Afzal and Ainul
Ainul is my younger brother's 9 year-old daughter. back when Afzal was studying in KMYS/KMYUEM, he could not always come home to KK during his semester breaks. During those times, he opted to stay at his uncle's (whom we all refer to as Paktam) place in Putrajaya. Apart from the fact that Paktam treated him like his own son, Afzal loved to stay in Putrajaya because he could bond with Ainul who was about 2 years old then. I believe Ainul helped ease his longing for Atiqah too.
These two did all sorts of things together, including watching the whole of Akademi Fantasia series. We found a CD filled with pictures of Ainul among Afzal's possessions. To Ainul, Afzal was her big brother. When Afzal left to study in the UK, he kept close contact with Paktam and Ainul through phone calls and emails and Putrajaya was a mandatory stopover each time he came back for holidays.
As fate would have it, Mak Tam got a scholarship to do her Masters in London for a year in 2009/2010. Paktam followed eventhough he had to lay off work and became a household husband for a whole year! I was thankful because it meant that family was close-by to look in on Afzal while he received his chemo. When Afzal was in hospital for his high-dose chemo treatment, even Ainul got to visit him at Royal Hallamshire Hospital. I remember when Afzal was warded at Ampang Hospital in December 2010, Ainul queried why she was not allowed to visit Afzal because she could do it in UK.
Afzal was a good influence over Ainul because he imparted all the good values on her. I remember in September 2009, when I visited Afzal, weboth went to London to help Paktam move into their new home in Mount Pleasure, Tottenham. We all went out household/grocery shopping and Afzal was in-charge of Ainul. Each time Ainul wanted to buy something, Afzal would grill her with twenty questions on why she needed the stuffs and more often than not, she would end up not buying them. I also remember one day when Afzal and me had to babysit Ainul while Paktam accompanied Mak Tam to settle matters at the university, we went out marketing. All the way back, Afzal taught Ainul to sing "How Do You Like Your Eggs in the Morning", a song for orange juice commercial that he saw everyday over TV while he was hospitalized. By the time we were nearing home, Ainul had memorised the song and just as we were about to enter the gate to the house Afzal said to Ainul, "okay, cuba baca surah Al-Fatihah pulak!" ("okay, now recite surah Al-Fatihah!"). Luckily she still remembered the whole surah.
Afzal was also close to his cousins but I believe he held these 3 girls very close to his heart. These are 3 girls that he would hug and hold hands with anytime he wished. All 3 of them are girls who are still missing him very much........
AND THEN.... a 4th girl entered Afzal's life.
Afzal and Afifah
Nur Afifah is Jep's wife, my daugher-in-law. Her father hails from Sandakan while her mother is a Terengganu lass. She was introduced into our lives back when our whole family was living in KK. She is such a lovable character that she fitted in easily when Jep married her in December 2009. Jep described her as someone "...with a very kind heart". And I agree totally.
Back when she was just Jep's girlfriend, Afzal would complain every time Jep spent more time with her then with us, his family.Afzal used to say, jokingly, "Itu la kau, melebihkan orang luar dari keluarga sendiri..." (How can you put an outsider before your own family..."). And Jep would answer, "Engkau belum bercinta bah... kau ndak faham..." ("You are not in love... that's why you don't understand..."). And as if understanding this, Fifah (as we fondly call her) was actually quite concerned about how Afzal would react to her joining the family. Of course her fears were actually unfounded. Afzal was just putting on an act to irk Jep and because to him they were not yet married, thus should abide by the restrictions between men and women as stipulated in Islam.
By the time Afzal came back in February 2010, Fifah was already a member of our household, living with me and my children because Jep was in Melbourne pursuing his PhD. She had to stay behind to finish her Master's degree. As it turned out, she was another blessing in my household because she took over taking care of Afzal while I was at work an Aiysha was in campus. Every morning, I would prepare Afzal's breakfast and medication, but she would be the one responsible to prepare Afzal's lunch and any other needs while waiting for me to come home in the evening. She is heaven sent into my life and I thank Allah for that. Afzal told me, "Saya memang selalu terfikir nak ada kakak. Saya anggap Fifah kakak saya. Tak sangka dia sanggup jaga saya macam ni..." ("I've always wanted a big sister and I now have one in Fifah. I never thought she would be willing to take care of me like this...").
So.... these are the A list girls in Afzal's life. When I reflect on all that they had done, I realised that being young is no obstacle for them to learn the meaning of sacrifice. They sacrificed their time, energy and emotion, to take care of someone they loved very much...Afzal. Sometimes as adults, we can be so full of ourselves and think that we know everything compared to our children, when in actual fact there are a lot we can learn from them too......Mama Afzal.
P/S : Thank you Eliyana Saliha Elias for giving me that much needed push to write this entry.