quickly as possible.
Earlier on, the children were thrilled to pieces to have dear 'ol grandad around. Tok Bah came specifically to spend time with his four grandchildren (he had 29 others back home, including 15 step grandchildren). He had had enough of the United Kingdom from his student days - back in Kirby College in Liverpool during his bachelor days, and also the University of Birmingham in the 70s. Hence, he was not really interested in seeing much of the country even though I did bring him back to his alma mater in Birmingham as that was too close for us to miss.
In 1996, he came back for my graduation and we looked for what was left of yesteryears. Except for the black iron gates, there was no sign of Kirby College, while the guest house in Selly Oak, Birmingham was exactly as it was - seemingly smaller in size to someone who had grown bigger and older. We did a fair amount of travelling at that time: from scenic Scotland to Lake District then down the north west, cutting through the west midlands, before making our way back up north. I also remember strawberry-picking in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Magnificent!
As prior mentioned, this time around I brought him back to Birmingham, where memories were made with our loved ones. Although I was only a tiny tod back then, there were some vivid incidences with my late mom and brother of which I can never forget. For instance, I remember sobbing on my late mom's lap after she asked me how I'd feel if she died. Simply ironic! I also recall the tape recordings we made to send home to my two sisters. At that time, making telephone calls were expensive while mobile phones and Internet simply did not exist. Therefore, text messages or web chatting via Skype/ YM/ google were objects of the future you never really thought much of. So, into the tape recorders we spoke and sang (and cried), of which was only heard by people back home approximately a month later. Little did I know that the cassettes became priceless to me much later, as a souvenir from Mak - who I never really got to know.
Let's get back to the present time. A few weeks ago, I was able to serve my old man English food which I know he loves - smoked mackerel and brussels sprouts to name a few! I must say that it's just so good to have another adult in the house whereby I can cook hot chilly meals and various vegetable dishes to enjoy with. Just like the old days, I can fix asam pedas mackerel or sambal terung, and not worry about it not finishing. The platter was always clean!
The children dotted on their grandad who gave them the attention they never had enough of. He enlightened them with stories and talked to them about their achievements throughout the day. He headed prayers with the boys and made them brush up on dusty pieces. Thanks to Tok Bah, my boys now know a simple piece of after prayers' du'a in Arabic - complete with opening and ending! It was my target to get the boys to learn it by the age of twelve because I know that it is part of the targets for those in KAFA (fardhu 'ain) schools in Malaysia. With Tok Bah's help, the boys managed to learn it in less than a couple of weeks. Now, all I have to do is to help them build it up gradually - just like the way I learnt it during my teenage days.
It was certainly great while it all lasted.
Naturally, when it was time to bid farewell, a shiver ran down my spine.
I'm now back on my own. Physically, mentally and emotionally. Too many people come and go in my life that I should by now be immune to all these emotional roller-coaster rides. I remind myself that the only one who remains close to us is Him and because of that, I am never ever alone. Physically perhaps, but not mentally and emotionally.
I'm not sure where I'm heading but the journey continues...