It was only last week on a Saturday night like tonight that I picked up the house telephone and called Melaka. On the other end, the phone rang 5 times before it was picked up. As he sounded panting for breath, I asked about his health which he said he was alright but slightly winded. Not thinking anything different, I then passed the call to emak to whom he admitted having a mild asthma attack. Though emak was concerned, we thought it was nothing too great to be worried about.
Early next morning, emak and I made our way to her youngest sister's house. Mariam, or Makcik Yam as we the younger generation call her, had invited us for lunch. We went there early as Azman, my cousin, and I wanted to go to the Pikom's PC Fair in KLCC, and wanted to avoid the Sunday afternoon crowd. Though my left foot was still slightly swollen and in pain, I felt obligated to go as he had asked me more than a month before.
It was about 11.45am and we were still moving through the crowd looking for the best deal we could get for the printer Azman wanted. While I was bargaining with one stall personnel, Azman received a call which ended rather abruptly. He later pulled me aside and said we needed to go back as Pak Besar, my uncle, was just admitted to the Melaka General Hospital. Along the way out however, Azman did manage to purchase his printer.
Later at Azman's house, we received another call from Melaka saying that Pak Besar had been released from the I.C.U and is now in a normal ward. That, I thought, took the urgency out of the matter. As my left foot was still in pain, especially from the walkabout at the KLCC, I asked to be excused from the drive to Melaka - having my leg almost locked in position for the 2hour to and fro trip might just aggravate my leg further, I explained.
Emak, Makcik Yam and Azman later left from my house at around 3.30pm. I put my feet up to rest and soon fell asleep, only to be awakened by another call at 4.18pm. The call had me choking in tears as I was informed that Pak Besar had just passed away - I felt a deep stab of pain and regret for not following emak earlier. Pushing aside the tears, I called Azman and asked him to break the news gently to emak and Makcik Yam, and then began making callings and sending text messages to family and friends.
The next morning, I arrived in Melaka along with Din, my elder brother and his family. Not soon later, Encik Rusli Ibrahim arrived on what I thought was DSAI's behalf. Lim Guan Eng and DAP Melaka too arrived about the same time. And I later learned that the PAS Alor Gajah people were at the house the previous evening itself.
Encik Mohd Noor Jetti, my arwah uncle, was a rather controversial figure when he was young. Having spent his college days in Singapore, he joined the People's Action Party sometime around late 1950's. Later, when he was a teacher in Ulu Choh Reservoir in Johor, he joined the DAP, where he became close to Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng.
To be honest, I know precious little of Allahyarham's history except for what was told to me by emak. But it certainly must have been interesting as my arwah grandfather was a PAS sympathiser since before Independence, and he has a son-in-law who became a prominent UMNO member. Surprisingly though, the difference in ideology did not erupt into hostilities though some harsh words may have been spoken; I really cannot say for certain. But as if to add more spice, my uncle's eldest son joined the Police Force, and was drafted into the Special Branch.
Allahyarham Mohd Noor Jetti's name may have never been heard outside the family and his associates. But he was a fighter, proud and even fiery at times. Around the age of 50, he and his wife moved back into Alor Gajah after my grandmother passed away. As the only surviving son out of 4 boys and 5 girls, he felt it was his responsibility to look after my arwah grandfather who was almost crippled in a road accident sometime in the mid 70's.
It was then my arwah uncle became knowledgeable about religion as he learned from his very own father, and a pious man from Singapore by the name of Almarhum Sidi Abdul Rashid, and later Sheikh Murtaza, the Mufti of Negeri Sembilan. By the time my grandfather passed away, Allahyarham Mohd Noor was no longer the fiery and secular politician he was, but a man with a deeper understanding of Islam and its spiritual values.
There's not much more I can add, but from the recent years of really knowing him, my arwah uncle was a loving man who, apart from looking after his father, also lovingly tended his youngest daughter who was suffering from Down Syndrome, and who had passed away earlier in March 2007. For nearly 25 years since his wife passed away, my arwah uncle faithfully performed his duty, both as a son and a father, and was assisted by another daughter by the name of Cikgu Anisah.
To my dear brothers and sisters of the blogging community, and for anyone who haps upon this, please forgive me if ever this entry is seen as vain on my part. But I felt compelled to write, especially by my guilt of not going back earlier. I know that in no certain ways would this entry atone me from the guilt, but it is, the very least I can do.