1990 : The year we tied the knot. It was on The deepavali Day that I rushed with RM1500 drawn from the ATM ,home to marry my wife. I did not ask for a lavish ceremony and my family just went along. The rombongan menantu was served assorted kuih only….something no one has ever done. No khenduri nothing. I was thankful enough to have my in-laws dared to bare with me when people saying all sort of nasty things about their son-in-law. I did not care really, all my friends marrying their partners in the USA in simple ceremonies as well. I just did not want to burden my family with all the big spending and all when I perfectly knew they did not have any money for that. Alhamdulillah, Allah has made it easy for me all these years. I am very happy with my lovely sweetheart and just could not imagine a life without her. After the khenduri at her house, I brought her to Dungun where I worked at the time. No honeymoon…. hmmmm..she still mumbling about that…me owing her a honeymoon. I just don’t understand why I need to go on the honeymoon. Maybe one of these days if we have the time we will go off somewhere just the two of us. I want to promise her that.
Our first five years in Dungun was nice. We managed to live well on such a small salary, drove an old Nissan Sunny commuting between Dungun and Wakaf Bharu every weekend. At one time I drove into a herd of kerbau during one of the trips back and wrecked the car. I later found out that neither me nor the car were insured. Kena tipu la by my own friend who sold the insurance. Sold the car and got a new Proton Wira.
1995: Then we off to London.When I look back through the years in Essex, England I could not hold myself back from being emotional as it was a unique experience that skin my soul inside out. After all these years I just could not stop to thank Allah for giving me, my wife and my children all the strength that we needed. My wife Salwana had been the backbone of my life particularly during the four years we were in Essex. She played a pivotal role to ensure that I have plenty of room to earn my PhD. I just could not do it without her; even it is not too much to say that my PhD is rightfully hers.
After the plane touched down at The Heathrow airport early in the morning of that one day in September 1995, we were all queuing to get through the immigration. The process was okay but we were all very tired from the long flight. I could see my wife was very very tired holding Nabiela Husna as she was only 50 days old. All through the flight she did not rest well as to keep Nabiela , Aqeelah and Ariefah quiet and not to disturb other passengers. Aqeelah and Ariefah were okay as they were old enough to know what’s going on. I myself could handle them and tried to keep them occupied with the movies and what not. But Nabiela was so small and still on breastfeed, I just did not know how to handle her. My wife Salwana would be the only one that could comfort her and she had been doing that all night long. She was tired. I told myself what have I got my family into … a disaster. Just hang on for a little while, I prayed. So we went pass the immigration, walked through that green lane and out. So now what ! No body was there to greet us. I did not plan for anybody to come how could anyone be there ! But not to worry we will get a cab and find that place called Essex. I fetched that Black London Cab and asked if he could take us to Essex. Of course he agreed ……for 110 pounds. I did not feel that it was really 440 ringgit(the exhange rate back then was 4.0) for a taxi ride. The cab took us to a hotel near the university and we stayed there for a while. I thought I could get a house and we could move in asap. But it was not that easy. My children got diarrhea from the flight’s food and I went out to get some medical help. But where ? I walked around the campus and could not see any clinics or health centers open. I walked and walked around the place until it’s dark; I just could not figure out where to get help. I was hoping for a Malaysian to pass by and I could ask for help. No one seemed to be around. I got tired after while; I sat down on the stairs crying myself out. I felt so lonely and helpless. Oh my dear God please help me. Frustrated, I walked back to the hotel. I looked at my wife’s face and she knew I could not get help. She smiled and told me it’s okay the children are getting better. She put some ubat that we brought from home. The children looked pale and tired but I just could not do anything else. After dinner I got out and walked around the hotel. I heard a couple of kids speaking Malay at the hallway. I approached them asked where they are from. Their parents came out and we introduced each other. Alhamdulillah, my doa was answered and that day I knew someone named M that has become my friend until today. He found a house to stay and he invited us to stay with him until we got our own place. The next day we checked out of the hotel by noon. I was hoping to stay at M’s place for a while. We waited and waited but no sign of M. We were really out in the cold with no place to go. We stayed out in the park. The weather was getting colder and colder and there was still no sign of M. Finally I got hold of M on the phone and he gave me the address for us to go. It was bitterly cold but Na did not say anything as she knew Allah is always with us and will help her husband somehow. Her deep faith had given me strength that I never knew I had . Being gutsy and “just do it” are not my usual self. Somehow it got me through the years in the strange land. We really had gone through the thick and thin of life together. She had been the real power and I owed it all to her.
Our first house was a two-storey terrace in a nice neighbourhood called Beeleigh Close. The house owned by a Pakistani. In the UK standard the house was dilapidated; but in our standard it was a luxury. That Paki was a bad landlord; he cheated us and never kept his promises. In the winter the electricity company gave a rebate to the customers; we did not get ours because the bill was in his name, so he went and claim the rebate. And a lot of other things that he did to us; from there on I knew that Muslims are not necessarily good. By this time we had known more Malaysians around the city. Not many of them here; during that time it was only about six families. As those in the foreign land do, we got together every weekend and exchange stories and learn how to live in England from the seniors. Those were the days that we never forget. It was hard but at the same time filled with unforgettable moments in our life.
Happy Anniversary my love ! I love you with all my heart. Thank you for such a wonderful life.