That was the title I first thought of, but then, “vulnerable”?? Isn’t that too bombastic?
OK lah.. Let’s just say, I am a bit sensitive this week. i’ll tell you why:
Last Sunday, in my flight to Kuala Terengganu, an old lady (at least 70 yrs old but she looked like she’s 80) sat at the isle seat while I sat at the window seat. There was an empty seat between us. Initially, I only smiled at her, and was busy studying my presentation for the day. About 20 minutes into the flight, I finished my work, and started to talk to her. I asked her if she came to visit her children and going home. She affirmed it.
She then continued to tell me (she was very eager to tell me her stories ) about the grandchildren that she visited. Their father was her son, and died of a heart attack about 2 months ago. She went on to tell me that the kids’ mother (Makcik’s daughter-in-law) passed away three years ago! She was electrocuted while trying to stop the TV from falling onto her then 1-yr old toddler.
I asked her, so who then is taking care of the children? “The Indonesian maid”, she said! She told me that the maternal grandparents are staying with the children. Unfortunately, the grandmother is much older that this makcik, and the grandfather suffered from stroke! Makcik’s son was only 45 when he had the heart attack. How many kids are there, I asked further. Makcik told me that there are 5 kids, with the eldest being 17, and will be sitting for his major exams at the end of this year! The youngest is only 4
To make it worse, Makcik’s husband died on the 6th day of fasting, this year! Poor makcik.. She did tell me that she’s worried about her “yatim piatu” grandchildren but she can’t afford to leave her home either.
I am so grateful that so far my family is still intact!
I called Cikgu R, a senior assistant of my alma-mater, and I came to know that there are 33 students in the school who have lost at least one parent, and are categorised as very poor, while 99 others are in the poor category, and all 132 of them are entitled to receive tithe (zakat). He was collecting money from donors who’d like to pay tithe, including teachers and other school staff. He told me that last year they managed to give each student RM30 as “duit raya”. I’ve already had the intention to pay tithe, so I banked in some money last Monday for the fund. Later yesterday, I was told that the school may be able to give the students RM25 each, as duit raya. I bet that money could just cover their travel expenses to go home for the Raya holidays.
At the same time, my office mate, A, wants to give tithe to poor students, and I’ve asked Cikgu R to help us find them (the students). He identified 2 students who are very poor. No doubt, they are receiving the federal scholarship of RM70 per month, but apart from that, they hardly have any other financial means. Studying in a boarding school means these students have to pay extra fees! Both students are in Form 3 and will sit for their PMR after Raya. The first one, a girl, has lost both parents, and is second among her siblings of 5. Her sister, 17, is in Sek Men Teknik, and her two immediate younger siblings are in an ophanage while the youngest is being adopted by a certain family. During holidays, she would go back to her auntie’s home. The second student is a boy who has lost his father and is also second among the 5 siblings. His mother works as a canteen helper and earns RM300 a month. That’s all I know about him.
Yesterday, after listening about these students’ stories, suddenly I became so emotional and tears just rolled down my cheeks. I just imagined, if I’m earning RM300 and have 5 kids to take care of, how would I feel? I really felt for them. I immediately went down to the bank downstairs and banked in RM100 into Cikgu R’s account, and called him to tell him that I am giving them RM50 each for Raya!That’s not much, but at least I hope that gives the signal that they are not alone, and I hope that will help them celebrate Raya better. I also conveyed to Cikgu R my intention to meet them personally the next time I visit the school (which I do quite regularly )
[S, who saw me with red eyes yesterday, asked why. After I told her the above stories, she immediately went downstairs to bank-in some money for the fund that Cikgu R was organising. Thanks, S!]
Why am I so easily touched by such stories? That’s because I lost my father when I was in Form 5 (1979), less than 3 months from sitting for the MCE (now SPM) examination! I already lost my mother when I was in Form 1, and I went through 2 step-mums! I remember my parents’ passings as if they happened only a few years ago. Mum died while she was in Mecca to perform her haj (she never got to do her haj, she succumbed to high fever just before the Haj). For years I never felt that she died. I always felt that she just went away and never came back. For a couple of years, I was kind of waiting for her to “come back”
Dad died on the 10th day of the fasting month, in 1979. I remember Raya that year very well. I went back to Muar to celeberate Raya with (my late) Mak Usu and I remember trying hard to hold back the tears on Raya morning. Suddenly I felt so lonely, so helpless, so lost, despite having Mak Usu, Mak Ngah and all the cousins who love me very much. From that year onwards, I became very emotional every time I hear the “takbir Raya”, and 29 years on, I am still struggling to overcome that sad feeling! Everytime I hear the takbir, I am reminded of my parents, and especially the Raya in 1979. Luckily, it is not so bad now, now that I have big, bubbly and fun-to-be-with kids! And of course, a loving hubby !
DH will never understand my feelings of Raya, and I don’t blame him, because his parents are still alive and healthy!
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