24 February 2011

Is It The End of The Tunnel - For Almanar ?

On 15th December last year I posted 'Do I call it a day or carry on?', a reflection of frustration and a sorry state of mind. The number of attendance for my classes had fallen to below fifty. Two months have passed and the situation is no better. But my gut feeling tells me something interesting will happen soon, and I hope to be able to draw a sigh of relief, and write about it.

In the meantime Pakcik will sit back, do whatever there is to do for the reduced number of pupils attending Almanar, and watch the sea from the verendah of my house,

The verendah to watch the sunrise and the sea from

The middle part of Nuri to watch the young coconut palms from


The question is why should ‘Nuri’ be the name given to a simple retirement home – after all, I once said in a sarcastic tone, what’s in a name? Insya Allah I will clarify this.

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15 February 2011

Of L O V E

Hari Maulud

This morning, 15-2-2011 I opened my yesterday’s newspaper to glance through what there was inside before I buy today’s. What a habit that is to browse through a newspaper a day later, just before purchasing a new one! Anyway, I noticed that yesterday was Valentine’s Day and today is our Maulud.

My other half happens to be away to visit her aged mother and I am all alone, suddenly enveloped in emptuness, with no one to say ‘I love you’. It was then a thought suddenly came to me. Somewhat excited I almost ran to get my small white board to write the following very popular Hadith.

It is appropriate to remind oneself of these words – of LOVE - especially when one is reminded of Valentine’s day; more so when it is time to celebrate Maulud.

We have someone to remember and to love , the one who left us with the following words:

Translation - ‘Tidak ada iman dalam diri kamu semua sehingga kamu mechintai saudara saudara kamu senua sebanyakmana kamu kasih dirimu sendiri.’

That is what LOVE should truly mean to us.

Must we think that the martyred Saint Valentine is anywhere up to Muhammad’s status that we need him to remind us of love?


And so this mornng, when a small group of form 4 pupils sat in front, I gave it all with love.

At the end of the class, three girls chose to stay back to do some work on the computers. Knowing that they had come to Almanar without breakfast, I pulled out a ten-ringgit note for them to buy something from a stall nearby to eat - all for the love of it.


Allahumma salli ala Muhammad.

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12 February 2011

3rd Update – What’s happening?

Here he comes again.

The Old Man and the Sea.

Again at three o’clock the door bell rang loud and clear, once, twice. I rushed downstairs and through the window I saw him coming through the gate, a plastic-bagful of fish in one hand. This time I had the presence of mind to grab my camera which happened to be hanging with key rings on the wall beside the door.

“ Ada ikang sikit lagi Pakcik,” ( Some more fish, Pakcik) said the man from the sea. He was dressed in his same red and blue ‘fishing uniform’. On the chest of his top was some Chinese ( or was it Japanese ?) characters. For all you know, as ignorant as I am, he might think the writing was Bahasa Melayu saying ‘1 Malaysia’!

“Hold it there. I am taking your photograph,” I gave him the order.

I will not elaborate what he had to tell me. In a nut shell he earned about two hundred ringgits four days ago, the day he brought me some fish. And today he had a similar windfall. I was speechless.

I ended my last entry with the following:

Dari titisan peluh
Tuhan luaskan lagi

Dalam hati aku berdoa”

One new visitor to Almanar, calling himself/herself ‘p3chandan’, kindly amen that by saying:

“ ….. mudah2 doa Pakcik kpd dia dimakbulkan Insyaallah..Amin.”

Dengan itu biarlah Pakcik akhiri cacatan kali ini dengan doa:

Keikhlasan dan kejujuran
Pintu rezeki dan rahmat berpanjangan

Dari hambamu
Ya Alrazzak, Alrahman

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08 February 2011

2nd Update – Back to sea


Angin Tahun Baru Cina sudah berlalu. Laut mula tenang. Terbukalah pintu rezeki.
It was three o’clock and Pakcik was getting ready for the afternoon class when the door bell rang. Standing in the hot sun and wearing a broad smile with sweat trickling down his face was a familiar face. The moment I stepped out of the door and was within his reach, his right hand stretched out holding a plastic bag containing some fish. The man was Pak Ngah, an old man of the sea.

“ Ni ikang sikit buat Pakcik rasa. Baru balik kelauk,” the gaunt old man said in a soft voice, grinning broadly and watching straight into my eyes. (“Here are some fish for Pakcik to taste. I’ve just returned from the sea.”)

1 kg of kembong and cencaru

It was pointless trying to make a move to pay for the fish, five kembong and five cencaru ( the latter fish is called ‘ikang kerah ekoo’ in Terengganu-speak- literally means ‘fish with stiff tail’) in the plastic bag which weighed about a kilogram. It would mean a few dollars, a meaningful sum to him, but his hurt pride would be greater.

The very fresh fish straight from the sea glistened in the hot sun, reflecting nothing less than a hard day’s sweat. It was a sense of pride to be able to offer Pakcik a part of his first day’s back-breaking work at sea.

Pak Ngah is a man of about sixty. By the local standard he is still young to go to sea. He is a hard-working man who tries to earn some money doing odd jobs when the sea is too rough and dangerous. He has learnt to do simple carpentry work. Knowing that he was out of job last month I asked him to repair a small wooden gate leading out to the beach from our back garden. The gate was hanging loose as its hinges had been rusted away by the salty air from the sea. Pak Ngah did a good job of it and earned himself a small sum which he most needed.

To a simple and honest soul like Pak Ghani a gesture of kindness shown during his time in need necessitates a good gesture in return.

Makcik and Pakcik will certainly enjoy the fish coming straight from the sea but I cannot help thinking how hard it was on him - out to sea before daybreak, burning his body under the merciless heat of the sun until three – just to smile at me with about one kilogram of fish to offer. I only hope he had a good catch today.

Dari titisan peluh
Tuhan luaskan lagi

Dalam hati aku berdoa

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04 February 2011

Updated - Video of 'Ombak'

The day after the CNY - 4-2-2010

Pakcik's No.1 was down here with her family for a short Chinese New Year break. Having seen Pakcik's last posting (below) of "Angin Tahun Baru Cina" she left a short video with the following message. Visitors may wish to see the scene at the beach a day before the Chinese New Year.

Here is a video recording of the ombak just before the Chinese New Year :


Pakcik's No.1

Today the wind has gone and the sea is back as calm as its usual self.

03 February 2011

Angin Tahun Baru Cina - The end of Monsoon

I came to settle down in this part of the world, a quiet locality, good seventeen years ago during which time I have learnt certain aspects and beliefs of the local. One facet of life that one has to accept, having a home directly facing the sea, is the ferocity of Monsoon weather and all that comes with it, the effect of salty atmosphere on plants and metal parts of equipment, the inconvenience of incessant rain and so on.

But I enjoy the three months’ spell. The cool weather is a welcome change. In the shelter of my home I watch the branches of trees being swept beautifully and in unison landwards by the north-east wind, the background music-like sound of waves droning above the sound of raindrops falling on the roof, and the frightening sight of the angry sea sending rows after rows of ferocious waves to beat the shore line.

We will surely follow your order, O mighty Monsoon wind

What am I compared to the the vast sea?

This is the period I use less of the airconditioning units, substantially cutting down the size of the monthly electricity bills.

And while I sit in comfort I cannot forget to think of the hard life endured by many families when their men cannot venture out to sea to earn a meager living from the vast expense of the South China Sea, their boats lying idle on the beach.

We can take a rest till the weather is good

I have to remind myself, “ How lucky I am to enjoy the weather when many of them have less food to share.”

Our Chinese friends are celebrating their new year. The villagers, almost 99% Malays, may not know or care when the so-called Christmas, Hair Gawai or Deposal falls but they surely know when the Chinese New Year (Tahun Baru China) is. Many even expect the day to come and be over with quickly – quietly celebrating in a different way.

The arrival of Chinese New Year signifies the end of Monsoon wind. Believe it or not I have found it so coincidentally correct that the Monsoon wind blows hard once last time about the Chinese New Year ; hence their term ‘angin tahun baru Cina’.

A couple of days ago the wind came and yesterday the sun shone bright. I can expect the sea to start calming down within these couple of days and soon the fishermen will be happy to be out in force.

Pakcik will have to wait another eight months or so to enjoy my next ‘winter’, insya Allah. Life goes on. The sea will soon be calm and I will again enjoy the beauty of sunrise during these twilight years, months or days, whatever He pleases for me.

And my grandchildren will visit us and be able to enjoy lying on their back half afloat in the calm water, watching the glorious sight of the morning sky.

Two heads and two pairs of feet keeping afloat

To our Chinese friends and relatives, indeed we have, Pakcik and Makcik wish them a happy and prosperous new year wherever they are. It is sad to receive an email late last night that an old office colleague, once a neighbour on the same street and indeed a very dear Chinese friend of my family, is in a serious condition in Sydney. Such is life.

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