Wednesday, June 01, 2011

My big brother - Part 5

I thought there's going to be only three installments of this but oh boy, I was wrong. Perhaps it's better to have shorter entries, but we're going to have many. Anyway, thank you for your patience. It's not easy traveling back in time virtually to capture our emotions back then and the chronology of events, but I try.

What I could gather from my mom after that first telephone call was that my late brother and his friend had a fishing boat and he earned his living from the sea. I could never imagine him as a fisherman although we've rode in motorboats together a few times during flood season or in the Triang river. Our relative who stayed in Labuan at that time also claimed that my brother looked a bit thinner and a lot darker. She also told us that during fasting month my brother went for tarawikh at the nearby mosque quite often and visited her and her family a few times. After this relative left Labuan and my late brother stopped calling home, we didn't hear about him for a while. So, we didn't know what he did next. Did he stay living as a fisherman or tried other things.

Although we couldn't trace him, once in a while and usually on Raya Eve he would call my mom. Just to ask how we were doing. Then my mom would ask his whereabouts and if he's coming home. He always told her he'd come back when he's ready. But for the mean time he still had work to do.

Between 1990 and 1995 there were a few communications with him. Sometimes he called, sometimes he gave us a number that we could call but usually those numbers became invalid after a month or two. We suspected he was still on the move.

In 1995 my mom told me over the phone that a lady from Sabah called her to tell that he was my late brother's wife. My mom was confused and didn't understand her intentions. The lady talked to my late father. She told him that they were married but my brother left her when she was pregnant. She had a miscarriage soon after that. My late father was so worried and upset. It was not easy for him to accept that his eldest son left home in 1988, then suddenly there was this lady claiming that his son neglected his wife. My late father's health started to deteriorate that year.

Not long after the phone call, my mom spoke to my late brother and demanded to know the truth. He told her that it's true that they were married but only for a while. He divorced her because she was using false documents. It turned out the lady was from The Philippines and entered Sabah illegally. My brother felt deceived because she told him that she's a Malaysian and to avoid any problem with the authority, he decided to divorce her.

Later that year, my late father had his first major heart attack and he was in the ICU for about two weeks. I was sitting for my exams then. My father passed away in 1996, 11 months after the attack. I watched him breathed his last breath. My mom, my second and fourth brother were also there by his side during his final moments. My third brother was 10 minutes too late. He was driving as fast as he could from his house in Felda Rentam but when he arrived, my father was gone.

There was a huge crowd at our house that day. Friends, families, acquaintances and neighbors came to pay their last respect. At least half of them asked whether we've informed my eldest brother about the news. It just so happened that it was the period when we lost contact with him. We just told them that we'd inform him  whenever he called.

So, my late brother was the last to know about my father's death. When he learned about it, he didn't say anything other than 'Innalillah..' He knew he'll never get to see his father again. His silence didn't tell us anything but I thought he might be staring at empty spaces for a long time after that.  During one of our phone conversations later he asked me to post some of his old pictures with some of his friends. I took a few from his old photo albums and I slipped in another photo in the envelope. It was a picture of late father taken in 1993 carrying one of my nephews. I prayed that when he saw that photo, it would remind him about a few things he's been missing in his life.

.... to be continued (lagi..!)...

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