Have you been in a situation where you got to the airport a few hours early and found out that all tickets are booked and got your name on number 26 in the waiting list? Well, I experienced it and believe me or not, I managed to get a seat on the flight.
It was the 21st of August 1980 and at about 8.00pm I made my way to the public phone opposite a restaurant next to Sekolah Menengah Tok Janggut in Pasir Puteh Kelantan. The restaurant was about 400 meters from my house. It was a Thursday. A week earlier, I left my wife in Penang. She was very advanced in her pregnancy and since we decided that she should deliver in Penang, I left her there with a heavy heart.
As my 2nd brother realised that it was me on the phone, he congratulated me. He broke the news that I got a girl. No we didn't scan. I don't know if they had scanning then but if the did it must have been expensive and I surely couldn't have afford it. I was shocked. She was actually due in 2 weeks time. I broke down on the phone. I couldn't control the joy and the extreme loneliness. I wanted so very badly to be with them.
I walked home feeling happy, elated and missing my wife so much. I decided to go home the next day. Nothing could stop me. If I were to take a bus, the journey would be about 24 hours so I decided to fly. I don't have much money but nothing was going to stop me from rushing home to see my wife and daughter.
The next morning I was at the airport at about 9.00. As I got to the counter, I was told that all tickets were fully booked. The best they could do was to put me on waiting list. I asked what were my chances. They staff was very frank. He said that my chance was very slim since there were already 25 names before mine.
The flight was scheduled to depart Kota Bahru at 1.00pm and there I was sitting like a bloody fool at about 9.00, on number 26 in the waiting list and hopeful that I would be able to see my newborn girl and also hold my wife's hands in the afternoon.
After about 10 minutes of waiting, I went to the counter and asked about the possibility of getting a jump seat. The staff was friendly and told me politely that if I could produce a telegram proving an emergency, he could try to help me. He also said that 1 is reserved for VIPs only.
I told him my story but he said that he couldn't help me without the telegram. I did not sit but chose to stand near the counter. The staff asked me to sit because there was nothing he or I could do about the situation.
I took my seat but was at the counter about 10 minutes later. I think I must have gone to the counter about 10 times enquiring about whatever that crossed my mind. I guess he could see that I was genuinely desperate. He told me to sit and that he would do what ever he could to help me.
The moment check in time was up, the staff waved at me first. Although I was on number 26, he called me first since after check in time there were a few seats available. I paid the RM49 plus RM2 airport tax and thanked him profusely for helping me out. I was thinking, had I not bother him so much would he had given me the top priority that I got?
The flight took about 45 minutes and I was home before 3.00. When I got home, I headed straight to the maternity ward and was told told that my daughter had jaundice and was under UV in another room. I went to the room and was in tears as I saw her small 6lb oz body under the ultra violet light in a small crib. They had to cover up her eyes. I think it was about 3 days later that my daughter was released. I took a whole week off.
After about a week, I left Penang for Kelantan. My wife and little girl were to follow me there in about a week's time.
The following week I was at the airport waiting for them. The Boeing from Penang arrived but they were not among the passengers. I was shocked. I called my house but there was no answer. I called my SIL's house and no answer also.
Panicked, I went to the counter and enquired if there were any ticket to Penang available. This time there was plenty. I immediately bought one and in T-shirt and slippers, I boarded the same plane and was in Penang in no time.
When I reached home I realised that they couldn't make the trip because there was a flash flood. Two days later, I accompanied them personally to Kota Bahru.
My alarm reminded me this morning that today 23-12-07 is the 3rd anniversary of my daughter's Akad Nikah. That 6lb 6oz jaundiced baby girl is today married 3 years.
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