This time my story starts with a quiet Eid ul Adha. Lately the Raya has been very quiet for us. Last Raya we went off to Jordan after a brief first-day of Raya. It seems that we have a difficult time to digest the spirit of Raya. But deep down I’d like one day to have a long and relaxing Raya celebration. It is the time to reconnect with family and long lost friends. But not today. At the moment I’m trying to kill time on a flight to Tokyo; a near 7-hour journey from Kuala Lumpur to Narita. So far it has been a bumpy flight, hurricane tail-whip affect from the Philippines, the Captain said through the plane’s broadcast. But it’s okay as the delicious vegy baryani has killed off the jittered stomach. I have a lot to tell but have no time to sit down and write. The time just flew away quietly. It has been already a year since I came back from Japan. A lot of things have happened to me and around me. One was tragic; a good friend and close neighbor shot and killed himself one afternoon. Just like that. He ended his life abruptly leaving behind family and friends wondered what went wrong.
After the long sabbatical leave in Japan, I went back to teaching. The classroom smelled the same and the students had the same smiles and cheeky faces. Just a few things that make you realize how much you miss teaching. Teaching is my job and after 27 odd years at it, your teaching skills have grown with you. A classroom is no longer the room with four walls but a stage where you pass the knowledge, perform your lesson and test your ability to make the lesson relevant to the students. No flashy slides or hard core English accent, by the end of my lesson I want to see their eyes glittered with awe and their faces reveal the opening new chapter of their life. I could feel it and they certainly could feel it—the lesson learnt. All the accessories in class teaching will make you grow tired and sometimes frustrated when things go wrong. However, preparation of the lesson would be the utmost important part of teaching. Never go into the classroom without it. Even when you know the subject matter like the back of your hand, be prepared and ready to execute the lesson plan.
Teaching is a beautiful thing. The relationships you made with the students are priceless. Every time anyone of the students responds to your hope and expectation, return the favour appropriately and sincerely…..with encouragement and motivation for a job well done. I don’t see any sane individual to take advantage on this situation and does something bad. A trust that must be honoured responsibly. When the classroom door closed behind me and the lesson started, I would have a special moment with my students. The moments of my life as one can put it. So these moments must be planned properly and strategise thoroughly. At the end of the class I would reflect on it and see if it was a good lecture or not. Sometime when the class went so good I would celebrate and reward myself with nasi lemak or nasi kerabu hahahaha! ( I usually don’t take them in the morning). But if the class went the other way I would go back to the office and nap—that’s the end of my day! I’ve never expected anything in return but good students will honour you someday down the line. And when they do you would reflect the beautiful moments you had with them. What a priceless reward!
terima kasih…untuk selaung nasihat buat anak anak kami
… untuk sebaris formula yang dirumus sebati
… untuk senada doa yang segar di sanubari
… untuk sebaris ayat Ilahi lekat di hati
… untuk sekelumit kasih pembakar jatidiri
… terima kasih dari kami
Ayuh! Para murabbi …
marilah kita bina anak bangsa ini
dengan ruh iman dan taqwa Ilahi
kita isi jiwa jiwa putih bersih
dengan ilmu jati diri
agar mampu mendongak tinggi
melaung seruan rabbani
Ayuh! Para murabbi …
anak anak sedang menanti
untuk mengenal dan meneliti
tentang duniawi dan ukhrawi
jadilah kita bak pohon berdiri
meneduh dan melindungi
dari keperitan hidup duniawi
dan kedahsyatan alam ukhrawi
usah dikira wang dan ringgit
atau keringat yang menitik
kerna syurga firdausi
adalah janji Robbul ‘Aalamin
Ayuh! Para murabbi …
buatlah pena menari-nari
mentafsir helah hari ini
melakar impian sejati
buat bekal alam abadi
esok munkin tiada lagi
insan kerdil berlari-lari
menegur dan melambai pergi
buat hati sayu sebegini
terima kasih sekali lagi
semoga doa yang diiringi
dimaqbul Ilahi Robbul ‘Aalamin
Pantai Jeram, Kuala Selangor
11 Ogos 2017
At the Khazanah in Petra
We entered Petra at around 8:30 am when the sun was about to warm up this hilly landscape. Breakfast was superb with delicious tomatoes and cucumber. I think they were better than the ones we had in Japan: juicy and tasty. Petra is a huge archeological complex that was discovered in the 1960s and later on in 2008 was recognised as UNESCO world Heritage site.
As we leave Petra, my whole body was aching and I could hardly move. But the feeling was wonderful to be able to witness the display of ancient history and verified the many tales and stories about the people once lived here. I glanced back through the car windows and saw from a distance a civilization from the past that would sit and wait for someone like me to come by and being swept away by the magnitude of the whole thing. It would be there as it has been for thousand of years. The car dwindled down the hill fast like a roller coaster ride but I could barely raise a voice to slow it down. Let it just rolled down the hill, I need the time to nurse my tired feet and painful back. I closed my eyes and smell the air conditioned that blew onto my face.we were heading to our next destination– Wadi Rum
Four hours later we reached there. It was a desert camping area. We would be spending the night here.we rode on 4by4 to catch a sunset.A desert is a huge sandy and rocky landscape that you would see an Arab drives a car like a crazy man just like you see them driving on a street road hahahaha. The rock formation was magnificent and unique. A movie called The Martian was shot here. and you are right the place is like a strange place from outer space on a strange planet somewhere. We made a few stops and tries to take in all the history and moments from the past that came with the scenery. It was incredible and amazing experience just to be there. The exact answer to the question — what did you really do at the desert? nothing! just looking around. and it was enough. Then we were swoozed around to the next pont to wait for the sunset. Again the sight was breath taking which lasted for a few minutes.
In Jeddah, we arrived with Saudia Airline. Quite comfortable plane but shaking endlessly throughout the flight . This time we’re going to Jordan and Egypt. I had no idea what to expect out of this journey, not much I guess. Travelling through the Arab world has a different flavor I supposed; instead of leisure it is more of an adventure. Anything could happen and usually it happened at the least time you expected. Not much of the hospitality as you received elsewhere in the world ;welcoming strangers with open arms and warm smiles. Over here is skeptical the first time and a nuisance the second time. As we do not speak Arabic we will get the nuisance look most of the time.
After eight hours of flight and a couple of old movies my body started to ache and every joint squeaked painfully. I find no leisure in a journey like this… long and tiring. Maybe the body is not fit anymore for a long haul travelling. Maybe as you grow old you need more reasons to do things out of ordinary. People say travelling is fun; I am still searching for fun in such activity. I will keep searching. It was 2 am and the smell of the transit lounge gave me a headache. The noise from a child tells that he was tired too. Why do we have to endure this pain? In search for a fun maybe or the urge to see other people and places. so we can brag about it on FB wall. I don’t really understand the world I am living. I guess that’s why I would create my own world and roam the impossibility in there endlessly. I have a secret garden that I go every now and then. A secret beach that I can lie down under a lulling sunshine. and a never never land that I can fly and be myself whoever I want to be. The childish fantasy in me is actually a saviour from the stressful world around me. The environment that aged me by the seconds.
One thing about travelling is that you have plenty of time ….waiting. You waited for the connecting flight, for the gate to open, for your document to be cleared or for someone to pick you up. So most of the time you would sit around and see people coming and going. It is the best time to contemplate on things that you have never had time to ponder. About life for the past few thousand hours that you spent living and surviving in this mad mad world.
I contemplated mainly on my growing up years when I had nothing at all. Without physical luxury or self esteem, I waded the fast moving current of my early life with just the will to see and to know what was ahead of me. Living one day at a time and one step after another. I never had a big dream to change the world or that sort of thing. Because no one ever taught me how to dream or what to dream. I floated aimlessly for quite some time. But fate has it that I moved from one milestone to another building my own life; without realizing it. I survived, passed the exams, got a job and started a family. The time flies so fast. Before you know it, you are old and constantly in pain. I don’t want to get old and grumpy because I have a lot more things to do and to experience.
The transit lounge was busy even at the early hours of the morning. We sat and slept and waited some more. Fajr came at last and the boarding time should be anytime now. The flight to Amman was scheduled at 10.50 local time; it was on time. The flight was full and packed with big people. They made the plane looked so small. I squeezed myself into the seat and tried to relax and settled myself. Outside, the desert sun started to heat up the air, it’s going to be a hot day. I hope Amman would not be as hot. The flight was smooth and the food was good. For the first time I tasted a special diabetic meal (as ordered by my daughter who done the booking for us) and it was fantastic. At last the world understands what it means to be diabetic. We arrived on time at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. It was around noon. Ahlan wasahlan ! Welcome to Jordan—the Land of the Prophets.
Arriving in Amman, Jordan
At the QAI Airport
In Jordan, the sun was high and temperature was around 40 degrees. The barren landscape makes the air feels so dry and unforgiving. The trees are barely alive and giving a glimpse of the hard life that the people of this land have to put up in order to survive. The young man at the immigration counter gave us a cold sigh when we struggled to give him the information that he needed. Usually at any other entry points we would be yelled at or screamed at when we were not ready with the information. So this man scaled better than average immigration officer. Overall, the first impression of Jordan was good, people were friendly and the environment was relax; no police roadblock along the 200 km highway that we passed through to go to Petra.
The message beeped in late Friday night and it did not look good. I tried to read it a few times and it came up the same thing. My auntie lost her battle in ICU and passed away. She was fighting multiple diseases and at around midnight her body gave up. It was a great loss for me. Auntie Moksu Peah was a half-sister and a good friend to my late mom and great auntie to us all. Her warm smile will always be with us for eternity. Rest in peace Auntie! May Allah place you with the pious in Jannah. She was buried early the next morning in her hometown in Golok, Southern Thailand.
I have never been to this border city despite it is only half an hour’s drive from my home in Pasir Mas,Kelantan. Many of us in Kelantan have relatives living across the border; it was once a place common to us. The King of Siam took away our land in a battle long time ago. Anyway, it was a bitter past that has redesigned our present life. Her burial was done swiftly and quickly right after Fajr prayers. I arrived a few hours later. I pushed myself to go and crossed the border in an effort to meet my auntie’s family. The thing that I should do a long time ago. I met them every now and then during Raya or wedding feasts so we don’t know each other very well. The faces are bits and pieces from the past. I tried to put them together to make a picture. A picture that meant a lot some time ago. We were speechless as if trying to figure out what was the last words we said to each other. It seems so close to our heart; yet, too broken to mean anything. We did not mean to break anything, circumstances had put us apart; thus, we took our own path. But now we are here again so let us start again. The smiles and the friendships that we once ignored. It was very unfortunate to meet again in a very sad situation. We have lost someone close and all of the sudden the world seemed crumbling down. I saw frustration and hopelessness on every face that I tried to recognize. The eyes were still wet with tears whenever they tried to tell the last moments of Moksu’s life. I went to her grave; the soil was still fresh. Said prayers and contemplated on the warm relationships that we managed to cherish. I remember mostly of her smiles and relaxed conversation that we had every time we met. My late Mom always talked about her whenever I asked about our relatives; as if Moksu was the only one I should worry about. It was the last day of Ramadhan and her passing away will blow away the spirit of Syawal to the limit. For the first time her family will celebrate Hari Raya without her and her favourite dishes of the day. Things will be difficult for everybody.
At the immigration complex in Rantau Panjang
I ordered your novel for knowledge and inspiration of the past Islamic civilization . At the end of my reading, however, I was heartbroken and left with a mixture of sad and bitter disappointment . You have successfully narrated the brutal execution of the most vulnerable people of the time. The fall of Granada in 1492 unleashed the hatred and revenge from all dimension of the Spain’s Christian society. Day after day for more than 100 years, Muslim Spain suffered at the hands of their landlords and Christian neighbors. The book has meticulously described those events in great details. At one point I was so shocked as the events were vividly portrayed the Christians being more civilized to punish the Moorish “…dogs and swine”. The “holocaust” of Muslim Spain was justified and supported by all quarters of Spain’s authority. They were forced to convert to Christianity; drank wine and ate pork to prove that their lifestyle has changed. Most part of the book describes how the king and the church, constantly tried and assessed the faith of these people. Muslim must cease to exist in Spain…..the statement that has been repeated over and over again throughout the book. You must be one of those people that hates Muslim and Islam; I am utterly disappointed.
History, on the other hand, must be told honestly and accurately .The book has successfully narrated the plight and fear of the Moorish people as they were hunted down from the Alpujarra mountains. The women and children stumbled and fell to their death as they tried to escape the wrath of the King’s soldiers…in the cold and harsh winter. For the first time, through these narrations, I cried reading an historical novel. They left their farms, houses and animals to walk for several days to the coastal port to board the ships that will take them to their new place. However, before reaching their destinations, they were robbed and thrown overboard at the open sea…what kind of human race is this?
In the end, almost three million of Muslim Spain have been purged; exterminated or expelled. Does Spain benefit from this ethnic cleansing? The answer is NO ; only a chapter of dark history that will remain; her bitter past for many more lifetime to come. The world should read this book to learn history and consequences of such extreme ideas. We never learn and the world of 21st century has similar chapter of human tragedy and war. The clash of religious doctrines has initiated many of those tragedies. Even in Islam itself, the old and new ideas have always contradicted in its concepts, practices and implementations. Islam offers a broad perspectives of life; thus, living in the 21st century, a Muslim must find his own spot, within the boundaries of Iman and Taqwa, to live harmoniously with our friends and neighbors. I extremely believe that peace and prosperity starts within our own self. The moment we found where we belong would be the moment when the new world will emerge.
Ironically, the tragedy of the ancient times has been the subject of interest to many people. It is like the sin of our ancestors that has never been reconciled. Maybe the Western people would celebrate the fall of Granada as the Muslims celebrated the caliphate of Al-Andalus. The two big events , actually, have defined the greater Europe as we know it nowadays. I really hope people will start to appreciate the struggles and the fights of those people(Moriscos or otherwise) to defend their life and their faith as the reasons or consequences for the better world that we have today.