Having settled the deliveries of groceries and bicycle to the respective families, I felt it was time for me to check on Azimah, the unwed mother whom I met during my clinic duty 2 weeks ago.
Yesterday I called her to set a date. I asked if I could see her this afternoon.
“Nak jumpa saya untuk apa tu kak?” Azimah sounded apprehensive at first.
I told her I wanted to help her apply for child support assistance and I needed some supporting documents from her. In addition, I’d need to get her to sign the form. Besides, SN had told me that Azimah’s hospital appointments had been transferred to a hospital nearer to her place and so I can’t expect to see her in Ipoh for her hospital appointments.
Remembering that she was quite reluctant to have us visiting her at home, I told her to fix the place to meet. I also told her to get the supporting documents photocopied. Azimah then asked if I could SMS the list of required documents. As for the place to meet, she said she’d SMS me once she could think of a suitable place.
And so I sent her a text message, listing the documents needed. And I waited for her SMS… which never came. I thought she may SMS me this morning, but at noon, no SMS came in from her, so I decided to text her instead, asking if the meet this afternoon was on. I didn’t want to be going all the way to the town where she’s staying, and end up not meeting her. It would be a waste of time, energy and money.
At 1 pm, when I left my office to head for home, Azimah had yet to reply my SMS. I was beginning to think that she was reluctant to meet me. She was after all a bit apprehensive when I called her earlier – so maybe, just maybe, she has decided to just buat donno…
But after I had my lunch at home, my phone rang, with the PLHIV-assigned ringtone. It was Azimah, calling using her mother’s number (I save both hers and her mother’s number in my phone). She ran out of credit for her own number, which was why she didn’t send me any messages earlier.
Azimah asked where I was and what time I’d be coming. I told her I was still in Ipoh and I should be able to be at the town she’s staying around 3 pm. She then asked me where to meet. Aik? I thought she said she’d think of a suitable place…
Finally we decided to meet up at a popular spot in that town, and I promised to call her once I reach the toll exit.
Actually, despite the place being quite a popular spot, I’m not really that familiar with the town. So yep, set my GPS I did, and off I went.
As promised, I called her right after exiting the toll near her town. I figured if she left her house then, we should be able to reach the place at about the same time. She asked if I came alone (aiyo, I sudah mau sampai baru mau tanya ka?) and told me she’d come with another person. I was hoping that other person would be her mother.
I reached the place first and called Azimah again. It wasn’t long before she got there. The other person accompanying her looked too young to be her mother. It was her sister. So no, I didn’t get to meet her mother. Never mind, next time maybe…
But Azimah had not photostated the required documents yet! She had not expected me to be punctual (sorry, I don’t follow janji Melayu, I follow janji Islam) and so she thought there was ample time to go to the shop before meeting up with me, but when I called saying I was already there, she didn’t want me to be waiting too long, so she came to see me first.
I just got her to sign the form first, then we headed to the nearest stationery shop to photostat the required documents.
Anyway, I was happy to note that Azimah seemed very stable, emotionally - just like Sharifah, the other unwed mother with family support. The difference between Azimah and Sharifah is that while Sharifah’s little girl temporarily stays at a shelter home, Azimah is taking care of her baby at her family’s home. In Sharifah’s case, neighbours & relatives are not aware that she had given birth to a little baby. In Azimah’s case, it was obvious there’s a baby at home, and even if nobody asked, there were bound to be some who would have come up with their own conclusions. So, the pressure is more on Azimah.
But the sister who came along seemed to get along very well with Azimah. And I know for a fact that her mother usually accompanies Azimah to the hospital. So no question about them being ashamed of her. There is however, a particular sister-in-law, who kept on hinting that Azimah should stay at a shelter home to avoid embarrassment to the family. But since that SIL stays in a different house, Azimah wasn’t really pressured to do so. She did however, ask me if she should. I told her that if her family is willing to accept her at home, don’t bother. Unless of course, she wants to go herself.
I was rather surprised to find out a total of 10 occupants stay in their house. Azimah, her mother, her 2 1/2 month old daughter, her 2 sisters, her brother, her sis-in-law (a different SIL, not the one mentioned earlier) and her 3 nieces/nephews. And the income earner? Her brother who sells vegetables at the market, with the rest helping out whenever possible.
Wow! Not easy to feed 10 mouths in the same house, especially with a baby as well. Milk and diapers are not cheap. Azimah used to work before, but she quit when her pregnancy began to show. She intends to find a job again once her baby is a bit older, but for the moment, I know it’s tough for them. My main concern is the baby’s needs, at least for the next few months until Azimah can get herself a job. Hopefully, I can arrange for something soon…
Oh, I did bring along milk and diapers with me today, so at least this month’s supply for Azimah’s baby girl is covered.