Afzal, 4-months old in Eugene, Oregon USA.
I felt like I carried Afzal for about 10 months before he was born on October 12th, 1984. When I was about 8 months pregnant, my husband had to leave for the United States to pursue his Masters. Since at that time, I also have 2 other young sons ( Mas Affendi/Andi – 2 1/2years, Mas Jaffri – 1 1/2 years ), we decided that I should move to Bentong and stay with my parents . I was then attached to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, with its office in Wisma Keramat, Jalan Gurney, Kuala Lumpur.
Every morning, I would take the 6 am bus from Bentong, to the Pekeliling Bus Station (its an hours journey), then walk to the Chow Kit area to get a taxi that would take me to my office. In the evening, I would usually try to catch the 5.30pm bus back home to Bentong. Every evening, my father and my two young sons would wait for me by the main road (my house is about 1 km from the main road) and each time I am not on the 6.30pm bus (either because I missed it or because it was full), my late mother would think that it's because I have given birth in Kuala Lumpur. But as fate would have it, Afzal was born in the wee hours of the morning in Bentong District Hospital, on October 12th, 1984.
To all working mothers out there, do not use pregnancy as an excuse to slack in your work. Pregnancy is not a disease. The more active you are, the easier it is to deliver.
Never far away from his mother.
When he finally came, Afzal was a whopping 8lbs 12 ounces baby with a big voice, but I delivered him normally, without much hassle.I remember the midwives in the ward where I was staying were fighting for turns to bottle feed him because he's big, so he was so cuddly to carry. Since papa was not around when he was born, I got the priviledge of naming him (the only one among my 3 boys that I get to name exclusively).
I chose the name Afzal, after an impressive Islamic Scholar Afzal Iqbal, whom I met during an Islamic Civilisation Seminar organised by my Ministry then (but Afzal Iqbal sounded too Pakistani, so I opted only for Afzal and added the signature “Mas” to it).
When Afzal was about 3 months old, we left for Eugene, Oregon, United States and stayed there for 1 year 10 months. Taking care of Afzal was such fun. Whenever we travel in the U.S, he would sit in his car seat n “sing” himself to sleep. He loves his milk and orange juice, and he loves to follow whatever his two brothers did.
Afzal, 2-years old, back in Malaysia.
I took unpaid leave to follow my husband because I was not “qualified”(I was not confirmed in service yet then) to be given a scholarship to pursue my own Masters. When my leave expired, I decided to go home to Malaysia, eventhough my husband still had a further 3 months of studying. Since by then MAS was operating a direct flight from Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur, via Tokyo, I felt I could cope with the long haul, while taking care of 3 young sons( Andi- 4 1/2years, Jaffri 3 ½ years, Afzal coming to 2 years).
My husband drove us to Los Angeles and I took the flight via LAX Airport. While on transit in Tokyo, we were the last passengers to leave the plane and we were also the last passengers to board the plane when it was ready to depart for Kuala Lumpur, because I had a hard time pulling my 3 mischievious boys away from the attractive toy stores at the airport. I must have been the loudest mother in the airport back then, always shouting at my sons to not stray. Being boys, it was not an easy thing for them to do. I was very lucky because my boys are very good mannered eventhough they are very, very inquisitive (always curious and eager to poke around and explore . Jaffri, the most inquisitive would lead, Andi, the ever macho brother would be the guardian and little Afzal, the ever so willing follower!). To help me make it through the flight, I brought along toys that could attract my children's attention so that they would not get bored.
So, to all young mothers out there, never use the excuse of having many young children as a hindrance to doing things or going out and living life. It's all a matter of planning and believing.
To be continued.
- Mama Afzal