My Ramadhan

Ramadhan Day 1

 

The first day of Ramadhan has always been a nervous one. I am afraid the hunger would be too much for my body to cope with. But alhamdulillah, so far, I am coping very well. The suhr was simple with toasts, dates and hot milk …..my usual breakfast. As of today, my weight is 82.5 kg and this should be reduced by at least 10 kg at the end of Ramadhan, insyAllah. A bit superficial target but let’s see how far I can go this year. Usually I lost around 3-4 kg at the end of Ramadhan, but it would be back to normal by the second week of Shawal. Losing weight is always promising in Ramadhan but the hardest part is to keep it. Less weight means healthier days ahead with high mobility (for the aged ones like me) and dynamic. It also looks good in the mirror but that would be the last thing for someone like me. I don’t need to look beautiful anymore…just pleasant! I want to be pleasant among the Jemaah in the surau or when talking to my students. No more bad breath, stinking armpit or gross body odor. I can remember vividly during the days when people responded to my stinking body…. they turned around, coughed away or told to my face that I had a dog breath. As a young man I just could not care less….go away you are so mean!. But these days I would spend longer time in the loo to clean every part of the body until it smells good and nice. I have to do that just mainly for myself to ensure that the next bad smell will not be from my own body part. I can safely say ….. aargh he smells bad(and not me!). Hahahaha! And feel good about it. The morning breath is very frustrating either from your own self or someone you meet early in the morning. Being the first person to greet is very special but when it comes with a stinking smell you will feel bad and frustrated. The thing is that the bad morning breath is from last night (and not this morning). You might eat something exotic for dinner (like curry) and forgot to brush it away before bed. Sometime the habit is not there to clean your teeth before going to bed (and that’s terrible). All the leftovers between the teeth would work overtime during the sleep and you will wake up with a stinking garbage in your mouth. Even after the morning brush the smell remains, for some time, until it mixes with breakfast. When I had a latenight flight out of KLIA, I would find a few people brushing their teeth before the flight. That means most of them in the flight would go through the night without cleaned teeth. But once when I had a latenight flight out of Narita/Haneda, I had to queue up to brush my teeth. Everyone just finds a spot in the washroom and brush, brush, brush. I was amazed at first but then why not? It should be a common practice to brush your teeth at night…wherever you are.

 

Day 2

So, I survived Day 1. Thank God. It was not easy but at the same time fun. The night prayers were okay. We had a guy from Yemen last night leading the prayers. His voice was strong and read the Quran fluently. For so many years, I remember the night prayers were a big challenge. But, as time went by, you kind of calm yourself down and went with the flow. Sometimes you flew off to the castle in the sky and play with the princess and when you came down it was all over. It’s hard when you did not understand what the Imam was saying. I hope tomorrow will be better.

 

Ramadhan Day3

As I drove through Shah Alam this morning there’s a calmness in the air. The sun has yet to emerge as the thick clouds still roamed the high sky. I am coping well with the fasting at the start of the third day of Ramadhan. Being diabetic, hunger is like a culprit lingers around to spoil the day. So far so good and that culprit is well under control.alhamdulillah.

 

 

 

 

Ramadhan Day 4

 

I feel stronger today as, physically, my body has started to adjust with the fasting. But more importantly, today I realized that for the first time my family is getting bigger. Bigger in the sense that all my children have grown up and their needs and expectations have expanded. I have 5 children still the same for the last few decades; only last year we received a menantu, so plus one, and by July another one …..my first grandchild. Our children grow up and their needs grow with them. They need their own car, looking for their own house and manage their own finances. All of the sudden, I feel small and vulnerable at the tip of a family tree. Usually grand-dad is a figure to look-up in a family; who tells great stories and advice about life and the world. I am not sure I will be the one—– am I qualified to be a grand-dad? I wish there was a school that I could go to and get a certificate on how to be a fabulous grand-dad. When I see children, sometimes I love them dearly but there is also a time I hate to have them around. So annoying. I feel my time I spent with my own children was too brief and before I knew it, they have all grown up. I know that for almost thirty years I have them around, we were always together and near to each other. But somehow, at this moment, I wish we were a lot closer. We had bibik when they were small, so I could go off and work. Now I am not sure whether that was a good trade-off. And then we put them into boarding schools for most of their teen-ages. After that they went off to their universities for another 3-4year time period. By the time we are old and they are adults, we are nothing but friendly strangers. I am confused and frustrated to the circumstances that have put us in this scenario. The life that betrayed us. At the end of it you are left on your own—-sad and lonely.

 

 

 

 

Ramadhan Day 5

Friday. Frustrations reigned high today. The thing is that if you put extra effort and went extra length to feed your students with the latest method and trained them with the latest technology; at the end of the day, you want to see them use it. But, no, none of them will be using what I have painstakingly taught them in their project. I am sorry but did I deliver it wrongly? Or maybe not enthusiastically enough? Or maybe it was nothing new we can find it on the net thing ?? aah well, why bother? If they did not get it then you must have done something wrong. Plain and simple. Admitting that you are incompetent is the hardest part in teaching; but,it is the most important lesson you could have done to yourself. I have been through this so many times but every time it is harder than the last. Every lecture in every class is actually a lesson period for me. My students are usually passive but they are like a mirror hanging in front of you and would give a reflection of some sort regarding your teaching and the knowledge that you tried to deliver. Frustrations will creep whenever you feel the voice was not well-received or the faces leaving the class were as blank as they came in. Most of the time I just ignored the attitudes that were both pessimistic and rude. Young people are mainly stupid and just could not care less to watch their manners. They play with the stupid phone even under your nose; the message from the phone is more important than your subject. Once, I just Kungfu-kicked the bloody desk and told the student off. Not a good idea, I tell you, to do that anymore. Later, I found out that she was watching the lecture slides from i-learn because the slide in front was too small to read. Another student that I was about to kick out of the class told me that he was taking the notes using the phone. They are the millennial kids and do things differently. We need to bring a big heart into the classroom and entertain all sort of strange behaviors that we might encounter during the 2-hour class period. Easier said than done, of course. If I remember clearly, I could do that on a handful of days only. Most days were frustrations that sometimes turned into a rage.

 

I left the classroom speechless and angry to myself. Maybe all this while I pretend to be good and competent. Maybe I just pretend to like this job. At the end of the day, I swallowed all the frustrations and the heart-breaks and pretend they just never happened. Well, I have enough of this thing, I think, maybe I should do something else. Maybe not.

 

I think it’s time to retire.

 

 

 

 

 

Ramadhan Day 6

Saturday is always refreshing. The fact that I won’t be running as usual does not ruin my Saturday. I skipped the morning kuliah because the Ustaz has more ideas to run the country than the PM himself. I chose for a change and the ustaz kept blaming and condemning those who support the change as “pengkhianat”, “pendosa”, and will rise in hell with the chosen leader…… okay so no more these “ustazbawah tempurung. I want to leave to my children and grand children a bright and colorful future; not a place to live filled with filthy corruptions, stranded civilization and closed mindedness. Bibik will come today so the house will be cleaned and shining at least for a couple of days because by Monday it will be back to normal…messy. I was late for my usual trip to the pasar but during this Ramadhan month the pasar will be open well into the afternoon. I love to go and pick my favorite fish for the kitchen. Usually, I would go for the tenggiri, siakap, bawal emas, bawal hitam, tongkol and big fat kembong. And some sardines for my friends at the back door (a bunch of stray cats).

Undeniably, I love cooking. I do not know why a man like me loves to do such thing. In our society that is not normal because everything in the kitchen does not belong to man. Our culture is that a kitchen is not the place for a man. Whatever…..I hate cliché. Looking back to my childhood, I remember to be at home most of the time with mother. She stayed home to take care of us and sometimes work from home. She was a dressmaker. I would be her helper in the kitchen. When she was busy sewing, I would be in the kitchen helping someone to make lunch or dinner. I did not mind stuck at home with mother. Don’t go outside you will get run over by a car, so I was warned over and over again. My house was by a road side; a busy route between PasirMas and Rantau Panjang. The cars, buses and lorries sometime were driven by very fast. I was scared and kept myself safe at home. By 10 or 11 years old, I could manage myself in the kitchen, cooking rice with firewoods, and making simple dishes like fish soup (ikan singgang) and fried boiled fish (ikan rebus goreng). And they remain my favorite dishes until today.

 

 

 

 

 

Al Hambra Palace

In the afternoon we left the beautiful city of Toledo. The bus would take us to Granada where al hambra is located. The journey was long and tiring; by this time I was feeling weak. I hope to manage this tour as strongly as I could be but I was definitely coming down with something. It was dark when we arrived at the hotel. It’s only a few minutes walk to the complex of al hambra. Tomorrow will be the day that would put a whole meaning to this trip. I came all the way for this place and would not miss it for the world. The temperature is still under 10 degrees and I was feeling under the weather already.

Toledo

The bus ride to Toledo took about 3 hours from Madrid. It was late Sunday afternoon when we arrived at the gate of the old city. The sun was almost set. The driver told us he has to get permission to enter the city. The winding and narrow road uphill to the hotel makes it difficult for the bus to maneuver.   We were left halfway. As I dragged the luggage over the cobblestone path, the winter chill slapped my face and made my nose and ears numb. I struggled for heat. A few layered of clothing that I had on just could not negotiate the wild winter of Spain. I rushed inside a hotel lobby to find warmth and comfort. It was the moment I realized the value of heat that I’ve taken for granted back home. The day was almost over and I wanted to see this city badly. The sunset was breath-taking as I stood on the edge of the fortress looking down the whole city. The view from up here was so magnificent that made me wonder how at one time in a not so long distant ago Islam had reached this place; and gone. I braved the chilling night and walked to the town square. Despite it was early in the night, not many stores open so we headed back to the hotel. I needed a warm shower and a good night sleep really badly.

The next day we woke up early but still found ourselves late for the sunrise. The morning revealed what we have missed last night the awesome city of Toledo. The walls of the fortress still standing strong all around the city

Making it looks so secured and well-guarded.

Mezquita (Mesjid) Cristo de la Luz

We came across an old mosque that was turned into a church and now becomes a small museum. As I entered what used to be a prayer hall my heart just dropped for a moment choking in disbelief. 

An ancient mosque still standing strong despite the changing beliefs it has served over time.
The inscription on the wall can still be clearly seen. The proof that once this place had glorified Islamic faith.
Mezquita (Masjid) Cristo de la Luz
Inside where it used to be the prayer hall.

Landing in Madrid

This journey, initially, was only a dream. My dream of going to see the great things of the past, but it’s just too unreal to be there. The place was so far away and very few companies have ventured out to that part of the world. As remote as it had been, I kept my dream alive by buying books about the place—the great al hambra of Andalusia. I wanted to see and be in the place that was once the center of civilization. What makes it so great is that the artifacts are still there, preserved at that place. From the history books, the narrations are diverse and sometimes biased. A lot of people have dug into the past of this magical moment in the history of humankind, but the stories seem incomplete and I could feel that there is more to it than what we could have imagined. Well, the past is in the past and it is gone crumbled away by the changing season. So when a group of my friends organized this trip, I knew right away that I was meant for it.

I pledged not to be fussy for this trip. I was not going to expect anything just taking in as it comes. Whatever happens, I will face it with a wide smile. Nothing would ruin this trip and will enjoy every step of the way. We endured a long flight to Madrid via Jeddah. We arrived in the afternoon and it was in the middle of winter. The sun was out but the wind chill made me scrambled for a winter coat. I did not have one. I just hate dragging around the thick winter clothing but when the cold air started to run you down, you wish to think better next time. A bus was waiting for us and by no time we were driven out of the airport and into the metropolitan Madrid. It was Sunday afternoon and the streets were quiet. I was told that Spanish people are very religious and would rest and do nothing on Sunday. We made a pit stop at a stadium home for the Real Madrid football club. I just could not care less about this football club and know no one of its players. But they say this is one famous club and home for a famous soccer player—Christiano Ronaldo. Apparently, he is no longer here and after a few pictures, we were off again. The next stop was the Islamic Center of Madrid. A very impressive building but when I went into the toilet it was littered by a pile of poo. The toilet was not working and no hot water. But as I promised myself not to be fussy. I let this one pass—aargghh how could someone do that? There were plenty of working toilets in the place. Anyway, forget it! We are going to Toledo next.