Abg Bitee ni senior aku masa MRSM Jasin.
Eh, tapi nak ikutkan, dia satu batch dengan aku... batch '86, walaupun masa tu aku masuk Form 1 dan dia masuk Form 4.
Masa tu, MRSM Jasin masih belum ambil kemasukan Form 4 secara besar-besaran. Tapi batch aku lah 'batch bongsu' MRSM: the last Form 1 batch of the school.
That day, ada empat orang Form 4 baru... Abg Bitee antara seorangnya. Dan seorang budak Form 1 yang terlewat masuk ... aku. Tarikh masuk: 31 Mac 1986. Twenty years ago.
Aku pun tak pasti kenapa aku boleh teringat dia je dalam kalangan empat orang F4 baru tu. Mungkin masa menunggu mak ayah kami diberi taklimat di Bilik Guru, aku dok menunggu kat luar di Main Porch dengan adik-adik (masa tu Sherli umur 6 thn; Farhi 4 thn; Udi 2 thn). Aku duduk at one end of the porch sambil pangku Udi yang tertidur; while Abg Bitee was waiting at the other end, menyandar against a parked motorbike, looking the other way.
I only remember that vision for that particular day.
Tah macam mana, masa aku naik Form 2, dari kejauhan aku mula 'admire' dia. Aku pun tak berapa ingat kenapa. Kira macam first teenage crush aku lah. Rupa-rupanya, pada waktu yang sama, tah kenapa tetiba saham Abg Bitee naik... ramai betul bebudak pompuan admire dia!
Ish, kalau nak ingat-ingatkan balik how gedik I was being his so-called 'secret admirer', aku pun naik geli. Tapi aku ingat lagi, somehow or rather, all the girls in my batch knew who my 'abang' was. Masa tu, biasa la... masing-masing ada 'abang' la, balak la, pet-sis la, pet-bro la. Sapa-sapa yang pernah dok asrama akan tahu la betapa scandalousnya hidup kat hostel... tapi bessssstttt woh!!! So, I never had to compete with anybody in my batch other than sorang dua in other batches. Kindalike Sisterhood-thingee la. Can share all other things, but not 'abang' or balak or pet-sis or pet-bro, unless with consent!
We even named our 'admirees' with nicknames... such as AKoJe lah (Abang Kopek Jerawat - I think this guy dah pretty much 'The It' in his profession and pretty much hemsemm-er now. Nama betul dia? Azlee *grins*), Y lah, Zack lah, Ayaq Nyok lah, APen lah (Abang Pendek), and the list goes on.
Nick Abg Bitee? We named him "Barry" from the nama kimia "Barium". Eh serious aku dah lupa macam mana this name was picked. I think ada kena-mengena dengan us, having to float classes for every subject (sebab MRSM dulu kurang bilik darjah) hence exchanging class with him masa kat Lab -- kelas dia keluar from subjek Kimia, kelas kami masuk pula for other core subjects.
Tah macam mana, end of Abg Bitee's Fifth Form, dia dapat tahu yang aku ni lah budak tergedik yang minatz dia. Satu hari, dia kasi aku note, complete with my IC number on it!!! Mau tak termenjerit aku! Menjerit debar and menjerit malu, gitu. Aku pun tak faham naper dalam kegedikan aku masa tu masih ada tau rasa malu.
(Even as I’m writing this, I’m quite amazed myself that I actually can still remember his IC number… 1*2**54!!! Omygawd! I can’t be so silly into him dulu, can I???!)
Aku ingat lagi, one day masa Abg Bitee was sitting for one of his SPM papers (Geography, I think), he was called out of the Dewan to be informed that his father had passed away. My kakak-kakak senior told me how devastated he was... menangis-nangis sambil cuba habiskan paper, and then went back home directly after, but came back at noon for the afternoon sitting.
Gosh, I suppose itulah dugaan pertama besar dalam hidup dia...
And I remembered one part of his jottings in my autograph book. He said, “Jangan lupa jaga badan nanti tak da balak yang nak…”. Har dee har.
Nevertheless, masa aku naik Form 3, Abg Bitee masuk buat Diploma Integrasi Senibina di UTM Skudai. Aku tak tahu sebenarnya that he was there... but one day, during lunch time kat Dewan Makan, someone handed me a letter from Skudai. I opened up the letter on the spot and wah, termenjerit lagi aku masa tu! Surat dari Bitee!!!
Kecoh antara the girls batch aku and seniors yang aku dapat surat dari Bitee! Maklumlah, budak dompot macam aku ni dapat surat daripada "The Most Popular Guy Batch '83/'86 in 1987"!!! Haaa, hebat, kan? hahahaha.
Kebetulan juga pada tahun tu, this same budak dompot dah manage to acquire a couple of "secret admirers" juga... apa lagi, muka cuak je diorang bila nampak aku happy semacam. heh heh heh.
Ish, tersengih-sengih lebar aku sekarang ni. Indahnya waktu zaman sekolah, I tell you...
Maka, bermula lah penulisan surat antara aku dengan Abg Bitee. Abg Bitee siap hantar aku pamphlet dari UTM Skudai about his course. He regaled me stories of how difficult the course was (daripada 30+ orang, jadi tinggal berapa kerat je); duduk rumah sewa, etc.
So, ladies & gentlemen, I could say that it was Abg Bitee who first exposed me to Architecture and inspired me to take up the course.
We wrote to each other dari aku Form 3 kat MRSM Jasin sampailah aku buat 1st Year A-Levels di Cheras. Ahh, the old mode of communication. Dulu tak da hp, mah. Apatah lagi email. APATAH LAGI blog. heh. But mind you during that period, we never spoke to each other even on the phone, let alone keluar jumpa ramai-ramai, you know!
Masa Abg Bitee graduated, he sent me a photo, him donning a baju melayu hitam with his sijil at hand. I can still remember that photo. Heck, I still keep that photo! Cuma nak cari kat mana je. But to this very day, I’m still not sure why he sent me the photo… I presume he wanted to encourage me to achieve what he’s just achieved, kot. Of course back then instead of feeling encouraged, aku rasa perasan sebab dia kasi aku gambar dia tanpa diminta…hahahaha.
Tapi lepas Abg Bitee graduated from his diploma, we stopped writing altogether. Aku pun dah tak ingat kenapa. Maybe sebab aku pun dah sibuk dengan studies and social life.
But whaddya know... we managed to meet again during his visit to Edinburgh, spring of '94. He was one of the 12 friends of my housemate's mate from Canterbury yang datang berjalan naik Scotland. Obviously, I didn't know that he was one of the entourage. Ish, tersipu-sipu malu aku rasa masa tu!!! Maklumlah, jumpa first crush balik, mah. Berdepan-depan pulak tu! Masa tu lah first time aku dengar suara dia! hahahaha! Tapi dia tak tunjuk reaksi apa-apa pun. Maklumlah, aku budak dompot, mah. Bukan Maya Karin. hahahaha
After that visit to Edinburgh, I never get to see, write apatah lagi talk to him. Some says a year after, he had study problems in uni and went back to Malaysia for good by summertime. And another told me that back in Malaysia, he worked with his brother, and then got the tumour. Brain tumour.
However, nine years after his Edinburgh trip, at the end of September 2003, he sent me a wedding invitation. For the life of me, I couldn’t recall how he had my present home address in Bangi since I’ve stopped writing to him before we moved to the present home. It was a really really nice surprise, though! His Do was to be on the 5th of October.
I couldn’t make it to his Do though ‘coz I didn’t have anybody to go with. My date back then resided in K.K., so, takkan aku nak pi sorang-sorang, kan?
(9 days after that, my date passed away in K.K. Another tragedy; another story…)
It was also from the wedding invitation that I got his phone number in which I sms-ed him hello. And eversince that, I never missed wishing him Happy Birthday come 1st March.
9 months after that, in June 2004, he sms-ed and announced that he got a baby girl… Damia-smthn.
A year after, somewhere in mid 2005, he sms-ed me hello and I told him the good news: I’m about to be married, and to his surprise, to his favourite cartoonist pula tu!!! Tak sangka budak dompot tembam ni ada jugak orang yang nak rupanya, ya. Heh heh.
He was so ecstatic that he actually made it over to my wedding in Bangi, all the way from Tampin. But instead of personally coming over to my room to congratulate me, he sent in his lovely Missus, Kak Myra, and baby daughter to take photos with me. I still remember when Kak Myra first came into my room with her toddler in her hand and said to me, “Akak wife Bitee. Dia suruh masuk ambil gambar dengan Faz. Dia ada tunggu kat luar. Dia kirim salam banyak-banyak!”
Ish, berbesar sungguh hati aku masa tu, tak dapat aku nak gambarkan! Tapi maknanya, even masa wedding aku yang dia ada kat compound rumah aku tu pun aku tak dapat jumpa dia berdepan-depan and hear his voice, hahahaha.
Almost a year later, somewhere in November this year, he sms-ed me, “Can I have PRI’s phone number?”.
I asked back, “PRI???”
Then, almost immediately, he called! First time, woh, speaking on the phone. Tergagap-gagap aku menjawab! Aku yang memang langsung dah tak ingat suara dia macam mana felt kinda like talking to a total stranger padahal aku dah ‘kenal’ dia for 20 years.
“Pusat Rawatan Islam ni. In your blog.”
I was devastated. I knew immediately that he needed urgent help with his tumour. Then I had to tell him the heartbreaking news: that the place was raided in mid-October. Nevertheless, I promised to inform him immediately once the place is reopened.
Sedih. That entire day, I felt so… ralat.
On my way to Penang last Friday the 29th, I reminded Abang to find out further on the Pusat Rawatan Islam so that I could inform and possibly help Abg Bitee and Kak Myra.
Little did I know what was stored for me the next day on the 30th. On the ferry to the mainland, I received a call at 5.14pm from “SBT”, but instead of Abg Bitee, it was Kak Myra on the other end.
“W’salam! Kak Myra ke? Apa khabar kak?”
“Saya sihat… Faz, erm, belum dengar berita kurang baik lagi ke…?”
“Berita kurang baik??? Berita apa..???”
“Bitee dah meninggal, 28 hb baru-baru ni…!”
“Allah….!!! Innalillaaaahiwa innaaa ilaihi raaaji’uuun…! Kakak…kakak ok???” Dan Allah je yang tahu apa aku rasa masa tu…!
“Tu la, saya cuba call Faz hari tu, tapi asyik tak dapat!!!”
Aiyohhh…. Damn the Taiwan quake that disrupted phone lines that day!!!
And Kak Myra told me that Abg Bitee passed away not because of the tumour or operation, but due to some blood clot from his leg that went up to his heart when he got up to go to the toilet.
“…rasa macam tak percaya je dia dah tak da, sebab dia nampak sihat je lepas operation tu. Sampai lah yang dia beritahu saya dia nak ke toilet. Lepas buang air semua, dia ngadu sesak nafas. Dia ngadu dia lemas. Ramai Doktor datang nak selamatkan dia. Tapi dia pergi juga…”
Apparently, Kak Myra is also expecting their second baby, due this coming July. Ish, my heart goes out to Kak Myra, Damia and baby….
I may not be Abg Bitee’s admirer any longer since eon’s ago, but he’s still a friend... a nostalgic kinda friend. He was also my first sifu when it comes to Architecture: he was the first to teach me the “Form Follows Function” concept in architecture. All in correspondence, can you believe that. It’s like, there was this unique and unexplained bond between us, walaupun di mata dia I am always the “budak tembam” from school. Heh heh.
Ish, it felt like as if he would still reply as he would always do if I were to send him an sms to ask how he was doing... sigh.
My heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Kak Myra, Damia, baby and Abg Bitee’s family. Semoga kalian semua tabah, terutama sekali Kak Myra. Semoga baby selamat lahir, ya Kakak…
My prayers to Abg Bitee… semoga rohnya dicucuri rahmat dan ditempatkan di sisi orang-orang yang beriman dan bertaqwa. Dan terima kasih for all the memories…