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Archive for April, 2008

Dear All,

       Finally am able to update you that my mum is on the mend and hopefully will be discharged soon. She is able to eat a bland diet and shows no sign of internal bleeding. Her grouchiness meter has a high reading, a definite sign of getting better. She complains about everything now and after having seen her with tubes and needles stuck all over her tiny body, I am less irritated by it than I would normally be. That was a close call. To think that had I gone to work as normal that morning, she could very easily have bled to death alone. As such, I have resigned from my current very demanding job and am exploring ways to work from home. Actually I knew this day would come but I never expected it to be so soon. A new phase in my life is about to begin and strangely I am relieved.

Thank you for all your prayers and well wishes. When my mum is discharged and I am more home-based, I do hope to blog more. This blog and you lovely people have kept me in touch with many aspects of my life that I had long neglected. You guys rock!

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Mum in hospital

Dear Friends,

          I had to rush my mum to Emergency on Tuesday morning. She was later discovered to have bleeding ulcer in stomach (possibly due to taking painkillers on an empty stomach) and had lost much blood. Was admitted to ICU Wednesday evening and being closely monitored. Have improved much and on the mend. Popped back home for some sleep and shower. Will be taking care of her for awhile. Please make doa for her speedy recovery. Will keep you updated and blog more when I can.

Much love,

Tembam 

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I can’t recognise that person staring back at me when I look in the mirror these days! And to think that years ago when mourning my dad who died when I was taking my finals as a student in the US, I was so skinny that I was borderline aneroxic. But then, that was a long time ago. After giving birth to my children my weight did the flip flop to eventually lose the battle of the bulge altogether after I started driving instead of taking public transport. That and less walking, climbing stairs, running after packed buses, and generally less working up a sweat plus staying mostly at the desk pounding away on the keyboard. Back in those skinny days I was always confident I could keep my waist bulging tendencies at bay but my recent trip to the tailor with the lovely batiks I bought in Kelantan proved I am turning into a human pear. Aaarrrrggghhhhh!!!

Now with so much happening in the virtual world, I find myself either blogging, Facebooking or YouTubing in my spare time while the bottom half of the human pear expands into Packham dimensions. I blame my former skinniness for giving me this invincible self-image that I am really a skinny person and that fat lady ain’t me, no way!! Half-hearted attempts to go for brisk walks to breathe in the fresh morning air at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa coincided with the haze and gave me irritated lungs that nearly led to asthma. More reaons not to exercise I guess. I am thinking of  buying some exercise machine like a treadmill or one of those stationary bicycles to get me to sweat indoors but loads of people have advised that eventually these good intentions will be a reminder of what might have been. Eat less you say? What else is there to do after all that blogging, FaceBooking and YouTubing? Hey, we gotta eat and if you love those cooking programmes on the Net, there’s a whole lot of great food to choose from. Okay compromise, lets eat healthy! You gotta be kidding? Do you know how expensive healthy food is? Hhhhmmm….maybe I should start fasting more often. Now there’s a thought! I turned 50 recently and health problems related to “no lifers” addicted to cyberspace are no longer virtual as these are now reality for me and I really do need to get fit again. Maybe I should join a gym so I get to oggle some sweaty guys while melting away the fat and peeling off the pounds? I wish! While I ponder what to do, YouTube has given me inspiration with this weight loss challenge winner! Do we have any weigth loss support groups in Kuala Lumpur? 

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My own little brother sent me the link to the blog simply entitled “Yusof Family”, the official blog of Sufiah Yusof’s heartbroken family. I visited this blog ( http://hyusof.com/ ) managed by younger brother Iskander and was intrigued. The blog showed family photos of a normal family growing up in a normal way doing the normal, mundane, everyday family activities. In the blog, Iskander writes:

…most of the news in the mainstream press regarding the Yusof family and Sufiah’s childhood is inaccurate, because the editors tend to filter everything we say even when we do agree to do interviews.

I am among the guilty for thinking Sufiah had an abnormal childhood at the hands of ambitious parents and I stand humbly corrected. The family pictures of the children with their mother (none with their father), the heartfelt message from a son trying so desperately hard to shield his beloved mother and family from the pain wreaked in the aftermath of Sufiah’s new found freedom. What price a Gucci clutch and dress Sufiah?

My sincere apologies to Puan Halimahton, Iskander, Abraham, Aisha and Zuleikha for believing the media reports of Sufiah’s purportedly unhappy childhood. May your estranged sister return to Allah and her anxious family soon. Amin!

 

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Mother’s and what constitutes good mothering have come into focus lately in the UK following the highly publicised cases of Shannon Matthews and Sufiah Yusof. In Shannon’s case, the nine-year old went missing for more than three weeks and was recovered safe after a massive search. This led to questions about the living arrangements of her mother Karen Matthews as well as the home environment that Shannon grew up in while police investigation now leads to suspicion of involvement of her stepfather. As her mother is purportedly unmarried, I am wondering why he is referred to as her stepfather? Ah well, whatever? To add another grim twist, there are reports that say her mother has gone into hiding as there have been death threats following media reports that the entire kidnap may have been a “stunt for cash“? Omigosh, I just don’t understand all this????

And then there is another mother who is just so glad to know her 23-year-old daughter is still alive that she struggles to come to terms with the situation that has pushed her beloved child into the limelight yet once again and this time no one is rejoicing. I read this story on her mother’s angusih in the Daily Mail online and I hope Sufiah is hearing her mother’s call as I can’t imagine how horrible her anguish must be!

Until a week ago, her instinct was always the same: any time she was away from home, Halimahton Yusof would scan the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of her daughter’s face. “I always looked for her. For the past few years I didn’t even know whether she was alive,” she says, her eyes moist with tears. “Every time there was a story on the news about an accident, or a death, I feared the worst. I just wanted to know she was alive.”

No matter what anyone says about the choices Sufiah made in her life, this is a broken family! While this is nothing new in todays fragmented society, the family must live their lives under the full glare of the media with no way out for private atonement, making amends, reconcialition and healing. Can public interest in the sordid details of her daughter’s current lifestyle protect her daughter from the fate that awaits her should she re-emerge to be with her family? As a mother of a soon to be 22-year-old daughter myself, my heart goes out to Halimahton whose love, as any mother should, is unconditional. To the world she is a fallen genius turned hooker who will help sell bloghits, newspapers and TV news stories but to her mother, she is her baby. And all Sufiah and her mother needs is to be a family again.

“I was shaking when I found out what had become of her,” she says in her first interview since her daughter’s lifestyle was exposed. “No mother expects that, and part of me is haunted by the notion we had driven her to that. “I have no idea what is going on in her mind, but I refuse to judge her and I want her to know my door is always open, that I am here for her. “We have been through so much, but I have to believe that at some point in the future we can become a family again.”

My point here? I just wonder what being a mother means in this day and age? When does the choices a mother makes guarrantees perfection? As a single mother myself, I opted for a divorce due to irreconcileable differences in an arranged marriage that failed. It was an option made for the sake of my children as my personal unhappiness had impacted greatly on their well-being. Had I made the right choice? I know I did and now that my son and daughter are older, they both agree that it was the right decision. Since my divorce, my children have been my foremost priority as I fiercely protect them from any intrusion into their lives that would upset them. It was not an easy battle to gain custody for them in court and it was a battle that only I alone could fight. Don’t go looking for sympathy and never bother to expect anyone to understand the reasons nor to expect respect for the all feared “janda” status. It has not been easy having to bring up children without the support of a husband but it is not nearly as difficult as watching yourself and your children slowly dying in a living hell. Let me tell you that public condemnation is far easier to get than a helping hand. Support from my family and strength of faith in Allah is what helped me through the turmoils and travails of single-motherhood. What I feel for Sufiah and Halimahton is sympathy as a woman and empathy as a mother who loves her children no matter what. I would give my life for my children and I send both Sufiah and Halimahton my prayers. May Allah giuide you both to the right path.     

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019suflahyusofdm_228x279.jpgWhen I read the recent story of Sufiah Yusof, I could not help but recall another lovely little girl named Sophia who was the daughter of former NST Crime Editor Sabry Shariff. I remember in the year that Sufiah and her family visited Malaysia (in 1997 I think) and the newspapers were awash with stories about this child math prodigy, there was another little girl of about 11 who visited the NST office with her father. If anyone still remembers Sabry, in his younger days he was one of the heartstoppingly gorgeous crime reporter who had women, even magistrates, literally swooning at the sight of him. I’d say he was the closest to a media “Idol” at the time. Last I heard he was in Malaysia Airlines. Anyway, his daughter Sophia had inherited her fathers good looks and was such an adorable child. Trying to strike up a conversation with her, I asked what she would like to be when she grew up? Would she want to be like Sufiah and go to study in Oxford? I was so gratified when the solemn little Sophia smiled shyly and nodded her head in full agreement. I can never forget that rosy cheeked little girl with the most beautiful eyes. She never did follow in Sufiah’s footsteps because a few years later I heard little Sophia died after an asthma attack. The fleeting smile of a sweet little girl who will never achieve her dreams now lie buried in my heart. But what happened to the other little girl?

Sufiah Yusof suffered for being beyond ordinary. Had she not shot to fame for her unusual abilities could she have led a more normal life? Would her parents not have forced her to study beyond endurance? Would she have enjoyed life being an average child and been far happier being less of a genius? Her rise to fame in those early days was used shamelessly by the media and the politicians alike to sell the “Malaysia Boleh” feel good factor. We touted her, we offered her scholarships to Oxford, we pushed her into the limelight despite the fact she was just a child and we destroyed her. We robbed her of her childhood, we denied her the privacy, deprived her of being ordinary and never allowed her to fail. What we did was push her to the brink and we need to take responsibility for what she has become now.

The media behaves like a pack of vultures feeding on dead carcass when people they put so high up on a pedestal, to sell more newspapers and airtime, fall to the ground. The media is relentless in flailing them for being human, as though the media needs to punish them for daring to be beyond ordinary. Look at how badly they treated fallen angels like Princess Diana, Britney Spears, and now Sufiah. To me Sufiah is on a self-destructive mode. Never having been allowed to learn about life the “normal” way, she pushes the limits of everything, even of decency. Who is she harming in these exploits as Shilpa Lee? Most certainly it is her disembodied self!!!

 It is not her morality I question but her ability to find anything about herself that she can love and want to treasure. She obviously cares nothing for the brilliance that she has been blessed with. Indeed, being a success would be giving too much credit to the father she obviously loathes. What she needs now is to know that she is loved for herself. Her body is but a temporary container for her soul. No matter who she has allowed to defile that body, it is her soul that is crying out for help. To think that I had praised little Sophia for wanting to be like Sufiah? Now both little girls are lost to us forever.  Maybe we can help save Sufiah’s soul before it is too late! We need to repair the damage we did her!       

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