10 years ago, I lost one of my closest friends who died in his sleep after a cardiac problem. He was 31 years old then. Allahyarham Shahrol’s death was the first big loss to me that left me buried in a state of sadness for a while.
Ironically, he was the one who wanted to be a politician. He always questioned my refusal to go back into politics since the reformasi days.
Travelling up and down North South Expressway made me think of him all the time.
This is what I wrote immediately after his death 10 years ago.
Allen, Canoe and I had just arrived from Pokok Sena after a brief stopover in Kuala Kangsar. I managed to get the first flight out of Ho Chi Minh City but still couldn’t make it in time to see him for the last time at HUKM; and to kiss him. Allen and Canoe waited for me at KL Sentral and we sped off to Pokok Sena straight away, being 2 hours behind the kereta jenazah. I always wonder why people want to rush back when their loved ones have passed away – now I understand. All I wanted to do was to see him for the last time and see his face whatever it takes (which I didn’t get to do).
I still feel it’s surreal that he is gone. The trip that we took yesterday to Pokok Sena and back today to KL – was the saddest trip I have ever made in my short life.
There’s so much I want to write or to tell but couldn’t. Maybe when time permits and I am in a better state of mind – that finally I can get a grip that he is gone, I can pen my thoughts properly.
The image of his jenazah being lowered down to the liang lahat, is something I cannot get rid of, interlaced with the images of his smiles and the many jokes we had had all this while. And the many regrets I have that I cannot come to terms with – that I did not bid him goodbye properly when he was here last 2 weeks, that I never buy him anything expensive for the 17 years I know him, so many “that”s and “this”.
Throughout the journey, occasionally our eyes (but Allen had a shade on all the time throughout the last 2 days so his were not as obvious as mine, and Canoe had this ability to shield himself, though I noticed he walked away each time there was a conservation about Shahrol trying to avoid breaking down I guess) were wet out of sudden – because that route (the KL-Northern route) is a route we travelled together so many times for the last 4 years.
Everything that I do reminds me of him.
Waking up in the morning in the hotel room this morning, I broke down again – because there were countless times that we shared room for the many activities we ran together. If he woke up first, we would imitate Ustaz Latib (“anak-anak yang baik bangun Subuh”) and would wait for me for Subuh berjamaah – or if I woke up first, he would ask me to wait for him. This morning – he wasn’t there.
Driving up and down the route reminded me of his singing in the car, of how he used to taunt my own singing, of chasing each other on the road, of the many stops we made at Tapah.
Looking at this blog even wrenched my heart – that it was only last 2 weeks that he was here, all the way from Putrajaya to cheer me up when I was down from something that happened before. And he was so happy, and so serene throughout the night. The drink that he bought the last two weeks is still in the fridge!
Tomorrow is Wednesday and I know I will cry again the next morning – because he was the one who convinced me to put on my MCKK tie on Wednesday – by buying me the tie himself! He in fact bought for most of us (the coaches of the debating team).
And I dread this coming Friday more than anything else – because without fail for the last 3 years, we had prayed together unless one of us was away. Even when he was posted to Putrajaya, he would make that drive just in time for us to convene our “Jemaah Pokok” lunch, then prayed together, then adjourned to either Dome or Gloria Jeans. The fact that this Friday he will not be by my side – I don’t know what to feel.
There are so many thoughts in my head.
But the one that I feared most – is trying to make people understand why his sudden return to God affected us (the debating coaches especially me, Allen and Canoe) so much; after all Allen and I came from a different batch. People would not have understood that he was as close as our own flesh and blood; that for the past 3 years every single thing that we do had included him. That I had been close to him ever since I entered koleq and there was not even a single period of my life that he wasn’t around. That in reality, I was perhaps the closest budak koleq to him in his life, despite being from a different batch.
MCKK boys speak of brotherhood so easily and casually – but I came to realise how difficult it is to explain what it really means in light of getting to terms with Shahrol’s departure.
If anything, my advice to the younger old boys (even the older ones) is do not make the same mistake I made because you will regret it. It is OK to actually tell the people you love most that you love them. Don’t wait until you bury their body to tell everything to them.
I had never written or told Shahrol, in the 17 years we know each other – of what he means to me, of how much I had loved him every single day and hour I had known him because he had never hurt me even once. I assumed he knew, and I assumed he would be around for me all the time.
I had written so much to all the kids we look after, telling them of our care and love for them that they grew up in the last 4 years knowing how much they meant to us – but I never did the same to Shahrol or all the others.
I wish at least once I had told him, although I knew he knew. But it makes all the difference if I had ever told him.
So to all the closest of friends who had been around all my entire life – I have loved you for as long as I had known you for your kindness and understanding of my failings as a human being. I want you to know that you mean the world to me and how without you there’s a huge hole in my rather already incomplete life.
To Allen and Canoe – distraught as we are, the last 2 days must have meant so much to him as it was to us. That since we came back from the UK, we had the privilege to be the closest to him, that we never missed lunch and Jumaat prayers every single day much to the dismay of people who knew us. I wouldn’t have been able to go through the last 2 days without both of you and we should honour Shahrol’s memory by remaining this way for as long as we live (regardless of how long that will be).
For every single thing that we did in the last 2 days, I kept thinking what Shahrol would have done. Not even a single thing that we did could have matched the length he would go should we switch places.
I miss you so much already Shahrol, I pray that you shall have peace and get rewarded for being the person you were. Ameen.