I came to know Dalilah Tamrin through cybersphere, via Kak Teh's Choc-A-Bloc-Blog. It was the title of her blog that perked my interest; OneBreastBouncing sounds deliciously provocative, naughty even.
Little did I realise when I wandered into her 'abode' that I was destined to meet a tenacious fighter, a woman whose inner strength belies her cheerful disposition, and to explore a realm so dreadful and harrowing, but one that every woman should familiarise herself with - breast cancer.
I had never met anyone with breast cancer before. What little I knew of this scourge I learned, fleetingly, from newspapers and magazines. Much to my discredit, of course, I never paid much attention to any of them.
Yet, I was drawn to Dalilah's delicate jottings like moth to light. In the comfort of my study, I cried shamelessly each time she described her suffering and the pain she endured.
Tears fell readily when she spoke of the heartfelt love she had from her family, and the loving support from the man she affectionately called "Mambang Hijau" - her wonderful husband.
Responses, comments and words of comfort from friends and well-wishers in her blog elicited even more tears. I was surprised at the depth of my own feeling towards this stranger.
I couldn't help but feel for her absolutely. Every lament of hers tore into me. I felt so helpless; I wanted to hold her and hug her close and console her with every fibre of my being. Yet I didn't know her. I had not met her. Apart from an image or two on her blog, I would not have recognised her if I were to bump into her.
I had no idea who this woman was, this bespectacled smiling face whose suffering had affected me so.
When Pak Abu and I went for the Hajj in December last year, I made a promise to myself that I would pray for her well-being, in the Holy Land.
With tears coursing down my cheeks, in front of the Kaabah, during the brief sojourn at barren Arafah, and in the cool comfort of Masjid Nabawi, Madinah, I beseeched Allah swt to ease her pain and make her well again.
I thought of her and her pain often, in Makkah and back home. I knew one day we would meet face to face and I would get the chance to hug and kiss her in person. And yesterday I did, Syukur Alhamdulillah.
I could feel the onset of migraine as noon approached, but I wasn't going to miss the launch of Dalilah's maiden book "Kanser Payudara Ku - Perjuangan & Kesedaran" at the International Book Fair in PWTC yesterday, for anything.
Pak Abu, bless his heart, decided to accompany me as a show of support for the new author. I was glad I didn't pander to my headache, although I did pay a heavy price for it.
[A full-blown migraine started as soon as we got into the car to go home, with me emptying my guts in a plastic bag in the car while still at PWTC parking lot!]
Dalilah was every bit I had imagined her to be - a face so sweet and kind. And what a bubbly disposition! This, from a woman who had endured years of suffering, from breast cancer and its subsequent treatments.
I met a few fellow bloggers for the first time at the launch; Marina Mahathir of MusingsbyMM (well, our paths had crossed many years ago when she was attached to Berita Publishing and I was with the Malay Mail), Jeflam of Jaffpoint, Elviza of Write Away, Ariffin of Bakpo and Husna of Husna-Amusing. I was told Mak Andeh & Brood was there too but I didn't get to meet her.
The presence of Ariffin (Pp/Pak Payne) all the way from Dubai was so heartwarming. There must be something about Guchil (Kuala Krai) folks that made us the way we are, eh!
[Pak Payne and Elviza hold Guchil 'citizenship' while my maternal grandpa hailed from Guchil too and was buried in Guchil Lima].
We adjourned to tea at Pan Pacific Hotel adjoining PWTC after the book signing, before calling it a day at around 5pm.
I came home with the mother of all migraines (and didn't recover fully until this morning), but meeting Dalilah Tamrin and my fellow bloggers was worth every damn throb!