Friday, June 11, 2004

okay here goes

Mood: *phew* Playing: the low hum of office conversation

*cracks knuckles, rolls up sleeves*

So yesterday I did everything I said i was gonna do, except that my sister called me up at around 8 to tell me she can't pick up my kids and ask me if i could send them to her house myself instead. So the kids got to get out of school real early (11:00 am!) and I had to zig zag my way across PJ district coz I had to pick them up from one end of PJ (Kelana Jaya) send them across the other side of PJ (Damansara) then drive my way back to this end and head to Glenmarie (Shah Alam, which is another district altogether) where I had a lunch date with Pn Mariam.
And what a lunch it was! Shushi, canapes, crab salad, some seafood appetizer served in ceramic spoons, seafood spagetti, roast beef in black pepper sauce.. suffice to say it was enough to add salt to SyntheticFaith's 50-50 chicken wound.
And the dessert table.. um um um.. i won't even go there.
Well Pn Mariam is paying me peanuts for my emceeing services, so she might as well feed me and feed me well.. (her words, not mine).

okay i'll spare you the harrowing details of my rush home to shower, pray and catch the bus and run-walk back home to take the camera I had left behind and run-walk to the bustop again while thinking of 'Plan B: If I miss the bus'.

I reached KLCC, a few minutes away from my husband's office at 3:45, and the function is at 4pm. We still need to drive there. I called my husband and hurriedly ask him to come down NOW and drive his car out and ..
wasteful details.
I got there late, 4:15 because everybody in the whole of malaysia decided to come out driving that day and people started flouting traffic laws and traffic lights and every driver is an idjit except for us.

We drove up to carcosa and as we reach the gate i saw the guard and i started fumbling for the invitation card and took a deep breath to tell him "we have invitations!" and as he lifted his hand, I realized he was giving us a salute! Taufik and I giggled. I wondered if he would still do that if we were in my beat up Wira instead of Taufik's Volvo S70

Carcosa is super grand. There was a guy in a black suit (butler?) to open doors and valet parking and all and the vegetation surounding the place was lush and the buildings were really colonial.. Even though I knew the red carpet on the marble steps were for the former Prime Minister I couldn't help but pretend it was for me.. hee hee

So I followed the signs and went up to the registration table and saw En. Kamaruddin and the Indian lady I always meet in MSRI but I never catch her name..
I signed the guestbook and Pn Fatimah Harun (a good friend of DrAlijah) came up and introduced herself and said "Oh Tengku Elisa.. you're one of the speakers later.. I'm gonna be last coz my speech is 8 pages long!!" as I fingered the 8 index cards on which I wrote my speech on, huge letters, double spaced.
We were ushered towards the function room, which was filled with people already and the only available seats were on the last row. Thank God, the Tuns have not arrived yet.. or else it would've have been really embarassing to be there AFTER the guest of honour.
We had to wait for almost another hour before the Tuns arrived. Yasmin Yussof was the emcee and I made a mental note to go say Hi to her after the function and mention to her we had exchanged comments on each other's ryze guestbook .. though I don't expect her to remember..
anyways, there was a speech from the director of MSRI, who mentioned:
"Dr Alijah told her doctors she didnt need vitamins. Her vitamins were
vitamin C for Cigarrettes
C2 for Coffee
C3 for Chocolates
and G for Grapes"
laughter all around
Everybody's voice was like breaking.. it was quite an emotional event.

Okay so , my speech. I was slotted in the 'Remembering Alijah' section, where friends and acquaintences get to share their memories of Dr. Alijah Gordon. The guy before me was Dr. Kamal Ahmad (i hope I got his name right), who had worked with Dr Alijah for years and years. He didnt write anything down. He was poised.
Came my turn. Yasmin mispronounced my name (though I don't blame her, coz I think they mis-spelt my name) and I walked up to the rostrum. And said the usual opening stuff "Yang berbahagia bla bla bla" and then i thought oh my god the former prime minister is looking at me and my voice sounded so different like i was croaking instead of talking and once i tried to hold my index card with one hand and it shook terribly, I had to go back to holding it with my two hands and I was so concious about my lips and how it was trembling and how as hard as I try to turn the corners up to smile, at points it was pushing it self down ...
anyways, this was what I said:

Yang berbahagia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Yang berbahagia Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Chairman of MSRI Mr SM Mohd Idris, Director of Beit Atfal As-Samoud Mr. Kassim Aina, Board of Governors, fellow sponsors and esteemed guests.

It's amazing how impressed you are when you meet someone in person compared to when you just read about them on paper.
The first time Datuk Dr. Alijah gordon called me up, it was to scold me for being late on my sponsorship payment. (I heard laughter of recognition from around the room, which made me glad )
I got an earful on moral responsibilities that day. I couldn't help but imagine that she was a fierce, head-mistress-like kind of person.
When I personally went to send my cheque to MSRI, she insited that I come upstairs to see her.
To be honest, I was really scared!! (laughter again)
But I was suprised, to find a frail old woman sitting on her bed, holding letters from my daughter, Israa Saada.
I had to resiste the urge to hug her. ( my throat began to hurt from the emotion) She was *SO* friendly. I felt a bit guilty for thinking that she could be nasty.
But most of all, I felt humbled, because even though she was frail and old and sickly, she was doing her very best to change the world. While I, who was relatively younger and healthier, could only write cheques and letters.
(I started to croak and shake)
But, if there's one thing that Dr. Alijah and my daughter Israa has taught me, it's that, even with so little, i *am* doing something to change the world, for at least ONE person. We, the sponsors, have not only provided food and education to a child, we have provided love & hope to the future generation of palestinians.
(the silence was deafening, and I started having doubts.. maybe I shouldnt say the next thing.. coz it might sound too proud, too boastful)
Were you suprised at how easy it was? I was suprised at how litlle sacrifice it took from me.
Since then, I now volunteer 2 hours of my time, once a month at the mosque in front of my house, to read english storybooks to the children in my community.
It's not that much, but I'm hoping that if I could instill even 1% of Dr. Alijah's spirit, generosity, tenacity and perserverence in me or my children. I wcould be proud of myself.
I see Yasmin nod
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the Malaysian Sociological Research Institute and Beit Atfal As-Samoud, for being so patient with us sponsors and for keeping the sponsorship programme going, in the past, present and in the future.
May Allah reward your efforts in kind.
Assalamualaikum and Thankyou.
(polite applause)

When I got back to my seat, I asked Taufik if he took any pictures, and he said it was too far away, and the journalist occupied the aisles. I wanted to be angry, but I decided to let it go.
I didnt need pictures. I have modblog to immortalize it.
All the people who spoke after me had known Dr.Alijah personally for at least 10 years and was really close to her. I was the only one who's the fleeting errant acquaintance.

oooppss.. quitting time. I've gotta go pick up the kids.
More stuff on Monday.
and NO, I did not get to take a picture with Dr.M!! There were too many people surrounding him and I was too shy. He did smile at me when he walked pass me though and I said 'Hi' and I heard taufik say 'Hi' and we laughed about it later coz Taufik is not really a staunch supporter of Dr.M and I congratulated him for restraining himself from strangling Dr. M... heh heh
just kidding.. Taufik wouldnt actually strangle an old man..
It would've been nice if I *did* take a picture with him though.. coz he *is* a legendary leader afterall.. I mean i didnt agree with some of the things he's said or done in his life, but, he did do some great things and I respect him a lot for that.
*sigh* oh well...

oh yes, my kids! gotta go!

ciao for now! have a good weekend y'all!

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