On this Mother's Day, there will no longer be wise words from Afzal for me.....It is just going to be Mama remembering a much-missed son..........pieces of memories that's clear as if it happened yesterday.............
May 22nd, 2009
Afzal sent me an sms to say he passed his final OSCE(Objective Structure Clinical Examination) and MEQ(Modified Essay Question), officially making him a qualified Doctor! I was actually boarding Flight MH002 from KL to Heathrow, London, at 11.20pm (Malaysian time), and my last sms to papa, before I had to switch off my hand phone was "Our son - DR. MAS AFZAL"...My heart was bursting with so much pride and with it came the tears of joy. I was thankful for the dimmed lights as the flight prepared to take off, allowing me to thank Allah in private, for his blessings over my child. I was on my way to UK for the second time since Afzal was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, to be with him as he was given his 12th and last dose of chemo, scheduled on Friday, May 29th, 2009.
May 25th, 2009
Afzal started distributing his medical notes to his juniors, ".....so that they too can benefit from these notes because they were very helpful to me when I was preparing for my exams", Afzal said then. He had so many books and notes which he loved but felt that it would be much better shared with other students in need of them. I still kept one of his favourite revision book that even he thought he'd keep in case he needed to refer to it while at work. He still kept revising using this book throughout his days at home and only stopped when he was warded at Ampang Hospital on December 2nd, 2010.
Word about him passing his OSCE and MEQ got around fast among family members. Jep wrote in his blog post..."He's been known by many names, including 'Kundur' and more recently 'Chemoboy', but I am ever so proud to call him DR. MAS AFZAL MASARUDIN"...
We only knew Afzal was serious about taking Medicine when he brilliantly scored straight As in his SPM examination. He got a few offers from oil companies to do Engineering which he graciously declined. Even with good results, it wasn't easy for him to secure a place in a good preparatory school though. He was actually offered to further his studies in Kota Kinabalu, at a college that is not a preference even among the locals. He was so frustrated then. I remember he said, “kalau macam ni, tak guna dapat straight As ma!” (If this is how it is, what's the point in getting straight As ma!).
Papa went to the Matriculation Department, Ministry of Education, to appeal for Afzal to get into Asasi Sains, University Malaya. The officer there said “...we don't want to open the flood gate. If we consider your son, we have to consider others too!” we were so stunned by such an attitude. Papa told the officer “...if my son score anything less then straight As, I would not bother...” Authorities at the Pusat Asasi Sains University Malaya said "we would love to take in your son!" To cut the story short, Afzal got into University Malaya and stayed for about 2 months before JPA offered him a scholarship and a place at KYUEM (then known as Kolej Yayasan Saad). That was the start of a beautiful 2 years in Lembah Beringin for Afzal, who later managed to secure a place at the Sheffield University, to read MEDICINE!
KYUEM is 45 minutes drive from KL. Away from the hustle and bustle of busy KL, it provided the ideal environment for students to bloom. Afzal loved the place, the teachers, his friends, the staff...everything about KYUEM. It was a place where his personality developed through his studies, religious and social activities involvement. He kept going back to KYUEM every year after he graduated, to help prepare students for everseas study, giving them advises and tips as how best to balance between the responsibility of a student and the opportunity to experience life in a foreign land.
Thank You Doctors in Kota Kinabalu
While pursuing his Medical Degree, Afzal would always return to Kota Kinabalu for his elective postings. He loved being "attached" to Hospital Queen Elizabeth's Accident & Emergency Department. I remember one time when he came back after "work" at about 5pm and 10 minutes later got a call from the Hospital to come back in to "help" with a case...."Mas, kau bulih datang balik ka? Ada peluang kau practise satu precedure ni!" ( "Mas, can you come back in? There's an opportunity for you to practice a procedure here!") "Help" here actually meant he was given an opportunity to perform a procedure on a patient, under the supervision of a qualified doctor....so nice of the staff there.
I also remember Afzal said that the doctors he was "shadowing" in HQE's A& E Department often said this to him "...apalah kau ni Mas, duduk kat sini dari pagi sampai petang, tak nak balik ke?.." ( "Mas, what are you doing here from morning till evening? Don't you want to go home?.." ) Afzal said by being in the hospital, he stood a chance of getting to attend to procedures or see patients with ailments that before this he had only read in his medical books. I can't remember the names of all the doctors, nurses and medical assistants Afzal mentioned who helped him, but, thank you Datuk Dr. Rahimah Mohd. Said, Dr. Heric Corray and thank you all of you at HQE who helped made his short stint there a memorable one.
He also spent some time at the Tuaran Area Health Office, under the supervision of Dr. George Mathew and Hospital Likas, under Paediatrician Dr. Soo Thian Lian's wings. Thank you both of you, for accommodating my request and Afzal's wishes! Afzal even experienced assisting in delivering a baby at the Hospital....I am forever thankful to the Sabah State Health Department for giving Afzal the opportunity to taste what it was like to be a Doctor!
The eyes still tear,
The heart is still in pain
But (with my tongue) I will only say that which is pleasing to Allah......
Happy Mothers Day, my dearest Dr. Mas Afzal............Mama, drawing strength and comfort from my beautiful children.