The long weekend saw me playing the role of a filial daughter. Abah underwent that “Laser-based" cataract surgery for his right eye at the same ophthalmologist who performed minor surgery on both my eyes a few years back. I was indirectly involved in the final decision. Abah has this tendency of being super secretive when it comes to his overall well-being. Earlier this year, i noticed some clouding developing in his eyes. Abah did admit that his sight is deteriorating and sometimes,hes also experiencing declining visual clarity. I suggested a visit to an eye-specialist, but he wanted to wait until after he performed his ‘umrah’ to Mecca. Abah indirectly hinted the five of us to be with him throughout the procedure. My tree brothers could not make it-balik kampung,i mean-,and my sister in JB could not get a leave from her strict boss. Danial was not willing to sacrifice 2 days of schooling, so my hubby had to stay behind. so, I was left alone to deal with the matter, doublehandedly alongside Mak .
I find it hard to describe my own ‘father-daughter relationship’ . I could never express my opinions openly or freely. Abah’s style of parenting was quite Authoritarian, so whatever opinion i had, i would reserve them strictly to myself, or my diary then. Until one day, when my mom found the diary and she got the shock of her life reading the contents... I was scolded and humiliated infront of my brothers and uncles. I was so confused and terribly disturbed and shaken by the experience. I could still remember being labelled as a terrible and unbefitting daughter....violating the customary obligation of a daughter..From that moment on, i was on a harsh journey of self blame for every selfish acts and thoughts i had. I stopped fighting for my own rights and started to feel more isolated and remorsed. I stopped feeling me. I would get so envious whenever i saw my friends hugging their dad and laughing with them. I had this bitterness inside of me each time Normin’s or Shahida’s father invited me along for a picnic at Semenyih everytime they visited us at the hostel. And their fathers would be asking about my Abah...and i would be struggling with the answers coz Abah never paid that fortnight visit..Yes, it was the distance and Abah would always be busy.i didn’t mind at all...
That was then. I say Abah and Mak did a good job. Whatever they did were for my sake. They decided that i was to be a teacher. I had a better idea on what i wanted to be, but being a filial daughter, i ‘succumbed’ to their wish. When i was posted as an English teacher to JB, and adjusting well there, they made this arrangement for me to be transferred back to Kedah so i could be just nearby. At that time, the quickest and easiest way to get the transfer was if you were married,then you would be reunited with your spouse . Then, they made another interesting arrangement. They find me a nice man to marry. After all, thats their job-to make sure im married to a good man. And i said okay. I AM okay with it. Why not? let’s go with the flow....after all, i don’t have to do the thinking, since everything was easily laid out for me..i just follow.....
I was awakened from my sea of thought when the nurse called me to inform that the surgery was a successful one. The surgeon placed a protective shield over Abah’s eye. After a short stay in the outpatient recovery area, we were ready to go home.
Then started the aftercare. Mak would need to administer eye drops, as prescribed by the surgeon, several times daily without fail during the next few weeks. Abah needed to wear that protective eye shield while sleeping or napping, for about a week after surgery. As was driving them home, I asked Abah if he needed sun shades to help protect the eye in bright light.he said he already had one. But I made a quick turn to the town and off we went to the Central Square in SP. Im getting you a good sun shades, Abah. But it is costly... don’t fight with me Abah. Its for the eyes recovery..and if its expensive, it should be good...and you wouldn’t dare to take it off, coz im buying you this..i know its burning a hole in my pocket, but i only want the best for you.’
While the eye heals, Abah experienced some blurred vision during the first few days following the procedure. So, i had to convince him that it was normal. Abah said that Lebai Daud who had underwent the same procedures did not experience that complication. ‘Are you sure Abah? Call him over and ask him again’. Lebai Daud was actually exaggerating. He later admitted having some complications. That was a huge relief to Abah.
During at least the first week of recovery, the nurse reminded me that it is essential that Abah avoid
-strenuous activity and heavy lifting (nothing over 5 kilogrammes)....[which was hard coz Abah would absentmindedly lifted his favourite flower pots.].
- bending, exercising and similar activities that might stress the eye while it is healing.[when he dropped his wallet, i saw him bending down to fetch it. I tried stopping him, but he was already bent 80degrees down...and kept arguing with me that he did not bend at all..]
-Water that might splash into the eye and cause infection. Abah needed to keep his eye closed while showering or bathing. [I made Mak watch over Abah when he’s showering. But Mak had a better idea-no shower for a week...i was speechless....]
-Any activity that would expose the healing eye to dust, grime or other infection-causing contaminants.[Abah’s neighbour’s house was under construction. So, i ordered Abah to strictly stay indoor....and Abah successfully obeyed.]
I reminded Mak whenever it was time for eye droplets. We ate the same boring diet that Abah had to consume. We made sure Abah would wear the sun shade whenever hes outside. He wanted to join the congregational prayers at the nearby mosque, but we talked him out nicely that he would need another 2 or 3 weeks before he could join. I also surprised myself when I requested him not to watch the television, and he just switched off the tube and smiled at me.
The feeling, i could not describe. This should happen a long time ago. Sharing, talking and discussing openly. Like a happy healthy father daughter relationship. I’ve been longing for one for such a long time. Finally, the moment is here. Its here for me to cherish and embrace. Might be late, but never too late to start...
Abah, you might not be reading this, but-deep in my heart, i have this feeling so great about you, which i find it hard to express openly. It is what other daughters in this world share, but is expressed in different various ways...
“Abah- sayang Abah!!”