Almarhumah Faizah Ishak


How I wish Faizah was able to be with us in the picture.

"What are you reading, Faizah?" I asked Faizah as I walked to her in the prep room. She showed me the page and I nodded. I took out my book after I took my seat beside her. I looked around and saw that all of our classmates were engrossed studying quietly in the prep room.  SPM was a week ahead. We could not afford to waste time talking and making jokes like we used to a few months before.  I glanced at Faizah again as she nudged my arm and pointed to my book using her mouth. "Read Chapter 5, page 55", Faizah said. I smirked and quickly turned the page. We were supposed to read and discuss the topic so we could understand and remember better.

To me Faizah was gifted. She didn't know that she was gifted until I pointed it out to her. At first, my friends and I thought Faizah was selfish as she kept her predictions to herself every time we had to sit for examinations. Later we learned that Faizah did not realise her intuition to focus on certain chapters before the examinations Faizah has the capability to make precise predictions of which topics were going to be asked in the examination papers. I guessed I was lucky for being her study buddy. 

After SPM in 1985, we kept in touch by writing to each other since Faizah lived with her parents in Sekinchan and I lived in Shah Alam.  We wrote to each other once a while. We would exchange opinions about many things including our plans for the future. We would also remind each other to do the extra prayers and fasting on Mondays and Thursdays.

Faizah did her degree in UTM Skudai and I went to USA. Faizah studied mathematics (if I am not mistaken) and I studied TESL. Once in a few months, we would still write to each other.

After graduation, both of us became a teacher. She taught in Sekolah Seri Puteri, Jalan Kolam Air, Kuala Lumpur, while I taught in Sekolah Tengku Ampuan Rahimah, Klang. Once in a while we would call each other using land line as owning a mobile phone was a luxury during those years. I got married first and when I was too busy with children, family and work, we did not keep in touch that often. When she got married and have children, the gap was even wider. 

One day,  I think in 1995  I received text messages from her. By then, she had moved to Kelantan, her husband's hometown. At the end of our chat, she asked for my address after she asked for my permission to write to me as we used to before. I gave her my address and week after week I waited for her letter to come until I had completely forgotten about the letter I was supposed to receive from her. 

A year after that, KIK (Kolej Islam Klang- our alma mater) had organised a get together for alumni. I attended the reunion and I got to meet a handful of my batch, junior and senior girls. I knew in my heart that Faizah wouldn't be able to attend it since she lived in Kelantan. My friends and I talked about her and wished many of our friends would be there including her. 

Later that day, once I got home, I decided to give Faizah a call. I wanted to let her know how much we missed her and wished for her presence. To my surprise, I heard a male voice at the end of the line answering my call. I was informed by the guy (her husband) that Faizah had passed away a week before due to breast cancer. I was dumbfounded and refused to believe what I heard. Her husband told me that Faizah had always wanted to keep her illness a secret. She kept everything to herself. Tears rolled down my cheeks once the news hit me deep.  We were just talked about her during the reunion and we never thought she had left us without saying good bye. 

How I wished I have called Faizah earlier and not waiting for her letter.  How I wished I could visit and console her during her sufferings.  She left four children who were still at their tender age. I took several weeks to overcome the sadness in my heart. I kept thinking of her and how I wished I would call her earlier.

I pray that Allah will place her among the righteous. All the memories with her remain in my mind till now. She is gone, yes, but the memory lives on until the day I die. 

My dear friend, Faizah binti Ishak, please look for me in the hereafter.

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