Friday, 21 August 2015

And then there were three...

In April of 2010, I posted an entry where I introduced my brothers to the readers of this blog. The short entry, titled Four Brothers, included a photograph of the quartet of men whose maximum age difference is only six years apart, with yours truly being the eldest.

Only three of us remain today. On this day last week, the 3rd brother Azhar, left us... quite suddenly.

It was early morning of last Friday when I received a phone call informing us of his unexpected demise. Apparently, he had woken up that morning, feeling a bit under the weather. He had asked his elder son to accompany him to the clinic. Since there was a paramedic post at the next apartment block, the son suggested that they get the aid of an ambulance to go directly to a hospital. As they were walking towards the post, my brother collapsed and fell on the sidewalk, just a few yards short of the post. A paramedic on duty saw the incident and rushed to provide CPR assistance. My brother could not be revived. However, they still put him in the ambulance and took him to the nearest hospital, just to be sure. But it is God's will... I was to lose a brother. The death of the closest family member I have experienced thus far.

My brother did not have any history of serious medical problems, which is why his departure was very much unexpected. And because of this absence of medical record, the doctors at the hospital which first received his body would not sign off the death certificate. An autopsy had to be performed at the Singapore General Hospital to determine the actual cause of death. This meant that the burial ceremony could not be carried out as soon as we would have liked.

The post-mortem examination could only be carried on Saturday morning. This delay put additional stress on my sister-in-law, the widow. I also had a bit of trouble keeping my cool as some relatives were pressing us to secure the release of the body as soon as possible. Nonetheless, with the help of my two other brothers, we handled the situation as best we could by dividing tasks. One of my brothers arranged for the burial process with our local mosque committee while the other was stationed at the coroner's office to update us on the progress of the autopsy.

The autopsy was completed around 12.45pm. The official COD was listed as coronary atherosclerosis. In plain man's language it means that there were blockages to the arteries that supply blood to the heart. In other words, my brother died of a heart attack. He was only 49 years old.

The due process of the burial requirements proceeded immediately after the body was released from the coroner's office. My brother's body was brought back to his home in Choa Chu Kang where it was cleaned, shrouded and final prayers offered, before burial at the Pusara Abadi Muslim Cemetery at around 4 pm. Praise to Allah swt for the reasonably smooth process and the pleasant weather.

The most difficult part was actually the day earlier... how do I break the news to our mother? At that time (and even till today), she was warded at St. Luke's Hospital in Bukit Batok for physiotherapy treatment following her heart attack which happened in June. While the death had occurred in early morning, my two other brothers decided to wait for my arrival from JB in late afternoon for me to tell our mother the sad news. It is probably the gloomiest moment in my life to date. I could not imagine the sorrow going through her heart to be told that one of her offspring has departed ahead of her.

As I sit now and contemplate the recent conversations I had with my late brother, it becomes inevitable that certain ironic instances come to the surface. I'll share one such example.

Some time ago, my youngest brother (no. 4) created a Whatsapp group for the 4 siblings to facilitate the sharing of news and family updates. It is a convenient tool because we are located in three different countries (Singapore, Malaysia and the UK). However, the group has only three members because Brother No. 3 could not be added. At first we assumed that he was still using a normal mobile phone. When I met him in June at the time our mother was admitted to hospital, I saw that he actually used a smartphone. So I told him that we have a Whatsapp group for the brothers and it is a convenient way to communicate, citing the particular example of the present situation where our mum is in hospital. Why don't you install the app, I asked. His answer then, was quite surprising. I don't believe in social media, he said. I don't have Whatsapp or Facebook or all those other stuff. I am using this smartphone only because it is the cheapest phone on contract offered by the telephone company.

Indeed. I guess our Whatsapp group for brothers, which started with three members, is destined to remain at 3, at least for now.

Al-fatihah untuk allahyarham Azhar Bin Isma Yatim. Kembali ke rahmatullah pada pagi hari Jumaat, 14hb Ogos 2015M, bersamaan 29 Syawal 1436H. Meninggalkan seorang isteri, 2 orang anak perempuan dan 2 orang anak lelaki. Semuga Allah swt mengampuni dosa beliau dan menempatkan roh beliau di kalangan para soliheen.


Same photo from the April 2010 post. Allahyarham Azhar is seated right.
Final resting place...

11 comments:

sabre23t said...

Mmm ... I just had angioplasty last week just after an angina pain in upper abdomen a few days before. A year ago after a stress test ecg shows some heart anomaly I had an angiogram that shows my heart artery had 50% blockage. But angioplasty wasn't indicated then.

Anyway at our age I would suggest we do such screening stress test's yearly or other yearly to find such heart problem early if any.

Oldstock said...


Salam Sdra Sabri. I do hope you are feeling better now. Take good care of your health.

The annual screening test is good advice. The other one that I can offer is to have medical insurance cover or takaful.

Pat said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss, dear friend. There are no words I can speak, to ease your pain, but know that I am deeply saddened by this news. You are in my prayers.

Oldstock said...

Thanks Pat. While I still reflect on the times I spent with my brother, I cannot imagine what is going through my mom's mind at this moment.

mamasita said...

AsSalam Fadhil.

AlFatihah dah dibaca untuk arwah brother you.
Semoga rohnya diRahmati dan bersama golongan yang soleh dan beriman.
Ameen

Salam takziah pada semua yang dikasihinya, dan semua yang menyanyangi arwah.

Noordin MY said...

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rojiun. My sincere condolence to you and your extended family. I'm deeply saddened to hear this news. Looking at the picture posted, I can vividly remember your siblings when we were all young. Playing football in the park in front of your residence. Pergi mengaji at your home and many other memories. Of all your siblings, allahyarham is the one with few words. If my memory didn't fail me we share the same alma mater during our secondary school days. Semoga Allah SWT menempatkan allahyarham Azhar bersama-sama dengan golongan nabiyyin, siddiqin, syuhada' dan solihin.

Do convey salams to your mum. In sha allah akan mendoakan kesihatan untuk beliau.

JohorMali said...

Bro Fadhil,

Many years ago (when I touched 50), I have the habit of reading the orbituaries in the newspapers.

I am looking not at the deceased persons but the ages they died. I would then averaged the total age on that particular day .Say the average was 67, I would then tell myself, "hey, I still got 12 yrs more to go!"

Whether such is a ridiculous or morbid exercise, I do not know. But as years passed by ,many relatives, including my younger sister, and friends younger than me passed away, I began to resign to the fact that statistics are mere numbers.

Nothing can prolong or shorten one's lifespan except Allah the Almighty.

Last but not the least my condolence for your loss, may Allah bless all the rahmah to your late brother.

Oldstock said...

Salam mamasita,

Terima kasih atas doa dan ingatan. Ameen.

Oldstock said...

Salam Noordin MY,

Yes, remembering those days when we were growing up. Playing football in that tiny little field. Those were the days. Thank you for the doa.

BTW, my father mentioned that he meets your brother Rosli quite often during Friday prayers at Masjid Hajjah Fatimah. He was wondering if Rosli works around the area.

And one more thing. We need to have a catch-up session with old friends in Spore lah. I've promised this to Siew Fang a while back. When will you be free?

Oldstock said...

Salam Sdra JohorMali,

Yes indeed. Statistics are mere numbers. When the time comes, surprised or not, Allah swt has determined for it to be so.

Hope you are keeping well sir. Nice to see you dropping by here again.

3yearshousewife said...

Assalam Mr. Oldstock.
Salam takziah. Lambat baca entri jd lambat juga ucapan ini. Semoga roh Allahyarham ditempatkan bersama orang2 mukmin. Aamin.