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, 28 February 2008

The problematic young woman - Part 5

As I was printing out some reports in preparation for the Buddies monthly board meeting last night, a text message came in from Zana. Yes, Zana, the problematic young woman whose story I've posted before - the latest update here. For parts 1 to 4 of her story, click here for the links. Zana, who is now working at a nursery, is planning to come back to Ipoh early next month to visit her 6 year old daughter (taken care by Zana’s parents) and after that she plans to take her toddler who is now left at the shelter home under the care of Kak Hawa. She said she had sent a text message to Kak Hawa about wanting to take back her child from the shelter home, but did not receive any replies from Kak Hawa. So she sought my help, asking me to speak to Kak Hawa regarding the matter.

I was thinking… why lah this woman just simply sent a text message for such an important issue. The least she could have done was to call Kak Hawa and talk to her about the matter. The best is of course to go and see Kak Hawa personally and prove to her that she is serious about the matter. I mean, if I was in Kak Hawa’s shoes, I wouldn’t want to simply give her the child just like that knowing fully aware how irresponsible Zana can be!

But before I call Zana to give her any advice, I needed to call Kak Hawa first. I needed to find out the other side of the story – which, frankly, I trust more.

I have been trying to call Kak Hawa earlier on but understandably she seemed to be very busy. This morning I tried again. First I called her hand phone, there was no answer. Then I called the shelter home’s direct line, and was told that Kak Hawa had gone out. After about half an hour or so, I tried calling her hand phone again, and thank goodness, this time she answered my call.

So finally I managed to get more information on what had actually been happening to Zana and her baby.

Zana had told me earlier that she was fired from her earlier job as a security guard. She didn’t say why. According to Kak Hawa, her employer then always caught her sleeping on the job (when she’s supposed to be the JAGA, she instead TIDUR…) and eventually got fed up and told her to leave. During that time, Zana was actually renting a room at a volunteer’s house. The particular volunteer too got fed up because Zana was using the house phone like her own and the bills shot up to over RM1,000 a month! Aiyo, this woman seems to get into trouble wherever she goes!

Zana herself didn’t want to go back to the shelter home because she couldn’t get enough freedom there but at the same time without a job, she couldn’t afford to take care of her child either. It was then that Kak Hawa went to take the child from Zana, with Zana’s consent. Zana told Kak Hawa that she’d take the child back from Kak Hawa once she gets married.

At that time, Kak Hawa and a few other occupants of the shelter home told Zana to come and visit the child from time to time. But as Zana herself admitted to me, she only visited once late last year and after that she didn’t visit anymore. According to Zana, she didn’t visit because she couldn’t stand the other occupants of the home. Frankly, to me that shouldn’t be an excuse. No matter what you think of the other occupants, if you really love your child, you’d still be visiting from time to time. But knowing Zana, I think it’s that ego of hers that's stopping her from visiting her own child. She simply didn’t want to meet the other occupants.

Kak Hawa told me sometimes the occupants of the shelter home saw Zana at the nearby bus-stop. Yet she didn’t visit her son. She was already in the neighborhood but yet she didn’t bother to drop by to see how her son was doing. And now she wants to take the child with her just like that? I know, I know, she’s the rightful mother but the least she could have done was to show some sense of responsibility as a mother.

Kak Hawa herself has no problem letting Zana take back her child. But of course, she expects Zana to prove that she is capable and responsible enough to take care of the child on her own. Simply sending a text message to Kak Hawa definitely doesn’t reflect her seriousness about the matter. Zana needs to ignore her own ego, go to the shelter home personally, and talk the matter over with Kak Hawa.

Yep, that’s what she needs to do. And that’s what I’m going to tell her to do. It’s about time she grows up and takes responsibility for her own actions. Giving her support doesn't mean I have to settle matters for her, does it?

Anyway, now that Zana is no longer staying at the shelter home, I wonder if she is even responsible to her own self. I mean, is she compliant in taking her HIV meds and is she going for her hospital appointments? Hard for me to check now that she's neither in Ipoh nor at the shelter home...

Monday, 25 February 2008

Yet another postponement...

When Fuzi’s case at the Mahkamah Syariah last month was postponed to this month, I was hoping she’d be able to settle the whole thing by this month. Unless and until she manages to legalize her Narathiwat marriage cert, her children’s citizenship status will be hanging. No doubt it’s clearly indicated in their birth certs that their father was a Malaysian, but since their father passed away before they were able to do their MyKad, their non-Malaysian mother will have to show a legal marriage cert to be able to confirm that the children are indeed Malaysians.

Well, today her case was supposed to be called. She had arranged for transportation since last week to make sure she wouldn’t be late like last month. She didn’t want her case to be postponed again.

And she wasn’t late. Neither was the guy who was helping her out. They were at the court early, hoping that the case would be called today.

But when they got there, Fuzi was instead asked why she didn’t come on the 20th of February. Her case was supposed to be on the 20th, not 25th!! Fuzi and the guy both confirmed that last month they were told the case was postponed to the 25th, but today they both saw in the register that her case was set on the 20th. Oh dear… how could such a mistake be made? Miscommunication?

So how now? Well, no choice but another postponement!! Poor Fuzi, now she has to wait until April.

On another note, her HIV+ child, Ijam, will have to start on medication soon. He will need to come for another blood test next month before they start giving him his daily dose of medication. It will have to be makan ubat, makan ubat, makan ubat every day without fail all his life from then on.

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Just now Pat called me to inform me about Hana being depressed. Hana was told to bring her son for another blood test. Although the earlier test was non-reactive, the doctor wants her to get him tested again just to be sure. Now Hana is worried her son may be infected. She has still not fully accepted the fact that she herself was infected, now she has to worry about her son. I really hope the son is not infected.

I’m not sure what exactly the doctor said to her, but one thing I know is that Hana usually doesn’t really understand what is being told to her. I will need to find out myself.

There are still many things about Hana I’m not too sure of, especially her past. She doesn’t seem to tell me the whole picture. Instead she only tells bits and pieces here and there. When her 2nd daughter was having problems with her friends in school, she just said she didn’t know why. But after seeing the child’s birth cert indicating “maklumat bapa tidak diketahui”, I suspected that was the problem. Another thing I noticed was that although the child was born in 1999, her registration was only done in 2006 when the girl already needed to go to school!

Hana’s first daughter had a different father’s name. She was the only child from Hana’s first marriage. Hana’s 3rd child, her only son, has a different father’s name. His father, Rashid, died on the 3rd day of Raya last year. The problem now is her 2nd child who doesn’t even have a father’s name in her birth cert.

Now I’ve got more questions playing in my mind. But it’s not easy getting information from Hana…

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Aaarrghh!!

I was down with flu the past 2 days. And for the past 2 days too I had to finish a tight-deadline projected financial statement for a business client. Wrong timing sungguh!

Shila called me on Tuesday while I was busy with my work. She was at the hospital for her blood tests and had to wait for an hour for another test to be done. So she called me to see if I was free. But obviously I was not, and had to tell her so.

Yesterday, while I was still busy with my work (while enduring a terrible headache caused by the flu AND work), Fuzi called, also from the hospital. She was there for little Ijam’s appointment. She told me that little Iwan’s milk powder was running low. And she thought since she was already in Ipoh, it would be much easier for me to pass her the monthly supply of milk powder and diapers then.

Actually the milk powder and diapers for her son were already in my car when Fuzi called. But I simply couldn’t afford to meet her at the hospital that morning. Although I managed to finish my work by afternoon, and I could go to her house to send the things over, I simply needed a good rest. I went straight home and tried to get some sleep.

Then the hand phone began to ring. The caller’s number was not stored in my hand phone. Usually I’d still answer if the unfamiliar number was a local number (in case it was someone who got my number from a Buddies brochure), but noticing that the number was a KL number, I simply rejected the call. Not giving up, another call presumably from the same person came in, this time from a land line (the earlier one was from a mobile number). Again, I rejected the call. But whoever this person was didn’t seem to give up. Another call came in immediately after that – this time not to my hand phone but direct to my house phone.

I don’t have caller identification for my house phone, but I assumed it was the same person who was trying to call me on my hand phone earlier. OK, since the caller was persistent I thought maybe the call was important. So I answered the call despite feeling rather drowsy. I needed to get this over and done with rather than having my phone ringing all day long.

A lady at the other end introduced herself as a representative of an insurance company which purportedly has a partnership with my credit card provider. She asked if I could spare a few minutes to listen to her. Huh?! She kept on calling just for that? She couldn’t get me when she called from her mobile line; she called from a land line. She couldn’t get me on my hand phone; she called my house phone number. One call immediately after another – as though it was soooooo important! Oh she was persistent alright. ANNOYINGLY persistent. AAARGH!! Last week I received a call from another company purportedly a partner of the bank which provides my other credit card. Do these credit card providers have the right to give out our phone numbers to others?! CHEH! Can’t they just send us their brochures?

Well, I told the lady off. I was not well, needed the rest and there she was persistently calling me despite her earlier calls being rejected. So my mood memang already not too good lah. To add to that, I think some menopausal signs are beginning to show in me so perhaps I can also blame it on that as well… hahaha!

Well, today I’m feeling a lot better. So after work today I went over to Fuzi’s house to send the milk powder and diapers. When I got there, as usual, I just honked. Usually, the kids would just excitedly open the door. This time however, it took quite some time before somebody opened the door. It was Fuzi’s second child who opened the door telling me that her mother was not home. The girl was probably told not to open the door if anybody came. But when she took a peek through the windows and saw me, she opened the door anyway.

Fuzi was actually at Ijam’s kindergarten as they were having a coloring competition or something like that. I had actually wanted to ask Fuzi about the outcome of Ijam’s hospital appointment, but I guess that will have to wait. I just left the things with the girl.

I will have to follow up on Fuzi later. If I recall correctly, her case at the Mahkamah Syariah is on next week. I am more interested in the outcome of that one…

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Could it be her?

Last Thursday when I went to my NGO centre to send my reports for our coming AGM in March, my colleague told me about a story he heard from one of his friends.

The story was about an elderly Malay lady who died recently in a particular kampong in a small town. The 74 year old grandmother, who was staying alone, was said to have a “terrible disease” and her kampong folks did not bother to help her out. It was said that only her Indian neighbor helped her out.

Now, why did my colleague relay this story to me?

Because when he heard the story from his friend, after putting two and two together, one name came to his mind. And the same name came to my mind too when the story was relayed to me.

Remember Makcik Minah - the 74 year old grandmother to whom I was assigned as the buddy? Well, I never had the opportunity to meet her or even talk to her as all my calls to her house were not answered. I couldn’t follow up at the HIV clinic either as SN said she never came for her appointments after the first one.

The age is just right, and we knew for a fact that Makcik Minah stayed alone in a kampong in the same town as the elderly lady in the above story. In addition to that, during the one and only time Makcik Minah came for her appointment at the HIV clinic, she came with an Indian man who was her neighbor. The “terrible disease” mentioned in the story must have been HIV.

I can’t be too sure if the lady in the story was indeed Makcik Minah but based on the above circumstances, chances are she was. My gut feeling says so too.

Assuming the lady was indeed Makcik Minah, I wonder why her kampong folks didn’t bother to help her at all. Was it because they knew she had HIV and they didn’t want to come anywhere near her? Was it because they never liked her in the first place? Why weren’t any of my calls answered? Was she too weak to get up to answer the phone?

I don’t know if I’ll ever know the answer. Maybe I never will. If her kampong is nearby I would probably go there to find out. She must have been a very lonely woman. What a way for her life to end.

I wish I had the opportunity to meet her and talk to her. I wish I knew more about her background. I wish I could have helped her during the last few months of her life. But I guess that was never meant to be. God knows best.

May Allah bless her soul. Alfatihah.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Freaked out!

Although Zainab’s house is not far from my office, I don’t really visit her often as I can’t be too sure when she works day shift and when she works night shift. But not having visited her for quite some time, I thought it’s about time I visit her again. I especially need to know how her daughter’s doing – the one with kidney problems.

So yesterday I sent her a text message; asking if she’d be home today. I didn’t receive any reply, so I thought she was at work. Later last night, a call from an unfamiliar number came in on my hand phone. The call came from Zaki, Zainab’s husband, who called from a public phone. Apparently Zainab ran out of credit for her hand phone and was unable to reply my message. Zaki told me Zainab would be in today so I promised I’d drop by.

My initial plan was to visit them later in the afternoon after going shopping to buy some tidbits for the children. But when I was in my office this morning, I received a text message from Lin…

“Kak… saya kat hospital. Saya tak tahan nak nangis ni. Saya tengok orang2 kat sini yang sakit dah teruk kulit dia. Saya terbayangkan saya pun macam tu satu hari nanti. Dah nak menitis airmata dah ni.”

Oh dear, she must have freaked out seeing some of the PLWHAs with skin diseases. You know, like the ones shown in some of our TV dramas… giving the impression that all PLWHAs will end up looking like that.

Today was not the first time Lin went for her appointment, but I guess it just so happened that today there were quite a number of those with terrible-looking skin diseases. Lin got scared she may look like that one day.

I called Lin. She answered after just one ring. I could sense she was trying to hold back her tears. I couldn’t simply leave my office to go meet her, so I told her to call me after her appointment with the doctor was over. I decided to change my initial plans. I thought it would be good to bring her along in my house visit to Zainab’s house so she could meet Zainab.

About 12.45 pm, Lin called to tell me she’s done at the hospital. Nice timing. Off I went to fetch her. The moment she got into my car, I could see tears in her eyes. I brought her out for lunch first. We needed to talk privately before I could bring her to meet Zainab.

Lin’s CD4 count has dropped to 380 from 400+ previously. She is not yet on HIV medication. What worried me was that her BP shot up to 180/95. Apparently, Lin has been on medication for quite some time for her hypertension, with her normal BP being 140/80, which is already quite high for her age. My guess is that she has so many worries on her mind – what with her HIV, her children, her ex-hubby etc. Although most of her children are doing okay academically, her 4th who is also her eldest son seem to be having problems in school. He had been caught with cigarettes in his school bag before (he’s in form 5 this year), he loves to lepak around with friends after school and recently he was suspended from school for a week for allegedly painting the walls of his school building with his friends. He claimed he didn’t do it, and that his friends were the ones who did it, but even if that was true, he was there with them.

Lin already has enough worries in her mind. After the scene at the HIV clinic today, she got even more worried. She freaked out!

During lunch, I told Lin to say out whatever was in her mind. There was no one at home she could talk to about this. Her 2 older children whom she could confide to as friends are away from home (one in KL and the other one overseas) and so Lin has been keeping everything inside her. If she didn’t talk to anyone about this, she could possibly one day simply break down. Talking things over with her ex-hubby is out of the question as all he’s interested in is having sex!

Lin told me of late she feels “dirty”, she feels unwanted (except by her gatal ex-hubby), she feels like nobody wants to sit anywhere near her (and it wasn’t even her fault she got infected with HIV!). Every time anyone looks at her, she thinks it’s because they look down on her. That was what happened at the HIV clinic today. She felt as though the people there were staring at her. Well, with her looking scared and almost at the verge of tears, I’m not surprised if people stared. I would probably do the same too, although I wouldn’t be making it too obvious.

Even sitting outside the HIV clinic, Lin felt as though those at the other end of the corridor (waiting to see other doctors for other ailments) were looking down on her in shame for being infected with HIV.

I told Lin it was just her feeling. Whenever I’m on clinic duty and I see any of my clients outside waiting to see the doctor, I would selamba-ly sit outside with them amongst the PLWHAs without feeling the slightest shame, without fear of what others may think if they see me there. I never felt as though anyone was staring at me.

Of course, it is much easier for me. I am not infected and so I couldn’t care less what others may think. When you are infected, you’d think people are thinking of things they are not even thinking of!

I told Lin there was nothing for her to be ashamed of. She was just a victim. I told her if she keeps on thinking negatively, her condition will deteriorate faster. She needs to be strong and she needs to think positively. I told her I was there for her and I’m willing to stand and sit by her without fear.

I know, I know… not easy for her but what else was I supposed to tell her? I wanted to hug her there and then but that would probably create more stares from the people around us!

After our lunch, we headed to Zainab’s house. Since I didn’t have the time to buy any tidbits for the kids, I tapau-ed some food for them from the stall where Lin and I had our lunch.

Zainab, who was expecting my visit, came out to greet us, with bedak sejuk all over her face. Zaki was not home as he went out to buy his cigarettes.

Kakak and adik (Zainab’s kids) were about to have lunch when we got there. Kakak looked much better. I introduced Lin and Zainab to each other. While Zainab did talk quite a bit, Lin on the other hand was rather quiet; unlike when she was alone with me. I guess she still did not quite trust others enough although by right she should feel more relaxed with Zainab who is a fellow PLWHA.

Anyway, Zainab related how she too felt depressed during the initial stages and that she managed to get over things and accepted the facts after thinking that she needed to be strong for her kids. I honestly hope that would at least give Lin some sort of motivation.

While on the way to send Lin back to the bus station, I asked Lin if her ex-hubby, Mr. DD, was still trying to tackle her. Well, this Romeo doesn’t seem to give up despite the “tiada harapan” answer he got during their earlier meet. Every time Lin tries to contact him to talk about the children, he’d call her sayang and the likes (nope, no darling with Lin… only with Yah) and would ask her if she’d like to go out with him. Usually when something crops up regarding the children, Lin would just give him a missed call and Mr. DD would immediately call back if the missed call came from Lin. But every time he calls, according to Lin he'd always try to menggatal.

Mr. DD did ask Lin for another favor. Whenever Lin needed to come for appointments in Ipoh GH, he asked her to tell SN that he and Lin are back together. Huh? What the *#@& for??!! You see, he was hoping someone at the HIV clinic would pass the story to Yah and hopefully after that Yah would stop calling him.

Oh for crying out loud! Couldn’t he himself tell Yah straight in the face that he doesn’t want to have anything to do with Yah again?

Hmmm… come to think of it, maybe I’d just tell Yah that I heard Mr D wants to remarry his ex-wife. I wouldn’t be lying. Mr D really does in fact want to remarry his ex-wife. I don’t have to tell Yah the part about his ex-wife not wanting him back, kan?

Hehehehe…

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

What happened to the others?

With the Yah-Lin-Dah-ling drama stealing this blog’s limelight of late, some of my other clients seem to have been forgotten. I was looking through my log book and noticed that my contacts lately involved mostly Yah, Lin, Mrs. K, and Fuzi. Once in a while Hana, Zana and Shila may come into the picture (although I was not assigned to be Shila’s buddy).

It has been a long time since I got in touch with Nuri, Ani, Maria, Zainab, Sha, Ifa, Noni and Jah. Too long that sometimes I forget their blog names and I just have to search through my earlier postings to find out.

The problem is, sometimes when it is convenient for me to talk, it is not for them. Like Nuri for example, during weekdays she’d be busy running her food stall while during weekends I tend to concentrate more on my own personal matters. As for Maria, if I call her when her husband is around, she’d be reluctant to talk. Likewise for Ifa, if any of her family members are around when I call, she’d be reluctant to talk too.

And then there’s Noni, who’d just answer me with yes, no, alright, ahah, or the likes if I call her when she’s with friends. Her friends do not know she has HIV.

What about Ani? She won’t talk much if her in-laws are around when I call her.

I wonder… whatever happened to Farah, Nuri’s HIV+ child? Is she doing okay?

Whatever happened to Maria? Is she still having problems with her husband?

Whatever happened to Ifa? Is she still facing discrimination at home by her own family members?

Whatever happened to Noni who moved to KL? Is she working now?

Whatever happened to Ani? Has she and her husband built a separate house to live in using her EPF withdrawal?

Whatever happened to Boboy, the late Lily’s HIV positive child? Is he happy at the shelter home?

Alamak… I guess I’d better start calling around soon. At least I’d have something else to tell about in this blog other than on the lives of the people around our desperado darling Romeo! Surely there are other twists in the lives other people living with HIV/AIDS, kan?

Now that the mad rush for deadlines at the office has cooled down, I should be able to focus more on my voluntary work. So yeah, I’d better start calling…

Kring… kring… HELLO?

Friday, 8 February 2008

Desperado...

As I was about to go to sleep on Monday night, a call came in on my hand phone. The call came from one of my aunts, telling me that my 94 year old grandma just passed away. So, off I went to my grandma’s house (which is less than 200 meters away).

Then as I was about to make all the necessary calls to relatives, I noticed there was a message on my hand phone that I had not read. The message was from Lin…

“Saya nak minta pendapat. Bekas suami datang tadi nak rujuk balik. Tolong bagi nasihat kat saya.”

Haiyo!! Mr. Darling now approaching Lin direct instead of going through their children to get her to remarry him…

Well, I was not about to crack my head thinking of the Yah-Lin-Dah-Ling drama that night. My own family comes first. I ignored that message and proceeded with whatever that needed to be done in relation to my grandmother’s death. I didn’t get even a minute of sleep that night.

The next day was another busy day with the preparations of my grandma’s funeral. Alhamdulillah, everything ran smoothly.

That night another text message came in; this time from Shila. She had just started a new combination of medication for her HIV and was feeling really weak. Although by then my grandma’s funeral was over, I was feeling really tired as I had not slept for more than 36 hours. I ignored that message too, as I did with Lin’s message. But unlike Lin who didn’t pursue further when she didn’t get any reply from me, Shila on the other hand sent me another message 15 minutes after her first message – asking me where I was and whether I received her earlier message. This time I replied her message telling her that my grandma passed away. And she then replied, apologizing to me.

Shila is not under my care, but her assigned buddy is on holiday overseas, while her co-buddy is celebrating CNY, which was why Shila decided to get hold of me instead. Too bad, wrong timing…

Actually I didn’t ignore Lin’s and Shila’s messages altogether. I just postponed responding to them. I had my priorities. Later when my family matters were settled, I decided to call them both to find out more.

Shila was feeling weak due to the effects of her medication. It is quite normal for those who just started taking their medication to feel weak, dizzy, nausea, etc. I told Shila not to worry. I know whenever she falls ill, Shila always start thinking that she’s dying soon.

Anyway, when I re-read Lin’s message, many thoughts crept into my mind.

Did Mr Darling manage to coax Lin to get back into his life? I thought Lin has made up her mind never to remarry him?

If Lin remarries Mr Darling, what would happen if Yah keeps on stalking him?

Will Mr Darling still look around for HIV positive candidates if Lin agrees to remarry him?

Alamak… peninglah ini macam!

So I called Lin to get the whole story.

That day, our Romeo went to visit his ex; asking her to go out with him to a coffee shop somewhere. He wanted to discuss some things with her. Thinking that the discussion would involve their children's well-being, Lin agreed. Her children were teasing her, “Fuyoo… mak pergi dating!” I’m not sure if they would still tease her like that if their mom went out with someone else instead of their father…

While on the motorbike on the way to the coffee shop, Mr D asked Lin if she’d like to follow him to his rented house (where he stays alone!). Lin’s first reaction was, “Buat apa? Buat dosa?!” So no, Mr D didn’t bring her to his house.

At the coffee shop, Mr D asked Lin to remarry him – under the pretext of “for the children’s sake”. He even told her he’d bring her to jalan-jalan to Thailand. THAILAND?! Lin smelled something fishy. All their married life, he never brought her holidaying anywhere, now he wants to bring her to Thailand?! Mau kawin lari ka??

Mr D kept on pleading, telling Lin that he’d follow whatever conditions set by Lin as long as she agrees to remarry him. Our Lin is quite cunning I must say. She told our Desperado Darling that she’d remarry him, take care of him, cook for him etc as long as he agrees NOT TO TOUCH HER! She knew that was THE one condition he couldn’t live with, and true enough, Mr D’s answer was, “Kalau syarat yang tu, beratlah!”

Since he didn’t agree to the condition, Lin’s answer was a clear NO. And our pathetic desperado’s response was, “Jadi tak ada harapan lah ni ya?”

First he wanted her to follow him to his rented house where he stays alone… then he wanted to bring her to Thailand… then he couldn’t agree to Lin’s condition that he shouldn’t lay his hands on her. It is obvious all he wanted was “that thing”.

Actually Lin and I were chuckling away while Lin told me the whole story. Thank goodness Lin was firm with her decision. The only reason she asked for my opinion and advice was that she didn’t have anyone to talk to on this matter and she was afraid she may have made the wrong decision.

After telling me the whole story and getting my support, she felt a whole load of burden off her shoulders. She said although she was determined to get on with life without him, she just needed someone to talk to about it, and she then thanked me for the few minutes I spent talking (actually more of listening) to her.

No problem at all… she can talk to me if she wants to… although sometimes (like this time) I may have to postpone my response.

I'm beginning to think about what would happen between Mr double D (desperado darling) and Yah now that Lin is firm with her decision not to get back into his life. Since Yah is also a desperado in her own way, will their relationship move on to another episode? What if Mr DD manages to get to know any of my other female clients and starts tackling them too? Will I have additional heroines in this mollywood movie?

Oh dear God...

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Various updates... #2

Last week I received another text message from Zana. She was asking if I had called her earlier. (Remember my earlier call which didn’t get through?) I was busy in my office then and did not reply immediately. After a while another text message came from Zana, this time asking if I was busy. I had to reply that message, telling her I was indeed busy, and that I would call her later.

Later when I was at my NGO centre, I decided to give her a call. This time the call went through. When I heard children’s voices in the background, I suspected that the nursery where she was working in was indeed a children’s nursery.

I asked Zana direct if her child was left at the shelter home for good, or if it was just a temporary measure.

“Itulah kak, saya dah terlepas cakap hari tu. Saya kata saya ambil balik budak tu lepas saya kawin. Tapi macam mana saya nak kawin? Sekarang saya kena cari jalan nak ambil balik anak saya.”

Actually after Kak Hawa, the lady in charge at the shelter home, told me last year that Zana had started working as a security guard, I never received any more news about Zana. At that time, Zana was still taking care of her baby. I did try to call Zana earlier, but my calls never got through. It was only recently when I got a text message from Zana’s new number that I finally managed to get hold of her again.

Before I could ask Zana what took place, Zana said, “Sebenarnya hari tu saya kena buang kerja, jadi Mak Hawa datang ambil budak tu. Saya pun cakaplah kat Mak Hawa nanti lepas saya kawin saya ambil balik budak tu.”

Hmmm… she was fired? Oh dear, this problematic young woman always seem to be in all kinds of trouble! I wonder what happened. I didn’t want to ask why. I know usually she’d come up with different stories for different people, so I thought I might as well just call Kak Hawa direct to get the other side of the story. But when I tried to call Kak Hawa immediately after that, she didn’t pick up the phone. Kak Hawa is probably busy. I will try again later.

Anyway, Zana did call her family in Ipoh although she didn’t speak to her father who had disowned her. She managed to speak to her mother and also to her 6 year old daughter to wish her happy birthday. According to Zana, she may come to Ipoh for a while to see her daughter. I’m not sure how she’s going to do that. I know she still doesn’t dare go home for fear of her father. Chances are she’s thinking of asking her younger sister to bring her daughter out to meet her somewhere.

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Remember my earlier posting about my house visits for sponsorship assessment? We managed to visit 4 families that day. However, although we did find the area where Pushpa was staying, we couldn’t find the house. We tried to call but there was no answer.

So I decided to visit her last Friday, this time with another colleague of mine. I wanted to get things over and done with. We made arrangements to meet up with Pushpa’s buddy somewhere and then together we’d visit Pushpa. On the way to her house, we had to slow down somewhere as a herd of cows was crossing the road. Too bad I was driving. Otherwise I would gladly take out the camera in my handbag and get the cows to pose for a photo to be put in this blog… :)

Pushpa is a sweet 12 year old girl who became orphaned since she was small. The difference between Pushpa and the other children considered for sponsorship is that the others are affected children from infected families, while poor Pushpa is herself HIV infected and is on medication.

Earlier on Pushpa stayed with her grandmother and her aunt who’s still single. However, due to their feeling of sympathy for her (she’s an orphan, remember? amma ilek… appa ilek…), they ended up spoiling her rotten. What she wants, she gets. When she didn’t want to take her medication, they just let her be.

Finally Pushpa’s uncle who stays not far from the grandmother’s house, decided to get Pushpa to stay with him instead so he could supervise her. So our visit that day was to her uncle’s house, not to her grandma’s house.

Pushpa will be sitting for UPSR this year but so far she has not been doing too well in school. Her family hopes to arrange for some tuition for her. Frankly, I feel the school should be arranging that… there are only 8 students in her class (it’s a Tamil school near an estate) so the class teacher could actually give individual attention to each student. Whatever it is, we will try to arrange something for her.

While we were at Pushpa’s house, her buddy Pat received a call from Valli. Valli needed help to get her supply of medication for this month as she’s unable to get leave from work to go all the way to Ipoh. She left the medicine slip at Pat’s place. So my colleague and I decided to go over to Pat’s place which was about 15 to 20 minutes drive.

Since Pat said she would be visiting Hana that night, I left some money with Pat to be handed over to Hana. Sponsorship money for Hana’s children is already in and the money I left with Pat was for their pocket money for this month. I also left the same amount of money to be given to Valli’s 2 boys who are also sponsored.

While we were chatting about Hana, Pat highlighted to me the problems faced by Hana’s younger daughter. You see, although she performed quite well in her studies, of late she has been reluctant to go to school. Both Pat and I had been wondering why earlier… when I asked the girl she just said her friends like to tease her but she didn’t say what about. Now that Pat has got copies of the children’s birth cert, she suspects the teasing was about the girl’s status. You see, in her birth cert, the father’s info was stated as “Maklumat Tidak Diketahui.”

Oh dear, not another one…

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After the above visit, when I sent my colleague back to my NGO centre, I told him I hoped none of my clients would call me over the weekend. I needed a break.

But guess who called? Our mollywood heroine… Yah Ah Ngau!!

My colleague had earlier told her to call me and inform me about her new job so she finally did. She was back at her hometown over the weekend when she called.

I pretended I didn’t know anything and asked her about her job. Well, at least there is a difference between her job and Lin’s job. The place where Lin works is just a restaurant while the place where Yah works offers catering services as well. While Lin's job involve washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, Yah helps out with the cooking as well. Yah stays at a room provided by her employer.

Anyway, what amused me most was when Yah told me about Mr. Darling.

xxx (Mr. D’s real name) dah balik kat saya. Tak taulah kenapa tiba-tiba dia mau baik balik dengan saya. Tapi saya kena berjaga-jaga sikitlah. Dah tau perangai dia macam mana.”

I almost choked. While I acted calm, deep down inside me I was thinking… “PTTUIII!! As though I didn’t know YOU were the one who went nuts chasing him!”

Yes, I was tempted to tell her what Mr. D said to my colleague earlier… but no way was I going to get myself directly involved in their drama. Our voluntary work does not include that. I just told Yah that whatever it is, she must focus more on her future and her children’s future, and that she shouldn’t let her involvement with Mr. D make her lose focus.

Let’s just see how it goes from here…