Earlier this month, when I went to visit Sofie’s family at her home, I ended up having to visit them at the hospital instead. Ika, her youngest child had to be warded. During that visit, Sofie looked more like a patient than the actual patient.
Last Saturday, as I was just relaxing after my weekly pasar tani routine, a call came in from Sofie’s number. However when I answered the call, it wasn’t Sofie’s voice that I heard, but Ika’s.
“Makcik, mama masuk hospital!”
She then passed the phone to her mother. Sofie said she started feeling weak after she went to take her monthly supply of meds from the pharmacy, and since they didn’t have stock of her usual meds, they gave her a replacement. Apparently, she kept on vomiting after taking the new med, and started feeling really weak until finally she was admitted to the district hospital near her place. Sigh! SN and myself had always reminded them to call SN or the HIV clinic if they had any problems with their meds, but they never seem to do so!
It was a Saturday, so I told Sofie to call SN first thing on Monday.
On Monday, Azman, Sofie’s son, sent me a text message. Being a first semester student at the culinary school, the promised monthly allowances had not yet been processed and he needed money to survive. I figured I’d take the opportunity to meet up with him to pass him some pocket money, and at the same time to have a slow talk with him. Just the week before I received some unpleasant news about him – seems he had been coupling with a senior female student and other than going almost everywhere together, they had been chatting at the pantry of their hostel right up to 2 or 3 am when everybody else were sleeping. Probably to him he was doing nothing wrong, just chatting.
After checking with him on the free time he had the next day, I promised to see him at the school at noon on Tuesday. After sending some work done to my old office, I immediately headed to the culinary school which was just nearby. Azman came over to see me the moment he saw my familiar Kenari. After giving him his pocket money and discussing about his studies, he mentioned about the need to pay his hostel fees. I asked if he could ask to postpone paying his hostel fees until his promised monthly allowances are cleared.
“Yang bulan ni depa bagi tangguh, tapi bulan depan depa tak bagi dah, sebab bil api, air semua dah tertunggak depa kena bayar,” he said.
I immediately jumped at the opportunity and said, “Dah tu, engkau gi dating dengan girlfriend engkau sampai pukul dua tiga pagi kat pantry sapa suruh? Naik la bil api!”
“Ala, bukan buat apa pun… sembang aje.”
“Sembang pun! Kalau dah time tidur tu, masuk tidur ajelah. Jangan nak dating-dating kat hostel sampai ke pagi.”
Somehow Azman was not surprised I knew all the things he had been doing. Apparently, the management had called him and had already warned him about the matter. And they even said to him that “ada sorang makcik mintak tolong tengok-tengokkan awak”. Of course Azman could already figured out who the busybody makcik was…
Anyway, I reminded him to please not create any problems. I reminded him about the “hell” that his mother had to go through in her life to raise her children and that he must make full use of the opportunity given to him at the culinary school. Azman promised me he’d be more careful in future. As I had thought, to him just chatting with the girl at the hostel until the wee hours of the morning was nothing to be worried about. His father, had done worse things. Thank goodness Azman didn’t put up a long face after the short lecture I gave him. In fact, he thanked me for the reminder and was excited when I told him about our coming Family Day planned for July.
Later the same day, after 4 pm, together with our part time staff, I went to visit another client whose children are under our sponsorship programme. The client is under another buddy and I had not been getting the updates I needed to send a report to the individual sponsor. So off we went to the town where she stays/works. When we got to the front of her workplace, my part time staff went down to look for the client. The client had earlier informed us that she’d bring us to her house from her workplace.
I had initially thought that she would have to join us in my car and we’d go off together to her house. It turned out that her house was just upstairs! You see, her workplace was at the ground floor of the flats and her flat was on the second floor! How convenient! No worries about transportation and she could easily go home for home cooked lunch without having to buy lunch outside!
It was good to note that her sons are doing well in their studies. The older boy is temporarily working while waiting for his SPM results. He hopes to be able to take up a diploma in electrical engineering. His younger brother, now in form four, managed to score 6A’s and 1B in his PMR last year.
I hope these children will do well with all the help they are getting. And hopefully, in future, when they have become successful, they too will help other children going through the same predicaments…