I was away in a jungle north of Perak when she was born. From the time she was 3 months old through 4 years old, she would sleep with me or alone if I am not around.
That’s my eldest child, Farhanah.
And because of her closeness to me, she became the subject of mistreatment by her mother after the divorce; and those were the days, during the Asian Financial Crisis, I would scrape whatever notes and coins I could find just so I could drive up from KL to the Thai border, just to visit her and her sister, Fazira. Everytime I had to leave her at the end of that day trip, she would hold on to my thigh and begged me not to leave her, or to take her along. Parting with her has always been a heart-wrenching experience. I would take her for a walk to the park near where she used to live with her mother, and taught her how to look at the stars of the night sky, show her where south is by teaching her to recognise certain stars, and tell her if she misses me, all she had to do was to look at those stars, and I’d be in that general direction thinking of her too.
She now lives in the house I used to live in, with her mother and her sister. Her younger siblings, Farhan and Nisaa, are with
the bitch their mom somewhere else.
Yesterday, Hana sent me a text asking me what was I doing later that night. So I called her. She told me she had to represent her school in a district-level bowling tournament, and if I could pick her up that night as she would be going to the venue with her friends by cab. When I said I could, she broke down and cried. It was a full half a minute before she regained her composure and told me she was okay. I sensed that something was wrong.
Wifey and I had to go to the university to send some provisions to her brother, Shah. When Shah said that he was hungry, I suggested that we go for mamak food somewhere near where Hana is in case she couldn’t get a cab. True enough, Hana called me soon after, and sobbing, she told me she could not get a cab.
I asked her to walk to the mamak joint, some fifteen minutes walking from the house. So, Wifey and Shah alighted the car. Wifey gave her a good hug and told her not to cry. On the way to the bowling venue, she never said a thing. I asked her what was wrong but she never said anything. Suddenly, she held my hand, put her head on my shoulder and started sobbing again. Softly I told her that I love her and it hurts me not to know what was bothering her, that she’d always have my ears and shoulders if she needed them.
The first thing Wifey and I noticed about her was that she had lost some weight. In the photo above, she looked fine, but when we saw her yesterday, we could see that her cheeks had shrunk. I gave her a good long hug when I dropped her outside the house, reassuring her that I’d always be there for her. From the conversation I had with Fazira, it was clear to me that Hana was not being treated as well by the mother again. And I am so worried as she will be sitting for her SPM examinations later this year.
As Wifey said, if only we live like five to ten minutes away from them instead of the ‘almost-an-hour’ per way trip to get to them, both Fazira and her would be staying with us, or at least come home from school to us before going home later in the night.
As a father, I can only pray for the best for her. But for now, I guess I will have to make more effort to be with her more often, to give her strength again, and to be that guiding star in her life again.