Just last week I went to visit Fuzi. The very next day she called to tell me that somebody got into her house when she was at the hospital for her appointment. When she got home, the doors and windows were shut and locked, but when she got in, the house was in a mess and a few things were stolen. By the looks of it, I think probably someone has a set of her house keys! I told her to either change her house keys or install additional locks.
Then as I was relaxing at home yesterday afternoon, Fuzi called me again from a public phone to tell me that Ijam, her 8 year old HIV+ son had to be warded at Ipoh GH for dengue. Poor thing! They were at the emergency unit then, waiting to be warded.
Ijam was already having fever over the weekend but Fuzi thought it was just the normal fever, and so she just gave him the usual ubat demam. But seeing that the fever had not subsided, she decided to bring Ijam to the Klinik Kesihatan near her place – totally unprepared for the possibility that the boy may need to be hospitalised. After all, she didn’t bring him to a hospital, but to a small Klinik Kesihatan. The people at the klinik kesihatan, upon confirming that the boy was down with dengue, brought them to Ipoh GH in an ambulance.
Since Fuzi went unprepared, she didn’t bring along any change of clothes, medication or enough money. She didn’t even bring along her ATM card to withdraw money. So she called me again once they got to the children’s ward.
“Kak, saya nak minta tolong boleh?”
Before I could say anything, the line was cut off. I tried to call back the same number but couldn’t get through. So I had no choice but to wait.
Fuzi only called back an hour later. And being typical of Fuzi to speak quickly in her Indonesian accent, I couldn’t really understand what she was trying to say. She kept asking me if I could “tolong hantar kain baju dan obat jam 8 nanti”. I was wondering why it had to be at 8 pm… I don’t usually go out at night except for my NGO meetings.
Me: “Kenapa mesti pukul 8?”
Fuzi: “Saya kena makan obat jam 8!”
Me: “Kalau saya pergi sekarang tak boleh ke?”
Fuzi: “Oh, sekarang lagi bagus kak!”
Fuzi had already passed a message to her eldest daughter to tell her to pack whatever necessary in a bag. Since they didn’t have any phone at home, Fuzi had no choice but to call her brother-in-law (her late husband’s brother) staying nearby to seek his help to pass the message to Wina, Fuzi’s daughter. Under normal circumstances, you’d think Fuzi could depend on this BIL and his wife to look after Fuzi’s children while she’s at the hospital looking after Ijam. But in reality, her BIL & wife would usually want payment for any services rendered! Remember Fuzi had that problem of getting her children’s MyKad done? Well, it could be done if their uncle, a Malaysian citizen, accompanied the girls to JPN as their guardian. Well, he did accompany them to get their MyKad done, but in addition to the transportation costs already covered by Fuzi, she also had to pay him an additional RM200 just to sign the application forms as their guardian. And they are his own nieces!! Apa punya pak sedara la!!
So asking their favor to look after the kids could be really costly!
That aside, off I went to Fuzi’s house yesterday after my asar prayer – usually it would take about 20 minutes from my house to hers, but it being just after office hours, the traffic was a bit heavy (although it was nothing compared to KL traffic lah!).
I honked when I got to their house, it took some time before Nita, Fuzi’s second daughter opened the door. The children don’t usually open the door when their mother’s not around, but upon seeing my car, they didn’t have second thoughts about opening the door. Wina, the eldest, was still packing some clothes into a bag. I told her to make sure that her mother’s and brother’s ARV medication were already in the bag. After getting Fuzi’s ATM card from them, off I went. I was in such a hurry I totally forgot to ask the girls if they had any money or food for the next few days.
It was only when I got to the hospital (just in time before visiting hours ended) that Fuzi mentioned to me she didn’t know if the children had anything to eat for the next few days. She had not left them any money as she had expected to go home before the end of the day. I promised Fuzi I’d check on the children the next day (today).
Early this morning, after my usual kampong exercise routine, I went into my room and saw the red light blinking on my hand phone. There was a missed call, and based on the number, I figured it was from one of the hospital’s public phones.
Later I tried to call Fuzi’s mobile number, but there was no answer. It was nearing 1 pm when Fuzi finally called back, again from a public phone. Her phone’s battery was almost dead and she had not brought along the charger. Anyway, Fuzi said that the doctor suspected Ijam may have some kidney problems as well. Aduiii… I do hope it’s nothing serious.
Fuzi then again mentioned how worried she was about her children at home. I told her I’d make it a point to visit them after 2 pm ie after my lunch and zohor prayer.
So yep, after my zohor prayer off I went, first to the grocery shop to buy canned food (sardines, curry chicken, sambal ikan bilis), bread and eggs. Coincidentally, just last week when I went to visit them, I had already brought along some groceries for them. This time they’d probably need more instant or easy to cook food. Before making a move to their house, I also made it a point to buy nasi goreng for them. Nasi goreng had always been the children’s favorite – every time I bring them out and ask them to order anything to eat, they’d straight away say, “Nasi goreng!”
All 4 children were home when I got there. Nita, 13, and her 11 year old brother were already back from school, while Wina, in form 3 and will be sitting for her PMR this year, had to ponteng sekolah to take care of her youngest sibling, Iwan, 4. I had wanted to suggest that Wina and Nita take turns to skip school on alternate days, but somehow Nita is not too reliable when it comes to house work. Wina on the other hand, had been very reliable since she was still in primary school. Put her in charge and she’ll make sure her siblings will get something to eat, even if there’s nothing much at home.
Anyway, Wina passed me another bag of stuff her mother had requested, including her hand phone charger. Wina asked when Ijam is expected to be discharged – a question I couldn’t possibly answer and I myself weren’t too sure of Ijam’s condition. Before I left, I also left some cash with Wina in case she needed to buy anything. At least for today she didn’t have to worry about having to cook or buy anything as I had already bought nasi goreng for them.
Today I went to visit Fuzi and Ijam quite early,at 5 pm. But when I got into the children’s ward and headed straight to the bed where I saw them yesterday, there was a toddler on the bed, not Ijam! I looked around but couldn’t find Fuzi or Ijam. Finally I decided to call Fuzi’s hand phone. It was cut off just after the first ring, but after that I heard Fuzi’s voice calling out my name. Ijam had been transferred to a small single room at the end of the ward.
The boy was still on drip. He looked so skinny, and I could clearly see an unhappy and pathetic looking face. With such looks, there was no way Fuzi would go home and leave him at the hospital even for just a little while.
I told Fuzi I’d be busy tomorrow (got to go to office in the morning and attend a meeting in the afternoon) and so if she needed another favor from me, she’d have to wait till Friday.