Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Happy Birthday, Jep............

Proud parents to two beautiful children.

When I received news about Afzal's Hodgkin's Lymphoma in December, 2008, the first thought that came to my mind was, "How soon can I get to him in U.K and how am I getting there?" The next question was "I would like to go with someone, but who?"

Jep was the chauffeur  when Afzal wanted to go to Thetford

As it turned out, Jep was the best person to accompany me because he had finished his Masters and was only due to leave for Australia to pursue his PhD in Mac, 2009. I bought 2 return Thai-Airways (the cheapest flight I could find then) tickets for the two of us, but with Jep coming back to Malaysia much later than me. I could only manage a 9-day leave, but I was thankful because it meant that I was able to be with Afzal for his first chemo, due on 22 December, 2008.

Jep had been to South Korea before this, during his undergraduate days at University Malaysia Sabah, but this is the first time he is going to the land of the "whites". Afzal and me were excited to see Jep's reaction to the weather when we walked out of the Heathrow airport building that cold 20th December morning. It was indeed hilarious to see him shivering and complaining of the cold and yet refusing to wear a snow cap to cover his freezing ears because he said,  "it'll mess up my hair!" He kept asking if his nose was still there or had dropped off..."It's so freaking cold, I can't feel my nose!" he kept saying. Afzal said the weather was actually ok, not too cold, much to Jep's sneer.

In between chemo treatment - a visit to Buckingham Palace

But then, Jep is such a drama king. He exagerates a lot. Everything is either sooo good, or sooo bad. Still, I am so grateful to this second son of mine. He stayed to look after Afzal for 7 weeks, when I went home on 31st December, 2008. He cooked for Afzal (Afzal loved his beef stew - said it was even better than the one I made!), accompanied Afzal up the hill to the mosque for Friday prayers on days when Afzal was strong enough, scoured the supermarkets for fresh fruits, juices and other food stuffs for Afzal's daily meals. He was my representative to look after Afzal, while he went through 3 doses of chemo.

It was the saddest day when I left Jep and Afzal at the Sheffield Bus Station, to catch my flight from Heathrow, back home to KL, that 31st December , 2008. Seeing my two sons waving goodbye from the bus really broke my heart. I could see them both trying hard to fight back their own tears, putting on a brave face for the sake of each other and me. I could feel they were seeing me off with heavy hearts - as heavy as mine!

Afzal(3 months), Jep(24 months) - Both still babies.

All the way to London, I kept thinking how noble of Jep to agree to look after Afzal. He was still a baby himself when Afzal was born (Jep was 1 year 9 months when Afzal was born). Fussy as a baby, beautiful as a toddler and responsible as an adult. He is the court jester of the Masarudin clan, always cracking jokes and making fun of things to lighten situations, much to everyone's pleasure. The close bond between him and Afzal was very evident. He even gave Afzal the nickname "Chemoboy" when Afzal started his chemo treatments. I believe the two of them shared many secrets.

They could pass as twins!

Today, 26 January, 2012, 1 year, 1 month and 9 days after Afzal left us, is Jep's 29th birthday. Happy Birthday Jep. I am honored to dedicate this entry to you on your birthday. I pray that Allah continues to bestow upon you His blessings and guidance so that you may live this life loving Him. Nothing pleases me more than to see you happily married and soon to be a father yourself. Alas, I am proud to have you as my son......Happy Birthday my son!...Mama.