I was relaxing at home on Sunday when a call came in from an unfamiliar number. At first I thought it was one of those unwanted telemarketing calls, but when I answered the call, the voice at the other end sounded familiar. It was Zainab, whom I couldn’t call earlier because she didn’t have a phone. Even for our recent Family Day, I had to leave a note with her daughter at her house (Zainab was at work) to inform her of when and where to wait for one of our volunteers to fetch her.
Anyway, she called to give me her new number and to ask if the Family Day photos were ready. She also mentioned that for this week she’d be on night shift at her workplace and so I could visit her during the day time.
With photos already printed, and money has started coming in from donors to be used for my poor PLHIV families, on Monday morning I decided to shop for some groceries before visiting Zainab and her family at home. Once I got all the stuff into my car, I called Zainab to inform her I was on my way. But she didn’t answer my call. At first I thought she could be in the bathroom or something, but after a while, she returned my call. She was at the hospital with her daughters.
Her older daughter, more affectionately called Kakak, had been unwell and since the girl’s appointment at the paediatric clinic is only in August, quite a long way to go, Zainab decided to bring her to the hospital yesterday. It was not advisable to bring the girl to other clinics since all her records are at the Ipoh GH paediatric clinic (the girl has kidney problems). So after coming home from work at about 6.45 am, and after a short nap, Zainab called a colleague of mine (the one who fetched her for our family day earlier) to ask if he could send her and daughter to the hospital. So yes, my colleague who stays not too far from Zainab’s place, fetched them at home and sent them to the hospital on his way to work.
Upon being told that they were at the hospital, I decided to go straight to the hospital. And as usual, finding a parking space within the hospital compounds was almost impossible – unless you’re lucky enough to pass by at the right time when another car is going out. I parked outside and walked.
The moment I walked into the paeds clinic, there was no problem spotting Zainab and her 2 daughters. They were still waiting for their turn to see the doctor. Adik was playing at the playground. I immediately showed Kakak their family day photos. She was smiling from ear to ear looking at the photo of her on the horse.
When it was kakak’s turn to see the doctor, Zainab went in with her. Knowing that I was outside, she let Adik continue playing.
Apparently when they went to see the doctor, the doc wanted to get more tests done on Kakak and told her that she’d need to get her blood taken for testing. Scared of needles, the girl asked the good doc if they could take her mother’s blood instead… :-)
Once her urine and blood samples were taken and sent to the lab, Zainab was told to bring the girl again to the hospital on Wednesday to see the doctor after test results are out. The 2 girls had been complaining they were hungry, so I brought them to the cafeteria. Knowing they loved chicken, the first thing I asked was if they wanted nasi ayam for lunch (it was already noon by then), and immediately they smiled. Kakak had one plate of nasi ayam for herself, while Adik shared with her mother. The little girl ended up eating most of the chicken while her mother finished up the rice…
After lunch, I sent them home. They didn’t realise I had some groceries at the back and were quite surprised when I asked them to help carry the stuff down from my car. The 2 girls were all smiles when they saw some of the foodstuff I had bought for them.
Anyway, while waiting at the hospital and in the car while driving them home, I had the chance to chat with Zainab. I asked about Zaki, her husband. I was wondering why he didn’t come along to accompany his daughter to the hospital. By right, it should be him since Zainab had just got home from work and hadn’t had enough rest. Obviously Zainab looked rather fed-up when I asked about Zaki. “Dia nak mati cepat lantak dialah kak, malas dah saya…”
Zaki is no longer going for his hospital appointments. Work? Nope, he’s no longer working either, but that didn’t come as a surprise to me since he had always come up with all sorts of excuses to quit whatever jobs that he had. Even when he was working, he didn’t contribute to the family’s expenses, he spent his wages to buy cigarettes and whatever else for his own needs. “Dia tak kerja, tapi bukannya nak tolong jaga budak-budak ni pun!”
And the main reason Zainab feels more fed-up than ever is that she suspects he is back on drugs.
“Mana dia dapat duit?” I asked. “Kawan-kawan dialah kak!”
Which reminds me, when I went to their house to leave the note regarding the family day, only Kakak and Adik were home. When I asked the girls where their parents were, Kakak answered, “Ibu kerja. Ayah keluar.” Luckily it was me who went to visit. The door was not even locked. Any strangers could easily go in to kidnap the 2 girls.
I think it was rather irresponsible for him to leave the 2 girls (aged 8 & 6) all by themselves at home, don’t you think? And especially now after knowing what he had been up to of late.
Thank goodness Zainab now has a phone. It would be easier for me to check on them from time to time. And I was thinking I’d check on them on Wednesday after Kakak’s next appointment at the hospital.
However, about 3 pm today, I received a text message from Zainab, sayiing that Kakak had to be warded and may need to be operated. Kakak was down with high fever last night and so Zainab brought the girl to a nearby clinic and was told by the doctor to bring her straight to the hospital as he suspected the girl may need to get her appendix removed.
I tried calling Zainab but my call didn’t get through. I sent a text message to get further info but that too had not been replied. I guess the next few days I may just have to visit at the ward to get further details…