Who is Aling? Part 1

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Author kaawai Category ,

This is an interesting story of a woman named Aling, as told by a friend of mine.

While in a coffee shop over ‘teh tarik’ last week, he suddenly posed a strange question to me, “How does it like if you live in a deserted island, all by yourself for 37 years?”

I then replied, “If Robinson Crusoe's story of living in isolation for two years or so can be foretold in a book; I can write about my 37 years of experience in 20 books!”

Yes, Aling lived in a near-complete isolation for nearly four decades; except it did not take place in an island but rather, in an old house!

This is a true story; no matter how strange it may sounds.


Here my friend’s story goes.

I am related to her not by blood, but rather; by marriage. I am married to one of her nieces, so she is my wife’s auntie to be exact.

I never had a chance to see her face, let alone talking to her, in her life time.

First time when I became part of this family, I noticed the remnant of an old house about 10 meters away from the grandma’s house. Strange enough this old house, it is well maintained and tidy, as if somebody lives there.

My instinct always told me that somebody must have been in the house, but I choose not to ask much. Nor that I don’t want to know, but my wife and even the whole family doesn’t talk about it. And as a newcomer, I can’t demand much, can I?

Therefore, I don’t know much about her. But since Aling isn’t with us anymore, I will tell you [almost] everything I know about her.

Aling was born in 1957. On the same year Malaya was freed from colonial rule; it was the year of independence, and the date that is well guarded by nearly all Malaysians.

She was the prettiest among the sisters, I was told on the funeral day. An active young girl with athletic built of sort. And she lived a healthy life until she was fourteen. That is until she was in secondary school; form two to be exact – circa 1971.

By the time, then misery struck upon her. It was raining on the way back from school one day. As the result, she was fallen sick; maybe high fever of a kind, I never knew. The sickness recovered in the matter of days, but mentally she hadn’t from that very unfortunate moment.

From there on, she was completely transformed into different persona. Yes, changed. And change for bad and later, for worse.

She had chosen to stay in her room. Refused to go out perhaps; refuse to meet people; refuse to talk; refuse to communicate; refused everything. She kept herself into a living exile, in her own bedroom.

According to Mr. Anis, one of her cousins [and my wife’s uncle], the isolation cycle wasn’t actually completed overnight. Rather it was a gradual process. She was still quite a normal person for some time after the sickness.

But of course, more and more time was spent inside the room until the cycle completed, and the room became the world on its own. I m not sure how far the medication process took her, but apparently the isolation stays.

It was on a later stage that Aling’s family built a new house adjacent to where she lived. Supposedly this house was to replace the existing, only to saw that Aling wasn’t part of the moving process eventually, not sure why. Her mum reluctant to bring her along on safety reasons, maybe. Or she may persist to live where she lives, and persistently had chosen to remain there. Whatever it was, she lived there till the end.

Life had become a full circle for Aling and her room. So complete that, as the time goes by, Aling completely vanished from the real world, our world. For 37 years.

Who is Aling? For decades, no longer has anyone known, and nobody cares.

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