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)

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

The complicated life of Lily: Part 1

Just last week a fellow volunteer called me up to tell me that Lily, a PLWHA client of mine, got hospitalized. Nothing to do with HIV, but she was warded for dengue. My main concern when I heard the news was her children’s well-being. Who’s taking care of them at home if she’s in the hospital?

So I went to visit Lily at the hospital. About 2 weeks earlier Lily just started on her HIV medication. She was supposed to come back for another appointment after 2 weeks to see if the antiretroviral drugs given are suitable for her. When Lily fell ill, she thought it was just some kind of side effects of the drugs given. So, she didn’t go to any clinic and just waited for the day of the appointment. She was too weak to go to work, but since she didn’t go to see the doctor, she didn’t get any MC and so had to take unpaid leave.

By the time she went to the HIV clinic, she staff nurse told her she’d have to be admitted for dengue. No, she was not admitted immediately. Lily herself, despite her weak condition, insisted she had to go back first to arrange for her children’s well-being. So, she went back, sought the help of her neighbour and another friend of hers to look after her children, and then she went back to the hospital to be warded. Nope, no family members helping her out.

Lily’s story is rather complicated. When I was first introduced to her I thought this was just another of the typical case I usually get. Later when I found out her story I thought it sounded more like a soap-opera script.

Lily’s late husband was a drug addict. He had a good job before but was terminated due to his addiction to drugs. So, Lily had to find herself a job to support her family. Other than her husband, she had 4 children to feed. She got herself a job as a cleaner through the help of a male friend. When her husband became ill and unable to work, Lily became more and more dependant on this male friend. No, not financially, but to help her run chores etc. And one fine day, when this friend was looking for a room to stay, somehow he managed to coax Lily AND her husband to allow him to stay at their house.

Funny thing was, Lily never knew the nature of her husband’s illness. All she knew was that he always had to go for hospital appointments. He never told her anything. When his condition worsened, his family members came from the east coast and took him back to their home. Apparently they knew what was wrong with him, but nobody told Lily anything. And you know what? Despite Lily’s husband no longer staying there, this male friend didn’t bother to leave the house! Lily herself felt indebted to him and so didn’t dare tell him to leave.

So there they were, staying in the same house. No doubt the children were around, but those who didn’t know anything would think they were husband and wife! Lily continued to be dependant on him as she was not used to being independent. From what I understand, this male friend did not pay any rental although he stayed at that house. So, financially, Lily did not get any help from him. She still had to work hard to earn a living, getting only about RM400 a month while her house rental was RM280 a month. Only RM120 balance for the whole family to live on.

I got even a bigger shock later when I found out that this guy was actually a married man! He was in the process of divorce but not finalized yet. Uhh, no, I shall not talk about that matter…

Anyway, a few weeks after her husband’s family took him back to their home state, Lily told one of her children to call their grandmother to find out how their father is doing. Another shocker came. Lily’s daughter was told by her grandmother that her father had just died a few days earlier. AND THEY NEVER BOTHERED TO TELL Lily or her children! Would you believe it?!

Things began to get more and more complicated. Lily was not welcomed at her in-law’s home. But for her children’s sake, she needed to get her husband’s death certificate. So, with the help of her male friend (again!), she finally got a copy from the registration department. One more shocker: in the death cert, the cause of death was written as “HIV/AIDS”. That’s not supposed to be written on death certs, but since Lily’s husband didn’t die at the hospital, the person who lodged the death report at the police station told the policeman that he died of HIV/AIDS, and so that was written on the death cert.

Although it’s not a good thing to have HIV/AIDS written on the death cert, in a way it was a blessing in disguise for Lily. Otherwise she probably wouldn’t have gone for blood tests, for herself and all her children. And yes, another shock came for her when she was told that other than herself, her youngest child, a 4 year old boy, was also tested positive!

By this time, Lily’s male friend had become somewhat possessive. Anywhere she wanted to go, anything she wanted to do, she would have to get this friend’s permission. Like he was her husband! In fact, he said he’d marry Lily once his divorce is final and Lily’s iddah is over, even after he knew Lily was HIV positive. Lily had told me earlier that she didn’t want to marry this guy and her children didn’t like him either. But she felt, as the Malays say, “terhutang budi” to him. Hmmm… is this going to be another case of terhutang budi tergadai body?

Oh dear… I thought I’d only see this kind of situation in dramas and soap-operas…

I’m already getting a headache writing up to this part. So I shall continue this later, ok?

Stay tuned for part 2 of The Complicated Life of Lily!

17 comments:

Apandi said...

Fenin, fenin. I shall wait for part 2...

Pi Bani said...

Afandi,
Jangan fenin dululah. Ante tunggu fat 2...

J.T. said...

Wow... that's part of a life story fit for TV.
Poor Lily. What a dramatic life for her. One thing after another.
I can't wait for Part 2.

Raden Galoh said...

Pi... I ni nak fikir hal sendiri pun selalu migraine... tapi you kuat sungguh nak pikir hal orang lain... kagum I Pi.

pening gak baca hal Lily ni...kesiannya anak dia +ve HIV... dia pulak dah terperangkap... under the obliged trap...

Aduhai...

Pi Bani said...

JT & RG: As I said, when I heard her story I thought it was more like a soap-opera script... wait for part 2... more drama and headache coming...

Mat Salo said...

Whenever we think our own lives are messed up, bersyukur jer lah, that it's not as bad as Lily's...

Jangan pening-pening Pi, nanti you kena migraine amik MC sedara2 ni nak depend kat sapa pulak?

Work on the Part 2 cepat! ;)

ruby ahmad said...

oubeeryHi Pi,

Lily's life is full of intrigues.

I do not understand, why Lily's in-laws are againts Lily? What about their grandchildren?

Memang like the rest, fenin..juga mengenangkan hal2 ni. Pi, may God bless you.

nyonyapenang said...

kepala pusing jugak ya?

Pi Bani said...

Mat Salo, part 2 dah siap dah, tunggu nak preview je lagi...

K.Ruby, grandchildren tetap grandchildren. More details later.

Nyonya Penang, memang kepala pusing!!

ninuk said...

i might sound a bit "cowboy" here but this can be a good movie story line - don't you think. well positive thinking, the proceed can go to the Society.
fenin-fenin saya membacanya, apatah lagi orang yg menulis dan berhadapan dengannya.

elviza said...

Dearest Pi,

Macamana nak buat nih? (nyebok jer I ni kan?)

Kesian Lily - one part, on the other part she should ask the guy to leave. Then again it might be easier for me to say it but for her to do it, its a different story. What am I raving on? Entah lah PI ...

Pi Bani said...

Ninuk, if you want to make a movie out of it, script kena tokok-tambah sana-sini - nak bagi more ummph to it. Wanna play the lead role? :)

Pi Bani said...

Elviza... relax! Jangan susah hati okay? Take a deep breath... tahan... tahan... tahan... (bye, see you later!) :)

Anonymous said...

"Anywhere she wanted to go, anything she wanted to do, she would have to get this friend’s permission. Like he was her husband!"

Hmmm - not ALL husbands are like that ... Perhaps you were referring to "some husbands" who require permission to be granted first.

Pi Bani said...

Anon, of course not all husbands are like that. What I meant was that HE acted as though he was her husband.

Daphne Ling said...

Oh dear...Poor Lily...
How can her in-laws do that to her and her kids? How can they not tell her that her husband has passed away? So cruel huh? But she is a strong woman, and cares deeply for her kids. Hope she sees herself through...Although in a way, this 'male friend' is a pretty nice guy...Nice in the sense he's looking out for them...
I'll wait for Part 2...

Pi Bani said...

Daphne, the in-laws may have their own reasons to dislike Lily and to do what they did. I have never met them so I wouldn't really know. All I hear is Lily's side of the story.