I looked at all the wires and tubes attached to Rob's body. He was just a ten-year-old child but he knew more pain than any other adults and spent half of those years in hospital surrounded by men in white and women in green; not his toys, not his siblings.
I always asked myself why I did not let him go. I kept holding to him, keeping him alive, praying for medical miracle to happen, to return him to normal life of a child; where he could fall, bruise himself and where he could eat all the candies and chocolates. He would never experience those as from the day he was born, he was diagnosed with an immune system that was not immune to the environment.
Any sudden change in weather would send him into coughing spasms. Any vigorous outdoor activity would leave him gasping for breath and even turning blue. Any childhood treat would result in vomitting and stomach cramps.
Specialists in every discipline of medical science had examined and tested him. He was like a guinea pig to them. They could find really nothing wrong with Rob. He was as healthy as a normal child but his reactions towards environment and food were mysterious and unexplainable. Medical specialists were baffled.
A psychiatrist once had the audacity to suggest that it was all in his brain and decided to implant a computer chip inside his brain and programme it to react positively towards food and environment. It went well at the beginning and I was deliriously happy. However, the effect was short term and the whole medical routine had to start all over again. Newer and more sophisticated chips were planted in his brain but whatever effect was not permanent.
Rob in his agony and fear often asked me why he was different, why he was not allowed to play, run and jump like other children and why he was not allowed to eat anything he wanted. I had no answer to give him or words to comfort him.
Life was a struggle, life was lonely. He had no friends. Even if he had, they had to visit him in the hospital wearing face mask and white attire. At first, it might be a thrill for them but it ended up to be something tiring and not fun as there were no toys or delicious candies to entertain them. It was an alien world for them.
Sometimes, when Rob was at home, he would look into the garden watching his friends playing through the window. He was no longer envious to them. Although he was jailed in his air-conditioned, empty room, he was there with them in spirit.
Then, one day, during one of those unlucky days, a careless maid had left a window opened. Rob was seriously ill. He was rushed to the ICU.
"Thank you dad for giving me the best years of my life."
He smiled and closed his eyes. He lay quietly and peacefully as if he was sleeping for the rest of his life. I could not drop a tear as this moment was the moment I had waited for so long. The moment when his suffer ended. His spirit remained in me. He taught me never surrender, never give up. Slowly, I could accept his absence, the loneliness that I felt. Finally, I could move on with my life.
Written by: Adam Harith Azlan
Edited by: Madam Ainaa