Covid-19: With husband stuck in Johor, elderly Singaporean woman counting down the days till they reunite

A typical view of the Johor Causeway from Johor Baru to Singapore. — Picture by Ben Tan
A typical view of the Johor Causeway from Johor Baru to Singapore. — Picture by Ben Tan

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — “Love knows no distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars — Gilbert Parker.”

Perhaps that is the best quote for Aishah Rahmat, an elderly Singaporean who has been away from her husband, who is now in Johor, Malaysia, for the past eight months following stricter measures at both Malaysian and Singapore border gates.

What’s more, today is the birthday of her husband, Yaacob Moin, 63, a Singaporean businessman.

Since March the 61-year-old stay-homer has made Facebook her ‘best friend’, sharing her sadness over the temporary separation.

On Nov 15, she posted: “15.03.20 - 15.11.20. Today is exactly 243 days since I was away from my husband. We are all tested to be patient and resilient until this Covid-19 pandemic passes. “

Aishah also appended her posting with a link to one Islamic (Nasyid) song Perjalanan Hati.

Bernama had a chance to meet Aishah recently and her sadness ran deeper than just the unexpected separation — the deadly coronavirus had ruined her plan to perform Umrah on March 13.

“We were about to leave for Kuala Lumpur International Airport before receiving a phone call from the Umrah management firm saying that our trip should be cancelled. It was right after the Azan ended (for sending pilgrims),” said Aishah.

Two days later, Aishah, who did not have a long-term visit pass to stay more than 30 days in Malaysia, had to return to Singapore and that was the day she parted ways with her husband.

“I have no choice but to stay in Singapore as soon as the Malaysian government announces the movement control order (MCO) from March 18,” said Aishah, who has been travelling to Johor Bahru for the past 15 years.

“Like everyone else, I expect it (MCO) will be only for two weeks... apparently it leads to eight months now,” said Aishah, who lives with her cousin in Tampines for the time being.

Things get more painful as her husband could not return to Singapore after his youngest brother, Salim Moin, a former Singapore international footballer, died on Nov 7.

“My husband just had the opportunity to observe the funeral via a video call,” said Aishah, who also shared with Bernama a picture of Yaacob and Salim when they last met at their children’s wedding in Singapore last February.

Salim, 59, a striker, represented the Lions in the 1980s and 1990s and played alongside Fandi Ahmad in the 1980 Malaysia Cup final against Selangor, who were led by the late Datuk Mokhtar Dahari.

“With the sudden death of my brother-in-law, it worries me more and more. I pray hard for my husband’s health. He is alone in Johor. Our children are all here with me,” she said in tears.

To remain occupied, Aishah has been participating in religious studies online every day starting March 20.

“Besides that, I’m utilising the “SkillFutureSG Credit” provided by the Singapore government. I’m learning about computers, mobile phones and tablets,” said Aishah, who had worked as a secretary in several international companies before.

The mother of two is immensely hopeful that Malaysia’s recovery MCO will end on Dec 31, so that the border control measures could be eased to enable her to reunite with her beloved husband. — Bernama

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