Seperti kebanyakan tahun-tahun lalu, tiada 29hb Februari pada tahun ini. Namun 19 tahun lalu pada tarikh 29.2.1988, almarhum ayahanda Mior Md Isa Mior Mahmud kembali ke rahmatullah. Sudah 19 tahun rupanya. Semakin hari semakin jauh bapak (panggilan kami anak-anak kepada ayahanda) dari hidup ini.
Bila sudah lama berlalu saat kami hilang bapak, makanya makin terhakis ingatan dan kenangan terhadap almarhum. Namun sesekali teringat jugak akan bapak… sewaktu memandu sendirian, waktu sukar melelapkan mata, waktu melalui hospital Tapah dan Ipoh (tempat almarhum sering berubat). Dan sering kali jugak berkata dihati “Kalau bapak hidup lagi pastinya dia bangga punya sembilan orang cucu kini,” Bapak memang suka bebudak, apatahlagi yang sembilan ini cucu dia sendiri. Pastinya kala anak-anak kami masih kecil akan dimanja dibelai. Pastinya sekarang ini giliran Azizah berulit merenget manja bersama seorang datuk.
Kalau bapak masih hidup, saya pasti bapak akan penuh bangga memperkenalkan cucu-cucunya yang lain pada setiap orang yang ditemui – I’m pretty sure the following would be how he’ll describe his grandchildren.
Safia would forever be his sweetheart,
Soraya would be his sweetest angel,
Sabrina would be his beloved joy
Adam would be his handsome buddy
Alia would be his beautiful princess
Asma would be his adorable confidante
Arissa would be his pretty honey
Azam would be his cute little sidekick
And Azizah would be his greatest pleasure.
Saat sebelum menghembus nafas terakhir, bapak sudah beberapa bulan terbaring di katil menderita sakit kencing manis, darah tinggi, dan jantung. Malah seingat diri ini bilamana tamat pengajian di UM lewat hujung 1987, saya pulang ke rumah menanti peluang pekerjaan. Dan masa itu bapak sudah pun berhenti kerja dari Maybank. Dapat medical release letter dari doktor. Namun sewaktu mula-mula berhenti kerja bapak masih boleh berjalan dan duduk. Malah seringkali jugak saya jadi supir dan sidekick membawa bapak pergi check up di hospital dan sesekali ke Behrang melawat ladang kelapa sawit keluarga almarhum. I’m sure we talked a lot during those long drives (ya ambik masa sebab masa tu PLUS highway tak de lagi) but I simply could not remember those conversations.
For many people, bapak came across as a serious person and garang kot. But not to us his sons. Of course, he lost his temper occasionally (I did too with my daughters) but we can talk to him. Anytime. There’s no such thing about we have to go to Mak to ask something like money. We went direct to both of them. I believe I am now continuing his favourite activity of forever and ever menyakat anak-anak.
When we were in primary schools, he would drive us to school and he would purposely sang one of his lagu-lagu asli as we were about to alight in front the school gate. And he did so on top of his voice. Malunya masa tu Tuhan jer yang tahu. Lagi dilarang lagi menjadi.
Bapak was an exceptional cook. After he retired and if he was up to it he would prepare out of this world dishes for the afternoon meal, while Mak was in school. Masa tu both arwah Wan Je (our beloved housekeeper/nanny) and I would be on standby to assist mana yang patut. I tell you, his pancake was deliciously outstanding.
He also possessed vicious sense of humour. I believed his brothers and sisters would agree on this. I heard lots of stories of how he (being the eldest) viciously bullied them when they were younger. Luckily he never subjected us his children to such ordeal. But still he retained his jovial humour. I remembered once while sending me to catch a bus to go back to UM, I was showing off my pantun-pantun melayu (as told by one of my lecturers then). Bapak responded by rattling off his versions of hilarious pantuns. I wish I could remember those pantuns.
Once I drove him to Behrang one Sunday morning. Perkara yang patut diselesaikan pada hari tu berakhir cepat. Hari masih pagi, pukul lapan pagi lebih kurang. Then on the spur of the moment we decided to go to KL, saja jalan-jalan. So off we went, siap dengan tak bawak ubat dia lagi. Zaman tu KL-Temoh bukannya dekat, kurang-kurang 3 jam perjalanan maklumlah ikut jalan lama. I think we went to Wah’s place (his sister) kat Kelana Jaya and Shah Alam. Only after we reached Kelana Jaya barulah we called Mak kat rumah telling her that we were already in KL. (Maklumlah manalah ada cellphone masa tu). Risaunya mak masa tu.
Needless to say, we arrived home safe and sound. I am so grateful for that day for it was just me and my bapak having a fun time together.
Bapak passed away when I was 23 years old – about five or six months after our KL trip (which incidentally was also his last trip to the capital city). Chor was a year older than me while Mi was 19 at the time. Our youngest brother arwah Azmir was 14 then and mentally challenged.
Bapak meninggal pada malam Selasa. Masa tu saya mengikuti kursus kewartawanan di NST (dan menumpang di rumah Ayah Chu and Mak Su), Chor di Kluang sudah bekerja while Mi was in ITM Manjung.
I called home that night and spoke to Mak. And while talking to Mak I heard Bapak’s voice asking who was calling. About 15 minutes later, Mak called back and said bapak dah meninggal. And what happened in the next few hours or so just went by in a flash. I reached home that morning dalam pukul 2 pagi, followed by Mi an hour later. Chor who drove all by himself from Kluang arrived just before azan subuh.
Yang paling menghibakan sekali ialah adik kami Azmir macam tak faham yang bapak dah tak ada. He was his usual self that day minding his own business. Nasib baik dia tak meragam hari tu. The three of us did what we have to do and our last act as anak-anak bapak were to meriba bapak waktu mandi. That was really a powerful experience and I must say that I am tearing up while typing this away.
Up till that moment, I was feeling numb more than anything. It was just before solat jenazah that an overwhelming and emotional grief swept over me. Suddenly, it hit me that bapak was going away forever and for good. And then Azmir just came up and sat near jenazah bapak. That was when I simply broke down uncontrollably.
Petang tu both Chor and I went somewhere (can’t remember where) and Chor said to me: “Kita tak akan lupa hari ini. Ever”
Yes! I can never forget that day. The day bapak left us all. Never to return.