Perhaps it was rather unfair of me to label the person I meant in the post titled “Grace” as being without grace.
The person I meant is a lady who goes by “Kak Ani”. I met Kak Ani during Ramadhan 2012, whilst performing umrah. She was very kind to me, offered to share the food she and her lovely daughter Jaja brought to the Masjidil Haram from their hotel for the breaking of fast every day. I could only contribute dates and packets of maa’moul, they made lovely fruit salads and cool desserts which we would hurriedly eat before the imam called out the takbiratul ihram for Maghrib prayers.
Kak Ani is a widow, with the elegance and cultured air of an Asian Ava Gardner. She owns businesses up and down the East Coast back in Malaysia, the beautiful country we both call home. She told me she’d come to perform umrah and stay for the entire month of Ramadhan every year, having no husband to worry about any longer and children grown enough to care for themselves.
I would always book a spot under a fan hanging from the soaring arched ceilings of the first floor of the Masjidil Haram, plant myself there from after Dhuhr and leave only after taraweeh for the day ended. Kak Ani and daughter favoured the same women’s area that I did so that was why we met every day. On the second last day of my stay in Makkah that searing July, Kak Ani gave me a book of du’as, various supplications for different situations. I still keep it to this day, referring to it from time to time.
On my last evening there, we somehow didn’t get to sit together. The spot under the fan that I had booked for that day was suddenly surrounded by a group of hefty ladies (believe me, gargantuan me is a size ‘M’ there, not the XXXXXXXXXL that I am here *rolls eyes*) of vague Middle Eastern origin. It was nearing the last 10 days of Ramadhan, the number of people coming into Makkah were increasing exponentially, it was difficult to even find standing room in the Masjidil Haram. I saw Kak Ani and Jaja wave at me from a spot quite far from where I was sitting. I debated whether to move and join them but I saw that they hardly had any space for me where they were, so with a regretful shake of my head and a smile I wordlessly declined their invitation.
That night I nearly fainted from heat stroke whilst standing in taraweeh. The afternoon’s 50-degree heat did a number on me. (Fasting in such conditions were a wonderful challenge! 🙂 ) I left the masjid after 8 raka’at because I didn’t much fancy the chances of anyone trying to carry me out of the mosque in case I fainted in trying to do 20 😛 The next day there was a mad rush to leave Makkah, I didn’t even have Kak Ani’s number to say goodbye.
Flashforward 2 years, whilst chatting with a friend from Tranung, she mentioned Kak Ani’s name I was like.. whoa Nelly.. I know that woman! To cut a long story short (it won’t be Kekwat if it ain’t long-winded), I got her number and sent her several long(ish) Whatsapp messages. I apologised for not joining them that evening when I declined their invitation and said I felt bad for not saying a proper goodbye.
All I got was *bunyi cengkerik* in return. Whatsapp’s Double Blue Ticks of Doom told me that she had read the messages.
Ah well. Maybe she doesn’t remember me. Perasan sangat akak ni memorable.