10 Hour Flight and Back

This is rather long…

This is what happened.

Tuesday, 13 Nov: I was told to prepare some notes, specifically about Malaysian SME for the minister to take with him to New Zealand (NZ). Part of my job.. so I did.

Wednesday, 14 Nov: Minding my own business, while completing the NZ notes. At 5pm (after Post-Cab meeting), my Dept Boss told me, I was selected to escort the minister to NZ. Whaaatt??? I’m doomed. The trip is only 9 days away, including weekends. Told the whole kampung about it, though.

Thursday, 15 Nov: Discussed with International Relations Unit on things that I have to do, take over before, during and after the trip. Now, I have to prepare info packs, not only about SME, but for the whole trip. I was da*n nervous. But I have to get it together… I am after all going to the HOME OF MIDDLE EARTH. Who cares about if I have to run around like headless chicken while doing it.. I’ll be the headless chicken in NZ. Called my dad and informed him myself. Told me he won’t be coming home for the weekend.

Friday – Sunday, 16 – 18 Nov: Away in Kluang. Worked for PAC. And as the norm with PAC, there will always be midnight supper, and sleep would come after that, not a minute earlier. So, this is when the sleep deprived mode started.

Monday – Thursday, 19 – 22 Nov: My whole effort was concentrated on preparing for the trip. This was my routine: Sampai office, worked till 7.30pm, dinner and all, reached home after 9pm. Sleep at 10pm or 11pm, only to wake up at 2am or 3am. Continue work, and head straight to office at 7am.

I was caffeine dependent throughout the whole week. I had to drop every other thing I was doing, except one. And I also realized that information searching and gathering consumes too much time. But, when you get to talk to the right people, it is such an enormous relief. In line with that, I would like to take this opportunity to thank these people who made the process of searching for the right information so much easier. Minimized so much time.

1. Max, Joshua and Unny Shankar of MOH
2. Mohd Khairil Izzuddin of MoTour
3. Noraishah Mohammad Ali Kamil of MOHE

4. Rashmiz, Rozila and Izham of ICT, MRRD

Thank you so much for your kind cooperation. Your assistance helped me a lot. But, of course, I did not make it to NZ, to bring back souvenirs for you guys. But having said that, does not mean I do not appreciate the help of others, like my colleagues, superiors, family and all. I really do and I love you all. It’s just that I don’t talk to those people everyday.

Anyway, finally THE DAY of departure arrived.

Friday, 23 Nov: That morning, I had woke up at 3am to redo some last minute changes and pack a little bit. I went to work as usual. Discussed and made last minute changes to the info pack with No.2. Printed it out. Requested my staff to help me with the binding. Alhamdullillah, they were very supportive and cooperative. I left them and the books at 1pm, with them promising to pass it to Rizal who will bring them to the airport at 6pm for me.

I reached home at 2pm. Finished packing and makan and mandi, at about 4 pm. Withdrew money, changed it to NZ currency and meet up mom at her house at about 5 pm. Kissed and hugged and left close to 6. Asked mom if she wanted to send me off at the airport, but she declined as she had to wait for Dad to come home.

Arrived at the airport at about 6.40pm. Checked in. Distributed info packs and program book to delegates. Prayed and waited for minister and wife. Boarded plane close 9pm.

9.30pm: My family tried to call me. The plane had taken off.

The people in JB found my dad in a sitting position on his bed, in his room. Hands on lap, looking down at his hands. Next to him was his sejadah. He was breathless. He was without a pulse.

My mom and brother was on their way to JB. My sister in Pasir Gudang was called to come. She had no money. She had no car. She had no credit in her phone. It took her a while for her to finally reach JB.

The people in JB, the MB himself, helped to bathe, wrap and pray for my dad. When my mom and brother arrived, everything was settled.

There was no post mortem. But based on deduction, my dad had passed away somewhere between 9am and 10 am. Most probably of a heart attack, or in my brother’s term, cardiac arrest. He seemed to be calm and at ease, when they found him, therefore I hope he was not in too much pain… that he is alone and all.

Me, in a 10 hour journey.

Saturday, 23 Nov: Malaysian time: 7.30am. New Zealand: 12.30 noon.
The plane landed at Auckland. No.2 turned on his mobile phone when the plane taxi to the terminal. I did the same. The first SMS that came in was from my father’s phone. He had passed away. I couldn’t breathe. I could not utter those words to No.2 when he asked what happened.

I called my brother to confirm it, and all these while, I was full of tears like I never had. My brother was too calm. But it was all true. The minister and his kind wife, asked me to go back. The flight attendant checked for a seat for me on the next flight back. Ada.

I gathered my luggage and checked back in. I was back in the same plane, different seat. The flight was at 2pm, New Zealand time.

10 hours journey back.

Back home, my dad was buried at 8am, Malaysian time. 1pm New Zealand time. 10 hours… I managed to recite al-Fatihah for him, and Yassin a few times. The rest of the time, I watched Grey’s Anatomy and cried every time a patient died. Why didn’t we get to do that? To bring Dad to the hospital. Try to save him. At least we could TRY.

I reached home at 9pm, where the tahlil was going on. I did not see my dad for the last time. I did not kiss him for the last time.

Sunday – Friday, 25 – 30 Nov: I stayed home and did not go to work because I didn’t want people asking me why I was back so early and what happened to my dad and all. I would seem rather fine, as if nothing happened if no one talks about him.

And that’s what happened.


Our last family picture together.  A few days before ramadan.


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