Atchafalaya Swamp

Monday, May 19, 2008

Your Last Goodbye, And A Grandson Who Deserves Hell

2003© matsalo.com

Hajjah Khamsiah Bte Haji Ariffin ( Bte Darmataksiah, mother) b.1916, d.2008 -today

Sometime before dawn broke today, in a nursing home in the leafy confines of Section 16, Petaling Jaya, an underpaid and overworked Filipino male nurse working the night shift noticed something unusual.

The old Malay lady at the bed closest to the wall had not stirred. Although bed-ridden and immobile, she was 'an early riser', often speaking to herself, cataract glazed eyes blinking at the fluorescent lamp overhead.

But not today.

This harried male nurse, Nelson, perhaps shedding a tear from having to care for this lady during her dying days; having fed her through the feeding tube, had bathed her and moved her limbs every so often lest she gets bed-sores. He then sets in motion
events that would culminate in a phone call a quarter of an hour later, across the seas to the grandson who had put her there in the nursing home.

The grandson, her first, her most beloved, the one she cared for in the early years of his life, right until his second year of school. That impudent boy, often forcing his grandmother to walk in the dark to the well at the back of the village house, to bring him bath water which she must first boil in a huge blackened pot underneath a crackling fire. The boy simply must have hot water to bathe. If he remembers correctly, it took at least three trips to the well as the zinc pail was rather small. The boy refused to bathe at the well, even with his grandfather present. Because he was afraid of walking in the dark, or of slithering creatures that might cross his path, or of the freezing water. Because being the only grandson he was used to being the center of the universe.

And what the insolent boy wanted, the insolent boy always got.

Now the boy has grown into a man; a man full of guilt, full of impotence at his inability to care for his maternal grandma. In 2004 when his grandma was staying at his mother's house, grandma slipped in the bathroom and broke her hip. She was hospitalized, and from that day on everything quickly deteriorated. After recovering sufficiently enough, she was brought home again to his mother's house. He tried hiring live-in maids (illegally procured in Kampung Pandan) but none could bear the heavy responsibility of a total invalid, often leaving within days of arriving.

His own
mother at the time was approaching seventy and a decision, however unpleasant, needs to be made. He did not want to burden his already aging mother to care for an invalid. The only thing to do was seek professional care. And that was how the grandson had 'sentenced' his very own grandmother, the one who had selflessly bathed, clothed and fed him for the first eight years of his life, to a nursing home a few houses away from Anwar Ibrahim's PKR headquarters in leafy Section 16, Petaling Jaya.

But that insolent boy who grew up to be an insolent middle-aged man, whatever his faults, still had a rational mind - if one could charitably call it that - an ability to still feel something.

Because each time he drives past the nursing home, his hands never fails to bang on the steering wheel -
and he can't help but think:

"You're going to hell for this boy, and you know it."

That's why nothing fazes him anymore. He resigns himself to circumstance, accepting fate, feeling hell is something he deserves.


He doesn't have to go so far, oh no. Hell has already visited him today. When he received the phone call barely three hours ago, he knew then that he was never going to see his sweet grandma again. Even if he had managed to get off the ship now, the soonest he could get to Kuala Lumpur is tonight.
It will be too damn late. The remains would be sent from Section 16, to UH probably, before being sent in a van to Seremban for a quick burial after zohor today.

Yes, Muslims go for the quick burial thing; something he strongly disagrees with, for it does not fit in with his selfish needs. And the thought probably will seal his fate in the afterlife. He laments; why can't Muslims have a wake, like the Chinese who
for a few days could parade the embalmed body? At least time enough for her beloved first grandchild, the one she fondly calls Abang, the one who had shackled her to a bed in a nursing home, in leafy Section 16 at that- to come home from overseas so he can lay eyes on her for the very last time?

2004© matsalo.com

The last photograph was taken in 2004, on Hari Raya Haji Idul Adha, a month before she fell in her daughter's bathroom, broke her hip and quickly began to lose her faculties.The boy is her great-grandson, her beloved grandson's second son. The one working overseas. The one who had not bothered to carry her to her final resting place. Or pour dirt in the well of her grave, nor sprinkle her flowers.

For those so inclined, the grandson had also blogged about her once, and you can read it here.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Innalillahi wainna ilahi roji'un...semoga Allah merahmati roh arwah dan mengampun dosa-dosanya dan menempatkan rohnya di kalangan para solihin...amiin...

be strong brother. All is fated and you have done your best. Will call you soon.


Anonymous said...

Oh man...you make me cry. My mother underwent endoscopy today and I wasn't there to see her through it.

I know the guilt brother. It is extremely hurtful and it haunts you throughout life.

My heartfelt condolences on your nenek's passing. May God bless her soul.

My grandma passed away in 1991. She had a stroke before that and so spent a month in coma. Me and my mom took turns taking care of her till she regained consciousness.

She was discharged from a hospital a couple of days after opening her eyes. One day I saw her sitting outside the house, looking fresh and pretty.

My dad came back from work. She stood and caressed her first-born's face.

The next morning, my sister found her cold.

I pad some of my dues. But when someone leaves like that, it is always us the living that is left with an ocean of regret.

If it is any consolation, maybe your grandma was better cared for under the eyes of professionals.

What else can offer, brother?

Pi Bani said...

Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un...

Hey, you don't have to be there at her burial to offer your doa for her, right? You did the best you could do. Anyone else in your situation would have likely done the same. Semoga Allah mencucuri rahmat ke atas rohnya.


J.T. said...


Condolences, brother. May your beloved nenek rest in peace.

You did the best you could for her - in life and in the end. Maybe what I say will not help at this time but you will be blessed for the care you provided, whichever way you did.

Speaking from experience, sometimes situations can't be helped and it is best to leave it to professionals. You did just that. Just because she was not at home with someone towards the end, does not make you an ungrateful grandson. You cared for her the way you know best.

I know you wish you could be home but you can still pray for her wherever you are.

"No one truly dies. They just live on in the hearts of those who loved them"

Anonymous said...

innalillah wainnailahi rojiun. takziah kami sekeluarga ucapkan. semoga ducucuri rahmat ke atas rohnya dan ditempatkan bersama mereka yang beriman.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...


Cant seem to find the right words for this. Ucapan takziah from the bottom of my heart, first and foremost.

Bro, under certain circumstances, I believe God is very forgiving. You did your utmost best and you may think your best shot isnt good enough but again, God knows. Don’t be too hard on yourself. it could have been worse for grandma. The Home I’m sure, had provided her with care and comfort. You and your family did not have the slightest of ill-intention and the decision made back then was with the heaviest of heart. we all know that. And most importantly, Allah knows, bro…He knows.

Catcha around, brother.


Pak Zawi said...

Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un...
My condolence bro. You have done your best to give her the utmost comfort before she meets her maker. Circumstances or fate decided that you can't meet her before her burial but she knows that you cared for her and you loved her.
When you return, visit her grave and recite the AlFatihah and she will know that her most loved grandson do love her even after her death.

tokasid said...

Salam my Bro Feizal Othman:

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi roji'un.

Allahumagh fir lahum, war ham hum, wa'a fihi. wa'fu anhum.

I am sorry to read about your grandma's departure to alam Barzakh.

I suggest to do a solat janazah ghaib for her tonight( or within 3 days) and sedekah al-fatihah and du'a for her after all your solat.

I think you made the right choice back in 2004.I would do the same in that situation.I know how you feel for I too was brought up by my Tok till I went to Std 1. They way you describe what your grandma did was exactly what my Tok did to me.
You will miss her a lot bro.but life needs to go forward. But your do'a for her will make up the lost times,InsyaALLAH.

takziah to you and sabar.

Anonymous said...

Dear Abang Mat,

May your grandma rest in peace and my deepest condolences to you and family.

I'm sure she knew how much you loved her and cared for her, even if you could not attend her funeral. But yeah, having said that, I know it stings the most not being able to say goodbye for the last time.

And to me, there is no hell to pay. You were a kid who didn't know better.

You take care, k?


Unknown said...

Salam Bro,

She is in heaven now. Please be strong and keep yourself intact.
The decision to sent her to the nursing home, even it may still be taboo for many of us, still is such a divine decision. That was a great decision which I strongly support it. Anyone who can afford the best and face the face the same circumstances, will at least think of this not as a solution to our hectic life but to glorify the one we love.

I hope, when my time come, my children will have the courage to do this to me. Rather than me making them to slowly hated me due to all the burden, I would wish to remember than they continue loves me till my last breath.

Bro, the decision made, is a wise one. Don't let your guilt get the best of you.

Takziah to you and your family. Only prayers that matters now and keep her close to your heart all the time, as by only remembering her, she will still live in us.

Bro, until today, I felt my mum still there for me, she still prety much alive in all my days though it's been two months now.

Takziah again from me, my wife and my kids.

muteaudio said...

Innalillahi wainna ilahi roji'un
I'm sorry to hear this news. Anyway, takziah from me to u and your family.

maria a samad (kak ton) said...

Inna lillahi waa inna ilaihi roji uun.

Semoga Allah meletakkan rohnya di kalanggan para solihin.

Al fatiha.


P.S. Dont be hard on yourself, bro. You did your best under the circumstances.

ummisara said...


Inna lillahi waa inna ilaihi roji uun.

i received sms from Tokasid regarding the demised of your beloved grandma.

Semoga roh arwah nenek u ditempatkan di kalangan org-2 yang beriman ...al-fatihah.


The Ancient Mariner said...

Innalillahi wainna ilahi roji'un'. Semoga Allah cucucuri rahmat ke atas rohnya dan menempatkannya dikalangan orang yang soleh.

Thanks for the SMS. Sorry for the late response since I was away in Bangi and had stopped for MRT at Tok Mommy's.

No, you are not going to hell. I knew your grandma when I was the neighbourhood kid living just a couple of doors away in Seremban. She was very kind lady and I am sure she would understand.

Your sending her to the nursing home was probably the best thing to do under the circumstances. My salam takziah to your Mum.

jaflam said...

Salam MS,
Daripada Allah kita datang dan kepadaNya kita di kembalikan. Semoga roh nenek saudara dicucuri rahamat, keredaan Allah bersama insan insan yang beriman dan soleh.

Sdr telah melakukan yang terbaik untuk arwah dan Allah maha mengetahui rasa hati dan kasih sayang sdr kepadanya.

Sedekahkan sebanyak mungkin Tahlil & Yassin kepada arwah InshaAllah nenek sdr selamat kembali kepada penciptanya dengan aman & sejahtra. Amin.

Pak Idrus said...

Matsalo, Condolence on the parting of your loved one, your grandma. You did the right thing so do not lament on it for that is the way with our species. I know it has not been an easy decision but you did right. So move on and continue to do the good works that you are doing now. Take care.

Unknown said...

Innalillahi wainna ilahi roji'un
What I want to say has been said. Take care bro. Doa for her in your prayers.

Anonymous said...

En MAt,
Semoga Allah mencucuri rohnya.


cakapaje said...

Salam bro,

Innalillahi wainna ilahi roji'un. Bersabar dan hadiahkanlah bacaan Al-Quran kepada ninda. Semoga rohnya ditempatkan bersama orang orang yang beriman.

As for you, you told me in person why you had to do what you did; I don't you are in the wrong. Bro, Allah s.w.t. is Most Loving, Most Seeing, Most Understanding, and most Forgiving.

Take care bro. Call me when you are back here.

Rita Ho said...

Hi MS ... I am sorry for your loss. Your reflections tell us that your grandma was a great lady who loves you unconditionally. That would have led her to appreciate that you did what was best for everyone. Feeling regrets over decisions and doubts over actions is a natural part of grieving. I hope your time for this is short so take you can recall more fond memories of your grandma that are obviously living in your heart. Take good care, MS.

Mat Salo said...


I am just so overwhelmed! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for the dua's, takziahs and condolences and the kind words to my grandma's passing...

I spoke to my wife after my younger sisters and her had washed grandma at my mother's home in SS3, PJ, yesterday. They general mood was one of ebullience. Why not? Grandma lived a full life for over 80 years ... filled with joy, having her fill of playing with her great-grandchildren. It's not like we didn't know what was coming.

Quite funny in that they van carrying the 'bathing tub' from the nearby mosque broke down . So my sisters and my wife were forced to bring the dining table outside to place the body for washing and do the general preparations for burial.

Best of all, they somehow managed to rent a Toyota Estima funeral van to send her to her final resting place in Seremban. My sister's even quipped, "Waah, this is better than Naza!". Apparently the billionaire's body was brought to the grave in a regular mosque panel van. Only the best for our beloved grandma, I suppose.

They seemed to enjoy their day yesterday, washing, dolling her up, pretty much an all women affair. And they claimed she looked so pretty. The story goes that our late grandma's mother, Darmataksiah, was the the fairest of them all in Bukit Tinggi, Sumatera. I don't doubt it. Sadly she died when grandma was a toddler. My mother is the eldest and only daughter. Apparently my ma was quite a looker too in her teen years. She was runner up for 'Ratu Kebaya' Queen back in the early fifties. Ha-ha. Those were the 'non-shariah' compliant days...

I actually feel happy now for nenek. I was only disappointed that I could not physically be there to see her for the last time. But I did see her six weeks back and looked in the wells of unseeing eyes, kissed and told her I love her. She knew it was me. She always knew it was me. Although I work overseas, I never fail to see each time when I come home. Because it's my duty to buy the adult diapers for her. Now I will forever miss doing this simple chore...

Appreciate your leaving your thoughts here very much. I am so humbled, so lifted ... you guys are great! Thanks again!

Mior Azhar said...

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi roji'un.
Salam takziah.
InsyaAllah rohnya ditempatkan di kalangan orang2 beriman.

Salt N Turmeric said...

Mat Salo,im so sorry for being late. Innalillah and al-fatehah. takziah to your family.

I kno its hard but i think uv done the best tht u cud.


ewoon said...

i am unpardonably late, bro.

Nevertheless, my deepest condolence to you and family and may God bless your grandma's soul.

Boy, can you write!

Tuan Lokong said...

Just read it Condolence from me too. Gosh things just goes again may she in the hand of the almighty. :))

Anonymous said...


Today I browse to your blog again. I always visited your blog but this is first time I give my comment. First of all I thought of to read your part 2 of Surabaya story.... I can feel your sadness cause I lost my sister last year while I am away in this Africa continent. I never seen my grandfather or grandmother and my parents were passed away many-many years ago.

Belasungkawa Bapak Mat Salo


BaitiBadarudin said...

Innalillahi wainna ilahi roji'un.
May Allah bless her soul. Amin.

Unknown said...

May She Rest In Peace. Sometimes we just couldn't help it.. but I am sure you have done your best.

Anonymous said...

Dear son,
my condolences to you and family. Take heart that arwah had the best of care and nursing there. Consider this as fated. Just think, if you are a student studying overseas, and a family member dies, cannot reach in time. Redha is the best word. Al-fatihah for arwah.
Salam, Pakcik H

Anonymous said...

Bro, don't be too hard on yourself.With the benefit of hindsight, there will always be something we could have done better, or something we could have said better. But that's the whole trouble with hindsight. Kick hindsight in the ass, bro!

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Abang Mat,

Bila balik civilisation ;)? Hehe...Hope you take care of yourself on the rig...Harga minyak naik giler lar...=(

Anonymous said...

Salam Abg Mat,

Al Fatehah...
I'm sorry for your lost.
You did what you have to do in the most kindest.... and the most loving way any grandchild would do to their dearest grandma...
She will always be in your heart as you will always be in hers...

'you are no less among the stars'


Anonymous said...

Dear MS,

I cried reading this. May God bless her soul.

Anonymous said...

Salam Matsalo,
First of all, my sincere condolences to you and family members. Many would say it is heartless to send weak and helpless people to homes when they should be caring for them. In reality, it is not so. At these homes (esp. for the aged), attention is given to every individual, the food, medication, special diets, exercises, recreational activities are the order of the day. Nursing staff are closely monitored (their appearance and hygiene included) to ensure no slip-ups. Besides, who everheard cruelty to old folks. Sometimes, the staff "berebut" to have "nenek angkat". You can say, hospitals are in reality harsh at times towards their patients. I think arwah was happy there. She did not want "fuss" and certainly not "trouble". Allah bless her sweet soul, and those she left behind. Time will heal....

Anonymous said...

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Agriculture Minister -

Community Minister -

Culture Minister - Farish Noor

Defence Minister - Azmin Ali

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Finance Minister - Tony Pua

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Health Minister - Tan Seng Giaw

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Tourism Minister -

den said...


sorry for being late

my deepest sympathy to you and your family

i feel like crying out loud when i'm reading it, remind me my late father

be strong and take care

Mat Salo said...

Salaam & Best Wishes...

I am so deeply moved by the overwhelming amount of replies and comments in this blog and I truly appreciate your kind thoughts, doa's and support.

Some of you commentators I do not know but (the 'anon' ones) but I am grateful anyway for your taking the time to visit and care that you have taken to post a comment. You have given me fresh perspectives .. especially from the elder posters who has cared to share their experiences.

Thank you, and God Bless You All.

Mat Salo

Anonymous said...

Salam Bro

My condolences to you. May Allah place your beloved Nenek among the solehah, Amin Ya Rabbil Alamin.

I didn't know that you are from Lenggeng, where my Mother was born. And I read elsewhere on your blog that Latiff Mohidin passed on last year? We were at Haj together in 03 but had lost touch since.

Take care bro and may Allah bless you too.


Mat Salo said...

Hey Budak Kolet.. Wa'alikum salaam. Syukur wa'ang younger than me but already performed the 5th pillar. Didn't know he went to Haj back in '03 because our families had lost touch. More specifically, the elders in our family are too frail for any efforts to look for long lost friends and relations. This is the modern life we lead bro', and it's sad. By the time we look for someone they might have already passed on.

Thanks for the doa' bro and may God bless you too. Eh, what who's your mother? And where in Lenggeng specifically? Email me if you like...