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“We had planned to live together forever.”
Those were the words of the late Catherine Janet Tiwi’s boyfriend Hilary Dius, 28, whose relationship with the courageous teacher began six years ago when they attended a church service in Miri.
“We had made all the necessary arrangements to get engaged by March next year and she had even visited my parents in Sabah when I told them of our intention,” said the Dusun native from Apin Apin, Keningau when met at Catherine’s parents’ house at Kampung Skio today.
At the time, Catherine was training at Miri Teachers’ Institute while he was working as a fireman attached to the Miri Airport Fire Station.
“It was like love at first sight. She was always sweet, lovely and friendly. I guessed that’s the reason I was attracted to her. And besides that, she was also an intelligent girl,” said Hilary.
However, it became a long distance relationship when Catherine was posted to a primary school in Baram after completing her training, while Hilary was accepted into the police force.
“After I completed my police constabulary training, I was posted to Johor. But we were constantly in touch with each other even though it could be very challenging even to talk with each other as her school has no phone coverage,” he said, adding that sometimes, they even had to communicate via her friend in Miri.
The last time he talked to her was on the eve of the tragedy.
“She told me, ‘Sayang, I need to go to bed earlier as I feel a bit tired’. So I told her to pray before going to bed, which she said she would surely do as her faith calls for it. I never thought that it would be our last conversation.
“How I wished I could have more time talking to her or even be with her for one last time, if only I had known,” said Hilary.
Even after he was alerted by the sad news of her passing, he recalled how he tried to call her mobile phone numerous times.
“I just could not take it that she was gone forever. It’s too much to bear. This is really tragic for me and our families. I think of Catherine’s parents as my adopted parents and her three brothers as my adopted brothers,” said Hilary.
Catherine, 25, died while two of her colleagues suffered burns when fire razed the teachers’ quarters in Mulu National Park early Wednesday (July 25). — DayakDaily