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Sunday, 11 November 2007

The Deepa-Raya Do

I was on my way to my NGO centre at 10 am to prepare for the Deepa-raya do for the female PLWHA clients when my phone rang. The call came from Yah.

I had actually informed Yah earlier that I’d fetch her at the bus-station at 11 am as I had promised another PLWHA, Kamala, around the same time. But Yah, as always, never seem to understand instructions. Not wanting her to wait at the bus-station for too long, I decided to go fetch her first and bring her along with me to the centre. So I told her to wait at the “usual” place.

When I got to the bus-station, I couldn’t find her. I called her to ask where she was and she said she was already at the bus-station. Again, I told her to come to the place where I usually pick her up and again she said OK. After 5 minutes, still no sign of her. I called again, and this time she said, “Saya kat bangunan DPMM ni kak. Tak apalah, nanti saya jalan sikit gi stesen bas.” Aaargh!! Yah… Yah…

Anyway, on the way to the centre, we had a chat about the PLWHA guy who had earlier proposed to her. Yah told me about how he tried to call her between 1 am to 3 am. When she didn’t answer, he sent her text messages. I burst out laughing when Yah told me the contents of the SMS, “Kenapa semalam tak jawab talipon? Darling pergi mana?” Oh my, DARLING??! He met her just once, proposed to her and now calls her darling?!

Yah then even told me about the conversation she had with her eldest daughter.

Daughter: “Kakak tak suka mak kawin lagi.”
Yah: “Bukannya mak nak kawin dengan dia. Mak saja seronok-seronok je.”
Daughter: “Seronok-seronok lepas tu terus suka!”

Hmmm… by the sound of it I think Yah is enjoying it, although frankly speaking, this guy gives me the creeps!! I just hope she won’t get into trouble with this guy…

At my NGO centre, since nobody else was around yet, Yah just had to wait while I set up the place for the function. Got all the lemang, ketupat, rendang daging, rendang ayam, fried mee, fried kueteow, and whatever kuih set on the table… arranged the chairs etc and then my phone rang again. This time it was Fuzi who called to say she was already at the bus-stop where I promised to pick her up. It was already 11 am and my colleague who was supposed to be at the centre by then was not there yet. I couldn’t leave Yah alone at the centre. I called my colleague and she said she was on the way and would be there in 3 minutes.

I left Yah with my colleague and immediately went to fetch Fuzi and her kids. Fuzi’s kids were already excited about the function weeks before. They don’t get to go for functions often and even a small do like this one makes them excited. On the way back to the centre, there was a police road block and right after we passed the road block, I jokingly said in Indonesian accent, “Pak, enggak ada permit, pak!” (In case, you haven’t been following her stories, Fuzi is an Indonesian). Fuzi’s son, who sat in front, just looked at me with that strange “why are you saying that” look while Fuzi and her 2 daughters were giggling at the back. Her 2 younger boys, Ijam and Iwan, didn’t even understand what was going on.

This time I really felt so sad when I saw Ijam’s face – that was the first time I saw him ever since he was confirmed HIV positive. But Ijam himself still doesn’t know heads or tails about his illness and so he was just as happy as always, with that cute little smile on his face.

Kamala then called to inform me she couldn’t make it as her mother came to visit her. OK, so I don’t have to rush to the bus-station so soon. After sending Fuzi and her children to the centre, I immediately went out again to buy KFC for the kids. Raya or Deepavali, I know the kids love KFC – something which to these kids is a luxury. Although there was a spread of food already on the table, they still love KFC, so KFC it is.

Just as I was waiting for my takeaway order at KFC, Shila SMSed to tell me she had arrived at the bus-station. I told her I’d fetch her in a while. So, right after I got my order of the family feast combo meal, I sent all the foodstuff to the centre (the KFC outlet is quite near the centre) and immediately headed out again to fetch Shila and her daughter Laila.

Yeah, lots of runaround to do…

By the time we got back to the centre, another PLWHA, Pushpa, and her daughter, Kavita, were already there. They came together with another colleague of mine. One more PLWHA, Miera, was also supposed to attend the function, but she never made it there.

Anyway, it was just an informal get-together for them to meet up, celebrate Raya and Deepavali and chat with each other. It was quite a small group but the noise made was as though there were so many of us there!

When they finished eating, I took out some toys (donated by a blog reader) and told the kids to choose and take all they wanted. They had a helluva time choosing! Even Iwan, Fuzi’s 1 ½ year old boy, chose a bagful of toys!

Another colleague of mine got to the centre around 12.30 (she couldn’t come earlier as she had to work) and had all of us burst out laughing when she asked for the “kuih bulu” (she meant bahulu).

It was good seeing them all mix around. PLWHAs… volunteers… Malays… Chinese… Indians… Since it was a closed function, the PLWHAs could talk about their HIV problems with each other without the fear of any eavesdropping ears around. The function ended at about 2 pm with everyone of the adult PLWHAs “tapau”ing some food back while the children had their hands full with toys and more toys.

Fuzi’s 2 daughters (12 and 11 years old) even helped to wash the plates without anyone telling them to do so. These girls are used to doing household chores, to them it was simply the right thing to do. My colleagues were impressed with their sense of responsibility.

By around 1.30 pm, a friend of Yah’s came to pick her up nearby (overheard the voice of the friend on Yah’s phone… sounded like a male… I wonder if it was the guy who proposed to her. Her boyfriend or her buayafriend, huh?)

My colleague sent Shila and Laila to the bus-station while I decided to send Fuzi and her children right to their doorsteps. With 5 children tagging along and each one of them with a plastic bag full of toys each, I thought I might as well send them home. I didn’t have to rush anywhere after that and their house is just about 20 minutes drive from Ipoh anyway. Within 5 minutes tired little Iwan was already sleeping on his mother’s lap.

Stopped at a petrol station on the way and filled up RM40 worth of petrol. Fuzi asked, "RM40 tahan sebulan tak kak?" Hmmm... I wish...

I didn’t stay long at their house. Fuzi seemed strong enough to cope with Ijam’s HIV status while her 2 daughters kept thanking me for the good time they had.

Hopefully next time, more PLWHAs will turn up.


Kerp (Ph.D) said... i'm giggling all by myself. it was that darling thing huh? that fella is such a flirt.

hey, anything but meehoon alright? and nothing better to have a bucket of finger lickin' good fried chicken.

Unknown said...

Salam Puan Pi...
Hmm... I think Yah's eldest has said it all. Sabar, sabar. I hope Yah will think twice. Takut anak-anaklah pulak yang naya kalau dia betul-betul suka kat that buayafriend. Who knows, what sort of person he is... sabar sajalah. How are you anyway, today, Puan Pi?

winniethepooh said...

thats alot of running around for a day Pi Bani! its sure good to know that everyone is comfortable there and the kids had fun..another sucessful get together :)


kina said...

Seronok to read that you guys are having fun. They need that so much, kan.

Amboi amboi darling lagik... kellas la Yah!

Pi Bani said...

Memang I ketawa besar dengar Yah cerita pasal "darling" dia tu. Tapi bila pikir balik, geli pun ada... :D

Actually memang I risau sikit bila Yah layan orang ni. But I think she's enjoying the attention. Hopefully she won't get into trouble lah.

Pi Bani said...

Yep, lots of running around indeed. But it was all worth it and I don't feel tired at all.

Hah, jangan main... duda and janda dok ber buayafriend gilafriend sakan... sampai tak dengar nasihat orang dah!

Nightwing said...

Helo Kak Pi,

Great stuff you and your team are doing...driving here and there not an easy thing to do.


Pi Bani said...

I'm used to driving here and there lah. No problem in that department.

Buayafren? Well, jumpa only once, terus propose, call at midnight, panggil darling... sounds like a desperate buaya to me!

Anonymous said...

I fear for Yah. Better to totally cut off from him. Hell hath no fury like a man scorned in this case. Hope Fuzi will cope well.

Pi Bani said...

We Buddies usually tak masuk campur our clients' personal matters. We do advice them when necessary but at the end of the day they still have to make their own decisions. I worry too... Yah says she doesn't want to marry this guy but she still layan his calls and SMS. Payah betul!

IBU said...

Salam Kak Pi

Must have been a hectic yet fulfilling day for you. Glad it went well.

If I may ask, how many school going children are there altogether in your register? Pre-school, primary & secondary?

p/s TABH pi haji bila? Alhamdulillah... Semoga mendapat haji yg mabrur!

Pi Bani said...

Kalau termasuk pre-school, adalah about 15 children kot under my charge alone - tak termasuk those under other volunteers. Tapi other volunteers taklah ramai sangat anak depa... anak I yang ramai!!

Anyway, TABH's flight insyaAllah 11/12.

gram.kong said...

Pi Bani,
Not many people can do this type of work.It takes a lot of compassion,courage and patience to be able to deal with people who are terminally ill, for those who had lost hopes and lost the beautiful meaning of life.

I must congratulate you for the good work you are doing and hope many young Malaysians would emulate this fine example of voluntary and charitable work.

Another thing that I would like to say here is the way our government and the people in general treat drug addicts in this country.It is sad and most unfortunate that addicts are considered as criminals when they should be treated as patients. I also understand, I am not sure whether it is true, our re-hab centres would be the last place you would want to send your child for rehabilitation.

In the West, drug addiction is considered as a form of sickness and drug addicts are considered as patients, not as criminals as most people in this country seem to think.

A change in the mindset is needed to lessen the problem of drug addiction in the country.

You are doing a wonderful job, I am awed by people like you.

Unknown said...

Hi Pi,

Aduhai...Yah..Yah! Her daughter has more sense as it were? Seronok2 lepas tu pening kepala lah! Panggil Darling after a brief meeting, we know how not deep this guy is..duh duh! But Pi, nothing you can do lah. She makes her own decisions kan.

I will say it again, I can never do what you do. You are just made for this special honourable task as it comes from your heart and you do get gratification from it. It shows.

I think you know making people happy is the greatest reward! Push on with the wonderful job...'Makcik Rawk' rule! Ha ha.

Pi Bani said...

Hantu Laut:
Ooh, what a name... please don't make an appearance whenever I'm at sea, ya? ;)

Anyway, yes, people's mindset need to change. But that's one of the toughest thing to do. As much as we try to create awareness amongst the public, there are bound to be sceptics out there who'd still look down on these marginalised group.

I am not an expert in dealing with drug addicts but as for the HIV infected people, I don't even treat them as patients. I treat them as friends. It's the moral support they need most. They need friends to whom they can talk to freely about their HIV... friends who'd accept them and even hug them despite their HIV.

Thanks for dropping by, Hantu Laut.

Pi Bani said...

Makcik Rawk rules? Oh yeah... rawk on, babeh!!

Yup, I enjoy doing what I do... just as much as you enjoy doing what you do, K.Ruby. And you are doing great too in giving back to college.

As for Yah, let's just hope for the best for her...