The Day of Celebration

Today is Deepavali. Shah Alam is quiet as people taking the long weekend to go on a short holiday or balik kampong. I will be here as my kids will come back to Shah Alam for their short break. In fact I won’t be going away for while as long distant driving is no longer my cup of morning coffee anymore. Aging is catching up very fast; so my life has to slow down a bit. But today is the day of celebration, with the spirit of 1Malaysia we are happy for our friends. And that’s about it I think we should not go any further than that and join them in the festival. We respect what they are doing , happy with the occasion and let them do whatever that they have to do on this day. As a citizen of this country we owe everyone that much and try to avoid any conflict that might lead to something out of proportion. At the same time, there is a limit where we draw the line because we have our principle; as stated in the Qur’an :

1. Say (O Muhammad (Sal-Allaahu ‘alayhe Wa Sallam)to These Mushrikûn and Kâfirûn): “O Al-Kâfirûn (disbelievers In Allâh, In his Oneness, In his angels, In his Books, In his Messengers, In the Day of Resurrection, and In Al-Qadar, etc.)!
2. “I Worship not that which You worship,
3. “Nor will You Worship that which I worship.
4. “And I shall not Worship that which You are worshipping.
5. “Nor will You Worship that which I worship.
6. “To You be Your religion, and to Me My Religion (Islâmic Monotheism).”

So it’s clear how to perceive this festive season.

I was married on Deepavali day some 20 years ago. The date has changed as it is determined by the moon; but with the mentioning of this day I would remember the occasion that has changed my life forever. When I got married, I promised to my wife that I would quit smoking. Easier said than done; so I learnt it the hard way. The first few weeks were the hardest. You can’t do it in an instant but still you want to keep your words to the lady. I was torn between love and lying. Every time the nicotine-craving came; the mouth drooled, the head spin like the wheel of fortune and you were drawn to the inevitable. I would sneak out like a teenager buying the loose cigarettes from kedai kopi and eased myself somewhere in a hidden place. That time I was in Dungun so the secret place would be the open beach at Telok Lipat or somewhere along that coast line. Sometime I rushed to my parent’s if we were back in Kelantan. My arwah Ayah smiled at me as I battled for the toilet from my brothers. I needed the smoke badly. Ayah said “jangan hilang punca kita kan orang laki!” meaning that to take control of your lady and smoke as you please. Don’t be a coward, full stop. It hit me like a brick. What has become of me? I asked myself. How long am I going to sneak around like this? Remember the pledge to quit smoking…so you will do this for the rest of your life if you have to. I reasoned with my inner thoughts. Once I visited a family during Raya and he offered me a puff. I don’t smoke, I said nervously. “Haah!”, he said sarcastically. With my bluish lips, no one will believe you are not a smoker unless you are an ass trying to play angel in front of your lady. I swallowed it bitterly. I did hang on to my words, although very thinly, until I was completely out of the woods. Now that after 20 years, the mouth still waters for the nicotine. But if I tried to smoke I could not even finish the second puff. The body has completely rejected the smoke.

The point is that quit smoking is not an easy task but it is possible. If you are serious about quitting than the first thing you should do is to get away from your “smoking buddies”. Run away from them as you run from a debt collector. But for men , friends are everything. That’s why the pledge to quit smoking cannot survive for long. But I did that with the help of my wife and my children; because they have become my new close friends.

The second thing is that you will gain some weight. This is also hard to accept. But I am happy with it; as you grow older you don’t really care that you have a big fat ass. Don’t let it drag for long though, work it out as you think that the weight is going out of control.

Overall the suffering and craving will be overcome by healthier body and fresher breath. You will be much more happier and contented.

Good luck if you are thinking of quit smoking. Do it today. Right now!

Where has it gone?

I am talking about my time. I don’t have the time to update my blog anymore. It is so frustrating. The day seems shorter than ever and the night is always the end of the day. Am I getting slower or does the world around me move faster? I am confused now. The thing is that I hate to have that “ things to do” list. People say that to manage your time well you need to have “lists”; so that you can arrange to do this and that properly. I have tried to follow that “things to do today” list and it’s just a daunting task for me. I felt like a slave of your own manifestation. I want to be free and surprise myself with “the last minute” decisions to do this and that. If I felt so lazy than be it; in my terms there is always the next time. Maybe you think that this is not a good habit; but you know what—the heck with it, I live my own life and don’t really give a damn about what other people think. Sounds like a grumpy ol’man, doesn’t it?

Time does fly fast. It would be faster if you wait for something. You wait for your son to get into school or your maid to arrive or your new car to drive. Do you know what would be the craziest and scariest wait of all? You wait for your retirement! Which has been on my mind for so many times. I wanted to avoid it but it just kept coming. For many of us retirement is for old people, very old indeed—it is the beginning of an end, of life!. I guess it is time to embrace the reality of life; the one like any other has the beginning and the end. It sounds so sad, doesn’t it? Well don’t be, because I am happy where I am now which is in the position to embrace the future. I love myself, my family and my friends; life just could not be better. For now I don’t fancy much, just a day without stress would be the happiest day for me.I don’t want to get busy doing other people’s task or making things up so you look busy. From dawn to dusk I would be with my thoughts; taking myself away from the stress-infested world around me.and at home after nine I would tell everyone that Abah has shut off for the day—no more noisy requests or reminders or news (good or bad), everything has to move over to tomorrow. No more business for the day.

I have no time to enjoy the TV anymore; which is my greatest hobby. Maybe some of you might want to know that in the old days the favourite hobby of any child on this planet is to watch TV. Another one is reading but that is just to cover up the fact that you are a lazy bum with no future. It is a rare scene nowadays to see me glued to the TV screen and laughed or cried with the show. For one there are too many channels to choose from, and second, nothing really excites me. With the heavy censorship you could hardly enjoy the exclamation of a feeling such as love…because it’s always sealed with a kiss. And a distorted kiss is just like a monkey puckering her mate…so distasteful. During my college days in the US, I like to watch American football. The game runs for three to four hours and I stayed on to enjoy it for the whole time. I just could not imagine to do that nowadays. I guess life has changed as you grow up. But there are a lot of stupid drama on TV….samarinda, lestari etc. The same old stories with the same old faces doing the some old stupid storyline. I really hate them; it’s very rare to get a good drama on air.

Anyway I cherish my good times with friends and family. I’ve made a few mistakes but most of the time I feel that I was protected. Alhamdulillah. And now I can see myself to be that old man with a white kupiah manning a counter of a kedai runcit in the remote village somewhere in Kelantan …..what a wonderful life!

Maaf dari Sorga

I usually grab an English novel without a second thought. I drool for the story like someone is thinking a chicken rice for lunch. It would get me pinned down to a sofa for two or three days. Well that’s when I got nothing to do during my college days. But nowadays it is painful just thinking of that because I can no longer afford to do it. Life just could not be like that anymore. I long for that cold winter days when I just kept myself wrapped up with a good novel. I love those stories about life and everyday problems that people face. I came across a Malay novel a few days ago lying around my living room and still in a wrap. I got into it and the rest is history. “Maaf dari Sorga” by Faisal Tehrani. It took me two days to know the meaning of that “maaf dari sorga”; why and for what reasons. I’m glad because that is one good piece of writing.

Al-Arqam : A dream of perfections

Dream is full of nothingness that leads to hopelessness. Every time we dream of something, the mind extenuates the hopes and promises that far from reality. We dream of a perfect world with good people smiling beautifully to each other, strolling in the park among the leafy greenery with family and friends. We dream of all nice people living harmoniously without conflicts and confrontations. We dream of the world beyond reality. Then there were people whom would wake up and realized it was just a dream; while others would wake up and live up to their dreams. You can find the latter ones among the members of Al Arqam. When I was in a secondary in Kelantan, we had a biology teacher who followed Al-Arqam. We never treated him as deviant but, on the contrary, as the one highly respected. He never preached the teachings in the class but we were persuaded to join his usrah. I respected him a lot and fascinated with his life; so simple but full of happiness.

with Zulkifli Abdullah, Cikgu Baharom (My Biology teacher) and me in 1981

That was my naïve judgement of a teenager towards the teacher he loved so much. On a biology trip to the beach of Semerak, he brought along his wife wearing the purdah and all. I had never seen a woman covered like that in my life so was quite surprised. I saw in them the perfectness of life as a Muslim. The relationship grew warmer and my friends and I never missed his usrah. The seniors in the school saw our close relationship with the teacher and showed their growing concern. They explained what Al Arqam is and the teachings that they practiced. They even brought us to meet Ust Uthman El Muhammady so we could seek detail clarifications. At that time Ust Uthman was in Tal Tujuh ,Pasir Mas where he headed a dakwah group as well similar to Al-Arqam. He was a friend of Ust Ashaari and due to conflict of ideas they departed and went separate ways. Apparently Ust Uthman knew Ust Ashaari and his teachings very well. But for me Al-Arqam was bigger than life. I attended a program once with arwah Ust Muhktar, once a strong man in Al-Arqam. They had ceramah, selawat and nasyid. The nasyid was fantastic but it seemed so strange to me at that time as we don’t sing in the mosque but how come these people made it like it’s all okay. It was mind-boggling but the confusion left some pride in me that Islam is good; it provides space for someone like me. But as we all know, the story ended sadly with the ban in 1994. For some the struggles continue but they can never been the same anymore.

Started off my 2010 reading with this book.
A couple of days ago I had a chance to sit in a kuliyah given by Ann Wang Seng. A prominent Chiness Muslim preacher. He’s written a book entitled “ Rahsia Al- Arqam”. The book “reveals” the open secret of Al-Arqam. The interesting part is not about the revelation but the nostalgia that has brought me back to the good old days. I flipped through the pages and history started to unfolds. They were sweet and defining moments that shaped my thoughts and taught me the meaning of life. The bits and pieces of life.

ps: looking for “Ummi dan Abang Syeikhul” novel by Shahnon Ahmad. anyone?

Sometimes You Know…..Sometimes You Don’t Know……

You know when things are good …

1. You know that you have a good night sleep when you do not have anything to complain after you wake up.
2. You know that you have met a good person when you strike interesting conversation after you shake his hand.
3. You know that you have a good meal when the taste exploded in your mouth. Just like that Chef in Ratatouille movie.
4. You know that you have delivered a good lecture when you yourself learnt something new during the lecture.
5. You know that a book is good and interesting by reading the first few pages of the book.
6. You know that this student will do good research or not by looking at his first five slides.
7. You know your marriage will last long after you survived the first week (living away from your in-laws that is).
8. You know that you have a good car when you do not feel any body ache after a long drive ( like a 7-hour drive going back to Kelantan)
9. You know that you have a good neighbor if they know when to leave you alone.
10. You know that you have a good sex when……well you just know it okay!

But Sometimes You Don’t Know ….for sure…

1. the hotels : when you walk into a hotel lobby ..it is similar to other hotel lobbies, don’t you think? . Difficult to tell the good ones from the bads.
2. gay men : some give you a very nice smile and good conversation. But is that the pick-up line or a friendly gesture? I am utterly confused!
3. when a woman in tears : are they happy or sad? I always got it wrong with my wife!
4. when your parent respond to your question : is it okay if Din do not go home for Raya holidays? And the answer : ok..hmmm….ok…..hmmm. Is that a yes or no?
5. A sunny day in December : OK so what’s the catch ? wet washing at the end of the day? God’s play tricks……
6. slow moving traffics on an open highway : move over you snail seeking ass…..huh…huh…and there is the answer to your puzzle, flagging you down for an ID a couple of km down the road.
7. that digital display on the highways : what are they for? Information?I’ve never got any useful information from the display…”perjalanan Lancar pandu berhati-hati” is that all? Waste of money really.
8. So who’s the MB of Perak?

Life As A Poor Kid

I always contemplate my moments in life and go back to relive the events of the past. It is my way of dealing with my past that has some dark moments. I always feel that it’s not fair but at the same time try to be positive and look at it from different perspectives—they have a term for it —-blessing in disguise. Whatever! But for me the pain is real and the sadness is just never-ending. I hope the stories of my past conciliate me with the pre-determination of my life. In the end maybe I could accept the fate and be thankful for what that has been bestowed upon me . I talked about my My Dark Moments #1 (MDM#1) here—my experience in school; it did not end there but continued until I finished my secondary school. This time is about my childhood; way back in the 70s.

I just could not imagine how I survived in those days. Maybe God really works in mysterious ways. I was alone most of the time; playing around my house from dawn to dusk, every single day until I registered myself in the primary school. Mak and Ayah are busy earning money so I was there keeping myself busy with whatever we had around the house. Our family is well-known in the village for being big and poor; even as I walked down the street some people would ask if I wanted to come and live with them. “ maybe this kid has a brighter future with us”,they might say. I did not understand what they meant but I knew only one word to reply—NO!. as a 7/8-year-old I knew my Mak and Ayah and where my house was… and I was always welcomed there. I could rest myself in that house for the night although sometime my sleep was interrupted by the leaking roof that would be blown off during a storm. Find an empty corner in the house, get your bantal and selimut and there would be your bed for the night. It’s pathetic but that’s the life I lived for so many years during my early childhood. But somehow I survived; and my other 11 brothers and sisters survived that as well. Pretty amazing, I supposed.

I remember myself always sitting alone by the window and looking out at the other kids playing games. I never had an urge to join them because for me the games they played were all silly and made them dirty all over. I just did not want to get dirty. The games such as “petong tin”, “polis pencuri”, “bola awa”, “lawe guroh”, “buoh getoh”, and many more were the favorites—-but not me. I also have never been to anywhere only an occasion trip to my grandmother’s. but I always wanted to go to that big mosque near my house. No one in my family was a mosque-goer; my parents would come home only when the night falls and would be busy with the house chores by then. But I did not do any chore but still could not get to that mosque. One day my brother was about to leave when I knew he’s going to the mosque. Maybe he had other agenda as I never see him going there before. Maybe there is a special event going on, I did not know. Can I follow you to the mosque? I asked him, looking at me with that annoying face he did not say anything. And for me that meant a green light. I tagged along before I knew he was joined by his friends—so something must be going on. I did not care what he would do with his friends, all I wanted to was to go to that mosque. And that night I finally did. The mosque was only about a 5-minute walk from my house. Literally –“depan tangga la” but nevertheless it was as if a journey of lifetime. I guess my brother will get all the pahala ever since he brought me there because that was the turning point of my life—the day I knew my Islam. I sat at the back while my brothers was doing stuff with his friends. Once in a while he would come and checked me out. I saw in the front a huge place(a mimbar/pulpit) with stairs going up. I thought that God maybe sitting up there and we all pray for him from down here. It was so strange for me but I liked it there and felt so happy being there. Can I go to the front and join those people praying? I asked my brother. No you can’t! just stay right there ! he gestured me with his hand. Why? I asked. Because your penis is so small that’s why, we grown up have big penis so we can pray at the front, my brother told me. And I believed him. So for the whole week I tried to make my penis grow big so that I can join the big people in the front row. I frequented the mosque after that where I learnt so many things. I did it all on my own and since back then everything was free at the mosque I was okay. I had never been to the Quranic lessons or tadika because they all cost money. Even though the kelas mengaji was next door taught by my own auntie. It was so unfortunate to be poor, I must say.

By the time I got into primary school, my life was pretty much a mess. Everyone seemed to know how to run my life. I would spent time with my relatives here and there for a short period of time like 1-2 months. I just did not understand back then as if there was not enough food at my house. My auntie was the one who persistently wanted me to be with her all the time. She was a widow with no kid. And as I remember her well she was very “bekeng” (strict and bossy)lady. Sometime it was too much to put up with her so we just ignored her all together. I told father that I would like to go home. He understood well. So one fine day I heard them calling names of each other on top of their voices…I knew father was trying to get me back. I remember to sit by the wall listening to everything that they had to say to each other; some of which I never got to understand the meaning of the words or what they were referring to. World had gone upside down because of me; I was so sad and felt it was all my fault. But from that day onwards I was back to my old corner in the house; the place I always called home. It was good to be back. My father was very concerned about my study. I ‘ve got no money or land to leave when I die so study hard to support your family…that would be the thing father repeats all the time like a lyric from a song. But he never had time to come and meet my teachers, well in those days parents were not that concern to drop by the school and say hello to the teachers. Ayah has to sign the paper, I told mom late one night so I can bring it to the school the following day.What paper? They both asked as if it was something they could not afford to commit. The school asked if I want to get into this express class or not; and ask your parent to sign if they agree. They had this express class program where some kids will do year 3 and year 4 in just one year. So I saved one year and got into secondary school one year earlier than everybody else. It was not that hard academically but I got into a lot of trouble socially. I guess one year makes a lot of difference in the growing up days. That’s why I hate my secondary school years a lot,

I grew up without a bicycle of my own or a TV in the house. I never complained or asked for one it’s just not fair that’s all. When our favorite show was coming on the air we would sneak out to the neighbor’s house. This had to be done discretely because otherwise the “small ones”—my younger brothers and sisters— would follow; and that will ruin everything. I remember one night the neighbor gave us cookies instead so we can go home and do not bother them so much. So pathetic! But that’s the life of poor kids —the ones that never understand why we were as we were. So for me a TV is not just a square wooden box with pictures and sound ; it was a symbol of freedom that can not be denied or taken away from me any longer. No one will give me cookies anymore to hush me away from my favorite program. So from the time I could afford to get my own TV; I’ve never been without it ever since. Even though I don’t watch it that often like I used to, the TV will always be there for me.
Travelling was another luxury thing back then when I was a kid. Father never had a car or motorcycle. He had an old bicycle once that he used to go to work. But it was not a problem for a poor kid like myself because I never understood why people go places anyway. “makan angin” they said, a phrase that had no meaning whatsoever to me. I would muntah2 when I travelled by bus until I hated doing that altogether. Never mind father I can stay at home, I remember responding when he offered to take us for our regular visit to grandma’s. And I stayed home minding my own business and playing around my house. I live with that habit for so long until I develop a phobia for travelling. Nowadays travelling will mean hard time for me; anxiety will come in and I would feel very much uneasy all the time. Never mind I can stay home. Indeed, I would rather stay home.
I had never wandered off to the town or anything so father was so pleased with me. When everybody was off into the kampung to play; I would stick around the house waiting for mom and dad to come home. “ a good little boy”—I must credit myself on this one—very proud of it indeed. But one time “BOBBY” was coming to town. That big blockbuster movie was coming to the Rex cinema in Pasir Mas—that old cinema is no longer there anymore. I miss that big painted poster as well; the one that was built at the junction near the bus station— I would pass this junction late at night accompanied my auntie and used to stare at that huge poster under the street light—one day I will see that movie, I whispered to myself. But I never had a chance to go. This time I would go to see Bobby; so made plan with my buddy to get into the cinema. Being a good son, I asked my father for permission. He stared at me and said…what! And miss your maghrib prayers. The show started around Maghrib time and for sure I would miss the prayers. But looking at me maybe he felt the need for me to get some fun so he let me go with some money for the ticket. We could only get one ticket because the cinema was full. Never mind we could share the seat. I remember watching the movie with both of us sitting in a seat; we took turn to move in and out of that small wooden seat. That was the most enjoyable time of my life. Sadly I did miss my Maghrib prayers.