Death of Batchmates from Class of 1976

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The pain of learning that someone you used to know has passed on is as painful as I ever known. That punch to your heart makes it surge so hard that you fear it might stop, just as you learn that the heart of that friend is never going to pump again. Whether through death, loss, or disagreement, when we lose someone or something dear to us, we become overwhelmed by the pangs of grief; the pain of loss feels overbearing as though it would never end.

Having to face the consequences of detachment can be a traumatic experience. All we can think of is the pain enshrouding our hearts and consuming our minds. With tears streaming down our faces, our faces contorted with emotion and our hearts too feeling as though a heavy burden has landed – the misery takes a hold of us and, blinded by our tears, we fail to see the light.

Well, all right, I am not alone in this but it is true that if you live long enough one of “the worst of woes” is the inevitable loss of the people who mean so much to you; the inevitable shrinking of our personal worlds.

The recent death of Ja’a a.k.a Azhar Ariff an Old Boy of MCKK, a friend and junior from the Class of ‘96 made me think about the fragility of life. One day you were rejoicing and celebrating together and the next day he was gone. I saw the grief of his family and how his friends felt. I saw the overwhelming support from his batchmates who was there to ensure a smooth passage to his final resting place. It started me to think of my dear departed batchmates from the Class of ‘76; of how they lived and how they died. Death is never easy when you know the people doing the dying and the families they left behind.

To date till the month of April 2019, fifteen old friends who were my batch mates or ‘brothers’ in MCKK has died. Fifteen. We all started our life in MCKK in 1972 with 120 in numbers. Now there are only 105 left. Although those deaths were entirely unexpected even when the circumstances of a person’s life are dire, we hope, don’t we? We can’t help it. Comparable with their age when they died and my current age, they had gone too soon.

When hope is dashed, we are left to mourn. Each in our own way. Long before I was old, I had buried too many batch mates. Such is the frailty of life when another one bites the dust.

Through those years and sadness’s, I noticed a strange and wonderful thing in regard to ones who left us: when they died and how they died, I didn’t quite ‘get’ it. Instead, it was though we hadn’t visited in a long while and it continues to feel that way over time. Back then when I lived in the boarding school it was as if we would live forever. I felt we were still there.

These deaths are loved friends and the phenomenon holds – we just haven’t visited and connected lately. To this day, I still wonder whatever happened to their families that they left behind and how they are getting about without their dear departed loved ones. I feel guilty of not visiting or connecting with them since the death of their loved ones. A family of a ‘brother’ is also part of my family.

That doesn’t mean I am delusional or a romantic. I know perfectly well those people are dead, that another piece of my life has gone permanently missing and of course, that is the awful thing, isn’t it?

The woe in losing old friends is that there is that much less companionship, the particular easy familiarity with that certain person, the memories created together and that you can no longer say, “Remember when we…” and laugh or, sometimes, cry together. The loss of a friend is like that of a limb; time may heal the anguish of the wound, but the loss cannot be repaired. What remains are blurred photographs of them and my prayers that they be placed amongst the Righteous.

That’s gone now. There is never any point in trying to tell someone else about what happened back then. It is always something for which you had to be there. Sometimes I wonder when I am the only one left to recall those events, if they really happened.

Existential indulgence is what that is.

So I trudge forward, wading through the melancholy one more time knowing it will not be the last and that I am a little bit more alone in the world than I was a month ago.

One of the things that has always bothered me when loved ones die is that people almost always say, “I loved him so much.” “I have known him like a brother.” How can that be – past tense? I still love them all and they are still my brothers. That part never ends.

To the arwah- arwah Mohamad Yacob aka Mat Kayob, Mohamad Zakaria aka Mat Kutu, Khalid Abd Rahman, Abdul Wahid Tahir, Azlan ‘Lae’ Othman, Azman ‘ Schrun’ Mohammad, Rosli Jonoh, Wan ‘Ginjit’ Hashim Wan Hassan, Radhi Carrim, Dr Bob Hamidi Hashim, Mohd Shah Sharif aka Stout, Mohd Rafei Mahsor aka Pek, Azhar ‘Acha’ Salleh and Mohd Zaman Nordin, Suhaimi Sulaiman. May Allah bless your souls. Innalillahhiwaiinailaihirajiiun. Allahummarghfirlahu. Warhamhu waafihi waafuhanhu. (Verily, unto God do we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return). I missed you all and Insyallah, we’ll meet again in life in the Hereafter. I’ll see you all when I get there. Al- Fatihah.

I still miss those ‘brothers’ who are no longer with me but I find I am grateful for having known them. The gratitude has finally conquered the loss. It takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, and a day to love them, but it takes an entire lifetime to forget them. For now, the clock starts ticking to the final eventuality of life for the others.

I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared theirs while they were alive.

Lord Byron wrote in his Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:

“What is the worst of woes that wait on age?
What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow?
To view each loved one blotted from life’s page,
And be alone on earth, as I am now.”

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