I went to his house. It was Saturday and I had some time in my hands so I have decided to do what my brothers were doing after he broke his leg. I wanted to bath him.
So, I came into his room and grinned at him. I told him what I wanted to do and he pursed his lips. I knew he loved to be pampered but he pretended he didn't want to. I wish I had nenek's patience and devotion. Nenek used to tell me that he would appreciate her more after she's gone. I guess that statement was true - BOTH of them appreciated each other in their own ways.
I pushed the man on the wheelchair at the back of the house that evening while chatted with him. Well, I was one of the noisiest grandchildren he ever had. Maybe it was because he was the one who raised me up, the topics blurted out easily. He was a chatterbox himself - he commanded this young girl a lot;p
The place where I bathed him was the place he perform his wudu' when I was small. That was the same spot I took bath with my cousins when I was young. I remember being scolded because we played with water until Maghrib. Even when I'm typing this, I'm still smiling to the monitor - remembering the times when he was wearing his army green towel while scowling. He was such a charismatic person whom I adored.
I ran the water on his body and started to scrub. He was talking and I was listening. There were times when I answered his question. He was very focus compared to other men at his age. I remember talking about his scarred knees while soaping them. He talked about how he walked from Singapore to Rembau - the stories of battlefield and my lovable grandmother he left at home that time. I could've never amazed myself with other old man after that. Perhaps it was the Quran he recited every second - he didn't forget a single thing.
After drying him with towels, I pushed the wheelchair back to his room. He changed kain pelekat and I applied some talcum powder on his body. After applying it on his face (and he laughed about it), I had instinctively kissed his forehead. That was the first spontaneous loving gesture I made to him. He kept quiet and he closed his eyes. When they reopened, I knew he didn't want to cry.
I wanted to leave the room after that, but he held my hand. He asked me to sit beside him. He asked,
"Berapa lama lagi kau nak belajar?"
"Satu semester," I answered.
I replied quitely, "Kerja."
"Kau nak kerja mana?"
"Nak cari kerja kerajaan."
"Nak cuba dekat pejabat cukai. Tak pon tengoklah...mana-mana yang layak."
He frowned deeply.
He started to talk about my future. I knew he disagreed with my plans. I told him I might be getting offers from banks. But he seemed not to care that much. He asked me to talk to this person and that person about finding job. I objected fiercely.
"Kena usaha sendiri, tuk," I said firmly. Where did I get my stubbornness? HIM.
"Kau boleh cakap dengan orang tu. Kau yang taknak," he sulked.
"Berdikari. Jangan harap pertolongan orang je. Atuk jugak yang cakap jangan amik rezeki orang," I said defensively.
Then he smiled.
"Kerja jangan asek nak cuti. Kalau sakit sikit jangan tak datang. Bolehlah kau cakap omputih ni?"
"Atuk!" I started to make face.
"Belajar. Bukan kau tak jadi Melayu kalau cakap orang putih. Den maghin kojo ngan British buleh cakap omputih. Kau belajar kat sekolah. Mak kau cikgu..." he started to lecture me. I nodded with red face.
"So?!" he asked me.
"Yes, atuk. I will speak in English," I answered sarcastically. I knew he was testing me.
"Be serious," he said.
"Okay." I nodded. That almost 90 year old man's vocabulary was superb. He ate petai almost everyday. His English was fabulous.
That was six years ago. A week after I soaped his knee, I held the same knee for the last time. I was drowning in tears while he took his last breath. He was gone forever.
After jokingly told me that he would leave on Prophet Muhammad's birthday.
Allah loved him more than we loved him.
I lost a five years relationship a fortnight ago. I loved the man with all my heart and I thought I could never loved any other man more than I loved him. He left a big hole in my heart and I thought there was no room for me to cry because losing him was too painful to be true.
But I was wrong. Today I realised that there was a man who left a bigger empty-lonely-space in my heart. That man taught me of something called independence and unspoken love. I realised that it was harder to cope with his departure compared to my own boyfriend.
I learned that you were a bigger and greater man than him. I knew that his love towards me for the last five years was nothing compared to the love that you have planted in me throughout my life.
I knew I loved you more. I missed you more. I needed you more.
I learned from your scarred knees that sometimes you fall to get a greater love. The scar proved that you love my grandmother and your children and you didn't mind bleeding to get back to them.
Perhaps, I'm bleeding to get a better love in future.
Here I am...remembering how faithful you were.
I didn't cry when he left.
But even after six years of losing you, I still cry while typing my blog.
I'm still wishing that you see where I am right now, reading my English posting and assuring me that I'm the sweet beautiful keledek who will find love.
I love you.
Al-Fatihah to you.
Siti Nurshahida binti Zamrinor
26th February 2010