I spent my Sunday morning & afternoon having a good time caving with friends at Gua Tempurung – a short break from my voluntary work… a stress releasing activity before I start off with my Ramadhan visits next week. My clients wouldn’t have been able to reach me even if they wanted to… for almost 4 hours inside the cave, there was no reception!! :-)
But it didn’t take long after the expedition ended for one of my clients to call me. I had not even gone out of Gopeng yet when a call came in while I was driving. The ring tone indicated the number was not listed in my mobile phone.
It was Zalia. Remember Zalia? The young mother who sought my help to get assistance for her 2 year old daughter. My problem was, the daughter was staying with Zalia’s mother while Zalia herself, due to a misunderstanding with her mother, had moved out of the house to stay with her mak angkat, who also happens to be her boyfriend’s mother. Of course, Zalia’s mother got pretty upset with the decision made by Zalia.
After about a month or so, now Zalia wants to go back and stay with her parents, and be reunited with her daughter. But she was scared. Earlier on, the plan was that when I manage to get donations of milk for her little girl, I’d bring Zalia together with me to her parents house to pass the milk to them.
I did manage to get help for the girl, but my calls to Zalia went unanswered and my text messages never got replied. For a while I thought Zalia had abandoned the idea of going to see her parents and her daughter.
But finally just after my Gua Tempurung grand tour, she called, using her boyfriend’s phone. Not really a good time to call, but since I had been wanting to get hold of her, I entertained the call. Apparently her own phone became faulty and was beyond repairs. Which was why my calls and messages never got through to her.
Zalia said she needed to move out of her mak angkat’s house as soon as possible and asked if she could meet up with me. She didn’t have single sen to go to town to meet me and so she was hoping I could come pick her up at home. Not really a problem since she’s staying in Ipoh, but I didn’t have her house address and wasn’t in a position to write down the address to ask her on the phone. So I told her to text me the address and I’d try to visit her the next day (ie today).
By the time I got home, I noticed that she had already texted me the address – not familiar territory to me although it’s in Ipoh. But I got my GPS and yes, the road where she stayed was listed in my GPS.
So today I headed off to fetch Zalia. I didn’t tell her earlier what time I’d be coming. She did mention she wasn’t going anywhere so it shouldn’t matter what time. But as I was nearing the house, Zalia called and asked if I was coming. When I told her I was already on my way, she said, “Oh, kalau macam tu saya siaplah barang-barang saya.”
Huh? Siap barang? Was I supposed to send her home today?
“Dah ada telefon bagitau mak belum?” I asked.
“Dia tak jawab telefon. Dah berapa kali dah saya call.”
Uh oh! I thought I was going to see Zalia to discuss things over. But never mind, Zalia’s mother was probably just too upset with the decision Zalia made to move out of the house and leaving her own child; she purposely didn’t want to answer the call. Besides, since Zalia couldn’t use her own phone, she used her boyfriend’s phone to call. Her mother probably already recognised the number.
Anyway, when I got to the house as per the address mentioned by Zalia, a young lady opened the door and asked who I was looking for. When I mentioned Zalia’s full name, the lady went blank, and then asked another lady in the house. They only knew her nickname, not her full name. I then heard a guy’s voice, asking the young lady who I was. When I mentioned my name, then only the guy told them to tell me to wait for a while. Zalia was upstairs packing her things. So I went back to wait in the car since they didn’t invite me in.
After a while Zalia came out with her bags. Not many things since she just moved out of her parent’s house just about a month ago. I think it hadn’t even been 5 minutes after we left when my handphone rang. The call came from her boyfriend, who was in the house when we left earlier. He asked to speak to Zalia for a while. I had my bluetooth on so I could answer my calls hands free while driving, so I had to turn off my bluetooth before passing the phone to Zalia. Based on the conversation I heard, all he wanted to say was to tell Zalia to take good care of herself bla bla bla. Duh! Couldn’t they settle that part at home when I went to fetch her?
All the way to her parent’s house, I was praying and praying that Zalia’s mother would soften up and accept Zalia back without much drama. Well, I think since she wasn’t really expecting Zalia to go home, what more with someone she (Zalia’s mom) never knew or even heard of before, she seemed rather surprised when she saw me with Zalia. It could have been a different scene altogether had it been Zalia’s boyfriend who sent her home.
After Zalia went to kiss her mother’s hands, the 41 year old mother and grandma to Zalia’s daughter looked at me as I offered my salam. I immediately introduced myself as a volunteer dealing with HIV patients. Zalia had told me earlier that her family had known of her HIV status all along, and so I didn’t have to worry about telling them who I really was.
Zalia’s mother seemed rather receptive. What I felt earlier was right, when she didn’t answer Zalia’s calls, it wasn’t because she didn’t want to accept Zalia in her life. It’s just that she felt too hurt with the decision made by Zalia. I had earlier on in the car, told Zalia to make sure she apologised to her mother, to which she responded, “Memang saya yang salah pun kak.”
So there wasn’t really any unwanted scenes when I sent Zalia back to her family today. I was however hoping that Zalia’s mother wasn’t just controlling herself because I was there. Zalia’s 2 year old daughter, at first seemed shy and kept hiding behind chairs, but after about 10 minutes or so, she clung on to Zalia and looked as though she didn’t want to let go. The poor girl must have missed her mother so much.
Seeing that everything seemed fine, I asked to leave. As I drove off, I looked into the rear mirror to see if the situation would change, but based on what I saw, they were chatting… peacefully. Let’s hope it will continue that way and let’s hope Zalia will not make any other stupid decisions.