Al-Fatihah
January 03, 2015


I remember this one night in the early 90s at my uncle's place in Pasir Gudang. We were gathered in front of the TV, cousins and uncles, to watch the Malaysia Cup semi-final. It was Kelantan vs. Kedah, I think, and our dead-ball specialist Hashim Mustapha was about to take a free kick from just outside the box.

You could feel the tension in the air as everyone huddled up closer to the screen. Hashim took a few steps back, gave a nod, and just as the ref blew the whistle, in came grandma walking unknowingly in front of the TV blocking our view. As she walked, the ball went into the top corner, the stadium erupted, and we turned into a confused lot torn between celebrating the goal and explaining to grandma the historic moment she had just denied us from.

Grandma laughed heartily as she left the angry mob behind. She couldn't care less about the goal. She was just happy her children and grandchildren were all gathered under one roof.

Back when she was still living in Kampung Laut, Kelantan, grandma had set a schedule whenever she is in KL. Two nights at an aunt’s place in PJ, two nights at an uncle's place in Gombak, two nights at another aunt's place in Bentong, and two nights at our place in Subang. She wanted to make sure that her time was equally distributed among her children. Call it an optimization system, if you will; grandma was master in the field. Grandpa had little choice than to follow her lead.

Grandma valued family time like no other. She was the happiest when family members were together. The men laughing at each other’s jokes, the women sharing whatever stories they share, and the kids running around bumping into each other. The noise was music to her ears. 

Last week, as she drew her last breath, the same crowd gathered around her deathbed. We read her prayers, gave her our last kiss, and lined up to take turns preparing her for the funeral. We were all eager to pay our last respect to the woman who has taught us the true meaning of love, compassion, and togetherness in the family.

It was a somber sight at the burial ground, but everyone was there, just the way she would have loved it.

Al-Fatihah.



Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

About
  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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