28 February 2015

A person to admire ( Part 1 ) - Dedication

Personal note ( to my visitors):
My last posting was dated 25th January which is one whole month ago. It is not for short of subjects to write. The increasing number of fellow bloggers disappearing from the scene prompts me to think whether I should call it a day as well. Some have stopped writing altogether and some have moved to the more fashionable fb, wtup etc, No, this one month, however, prompts Pakcik to stay on. There are still a few readers who care to call over and leave comments, for whom I am grateful. Above all I had my reasons for starting this blog  almost ten years ago. And those reasons are still equally valid today.


Approach road to Kampong Cerong Cina 

I will do a story about a simple family living in a small village community of about thirty houses situated on the wooded slope of a range of hills about 50 km from me.  The locality is known as Kampong Cerong Cina. Central to this family is Mak Yah, a lady of mid forty with four children.  Her father, regarded with high respect as a learned person in religion, is the oldest person around. He is a healthy 101- year old person.  The old man is not just a religious teacher and the Imam of their village surau but is actively involved  in other activities including slaughtering of cattle (during Hari Raya Haji). To many he is also a medicine man for physical and spiritual health. Mak Yah’s husband, Nan, is a man of about fifty, a general construction worker. He is skilled in handling poisonous pest control chemicals, a skill he acquired during his earlier employment with a pest control company. Nan himself has learnt a lot from his father-in-law. In the absence of the old man he takes over a number of religious duties.     
Raised in a religious family Mak Yah acquired the skill and interest in teaching Quran. After attending a religious college she accepted a job as a primary school religious teacher. It was on annual contract which she has been renewing for the last over twenty years. Her love is seeing little children enjoy learning Quran as she and her children used to as children. On contract basis she spends only a few hours a week at school, allowing her more hours with the village children numbering a about forty. In the recent years her eldest boy assisted her in teaching Quran after completing his study at a religious college. Like his mother he has signed to be a religious teacher as well.

To remain close to the ageing parents of Mak Yah, Nan had a wooden house built next to the old couple’s home. That was almost twenty years ago when Nan and Kak Yah had small children. It was not too burdensome to allow one part of their house dedicated for the Quran class. Over the years as the four children grew bigger the need to use the space for Quran class for their own need was more pressing. Nan and Mak Yah  began to dream of a separate hut for the Quran class, allowing the family to expand their living quarters. But the family had very little money to spare for that purpose. What could do was to begin collecting surplus material like cement, bricks, roofing sheets etc which might be found useful when needed later.


Those are the simple facts about Nan, his wife and family.  For nearly twenty years I knew Nan as a contract worker and had relied on his services, but, I realise today, I had never given him room to talk about his family life. I only came to know what I wrote above by chance during the course a casual conversation I had with a very close of his. Suddenly my perception of that small family changed overnight.

Having broken the barrier Nan and Pakcik began to discuss what could be done to assist his family to continue contributing to the village children in studying Quran. Seeing the help he could get by way of new materials for a small building, Nan set for himself a tough target to have the small hut ready by the birthday anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (SAWSLM) barely two months away. Quietly spent all his free time on the building. Yes he did it all by himself. It was a simple hut with roof, tiled floor and low concrete walls on three sides. On the fourth side he built a toilet and a small kitchen.

The new hut for Quran study - named 'Pondok Almanar'

"Pondok Almanar" nearing completion

The proud lady "Mak Yah" and her ;childrren'



It was a very proud moment for Mak Yah and Nan on the long-waited morning of the Maulud (birthday of Prophet Muhammad SAWSL). She organised her pupils to parade on the road leading to the new hut. On a signal from her the group started chanting, marching slowly to the new building. How surprised I was to see a welcome message displayed on the wall – Welcome to “Pondok Almanar” ( Almanar hut), a tribute to Pakcik’s Almanar.

Nan, Mak Yah's husband leading children reciting praises to Prophet (SAW)

After a short speech by Mak Yah and prayers by Nan everyone started to enjoy the foods, mainly contributed by the villagers.
Mak Yah's young Quran readers


It was a memorable day indeed for the villagers and the children who now have a proper place to study Quran. 

Welcome to Pondok Almanar

 They owe it all to the dedication of Mak Yah and family. Behind the scene Pakcik shares the pride of a gutsy lady who shares out motto:



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