Thursday, August 30, 2007
The young hearts
Farewell Antonio Puerta. It was an untimely death. Your family, friends and fans are mourning. Although failures of young hearts are quite common in sports such as football, many still don't quite understand how is that possible? Are sportsmen taking designer drugs? Tongkat ali overdosed? Trainings that are too streanous? Insufficient rest? Chronic depression?
The internet news and the papers list many other similar cases of footballers who collapsed and died on the field (some made it to the hospitals, and died there). Some died during training sessions. I hope there are no such case of reserved players collapsing while warming the benches.
As I write this, I couldn't help to think about my late friend, Azeman who died at the young age of 26 on the football field. They said, he had cardiac arrest too.
It was back in 1999, he was going out with my then housemate, Rossa. We happened to work in the same company and the late Azeman was also my senior in uni. I must admit that he was one of the cutest engineers ever graced Excebix office. Many single female staffs noticed and admired him and Rossa was the lucky girl to made it to his heart.
They were planning on getting married as the late Azeman was setting aside some money to buy a car and other necessities as preparation to settle down with Rossa. He was from Sarawak, so the family members were there and at the time of his death, he hadn't visited them for many months.
I could still recall my last meeting with the late Azeman. I was preparing my documents for an oversea trip when I bumped into him at the stairs. It was about a month after the big Turkey earthquake, and I happened to be in Istanbul when it happened. When he saw me with the travel papers, he asked,
'Kau taknak mintak maaf dengan aku ke? Manalah tau, kau kena earthquake lagi ke.... Terus tak balik dah ke....' and he laughed himself silly. Realizing all the possibilities and how fragile life is, I answered,
'Eh, betul tu.... betul..... aku mintak maaf banyak-banyak dengan kau Man. Tolonglah halalkan apa-apa yang termakan terminum selama ni. Kalau aku ada hutang dengan kau, kira burn ajelah, ok? Doakan aku sekali, tau!' he just noded and still laughed. His last words to me were,
'Dayang, jalan baik-baik woi! Eh, terbang baik-baik!'
That very night, I flew to Istanbul with another colleague. When we went to the office the next business day, we were greeted with the saddest email I ever received in my whole life, the sudden departure of my colleague and friend, Azeman.
I couldn't cry, I didn't know what to feel then. I was just numb. I remember calling another close friend, Jacqie who was still very traumatized when she heard my voice. We spoke for about 10 minutes, with trembling voices and her sobbing uncontrollably. That was when I learned how the late Azeman collapsed during a friendly football match.
He was immediately driven to the nearest clinic but was rejected because of his critical condition. When they finally arrived at the nearest hospital, it was too late to save him. Since the family members were in Sarawak, nobody could object to the post-mortem which the hospital had to perform. That was when I shed my tears. I just couldn't imagine my friend being opened up, his organs being pulled out and then stitched back. A friend whom we used to have good laughs and fights with was no longer there, and the thoughts of whatever remained of him being cut and sliced, just broke my heart.
My colleagues told me that the cause of death was cardiac arrest. Some of us noticed that the late Azeman was having some health problems but he never shared with anybody on his condition, not even Rossa. She even tried contacting the clinic he frequently visit to get some ideas on what has been going on, but the doctors refused to reveal anything. Until today, his true illness remains unknown to us.
It has been 8 years now, but whenever I hear news of people dying on football fields, my heart bleeds all over again.
Rest in peace Antonio Puerta. Rest in peace Azeman, Al Fatihah.