Friday, May 29, 2015

The Curse Of Living Longer

Indonesian poet Chairil Anwar says in one of his poems ("Aku"/"I"),"I want to live for one thousand years..." He definitely did not know that as time goes by, health problems will knock on your door.

Take example of M&D.

D has been battling asthma and other illnesses throughout his life. Last year he underwent an operation for his hernia. This year, his doctor told him to inject insulin to treat his diabetes. That's the physical problems. But there is also another problem

While D is a humorous man and always attract the crowd, he is actually a private and melancholic person. He only had four-five friends as his confidantes, all of them were his high school friends. Whenever they met, I could see D's eyes lit up. They would speak in Sundanese and laughed like little boys. They really got his jokes, emotions, and points of view on life.

Sadly, all of them have passed away, mostly due to stroke.

It was not easy for D to grasp the reality at first. His friends had been the healthy and sporty types, while D was the skinny one. D has always thought that he'd die first.

When the last friend died, he would sit in the living room and had this 100-yard stare. Sometimes he would hold a book in his hands, but he did not really read it. It was painful to see longing that would not be fulfilled.

M told D to find new friends, make new circle of friends. After his health recovery, he has been going to the mosque on almost every prayer time. Now he has friends from the mosque. Most of the new friends are in their 70s. The friendship made when you are in the 70s is different than the one made in the teenage and 20s. But at least he now has new friends.

M is healthy physically. But her hearing has been deteriorating. Sometimes we called her, but she did not hear us. Sometimes she would jump in surprise when she saw me, although I've been calling her before showing up in front of her.

Hearing loss is a genetic thing in my maternal family. My maternal grandparents lost their hearing ability in their mid 40s. Two of M's big brothers are now using hearing aids. The dear uncle who used to chat with me now stayed silent when I came to visit. When I asked M whether Uncle Dayat was ill, she told me,"He is not ill. But for him, the world is dead calm now."

Sometimes, when M was absorbed in her work, whether cooking or sewing, I would look at her and wondered how much time I had until she lost her hearing.

What happened to M&D is relatively mild compared to the health problems my friends' parents face. But still, whenever I look/remember them, I can't help praying: Oh, The Time Owner, please be gentle with me.

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