Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sayonara... dearest Mother...

Am now back at my village in the middle of nowhere in Kedah, again...

It is late now at night, and I briefly stopped writing this blog to go to the toilet at the kitchen area...

Compared to the noisy previous nights with lots of people movements, tonight is extremely quiet and peaceful...

There are just seven people tonight, compared to perhaps a hundred or so (?) the last few nights... and they are all sleeping in their rooms now...

As I walked into the inner kitchen, suddenly, 'klingg'... 'klannngg'... came the sounds of crockery and cutlery when handled...

Immediately, goose pimples sprang up all over my body...



And on impulse... Mother? I softly asked...

Mother? You are back, right?

A soft 'kliiing' came from the wet kitchen outside the back door...

My imagination was probably running haywire as I smiled lightly even while the remaining few strands of my hair began to stand on their ends...

Do you believe in spirits?

Spirits of the deceased, who return on the night they departed to take a last look at their homes during their previous lives?

Now even as I type this text after returning to my room, my skin continues to crawl...

For today, we accompanied our mother to her final resting place...

There were just the two of us (my elder brother and I) sitting in the coffin-car...

Behind us was a convoy of cars and a bus with other family members and well-wishers...

Throughout the one hour journey to the graveyard, my tears just couldn't stop flowing...

I didn't want my brother to see me weeping as I faced the other side of the window...

We (my missus and I) had just returned to Japan on the 15th, and I was ready to roll with regards to work and play...

But two days later (on 17th, Friday), the fateful phone call came...

Mother had passed at about 5:45 pm on that day... 90 years old she was...

Was then having an Italian dinner party with my colleagues and I went sort of, 'oh oh, now what do I do' kind of thing...

This, despite the fact that the phone call was not exactly unexpected...

Mother had been wheel-chaired for about 5 years...

She had a stroke which deemed her right hand, and lower body immobile...

This is one episode that I have not been able to face up to as a son...

We are a big family however you measure it... seven males and four females...

All, the proud product of the joint-effort between 'just one father and just one mother'...

But can you imagine that there is no one single soul of the eleven, who is, what I'd say, 'capable and willing' to take care of our mother at her age and condition?

One would imagine that one of us would be having her in his/her house, and we would hire a helper to assist her with the long and short calls of nature, the meals, among other needs...

But no, after housing her in one home and then another, we came to the decision to put her in a nursery home...

Oh god, this is embarassing... even a sin, I'd say... and I am part and parcel of this episode...

But I must be fair to my siblings... to my dear brothers and my dear sisters, and their respective partners... especially those who did their sincerest best to visit mother, to ferry and accompany her to the hospital throughout the years...

To them, I owe my never ending debt... for my mere, in-excusable excuse is that I am in Japan and is thus not able to care for mother...

Throughout the years, all I could do was to return home twice a year to be with her...

We would talk about my garden, the chillies, the long beans, and the seeds I brought back from the village to Japan...

She seemed happy to be there, making friends with other old folks...

In fact on one occasion, she did say to me that she prefer to be at the nursury home rather than to be placed in one of our sibilings' home and be alone with just the helper whenever my siblings have to go somewhere outside...

But the last time we saw her, she looked so frail, so weak, so drained of life...

A bag of skin and bones, so goes the cliche...

Her facial expression was of misery... of suffering... of wanting to get away from it all...

Her eyes were perennially (sp?) cloudy due to long-standing cataracts...

For each of the last few days I saw her, she asked me to embrace her... to touch her face... to apply ointment on the sides of her forehead... on her chest over her heart...

'Your mother is dying', she whispered on the very first day...

Allowing a few moments of time lag, I protested, not sure if it was of any good...

'Don't say that, mother'...

'Bring me home... your mother is dying'... she said...



To be continued...