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My husband had just only remarked that I had given good titles for my previous posts. But he had spoken too soon; this time, I was at a total loss to what title I should give this one. I was searching for the perfect adjective to describe the two exceptional women that I would feature here. I wanted one that would reflect their outstanding characters, but it was difficult because in my honest opinion, they are, well... beyond words to describe. Yes...they are undeniably, women beyond words. 

" is my staunch belief that even if there is only one person who benefits from this effort of mine, then I know I have fulfilled at least one tiny responsibility to God and mankind.

Norhafizah and her son, Ashraf Ilman. Despite her medical condition, she has brought him up to be a filial son, and whom will soon become a doctor, insya Allah.

Well, Fizah, you can be rest assured that you certainly have. Because after reading your book, of which the above statement was extracted from, I am so compelled to work even harder on my trigona bee project. You see, trigona bees produce a substance called beebread. Beebread is known to repair and rebuild cells and tissue that are diseased or damaged, and apparently is excellent in repairing damaged kidneys. There is no known medicine that can reverse the damage when kidneys are diseased so this miraculous beebread may just be the breakthrough in the treatment of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). And God willing, I shall dedicate my time, efforts and money in making this a reality. Because you inspired me.
Norhafizah and I both do not believe in "coincidence'. Everything was in His Masterplan, and this book of hers was published at the time when I had just started rearing bees. But more about this later, this post is about my friend Hafizah and her sister, whom she refers to as Oni.

The journey XIV. by realityDream

Hafizah's story, written in a book titled Not Quite The End - A Journey Through End Stage Renal Disease is so moving it left a huge impact on me. I have taken on a new purpose, it is now my greatest desire to offer a remedy that may possibly save a number of ESRD sufferers from a lifetime treatment of dialysis and other painful procedures that are brought about by kidney failure, God willing. Dialysis needs to be done three times a week, and each session takes four hours. Failure to do this just once results in the blood getting contaminated by toxins and body waste, and eventually fatality.

Her recollection of the pain and suffering she had had to endure is enough to make readers, I'm sure, to never, ever take for granted their good health. Hafizah was diagnosed with ESRD when she was just 22, while she was studying her final year in England. It would have been the time of their lives for many young women her age, and starting their careers with a degree in hand would be would be nothing short of exciting.

But Hafizah's life was definitely far from typical of most of other young women. She was chosen to go through the most difficult trials enduring excruciating pain, physical and emotional, as she fought for her life battling ESRD. Hafizah who simply loves children, wrote about  the time when she was forced into terminating her very first pregnancy. I could only try to imagine the agony she was going through in having to make that decision, and then the procedure after.

The other possible worst time of her life was when she was put through a procedure called intermittent peritoneal dialysis or IPD. She described in detail the process of getting rid of toxins from her blood manually, because her kidneys couldn't do the job as they should. She described the pain as "something she wouldn't want even her worst enemy to experience". But she went through it, ten sessions in all, in ten consecutive weeks. I'd figure anyone lesser in strength and grit would not have gone to the hospital week after week to voluntarily submit herself to this torturous procedure.  

The special bond between mother and son - this pix taken by Hafizah's younger son just tugs at my heartstrings.
All the while, her absolute faith in God never waivered. She drew strength from verses in the Quran, promises and assurances by Him in it and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from the hadith. One who doesn't know God and understand how He works would probably question why such a subservient servant should be subjected to such difficult trials. 

The ordeals Hafizah had to face somehow reminds me of Anneliese Michel, a religous German girl who was purported to be obssessed by demons, and had gone through extreme torture whilst she was being exorcised by a priest. Her mother claimed Anneliese died "to save other lost souls, to atone for their sins". Whether this is true or otherwise, I believe Hafizah and Anneliese had things in common  - a solid faith, complete trust in and total submission to God, and that they believed that affliction is indeed God's Mercy on His humble beings.  

Hafizah's "baby boy" Ahmad Zakiy, named after her nephrologist in HKL.
I have never met Hafizah's sister Oni, but I dare say she is truly a woman of outstanding character. Oni had made a huge sacrifice - she had donated one of her kidneys to her younger sister so that the latter could live almost a normal life again. For the name of God and for the love of a sibling. In her book, Hafizah had related stories of how Oni cared for first her sister-in-law, and then her own sister when both underwent treatment for ESRD. I can only conclude this - there was certainly something absolutely right in their parents' upbringing which had instilled very high moral values and developed amazing unconditional love amongst the siblings.  

Humble that she is, Hafizah would never admit to having admirable strength, tenacity and willpower, that enabled her to pull through many, many tribulations in her life. Her conviction that everything happens for a reason, and that patience is a virtue is so powerful. It is this power that enables her to rise above all adversities. It is this power that makes her a woman beyond words.

Not Quite The End - A Journey Through End Stage Renal Disease is written by Norhafizah Abdul Manaf under the name Ummu Ahmadain, MD (Alt. Med) and published by The Inspiration Hub (ISBN 978-967-11596-3-7).

This is not a portrait of a legendary heroine from the past. Nor is she a princess in a fable created by an impressionable artist. This is Almaz. And she is real.

If Almaz were a building structure, I'd reckon she would be the Taj Mahal. She's beautiful, intelligent, unpretentious and strong-willed. She is a woman of principle, highly opiniated and knows exactly what she wants.   

The magical, mystical and magnificent Taj Mahal. 
Pix taken from

Almaz, which means "diamond" in Ethiopian, is vocal and extremely articulate; when she speaks, one cannot help but be mesmerised as she expresses herself with a myriad of facial expressions created from each element of her face. Her well-arched eyebrows complement her almond eyes, and in presenting a point, her right brow arches at a height according to a scale which indicates her level of seriousness.

Her nose is unusually sharp for someone who is of pure Malay parentage, and it bears the distinct septum, obviously inherited from her late mother, Hajjah Esah Hamzah. But what makes Almaz is most definitely her smile. She has one of the most enchanting smiles I have ever seen. When Almaz smiles, she gives it her all. A big, sunshiny smile that bares two neatly set rows of teeth that seem to reflect her openness and magnanimity. Often, the smile comes with a hearty, outward laugh, one that you know, somehow, that Almaz is genuine. When she likes something, she will tell you so. And when she doesn't, she will also let you know. This is just how she is. Straight-forward, open and honest.       

I love this picture. This is in Charlesten, St Austell in Devon, England,
 where the Eden Project is, she says. Taken without permission
because I wanted this to be a surprise :-p

That is probably one of the traits that makes Almaz a successful architect in her own right. She runs her own practice, known as Almaz Architect Sdn Bhd. I won't be writing about her profesional achievements as you can read all about her accolades on her website here,  I do want to mention though, that she was featured in a book titled " Biografi Tokoh Wanita Kelantan" (Biography of Kelantan Women Icons).

Almaz was a nominee of The Malaysian Women's Weekly 
Great Women of Our Time in 2010. 
Picture taken from

The book was launched on the 22nd of March this year at a "by invitation only" function which I had wormed my way into with the help of an aunt. Among other reasons, I had wanted to be a part of the occasion because my eldest sister, Prof. Dr. Azni Zain Ahmed is also featured in the book. I had written about her in an earlier post "Behind The Woman at the Helm". This book showcases women from Kelantan who had made significant contributions in academics, health, business, economy, poltics and the arts.

I'm not close enough with Almaz to say that I know everything about her in absolute detail. But as a child, I had always looked up to her as someone who didn't seem afraid of anything or anyone. I remember especially, a time when she told off a male adult, because of her concern for his child. At that time, she was barely in her teens, but she was as sharp as her jawline. Almaz makes no excuse about standing for her rights, and the rights of others.

Having battled with diabetes from an early age, Almaz is 
extremely concerned about health issues. In this picture, 
Almaz is seen visiting my late mother during a Hari Raya.  
At this time, Mama who was also a diabetic, had just had 
a minor operation on her toe.
 Almaz always showed concern for Mama especially about her diet, 
and knowing Mama had a sweet tooth, brought her 
sugar-free chocolates to indulge in.  

I am not a writer, I cannot write whenever or whatever there is to write. I can only write when I want to. Sometimes I'm not even sure what it is that compels me, as with the case of Almaz. I just felt I have to write about her, to the extent of putting aside other pressing matters just to complete this post. But the reason eluded me...right until I reached this next paragraph (I don't even plan what I'm going to write, the lines just flow from the heart to the tips of my fingers). This is the reason why I want to write about her:

Within the solid structure of steel and stone, lies a gem of a heart  that is warm, caring and generous in kind and in spirit. Just like a diamond, Almaz radiates light to the lives of the people around her. She makes time and gives attention to people, listening to them and helping in any way she can. This nobility and compassion, coming from a strong-headed person, is what I find very inspiring and reverent, and definitely a design for other women to emulate. This is, Almaz.

Another picture of Almaz I love, taken from her Facebook account.
 It's just so endearing to see her holding her
 one and only precious grandchild.

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