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“My best friend is gone”

Hisham Idris & Susan Lai – Malaysians

Siblings from different parents – Pandamaran (Interviewed in 2018)

THIS IS A STORY OF TWO WOMEN, HAJAH JEMILAH affectionately known by everyone as Wan (grandma in Pahang dialect) and Lai Swee Lan, who were of different race and religion. They started off as neighbours, living in adjacent flats but ended up as good friends till they passed away.

Hisham considered Susan’s mum, Ah Lan as his adopted mother for a number of reasons. Hehad known her since he was 6 and their families were so close that Hisham could go in and out of Ah Lan’s house as he wished. Ah La n used to tell Hisham, “you can eat or drink anything in our fridge but please be careful of the pork.”

In the 80s when VHS video became popular, Ah Lan had one and Hisham’s family would go over to watch videos together. And it was never an issue that Hisham’s family did not have a phone as they were always welcome to use Ah Lan’s.

When Hisham’s father passed away, Ah Lan shared Wan’s sadness. Ah Lan said, “Hang in there Wan. You must be strong. Think about your children. Hisham is still schooling. Ah Lan is here for you.”

Not long after, Wan felt sick too and passed away 2 hours after Ah Lan visited her. Perhaps it was a coincidence but it seemed like she knew.

A few days later, Hisham returned home and when Ah Lan saw him, they hugged and she said, “My best friend is gone. My life won’t be the same anymore.”

One year later, Ah Lan fell ill and was hospitalised. Hisham remembers visiting her in the hospital. Ah Lan was already in a coma and as Hisham held her hand, Susan said to her mum, “Hisham is here.” Hisham felt Ah Lan’s finger move. Ah Lan passed away two hours later.

Hisham hopes his story can lift up our spirit & act as a morale booster for us to keep on thinking positively and help each other, among Malaysians.

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