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Linette Heng
Saturday, Oct 4, 2014

Singapore

He deals with death through dance

The New Paper | Linette Heng | Saturday, Oct 4, 2014

The student received the worst phone call of his life when he was at dance practice two years ago.

It was from his sister, telling him that their mother had only a few months left to live.

She was 51 years old and diagnosed with Stage 3 cervical cancer.

The news confirmed what Mr Ahmad Shafri Mohamad Yatim had suspected, that his mother Mariah Osman was unwell.

The divorced housewife had tried to keep it a secret from her son, who was pursuing a business skills course at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) East at that time.

Now 20, Mr Ahmad, who graduated with a Higher Nitec in Business Admin last year, said: "We are very close because it's only the two of us living together. I knew something was not right, but she told me it was just a normal cough.

"I just broke down into tears after the phone call."

His mother died in hospital less than two months later and he missed her final moments by a few minutes.

He recalled: "I had a bad feeling that day that I just couldn't explain. When I went to the ward, the doctor was there and he told me the news."

Mr Ahmad's heartbreaking story has been choreographed into a dance titled Voyage, which he will be performing with his co-curricular activity group, West Style District, at the ITE's annual combined dance concert Emblazon.

The choreographer, Mr Md Jamil Abdul Halid, 29, said: "I asked him to tell me every single detail of what happened and I choreographed the dance accordingly."

After his mother's death, Mr Ahmad often found comfort in dance.

He lived alone in a one-room rental flat at Aljunied Crescent for a while after his mother died.

His sister, 26, who is married with four children, supported him financially, but could not take him in.

He is now studying at a private school and living with his godmother.

He said: "My friends at West Style District are like my second family. They knew my story, motivated me and told me that we will face this together."

One of his dance friends, Ms Rafidah Md Dom, 20, who is pursuing a Higher Nitec in Offshore and Marine Engineering, also lost her mother in 2011.

She said: "I know how he felt and I just tried my best to cheer him up and be there for him as much as possible."

Another friend, Ms Nuur Annisaah Abdul Sulaiman, 23, who will play the role of his mother in the dance, added: "We all knew his mum. She was always there to support him at his performances."

For Mr Ahmad, the memories of his mother's illness still weighs on him.

He said: "I took care of her in her final months. She was paralysed on her left side of the body. After she died, I cried every night.

"But I'm very thankful for the support of my friends. Whenever I'm troubled, I use dance to express my feelings and I hope this dance performance will inspire others who are facing similar difficulties."

Mr Jamil, who also teaches dance at other schools, added: "Every year, we get tremendous applause after our performance.

"I also want people to leave with the message that if you love someone, you shouldn't wait, and just tell them that you love them."


This article was first published on October 02, 2014.
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