20 January 2011

End of the tunnel (Pt 11) – No more nasi dagang

Note: This is a belated posting with Pacik’s apology to Neni in particular.

The traditional 'telor merah' of Terengganu wedding.

Pakcik, anak anak tak beri kita berkedai lagi ( my children would not allow us to operate the stall any longer)”

That was uttered by a fine lady soon after the wedding of her daughter whom we all call ‘Neni’ lovingly - befitting her personality. Neni is no longer that shy little girl who joined Almanar tuition class twelve years ago. She is today not only a qualified nurse but also one lucky guy’s wife.

Neni’s mother was the best nasi dagang cook in our vicinity. For years and years she was the one who would prepare nasi dagang for our Hari Raya and our other special occasions. We would not dream of placing orders from another person. Until the intervention of her children she and her husband had been operating a road- site stall that we often frequented for her nasi dagang. We had to be early to beat the crowd unless, as we often did, we called their house the previous evening to keep whatever quantity we wanted.

Today this lady can draw a sigh of relief that her children chose to stop her and husband from working so hard. She used to be up at unearthly hours, as early as two to start cooking. Her main regret was their inability to attend the morning (subuh) prayers at a surau nearby together with their village community. Now that is all over. She and husband can enjoy the community life. With his husband’s pension and children’s contribution they are living a happy life which they deserve, having raised their children to be better educated than they were themselves.

We are sad to miss our best nasi dagang but our joy is greater, that the parents enjoy a leisurely life and, above all, our Neni has a career and has started to have her own family. Perhaps, her next visit to see us, as she often did, she not only bring her smiling face but her man plus a child. Insya Allah.

This is a typical joy that compensates for Pakcik’s occasional frustrations – to see that all is not wasted.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

11 January 2011

Awang Goneng Reminisces – (Pt 16) – True Life is Stranger than Fiction

As a comment on ( Pakcik’s Number 3 Reminisces - Pt15) Awang Goneng chose to relate something personal, an incident that is common to all of us. We tend to dismiss a coincidence without a second thought. Awang Goneng says his new book (A Map of Trengganu) is devoted to what he claims as ‘strange phenomena of memory and strange encounter. I, for one, am sure to be looking forward this second book of his after the success of his first. Here goes what he wrote to Pakcik:


Dear Abang Ngah,

What a lovely story. But is this the Amran I used to know in Chapel Side, W2? If so I have some photographs of him taken even before he met his mother-in-law to be.

Coincidence and memory are wonderful things. Since I started writing I have seen them collide, shaping the way I think in many different ways. In fact most of the foreword to my new book (A Map of Trengganu) is devoted to this strange phenomena of memory and strange encounters.

About twenty years ago, when travelling on the Circle Line tube on the way home from work, I sensed that the person in front was studying me very closely. I ignored him and immersed my face in a book. He leant forward and asked, "Wan Hulaimi?" I looked up and said immediately, "Oh my God, it's you Ken!" Ken and I were in the same tutorial group at University about five years earlier. He gave me his card - he was now a solicitor - and we promised to meet again for lunch. We never did.

Two years later, I left my job and had to look for a new accommodation. We thought it would be cheaper in the long run for us to buy rather than rent. We needed a solicitor for the conveyancing work, so naturally I thought of Ken, phoned him up, and he took the task immediately. Time for the exchange of contracts. Ken phoned me up to tell me about the deposit (a few thousand in those days). "Give me a couple of days, Ken, " I said. "I'll send you a cheque."

"No rush," said Ken. "I've already paid it for you."

It has been many years now but looking back at it I still find it quite incredible. A person I'd not seen for many years suddenly appearing out of the blue, to give us a bridging loan, and we weren't even best buddies at university. Was it a coincidence or was he sent to us for that purpose?


Mi, it was not AMRAN you were familiar with in Chapel Side. That was indeed my Number 3 but was better associated with “ ------- pudding and pie” !

As for the photographs I myself would like copies to extort him with! You know that he has all daughters, three of them, whom he calls his ‘Charlie’s Angels’. There was an indication to that effect – meeting the would-be MIL first. So he can still hope for boys because he did meet his would-be FIL later.

Thank you for sharing this with us and I am sure many who have read Awang Goneng would welcome your ‘A Map of Trengganu’. Abang Ngah am more familiar with that TRENgganu than the artificial TERENgganu!

Incidentally, is Zaharah not doing something with
her collections? Salaam from to her and the kids (which they are as I remember them) from Kak Mah dan Abang Ngah.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

07 January 2011

Pakcik's Number 3 Reminisces ( Pt 15) - True Life is Stranger than Fiction

Reading Pakcik’s reminiscence (Pt 14) my No 3 was reminded of an uncanny incident, noted it down and passed it to Pakcik as part of his comments. I am inclined to post this as a new entry. Here is what he wrote to Pakcik:



Seventeen years ago in 1993, Mdm Quah, who came from Penang, was in London for a short stop-over whilst on the way to the US to see her daughter. In London, she went to Flat 5, Queensgate Terrace to drop off a package for one of her friend’s daughters. When she arrived at the ground floor apartment, she found nobody home. So, she went up a flight of stairs and knocked on the door of the first apartment she saw. A malay boy happened to open the door. Mdm Quah explained to the boy that she was there to leave a package for someone living on the ground floor.

“ I wonder if I could ask you to pass this to her,” pleading for a simple favour.

“ But of course, Madam. That’s no trouble at all,” replied the Malay boy, picking up the small package from the Chinese lady. With a smile she looked at the boy’s face and thanked him earnestly.

That evening the boy dutifully passed the package to its owner on the ground floor.

That was a little incident, an insignificant footnote in both Mdm Quah’s and the boy’s life; in anyone’s life for that matter. Two complete strangers meeting for a very fleeting moment, both in a place far far away from home


Fifteen years later after a normal family dinner I was having a casual conversation with my mother in law. I had just returned from Chicago on business and so we were exchanging travel stories. She was reminded of her trip to the US many years ago. She had had a stop-over in London.

Then she began to reminisce of what she did in London, including a visit to a block of flats on Queensgate to pass a small package to a friend’s daughter.

“Oh,” I said, “what a coincidence, I used to live there when I was studying at Imperil College.”

She said that her friend’s daughter was not in. As it was not easy to get there again, she walked up the stairs and gave a knock on the first door she saw.
“Oh, “I said again, “I used to live on the first floor.”

She then said a Malay boy popped his head out. So, she thought it was safe to ask a fellow Malaysian to hand the package over to the girl, she went on to relate her story.

At that instance, it all clicked – London … Queensgate ….1993 ….. a Chinese lady from Malaysia …. a package … for the girl on the ground floor … ?”

Oh, I said ….. My mouth went agape as the realization hit me. “ So it was you, Ma! “

“ ..and you, Amran!” was all that my Chinese mother in law could say, realizing too what truly happened fifteen years ealier.

We looked at each other silently for what seemed a long few minutes. We both realized, at the very same instant, that we had met before.

I met my wife’s mother even before I had met my wife! I only met my wife-to-be a good two years later after I had graduated and returned back to KL.



Is there such thing as coincidence, that a thing happens without a reason?
Here I referred my No 3 to the Quranic Surah Yunus in connection with the creation of the planetary system (ayat 5 , part of which is shown below ).

Muhammad Asad’s understanding of this was :

“ …………. None of this has God created without (inner truth). Clearly does He spell out these messages unto people of (innate) knowledge.”

Mohammad Asad added the following explanatory notes in relation to the above Quranic verse:

…………. implying that everything in this universe – whether existent or potential or abstract – is meaningful, and nothing isaccidental’ ……..”

Unfortunately, we do not possess the faculty to understand all the “messages”, but that should not stop us from thinking.

No 3 met his wife’s mother years before he met his wife-to-be and Pakcik met her much later. And all these ending with Malcik and Pakcik acquiring a charming daughter-in-law from a Chinese family, one I never dreamed of and bargained for but one we are all very grateful to Allah for. Who can we account for all these to have happened?

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan