The first year went on with a constant struggle. The study and family demanded huge attention from this already limping soul. I just could not take it; and at times—quitting, was on the menu. But Na was always there to support me; she would make the worst thing be more bearable and the stressed more manageable. We did not have a washing machine so Na would hand wash all of our clothes—everyday with cold water. Her hands would pecah-pecah and in pain from the soap and freezing water. But she never complained. During this time Nabiela was still a baby, Ariefah was about 2-3 years old and Aqeelah was about 5. Na took care of them very well.
We stayed there at that Pakistani’s house until the end of the year. The house was cold as the heating system constantly broke down; the electricity ran on prepaid card and we could not reach the landlord most of the time. I was fed up with that stupid old Paki and decided to move out. I found a house that we could barely afford; listed with an agent. But because of the urgent need to get away from that old house; we moved in with 500 pounds deposit and some amount for the bills as well. A contract was signed—very formal. The house was nice and clean but the pressure was you have to keep it that way all the time.
Na would scrubbed and cleaned every corners and joints every single day without fail. Sometime the cleaning went well into midnight. But she never complained; alhamdulillah by the time we moved out we got all the deposit back. The inspector was amazed herself because in all her working life no one ever got the full amount back. And she could not find a single spot of grease to penalize us.
By this time we were nearly into the summer of 1997. My PhD work had gone from bad to worse. I was going for my second year in September and that means will go before a panel to evaluate my progress. That was it I thought. I am dead. The pressure was too much for me and it got me confused and frustrated. Somehow the frustration for not being able to work on my research followed me home. I was so tensed that a small thing would become boiling hot and Na and I would get into serious situation. I would not call it a fight but a very uneasy circumstance. I guess the right phrase for it is “ I was becoming so pongoh!”— an explosion of anger where I would lose sense of sanity. So deadly. I pray to Allah to give me strength and courage to overcome such an ugly psychotic behaviour.
The summer went by without much of a progress. As usual in Britain they dropped everything for the summer holidays; so things were not moving for me as well. So I went before the panel without any finding, no paper, no article nothing whatsoever. As expected they failed me. The exact word was —– cause for concern; so you are advised to terminate …….I was devastated. Stayed in the office for hours staring at that letter; reading it over and over again just to make sure I do not miss anything. Everytime it ended with the same note: FAILED. I had no courage to tell Na or anyone about that heartbreaking news, I just could not. All I wanted to do was to curl into the corner and cut my heart out of that pain; slice by slice until it’s all gone. I could do it to myself but not to see my beloved Na and Aqeelah and Ifah and Una hurt by the painful mistake that I have made. I kept it to myself for a long time; Na only knew about it after we have come back to Malaysia a few years later. I just do not have the courage to talk about this. I still keep the letter and I have never shown it to anyone just yet; not even to Na. My struggle for a PhD had stopped right there ; after I received that letter from the faculty. After a few days of mourning, I decided to face my supervisor and sorted this out. I did not have any new findings or results to show him but I knew one thing for sure : I could not go back empty handed. By whatever means I had to get through this for my Na. My prayers always be …Ya Allah jika Engkau kesihani isteriku, tolong lah aku……I did not care anymore what kind of thesis there would be, or whether the results relevant or not…I was going to put an end to this and got it done . For my beloved Na. I begged my supervisor to give me a second chance and let me finish my research. He finally agreed and persuaded the faculty to let me continue.
Looking back to those times, I know that my PhD is definitely from the doa and prayers from my beloved Na. She’s the only one who had faith in me.
By the end of my study period I submitted my thesis without the full consent of my supervisor. He reluctantly signed my application to submit. He told me I had no chance to get my PhD with these results. I said nothing just waiting for the paper to be signed. I had no more will to argue or reason with him.
Finally the date for viva was set in October 1999. I went in with the deputy dean and presented my thesis before a panel of examiners. I knew all the panel members; some from within the faculty and one from the City University London. I was not that nervous but because the results and findings were not strong, I could not make a solid thesis. It was raw and vulnerable. That was the best I could do. Apparently it was not good enough, my thesis was referred. The next worst result one could get. The worst being rejected flat out. I was not sad anymore. No more tears to shed. I left it to dear God for whatever forthcoming. I told Na it’s time to go home.
I spent about a year to do the correction. I mailed the thesis and asked everyone to kiss the envelope for good luck…Na, Aqeelah, Ifah, Una and Maryam. That was in 2000.
The following year 2001, something strange happened. When we came back in 1999,we rented a house in Dungun near UiTM Dungun. Then we moved to another house by the end of 2001. So somewhere in August 2001 I went to visit a friend who lived in our old house. Nothing special just an afternoon visit. While we were talking there was another neighbour happen to drop by; so we all sitting together and enjoying the conversation. I saw that neighbour holding a letter; I did not pay much attention as it was not my business whatsoever. All of the sudden she dropped the letter as walking past me. I picked up and glanced to the addressee and saw —Mr Abubakar, N. I told her that’s my letter—Abu Bakar, Nordin. OOOOO…ye ke? Kita tak tahu sape yang punye itu bagi pd kakak ni kot dia tahu. Dah hampir sebulan surat tu smpai ! I opened the letter right a way because the envelope shown University of Essex. Right there in the middle of the conversation; I read silently that I have been given a pass. I looked at Na and she knew right away that her prayers have been answered. In silent while sipping the tea, I screamed and jumped and shouted to the heavens that our prayers were answered. The one that said … Ya Allah jika Engkau kesihani isteriku, tolong lah aku……
Thank you my dear. Love you forever !
My wife Na is now doing her own PhD in Islamic Finance at INCEIF(Bank Negara)…it’s my turn to stand by her side now.
See here for her presentation at MACFEA Conference.