Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Matron Mariah @ Chong Nyet Lin

Mary Chong Nyet Lin @ Hjh Mariah bt Abdullah, second wife of Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos 1919 - 1996


A Chinese Christian, Ms Mary Chong Nyet Lin, was a nurse from Johor. She worked at Bangsar Hospital.

It was at Bangsar Hospital that she met her future husband. She travelled widely with Dr Che Lah, a Penang Malay doctor who was on frequent transfers. She followed him when he worked at the Malayan Railway Health Office in 1948-1950.  
At the time, Dr Che Lah was already married to his first wife, Daisy Catherine @ Daisy Maimunah and they had four grown up daughters and a young adopted Eurasian son when Dr Che Lah worked at Bangsar Hospital. 
Dr Che Lah probably wanted to have his own son. He divorced his first wife after the war and married Ms Mary Chong Nyet Lin @ Mariah on 18 May 1953. She married when she was 38 years old. 

After the war, Dr Che Lah was posted to Kelantan 1945-1946, then the Railway Health Office in Kuala Lumpur 1946-1948.

Even though he had filled in his application forms to attend the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), a check with LSHTM confirmed that he did not do his postgraduate studies there.

Dr Che Lah did a short course at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and spent his postgraduate studies at the University of Malaya in Singapore 1948-1950. He obtained the MRCP by 1951 and was on 3 months long leave (for British officers) in England and continental Europe - Holland, France and Switzerland.

He returned to the University of Malaya in Singapore, before he worked in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley.

They married and honeymooned in Europe in October 1953. They returned to Malacca 1953-1955. Their son was born in February 1955 at Bangsar Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

In November 1955, he was posted to Kuantan where he was CM&HO Pahang 1955-1958 and a royal doctor to Sultan Sir Abu Bakar.

Three years later, Dr Che Lah retired and returned to Penang. Sultan Sir Abu Bakar bestowed him a meritorious award.

In June 1958, Matron Mariah also moved from Kuantan to Penang to follow her husband, Dr Che Lah. Matron Mariah worked at the Maternity Hospital of Penang General Hospital till she retired in 1966. Her nursing uniform changed from initially white to light navy blue to dark green.

Matron Mariah's sister, Chong Chung King (CK Chong), also followed her to Penang. Dr Abdul Wahab's wife (Datin Intan bt Mustapha) said she had always seen this "Chinese lady" (CK Chong) everywhere Mariah went. She did not know that CK Chong was the blood sister of Matron Mariah.
Matron Mariah also had a close Chinese friend name Yap Fah Thye. I met aunty Yap Fah Thye once or twice before I left for California in 1976.  I met her kids when they were still small when aunty Yap lived in Petaling Jaya. I watched her son Paul played outside in the backyard and she called him into the house. I visited her and her children in their Adelaide home. Both her children are doctors - Dr Paul Yap and Dr Pauline Yap.

Dr Che Lah remained with Matron Mariah till he passed away on 23 January 1986 at the General Hospital Penang. Matron Mariah passed away on Wednesday, 2 October 1996 of chronic liver problems.

Dr Che Lah and Matron Mariah are interred next to each other at Kubur Masjid Jamek Sg Gelugor, Penang. Their graves are near the front entrance to the old green masjid grounds. The new blue-white masjid was under construction, and completed in 2014.


Kong Kong's birthday 1964

Ms Mary Chong Nyet Lin's family in Johor, 1948
Dr Che Lah with his 2 children and Ms Mary Chong Nyet Lin's family
at Kong Kong's birthday. 17 June 1964.
Mariah's father (Kong Kong) and step-mother
Mariah is second from left

With Compliments from Mr & Mrs Yeow Woon Seng

Ms Chong Chung King (CK Chong), younger blood sister of Ms Chong Nyet Lin @ Matron Mariah. Portrait of 9 November 1947
Matron Mariah (left) and Madam Yap Fah Thye (right)


Dr Che Lah worked at the Q Camp in Port Dickson 1937.


Dr Che Lah worked at the Malayan Railway Health Office in Kuala Lumpur 1946-1948.
This was his farewell before he left to do postgraduate studies.



Dr Che Lah worked as CM&HO Pahang 1955-58.


Tanah Perkuburan Islam, Masjid Sg Gelugor, Gelugor, Penang

Wedding Anniversary

June is a special month. June is also my wedding anniversary. I got married tonight but 30 years ago. This year is my 30th wedding anniversary. I was reading Quran this morning after my Subuh prayer and other prayers. Then our youngest daughter came to our room to inform my father-in-law has arrived. I was reading the last line for today's Quran reading. Affandi went first to attend to his father. I completed reading the last line and its interpretation, made my doa and went to wash my hands with soap and water. I then went to the living-room to salam my father-in-law. He's 84 years old and sadly, he was crying, sitting next to Affandi. He said in a sad tone, and salam me, saying "Maafkan Ayah, Dah .... maafkan Ayah banyak..." I was startled. I didn't say anything but just let him speak his mind. I didn't quite understand what he was trying to say except I understood "maaf" (sorry). I then prepared English breakfast for him and Affandi. I made Knorr mushroom soup because everyone in my household loves mushroom soup for breakfast. I then cut slices of French bread and applied olive oil margarine, while Ayah continued to talk to us at the breakfast table. But still, I hardly understood his sadness - why was he so very sad? We finished breakfast and as I was cleaning up the breakfast table, again Ayah said, "Maafkan Ayah, Dah .... maafkan Ayah banyak ..." and offered his hand to salam me. I returned the gesture and continued clearing the breakfast table, fast since we have to leave for work. I was thinking to myself, maybe Ayah has a lot of problems which I can't understand right now. He just got married earlier this year and I don't understand how problems can crop up this soon. What sort of problems? So, I don't know the real problem that Ayah has. Anyway, since it is my wedding anniversary, I am thankful to Allah SWT for keeping me still married to the man I married 30 years ago when I was 24. We are both the same age (he's 9 months older) and the same height (very short) but we differ very much in attainment of faith. I am lagging behind but I am catching up. The 6 kids we have are all grown up and doing fine, Alhamdulillah. I am glad I am not that nagging mother and ungrateful wife. Best of all, I am myself and I love my life for as long as I live on this Earth. I am happy as I am.

Latin guitar:

Wild flowers in my grandfather's garden in Penang