Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I am MH, MH is me. My tribute to MH 0370 and the ones who love them.

" It has been nearly two weeks since the shocking news. I remember being in class, getting ready for my Power Point presentation when all of a sudden, I had a code RED. This particular code is only meant for an airline disaster. I was trained especially to handle such a scenario and that is why I got the call. My phone messages were coming in non stop and I knew that this was the real deal. There were also a few missed calls from friends as well.

What came next was unimaginable. Yes, I have been trained to be prepared for such a day, but I did not expect to ever experience it in my lifetime. The first message I received was, "EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION - CODE RED! Caregivers please report at FFRC Level 5 KLIA before 1230hrs today for deployment to Beijing on relief flight. " I froze in my tracks! From being worried about acing my presentation, I am now no longer even thinking about it. What? Whose? When? How? Why? I didn't know what to do. Do I ignore and carry on like as if nothing had happened or do I jump straight into action?

I obviously chose the latter and here I am today, sitting at a corner, by the sofa, trying to make sense out of nothing at all. It's been 10 whole days since I have had any sleep. I have only spent a total of God knows how little time with my family. Even when I was at home, my mind was on the search and the well being of the next of kins. I don't even know why I am doing what I am doing anymore. I have four assignments due and it is actually only my first semester. I was so excited at the start of Uni for I really wanted to score well. Everything has changed since. Nothing is more important than what these family members are currently going through and nothing is far worse than not knowing the fate of their loved ones. "

I wrote the above for an entry in my blog last month but after a while, I was lost for words. Where do I begin? How do I end it? The whole experience is just too overwhelming. No words could express how I was really feeling back then, neither can I do much justice to it now. It will be a long time before I can get any closure if there is any at all.

I love flying. By now, I am sure many knows that about me. I am a people person and I love to travel much. I look forward to eating local delicacies, experiencing new cultures and being one with the natives. My crew members are my family away from home. They keep me grounded. They remind me of my roots. Where ever I go or where ever I am, I have a place to come home to. A family that will always welcome me. Until and unless you have been a crew, you'll never be able to understand what it is like to belong in a dynamic group such as ours. We meet as strangers, we travel as families and we leave after each flight as friends. Do you know how wonderful it is to be able to eat Malaysian food prepared together in a country as far away as Argentina, that has never heard of dishes such as " Nasi Bario, Ikan terubuk masin, Ulam & Sambal Belacan " ? After nearly two weeks away from home, on a 21 days trip, that is heaven on earth!

When you are sick, there is always someone to keep an eye on you. When you need a shoulder to cry on, there are plenty around to offer their assistance. When I lost my first baby and when I had my first TPE/LAX/NRT trip after that, I received plenty of love and support from my fellow colleagues. When I was on my DXB/BEY trip and just had gone through my divorce years later, it was the same MH family who dragged me out each day to shop along Naif Road, eventhough I was a walking and talking zombie and fed me briyanis and mango juices each day and night, to keep me alive and to distract me from doing something stupid. On certain long haul trips, we ate together, shop and bargain together, travel together, experience new stuff together and even bunked in together. Hence, the word "Jom kita pergi ( ) together-gether" became one of our favourite phrases of all times. Airplanes are where we spend most of our days and nights on and walking in and out of airports, travelling in suitcases have been our way of life for donkey years, so much so, that whomever leaves the Airlines, will eventually miss the lifestyle someday.

Birthdays are celebrated mostly with each other and same goes with festivals and personal joys such as when your child excels in school, when knowing that one is pregnant or has now become a father. We are also the first person to console each other if we were to receive bad news while we are far away from home such as when a death in the family or loved ones occur.

Today, my son turned 7 and as I think about the rest of you who have lost your loved ones on board, I can't help but feel sad and frustrated. You will never know how hard it is for me to accept all this gracefully or with an opened mind or a detached heart. I too have survivor's guilt for it could have been me that was operating the flight that night. I have "family members" who are lost too now. I have flown with each and everyone of them over the years. I just can't remember to where. I have shared transport home with some of them. I even shared my joy of climbing mountains, diving and furthering my studies on the way home with Andrew Nari a few days before the incident. 

We all grew up together, through blood, sweat and tears in this company. The operating crew are all mostly mommies and daddies now. Breadwinners of their families. No one really enjoys leaving their loved ones behind. After a while, the only reason we do what we do, is because it puts food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof under all our heads. Our biggest asset for our children is the gift of travel. A fast track to the world at large. The downside is, we are mostly not there when it really matters.

Rest assured, that no matter how far we are away from you, how much we miss you or how lonely it can get being away from you, YOU have always been the reason that we wake up each day, at crazy odd hours, in different time zones and various hotels around the world, to put on our make up and don our uniforms and it is also because of our love for YOU, that has given us the strength to live each day to the best of our abilities, the same reason that our eyes can twinkle when we greet others, that our smiles.. flows naturally from our warm hearts, for if it is not for you.. none of this would have been possible. On behalf of my fellow crew members and especially the ones of MH 370, thank you for loving us the way you do.

 I might not have known any of the passengers that boarded the ill fated flight that night, but I now know your loved ones and how much love they have for you. From the outside looking in, there is nothing much left to say or prove. YOU are indeed a beautiful soul.

As the days go by and as the world continues to pray, hope and move forward, I will forever remember the love and the pain that have been shared throughout these trying times. My only consolation is, the lessons that I have learnt thus far. If your Next Of Kins that I have had the honour of getting to know, love and provide assistance for, can put their faith in God and each other, so shall I.

p/s - I plan to share stories about the amazing MH Caregivers someday :)