Nenek Suraya

I rarely talk about my job because it is so medico-legal related nowadays. I worry that I would accidentally spill on sensitive and confidential information regarding the case. Even if I take extra precaution to not mention the patients profile or disease – there is always a fear that someone who reads my blog would know that patient and proceeds to condemn me for say, embarrassing the patient and what not. Sedangkan Wardina and syed Azmi who did not mention the name of a Madrasah pun kena kecam.. apatah lagi kita kan.. 

But I just had to share about my anecdote with an elderly patient I came across last night during my oncall.

She was in her early 90s, a foreigner from our neighbouring country. She is of Malay descent who speaks very good English. She was at the emergency department for a fall and her small, weakened body sustained an injury at her right ankle. She was seen by my colleague and while awaiting for the porters to transport her to the Xray department – she kinda beckoned me over to her bed. Probably needing more painkillers, I thought.

In fact, I have treated her before for a simple fever. It was a visit many years ago when her also elderly husband was still around. I don’t think she would remember and just made it seemed like our first time meeting each other.

She quickly grabbed my hand as I neared her and asked of my name. She smiled and volunteered her own, “I am Suraya (not real name). I’m a Singaporean and I just hurt my foot”. All this in clear, crispy Queens English.

Her husband and one of her sons had recently passed away. She was a mother of 9 and specifically mentioned how blessed she was to have one daughter. A daughter she raised like carrying a cupful of oil. This lady encouraged her daughter to get a good education – a tertiary education. Indeed she succeeded as later the daughter landed a high paying job in the immigration department. The daughter got married , had a child and that’s when Nenek Suraya mentioned, “she broke my heart”.

“She wanted to quit her job. A job that puts the food on her table, a roof on her head.A job that makes her who she is. Why would she want to do that for her husband. You are supposed to think about your child – yang dia nak fikir pasal laki dia sangat kenapa. I can help cook for her. I can help care for her child. I just want her to keep her job and stand on her own two feet. And not having to ask of her husband for money each month for her own use! “

Honestly, I don’t see a problem in a woman wanting to do what she wants as long as she is clear about her plan and knows what she is doing. Long gone are the days where netizens debate on SAHM vs Working mom. In fact, it shouldn’t happen anymore in this era. Instead – we should move towards supporting fellow women with their decisions the best that we can and raise a community together.

But Nenek Suraya is heading to 100 years old. Perhaps there are pearls of wisdom I should pay attention to. I kept mum and kept my ears open.This was after all a woman who lived during the times when women were not as liberated and free to make their own choices as compared to what we are today. She experienced the whole world maturing and accepting women’s roles as equals when it comes to serving your nation. It seemed to her personal opinion that she failed to bring her daughter out from the traditional role as the one in the kitchen to the lady of certain power in the office. It was understandable . There was no need to be severely offended if say, you choose to achieve financial freedom by having a homebased business for instance or adopting homeschool to your kids full time. It was just her personal idea of how she chose to value her daughter. And I respect that.She’s not waging a war against women who makes informed decisions in quitting their 9 to 5 job for their family.

Because you see, I come from a similar background. Although my mother did not get to step foot in university – she was street smart and managed to command the household accordingly. It would be devastating to her if say, I chose to quit medicine despite completing my bond with the government to be at home. To her, it’ll be a waste of my ‘education’ because education was something she was deprived off in her younger years due to poverty and social circumstances. Although I yearn to be this mom at home , I still have second thoughts. out of respect for my moms wishes and her understanding of an empowered woman. Perhaps later, should I choose to pursue my freedom to dictate my own life – perhaps I could make her feel less sore by reassuring her that I’m replacing my income instead. At least she knows I’m not wasting my education but channeling it in a different manner.Kan? less mengejutkan… buat stationary based business ke apa kan.. 

At the end of the day, mothers just want their daughters to lead their lives better than how it was for them before. Who would want their precious daughter to go through hardship similar to theirs kan? After much sobbing and pouring her heart out, Nenek Suraya finally let go off my already numb hand. Again, she asked me of my name and returned the gesture with, ” “I am Suraya (not real name). I’m a Singaporean and I just hurt my foot”.

The reason

“Every woman should have four pets in her life. A mink in her closet, a jaguar in her garage, a tiger in her bed, and a jackass who pays for everything”

PARIS HILTON

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I experienced one of those epiphany moments today. Like Allah was talking to me, responding to my dilemma and questions through my thought processes. The message was profound, engaging and helped me to understand better about myself and other women.

I often wondered why some women still choose to stay with their abusive husband. Or willing to put up with the substandard treatment from their husband.

Today, I understood why.

They were hoping that the bad things will take a turn to be better. Or back to the good times they once had. Yes, hope. So they stayed day after day, then months and years.. hoping that the next morning their husband would turn on a new leaf and be the kind young lad they once knew. That he will not lay a hand on her. That he will not verbally abuse her, hurting her emotionally  and shattering her confidence. Thats why they stayed on and took in all the negative forces into their marriage.

I also wondered if I would have the courage to quit my job one day and become a full time housewife to raise my kids and care for my husband. After all, Mr husband has the financial capabilities to support the household.

I was confident of being able to say ‘yes’ until I began to question, if I would instead have the courage to keep my current job and care for my family at the same time. For it was at that rare moment that I was able to see my job as my lifeline. Without it, I would loose my independence, my voice, my courage to be who I am. That is unless Im able to generate actively my own income on top of being a housewife. My job was my way out of a mess should it happen (nauzubillah) one day.

Picture this. No job means no ‘own’ friends. No money of your own. No outside interest. Well, thats the basic.

Assuming one day Mr Husband wants to take on a second wife. I would be tied into giving in…since Im financially dependent on him.  Worse, if one day Mr Husband decided to leave me, now what will I give my children to eat. It will not be easy to start working again and starting at the bottoom of the ladder especially when I am pretty much on the top of the food chain.

So yes, my questions were answered.

Take home message : Work , like your husband is going to leave you one day to rot.