I’M EVERY WOMAN: Goodbye Ruby Ahmad
Last week, the blogosphere was stunned by news of the sudden passing of one if its gems, Ruby Ahmad.
It took everyone by surprise as there, still staring from her eponymous blog rubyahmad.blogspot.com, is Ruby Ahmad, with her famous ravishing smile, the epitome of optimism and exuberance. Sms-es were coming from all corners of the world, from shocked and stunned friends in cyberspace. After a few phonecalls and messages, I cried myself to sleep and woke up hoping it had been just a bad dream. But more messages on my handphone confirmed the sad truth.
By morning here, entries dedicated to the late Ruby had sprouted in the many blogs of those whose lives Ruby had touched — those who had known her through her writing and “meetings” online and those who had actually met and enjoyed a friendship with her, no matter how brief. There were many.
But who was Ruby Ahmad? The brief description on her blog simply says: “I’m a ‘go for it!’ kind of person. I act on impulse and am a great believer in tackling any problem head-on. Being an eternal optimist, I believe the nitty-gritties will sort itself out at the end! “I place great faith in the positive aspects of human nature and that we should all work in this light so as to live in a humane and just society.”
Ruby was one of many bloggers who had no qualms revealing her identity. Her pictures of networking with her former Tunku Kurshiah college mates, socialising at charity events, promotions and concerts tell us she enjoyed life to the fullest. She gave as much as she could offer and in this she was almost tireless and selfless. In most of her writings as in her media interviews, she propounded and expounded her belief that we should strive to live in a humane society. She shared whatever she had to motivate the young, gave her input on cluster schools and many more.
Through her writing and pictures, her readers had the impression of a person who had acquired her wisdom through travels far and wide. She rubbed shoulders with people in the corridors of power, and those in the periphery. We know more of Ruby from her interactions online and in comment boxes. Her continuous banter with Uncle Lee in Toronto, her wise and considered advice to student Daphne Ling and words of sympathy and motivation to cancer sufferers. The nature of online interactions is such that it makes it possible for us to piece together the tracks one leaves behind in comment boxes and put together the person behind the writing. But we could be wrong.
Last week I realised that I did not know Ruby yet like others, I also felt I had somehow known her for a long time. This was the contradiction that was hard to take, and my heart ached as if I had lost someone very close. Ruby Ahmad, the blogger, qualified architect, wife, mother and grandmother, had managed to hide something from all of us right until the end. She had the dreaded breast cancer, which had spread to her liver. This was what took her away from us. On receiving the news, we scoured our mail boxes and comment boxes and even her entries to see whether she had left any clues. Nothing.
I met Ruby in early 2007 after countless interactions online and by phone. She was exactly as I had imagined: outgoing, exuberant, gracious and impeccably dressed. We met many times during my visits home and during these meetings, she revealed a bit more of herself to me. I had seen her work the Ruby Ahmad magic. We were at a dinner table after a concert and she chatted and listened to someone everyone else seemed to be ignoring. She gave this person her time, which I believe, was much appreciated. At a gala night, like two naughty schoolgirls, we approached a minister who had somewhat admonished women bloggers, and introduced ourselves: “Datuk Seri, we are women bloggers,” after which we ran off and had a good giggle. This and more is the Ruby I want to remember.
Last week, she was taken away from us. But in a special corner of my heart, she will always be there, urging me “Kak Teh, go for it!” Goodbye my friend.