It was still dark outside this morning, not even 7 am when I heard the Mission Impossible ringtone on my handphone. Calls THAT early usually brings bad news, and with the PLHIV-assigned MI ringtone, I was hoping it wasn’t the kind of emergencies that required me to go out anywhere to get the problem settled. I took a look at my phone screen and saw Shidah’s name appearing. Remember Shidah? The foreigner married to a Malaysian and who used to be abused by her husband? You can read about her here.
Due to the problems with her husband, I never call Shidah for I wouldn’t know when would be the right time to call. It had always been Shidah calling me, and I noticed most of the calls were either between 10 am to 1 pm or between 2 pm to 3 pm, Her husband would be out working during that time.
So when she called so early this morning, my mind began to wander. Did she get beaten up again? Was she calling to seek help to run away from home? If so, what was I going to do to safeguard myself from any complications?
As I answered the call, I heard Shidah sobbing away.
“Kakak! Suami saya dah meninggal kak!”
As far as I knew, the husband didn’t have any illnesses. Shidah’s the one who had been infected with HIV by her first husband back in her own country. Shidah was the one who had to go for hospital appointments. Her husband would just send her to the hospital and then fetch her after her appointments. The hospital was the only place where I could really talk to Shidah.
I asked Shidah what actually happened to the husband. According to her, yesterday evening, the husband suddenly fainted and was somehow sent to the hospital. And this morning he passed away. I didn’t ask Shidah any further. It was already difficult understanding her Pattani accent, with her sobbing away it was even more difficult to understand. So I told her I’d call her later. I knew her husband had family members around Ipoh, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for Shidah. The husband’s family should be helping out with the funeral arrangements.
So I went out gardening as usual, and when I got in, I noticed a missed call from Shidah, about an hour after her first call. I called her back. She was still crying. I asked if the necessary arrangements had been made. She told me she didn’t know what to do. Her in-laws were not there yet. After confirming with her that her in-laws had indeed been notified and that they told her they were coming, I told Shidah to just wait for them to arrive, and that if after some time they were still not there yet, to call me again. Her in-laws do not know heads or tails who I am and as far as they were concerned Shidah didn’t have any friends in Malaysia. I didn’t want to make an appearance and make them curious as to who I was.
Shidah didn’t call me after that. So I guess the in-laws did turn up at the hospital to make all the necessary funeral arrangements.
So, what now for Shidah? Will she continue staying here in Malaysia? She doesn’t have any children with this husband, only one child from her first marriage back in her own country. She hasn’t met her child ever since she married her second husband and moved to Malaysia.
In other words, she doesn’t have anybody here now except her in-laws. Logically, probably the next course of action for her is to go back to her country and be back with her own family, especially her child. But as far as I know, her husband never gave her cash. Any needs, her husband would bring her out with him and he’d pay.
So, does Shidah have any money to go home? And if she does go home, when should she do so? After her iddah? Or before? Will she get her rights to her late husband’s properties, if any? Or will her in-laws deny her of her rights?
I’d need to talk to Shidah to find out further, but I don’t want to be calling her too early. Right now I don’t know where she is… is she alone at the house where she had been staying with her husband… or is she at her mother-in-law’s home? I don’t want to be calling her at the wrong time. I don’t want her in-laws to become curious.
Whatever it is, I’m sure Shidah herself will be calling me soon if I don’t call her earlier.