I would always remember the 20th of Ramadhan as the day I lost a dear friend. It marks the turning point of my whole life. It was the death of my roommate.
You never knew when a particular someone would just be gone. There were just no signs; nothing that can signal you telling that he would be gone forever. And I had that experience with my roommate – which redefined my whole life. My roommate was just one month after his 24th birthday when he died, and the last words I’d ever say too him were ‘Take care’.
He was off to Tarawikh prayer that 20th of Ramadhan, and all I said to him was ‘I don’t feel like going tonight. Take care’. You just never knew that it was the last.
And he never came back. At past 11.00, he still didn’t return. I began to think that he might gone back to his house, or even going out with his friends; but I remembered that he brought nothing to the mosque other than his keys and he wore a sarong.
At 12.00, I started to feel bad. And 5 minutes after that was the first phone call from the police. The officer just mentioned that my roommate was caught in an accident; and that they might need me to identify his body since he didn’t bring along any identification. He was hit by a van just outside the mosque. First hearing that, I thought that it was all a joke. And after my senses kicking in, I began to think that it’s not him. My mind suggesting that there might be a mistake; any sort of it. I just couldn’t accept that it happened that night.
I asked another friend of mine to send me to Hospital Serdang, just to make sure. My heart racing with each passing moment while inside the car. An officer accompanied me into the room where they kept the ‘allegedly’ dead body of my roommate; and all I could pray was it’s not him. And even if it’s him, I prayed that he was in his perfect shape; I wanted to remember him as a whole person even in his death.
And when first I caught a glimpse of the body, all I knew was it’s him. It’s HIM. And at least one of my prayers was answered; he was indeed, as perfect as when he was alive, except for the bruises that were here and there on his body.
And then it all started. The grief, the denial, the sadness. My friends suggested that I should start packing his things away; so that it would ease his family’s burden. So when they came they don’t have to go through his belongings. I did that duly, only to find out that it was impossible to close this very chapter of my life without breaking down into tears. His books; his 2-week LCD monitor that he just bought was all reminder that some time before this, there was a human being exist in this very same room as I am, breathing, alive and talking.
It took me some time to really pack his things away; as it had become a very painful and emotional process; and his family only came a week after his death to collect his things. And every night before they came I always waited for somebody to turn the lock, waited for any sign of him coming back to this room. There were nights when I noticed somebody turned on the light; and woke up just to find that it was the corridor lamp.
I didn’t know where to start, how to start. We never touched each other’s things before, and we were comfortable that way. It felt so wrong to dishonor the understanding we had when now he is gone. His family came a week later on 26th of Ramadhan, 4 days before Aidil Fitri; bringing along clouds of grief. They asked me many things; and I could not help but notice how uncomfortable I was talking about my roommate with ‘arwah’ as the first name.
Even when all of his things were gone, I could not get myself over the fact that my roommate has gone. And when I heard somebody shooing the cats outside, I’m sure it was him teasing the cats like he always did, only to be disappointed that the person just walk away from my room without coming in. There were days when I was listening to songs on my headphones when I heard somebody calling my name from across the table. And when I turned back it was sheer emptiness staring back at me.
I thought it was just a process, until I realized it was two months full I was crying myself to sleep every night; thinking of ‘what if’s’ and ‘how I wish’s’ and coming back from night market bringing his favourite corn on the cob. I understood then, that I had clearly lost an important part of my life.
It was the denial that makes things even harder to comprehend. Every single day I’m telling myself that he would come back; maybe later today; maybe tonight. And one day when I heard knocks on my window, I absent –mindedly fling open the windows to let him come in. and when he wasn’t there, I looked around outside the window to make sure that he didn’t fool me. And I did all that with an utter confidence that it was real – he was really there knocking on my window.
I lost appetite to eat; losing weights tremendously. The sadness was shown into my eyes, where now I have swollen eyes instead of my cheerful ones. I became insomniac; and sometimes when I’m in my worst a very bad paranoid. The emptiness itself now seems like a silent language; cursing me with every profanity that signifies I’m a loser.
I’m feeling guilty; at the very least. Yes, I’d hoped I was not some lazy ass that night when he went to terawikh. If I should have accompanied him, maybe things won’t happen this way. Maybe this is a punishment for my laziness.
And I can no longer relate to my friends; the only thing I talked about when I was with them was my late roommate. They said I should get some help; I could use some. But I just don’t know where to go for help. It’s easy for them to say. They don’t have their roommate run over by a car.
They said there were 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But I never stayed permanently on a stage; I kept coming back to the start; sometimes skipping a stage or two; sometimes moving along the stages in backwards; and sometimes feeling all the emotions altogether. I’m all screwed up.
I believe, for all the years to come, I will get over this. But now, I just need time to cry over the death of somebody that I cared dearly. I need some space to mourn for a close friend that had gone for good. Until then, I need my pillow to tell of how I wish things could turn out differently, and how greatly I miss my best friend.