21 February 2012

End of the tunnel ( Pt 15 ) - Now she owns a ring

A) - Just a prologue

The sound of an incoming sms woke me up. A message at 1.13 am was not likely to be a good news, unless from another time zone. The message read, ‘Ayh sy meninggal dunia 12.33 am.'

Only then I noticed an earlier message which read, ‘ Salam pakcik. Ayah sy tenat.’ It came at 11.20 pm when I had just retired, too tired to be awakened after a long drive from KL.

Those short messages came from an ex Almanar pupil who regarded us as her second parents. Early this morning we went to her home and at 10.30 I went for the prayers to send off a very dedicated ‘bilal’ of a mosque here. The girl will, insya Allah, be a subject of my ‘End of the tunnel’ series.

The deceased, whom I knew well, has left without a chance to have the worldly satisfaction of seeing the success of his beloved daughter. Alfatihah to this wonderful man whose passing should make his loving daughter realise that he had not lived for nothing. She has a debt to settle.

B) - Now she owns a ring

As I was driving home from the funeral, feeling sorry for the now fatherless girl, I decided to sit and post a new entry before the end of the day, perhaps another of the ‘End of the Tunnel’ series – but not about the bereaved young lady mentioned above. I will pick a boy whom I call Syami.

The boy from Batu Rakit

Not so long ago this boy, Syami, came over to Nuri to hand a wedding invitation card. No, it was not his wedding as he passed his SPM just a year ago. The card was for the wedding of one of his three sisters, he being the youngest of four children from the same mother.

When I first knew Syami seven years ago he struck me as a high potential and a determined boy. Life was not easy for him, his mother selling nasi lemak to raise five clever children. Circumstances brought Syami and Pakcik close together and I was able to counsel and speak freely to him.

I remember how, during the year he sat for the PMR exam, he had to spend a lot of his time helping classmates rather than for himself, a good quality which might not do justice to his own need. A number of his friends did well in that exam; and as I expected Syami did very well himself and that earned him an offer to join form 4 at a premier secondary science boarding school in Kuala Terengganu. When others would jump with joy, he did NOT want to accept the offer!

I was pretty sure had he continued at his old school he would succees to lead his class and continue to be haunted by his class-mates for help. This was a case of a big fish in a small pond, feeling very comfortable, completely oblivious to the great competition among the giants outside. He was certain Almanar could continue to help him through. Pakcik had a hard time to persuade that young boy to leave his comfort zone. Thank goodness , in the end, he grudgingly took my advice.

Hardly three months later, he came around to admit feeling rather ‘small’ against the giants in his class, especially those from schools in the West Coast. That challenge made him produce his best.

Three years has gone down the line. Today my Syami is attending a two-year course leading to Cambridge A Level exam. He has to take German language as he is slated to read engineering in Germany. He knows he has no alternative but to make it if he wants to go forwards; but this young man seems mentally prepared.

Syami (extreme right) and two classmates

Syami’s family is no longer what it was because his elders, given proper education, are earning good money, thanks to their mother’s tireless sacrifice. If for a long time the great mother enjoyed no luxury, today, according to Syami, ‘She can boast of having a ring on her finger.’ Her children have made her stop selling nasi lemak.

Both Makcik and Pakcik, as a matter of course, attended the wedding of Syami’s sister. At the end of enjoying our food, and as we were leaving for home Syami came to say that her mother wished to see Pakcik before I left. So I went to look her up. The moment she saw me approaching she left her lady guests. What she had was just to express her thanks for what I had done for her son. “ Kalau ada apa apa masalah saya selalu suruh dia jumpa Pakciklah ( Whenever there was a problem I would normally ask him to see Pakik)”; a compliment I least expected from a wonderful mother who could now smile with a ring on her finger.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

14 February 2012

Moment to Reflect ( Pt 8 ) - Whether Alive or Dead - SAW

We have gone more than half way through the month of Rabiul Awwal. Mawlidul Rasul has been much talked about and discussed. Today I pick up one of my treasured books, The Life of Muhammad by Muhammad Husein Haykal.

By Muhammad Husein Haykal

The page immediately inside the front cover bears my signature and the date the book was purchased, KL 14/2/95, making it 17 years ago today, KT 14/2/12.

Purchased in KL on 14-2.1995

As I flip through the book and I reach Chapter 31 (page 504), The Prophet’s Burial. On the second page of this chapter I had some notes scribbled in pencil. Reading that I can barely hold back my tears. The scene was that of a total chaos, women crying near hysterical and others shocked and stupefied.

Umar, on hearing the sad news went straight to Muhammad’s bed, uncovered him and looked at his face for a while. He perceived its motionless and deathlike appearance as a coma from which he believed Muhammad would soon emerge. He found it hard to accept the truth of a great man he had so admired and worked for. So at the mosque he was proclaiming at the top of his voice, “Some hypocrites are pretending that the Prophet of God – May God’s peace and blessing be upon him – has died. By God I swear that he did not die ……. By God, the Prophet of God will return ……. Any man who dares to perpetrate a false rumour such as Muhammad’s death shall have his arms and legs cut off by this hand.”

Abu Bakr hearing the same news returned and noticed Umar addressing the crowd. He did not stop to listen to Umar but went straight to Muhammad’s body, uncovered his face and kissed it, saying, “How wholesome you are, whether alive or dead!” He then held the Prophet’s head in his hand and looked closely at the face which showed no sign whatever of death’s attack. Laying it down again, he said, “What would I not have sacrificed for you! …..”- such devotion.

Abu Bakr then returned to the mosque. Aproaching close to Umar he said, “Softly, O Umar! Keep silent!” He then went to address the crowd. After praising and thanking God, Abu Bakr delivered a brief address. “ O men, if you have been worshiping Muhammad, then know that Muhammad is dead. But if you have been worshiping God, then know that God is living and never dies." He then recited the following Quranic verse ( among the verses most dear toPakcik) :

Part of verse 144 - surah Al Imran

I have written above only the first half of the verse 144 from Surah Al Imran. Muhammad Asad gave us the following interpretation:

“ And Muhammad is only an apostle; all the (other) apostles have passed away before him; if, then, he dies or is slain, will you turn about on your heels? ….” He completed the other half of the verse.

Abubakr’s short speech, particularly the verse, worked like magic. The crowd listened to the verse as if they had never heard it before, now fully understood the stark truth. So that was that. The inevitable had to be accepted.


So what does that scene above tell us?

Hadn't the great Prophet done enough ?

Do we simply keep on celebrating his maulid, without giving a thought what his life stood for?

And shouldn't we spare a moment to reflect over what the greatest man on earth had done for mankind?

What would I not have sacrificed for you! …..” ? - Abu Bakr's lament.

Have we nothing at all to sacrifice, in our own separate little way, in honour of what he did for mankind?

Sall Allah alaihi wasallam.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

09 February 2012

With a sigh (Pt 11 ) - Atlas, what is it?

Ask me, “What’s an atlas ?”

I will start with a book of maps showing position of countries, towns, seas and mountains etc. School children can answer that equally well.

A world atlas

“What else?”

I would go back to my childhood days when, like children of those days, I was interested in old folk lore like Pak Pandir, Hang Tuah etc. Then of course I would imagine the mighty Atlas of the Greek mythology holding the earth on his back.

The might Atlas

“What else?”

Now I have to scratch my head thinking hard of my old geography lesson when I learnt all about the prominent ranges of Alps, the Himalayas, the Andes etc. And among them stands Atlas Mountains stretching across North Africa.

“What else?”

Now you catch me. I am sorry. I cannot think of any more, unless you mean AlAttas.

“My goodness. You don’t have to go to school to know what Atlas is!”


I was then doing English with my Form TWO pupils when something made me ask them what ‘atlas’ was when a line in the book we were reading read, “ …… bought me an atlas ….” I was glad to have asked them that question. a stupid question, perhaps. About twenty blank faces looked at one another, a few shaking their heads. I just stood there with disbelief. Then a boy mastered the courage to suggest,

“Kain pelikat, Pakcik!”

Indeed ‘Atlas’ was a popular brand of man’s cloth (kain pelikat) at that time. Everyone in the village knows that. How silly I was.

Pelikat Atlas

That old man standing in front of the class could only draw a sigh to realise how out-dated and silly he was. To him was kain pelikat 'cap gajah benang seribu', nothing but the best of his time.

Berkhidmt kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

02 February 2012

End of the tunnel ( Part 14 ) – Once a fisherman, always a fisherman

The bell rang and I knew someone was at the gate. As I pushed open the main door a young girl was stepping in through the gate.

Pakcik ingat saya lagi, tak?” ( Can Pakcik still remember me, or not?)

Her face was beaming with excitement. Of course she was a familiar face; but before I could pick a right name from that long list answer she already answered her own question, obviously so exhilarated to let something off her chest. “ Fiza, Pakcik. Nak bagi kad lah Pakcik.” ( Fiza, Pakcik. I have a card to give.)

A kad (a card). I knew it. It had to be an invitation card for her wedding. So that was it.


Fiza is no stranger to Makcik and Pakcik.(click) End of the tunnel (Part 5 ) featured her elder sister who now has two children, holding a senior position in a private college in Klang Valley. Fiza herself is a nurse at a hospital in Kedah.

A few minutes later, sitting comfortably and obviously relieved after letting off her chest the reason for her visit, she talked about her job and family, a happy family. Her father, now at 61, is still a fisherman and has been one for 46 years. Shouldn’t he call it a day when children have begun to earn good income? I wondered and asked her so.

“ We all have told him again and again that he must stop going out to sea. But can you believe it? If he does not take his boat out for a few days he gets sick – rindukan ombak ( missing the waves)!”

Ten days later we duly attended her wedding, a grand kampong wedding, the second we attended in that particular house. When I looked at the brick house my mind wondered back some fifteen years ago to picture an old wooded house on stilts, often flooded during monoon season. They often needed a small wooden boat to reach the steps of the house from the higher ground around it.

Wedding day

Pak Yas (for Alias), the proud father, the ‘old man of the sea’, was equally excited to see us. “ I told Fiza she must send her card personally to Pakcik.” He stressed the word ‘sendiri’ (personally).

Pak Yas - Standing tall

And before we left the proud fisherman confided, “ I hope you will have a chance to come for a third wedding.” Indeed three daughters were ‘graduates’ from Almanar. Two are married and one to go.

In his pink dress the proud father looked young for his age. The secret cannot simply be the happy ending for his family but it has a lot to do with his 46 years of dripping his sweat in the sun and the storms, and being washed by the sprays of salt water of the South China Sea.

Makcik and Pakcik share the happiness of the family of this master fisherman.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan