TRIB­UTE TO A TRUE FIGHTER

There is a Jalil in all of us. He was liv­ing proof that peo­ple never for­get how you made them feel

New Straits Times - - Opinion - Raja Sa­rina is a free­lance writer, a blog­ger at www.dearsa­rina.com and is cur­rently study­ing Ara­bic. She is a mil­len­nial try­ing to make a dif­fer­ence, start­ing with her­self

ASK any j our­nal­ism grad­u­ate and they will prob­a­bly ad­mit to hav­ing a news­pa­per col­umn as part of their life goals. I never thought it pos­si­ble to achieve that be­fore I hit 30.

Some­one I know and love very much, did, how­ever. Un­for­tu­nately, he is no longer here to­day as he had re­turned to his Cre­ator on Dec 5, 2015. I want to ded­i­cate my first ar­ti­cle to my late cousin, Tunku Ab­dul Jalil Sul­tan Ibrahim of Johor, the Prince of Hearts.

Upon re­turn­ing from Eng­land four years ago, af­ter grad­u­at­ing from j our­nal­ism school, Al­marhum Tunku Jalil in­sisted that I should have my own col­umn.

Hav­ing very lit­tle con­fi­dence at that time, I told him that I had just re­turned home and was out of touch; I’d rather not go down the lane of be­ing an ob­nox­ious mil­len­nial, de­luded into think­ing she had seen the world af­ter hav­ing spent merely three years abroad. I told him I would re­con­sider it af­ter some work ex­pe­ri­ence.

Lived a lit­tle, I did. I was also a few months into my first job when my cousin was di­ag­nosed with stage 3 liver cancer.

I was in de­nial through­out most of his bat­tle the dis­ease. Even when it was made clear that his chances of sur­vival were un­likely, I held onto the pos­si­bil­ity of a mir­a­cle and convinced my­self he would mag­i­cally de­feat the sav­age ill­ness that was ag­gres­sively tak­ing over his body.

It’s been a year and four months since Al­marhum Tunku Jalil left us, and as I con­tinue to nav­i­gate through young adult­hood, I of­ten look back at his life as a blue­print for mine. The legacy he left and his at­ti­tude to­wards life was only pos­si­ble for some­one who pos­sessed the wis­dom of a per­son fac­ing death and a heart that was al­ways ready to give more than it re­ceived.

Not long af­ter his cancer di­ag­no­sis, Al­marhum Tunku Jalil em­barked on a mis­sion to sup­port oth­ers who shared the same fate as him.

When­ever his health per­mit­ted, he vis­ited cancer wards and gave words of strength to those who were weak and frail from the ef­fects of chemo­ther­apy.

The word “ther­apy” is quite mis­lead­ing; any­one who has ever known any­one with cancer would know that chemo­ther­apy of­ten de­stroys a pa­tient as rapidly as the dis­ease it­self does.

Al­marhum Tunku Jalil had a big heart; he was very sen­si­tive to the needs of those around him.

When he vis­ited food stalls by the roads, he would of­ten buy more than he needed to help their sales. He was gen­er­ous to­wards his staff, of­ten mak­ing sure they were liv­ing com­fort­ably and that their chil­dren were show­ered with good­ies.

He felt in­debted to aid those who did not have what he did. It was no sur­prise that af­ter a year of liv­ing with cancer, the Tunku Lak­samana Johor Cancer Foun­da­tion (TLJC) was es­tab­lished.

TLJC Foun­da­tion’s mis­sion is to spread aware­ness on cancer and give fi­nan­cial aid to pa­tients from low-in­come fam­i­lies.

To­wards his fi­nal months, it would have still ap­peared as if he had no short­age of mo­ti­va­tion to con­tinue his fight, but alas, he was only hu­man.

There were days he truly felt de­feated. Ab­so­lutely, de­feated. But he picked him­self up again and chose to set his griev­ances aside to in­stil hope and joy in other pa­tients at the on­col­ogy ward. If he could not help him­self; he would help oth­ers.

Al­marhum Tunku Jalil was the kind to cheer ev­ery­one around him on be­cause he wanted to see them achieve their dreams.

See­ing peo­ple happy gave him a sense of pur­pose and I truly be­lieve he fought as hard as he could be­cause of that. He re­fused to see his fam­ily and friends sad­dened by his rapidly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing health. Even when he was in agony, he felt re­spon­si­ble to make his loved ones feel at ease.

A com­pas­sion­ate prince, he was. I highly doubt he knew just how much he had im­pacted the lives of oth­ers, start­ing from his fam­ily. When I went through phases of ex­treme self-doubt as a teen — even as an adult — he would en­sure that I could do any­thing I wanted to.

He be­lieved in me more than I ever could in my­self.

It is re­mark­able just how much you can learn from some­one who is bat­tling a chronic ill­ness and have to come to terms with their mor­tal­ity.

I of­ten find it ironic how those blessed with health and vi­tal­ity of­ten waste their lives away, when death is an im­mi­nent re­al­ity, no mat­ter what your age is. How many of us have had friends or rel­a­tives who died “too soon” and “so un­ex­pect­edly”?

I be­lieve there is a Jalil in all of us. We all want to “fight like Jalil”. He was liv­ing proof that peo­ple never for­get how you made them feel, even if it was over one brief en­counter.

Al­marhum Tunku Jalil’s life and demise taught me that you can still achieve a lot in a rel­a­tively short pe­riod of time. As the say­ing goes: it doesn’t mat­ter how you start the race, but what mat­ters is how you fin­ish it.

Al­marhum Tunku Jalil’s life and demise taught me that you can still achieve a lot in a rel­a­tively short pe­riod of time. As the say­ing goes: it doesn’t mat­ter how you start the race, but what mat­ters is how you fin­ish it.

FILE PIC

Al­marhum Tunku Ab­dul Jalil Sul­tan Ibrahim shar­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence with a cancer pa­tient in Hos­pi­tal Sul­tan Is­mail, Johor Baru, in 2015. The Prince of Hearts had cho­sen to set his griev­ances aside and in­stil hope and joy in other pa­tients at the on­col­ogy ward.

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