KUALA LUMPUR: Tucked away in a squalid longhouse room, where she spends her days on a mattress, centenarian Maryam Saleh wishes for just two things precious to her – her family and her MyKad.
“I want to make a new identification card. I have never lost my IC (identity card) because it is not easy to register for an IC,” said the 103-year-old, when met at Rumah Panjang Pinggiran Wardieburn yesterday.
She stays at an almost bare City Hall longhouse there and her daughter Fatimah Mat Isa, 60, who looks after her said that Maryam’s sole belonging in her room was a purse with only her IC inside.
“She says that her IC is her life. And sometimes she falls asleep holding on to it. We are not sure how to get it for her because she cannot walk now and we do not have the means to take her to the National Registration Department (NRD) office,” said Fatimah.
As for Maryam’s grandchildren and relatives, Fatimah said that they had not visited her since her mother shifted here from Alor Star, Kedah five years ago.
“Some stay too far away and some just do not come because we do not have anything to offer. She is in good health and does not have sicknesses like diabetes or high blood pressure, but she gets body aches occasionally,” she added.
Maryam said she was very sad that her grandchildren were not there, especially during Hari Raya.
“Dia orang tak pernah mai (They never come). It gets lonely,” she added.
Although Maryam’s IC states that she was born on June 21,1919, Fatimah said that this was because her mother’s birth was registered late.
There are only basic amenities in Maryam’s home. A dusty table fan helps keep her cool in an otherwise stuffy room. A bottle containing bedak sejuk lies in one corner and items like adult diapers are in another.
Fatimah supports her four children and mother by selling nasi lemak, earning about RM400 monthly. During the fasting month, she makes cakes and ketupat pulut for sale for Hari Raya.
She helps her mother bathe, changes her diapers twice a day and massages her limbs for better blood circulation.
Maryam has almost a full head of black hair and soft skin that belies her age, which she attributes to minyak nyiur (coconut oil) and bedak sejuk (powder). But the witty grandmother of 12 lost her sight last year.
“I sit here all day. There isn’t much to do. Sometimes, I will recite whatever I remember of the Quran. I was a midwife when I was younger. And I really do not know day from night because I’ve lost my sight,” she said.
Maryam’s husband Mat Isa Abdul Rahman died in 1974. The couple had nine children but only three are alive.
She loves her coffee and tea without milk and does not eat much spicy or fatty food and curries.
“I can’t drink milk. I just cannot swallow it. And I normally have sayur rebus (boiled vegetables),” she said.
Fatimah said her mother was content just having ikan bakar (grilled fish) with asam sauce and rice.
“It would be nice to get her a wheelchair so we could take her out. We also need things like diapers for her,” she added, saying she was grateful to the Wangsa Maju Puteri Umno division, which had given Maryam some money and diapers recently.
Those wishing to help Maryam, can contact the Wangsa Maju Puteri Umno division at 03-4251 7008 or fax 03-4251 5008.
Meanwhile, when contacted, an NRD spokesman said the family could write an appeal letter to either the department’s director-general or IC division director, requesting its officers to come to their home to handle Maryam’s MyKad application.
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