My Abah (daddy) would have been 62 today. If he had survived his heart attack 6 years ago.
Relishing his new-found life as a retiree opened up my Abah’s eyes to all the things that he wanted to do all of his life – travelling. And travelled he did. He went to see the old palaces in Jaipur, brought back a beautiful piece of bright fuschia-coloured saree for me and endless stories of his journey. He walked on the Great Wall Of China and had a great time marvelling at the ancient Tienamen Square. A few other foodie trips all the way to Thailand and Indonesia had made him a happy man indeed. He was a food-loving man as far as I could recall.
I grew up as a latchkey key and Abah and my mom had gone their separate ways. I was 18 when I first went out to the working life and refused to grap the opportunities presented to me to be a one-year exchange student in Australia, or take up the Proton scholarship to further my studies. Talk about being hard-headed.
I was already far away, heart and soul, from my Abah due to the divorce. I didnt understand why he was not with us. I was his Little Princess until my sister was born when I was 11 years old. I did not understand then that when two people fell out of love, they parted ways.
The year I decided to marry my then husband, I tracked him down all the way where he was posted. He was in Sarawak at that time. The first time I called in to his office, my heart was almost bursting with sadness and anticipation of talking to him again.
A flurry of phone calls were exchanged after that. Making up for time lost. And forgiveness. And acceptance. He was to be my “wali” to give me away during my wedding ceremony.
I found myself to have my Abah again after all these years of feeling lost. No words could describe my feelings.
Two years before his retirement approached, he asked for a transfer back to the Peninsular and was posted to his choiced location – Fraser’s Hills, where he was teaching till his last day as a Head Master. Those final years were filled with family trips to visit him. My daughter was very close to him. Abah had never allowed her to “jejak tanah” (walk on the ground) when he was with her, always being carried on his shoulder, and pampered to no end.
Abah passed away after a heart attack one Sunday evening. I was not with him at his final hour as he was back home in Raub, Pahang when it happened.
In my mind, my Abah was still the same tall, strong man who would carry me on his shoulders. Taught me to read musical notes, play the guitar, keyboard and drums, ride the bike, drive the car, visited me in the hospital each time I was involved in accidents….cooked the most delicious rendang for Eidil Fitri. He followed through with his love for my daughter, never letting her go from his sight.
On this day, I will offer him my prayers, just like any other day that passed by.
A prayer for you today, Abah. Amin.