A few weeks after the Australian trip, Dr. Kadir Osman called me to his room and told me that there was a plan to transfer me to Melaka. He said that he had nothing against the transfer plan, as it would be good for my career.
I was excited with the news. So were my family members, they too were looking forward to our transfer to the historical state of Melaka.
Not very long after that I received my transfer letter. I was given the honor to be the Melaka State Veterinary Director, replacing my classmate, Dr. Abu Hassan Mohamad Ali, who was transferred to the Dairy unit in the headquarters.
In Melaka we rented a newly completed single-storey semi-detached house in Taman Bahagia, Bukit Baru. It was only RM350.00 per month. It was about ten minutes drive from my office that was situated in Ayer Keroh.
It was in Melaka too that another son of ours, Syafiq, returned to us after spending seven years living with my parents-in laws. Diyana and Syafiq went to school in Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Beruang.
I had chosen that school just for the simple reason that it was situated on my way to the office. Others preferred the more popular Sekolah Kebangsaan Dato’ Palembang, but I did not. It was just far too crowded for my liking.
Both of them, Diyana especially, adapted well to the school and soon were making many friends.Among Diyana friends whom I could still remember were Nicolette, Mei Yean, Haniza, Anas, Syafiq, Hizami.
Diyana was so close with a few of them, especially Nicolette, that their friendship remained strong until now. She would always try to meet them whenever we were in Melaka. I hope that their friendship will remain forever, right into their adulthood, and may one day they meet again in the institute of higher learning.
Syazwan was also very happy growing up in Melaka. He too had many friends. He was also very helpful to the family especially for buying nasi lemak in a food stall not far from our house.
Once I could not help myself from laughing when I overheard him ordering nasi lemak from the stall: “Five nasi lemak with separate gravy please!”
He was very good in the details since very small. Like his late brother, he too was a very robust child, running here and there and climbing whatever interested him.
He even had a girlfriend then. They used to ride their bicycles together and shared the sugar cane juice.
Life as a government officer in Melaka was something else. Being a small state, most of us heads of departments and political figures knew each other well. The relationship was even closer in the state agricultural committee. The leading government agency under the agricultural committee, at least financially, was of course the Melaka Integrated Agricultural Development Project.
Its Director then was Salleh Suradi. Most of our developmental projects were funded by his agency. Whatever was said about the then Chief Minister of Melaka, he was still a dynamic leader and he had moved us all as a strong team in the successful running of the state.
Melaka had changed a lot under his leadership, from a sleepy hollow to a dynamic and vibrant industrialized state that was the envy of other larger and richer states.
From the livestock industry point of view, Melaka was the chief producer of fresh milk in the nation and it was an important poultry producing state too.
However, my family liked Melaka most because of its many good tourist destinations within an area. We did not have to travel far to visit all these places. The Bandar Hilir, which was famous for it’s A’Famosa castle, was our favorite weekend destination.
Syazwan just loved the hill, the fields and not to mention the bullock carts. I was especially attracted to the many seafood stalls around Serkam and Umbai where their grilled fish and nasi lemak were something that visitors to Melaka should not have missed.
My wife loved living in Melaka so much because here she found so many good friends, both in our neighborhood as well as my colleagues’ wives. Official functions and dinners were common events when we were in Melaka.
During such events, spouses were usually invited along. It was through such dinners that my wife befriended her closest friend, Suhaibah, the wife of Mr. Nawayai the Director of Melaka zoo. They were indeed very close friends until now.
In Melaka, I did not have much time to actually perform real veterinarian’s work. I was more in the administrative, consultative and public relation kind of works.
I was even appointed as a board member of a state agricultural company that was involved in a wide agricultural activities including cattle feedlotting. I used to give my expert opinion on matters pertaining to feedlotting.
Besides feedlotting, I was also deeply involved in sheep and goats production. I was impressed when youths in Melaka were so dedicated in sheep rearing and transform Melaka into an important sheep producing state.
From what I knew, these youths were also involved in marketing the sheep, and this explained why they were more successful compared to their counterparts in the other states.
My wife began to have more regular asthmatic attacks in Melaka. Her asthma would normally be exacerbated whenever she had colds and flu.
Once I was really in dilemma, caught in between two things - going to Sabah for a meeting or staying besides her and forgetting about the meeting.
The night before my departure to Sabah, she was having her asthmatic attacks. Her asthma continued to the morning that I was supposed to leave for Sabah. I did not know why, but I chose to go to Sabah. Perhaps I thought that her asthma would subside when the environmental temperature increased.
Just I was leaving the arrival hall at Kota Kinabalu airports, I heard my name being called via the public address system, asking me to report to the information counter. At the counter I saw a notice asking me to go home immediately as my wife was in the ICU. After telling my Sabah counterparts of my problem, I then took the next flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Reaching my house in Bukit Baru, I saw a big crowd gathering in my house. Both my parents and parents-in-law were there too. I then rushed to Melaka General hospital.
She was still in the intensive care unit. It was sad to see her lying unconscious like that. I held both her hands and whispered to her ears telling her how sorry I was for leaving her alone in the first place.
According to a doctor there, she was much better that when she was brought in and her condition was now stable. They also told me that they had to put her on the respirator machine, as her system was not functioning.
I was scolded for having left her alone in her condition. I had nearly lost her. An old Malay lady in the ward voiced her amazement at how close my wife was to Allah throughout her predicament. The word Allah was always in her mouth. That was why, she thought, she made it through her critical condition safe and sound. Thanks God for saving her.
It was my neighbor Dr. Baba who brought my wife to the hospital.Diyana was the real heroine behind all these. She was the one who organized everything when her mother was rushed to the hospital. She called both my parents, parents-in-law, and my office telling them what had happened to her mother.
She also called her teacher for help. She even cooked Maggie noodles for her little brother. I knew that she was very independent since she was very small, but I was so surprised to see her being so dependable in times of need.
Since that episode, I would never again leave her, for whatever reason, whenever she had, even the slightest, signs of asthma. On the positive side, that incident had made her more aware that it was important for her to always have her supply of Pulmicort and Bricanyl inhalers at hand.