THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Thursday, 17 May 2007

The complicated life of Lily: Part 2

After getting her husband’s death certificate, Lily went to arrange for the withdrawal of his EPF savings. As far as she remembered, she was the named beneficiary. But what she found out from EPF was another shocker for her – just 2 weeks before her husband died, the beneficiary’s name was changed to his sister’s name. At that time he was already too weak to get up, so someone in the family must have arranged for it… my guess… the sister who was named as beneficiary.

Lily didn’t want the money for herself… she needed it for her children. After all, they do have the right to the money. But Lily simply didn’t know how to go about and didn’t want to fight for it. But my, my, my… just when Lily was about to give in, guess who insisted she should fight for it and that he’d help her claim her husband’s EPF? Yep, none other than her possessive friend. He insisted he was doing all these for Lily's sake...

Meanwhile, Lily and her children needed to survive. Financially the friend wasn't helping out although he stayed in the same house. So I suggested to her to move to a smaller house with a cheaper rental. The idea was not only to reduce her monthly expenses, but it was also a way out… if this guy didn’t want to move out of that house, then let Lily and the children move out, without him tagging along, of course…

Lily was happy with the idea, not only for the above reasons, but for a few other reasons as well. You see, her late husband’s siblings told her they wanted custody of the children. Their reasoning? They’d be able to take better care of them. Lily got scared. Her children were all she had left. If they’re taken away from her, she has no reason to live. So, her idea was to move to a new house and change her children’s school. She even changed her phone number so they wouldn’t be able to contact her. Her idea of solving the problem was to avoid them… I wasn’t really in agreement, but the decision was all hers.

So, Lily and her children moved to a cheaper house and her children changed to a new school. And the guy? Although he helped her to move, he didn’t move in with them. It was me and a fellow volunteer who helped Lily look for the house and made arrangements with the house owner so that Lily would not have to pay deposit; so this guy sort of didn’t have the “authority” to move in. Furthermore, this buddy here (yours truly lah) has been mistaken for an ustazah a few times before, so maybe he wanted to avoid a looong ceramah

The children’s educational needs (school fees, workbooks, uniforms, etc) are taken care by my NGO’s Children Education Fund. I even took them shopping for their uniforms, shoes and stationeries (after which I claimed from my NGO lah). Lily’s possessive friend complained to a male colleague of mine… he said Lily seemed to have forgotten all that he had done for her. Yeah, right…

It has been a few months now. By now, Lily’s iddah is over. She’s free to remarry if she wants to. I don’t know (and I don’t want to know) if the guy’s divorce is finalized. Lily has not managed to claim her late husband’s EPF. So far I haven’t heard of any marriage arrangements yet. I don’t want to ask.

Lily and her children may not live in luxury but they’ll survive. We (the volunteers in my NGO) helped her to apply for whatever financial aid available. One has been approved.

Lily had also earlier wanted to apply to her children’s school to be exempted from fees etc. I had forewarned her that she may need to give a copy of her late husband’s death certificate (stating HIV/AIDS as cause of death) as supporting document, and the implications that may arise from it. She took the risk. And true enough, not long after submitting the supporting documents, one of her children’s teachers called her up to ask if the children were infected.

The youngest boy (the one infected) is not schooling yet, so Lily could easily tell the teacher the 3 schooling children were all not infected. The teacher asked her to provide evidence that the children had indeed been tested negative. Lily would have to go back to the doctor again to get that! She asked for my advice. I told her she could either get the letter from the doctor just to keep the teacher’s mouth shut, or she could just ignore the request. She is not obliged to provide such evidence to the school. The children are after all, NOT infected.

Lily chose to ignore. She said she’d only arrange to get the confirmation (that her 3 schooling children are negative) if the headmaster himself requests for it. So far no action has been taken by the school teacher.

For a while Lily and her children seemed to be doing okay. I thought at least most of her problems were solved. Until one day she called me up and said frantically, “Kak, dia orang datang ke rumah kak… macam mana nak buat ni???”

Guess what happened? Her late husband’s sister came to her house when Lily was at work. She couldn’t find them at the old house, so she went to the children’s old school and was told they had been transferred to another school. She went to the new school, told them she’s an aunt, and was given their new address. That’s how she found them.

The children, upon seeing their auntie, had no reason not to let her in. This auntie told them she’d come again during the school holidays to fetch them and bring them to their grandmother’s house in the east coast.

Again, Lily got scared. She was even thinking of locking the children inside the house during the school holidays when she’s at work, without leaving the key at home. That way even if the auntie comes, the children won’t be able to open the door, and the auntie won’t be able to come in and so she won’t be able to take them anywhere. I reminded Lily that if anything happened while she’s at work, like a fire for example, the children won’t be able to save themselves! Imagine the horror!

I advised her to discuss the matter with her in-laws. Let the children remain in her custody but she’ll bring them to see their father’s side of the family during the school holidays. But Lily said her late husband’s side of the family won’t even look at her face. Aiyo… susahlah ini macam… how to discuss?

So, all I could tell her was to talk to her children… tell them it’s okay if the auntie wants to see them, but if she wants to bring them anywhere, insist that they’d need to wait for their mother to come home.

The auntie did come again, asked the children if their mother’s home, but when told their mother would be back soon, the auntie just told them she couldn’t wait, gave them some money and left.

IF ONLY they’d meet up each other and talk it over… Lily wouldn’t have to worry about her children being taken away, and the auntie wouldn’t have to curi-curi to see the children… sigh…

15 comments:

Apandi said...

Errrm, wish I could give some constructive idea. Tapi tak da. Still fenin, on the plus point the guy seems to be out of their life... Perhaps you should advice Lily to let the children make their own choices, perhaps they want to go back to atuk & nenek for holidays. Risky of course but in the long run at least the children can't say that Lily caused them to lose the opportunity of a comfortable holiday and dragged them in her misery instead. I think thay both, the children and Lily need a break.

ummi said...

I think the reason why Lily is so fearful is because everything is still so raw. I had a bad experience of my children being taken away from me too, in my case, i was accused of being an appostate..and even I managed to save the others, my 6th child was actually taken away from me. The boisterous, talkative boy, came back meek and completely devoid of self esteem. He told me what happened and now i vow to protect him and his sibblings from ever having to go through this agony again with my life. I can really understand why Lily is so afraid. Perhaps in time, as the pain heals, she will be ready to communicate with her inlaws.

Mat Salo said...

My goodness Pi, this is one of the few times that I hope that there isn't a Part III - as if things are not complicated enough already. My heart goes to that youngest boy, about my 2nd son's age I think, ready to start school next year. Is there an offical policy to bar PLWHA kids from school? My, my, what a selfish ignorant society we've become. And to claim we're muslims...

Pi Bani said...

Apandi, I've always told Lily that she shouldn't cut the children off from their father's side of the family. She's afraid of letting them go in case she doesn't get to see them again.

Ummi, I'm hoping for the same thing too - that time will help heal the pain. Hopefully when both sides think things over, they will be able to communicate with each other again - for the sake of the children.

Mat Salo - there is no policy to bar HIV+ children from going to school. In fact they CANNOT bar the children from going to school. It's not like HIV will infect the other children just by sharing things in school! It's just the stigma...

Raden Galoh said...

Aiyooooohhh...why so complicated one...berbelit2...macam benang takleh terungkai...

kesian kat Lily...(itu je yg mampu nak kata Pi)...semua yg hampir dgn dia mcm nak ambik kesempatan pulak ye?

rad said...

Is she part of kawin tanpa family blessings? If only both sides (lily & the SIL) can sit together & discuss everything instead of having preconceived ideas about the other. Is it possible that the husband family is unknowingly blaming lily for her husband death? Like she is the one who infected him instead of vv? The way they looked after him towards the end show somehow they care...
Must be they jump into conclusion seeing that Lily stayed in the same house with that 'possessive male friend' (who's motive is obscure enough).
Ntahlah...hope the best for lily & the kids.

ninuk said...

dah jadi macam telenova pulak ni. memang sah ada nilai-nilai komersil.to my knowledge,
the beneficiaries on EPF is basically a "WASI" who's responsible to further distribute the EPF money to the rightful owner. i think we need to hv a middle party to go in between lily and her inlaws.

ruby ahmad said...

Gosh! No matter how hard, surely the kids will fare better with the mother, emotionally. Reading, Ummi's (Ummi, I feel so upset to hear your lil one came back meek), is testimony, a child needs genuine love from the mother or father.

No matter how much the aunty or grandparents try to pour their love to the kids, they would still miss and would want the mother's love. Why time and again we have to witness such selfishness. Sigh..ya lah manusia kan.

My fear is once aunty takes the kids to grandparents they will try to poison the kids' minds against Lily, and the kids will now be emotionally tortured!! No way they will go against their mum, but they will be so hurt inside and they might as well don't go to school as they will eventually not do well. Macamana nak concentrate like this.

People, relatives are so selfish when faced with such situations. They only want to satisfy their own needs and desires and forget the most important components...the kids emotional needs! Just pass some money to Lily and let her run her household she sees fit. Just don't try to be a hero kan? Double sigh!

Pi Bani said...

Raden: As I was about to reply your comment ni tadi, Lily just called to say she's back in the hospital. Dengue nya tak habis cerita lagi.

Rad: The way I see it, I think the male friend was the main reason behind the in-law's treatment. Tapi there may be other reasons... I can't really be too sure unless I get to talk to them.

Ninuk: Tak habis lagi nak buat movie/telenovela ke? :)

K.Ruby: Tak taulah... macam-macam complications case Lily ni...

J.T. said...

My goodness... Lily has such a complicated life.
I feel sorry for the children. On one hand denying them of their grandparents and father's relatives is not fair. On the other hand, I can understand Lily's fear of losing them in all ways possible.
Real drama la. Now you say Lily is back in hospital. sigh...

Pi Bani said...

JT, if it is school holidays and Lily is in the hospital, I bet she'd worry even more... the in-laws may just come and find out she's in the hospital and take the children with them. I really, really wish they'd communicate with each other.

Apandi said...

Pi, weighing back all that has been said here, especially views from mothers like ummi and ruby (fathers like me are from Mars - feelings 2nd., practicality 1st.) and in view of Lily being down with dengue. Would it not be possible to send the kids to some camp or something ? At least Lily will have some peace of mind. If your NGO could not pay for all of them, I and am sure your fan club would be pleased to help financially whatever amount we can afford. Maybank2u is a blessing in this case.

Pi Bani said...

Apandi... my fan club? Hahaha... yeah, right...

Anyway, it's not school holidays yet. The children need to go to school. Let's see how Lily is doing first. I believe she should be discharged from hospital soon if there are no other complications.

Anonymous said...

How old are these kids (maybe I missed seeing their ages)? If she is warded in hospital how do the kids manage without her?

Pi Bani said...

The children are from 5 to 12 years old. A neighbour looks after the youngest boy while the kakak-kakak are at school. When the eldest comes home, she'll take care of her younger siblings - with the supervision of the neighbour. Another friend helps to send them food.