My father died while I was working in Pasir Puteh Kelantan in 1979. Somewhere in April I received a telegram saying that my father was sick. I did not panic coz 2 years before that, during the emergency in Kelantan he was admitted. I rushed back then only to see him smiling at me in his hospital bed.
That evening I took a bus for Penang and upon arrival late the next day I rushed to the GH. He was not smiling, but was in a coma. I was told that the hospital erred in not discontinuing his valium injections. Prior to that he was violent and they had to give him valium but the initial dose did not keep him down so the doctor gave him another dose. When he got up, he was violent again and the doctor perscribed more valium. After that, every four hourly they gave him more valium and when confronted by my cousin who worked with a doctor, they discontinued the valium but my father was to get up only after about 2 weeks.
I spent about 4 days with him in the hospital and not once did he regain consciousness. I knew it must have been because of his drinking. He was an alchoholic. He quit abruptly and the withdrawal made him violent. I left Penang without being able to talk to him.
About a week after returning to Kelantan, I received another telegram asking me to go home. That very night I took a bus back and reached home the next evening. Again I rushed to the hospital. I was pleased to see that my father was conscious and it looked from afar like he was talking to my mother who was beside him. As I reached his bed, my mother's face told a different story. I asked her why and she said that my father does not recognise anyone, not even her, his wife for 29 years. Yes he was talking, but it was just nonsense. It seemed that he had overdosed on valium and that affected his brains and it was irreversible. The damage was permanent. I was not ready for another development that I saw. His stomach bloated like a football.
I stayed another 4 nights with him and yet did not get to speak to him coz he never knew that it was me there beside him. I was a total stranger. On my last day at the hospital, my mom told me that she heard the doctors say that he is suffering from terminal cancer of the liver and that he has no chance whatsoever. The bloated stomach was the result of his liver having completely failed to function.
I left for KL and and as usual tried to get a ticket to KB but this time there was no ticket. I had to sleep on the stone bench at Puduraya. The night was cold and I did not get much sleep. The next day I took a taxi to another bus station, I can't remember where, and got a nine o'clock bus to Kuantan. From Kuantan I took a taxi to Pasir Puteh. All along I tried to hold down the tears. I did not want anybody to see me crying.
The 22nd of May, Tuesday, was a holiday. I can't remember what occasion it was. I was in school training the school choir. I got home in the afternoon and seeing no one at home I took a nap. I got up in the evening and only then realised that it was my 23rd birthday. I never celebrate birthdays anyway so just brushed it off. I decided to take a bath. My housemates were all in KB enjoying the holiday. I heard a knock on the door. I quickly dried myself and with only a towel wrapped I ran to open the door. I was met with someone I did not know. He introduced himself as a police officer and that had they received a phone call from Penang. He broke the news about my father's death. I did not cry. I could see him looking into my eyes as if ready to act if I were to take it badly. That did not happen. I thanked him and head for my room.
I sat on the bed dazed but did not cry. When my friends got home I told them the news and they were sadder than I was . I did not want to take a bus that night coz that would mean I would only reach Penang late in the evening the next day. I decided to take a flight the next morning and could be in time for his burial. At about 2.00 am I got up. I couldn't sleep. I opened the front door, sat on the concrete verandah and cried my heart out. I was alone and I preferred it that way. No wonder he insisted on me getting married that year. He had wanted me to get married in April but my wife's side wanted it in November coz they needed time to prepare. He was not happy but relented.
I remembered him as the father who never laid a hand on me. When he first knew that I had started smoking, at the age of 18, he called me into the room. He said 'Saya ingat you satu orang dalam ini famiy tadak hisap rokok. Those were his exact words. He asked me to get out of the room and the next morning he left me 4 sticks of Benson & Hedges. He said he doesn't want me to steal money from my mom to buy cigarretes. His Malay was not good coz he came to Malaysia from Pakistan in his late teens after the war. His English was also not that good coz he picked up the language while serving in the British army. He did not have much of an education but his last post was that of a manager. I also remember something that others would say is odd for a father to say to a son. " You can drink, gamble and play with women, I don't care but if you take drugs I'll kill you".
Yes, I got back in time for his burial and did what a son should do but I did one more thing. I promised to quit drinking coz that killed my father. I finally managed to completely quit about a year later.
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