Tajul, Iesta, Rits, Leeya, Shahriman and I once roofed together – in the early nineties – at MRSM Kuala Terengganu. We were kids back then; we are still kids these days to a certain extent. We played pranks on each other, sang silly songs on top of our lungs, ate the same tasteless food at the dining hall and stood fidgeting during the assembly at Ibnu Sina Hall. Our only worry back then was the SPM which was looming near. Other than that, everything was nothing but a bliss.
Life interfered and we grew up. But last night Leeya made an exceptional effort (yet again!) to gather us all despite the impossibly busy schedules everyone has. Leeya – with the mildest disposition and perhaps the most soft spoken among us all – cooked up a storm at her kitchen to feed the rest of us together with our spouses and children. We gathered at Leeya’s house in the affluent neighborhood of Bandar Utama shortly after 8 pm.
Rits arrived first with her two boys and husband. If I could say something about Harita, fondly known as “Rits” among friends, it would be that she has a sense of wisdom which rivals that of Dalai Lama. She is philosophical, fair, sensible and of course, fearless. She speaks her mind without fear or favour; I am sure her husband Razman would be nodding with his approval right now. Rits places me right where I belong every time I pick up the phone to whine about silly things to her. Most of all, she keeps lecturing me to stop wasting hard-earned money on shallow stuffs like designer handbags, shoes or the technology. Between you and me, she gets on my nerve from time to time!
Iesta – the silently appointed Tok Penghulu without his consent – is probably the smartest than any of us put together. An A- List student who was a teachers’ pet all along. He can sing too – which explains why he left the financial world to join Media Prima in pursuit of his passion. Iesta has uncanny ability to lead and control big crowd even though I will never say the same to his face. Being a true Taurean by birth, Iesta can get emotional at times. But he has a gorgeous wife, Sue, who rolls her eyes behind his back every time Iesta gets into his element.
Ainul Shahriman blushes on everything he sights on. He is translucently fair for a man. Sorry my friend – but everyone agrees what? A mathematical wizard, Shahriman coached me add math in school. I am quite sure I would gloriously fail the subject without his help. Shahriman works at the illustrious Scomi Group Berhad. His spouse, Majmin, today left for Singapore for some serious shopping.
And Tajul Farhan, I am not quite sure how to begin describing Tajul. He was and still is a bear to our eyes. He is extremely huggable. His resonant laugh echoes our gatherings. He played rugby before; which is rightly so since his presence intimidates even the fiercest of the opponent. Tajul is a jovial and comical person since he was a boy – a trait of which he carries on until today.
But fate is a dangerous thing. Tajul was recently diagnosed with lymphoma leukemia. When I heard the news I burst out crying for a good fifteen minutes before I managed to calm myself down and called him. Soon thereafter, phone calls started flying among old friends. Everybody called Iesta to find out more about Tajul as I was told.
Last night was the first time I met Tajul since the disease dawned on him. But Tajul never moans let alone feels sorry for himself. Tajul had us in stitches as he walked us along his journey to fight the cancer. He made chemotherapy sounds like a trip to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor. He painted his experience going through the MRI machine like watching a stand-up comic show. He made a complete fool out of his doctors and nurses. I repeatedly asked him “saket tak Jol?” to which he dismissed my inane questioning with a mere “taakkk lahhh…” The only indication that he suffers from cancer is his clean-shaven head. Other than that, Tajul exudes health and happiness.
He ate his food with gusto and he devoured his bowl of delicious banana royal pudding within minutes. We laughed like intoxicated cows right there at Leeya’s living room. But today Tajul is at SJMC undergoing his 5th chemotherapy treatment. As Jefree subtly reminded me on our way home, “kat luar jer dia macam tuh, dalam dia kita tak tahu”. My heart shattered into a milion pieces for Tajul.
I end this post with a prayer to God to heal Tajul forever from the grip of cancer. I hope you, my readers and friends, would do the same too. And I think I speak for everyone when I say, “We love you Bear-Bear.”
We are just a phone call away – as always.
[Picture above is of Tajul at a football field stolen from our MRSM friend, Cik Jee, without her permission].