Saturday, January 22, 2011

Komuter oh Komuter (as written on25/12/10)

Last Thursday, went on outing with my little boy to KLSuria via the KTM commuter and then the LRT - just to add some fun to the outing. Parked the car at KTM Station in Klang, had breakfast at Bismillah restaurant. For this trip, Zakiy took the lead, as I am not familiar at all with the commuter and lrts.

The whole day trip made me realise some things - I think this is a family activity that I should not make a tradition of... the shock at seeing Malaysian's gentlemen on board public transport is unbelievable!

AT KL Central we got into the Kelana Jaya line LRT for KL Suria. Just a few stops; so I did not bother to find a seat. A few other women too were standing. Some men sitting at the "special needs" seats. One of them actually was a handicap young man; very friendly, smiling at the able bodied guys around him. I watched from the corner of my eyes.

And then came the most surprising thing. The said young man, in all grace despite his handicap, stood up, came up to me and said politely, "Makcik, ambil lah tempat duduk saya, biar saya berdiri."

Profound! Here was this handicap young man, getting up and offering his seat to a makcik me, whilst all the rest of the steady, smartly dressed young men, sat looking. I declined politely, but with my "teacher eyes" looked at the rest of the guys with a message in my looks. After so many years, after such advancement in technology here in our beloved country, this aspect of human civilisation - politeness and courtesy have still not gotten internalised in our Malaysian citizens. 20 odd years of teaching, and I wonder, what real values have passed on to our younger generation.

Circumventing the KL Suria, flowing in and out of shops for hours with my little one, has proven to be something of a strained chore for me. A slight reprieve and "losing myself" at Kinokuniya was the highlight of the trip. Utterly exhausted, we made our way back by 4pm hoping to avoid the jam. Nothing doing. The platform for Port Klang bound was jammed even by that time.

A point I wish to mention. I see many kiosks or vending machines (whatever you call them) for purchasing tickets straight off the machine. Whilst there were no problems purchasing the LRT tickets from the machines, but the KTM's vending machine were a joke! You faitfully and painstakingly follow the lights that blink from one instruction to another, until it instructs you to remit payment into the appropriate slot. RM 7.20 for the both of us, and I slipped in a RM10.00 note - rejected. I fumbled and groped in my handbag for RM1.00 notes and pushed them in one by one slowly and tediously - rejected. Zakiy and I searched our wallets for exact change, coins and all - rejected! What is this?? After spending precious minutes to be "fast and automated", I finally ended up queing up at the long line at the counter to buy my tickets from the manned ticket booth. Why like that? Bummer!

And then finally came the best part. As the train for Port Klang neared the station and the announcement made, the lady officer kindly requested/instructed for single ladies to please line up at the "women's only" coach. Many obeyed; thats good. As for myself, I was with Zakiy and so I stood at the aisle for the co-ed coach with a few other young couples mostly. The train arrived, Zakiy ushered me in. Jam packed...Zakiy had warned me that I might have to stand until at least Shah Alam. I hurried to one corner near the window, together with a married couple, whose husband was carrying his young child.

For the life of me, I cannot understand how the rows of seats were filled with young, able bodied men who sat there as if glued to their seats. Never mind me, if they think I dont deserve the seat like they do, but what of the father who was carrying his slumbering child on his shoulder, swaying and staggering to maintain his composure as the train glided and swayed on the track? Good Lord! Not one man, ranging from the 20s to the 40s got up to offer a seat to the father, or to any of the ladies standing. I actually stared in disbelief. I would never have my boys behaving like this - so selfish, callous, and plain no regards for the elders, weak, or with a child. Amazing at how they can keep a straight face. I am truly at a loss for words. I would have gone staring at all of them, but luckily I always carry a book in my handbag, and to avoid embarrassing Zakiy coz his mom was staring, I resigned myself to some quiet reading, swaying left and right to the beat of the moving commuter.

Tired, from bending down reading, I tried to rest my head momentarily on the railing behind me, just nice at the level where my neck is. But to my utter horror (and Zakiy's chagrin), there this young couple stood behind us... actually intent on necking and making out in public! For the love of God..peliiiiiizzzzzz!!! Oitt come on guys - theres a time and place for everything. What were the couple trying to prove? All I see is a pair of horny youngsters with no shame nor self dignity...perghh...I think Zakiy's deathly stare finally got through to them and they cooled off. Double bummer!

Suffice it to say, I did not get the chance to sit down in Shah Alam. A grueling 45 min train ride for me - standing from KL Central right up to Klang Station. When I got off the train, my legs were stiff from gripping on to the floor of the train to avoid the embarrasment of tumbling over in the bone rattling moving train. I think I must have walked funny towards my car.

And immediately after maghrib prayer, i was lost to the world...sleep blessed sleep!!! Alas...all in all, it was a meaningful day ... for I got to spend the day with my little Zakiy, doing his thing; his kind of activity.

"Low Yatt after this?" - ayoyo.....!!!

How Can I Not?

Last night, little one's laptop broke down...the despair in his face, I cant help but feel sorry, poor boy. He is alone in the house, besides me, as big brother is in Univ. The laptop is his life line to socialise with his friends, to play games and to do his design and drawing activities. Abah says nothing doing until after PMR...Aduusss.....I dont have the heart to deprive him of his laptop as the laptop is much more than a mere tool for him.

I just can not let him be without a just to query...if the screen is broken (a bullet from his m16 or whatever gun he uses bounced off and hit the screen, puncturing it) can it cause the whole laptop to totally break down? it just shuts off like that...not responding to anything at all.

Then at 8 pm today, big boy phoned, his voice shaking. The heavy rains have flooded his 5th floor room at the university accomodation, drenching his books and possibly his mp4 and other things. He is desperately trying to mop the flood using old newspapers, but at the moment the room is not so liveable. On top of that he is drowned by all the assignments due within days of each other, plus over the weekend he has a compulsory university programme to attend when he has already made plans with some friends. There is just no time for him to compelete assignments and do the household chores, one or the other has to be compromised. So he calls to ask can ummi come to Nilai and take home his dirty laundry? ?First time he is asking.

I just can not let him be so stressed up like that. The demands on him are high, one time he is asking me a favour to help him out.

2 boys; 2 problems that are disturbing their peace of mind. Both asking ummi to pitch in and help out a bit.

I am their mother; they are my life....How Can I Not ...Oblige?

Anything best as I can ...Inshaallah

To quote the words of one of my esteemed brothers, "I am addicted to my children"

sleep has eluded me...yet again...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reminder Notice: Attn: Me!

14th November 2010, as of 7.15 am marks your entry into the last league of your 4 decades here on Earth. Seeing that you will be going into your half century, here is a good time to post this reminder to you ... for things still undone that need to be done, for things erred that need to be corrected, for dreams that are yet to be fulfilled. 48 years have passed, you are now stepping into your 49th ... how many more yet remaining? Is there time at all left for you?

It is said that a person born at 7.15 am, will get whatever she wishes for if she works hard for it. Crap ...! Everyone and anyone who works hard enough for something he/she really wants, is bound to reap sweet success at one point. But if it were true, are you working hard for the things that you wish for? For the good life here and especially the Hereafter?And when things don’t go your way, do you take the blame upon yourself, or do you start making excuses? 48 years have passed...dont you think it is time you stopped making excuses? No excuses, no justification, no blaming. You have a part in everything that happens around you. Things happen; good or bad, for a reason; not by chance. But it is up to you how you deal with the situations to turn them out for your benefit. It is up to you!

Do you remember when you were in Form One – your English teacher asked all of you to write an essay about your own self? What was it you wrote? You started your essay with “The Ugly Duckling” story in mind. You still remember your first line? It went something like this? “I was born an ugly duckling ...who grew up into ... an ugly duck”. And how you laughed by yourself on your bed in the hostel dormitory then because you just thought it was so hilarious. You were a realist back then, not delusional by fairy tales and fantasies. But that line never made it into your composition book, did it? You went back to the academics; writing what “should” be written; formal and square. You wrote it the way it was expected of you; a student who supposedly took her work seriously.. Well, too many years have since passed. Personally, you should have given that opening line; who knows it could have changed history – your history. At the very least, it would have probably told you and your English teacher that you have a wry sense of humour. (See! you still smirk as you type this).

4.8 decades have lapsed, and next year you enter your half century mark. Surely, those big numbers behind your age is licence in itself for you to be less inhibited and speak your mind now; not necessarily offensively, but with gumption. Its time you do it – speak your mind! There is no more need to be so guarded; you were a realist back then, be a realist now. REMINDER: Speak with love for humanity, speak for the sake of God – your message will come across. Do not be not be hesitant anymore. You have lived long enough to have learnt some wisdom along the way. Go for your dream...and be just as focused...age does not matter! You know you have much love for humanity in you, let that be your beacon for success.

See the goodness in mankind. There are good people around you, and there are bad people too. Do not waste your time on the bad; leave them be. Do not hesitate to do good, and trust in God that good will come back your way. It is not important if nobody appreciates you, what is important is that you are blessed by God. Seek HIS Pardon and Mercy at every opportunity you can find. Yes, surely there are regrets throughout these past 48 years; but never ever lose hope and faith in HIM to overlook your faults and regrettable acts. Embrace and face them squarely. What is more important - Be thankful for these 48 years that have passed. Too many priceless experiences that have surely made you the person that you are the person that is within you ...and pray for His Blessings always. Now is a good time as any to renew your vows to yourself, to pursue your dreams, to fulfill your goals. 48 years have been spent, and surely there will not be another 48 more waiting for you. Fastabiqul khairat ...

Be ordinary - exceptionally ordinary :)

And He Turns 14 Today

He is indeed, to me, extraordinary in so many ways. My specialist, Dr. Marlik told me that I could go for another child before I reach 35 after I got my big boy at 31. And so, my “anak ummi” was born at on a very extraordinary moment.....11th day of the 11th month at 11 pm – just 3 days before I finally turned 35 ... 14 years ago.

Having already lost 2 boys previously, I was allowed only these two. So, since my big boy’s name starts with an A, it seemed only natural to me, that this young one would have a name which starts with a Z. (thus covering all the letters of the alphabet). And just like his big brother, I wanted his name to be an inspiration in itself to him. I wanted this second child of mine to be intelligent, thus the name Zakiy, which also carries the meaning, witty. Whereas big brother showed potential in being very perceptive to knowledge, I wanted this young one to be quick in lending a helping hand, par excellent in kind deeds, thus Mohsin came about. And so, following the tradition of his brother’s name, he was another Ahmad Tiga Nama – AHMAD ZAKIY MOHSIN – the witty, intelligent, par excellent one!

Zakiy is indeed my miracle baby. His was supposed to be a caesarean delivery, but somehow my labour pains came earlier than expected, and since by that time, I was under the supervision of another specialist, Dr. Fatimah, she suggested that I went ahead with a normal delivery. Alhamdulillah, my baby Zakiy did not give me much problems at all. And since it was a normal delivery, my sheer happiness to see the cringed face of my still purplish son was slightly dampened when the matron cried out to the nurse, “Remove the baby from the mother ... don’t let her breastfeed him.” My life long steroid medication did not allow either of my 2 boys to be breastfed. But once again, Alhamdulillah, I think we have proven that even though on formulae, we still can have bright, intelligent and good children ...its not really just the issue of mother’s milk, or bottled formula; but more on the nurturing and care that we give. And since I knew my boys would never have the privilege of being breastfed, I was even more vigilant in spending private moments with them during their feeding hours – looking into their eyes and smiling at them and holding them in my arms at every feeding session.

On one occasion, I bathed my baby Zakiy when I was at the end of my confinement. Much to my horror, just above his upper lip, was a tiny scar – the telltale sign of ‘hare-lip’ formation that had not developed. Immediately my initial shock of horror turned to sheer gratitude and the feeling of utmost relief completely overwhelmed me. Taking my baby Zakiy out of the bathroom, I placed him on the bed and immediately performed the Sujud Syukur – the prostration of Gratitude to God! You see, being on lifelong steroid medication, a major worry for mother such as me was to have a hare-lipped child due to the steroids. It was obvious in his foetal development, Zakiy was beginning to form a harelip, but indeed it is the Will of Allah and His Will Alone, that the harelip condition never developed except as a scar. My baby Zakiy is a miracle to me indeed!!! Allah be praised!

And this miracle, extraordinary baby of mine turns 14 today. I don’t care what others think, but to me he has been a very handsome baby who has grown into a very handsome, tall and lanky young man, with a most disarming smile ... melts my heart every time. And yes, at 14, the shadow of a moustache covers up his scar just nicely. He is left handed, and so I know that the way he learns things around him is very different from his right handed brother. Zakiy learns things as a whole -looking at the whole picture first to understand things around him. Even as a child his sense of observation has been acute. You can count on him not to miss the minor details that everyone else seems to overlook. Even as a child, he is less reserved and socialises more easily than his big brother. As a child, he would introduce himself as, “Saya Akiy Owin (Zakiy Mohsin). Saya yang tak pandai, abang yang pandai.” Why would he say that?

From an unfortunate incident during his kindergarten days. Being a left handed child, his learning behaviour would never be the same as a right-handed child. And somehow, in the early part of his kindie days, he simply could not go beyond the number 3 (because he was not shown the whole picture about the concept of numbers). No matter what the teacher did, he could not go beyond 3. That was when the headmistress called me up and suggested (much to my chagrin) that Zakiy might have a learning disability, and that perhaps I might have him removed because the kindie only catered for children who can already count. What??? My baby was 3 years old and he was enrolled in readiness class, to give him exposure to socialising and learning the basics. I refused to accept my Zakiy had learning ability. What I know for sure, the kindie was not prepared to serve my baby’s unique ability to learn things. So, feeling rather challenged by the suggestion, I pulled him out from the kindie. My baby did not deserve to be treated as such. Immediately, putting everything else on hold, I enrolled him onto “Ummi’s kindie”. I showed him the bigger picture about numbering, and went on to teach him about individual numerical. Allah be praised, true enough, within one week he was up to 100 and even writing the numbers down.

But Zakiy being the Witty One, would in all simplicity tell anyone who asked back then, that he was the first kid to be expelled from a kindergarten because he could not go beyond 3. My sweet simple Zakiy.

True, he may not be as gifted as his brother Ilman, but Zakiy surely does not have learning difficulties. He too followed his big brother’s footsteps as the Primary School Head Prefect, and whatever his big brother achieved in his primary days, my baby Zakiy equalled him too. And I am proud of him always.

But no matter what his academic achievements are, my baby Zakiy will forever be someone special and a unique individual to me. Today, he is the one I can surely count on to make me Ice blended Vico when I am tired. He is the one who will bounce into the kitchen when I am preparing something and asks “Ada apa2 Adik boleh tolong?” He is the one , who up until today who will come up to me for a good night peck on the cheeks and shakes and kisses my hands. He is the one who will not have second thoughts to put his hands into mine as we walk the streets, and will not mind the slightest if I kiss him in public.

And today he turns 14 – nearly as tall as his big brother, slim built and with a most charming smile. He has become a shy teenager, and much to my surprise, his playfulness as a child has not deterred him from turning into a teenager very aware of his duties to Allah, and whilst he had some difficulties reciting the Quran as a child, he can quotes verses from the Quran by heart today. Allah bless him. He is resilient and adventurous and I am proud to see his keen sense of trying to do things by himself. It is difficult to find days that he offends me.

Perhaps an essay he wrote when he was in Form One describes my baby’s nature. In an impromptu essay writing competition, Zakiy had to write on The Best Gift. He wrote “...the best gift in my life is the gift of love from my mother.” It won him first prize.. .and tears of appreciation from this mother who is so touched by his words of love and gratitude for his Ummi.

From as a child he calls himself, “Anak Ummi”. Now that he is a young teenager, he is slowly phasing out to “Adik”. Well Akiy Owin, no matter how many years you add to your age, you will always be my baby, my Anak Ummi. I was doubly blessed when you were born, looking like Richard Gere when you were a young boy, and then like the French footballer, Andre in your late primary days.

Your Ummi can only offer my doa for your success in life. Every time you hug me just because you feel like it, my heart soars with love for you. Everytime you say “Thanks Ummi” in gratitude for some need of yours that I have obliged, my heart sings with pride at your politeness and respect for me. Each time that you smile and laugh eases my burden and tears away my weariness. Every night that you ask for a good night kiss from me makes me feel so blessed that Allah has given me you.

And so Zakiy, on this 14th birthday of yours, I want to say thank you for being a good son. Thank you for those times that I sought your comfort too and you understood. Thank you for making me a proud mother because you are an obedient servant of God.

I pray that your passage in life will be blessed. I pray that you will turn out to be a successful Muslim, a fastidious individual working in the path of Allah. And when I am gone, I pray that both you and your brother will honour me by carrying me to my final abode. Do me this honour, Zakiy.

Happy Birthday Anak Ummi!


If he was alive, today would mark his 95th birthday. Born on 27/10/1915, I was only a part of his life for 30 years – enough for me to have my own memories of Abah, and to share with my boys.

As the 10th of his 11 children with Mak, I was the first one to be born in a hospital. By sheer Will of Allah, I was born naturally dark, unlike my other siblings who mostly take after Mak and were born very fair (exception being big brother Agong and I). My siblings, from when I was a young child, would then tease me, saying I was accidentally mixed up with their real sister, and since the name tag on my wrist was misplaced, they said Mak had to wait for the last child to be picked up, and so presume I was Mak’s baby. Although it used to hurt me when I was a child, but Abah would come to my rescue. You see, I inherited Abah’s wide jaw, and as such my teeth were like Abah’s – widely spaced apart. So every time someone makes a claim that I am adopted, Abah would say, “Nope, you are my daughter...see we share the same teeth”. Thank you Abah! (alas, even if indeed I was adopted, Alhamdulillah, for I get the best parents and the best family anyone could hope for...and even more..I am a Muslim – but naaah...I am not adopted!!!)

Abah was a teacher, a strict one too. His voice was loud, even though he was not that tall. He did have a temper of course (runs in almost all his children), but as far as I can recall, I hardly got any ticking off by him. Even though my elder sisters and brothers would recount memories of “Abah yang garang”, I think he mellowed somewhat with his younger children, for the only time he was not pleased with me, a knuckle on the head was all I got from him. I don’t know how he was as a teacher (perhaps I should ask Othman Marsup, my ex school mate who was his student), but I remember times when I was in Std 3, and Abah was in his final year of teaching, I would help him mark his students’ Maths papers. I remember also, when Abah got home on his bicycle from school, another sibling and I would be eager to take off his socks only for the reward of drinking the hot drink in his thermos flask which he brought to school every morning, and brought back home untouched. (I wonder now if he purposely did it, knowing how we enjoyed drinking from his thermos flask then...).

The day would always start early with Abah – the early morning march hymns on the radio announcing that he was up and about (until today, the tune comes very easily to mind...invigorating tunes that would wake you up). Otherwise, it would be the Arab songs. (or were they actually qasidah?...must check with brother Apek ). Then off he would cycle to school way in Bukit Kuda Klang until he returned in the afternoon, which by that time I would have walked home from MGS too. After lunch, it would be a must for him to lie down on the sofa and read the newspaper.

Abah was a sportsman, in my younger days I would often see him sport the football referee uniform for a football match. He was a renowned referee, from the trophies he brought home. But that is as far as I know of his refereeing days; my brothers would know more on that.

Abah retired when I was in Std 3. That year he said that if I got first position in class he would buy me whatever I wanted as a prize. During that time, I was always borrowing arwah Nordin’s mini bike; whenever he came to play football with big brother Apek, 3 years my senior. So naturally, that was what I asked for..and that year, was the first time I got 1st position in class ... and got my mini bike – state of the art bike at that time, with gears to change speed. (I guess giving external positive reinforcements to young children works; until they are big enough to appreciate the more effective internal reinforcements). When Abah retired, he finally got himself a car, a white beetle fiat, where the door open backwards. By that time, we had moved out to Pandamaran, and I was still in MGS, in Std 5, whilst big brother Agong was in ACS Secondary, just next door to MGS. Abah would send us both to school and fetched us in the afternoon. And on Fridays, they would both go off to Masjid Sultan Sulaiman for the solat Jumaat, whilst I would wait in the car. Those were the most productive days of my life I think. I recall, it was whilst waiting for them to finish praying, that I developed this habit of saying my thoughts out loud – daydreaming aloud is more like it.

Abah was a literary man as far as I could remember. He had so many things to talk about, and I must say his conversations were often captivating. Up until his old age, people liked to come and visit him just to hear him talk on all matters. And so I remember, when I was only 9 or 10, for my birthday he bought me the book, Hikayat Hang Tuah as a birthday gift. No wasn’t a story book; it was a literary discourse on the legend Hang Tuah, a book used by form 6 students! I loved the book! (Thats why I remember it till today). When Abah bought this house to settle here in Andalas (where most of us are now), the housing area was called Ladang Tremelbye. As the first UMNO leader in this housing area, he renamed it Taman Sri Andalas, after a Malay classic legend I believe; and the name stays till today. (with road names as Sri Sarawak, Sri Damak, Sri Mersing, Sri Siantan, Sri Sedeli). Although he was active politically in UMNO, he was a fair man. As I grew up, and when I returned from my studies, I never got round to seeing eye to eye with him on this matter. I remember clearly (and I hold to this day), Abah telling me, “It does not matter if you are not in this team. Choose that which you believe in, but I want you to be aware of and seriously fight for whatever you choose for this country”. Since then, once, when he lost in the local votes for head of our housing area, I felt sorry for him, for I knew he was a true man fighting for what he believed in. (Thank God he didn’t live to see the chaos his party is in now).

On the same note, I remember when I was in Std 6, I was the recipient of 4 awards on the school Prize Giving Day. Abah had decided to come, and since the District Officer knew him, the latter honoured him to sit beside him. I came up on stage 4 times to receive my award; dressed in my “samseng attire” for a role I was to play later in the school play. That in itself attracted the audience attention, with my false moustache, rolled sleeved shirt and pants rolled up on one side to my knees. Each time I came down the stage, I could see Abah smiling and grinning away. Later he told me that the person sitting next to him had asked, “Whose daughter is that, to receive the most award?” and Abah told me, “Abah pun jawblah...anak sayalah!”. The pride when he said that, the smile, the gleam in his eyes...was what became the burning flame in my heart and soul, to always make Abah proud of me. And today, now that I am a parent myself, I know exactly what he felt when my boys go upstage to receive their best student awards, when the very same thing happened to me, and someone asked if they were my boys. I am glad, if there is no service at all I have done for Abah, I have surely made him proud at that moment. Feeling nostalgic now....

My only regret was that years later, when I was diagnosed as having kidney failure, I had called Abah from England to tell him that. Little did I know that not long after that, he slowly lost use of his legs and finally had to end in crutches and later in a wheelchair. Throughout my kidney problem days, he was a staunch supporter. When the doctors told me I could only drink half a cup of water per day, it was he who suggested that the syrup drink be made into ice cubes so that I can sip on them throughout the day, much to my delight. When my donor sister Oni and I were due for our renal transplant surgery, Abah made a “doa selamat” makan2 for us with all the family members. After the transplant, when he came to visit me in the ICU, he could only watch me from outside the glass pane, tears steraming down his cheeks whilst he desperately tried to master a cheerful laugh. For a stern and loud man, he had a very sensitive soul and would cry at his children’s hardships. Every 1st aidil fitri morning was an ordeal for us to get through when we would all line up to seek forgiveness from him and Mak...and then he would break out in tears, and we would all be hard pressed to hold back our own tears.

Abah passed away on 27th November 1991, just 13 days after my 30th birthday. On that last birthday, I was busy moving back to Klang from PJ. A lot of money was needed in shifting house, and on that last birthday with him, Abah gave me RM10 as a birthday present. He said, “ you will need it when you need it”. Then Abah asked my age, and I told him. He stared at me before he said, “Abah asyik panggil kau Adik, ruponyo kau dah gaik yo!” and we laughed.

Mak used to lament my not having any children after my kidney transplant and wished outloud that it would be nice even if I had only one child. Abah used to chide her and told her to say this instead, “Sorang DULU pun jadilah...” Once Abah told me, out of the blues, that I would have a child when he is gone.

My son, Ahmad Ashraf Ilman was born on 28th August, 1992, exactly 9 months after Abah’s demise. Coincidence? I never believe in coincidence...everything happens for a reason, for a purpose, by His Will in which only He knows the wisdom of. No, to me personally, it was no coincidence my son was born exactly 9 months after Abah passed away – it was his doa come true...for this daughter of his.

We all love you Abah...myself, Zul, Ashraf and yes, his little brother Zakiy too. May your soul be blessed and may you be placed amongst the pious and close to HIM. We pray we have not disappointed you and we pray you are pleased to have us as your children. We know you loved us Abah!

Al Fatihah buat Abah: HJ Abd Manaf bin Haji Hussain (Cikgu Manaf)

27/10/1915 -27/11/1991

abah n mak.

He Is A Young Man Now - My Noble Knowledgeable One

In 1992, I stayed the final two months of my pregnancy at the hospital because the doctor wanted to make sure everything was under control at the last trimester. He was due for a C-section on 2/9/1992, but he was eager to see the world. And so on this day, 28/8/1992, my son Ahmad Ashraf Ilman was born at 12.47 am, a Friday, 28th of Safar, 1413

He opened his eyes the moment his father recited the azan in his ear. Yes he was familiar to his father’s voice. The nurse in the ward gave him a pinch – he was so active in the womb that it was always difficult to keep track of his heartbeat with the device for tracking fetal heartbeat. When he was born, all the Manaf motley crew waited outside the gates of the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital...and when he was born, his father, when asked what name was he to have, shouted out, “Ahmad Tiga Nama”.

Yes, from the very moment I knew he was to be a boy, I was diligently thinking of a meaningful muslim name, a name which he could carry and realise. I wanted him to be the very best in knowledge and who practices the most outstanding moral qualities with his knowledge. And his father , who studied Arabic found this name – ASHRAF ILMAN (NOBLE FOR HIS KNOWLEDGE) and AHMAD to emulate our beloved prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Hence, Ahmad Tiga Nama!

ALHAMDULILLAH, Allah answered our prayers for this son. He was talking quite fluently even before he learned to walk....”big lorry, small lorry”. Every time he dropped his little comfort pillow, I would tell him to pick it up, and soon after that whenever he wanted that pillow, he would ask for his ‘pick-it-up’ which soon became a household word. (his grandma called it Acap’s Kitab, learning the word by ear).

One time, when he was 2, he asked his great grandmother to please retrieve his ball under the bed. The poor old woman, God bless her, struggled to bend down to reach out to the ball under the bed. He looked at her, and handed her the cane. “You don’t have to bend, just fork it out with this cane, Unyang’.

Ashraf loved listening to me reading bedtime stories to him ... of the life of the Holy Prophet and his sahabah. As I read to him almost every night without fail, he would look at the words and ask questions. He never learnt the alphabet. At 3, he complained why it was that Ummi could speak English and he couldn’t. I thought he was ready for school, so off he went to his first kindie – Jack and Jill; enrolled him in the readiness class. And then I got pregnant with his younger brother and had to be admitted, our first separation. The next day he came to visit me with his aunt and the latter told me, “Do you know your son can read?” I was stunned, and showed him the newspaper ... and he started reading slowly but surely.

“How did you learn how to read, Acap?” I asked truly amazed. His answer still rings in my ear.

“Every time you read to me, I look at the words and then I knew what the letters sound like.” Allah has blessed this child and from that moment, it was my top priority in life to make sure my son did not lose this gift by Allah. After that began his exceptional thirst for reading. He read whatever books he could get his hands on. On day he followed me for my maternity check up and he saw the diagram of the female reproductive system. In all simplicity he exclaimed, “I know this – the uterus”. Even I was taken aback at how advanced he was. For that remark he got a pinch from the nurse there; yet again.

To balance his knowledge input, I personally tutored him in Quran recitation. Knowing he has very powerful memory, I encouraged him to memorise the simpler surahs. It was easy for him, provided he was not tired. At six, he requested to learn more of the Quran, so we sent him to a private Islamic school. Upon registration, he was given the set of books written in Jawi. Later in the evening, he looked worried and I asked him why.

“I cant read these, I don’t know the alphabets.” So I tried my best to show what the jawi alphabets sounded like. By 9 pm, I had to put his younger brother to bed, so I told him to prepare for bed too. He told me he would do it in a while. At 11 pm, I was awaken by a very excited Ashraf.

“Ummi, I know how to read this now,” and proceeded to show me what he has achieved.He was reading the book fairly fluently. From that moment on, I knew my son was a self-assessed learner. Alhamdulillah.

He has surprised me numerous times when he was a child. When I was sick, he took my hand and he was soon busy uttering words which I could not quite make out. When I asked him what he was reading, he answered simply, “Ayat Kursi Ummi.” I paid attention; it was indeed the ayat Kursi...he was hardly 6 at that time. By the time he was 7, he started fasting, and I believe up to this day, he has only missed one day of fasting.

One day when he was 5, he came home from school complaining that his kindie teacher had kissed him. I asked him why.

“We were playing outside the school and my friends started to pick the flowers. It is not nice to pick the flowers from the stem right Ummi, coz you said flowers are important to produce new plants right Ummi? So I told my friends not to hurt the plant and then suddenly the teacher kissed me,” he said looking a bit puzzled.

At another time, when he was 6, he returned from school and told me he would have to quit the kindergarten. Taken by surprise, I asked him why.

“My teacher said those in Express class must not waste time during break. So she said we must walk in the kitchen, just drink while standing and walk out again. I cant do that Ummi. I am a Muslim, and muslims sit down properly when drinking, right?” The next day I went off to the kindie and spoke to Mrs Nadarajah. Ashraf did not have to quit school.

At one point in his young years, I noticed Ashraf was not eating well. He was a chubby child who normally enjoyed his food. Yet I could see the yearning in his eyes when he looked at his brother’s meal. I decided to find out why. His answer?

“My ustaz says that we should eat only when we are hungry and stop before we are full,” he said earnestly. O my poor baby. Once again the very next day I went to his Islamic school to talk to the ustaz. I don’t know what the ustaz told him, but soon he was eating normally again, Alhamdulillah.

Alhamdulillah, I believe he has grown up to be a good, trustworthy Muslim young man, playing his role as a leader wherever he goes, as I have prayed for him every day. He is a man, and therefore he must know how to be a leader. Alhamdulillah, I believe he is carrying his name well, for I can see he is well liked and respected by his friends, teachers and relatives. And he is still doing well in his studies. Alhamdulillah, he has grown to be an obedient son, and now, I am learning a lot about Islam from him, for which I am so grateful for.

Alhamdulillah, I see also the stubborn streak in him (wondering where he might have inherited it from [tongue in cheek]); for this stubborn streak, although at times riles me up, but has put him in good stead against those who antagonise him. Alhamdulillah, his insatiable love and zeal for knowledge has made him one who appreciates learning, and puts him at an advantage in his studies. Ashraf learns for the love of knowledge I know, not solely for the sake of exams. Alhamdulillah, he is closely attached to his faith in Allah, and that he sets a good example to his younger brother. Alhamdulillah, he is a good son, for I know he is studying to get a place in the medical faculty because it is his Ummi’s wish to see him become a doctor.

Ashraf is not a handsome boy, he is dark and stern looking (wondering yet again who has taken after); he does not know much how to socialise and he is sometimes emotional. He can be quite forgetful, misplacing things and never remembers to hang his towel. He has only just learnt how to fold and wash his own clothes. He is hardly a sportsman.

Yet for as long as he is true to his faith, for as long as he strives to be the best, for as long as he remembers his duties to God, to his parents and family, to his studies, inshaallah I can live with his weaknesses too.

And today, he celebrates his 18th birthday. Happy Birthday my beloved son, AHMAD ASHRAF ILMAN – the one made noble for his knowledge. THANK YOU FOR BEING IN MY LIFE..THANK YOU FOR BEING MY SON. I AM TRULY BLESSED. YOU HAVE MADE ME THE RICHER IN LIFE AND I PRAY ...THE HEREAFTER TOO.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

After 22 years

After 22 years post transplant and on steroids and immunosuppressant, I now have


Cirrhosis of the liver,

Bleeding problems,

Low haemoglobin count,


Sebaceous hyperplasia.

That is a lot to contend with in my 49th year of life.

If not for the kidney failure I had to endure prior to those 22 years, I would not have known the meaning of patience and to surrender to the Will of God, would not have experienced sabar and redha when things just get beyond my control, would not have known how to endure pain and to be in a state so helpless that there is no one, absolutely no one you can turn to except HIM, and you raised your hand in supplication, asking as if your life depended on it, with the full realisation that what it is you prayed for, only HE can answer.

If not for this training in endurance, then after 22 years post transplant, I would not be able to

Wake up in the morning and say ‘Alhamdulillah

Be able to go to bed at night and say ‘Alhamdulillah’

Eat most foods that are to my liking and say ‘Alhamdulillah

Feel the wind in my face as I drive (and drift) and say Alhamdulillah.

Perform my favourite passion – teaching and say Alhamdulillah

Kiss my mother whenever I meet her and say a special Alhamdulillah for this

Quietly endure all the above state of health condition I am in now and say Alhamdulillah

But most of all ... to have my two beautiful, obedient and intelligent A-Z sons, Ashraf and Zakiy to take up my genes and hopefully carry my legacy, and to motivate me to keep on moving ahead with my life. My gratitude to HIM for these 2 wonderful lives are beyond words.

So, with all these good things in life I have with me right now, all this boon from Allah, what are a few discomforts of the body, right? I am eternally grateful to Allah for HIS gift of renewed faith and belief in HIM. And I accept the misfortune that has befallen me today. To me they are gentle nudges to remind me from time to time where I have just been through and keep me back in track.

What did not kill me, has made me stronger ... in mind if not physically. I believe I am a better person because of what happened to me 22 years ago. I know, even if not much, that I am a person of substance ... and for that I say Alhamdulillah.

These past 22 years have been a new lease of life for me ... a second chance. And just to be blessed to wake up to a new beginning every morning, is for me one of life’s greatest miracles.

And so I have been asking myself, for the past 22 years ...

“Fa bi aiyyi aala irabbikuma tukazziban..”

“Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny? Surah Ar Rahman, 55:13

19/08/1988 – has given me a new definition to life....Alhamdulillah!