Memories with Luqmah

Humam Maulana

I would like to  tell about a story that I will never forget, because these are  about emotions, caring feelings, and regret which always come after everything too late.

I know Luqmah as an ordinary person, fond of helping others, active and doesn’t talk much, that’s my judgment of her character, I don’t know about what the others say. Often, I hear about her being sick, but every time I call her, she says that it’s only flu and ordinary cough, and I heard before that she has a lung disease, so I advised her to see Om Jozi, who we know as the only good Indonesian acupuncture doctor among Indonesians in Cairo, after a few days, I called her again, and told me that she went to see him, and told Om Jozi that it was flu and unserious cough, that’s why Om Jozi only ordered her to lessen her activities and to drink honey with water. “Why didn’t you tell her about your real illness, lung disease and asthma?” I asked her, once again she answered that she got better, but only the coughing worsened after she drank the honey. I suggested her to go see a doctor.

Until one day, I heard Luqmah sick, so I hurried to her place, she was pale and seemed very weak, and she said that she had diarrhea and stomachache for a month. Oh Allah… Diarrhea for a month? Her room-mates told me that the doctor was bullshit; he gave medicine according to the patient’s complaint. She said that she’s on acupuncture meditation with a Chinese who lives at Yusuf Abbas. I dropped her tat Yusuf Abbas, Luqmah was accompanied by Afi and Ria, and I took them again, it was like that for seven days long.

And there was another memory which I won’t forget too, because we couldn’t communicate with the doctor, so we used sign language, smile to each other, and nod our head, there were only two words which we understood, so Luqmah repeated those two words when by the time the needles were injected, when it was injected to both her hands she said “cah” which means “it hurts”, injected to her stomach she said “cah”, that day was full of  “cah” and another word, “holah…holah” which means “enough”, and we laughed louder once Luqmah said “cah koh!” (She meant “sake’ koh!” in Madureese).

Forgive us Luqmah, actually that day we felt your pain, but we couldn’t resist laughing. That doctor was so patient treating Luqmah.

Approximately after ten days, Ria said that Luqmah couldn’t walk and wanted to go back to Indonesia. We were hardly shocked. What? Didn’t they say she was alright?

I was so shocked by the time I arrived at her place, she was so weak, her face was rather yellow and a bit bruised, it was far compared to Luqmah several weeks ago, “I can’t stand it mbak…” I was so sad to hear it, it was unusual of Luqmah, usually she’s tough in the eyes of others, at least in front of me. She always says that it hurts every time her legs and hands were lifted to change her clothes. Oh Allah, this has gone too bad… then we decided to bring her to Indonesian Embassy’s doctor.

With Akbar, Evi and Erma, we carried her with the bawwab (gate/apartment keeper) downstairs, they said that the bawwab carried her to stop a taxi yesterday, because Luqmah tried to go to the exam on the first day, Luqmah, your spirit is unbelievable.

After arriving at the Embassy, the doctor checked blood pressure and asked the history of her illness, he ordered us to bring her Qoshr Al-Ayni hospital, it was a good and complete. We took her to the thawari’ (Emergency Unit). The doctor came and asked about the illness, we said that all her body hurts and had diarrhea for a month before, herr blood was taken, it was a little problem looking for it, at last  he got some, even though it seemed wasn’t as expected.

Then took her upstairs

“We won’t stay the night here, will we? I want to go home, I forgot to bring money,” she asked.

“Don’t think too much Luqmah, your health is the most important for now, we will find money later.” Her stomach was checked, because I couldn’t understand what was shown by the computer, I asked “fi hagah dangerous ya duktur?” (Is there something dangerous doc?) “No, it’s just the liver, it’s bigger than usual” he answered, and asked how old Luqmah was,

“21” I answered.

Musy ma’ul” (impossible), only this young and already has such illness.”

“Don’t you eat Luqmah?” she didn’t answer, because she was in too much pain while the USG device is pushed on her stomach.

After that she was brought to the x-ray chamber, I accompanied her with one of the nurses who was fortunately kind, her name was Iman. Because all her top clothes must be taken off, me and Iman took off her heavy clothes one by one, the weather was so cold by that time. Her back skin peeled off, and her back bone was clearly seen. Oh Allah….

After that she was taken to the patient’s room on the 8th floor.

I and the others left the hospital except Erma and Rahman who had the turn to stay there on Wednesday, 10th of January 2007.

Thursday 11th of January 2007, after Maghrib I called Evi, she said that Luqmah was fasting for the next check up. And there were a lot of Madureese students at the hospital whether of Fosgama or Ikbal, so I told Evi, “How nice if they recite Yaasin to pray for Luqmah…?” but because it was in the hospital or some other reasons, they didn’t recite Yaasin.

Friday Morning 12th of January 2007, I called Evi again; I said that Insya’Allah, I’ll be at the hospital in the afternoon.

Approximately 10 o’clock, I got an SMS from my husband, informing me about Luqmah being taken to ICU (Intensive Care Unit), Allah … I begin to worry, can Luqmah be saved? I felt like I wanted to fly and see Luqmah, but my husband said it was in vain, because it’s forbidden to get into the ICU.

After half an hour, Azhar called and said that the visit time was only an hour long, between 4 to 5 o’clock.

At 10 past 4, I, my husband and my kids, arrived at the hospital. I saw sad faces on talaat, Syukur, Ayat and Jamil’s faces at that time. I directly entered the ICU chamber, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, she looked so weak, I shaked her hands, and called her name, “Luqmah…? this is mbak Nur, can you hear me?” the only thing she said was, “mbak…” she was too weak that she didn’t have the power to speak.

“Where are her parents? They must see her,” the Doctor said.

I told him that they are at Indonesia.

And there was a male nurse beside him who asked

“Is Indonesia far from here? How many hours from here?”

I answered it is 12 hours far from here, but actually it’s more than that.

“Oh, it’s far, is that by plane?” he asked again, but I didn’t answer.

Then the doctor asked “Who is responsible of her?”

I said that I was responsible.

Then I asked “Dangerous duktur?”

He answered, “Lil asaf dangerous…” (Unfortunately, dangerous…)

“The problem is only in the liver?” I asked.

“Everything, her liver, her body, her respiration system and her blood… how old is she?” he asked again.

“21” I said.

“How come you don’t know that she’s been seriously sick for two months?”

“Because ahyanan (sometimes) she’s sick, and ahyanan she’s fine.”

And then the nurse beside him asked “where does she live? How come you don’t know? How long did she stay here?”

“We don’t live together, and she’s been in Egypt for two years” I answered.

I dragged my husband’s arms close to Luqmah. He shakes his head,” We were too late to bring her” my husband said in despair, there was a deep regret in his statement.

The visiting hour ended, I put my face close to Luqmah’s while holding her forehead “I’ll go home now, I’ll be here tomorrow, just pray a lot and everything will be okay.” Luqmah didn’t move and there was no response. Then I went home.

Saturday morning there was a phone call from Qashr Al-Aini hospital, because I didn’t understand what they were saying, I hurried to the room to wake my husband up, my heart was beating so fast.

I imagined the worst, my husband picked up the phone,

Alo… Tawaffat? Innanlillahi wa inna ilaihi roji’un…” (Hello… She died?), I sat with no energy, my tears were flowing, didn’t know what to do…

I called Ria’s house informing her death, cries were suddenly heard.

Farewell Luqmah… we took you to your grave at Dua’iah after we prayed for you at sayidah Zainab mosque. You died in the middle of seeking knowledge, actually your way was long, but this is the best for you, may Allah consider you as a Syahid. Amiin.

Ibnu Rumi Street, Hay Sabi’, Cairo, Egypt, 18th of January 2007

Dedicated for all Fosgama (Forum Studi Keluarga Madura) students and Ikbal in Cairo Translated from my Mother’s short story

Humam Maulana, student class V TMI from Sumenep.

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