THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)
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Monday, 31 December 2007

Goodbye 2007... Hello 2008...

2007 had been quite a hectic year for me when it came to my HIV related voluntary work.

There were a few deaths amongst my PLWHAs and their family members this year.

In April, one of Zana’s twin babies died due to complications which were not HIV related.

In May, Lily died after being warded at the Ipoh GH for dengue.

In October, on the 3rd day of Aidil Fitri, Hana’s husband, Rashid passed away. Just 2 days later, another client, Rina followed suit. Both Rashid and Rina succumbed to HIV related illnesses.

This year too, I was assigned 5 new clients. One of them was Rina, who died within the same year. I only got to know her just about a month or so.

Hana too was just assigned to me this year. I have been in touch with her even before she was confirmed HIV positive as she needed help with her husband Rashid who had been diagnosed positive earlier.

Ani too was assigned to me this year. She was infected by her first husband, and she in turn, unknowingly infected her present husband. But her present husband has been very supportive so Ani so far doesn’t really have any problem emotional-wise.

Although I became Fuzi’s buddy since 2006, her son Ijam’s HIV status was only confirmed this year and so he’s the other new client assigned to me.

One more new client was an elderly lady whom I never had the chance to meet and until now I don’t know her whereabouts. Remember Makcik Minah, the 74 year old grandma? Well, my calls to her house were never answered, and since she had also been missing her hospital appointments, even SN is unsure of Makcik Minah’s whereabouts.

I have not included Lin in the list of new clients as I have yet to meet up with her. She will probably be my first client of 2008.

There were also cases whereby I wasn't assigned as the buddy but the PLWHAs would still call me for help. One of them was Zali, whose wife left him and his 2 girls.

It was also this year that I had to handle one case of someone who wanted to kill himself because he THOUGHT he had HIV. Well, Mr. X had been “naughty”, and when his private part began to feel itchy, he was confident he was infected with HIV. He even bought pesticides to kill himself with, much to the horror of his wife who forgave him despite what he did. This one was a tough one to convince. Despite one by one negative blood test results, he insisted he was probably infected. Oh well, after so many tests, he finally accepted the fact that he wasn’t infected and now both he and his wife have moved to another town where he has got himself a new job.

Guess who called me the most in 2007? Well, Yah Ah Ngau wins hands down! From a very strong and determined lady, the moment she got to know Mr. Darling and got bitten by the angau bug, she changed for the worse and is beginning to get on my nerves with her calls. While previously her calls used to be for updates on her children’s wellbeing, of late her calls were more to confide me about her lovelorn stories. Her story is still ongoing, so do stay tuned for more of Yah’s blockbuster mollywood stories… I am sure there will be a few more sequels in 2008.

And if you want to know who the raja SMS is amongst my clients, it has to be Mrs. K. When I say raja SMS, I didn’t mean she got the most number of SMS votes. Mrs. K was the one who would SMS me every time she needed something. And her SMSes are usually very lengthy. Like for example, if she wanted to tell me that her children’s bus fares were RM55, the SMS would include details like “Along tanya kawan dia, drebar bas kata tambang RM55 sebab harga minyak dah naik dan sekolah pula jauh, kalau tak sanggup bayar banyak tu drebar tak nak ambik” etc, etc, etc. I would prefer if she had just gone straight to the point so I could easily figure out what the total amount was…

Most cheerful client would definitely be Jah. She always makes the people around her laugh.

Speaking of cheer, our 2007 Family Day which was held at Lost World of Tambun was a lot of fun. Hmmm, I wonder where our destination will be next year. Other activities include the International Aids Memorial Day in KL and our Deepa-Raya gathering for the HIV infected ladies and their children.

Ah well, goodbye 2007…

To all reader’s of Pi’s TWIST, here’s wishing you all a very happy and blessed 2008, and hopefully our lives will NOT be as twisted as the lives of some of my clients whose stories I’ve been posting on this blog.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Oh what a twist!

I know in my previous posting I said I’d be telling more about Lin later after I meet up with her.

Well, no, I haven’t met her yet. But I can’t wait until I meet her to give you some updates. So, here goes…

When I got some basic info about Lin during our first telephone conversation, things didn’t quite register. I just took note of the info given, that’s it. My thought then was that I’d be getting more info about her when we meet face to face.

But after a while, the bells started ringing. No, not Christmas bells.

I began to link one story to another, and somehow the pieces seem to fit in very well.

Lin has 6 children? Ah, rings a bell! I’ve heard about one particular guy with 6 children.

Lin’s eldest child is 20 years old and the youngest is 10? Ah, rings a bell! This other guy also has children about the same age.

Lin and her husband are separated? Ah, rings a bell again! This other guy and his wife too are separated.

Lin stays in this particular town? Ah, rings yet another bell! This other guy too is from that very same town!

Lin’s husband works at a particular government agency? Aha!! Rings the bell yet again! This other guy works at a particular government agency too.

So when I went to my NGO center today, I took out the “Buddies Not Required” file. The file consists of contact reports of clients we meet during our HIV clinic duty; but these clients are not assigned any buddies to them as they themselves specified they didn’t want a buddy.

I browsed through the file, looking for info on the guy whom I thought would fit the above description. I couldn’t find it in the 2007 file, so I browsed through the 2006 file instead. I still couldn’t find his info, but instead I found Lin’s first contact report.

Lin’s contact report was dated August 2006. The report showed she was still with her husband then and even the address given was different than her current address (but still in the same town). She wasn’t prepared to be assigned a buddy then and so she requested that she’d call us when she’s up to it. I wasn’t on duty during that clinic but my colleagues who were on duty thought she’d feel more comfortable talking to me, so they gave her my phone number.

Hmmm… it took her more than a year to make that call.

Anyway, as I looked down further that contact report which had the column of spouse’s particulars, I saw the name of her husband… and yep, my suspicion was confirmed, this is the very same guy!!

OK, what’s so interesting about that?

Well, for your information, Lin’s husband (or ex-husband, am still not too sure) is…

Jeng! Jeng! Jeng!

Ready for this?

M R. D A R L I N G !!!

Actually I’ve never met Mr. Darling. But Yah was the one who has been telling me about him… his job… his children… his wife who left him… where he stays… So when Lin told me about her husband, somehow after a while it occurred to me that the story sounded so similar. And the husband's name in Lin's contact report confirmed that this is the very same person.

Oh what a twist on Pi’s Twist! This is beginning to sound like a Hindi movie! Just when I thought Mr. Darling’s story would end soon, the plot suddenly thickens!!

Hmmm… maybe I should just quit my office job and start writing movie scripts instead…

Oh wait, wait… maybe I should just play dumb and introduce Lin and Yah to each other without telling them about each other’s “link” with Mr. Darling. Let them find out for themselves. That would make my script more interesting… MUAHAHAHA!!!

Seriously, with both Lin and Yah becoming my clients now, there is always a possibility that they will meet each other in the near future. Then maybe Yah can come to her senses and realize what type of a person Mr. Darling really is.

But then again, maybe not… what if the scene turns ugly?

Oh dear me! I wouldn’t want to be caught in that scene.

I guess we will just have to wait and see…

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Back to school: house visits and shopping!

This week is the “back to school” rounds for me. Despite not having any children of my own, somehow there are so many children’s educational needs I have to look after. Thank goodness the welfare of Hana’s children is being looked after by Pat, a fellow volunteer who stays in the same town as Hana.

My first visit this week was on Monday to Mrs. K’s house. I dropped by their house after settling some things to do in another town near their place. Although the main reason for the visit was to bring this month’s supply of diapers, milk powder and groceries, I also needed to make sure the children’s educational needs are met.

They have yet to buy the necessary school necessities. Mrs. K said she wanted to go after Christmas. Since I didn’t have the time to bring them out to shop for their uniforms etc, I gave Mrs. K some money first and told her to get the necessary receipts when she buys the schooling necessities.

Mrs. K’s second child will be in form one in 2008, so she definitely cannot use her old uniforms. When I asked for the list provided by the school for things to be bought at the school co-op and fees to be paid to the school, what was shown to me confirmed my doubts when the budget was announced earlier about school fees being abolished. I knew all along that amongst the fees that needed to be paid to the school, only a small amount consists of “school fees”. And so that means only a small portion need not be paid this coming year, the rest are just the same.

Included in the list of “compulsory contribution” were fees for the school’s internal exams, Majlis Sukan Negeri, co-curriculum and school magazine. In addition there are workbooks and sports attire that must be bought from the school co-op, not from anywhere else. So Mrs. K’s daughter’s list totaled to almost RM100. And while it’s true that certain fees/contribution need not necessary be paid if they can’t afford it, in reality many children do get pressured by their class teacher to pay up even the so-called “derma” PIBG. True, the school can’t do anything if the students don’t pay up, but when the children get pressured by their teachers, don’t you think they will become reluctant to go to school?

Well, I do hope Mrs. K’s daughter will get more understanding teachers… unlike the teachers at her brother’s school who kept pressuring him last year.

My next visit was to Shila’s house on Christmas day. Shila had been unwell and the visit was mainly to find out how she was doing. Initially Shila thought she had measles. While her fever subsided, the so-called measles did not. When she showed me her legs, I knew it wasn’t measles. It looked reddish here and there and some blue-black here and there. It was either some side effects from the HIV medication which she just started to take about 2 weeks ago… or she may have some other blood related problems. But no, definitely not measles. Her appointment at the HIV clinic will be some time in January 2008 but I told her to call SN the very next morning to get an earlier appointment. Shila’s mother actually suggested that Shila stopped taking the medication but I told her to consult the HIV clinic before she takes any action on her own.

Anyway, Shila had already bought Laila’s schooling needs and showed me the list provided by the school. I reimbursed Shila (and my NGO will have to reimburse me later) a total amount of RM220. And Laila’s only going to be in standard 2…

Then last night, at midnight while I was asleep, a text message came in on my hand phone. Being the light sleeper that I am, I woke up at the sound of the SMS tone. (My hand phone is on 24/7 in case of emergencies.) With my blurry vision (especially so when I was just partially awaken from my precious sleep!) and without my reading glasses anywhere near, I could only figure out it had something to do with joining the Buddies. I just went back to sleep… if it was an emergency that person would have called.

This morning when I was fully awake, and with reading glasses on, I read the message:
“Saya xxxx (name of the person). Saya nak tau macam mana nak join the buddies.”

I wasn’t really sure what this person wanted. To join Buddies as a volunteer or to seek our support services? So I replied her message asking if she wanted to join us as a volunteer.

Her reply came when I was at my office this morning:
“Tak… saya ada hiv… saya dapat dari suami yang tak bertanggungjawab… saya rasa tertekan sangat…”

I told her I’d call her later today. I was pretty busy in my office this morning with calls coming in and my staff consulting me with lots of things, so there was not enough privacy to talk with a depressed HIV infected person. The lady told me the best time to call would be between 3 to 4 pm.

Anyway, I promised Fuzi I’d bring her and her children to go shopping for schooling needs today, so after lunch and after my zuhr prayer, off I went to fetch them. They were already waiting outside their house when I got there. House already locked, all set to go!

While in the car, Fuzi told me she met up with Yah at the hospital a few weeks ago. Yah told Fuzi that I was upset with her. Hah! At least even with her lack of focus, Yah noticed I was upset with her! Fuzi told me that once Yah even called her asking if she could sleep over at Fuzi’s house. Not knowing anything, Fuzi just said yes. But Yah didn’t call again later, so I guess she slept over at somebody else’s house.

Even Fuzi noticed that Yah seemed to spend a lot of time elsewhere instead of at home where her children are. And one thing Yah never dared tell me was that some of her out-of-town visits were not really necessary. She went karaoke-ing!!! She has 4 children at home… she gets welfare help… her 2 older children wants to go to an orphanage… AND SHE WENT KARAOKE-ING????!!! And then asked Fuzi if she could sleep over at Fuzi’s house? Is that her way of trying to get Mr. Darling out of her mind?! Sheeesh!

Anyway, let’s forget about Yah for the moment. Let’s get back to Fuzi’s children. Brought them to a hypermarket, and let them choose their needs. It wasn’t an easy task when you have to buy schooling needs for 1 secondary school child, 2 primary school kids and 1 more going into kindergarten. The one for kindergarten needed shoes, socks, stationeries and school bag. The rest needed uniforms, shoes, socks, stationeries and school bags.

While waiting for them to find the various sizes for themselves, I decided to go to a quiet corner and call the depressed lady. I just needed to find out some basic info first and then follow up with her later.

Lin is a 41 year old lady with 6 children – ranging from 10 to 20 years old. She got my number from the HIV clinic. She is no longer staying with her husband. (She said dah berpisah, but I’m not too sure if she meant divorced or separated – cannot drill her with too many questions just yet) Lin was a full time housewife, so after her separation, she and her children had been staying with Lin’s 70 year old father. Her husband gives them money once in a while, as and when he likes… as and when he has money.

Since Lin stays in another town, and I am a bit tied up for the moment to visit her at her house, I asked if she’d be coming to Ipoh anytime soon. She is supposed to come for her blood test some time in early January, I asked her to call me then so we could meet up. It is much easier to talk face to face rather than on the phone.

So, more about Lin later after I meet up with her…

Back to Fuzi and her children… again…

After getting all the necessary schooling items, plus diapers and milk powder for little Iwan, off we went to the counter to pay. Today being a working day and after Christmas, the queue wasn’t too bad. And the bill… came up to… a whopping RM600 - for Fuzi’s children alone… and we haven’t included the amount that needs to be paid to their school yet!

Then I took them to the food court for some makan-makan and minum-minum before sending them back home. And before I went off, I left Fuzi whatever necessary amount that’s needed to be paid to the school.

I think this weekend I should be able to relax a bit… or at least I hope so…

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Over the weekend...

I had so many plans for the weekend. I had shopping to do, I had weddings to attend, and I had PLWHA clients to visit. But so many things cropped up, I had to cancel my plans to visit the PLWHA clients.

On Saturday morning, I received a text message from Yah. She was coming to Ipoh that afternoon to attend a wedding (no, not hers lah… hehehe) and if possible wanted to get some things from me the next morning. Since I didn’t reply her message immediately, just as I was about to go to the kitchen to cook for lunch, she decided to call me. She said she’d wait for me at Medan Kidd the next morning. I told her to be there at 9.30 am as I needed to pass her some things for the children.

There was a wedding for me to attend in the afternoon at my kampong but I still had to cook for lunch as my mom no longer go to kenduris due to her knee problems. As I was cooking (the menu yesterday was gulai asam kepala ikan) another call came in. No, it wasn’t the James Bond ring tone for my PLWHA clients, but this time it was the Beverly Hillbillies ring tone, the assigned ring tone for my fellow Buddies volunteers. (I assign different ring tones for different groups of people to enable me to easily identify the incoming calls.)

The call actually came from Pat, a fellow volunteer, who updated me on the needs of the poor clients at her area. I had earlier called her up to tell her that the Children Education Fund had been approved for the few children of our clients there and sought her help to get the full details of the amount needed. Pat promised to fax me the list on Monday. Yayy!! So I don’t have to worry about Hana, Pushpa and Valli. Pat will take care of them and submit whatever claims to me later.

I still needed to shop for some things but since I had another appointment on Saturday, I simply didn’t have the time to go shopping. And since I’m the type who hates to go out at night (unless I really have to), I didn’t go shopping on Saturday night even though I had no other plans that night.

Like it or not, I had to go shopping this morning. Luckily the supermarkets open early so by 8.30 this morning, off I went to shop for some babies’ needs and also some groceries for the poor families. I had promised to meet up with Yah at 9.30 am, so I had to shop earlier.

As I was pushing a trolley full of baby’s diapers and milk powder, I bumped into a kampong folk of mine. Imagine the shock on her face upon seeing the loads of diapers and milk powder in the trolley. As expected, the first question she asked was, “Siapa yang pakai pampers ni?!” As far as she knew, there were no babies at my house. She probably wouldn’t be as surprised if I had bought adult diapers since she knew I have a bedridden grandma. (But just for the record, my grandma refuses to wear diapers so we have to carry her to the toilet every time.) Anyway, I just told her the things were for poor families. I didn’t mention anything about HIV though – the story would have ended longer if I had brought that topic up.

After loading everything into my car, off I went to Medan Kidd as I promised Yah. Usually she’d say she’d meet up with me at the bus station (which is across the road) but since this time she was the one who specifically mentioned Medan Kidd, I thought she may have had her own reasons to wait there instead. And it is easier for me too as there are ample parking space there. When I got there, I couldn’t see her anywhere. So I called her to ask where exactly she was.

Yah: “Kat Medan Kidd lah.”
Me: “Medan Kidd ke atau stesen bas? Medan Kidd ni yang kat seberang jalan ni.”
Yah: “Kat stesen bas lah, tempat akak selalu tunggu tu.”

First she said “Kat Medan Kidd lah” then she said “Kat stesen bas lah”. All I can say is WHAT LAH!! And she always assumes people would automatically understand what she means when she says anything. Aduuuh… her lack of focus is beginning to drive me up the wall…

Sabar Pi, sabar…

I handed over some diapers and milk powder for Yah’s baby, and some books for her two girls who did well in their last exams.

Anyway, I was supposed to go elsewhere this morning and on the way to visit Shila as well. Shila had not been feeling well for the past week. She was down with measles and she was also having very high fever. Since I had to cancel my plan, I called her up to find out how she was doing. Thank goodness she said her fever had subsided, although she has yet to fully recover from her measles. I will try to visit her within this week, not only to check on her but also to find out if her daughter’s schooling needs are settled.

Tomorrow I have some business to attend to in another town, and I will be passing by the small town where Mr. and Mrs. K live. I will drop by their home on my way back. And so when I go to my office tomorrow, my car will be full of diapers, milk powder and groceries.

I also promised to bring Fuzi’s children to buy their schooling needs on Wednesday. I purposely chose a working day as I can imagine the horror of queuing up to pay if I go on a public holiday. Oh no, no, no...

Another busy week it will be...

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha

Wishing all Muslim readers, Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha!
Those taking long holidays (until Christmas maybe?), happy holidays and have a great time...

Monday, 17 December 2007

New number, lost phone and Annual Dinner...

I was in front of my home PC on Saturday morning trying to update the Buddies’ monthly accounts (I’m the treasurer) when I heard the SMS tone on my phone. Had a look, and the message read, “Kak, ini nombor baru saya.”

Huh? It’s someone’s new phone number, and I was supposed to automatically know whose number it was? HELLO???!!

I knew it couldn’t be any of my friends or relatives – the sentence simply didn’t sound like it came from any of them. It had to be one of my PLWHA clients… but which one? Fuzi? Maria? Hana? Yah? Jah? Shila? Ifa? Nuri? Ani? Mrs. K? It could have been any one of them!

So I sent a short reply to the message – “Siapa ni?”

A few minutes later, a call came in from that same number. No James Bond ring tone as the number had not been registered in my hand phone yet.

“Saya lah kak!” was what the caller said when I answered the call. Again no names mentioned, but the moment I heard her voice, I knew it was Yah. The tone in which she said “Saya lah kak” was like implying that… takkan itu pun tak tahu! When I asked her how I was supposed to know who sent the SMS without her mentioning her name, she just kept quiet. Maybe she thought she was the only person in the world who had ever sent me any SMS. Duh!

We didn’t talk much as Yah said she was on her way somewhere to attend a kenduri. So I don’t really know why she changed her phone number. I hope it was because she was trying to forget Mr. Darling and she was making sure Mr. Darling would not be able to contact her when and if she succeeds in forgetting him. (well, I can always hope!)

About half an hour later, another call came in on my hand phone. It was from a fixed line somewhere up north. To my surprise, I heard the same voice on the phone. It was Yah again. This time she was asking me for HER new number. HUH??! Biar betul perempuan ni…

Apparently when she called me earlier, she was in a taxi. She then LEFT her hand phone in the taxi (Still thinking of Mr. Darling maybe?). Since it was a new number which she had yet to remember, she asked me for the number. I guess I was the only person which she had given the number to. Yah was actually hoping to call that number, get the taxi driver to answer the call and eventually return the phone to her.

Frankly, I don’t know if Yah managed to get her phone back. I’ll just have to wait until her next call.

Anyway, Buddies had our Annual Dinner on Saturday night. Oh, nothing fancy. Just a simple dinner at a halal Chinese restaurant in Ipoh. There are not many of us anyway, so we just booked two tables. We always love any excuses to gather and makan-makan, so the year-end annual dinner is one of the items in our must-do list.

Nothing formal… everyone came just as casual as ever, had some good food and made lots of noise. I forgot to take any photos when the food was served, so the only photos available here are the ones before anything was served, half way through dinner and after the food was finished by the hungry piranhas at the next table. (My tablemates did not eat so much – so we sent over the leftovers at our table to the next table where all the big eaters were!)

Posing before dinner was served.
The food... halfway thru dinner.

They may not look like big eaters, but these are the piranhas!


Oh, if you're trying to look for me in any of the pics, well, I was BEHIND the camera...

Anyway, the annual dinner was our last fellowship activity for the year. As for my own activity for this year, there is something I have yet to do… I haven’t gone shopping for the children’s schooling needs yet. HEYELP!!!

Friday, 14 December 2007

Cure for angau needed, fast!

From the title of this posting, I bet you can already tell who the main star of today’s story is.

Yep, none other than Yah Ah Ngau…

As I had told you earlier, Yah was supposed to come to Ipoh GH for her blood test on the 13th of December. Due to the alarming results of her viral load test, SN sought my help to get Yah to see her on that day. SN wanted to find out if Yah had been taking her medication correctly and regularly.

Yah reminded me a few times that she wanted to see me on the day. She said she had some problems which she wanted to talk over with me. I told her I’d only be able to see her after 1 pm. It is a hectic time at the office now with deadlines to meet.

I was actually expecting Yah to call yesterday. So the moment I heard the James Bond ring tone, I assumed it was from Yah I didn’t check the name of the caller. But when I heard the voice at the other end, I knew the sweet voice I heard was not Yah’s. It was Asiah, who happened to be at the GH for her blood test too. Asiah is not my client but seemed comfortable talking to me. She called just to find out if I was at the hospital. Since I was busy at my office, she didn’t insist on seeing me… unlike the angau someone else…

About 11.30am, Yah sent me an SMS saying she was done with her blood test and her session with SN was also over. I told her to wait and that I’d pick her at the usual place at 1 pm. I was not about to leave my office early just because a PLWHA client wanted to see me unless it was a real emergency. And I don’t classify angau as an emergency case (unless it is a life and death situation… but hopefully Yah’s angauism will never reach that stage!)

Off I went to the hospital to fetch her at 1 pm. I had to go elsewhere at 2 pm so whatever she wanted to discuss with me would have to be discussed in the car on the way to the bus station where I was sending her. After all, when she insisted she needed to see me, she did mention she wouldn’t take any more than half an hour.

So there I was waiting for her to say something. She didn’t say anything. I guess she didn’t know where to start. I had to start off the conversation by asking about her children. Kak Long and Kak Ngah will be going to an orphanage at the beginning of next year as per their own request. Although there is no black and white yet on this matter, I was told it is almost as good as confirmed. And according to Yah, the people managing the orphanage told her that she need not bring anything for the kids. The orphanage will prepare everything for them. So, for the moment I’m taking out their names from the list of recipients of our Children’s Education Fund. However I told Yah to inform me if there are any changes.

Abang Chik too initially wanted to join his sisters, but knowing him, he wouldn’t last a day at the orphanage. Besides being a hyperactive child, he is also so manja with his Tok Wan.

Since Yah still did not mention anything about the problem she wanted to discuss with me, I asked her direct what the problem was.

Yah: “Apa lagi kak, masalah itu lah.”
Me: “Masalah itu tu apa? Pasal xxx (Mr Darling’s name)?”
Yah: “Ha’ah.”
Me: “Kenapa, dia kacau lagi ke?”
Yah: “Tak, dia dah tak talipon saya dah. Tapi sayalah yang tak boleh lupakan dia. Asyik teringat kat dia je. Cuba talipon dia tak dapat. Dia dah tukar nombor talipon.”
Me: “Kalau dia tukar nombor talipon, dia saja mengelaklah tu.”
Yah: “Saya cuba tanya kawan dia sorang tu tapi kawan dia pun tak tau nombor talipon baru dia.”
Me: “Laa… dah dia buat macam tu gi cari nombor talipon dia lagi buat apa?! Cuba-cubalah lupakan dia!”
Yah: “Habis macam mana saya nak buat ni kak? Saya TAK BOLEH lupakan dia.”

Adoii… kes parah! I had told her earlier not to layan him but Yah was stubborn. Her daughter had voiced out she didn’t like Yah befriending this guy, but Yah was stubborn. Now she can’t forget this guy, she expects me to come up with a solution?

I immediately switched to “ustazah” mode. Yah just looked down and kept quiet as I gave her a short lecture. I asked her to seek help from God and that she must not expect other people to solve her problem when she was the one who knowingly got into it in the first place. I told her she’s the one who must try to overcome the problem. I told her that when she seeks help from God, it must come sincerely from deep down inside her. She can’t expect me to wave a magic wand and then…. whoosh… she forgets him!

Just to be sure, I asked Yah again, what actually took place the night she slept over at the home of Mr. Darling’s mom.

Yah: “Nasib baik dia tak dapat apa dia nak.”
Me: “Dia nak apa?” (Playing innocent… kasi chan lah!)
Yah: “Dia nak tu lah.”

Oh okay, for those of you still playing innocent, Mr. Darling wanted to have sex with Yah. But Yah refused. Or so she claimed.

Hah! I had suspected from day one that Mr. Darling just wanted Yah to fulfill his sex desires! That’s it! Nothing more, nothing less. That was why he proposed to her the moment he found out Yah was a widow. I bet he would have proposed to any single PLWHA lady he met! He didn’t really want to get married; he just wanted to have sex! If he was really serious, he could have pestered Yah again for her hand in marriage. But no, since Yah refused to have sex with him, he didn’t proceed further! He instead changed his number so Yah could not contact him. I bet even if Yah did give in, he would have still disappeared after getting what he wanted. Cheh!

I am pissed off not just with Mr. Darling, but also with Yah. After all that, she still wants to get in touch with him. What the heck for? Obviously Mr. Darling didn’t really want her but now she’s the one who can’t get him out of her mind.

Out of sight, out of mind? Yeah, when he’s out of her sight, she’s out of her mind!! DUH!!

Anyway, on another note, Yah’s brother asked Yah to help him run his newly opened food stall in KL. Part of the working capital came from Yah’s EPF money. Yah’s mother is not too keen on the idea of Yah moving to KL.

To me personally, since she already has a share in it, she might as well help to run it as well. Hopefully with something keeping her busy, she can try get her mind off Mr. Darling. If she does decide to join her brother in KL, the 2 younger kids will not follow her. They have been staying with their Tok Wan since small, so Tok Wan will not let them go.

Frankly, the way Yah is behaving of late, I think it is best that the 2 older sisters go to the orphanage and the 2 younger kids stay with their Tok Wan.

Even as I dropped Yah off at the bus station, she told me she was not going home. She was sleeping over a female friend’s house in another town. “Runsing balik rumah!” so she said.

Oh dear, is this really the same Yah, the tough lady I knew earlier? Somehow she’s beginning to sound more and more like a troubled teenager.

Where have I failed?!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Clients, bloggers and MRT

Monday, 10th December 2007:
As I was trying to clear some work at my office before going on leave the next day, a call came in from Fuzi. She was nervous at the thought of having to go to the Mahkamah Syariah the next day to get her marriage cert legalized.

Fuzi: “Saya takut kak…”
Me: “Takut apa?”
Fuzi: “Takut nanti kena penjara!”
Me: “Kenapa pulak nak kena penjara?”
Fuzi: “Orang yang tolong saya tu kata saya mungkin perlu bayar denda seribu lebih, Wangnya masih belum cukup lagi kak… nanti kalau saya tak bayar saya kena masuk penjara tak kak?”

I told her not to worry. From what I understood earlier, most likely she was just supposed to discuss certain things with a lawyer first, not straight away go to court. Anyway, I told her if she needed anything she should call another colleague of mine as I would be in KL the next day.

Then I remembered I had not informed Yah that SN wanted to see her when she comes for her blood test this coming Thursday. I immediately sent a text message to Yah. Immediately she replied to say she’d see SN after her blood test and after she meets up with me. I didn’t bother to reply.

Anyway, I was hoping none of my PLWHA clients would be calling me these 2 days. I was actually going to KL to send my sister, brother and sister-in-law off for Haj the next day.

As I was driving at the PLUS expressway, 2 text messages came in. I didn’t bother to check. I’d need my reading glasses to read text messages on my hand phone and I was not about to do so while driving! But after a few minutes, a call came in from Maria. Apparently she was one of those who had SMSed me earlier asking for SN’s phone number which she had lost of the umpteenth time! When she didn’t get any replies she decided to call me instead. I told her I was driving at the expressway and I’d send her the number once I reached my destination.

When I reached my brother’s house in Damansara Jaya, I checked out the messages I got. After giving SN’s phone number to Maria, I checked the other SMS which I had not read. It came from Yah Ah Ngau. Since I didn’t reply her message earlier in the morning, she REMINDED me that she wanted to see me on Thursday. Sheeesh! I told her if she really wanted to see me, she’d have to see SN first as I’d only be available after 1 pm on Thursday.

Tuesday, 11th December 2007:
We woke up early in the morning as we were supposed to leave the house after subuh to send my siblings to Kompleks Tabung Haji, Kelana Jaya. They were supposed to report to Tabung Haji by 7 am. It was public holiday for Selangor and it was still very early in the morning, so the road was clear.

Since I so happened to be at my brother’s house in Damansara Jaya on a Tuesday, I took the opportunity to join this week’s MRT at Kak Ton’s in Kelana Jaya. I had actually made earlier arrangements with Raden Galoh to meet up with her first before we’d go together to Kak Ton’s house. Usually if I needed to go to unfamiliar territory in Klang Valley, I’d get the address before hand and open up my KL and Klang Valley Street Directory to do some homework first. But since Raden Galoh only know how to use her fingers to point me to Kak Ton’s house without knowing the address, we just decided to meet up somewhere first.

I had earlier told Raden Galoh that I may need to leave early to drive back to Ipoh, so we promised to meet up at 9.30 am at a particular kedai mamak first. Thinking that traffic wouldn’t be so bad, I left my brother’s house at 9.15 am. It would usually only take about 10 minutes or so to get to that place. But as I got to KDU (used the same route earlier in the morning to send my siblings to Tabung Haji), I got stuck in traffic. Raden was already SMSing me at 9.30 am to ask me where I was. I had to call her to inform her I’d be a bit late.

Being stuck in the jam reminded me why I simply didn’t want to come back to KL to work after moving back to my hometown in 1992. I prefer Ipoh traffic… :)

Anyway, I finally made it to the kedai mamak by about 9.45 am. Raden was already having her breakfast as she was too hungry to wait for me. Thank goodness she didn’t wait. I actually had nasi lemak for breakfast earlier at my brother’s house so I just ordered coffee for myself. Although it was just my second time meeting up with Raden, we were chatting like we’ve known each other for so long.

After quite some time, we left the kedai mamak and headed for Kak Ton’s house. The house was quite easy to find, really. No wonder Raden didn’t bother to get the address, it was much easier to show the way using her fingers than to remember the address…

We got to Kak Ton’s house at about 11.30 am or so, but when Raden gave the salam, the house seemed quiet. I was actually thinking… aik? Maybe no MRT today? But after a while, Kak Ton came out to greet us. As mentioned in her blog, she had just finished cooking her mee rebus and had to excuse herself to take her bath first. My first time to MRT and I had the opportunity to see the “before and after” version of Kak Ton – before bathing and after bathing… hehehe…

Being early had its own setbacks. For one thing, Abang Roslani, Kak Ton’s other half, had the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions – from my HIV/AIDS voluntary work to my company secretarial office work. Puaslah kena interview...

Anyway, I shall not mention much on the MRT as you can get the stories/photos from Zawi’s Life As I See It and Kak Ton’s Tok Mommy. But I would like to take the opportunity to thank the gracious hosts for entertaining this “orang Perak yang peghak…” and it was great to have met the other bloggers too.

By 2 pm I had to make a move as I needed to go back to Ipoh. I had a peaceful morning as none of my PLWHA clients called…

But when I was back at the expressway on my way back to Ipoh, I heard the James Bond ring tone from my phone again. It was Maria (not Kak Ton lah... a different Maria) again asking questions about her medication which she should be asking SN, not me. You see, she tried to call the HIV clinic to talk to SN, but SN was not around and the other nurse who answered the call was “sombong”, so Maria claimed.

Adoii…. like that also want to complain to me, ah??

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The HIV/AIDS Exhibition

When Community AIDS Service Penang (CASP) invited us to join them for an exhibition in Ipoh in conjunction with World AIDS Day, we simply couldn’t say no. I mean, if they were willing to come all the way from Penang to do the exhibition in Ipoh, we have no excuse whatsoever not to join them as we are based in Ipoh!

So yes, we joined them for the exhibition today at Kinta City. I volunteered to man (or should that be woman?) our booth during the first shift, so had to drop by our centre first to get our brochures and buntings. When I got to Kinta City, the CASP people were already there.

I’ve given talks at schools before, and I’ve also manned the HIV/AIDS booth at a university before. Students show a different kind of response to the kind of information we disseminate to them. It’s either they stop by to ask questions or they just walk by without showing any interest.

Today, we did our exhibition at a shopping complex, dealing with people from all walks of life. As our exhibition was at the entrance to the supermarket there, people who wanted to go to the supermarket would have to pass by our volunteers. And today, I saw all sorts of responses from the public to the kind of information we try to disseminate to them.

There were some, who’d politely take the brochures that we hand out to them, and then they just move on.

There were some, who showed more interest and asked us questions before they moved on. Some were kind enough to put some money into the donation box.

There was one guy, who never knew that a support group such as ours existed in Ipoh. He has some HIV+ friends who felt isolated and he himself admitted he never knew how to react whenever he met them. After our explanation, he felt much better and promised to get his HIV+ friends to contact us.

There was one boy, just about 7 or 8 years old, who proudly wore the red ribbon we handed out, and insisted he wanted our brochure so he could read it.

There was one young lady, who suddenly just stood there in front of me, whose face looked rather familiar. Aiyo… Daphne Ling leh… no wonder lah look familiar… ;)

On the contrary…

There was one guy, who was watching the powerpoint presentation prepared by CASP, when approached by a volunteer to be given a brochure, quickly said, “No! No! No!” and then he quickly walked off. He was probably afraid people may think he has HIV if he took any of the brochures or if he talked to any of us.

And then there were some, who didn’t dare come near when they saw the word HIV/AIDS. And particularly more, when the CASP volunteers wore posters which said, “I have HIV/AIDS. Will you hug me?”

Sorry, pics not clear. Taken using my handphone camera.

Actually the volunteers donning the above posters DON’T have HIV. They just wanted to show the public that there’s no harm coming near an HIV infected person.

There was one family, when approached by the volunteers, frantically said, “Jangan ganggu kami, jangan ganggu kami. Kami tak mau!”

One of the volunteers from Penang told us how during one exhibition elsewhere, one lady who had just finished shopping; was pushing a trolley full of goods. As she was leaving, she was approached by a volunteer carrying the HIV/AIDS poster. The moment she saw the volunteer, she actually RAN! And because she ran, she lost control of her trolley and everything just fell on the floor!

Just shows that many people are still THAT scared of HIV/AIDS.

And oh, I forgot… there was also one young guy, who came over to me, and asked, “Sini boleh bayar saman ka?”


Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Clinic duty: 5/12/07

It has been quite some time since my last clinic duty. The last time I was supposed to be on duty was immediately after the Hari Raya Puasa holidays but that particular clinic was cancelled.

When I got to room 9 (where we carry out our HIV counseling sessions), I took a peek outside to see if any of my clients were around. There wasn’t a single familiar face. Later when my colleague took a peek, right outside the door was Zainab and her daughter! I haven’t seen her since Raya. We called her in for a while to have a chat. Her daughter is still on medication for kidney problems. As a matter of fact, the girl’s face looked a bit bloated. But the girl has not been complaining of any pain at all.

Before we could talk much, SN came in with a new case to hand over to us. A Chinese guy was wheeled in, accompanied by his father and younger sister. I like this family. They seem very loving and very supportive of each other. Despite this guy complaining about having lots of pain here and there, the family seems to have a very good sense of humor and could still joke around and laugh. In fact, the sister, who is the main caregiver, seems like a very caring caregiver! This guy is very lucky indeed. Oh okay, maybe he’s unlucky to get HIV lah… but still lucky with the care and support he gets from his family members!

Then a Malay guy in hospital clothes was called in. He was brought for his appointment in an ambulance as he had been warded for the past 2 weeks at the hospital in the town where he stays. Since he had a bad case of TB as well, he was forced to wear a mask over his mouth/nose. After looking at his file, I noticed his address looked rather familiar. This guy actually stays in the same kampong as Hana! Hmmm, maybe they do know each other. Or at least he may know Rashid, Hana’s late husband.

Anyway, since SN was busy handling other cases, not many new cases were referred to us today. But I stayed on anyway, waiting for Zainab and her daughter so I could send them home. I know Zainab usually has to walk quite a distance from the bus stop to her house; and since Zainab still hasn’t had any rest after getting home from work this morning (she was on night shift), I know how tired she must be.

Since there were no more new cases, I waited outside at the corridors and had a chat with Zainab, while waiting for SN to pass her all the necessary documents for her next blood tests and checkups. Just then, the ambulance driver who brought the Malay guy earlier came over. He had brought Rashid before so he recognized my face. From him I found out that the Malay guy (who was referred to us today) and Rashid actually knew each other. As a matter of fact, they were from the same gang of junkies – and for all we know, may have gotten infected from the same needle!

As I continued chatting with Zainab and the ambulance driver, a call came in on my phone. To my surprise, the call came from SN! Now, why would SN call me when she could easily come out of the doctor’s room and find me outside?? As soon as I answered her call, she asked where I was. And the moment I said I was just outside, she came out of the doctor’s room, giggling! Apparently she went looking for me at room 9 through the corridor on the other side and when she didn’t see me there, she thought I had gone back!

SN wanted to discuss with me about Yah Ah Ngau. Huh? Who’s that? New client? Heck no! This is the same Yah, the Malay lady I’ve been talking about lately. I just changed her blog name to Yah Ah Ngau ever since she got bitten by the ANGAU bug… :)

Apparently the results of Yah’s viral load test just came back and it was not impressive at all! With very low CD4 and very high viral load count, Yah is in a bad position. SN is confident Yah had not been compliant with her medication. And I believe SN. Yah may always tell you she takes her medication on time, but with the happenings that had taken place lately; I wouldn’t be surprised if she forgets to take her medication from time to time. She herself admitted that of late she couldn’t get Mr. Darling out of her mind. This is no longer just a case of tidur tak lena, makan tak kenyang… but also a case of ubat tak makan… oh dear…

SN asked if I was in contact with Yah and if I knew when she’d be in Ipoh next. I told SN Yah is coming next week for her blood test. So SN told me to get Yah to come up to the clinic to see her.

Ah, so much of takut kena marah! Yah Ah Ngau is going to get it from SN this time…

Anyway, after Zainab got all the documents needed, I brought both Zainab and her daughter out for lunch first. Despite being quite a big eater, when the girl suddenly realised it was 2 pm, she quickly said she was full despite not finishing up her share yet. Her mother knew she was rushing for something. Since we both had finished our food, Zainab just packed the leftovers in the little girl's plate.

I sent them home immediately after that. The girl had an important business to attend to at 2.30 pm. I managed to send them home by 2.20 pm.

What could be so important for the little girl? Oii, got cartoon series on TV at 2.30 pm she simply cannot miss lah!!

Monday, 3 December 2007

RM20,000 cash prize!

You never took part in any competition.

You never bought any lottery tickets.

You were never told that there would be any kind of lucky draw or anything of that sort when you topped up your prepaid phone line.

Suddenly you got a text message saying that you just won RM20,000 in cash through your SIM card!!! Oh wow, durian runtuh!! So much money without doing anything!! Would you actually believe it?

Yep, that was what happened to Fuzi. She got a text message today, supposedly from Celcom, saying that she just won RM20,000 through her SIM card. She was then asked to call a number, purportedly Celcom’s care line number. So she called the number, asked if that was Celcom, and the guy at the other end said yes and verified that she had indeed won RM20,000. Fuzi was then asked to give her full details, including a Maybank account number to enable the organizers to bank in the amount into Fuzi’s bank account. Fuzi got all excited. Imagine the many things she can do with such a big amount.

The only thing that was stopping her was that she didn’t have a Maybank account. She was told that she needs to give all details within 1 day to be entitled to the “winnings”. Thank God she didn’t have a Maybank account. Because of that she decided to call me to confirm if this was for real. If I said it probably was true, then she would probably seek my help to open an account with Maybank. It seems, it is not easy for a non-citizens to open a Maybank savings account.

The moment Fuzi told me that she had won RM20,000 in cash through her SIM card, I knew it was one of those scams. You don’t get money that easily. Even to win a lottery, you’d have to buy a lottery ticket first! I told Fuzi that was probably just a scam; but Fuzi said, “Betul kak, dia tulis ini nombor Celcom Care Line, dan saya sudah cuba telefon dan orang tu kata memang betul saya menang wang tu! Namanya Aziz.”

When I argued that she may end up losing money instead of getting any, she said, the guy she spoke to just asked for her details without asking her to bank in any money anywhere. But of course… they don’t ask for your money straightaway. It would have been too obvious!

She did feel a bit unsure after listening to me, but sought my help to call the number just to make sure. I asked Fuzi to give me the number given that was purportedly Celcom’s Care Line number. I know the actual Care Line number. So, Fuzi forwarded to me the number… it’s 006281543128914. No way was I going to call that number. I told Fuzi straight away that was NOT the care line number and that she had just been duped. Fuzi argued, “Tapi kak, dia tulis sini ini nombor Celcom Care Line! Betul kak!”

Aiyo… so bendul this woman… a conman wouldn’t give out business cards saying he’s a conman, would he?! Can you imagine a man coming up to you saying, “Maafkan saya puan, saya ni penipu. Puan baru menang hadiah wang RM10,000.”

Actually if all the emails informing me that I had won a certain amount of cash just from my email address were true, I am already a multi-millionaire by now! The prize winnings that I had been notified of were never anywhere below 1 million USD!

Thank God Fuzi didn’t have a Maybank account. If she did, she would have probably already been conned.

I can’t really blame Fuzi for believing. She is not highly educated and for someone who most of the time stays inside her house, she’s not really exposed to the “outside world”. In other words, she’s an easy prey. I’m just glad God protected her this time.

Now… where’s that email I got from Africa saying that I’d get a 50% share of a USD20 million inheritance if I help them out. I can do lots of things with my share of USD10 million…