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...|