Almost 3 weeks ago, while I was driving to KL, a call came in from a lady. Initially I thought she was an HIV+ lady needing someone to talk to, but apparently she was seeking help for her older sister, Mimi who was infected. The lady who called me, Lia, was the one taking care of Mimi at home, with full support from Lia’s husband.
Since I was driving, it wasn’t really the right time for us to chat. And usually I prefer to meet face to face as I’d be able to get more info that way rather than just speaking on the phone. So I told Lia, I’d try to visit in about 2 weeks time. I was then quite busy with the Family Day preparations.
I almost forgot about Mimi and Lia until end of last week when I was planning some visits to the homes of my clients. Immediately I called Lia to find out if it was okay for me to visit them this week. Lia was actually waiting for my call. I asked her to SMS me her address, but she instead just gave me directions to a place I was not too familiar with.
So yesterday morning, I sent a text message to Lia, asking her to text me her house address so I could set it in my GPS. There was no answer, so I just set my GPS to the name of the taman I thought Lia mentioned when I spoke to her last week.
As I was driving at the highway, Lia called. She said she was unable to use the SMS function on her phone and so she called to give me the address. I was driving and was not in a position to write down the address, and so had to memorise the address. And apparently the name of the taman I thought she mentioned last week was also wrong. She mentioned “damai”, I remembered it as “aman”… :-)
After exiting at the toll house, I stopped by the road side to reset my GPS. Alamak, the taman was not listed in my GPS. I had no choice but to depend on the directions Lia gave me earlier last week. As I was about to move on, Lia called again. It seems Mimi no longer wanted to stay with Lia and had decided to move back to her own home on Sunday. So Lia asked if I still wanted to visit if Mimi wasn’t around. I told Lia we could still discuss how we could help Mimi.
So I continued my drive, and without a problem, I found the junction leading to the taman, as there was a huge signboard listing all the tamans in the area. Only problem was, once I got in to that junction, there was no further signboard indicating which way was this taman and which way was that taman. But I remembered Lia mentioning earlier about passing by a mini market and so the moment I saw the mini market, I stopped to call Lia.
“Akak jalan teruuuus sampai hujung belok kiri, hujung lagi belok kiri lagi. Saya tunggu kat luar rumah pakai baju warna merah, eh, pink!”
Ah, the house wasn’t too hard to find after all, if only they had put up proper signboards leading to the various tamans…
Lia was quite friendly. She immediately opened up about lots of things. About how their parents died when they were young, and how the siblings got separated, one taken care by aunt, one by grand aunt etc. So they were not really close to each other until much later in their lives after they got married.
Mimi herself was unlucky to have married a hard core drug addict.
“Dah lama ke suami dia meninggal?” I asked Lia about Mimi’s husband.
“Eh, bukan meninggal… cerai,” Lia replied. “Tapi sekarang ni tak tau lah dia di mana. Hidup lagi ke tidak pun entah!”
All her married life, Mimi was the one who had to work and support the family. Her husband was always in and out of Pusat Serenti. They have 2 sons, both grown up now. The older boy is working in another state, earning just enough to support himself, while the younger one for the moment stays together with Mimi.
They finally got divorced about 3 or 4 years ago, not knowing that they were both infected. It was only recently when Mimi was down with TB and had to be hospitalised did she find out that she had HIV. By then her condition was so bad, whenever relatives visited, they all thought Mimi didn’t have that long to live. And things got worse when Mimi fell and became half-paralysed. So Lia took Mimi to her home to take care of her.
Mimi did get better physically. She still walks with a little difficulty but at least she can already walk. But ever since diagnosed with HIV, Mimi became ultra sensitive. Any advise given to her, especially by family members, she’d think she had become a burden to the family and that the whole family hated her. And because she had not forgiven her husband for what happened to her, from time to time she’d say to Lia, “Engko percaya sangat la laki engko tu. Entah dia keluar pergi mana entah.” Sometimes, Lia did get somewhat influenced, making her feel suspicious of her husband.
Mimi finally decided to move back to her own house (bought when she was still working) last Sunday, after she got a compensation of RM18K from her former employers when they had to close down some time ago. When Lia told her yesterday that I was coming over, at first Mimi said she didn’t want to come. Which was why Lia called to inform me that Mimi had gone back to her own home.
How long can RM18K last? The moment Mimi got her compensation, her son, who was staying with her, asked for a new motorbike. And the moment he got his motorbike, he stopped working! (he was earlier working for an uncle)
Lia’s main concern was if the son would really take care of Mimi. All the while Lia made sure Mimi took all her medication on time, took her to the hospital etc.
“Akak jumpa dia nanti, akak tanyalah sendiri,” Lia told me.
“Dia nak datang ke? Tadi kata dia takde?”
“Dah, saya dah telefon dia balik, cakap akak dah on the way. Saya kata akak nak bincang macam mana boleh tolong dia. Nanti kejap lagi dia datang, anak dia bawak.”
After a while Mimi arrived with her son on a motorbike. While she could walk, I could see she was still walking with difficulty.
“Ni dah dok rumah sendiri, boleh ke masak?”
“Saya sikit-sikit bolehlah. Masak, anak yang masak.”
“Pandai dia masak?”
“Masak orang bujang, bolehlah…”
The problem now is, the son got himself a job in another state, starting August, meaning his mother will be alone at home, if she still insists on staying in her own house. Given her condition, I don’t think it’s advisable. But the son didn’t seem too bothered about how his mother will cope alone at home.
Anyway, I looked through all her documents, and obviously Mimi should be able to apply for Socso’s disability pension. I taught both Lia and Mimi on how to go about, especially in getting the doctor’s report. Mimi had initially thought she’d just bring the form during her next appointment in Ipoh and ask the doctor to fill in and sign the form there and then. I told them they wouldn’t be able to get the report that way.
I think I may need to do a few follow up visits to Mimi’s house. Although initially it was Lia who called me to seek help for her sister, from my visit yesterday, Mimi seemed receptive enough to allow me to visit her at her own home. As Lia told me earlier, sometimes Mimi would prefer to listen to others rather than her own family, which was why Lia sought my help in the first place.
I’d probably be able to get more info from Mimi too if I meet her alone…