Remembering Adam Azfar

IT IS never easy for a son to bury his father. But when the situation is reversed, the pain can be far more excruciating.

Jimadie Shah Othman, 33, knows well this emotion. He recently lost his eldest son, Adam Azfar, who was only six, to brain tumour.

He suspected that something was not right last November when he saw that Adam was walking unsteadily. It was discovered that Adam had a 3.5cm tumour in his brain. As Adam was too young to have surgery and chemotherapy, the only medical solution was 30 sessions of radiotherapy.

“I was ignorant and thought Adam will be completely cured after the 30 sessions,” he says.

The doctor did not have the heart to tell the hopeful father that his son would not live long. But Jimadie did his research on the internet and learnt that people with his son’s illness had only six to seven months to live.

“After the doctor had confirmed what I learnt to be the truth, I broke down and cried,” he said. “Out of the blue, an African guy who was a patient in the hospital came and hugged me. I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. He could see that I was in pain and he just wanted to console me.”

Jimadie hid his sadness so he could be strong for his son. Adam’s health deteriorated to the point where he could not use his legs and hands.

“All he could do was to sit, sleep and watch television,” Jimadie says. “He could only consume liquid food and it broke my heart whenever he begged me for KFC and his favourite biscuits.”

Adam’s illness brought Jimadie closer to God. Initially, he was angry with God over what had happened to his son.

“I prayed but I felt God had not listened to me,” he says. “I felt God did not help me. I was questioning why people had to fall sick. I was questioning why people had to die.

“I have not found the answers. But I have learnt to accept that some things are fated.

“Looking back now, I think God has been more than fair and kind to me. He had given me six years of happiness with Adam and only six months of sadness.”

In the hope of finding a cure for his terminally ill son, Jimadie even sought the help of bomohs.

“I am not the types who believe in the bomohs,” he says. “But when your son is ill, you become desperate and you are willing to believe in anything that will cure him. I read all kinds of silly mantras and followed rituals that made no sense. You can believe in alternative medicines and herbs but I would suggest that you stay away from the bomohs.”

Many of his friends and even strangers had contributed money as well as support to Jimadie when his son was ill. There was one stranger who’d heard about Adam’s situation in Facebook and travelled several times from Seremban to Kuala Lumpur just to visit Adam.

“I saw a lot of kindness,” Jimadie says.

It was on May 27 around 10am that Adam took his last breath.

“The previous night my son was not breathing properly,” he says. “I had to call the doctor to the house.”

The doctor informed Jimadie that he had two choices – either to put Adam on life support system or let him die peacefully.

Not wanting to prolong his son’s misery, Jimadie chose the second option and 13 hours later, Adam was no longer around.

“He died in my arms,” Jimadie recalls. “Adam was my first born and I learnt the art of fatherhood through him. It will be difficult to forget him. The first four months when Adam was born, I dared not hold him in my hands because I was afraid I will drop him.

“He was very close to me. He was like my best friend. Whenever I was free, I used to take him on my motorbike and we would have fun roaming around the neighbourhood.”

One wonders how his wife, Emme Nurelyanna Sazali, 32 and his two other children – Iman, five and Sophie, nine months old – are coping now without Adam.

“My wife used to run a tudung business online,” he says.

“But she stopped because she was too busy with her full time teaching job and her duties as mother and wife. After Adam’s death, I asked her to go back to her online business. When your mind is occupied, you grieve less.

“As for my two children, I think they are too young to understand the concept of death and sadness.”

The assistant editor with the news portal Malaysiakini has plans to write a book on Jimadie’s experience with Adam in the future.

“I hope the book will be a guide to fathers who are in the same shoes as I am,” Jimadie says. “I wish to share my experience with them.”