Three years later the young lecturer left England and became a lecturer at a university in Singapore.
Everything was seen to go well with the family who, by then, had a second daughter.
But it was not all sunshine and rainbows.
So life went on for good many years. The once sweet sixteen was now 88, a great-grand-mother. In April this year she fell ill, but life went on for Ning who has now taken over the role of a grand lady – or should I say the ‘first lady’!
Before the 30th day of last month, the very special month of August, Ning’s three children had planned a special gathering to be held at our home, Nuri, in Terengganu. There was something special about August 2011; firstly, there was Ning’s (and Pakcik’s too, of course) 47th wedding anniversary. Then there were two wedding anniversaries of our first two children, making it three wedding anniversaries in all. There was also the Merdeka anniversary on 31th August. Then there was Hari Raya which fell on 30th, all in the same month of August.
But that was not all. Tuesday 30th was not just any Hari Raya. It was also Ning’s 70th birthday. So, for all intents and purposes, that day ought to be a befitting day of the month to celebrate – (not to mention Pakcik’s own birthday which would fall three days later – just into September.)
As planned, the Hari Raya started all too well with the birthday and delayed wedding anniversaries cakes and all. And that being a Hari Raya, soon after ‘sembahyang Raya’, relatives and friends began to call in – the promise of a wonderful and joyous day.
Disangka panas sampai kepetang, rupanya hujan ditengah hari.
While things were warming up and the family gathered to take group photographs, Ning received a phone call from her sister near Tanjong Malim. Their bed-ridden mother had just passed away. Was this not a divine planning that the faithful wife, the grand old lady chose to breathe her last at the age of 88, on a Hari Raya, on the very exact day, 70 years earlier she gave birth to her first child, Ning? Just imagine how Ning would feel, celebrating her birthday and the Hari Raya to be followed with the death of a very loved one.
It was perfect – the work of the Greatest Planner of all.
So, Pakcik has lost two loving mothers. Fifty years ago my mother passed away while doing her pilgrimage in Mecca. I do not, as a result, have her grave to visit. Then this loving lady, who had been my mother, left us on that very auspicious day of 30th August.
On hearing the sad news, Pakcik made a snap decision to stop our part in the day’s celebration. The next seven hours of Hari Raya saw me driving on a relatively quiet route. We reached the burial ground when the last group was leaving the freshly made grave covered with flowers. There we squatted with tears running down our faces, reciting Al Quran, marking the end of our Hari Raya. We had to stop as the sun had gone down behind range of hills.
We planned and planned, and we often forget who the Ultimate Planner is. HE reminds us over and over again in the Quran of HIS overall power ABOVE EVERYTHING.