By Nasip Khor | MALAYSIA |
Lady Joe (Joe) was one of my best friends. She was a very warm, devoted, sincere, wise and affectionate friend. There was nothing fake about her. I loved and adored her. On Jan 11, 2021, the news of her death shocked me beyond words. She was only 77. My tears rolled down freely as my family members consoled me.
I would like to share the story of my friendship with Joe.
I met Joe for the first time in March 1999, almost 22 years ago and we have been great friends since then. In that year she had come down to Sungai Petani, Kedah to give a talk to the ladies at the Sikh gurdwara. I was requested to host her at my place for a night. Both of us bonded with an unexplainable fondness as if we knew each other for years. We had so much to chat, share and exchange although we had a 13 year age gap.
I marvelled at her strength and resilience. She had devoted a large part of her life to improving the lives of others — the poor, handicapped, needy, drug addicts and so on — through her involvement in charitable and welfare work. Although she herself struggled after being widowed at a young age of only 34 years, her humanitarian service to mankind took priority. She had a ‘pity to poverty’ and therefore engaged in so many ways so that others will have a better life. She was philanthropic at heart. Her philosophy: Giving without expecting anything in return. She believed God had given her enough.
We kept in touch regularly through letters, post cards and phone calls. We shared so much together as friends. She showered me with many lovely gifts. She regularly updated me about her children, grandchildren and siblings. Whenever we met she had so many stories to share. She was a great story teller, a humorous one, too. I could listen to her for hours. This is what I will really miss about her.
We last met in July 2018. Although in her 70s, she came alone, via train from Tampin, for a Sikh wedding. Brave, indeed! I went excitedly to the train station to pick her up. I saw the towering elegant Tampin beauty walking on the platform. From a distance I could see that she looked tired, sporting an unusual gait. I rushed forward. As we hugged warmly, she told me softly: “Nasib, I fell down in the train.” My heart sank. I nursed her like a younger sister would do. She missed a good part of the wedding. That was our last time together face to face. Those days and moments will be my fondest memories of her. I can still ‘hear’ her voice apologising profusely to me for troubling me so much. It was no trouble at all. God was kind to let us spend time together.
It’s really hard to accept her untimely death. It is so painful to think that you would never see her again or talk to her or hear her voice. She was passionate about cooking. She shared with me and friends many of her signature recipes like fish curry, parpu dhall, tomato chutney and sambal.
She will be truly missed but her legacy will live on. She had a famous Tamil quote, which grew on me. It goes like this: “If you wish to know the quality of a saree, you look at the thread. If you wish to know the daughter, you look at her mother.”
I love Joe. She’s gone. But, a person lives as long as someone remembers.
“Death ends a life not a relationship”
My love for her was extraordinary. I wrote this poem to her a few days after we met in 1999.
AJAIB KAUR !!!!
A stranger from Tampin with a strange name, Ajaib Kaur
Tall, beautiful, elegant but sadly widowed at thirty four
She’s your friend the moment you see her at your door
Now fifty five, yet like a teenager who yearns to know more
Every single moment with her is never a bore
Advising, counselling, guiding and leading is her daily chore
The handicapped, abused, addicted, hopeless, helpless and more
The homeless, useless, destitute and battered also in her store
Brought to this earth for our problems to pour
She is one gutsy lady you want to respect and adore
Sincere, helpful, honest and with a golden heart that’s pure
Always on the move and not wanting to withdraw
From problems that come to her from near and ashore
Respected Malaysian community worker Lady Joe passes away (Asia Samachar, 11 Jan 2021)