It has been more than 2 weeks since Sofie was warded at Ipoh GH. I have visited her thrice at the hospital, and every time I did, I met Saiful as well since he’s the one who stays by his mother’s bedside at the hospital.
So what has been happening to Sofie’s other children? I knew Sofie’s sister (the reliable one who moved from up north to stay with Sofie, not the earlier sister who told the whole neighbourhood about Sofie’s HIV) stays with the children, but she has to go to work. What about the children’s schooling arrangements.
Today I decided to visit the children. It’s the end of the month anyway, I might as well send them some groceries as well.
So this morning when I went to the center to interview a new volunteer, I took the box of whatever groceries left (donated earlier this month). Then after zohor, I headed to a grocery shop to top-up the groceries with whatever other stuff needed, using donations I get from friends on monthly basis for the poor families under my care. I just added a few more items… totalling slightly over RM70. Even the taukeh at the grocery shop commented, “Barang sekarang sikit saja pun sudah lebih 70 ringgit!”
As I headed off to Sofie’s house, it did look like it was going to rain, but thank God it didn’t. As I got to their house, I could see the door was open, so I knew someone was home. Frankly I wasn’t sure if they’d be home… who knows, they may have gone to their grandma’s house in another town where they used to stay before.
When I parked my car right in front of their house, I saw Azman, 15, and Ika, 9. Azman was tidying up the house. Azman immediately came out to salam with me, and helped to carry the box of groceries from my car. Sofie’s sister was at work. I went in and soon Azlan, 17, walked in. He was somewhere behind the house earlier.
I had a chat with them, asking about their schooling etc. Since Azlan didn’t want to transfer to a new school when Sofie moved to this new rented house, he has to use the inter-town bus to go to school every day. He has to go out at 6.30 am. Azman cycles to school as his school is within the same town, as a matter of fact, the school is just along the main road. Saiful goes to the same school as Azman (although Saiful has skipped school for more than 2 weeks to take care of his mother at the hospital) and so he too cycles to school. Ika’s school (primary) is not that far from their school, but since Sofie wasn’t too confident in letting Ika cycle to school (the main road can be quite busy), Sofie has arranged for a school bus.
Azlan and Azman goes to school in the morning while Ika goes in the afternoon. So for the past 2 weeks since Sofie was warded, when the aunt goes to work, and Azlan & Azman goes to school in the mornings, Ika would be alone at home until about 12 noon or so. However, the landlord’s mother who stays nearby (the place where they stay is a row of houses all belonging to the same landlord who stays elsewhere) who sympathised, would keep an eye on Ika. In fact, she’s the one who’d come to the house when it’s nearing noon to make sure Ika is ready. No worries about when Ika comes back from school, because by then the 2 older brothers would be home.
As we were chatting, Azman and Ika went into the kitchen. Soon, Ika came out carrying a cup of drink for me. Apparently Azman had made the drink and Ika served. Aah… without their mother around, they took the liberty to serve drinks to their guests.
Azman, the more talkative one, told me that the school had already sent a warning letter to Saiful for being absent from school for so long. Sofie’s sister then wrote a letter to the school and since Azman studies in the same school, he went to see the teacher personally to deliver the letter and to explain why Saiful couldn’t come to school… why they couldn’t take turns to take care of their mother etc. The teacher told Azman that he actually didn’t want to issue the warning letter, but since Saiful’s absence from school was only told to him through Saiful’s classmate, and not by any adult family members, the headmaster instructed him to just issue the letter so that at least the family would take the initiative to write a formal letter to the school.
Well, no school next week. Hopefully by the time school reopens after CNY, Sofie would be discharged from the hospital so that Saiful can go back to school. I’ve already told Sofie and Saiful to get a letter from the hospital to be given to the school. Hopefully no further action will be taken by the school.