28 April 2011

Pakcik reminisces (Pt 17 – Sec 1/2)) – The road not taken

I do not remember when was the first time I came across Robert Frost’s poem ‘The road not taken’. It was certainly during my school days. I thought it was a beautiful, but at a young age I could not grasp the full implication of the poem. A few years back this short poem was included in the secondary school English text book. The short poem reads:

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back,

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverging in a wood, and I,
I took one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

( By Robert Frost )

And now so much water has flowed under the bridge. I have begun to see this poem in a new dimension. On a long journey through life one is bound to encounter ‘two roads diverging in the wood’. And more often than not we make our selection almost subconsciously. So whenever I stood to explain this poem to Almanar children I reflected on my own journey and could not help feeling tears well up in my eyes.

In my earlier posting I moaned over the five individuals in the picture below:

The 1952 school librarians

Today only one person still remains standing. The other four, all respected ‘ustaz’ in their own right, have left (Alfatihah to them). The last one to have left us was Ustaz Abdul Malek, who served as the Imam of Sydney mosque. He came from the well known ‘AlYunani’ family of Terengganu.

Looking at the above picture does not only bring me back to a distant, happy and care-free moment in time but also to a point in time which represented a corner stone, a very significant landmark in my life.

The picture was taken in 1952 ,our final year, the 7th year, at the Madrasah Sultan Zainal Abidin (MSZA). The five of us were appointed to be the first batch of librarians of the new school library. In age I was the youngest in that class because during the first four years at the school I was double-promoted twice. So by the time I reached Std 7 in 1952 I was two years younger than my classmates. All the same, many of us had something in common, A DREAM. We aspired to go for further studies at the celebrated Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Without exaggeration, many prominent Islamic scholars in the state, practically all the state ‘mufti’, ‘kadi’ etc, were the products of MSZA. This included the longest serving Menteri Besar of Terengganu, Tan Sri Hj Wan Mokhtar Ahmad.

About the time I was stepping into my final year at MSZA in 1952 my elder brother injected a fresh idea into my mind. At that point in time the idea was seen as a minor diversion from the original plan to go to Cairo immediately after MSZA. Having himself done a course in Islamic studies in Saudi Arabia, and regarded as the wiser one in our family, he felt that I should learn more English before going all out for the Arabic/Islamic education in Cairo – delaying the trip to Cairo somewhat.

Perhaps I should mention here that in 1953 there was only one Government English School in K Terenganu ( Sultan Sulaiman English School – SSES) to serve the whole state of Terengganu. There was a private English school which offered evening classes..

1952 & 1953 diary

1952 diary - ( Feb 2nd, the Federation Day - a public holiday)

My 1952 and 1953 diaries are in a pitiful state, faded and damaged by silver-fish. Nevertheless the 1952 diary had it recorded that in the evening of Friday, Jan 4th I joined the evening class at the private school. This date marked the starting point from where my English education was beginning to be taken more seriously.

Who was I to know that Friday Jan 4th 1952 was a fateful date. Unconsciously I had made a choice between the two diverging roads.
I repeat:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverging in a wood, and I,
I took one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference


To be continued …

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan


Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
Aaahhh....I can see a glimpse of relief and not regret in you, having chosen the less travelled path. Can't wait to read the next installment. purrr.....meow!

abdulhalimshah said...

Dear PakCik,
Now you are joining the ranks of those who dwell in poetry to bring back the fond memories which stll remain etched in your head. The road you were preparing for and the one that you travelled was actually fated and now you are looking back with satisfaction. Had it been Al-Azhar, you probably would have become a Mufti or Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi Shar'iah. But who could determine one's fate except Allah. Now you are giving back to society what you probably had done if you had gone to Al-Azhar,but perhaps in a different role.Wallahuwa'lam.

Al-Manar said...


I would never know what it is like today had I not taken the less traveled path. Had HE planned that path it would have been the beter for me. That I am here today ( or there as someone and somewhere else)must be accpeted as the best for me. That is one of several significant Islamic values inbedded in me during the five years up to and including 1952.

Al-Manar said...

Akhi AHS,

You have read my mind, as simple as that. I would not wabt to be otherwise with, age, wonderful family, health, rezeki and the will to serve mankind for HIM, a value I learnt from the earlier education and old family. What you have been doing the last several months is truly admirable. I wonder if I could do as much, akhil aziz.

ninotaziz said...

The less travelled path...always a more poignant choice due to its challenges, a sense of self reliance ....'I did it my way' satisfaction.

I am who I am.

And you are who you are, Pakcik - an individual who connects people to others and opportunities. A catalyst?

Unknown said...

Dear Pakcik,

Had been following your writings. I must admit, this is one of the best blog. You are the selected 'individual'. Could it be the 'less travelled path' you have taken? Looking at things around you now - I should say alhamdulillah. Can't wait to read the next part.

Anonymous said...

Salam PakCik,
Not many people are blessed with choices. Sometimes, there was just the only path to travel. However, I do believe that whatever path we are destined with, if we try to make the best of it then the end result will be just as satisfactory. Wassalam.


Al-Manar said...


Yes indeed, we are who we are. We run into difficulty trying to be what we are not.

Al-Manar said...


You are generous with your praise. Thank you. Do call on us regularly with your comments. Rest assured Pakcik will return your compliment.

Al-Manar said...


We should not imagine choices and alternatives like what we see in a supermarket. Allah gives us choices but more often than not we do not sit back and think. I wonder what I should and where to eat today is a choice. Eating at small roadside stall, just for a quick something may lead to an acute stomach problem which in turn lead us to something, something and so on in which process something good may happen. One thing leads to another just because of a very simple and mundane decision making.

I see life as such, a continuous events, a string of choices.

Aishah said...


This is a beautiful post, written so beautifully and I was taken into the nostalgia, the memories, the reflections of a time past. It also makes me think of my moment when I subconsciously took the path not taken. When we look back, the more it dawns on us that there is not much, almost nothing is, within our control, but everything to be grateful for.

Al-Manar said...


Thank you for the compliment.
I do believe we have a lot to thank for being where we are. Think not of 'what if', a futil excercise.

It is good to see that you take to studying Quran with keenness.

Cheqna said...

Assalamualaikum Pakcik,

Al-Fatihah kepada sahabat2 Pakcik yang telah pulang ke rahmatullah..semoga telah ditempatkan bersama para salihin...

Reading through this post and previous entries that I'd missed caused tears in my eyes for many reasons, I feel humbled after reading your journey.

Thank you for sharing and may Allah SWT bless you (and family) always.

Temuk said...

Coretan 'menoleh masa yang berlalu' tuan amat tajam pengajarannya. Syukurlah, jalan yg dilalui memberi peluang dan ruang untuk diri melempahkan khidmat bakti kepada masyarakat. Dan syukurlah, kita dipilih utk memilih jalan sedemikian.

Al-Manar said...

I am sure how you get to where you are today against the Losong and Hiliran backgrounds is something worth remiminiscing.

Al-Manar said...


Bagaimana adr berkebolehan meneliti tumbuhan amat mengkagumkan. Tentu ada sesuatu yang sdr boleh kongsikan dengan kita pembaca blog sdr. Kita semua sama sahaja dianugerahkan Tuhan kalau dihalusi hakikatnya.

ARZ said...

Salam Pak Cik,

Guessed we all had diverging roads. Mine was enrolling in the military college with the soul purpose of joining the military. It never happened.
But I do try to do the "the road less travelled", literally speaking.
It's been a while. Salam to Mak Cik too

Al-Manar said...

I should have quoted you as a living example of a man who consciously takes a less travelled road!

Lama betul tak nampak. Terkenang juga. Agaknya day pindah oversea for green pastures and less travelled roads.
Salaam to all.

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