17 July 2012

All in the family ( Pt 5 ) – Looking for a challenge

Today our No 3 turns forty. I would not call him, at forty, a young man any more. But he is still my boy despite him having three children of his own.

L to R - No 1, No 2 & No 3

I have to look so far back in time to get the feel of turning forty when I, too, had three children then. Just as he is today I had then served fifteen years with a multinational company but was struggling in the rat race. The challenge was tremendous. Perhaps I was not so good myself. My No 3 has done that long too with a multinational, but this month, at forty, he has said good bye to his first job, his first love. Somehow when he broke the news of the change he is making, I understood it fully well. This ‘boy’ needs a challenge.

When he was barely thirteen I had him go through a three-hour psychometric test by an expert, an Englishman of considerable experience in this field. Having evaluated all the responses from my No 3, he began to explain in great detail what he could conclude. He knew I would not be happy as a parent with his conclusion. The gist of what he explained was that the boy was intelligent but would not do well academically at a university. It sounded like sugar-coating a bitter pill.

The world is his university,” was a sentence I will never forget. Thence I continued to observe if indeed this boy would learn through life and prosper.

Over the years I watched my No 3 ’s progress and I began to notice the truth in that psychometric test result. In his final he obtained just a Third Class degree. I knew that a couple of his best friends, non Malaysians, were in the First Class; and he was among the minority.

In a way I was to blame for his laissez faire attitude ( sikap tidak apa) towards studies. I wanted him to acquire whatever useful experience (as his father did) while studying abroad. I told him that such experience was worth more than just spending time to get a First Class. So that was what he took literally!

I can say today that, putting the psychometric test aside, his academic performance could have been the result of him being too distracted with activities outside the confines of his lecture halls. Amongst others, he was a DJ at the university radio station, a tutor for the Pimlico Connection (a volunteer program to help local primary schools), spent hours at a time in the dark rooms of the university photography club, worked as a chef at a Mongolian restaurant in a posh area in London, picked up scuba diving, skipped lectures for the snooker halls etc. During a university vacation in summer he took a cheap flight which, for a minimal extra fee, flew him and a Chinese friend all the way from UK to Australia. From there he returned home to shock us all with his tale of his horror, bungee jumping down under.

From about 80 m high

Surprisingly, before the lack-lustre result of his final exam was known, he delighted us with job offers from three multinational companies. That was achieved on the basis of interviews only, making the ultimate lack luster final university performance of little consequence.

My next surprise was when he made his choice from the three job offers. He picked one which was most remote from what he learnt through the years at the university. I was somewhat disappointed as I expected that he would have selected a job to match his qualification.  But he proved me wrong. He prospered. Indeed, ‘the world is his university’ came clearly and strongly to my mind.

And this month of July, turning forty, my No 3 is holding a position in an establishment which is again totally alien to his primary qualification and working experience gained so far. He now says that after fifteen years he has had enough of it and he is looking forward to a fresh challenge. As parents we pray that his new challenge will be as rewarding as the first one.

As much as we wish him many returns of the day we pray that he will continue to accept that all the good things in life , and the life itself, are from HIM.

As I write this posting I keep reminding myself that each child that comes to Almanar deserves to get appropriate guidance, not necessarily being judged by his/her academic potential alone. 

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.


Anonymous said...

I think your son's having a more fulfilling life than most. I clicked with 'carefree' guys at university. All of us worked in fields least relevant to our academic qualifications and very much at peace with ourselves.

Academic excellence to me, is more about self fulfillment. A Phd, as many of us realised today, does not necessarily mean more money and better position but it is still worth striving for.

Not to say one train of thought is better than the other, just that one should follow the heart with some serious considerations. At the end of the day, it's you who lives the life.

I am sure you're proud of your son's achievements because I know I would, congrats and may your son have a blessed birthday.

Pardon me for such lengthy comment.

naniasda said...

Any responsible parents would want the best for their children...Many Happy Returns of the Day to No. 3...semoga diberkati dan dirahmati Allah SWT sentiasa :)

naliahmad said...

dear pakchik, assalamualaikum.
happy birthday to your son. he has been much blessed with parents such as you and makchik. may he be blessed in all other areas of his life.
the story of your no3 sounds so familiar. this could easily be the story of my own no3.
he is no less intelligent than his sister who is always at the top of her class, but because he only scored in mathematics and failed almost all other subjects, he got lumped into the 'back' classes.
he easily grasped mathematical concepts but never could remember the name of the second perdana menteri, or which malaysian state produce the most padi, or even come out with a decent written karangan. outside the classroom, he was once offered a spot by a local silat instructor to compete in a competition. he got as far as the regionals and came up against the reigning champion for a spot at the state event. not bad at all considering he had had no formal silat training thus far.
later on, he easily learned how to repair and maintain heavy machineries.
he got into and out of scrapes, one after the other. he also has a lot of compassion for the less fortunate.
he is far away from 40 yet. i pray he does well. fid dunya wal aakhiroh.

naliahmad said...

pakchik, i had just noticed the date of your post. july 17. our no8 turns 14 today. the only one of our children who was born exactly on the estimated date of delivery (edd).

kotastar said...

Congratulation to the big daddy. Taniah tto to your No 3 son . Maaf tak diberitahu namanya. Whatever it is it does seems an exciting 20+ years since his SPM/MCE, full with guts and challenges.He is a MAN ans surely a proud dad too. Thank you for sharing his lives with us and I am thinking about my youngest 23 now and still searching for his anchor in life.

Imagine how our parents thought of us then? back in the 1950's? Salam to you and family.

Al-Manar said...

Noir Hussen,

I subscibe fully to your points of view on high qualifications, freedom in making judgements etc. The kind of coomments you make is what I expect from my visitors who should feel free to express.

I do not mind anonymous and casual visitors. Of course I have the final say whether or not to print a comment. I need this control because of a high number of spams and advertising bodies appearing practically everyday.

I move around and leave comments freely, the way you have done here. I welcome and thank you. I went to your blog twice but failed to browse through casually. I am sorry about that.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pak Cik,
Decision making ought to be left to the individual. It is tempered with inputs from others by way of guidance, more when they are young and reduced sparingly as the years progress. You've shown it here in more ways than one. The tree is on the way to bring in the desired dividends. Many Happy Returns of the Day to No.3 with every best wishes for the future!


Al-Manar said...


Your real problems and true pain and pleasure have not quite started yet presumably. I hope you can draw some lesson from this kind of posting.

Selamat berpuasa

Al-Manar said...


Your No8 is fourteen, not forty, today. Watch it. Born in the same month may have some similar characteristic.

And your No3 deserves a better deal. This is where I put a lot of blames on school administration , kicking a child into 'back' classes, leaving him without an attempt to motivate and correct. Any way he has many years ahead. If he puts all his efforts in acquiring the skill he enjoys doing all is not lost yet.

Azizi Ahmad Termizi: said...

As the title of an English comedy goes, "Some Mothers Do Have 'Em". Thank you for sharing...

Al-Manar said...


When you say "Imagine how our parents thought of us then? back in the 1950's" I real try to imagine what they thought. It was a matter of getting a job such as a clerk, a teacher or an ustaz. What univecity had we then? So I suppose their worry did not reach a stress level.

I suppose having a family firm makes one think of continuity. Am I right to think so? In which case the 23yr boy needs to be encouraged to take certain course. Does this make make life easier? I wonder. Have I given you an idea for a posting?

Al-Manar said...


Following what you say Can I go on to conclude that bringing up a child is like growing a plant. We cannot change a rambutan plat to be a mango. The best we can do is to use corrrect fertiliser and protecting it against harms, internal worms or a hungry goat.

Al-Manar said...


Some Mothers Do 'Have 'Em - the famouse BBC comedies. It must be your time studying in UK, right?

You may not vrealise that from you blog I picked up the Arabic song Lau kana bainana ya habib. Before that I did not know where I could get it.It is a breautiful tribute to our prophet.

Drop in again if you have time for a chit chat!

Alif Mazuki said...

Ayah long, those fine words about him really inspires me alot in trying to persue success in life. Besides, having a supporting loved one close by my side. I am thankful to be a part of the family. Alhamdulillah.

nwar said...

Happy birthday my dear li'l brother! Reflections like this make one realize how precious parents guidance is.

Afterall, "Every child is born with Fitrah, it's the parents who make them Yahood (Jews), Christian, Majus..."

We fervently hope we play as good a role model to our children as the both of you, the infamous Ngabang Teliput's "pokchik & makchik", have and had always been to us.

Pakcik's No.2

Al-Manar said...


You can be assured that you are one of the loved ones in our family. Ayah Long would like to feature you here one day.

Al-Manar said...

No 2,

The three of you have given us reasons to live. The pains and worries you three gave us in the process of growing up have sweetened our memories and we do not want it to be otherwise.

Our only wish is that you and your own families will go through similar routes, and end up as we are today always satisfied and grateful to HIM for being blessed with such a life.

Pak Zawi said...

As parents we can only give guidance to our children. As they grow up they will have a mind of their own and desire in life. Give them the freedom to decide as they will know what is best for them. He has proven himself to be very much wanted by the job market as his experience and adventurous nature is more valuable than mere qualification. Bill Gates and Honda are two personalities that did well despite not graduation from universities. If I were you I would be very proud of him.
Happy belated 40th birthday to your No 3.

Al-Manar said...

Pak Zawi,

Young parents may not quite see what you and I see that, having past certain age, children need guidance rather than instruction. We cannot spare the cane totally, if needed, at certain age.

Thank you for your fine words. Of course like most parents we are proud of him and our two other.

Temuk said...

In today's world, I think, one should try to have at least a diploma or 1st degree in the area he/she is interested in. I am truly fascinated by many(!) of our ustaz muda nowadays who despite being 'hafiz' already, continue to further their education, some up to the doctoral level. Notably, the experience and knowledge gained in the process, strengthened by the knowledge and experience acquired from the so-called "open-world university" have in many aspects made them better ustaz, teachers, pendakwah, or administrators, greatly needed by the present generation of ummah.

Selamat menyambut Ramadhan yang penuh keberkatan, sdr Al-Manar. Semoga segala amalan kita diberkati & diredhai Allah.

kaykuala said...

Pak Cik,
Right! From the little I had experienced (I've 3 kids)I found that we need to guide them to make a choice (the guidance as you've rightly said are the fertilizers and water) One had wanted to take Add.maths but I had persuaded him to take accounts in secondary. Accounts served him well in business studies later at tertiary level. He could have flopped Add maths as most people do in secondary.

It's their choice to be a rambutan or mango. Our inputs help them to be a better rambutan, mango or whatever they choose.


Awang Goneng said...

Well, what can I say Abang Ngah? Forty is a good age to be. It is more than 39 and less than 50.

I am not surprised that your 40-year old man has been in all directions but the one that has truly shocked me is that he was once a chef in a Mongolian restaurant. Now, I think for that he really needs a talking to.

Al-Manar said...


No, one can no longer belittle today's ustaz. Listen tom them over TV. A Dr title is no longer unusual.

Selamat brerpuasa Sdr Temuk.

Al-Manar said...


You could do what you did because you were close enough to him to assess his potential, his strengths and weaknesses. You yourself had gone through hhigher education, backed with working experience Not every father can do that, least of all in the rural areas.

Selamat berpuasa, Akhi Hank.

Al-Manar said...


That was what happened in London. At one point I thought of asking Mi for the photo you have of Georgi in the bathroom for this posting!

Selamat Berpuasa. Agaknya dah sehari lebiyh awal diLondon. Kami baru balik dari terawikh malam pertama.

www.pantundanselokaninotaziz.blogspot.com said...

Dearest Pakcik and Makcik,

Selamat Menyambut Ramadhan and Selamat Berbuka puasa today. We are with Mum today and I just prepared my signature apple, kasturi and longan drink while my sister is slaving over her samba udang petai and vegetables (she is the best cook and does so effortlessly)

Your son has had a life most would only dream of, and I am sure he will find more adventures to fulfill. Mine are just beginning to step out the comfortable boundaries. I lived quite on the spur of the moment decades ago and yet now, my daughter tells me I wouldn't go to the sea just because there might be a tsunami!

Ahhh, the joys of parenthood. My heart still goes pitter patter when I hug my sleeping babies, big and small.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pak Cik
Selamat berpuasa Ramadhan al Mubarak to you and the family. Things seem to move fast these days. In no time it'll be the end of the year!


Unknown said...

Assalamualaikom Tuan Al-Manar,

Saya minta izin menulis dalam BM. Bukannya saya terlalu patriotok,tetapi keterbatasan dlm BI.

Seseorang itu mempunyai piawaian yg berbeza dlm menilai sesuatu.Tidak syak lagi No.3 akan menjadi aset di mana sahaja beliau ditempatkan.

Al-Manar said...


It is not difficult to see from your blog postings and comments here and there that two uppermost important subjects to you currently are your children and your career as a writer. I do not have the passion for writing but like most parents I love my children. I think you have begun to sense the tougher time ahead when your girls ‘step out of the comfort boundaries’ as you said. The sea will get rougher, Ninot, but the catch will be greater. Tsunami does does not come every day.

Selamat berpuasa.

Al-Manar said...


Selamat berpuasa sekeluarga hingga berhari raya.

Al-Manar said...

Ujang Kutik

Apalah bahasa kepada kita yang dewasa selain dari menyampaikan kata hati. Lehatlah betapa teruknya tatabahasa saya salam bahasa Melayu. Saya sudah kaleh ditertawakan oleh budak budak yang belajar di Almanar. Seorang penulis yang terkenal pernah kata yang tatabahasa penulisan saya bukan bahasa Melayu.

Saya besetuju yang kita mempunyai piawaian berbeza. Itu lah betulnya kalau dikatakan cantik buruk sesuatau terletak kepada mata yang memandang. Kita cuma dapat berdoa akan peroleh yang terbaik.

Salaam dan selamat berpuasa dan berhari raya seterusnya. Jangan segan mremberi buah fikiran dimasa depan

Awang Goneng said...

"At one point I thought of asking Mi for the photo you have of Georgi in the bathroom for this posting!"

Is he rich yet? If so, then we can start blackmailing him now.

Al-Manar said...


No, no where near that. But there is still hope as he has now joined the banking sector, surely for the challenge to get there after leaving from hand to mouth! So hold tight to that photo.

No3 said...

Hi babah,

Thanks for the nice post, if a little revealing ! The adventure does continue after 40 insya'Allah, although it's a little harder with 4 demanding women in my life to drag along.

Uncle AG,

Just name your price! Being the season, I can afford a whole box of kurma in exchange for that photo.

No 3.