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The Dino Boy
23 February 2017

Meet Aiman, an inquisitive, affectionate and bubbly five-year-old boy, who is also a walking encyclopedia for dinosaurs. This kid knows the names of all the dinosaurs like the back of his hand, a wealth of knowledge that certainly puts us adults to shame.

Aiman was diagnosed on June 2015 with a rare brain tumour, at a tender age of three-and-a-half years old. “Late one night, Aiman woke up and started calling for me. He said his right hands and legs felt like they were breaking. We rushed him to the hospital immediately, where they ran an MRI test on him. It was then that he was diagnosed with a rare form of brain tumour, which was also the cause of the stroke. The doctor gave him a prognosis of six months to live,” shares Aiman’s grandmother, Madam Yati, who is in her 50s.

His diagnosis came as a shock to the family as Aiman had always been a very active child. However, soon after his stroke, Aiman made a miraculous recovery with regular physiotherapy sessions and was able to walk with the aid of a walking frame.

“Last October, Aiman complained of pain in his left leg, so we quickly brought him to the hospital. He was in such great agony that he could barely lie down on the bed,” Madam Yati recalls. “After the doctor ran a full-body MRI scan, they discovered that the tumour had spread to the spine.” It was then that Aiman came under the care of Star PALS.

Seeing his love for dinosaurs, Nurse Nicole, Aiman’s primary care nurse acceded to his wish to visit the “Zoo-rassic Park” exhibition at the Singapore Zoo. With the help of the wonderful team from the Wild Discoverer Tour, Aiman was finally able to realise his dreams!

Wild Discoverer guide Crystal greeted Aiman, Madam Yati and Aiman’s uncle, Aziz, with contagious enthusiasm, which got everyone excited and raring to go! “Whee! So fast!” Aiman squealed gleefully as the buggy sped off.

The Dinosaur Valley was no doubt the highlight of the entire tour for Aiman. The trail displayed a total of 16 lifelike animatronic displays of dinosaurs lurking in the dense foliage, ferociously roaring away.

He kept his eyes peeled for every single dinosaur, identifying them without hesitation. “I read up more about the dinosaurs we had on display to share more with Aiman, but all that was nullified with his impeccable knowledge about these creatures,” shared Crystal. “I am so amazed that he knows the name of every single dinosaur at his fingertips.”

“What’s your favourite dinosaur?” she asked. “The T-Rex!” replied Aiman, as he attempted a ferocious growl.

“Look! That’s a Triceratops! A Velociraptors! Spinosaurus!” exclaimed Aiman excitedly, pointing out the dinosaurs as his grandmother pushed the stroller down the walkway.

Aiman’s relationship with his grandmother is one of love, closeness and mutual respect.

“Nenek!” he often calls out to her affectionately. A call that makes one feel as though his life depended on her. And indeed it does. She cares for him 24/7, from the early morning, right through the night, since his illness had rendered him immobile from waist down.

On certain parts of the tour when he experienced pain and discomfort in his back, he cried out “Nenek! Nenek!” and as if reading his mind, she swiftly adjusted his sitting posture so that he was seated comfortably. At other times, she gently comforted him, stroking his head and giving him her undivided attention.

Aiman is also a boy on a (dinosaur) mission. “Can I buy dinosaur toys after this, please?” he asked for the 10th time during the tour. “Ok, but you can only pick out two toys, ok?” Grandma negotiated with him.

At the gift shop, it was apparent how much he respects his grandmother’s opinion. When he set his eyes on a box of dinosaurs, he would always consult grandma first, asking for her opinion — “Nenek, is this toy expensive?” Her words are final to him.

After a long day out, the tired and hungry boy asked his grandma, “Nenek, can you cook rice for me when we get home?” adding a sincere “please?” after a short pause. “What else would you like to have?” Grandma asked. “Soup also!” he added with a satisfied grin on his face. The little boy is a great fan of all types of soup that his grandma cooks.

One cannot help but be inspired by this young boy, who, though faced with numerous challenges and immense physical pain, lives his life with such zeal and gusto. At the same time, he has a heart so filled with love and respect for others. The role of a caregiver can be exhausting and daunting at times. However, the unconditional love from his grandma can be felt so tangibly — from the way she cares for him and attends to his every need in spite of her fatigue.

“It’s tiring for me, but what can I do? He’s my only grandson,” she muses. In her eyes, one can see the love and adoration she has for her grandson, Aiman. The Dino Boy.