EVERY person will go through the experience of death. Stories of the departed would be told and retold by different people at different levels of social and spiritual depths.
This is a story of Siti Rukiah Zainal Abidin, from an ordinary family with ordinary lives. Only a few small things that matter are cited. A lifetime cannot be recorded in a paragraph.
SHE is a geography graduate with passion for mathematics, which she taught in schools. In teacher’s college, she taught geography methods, thinking skills and living skills. As part-time university lecturer, she taught educational statistics. She is an accomplished and elegant translator.
SHE did not choose to pursue her career in order to support her husband’s career and involvement in professional and community work.
HER kitchen refuse are buried to become fertiliser for her several hundred plants in the garden. She has green fingers; fruit and garden trees she plants are verdant and fruitful.
SHE would stay at the Big Bad Wolf Book Fair until morning and choose books for the family. As an avid reader, she reads various kinds of materials, watches documentaries, engages in conversations with her family to share knowledge with caring wisdom.
OVER the years, as I drove and travelled with her, she takes dictated notes throughout the journeys, and we discuss life, interspaced with her humour and wit. She is the scribe of our soul mate script.
WHEN I was ill, she followed me to the 24-hour clinic until morning.
THERE is a graceful gentleness when she stays with a dying cat until the morning, stroking until the last faint meow. Then she would respectfully bury the cat.
ROUTINELY she feeds her cats, whose food squirrels and birds share.
FOR years, she donates generously to people who come to the house gate and ask for alms.
SHE keeps herself always clean, in modest grooming, meticulously respectful of the sacred body and mind in holy ways.
SHE champions aesthetics and high culture in all aspects of living.
AS I go to work, on her own loving will, she would carry my jacket and briefcase into the car. She has a checklist of asking whether the purse, mobile phone, the meeting agenda and other materials are brought along. She will inquire when I will return in order to wait for dinner or supper together.
AS pacemaker and motivator, she stays awake beside me through the night until I finish the regular column or other works. She is reviewer and editor of all my works, including my Masters and doctoral theses and hundreds of papers.
AS major pillar of the family, she made sacrifices silently, always supporting me as she supports all members of the family in different ways with thoughtful love.
YAH and Ain had a tradition of asking for forgiveness before we sleep. In the morning, there is the hug, kiss and words of love.
Statistics state that women outlive men by 10 years or more. But on Saturday, July 7, Siti Rukiah passed away suddenly.
In reminiscing, people refer to her quietness, gracefulness, humility, diligence and loyalty. Her character is such she does not say negative things about others, is courteous to all, with a smile of gentle fortitude.
There is high intensity of sorrow and sadness with messages of condolences from friends even beyond Malaysia. Those near pay respects at the mosque, graveyard, home and offer prayers. In Islamic cultural tradition, these are the words of consolation offered to the family:
She is a blessed soul to leave without prolonged illness, to die during Ramadan when the gates of Hell are locked and the gates of Heaven open.
When a husband prays for a wife who performs religious obligations, and, they depart in love she will “Enter Heaven from any of its (eight) gates”.
Only Belief in the Hereafter, spiritual reality can help overcome sorrow. There are records of journeys of souls and proof of heaven from anecdotes of life changing experiences of people. A friend describes his coma heart operation experience as seeing himself in tripartite entities of soul, body and mind.
To console the living, Believers quote “God will not place a burden on a soul that it cannot bear”. Suffering purifies humanness and after every hardship is tranquillity.
This is the ordinary story of Yah and Ain through almost 45 years of marriage as others have their stories of life and inevitable death. Only God knows.
This article is dedicated to a loving, devoted wife, my soul mate, Siti Rukiah Ibrahim. DATUK DR IBRAHIM AHMAD BAJUNID - NST Columnist 11 JULY 2014 @ 8:05 AM