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Monday, December 31, 2007

Selingan - Raya Haji Pics

I'd better post these before they get accidentally deleted. Not many in the collection coz I forgot to recharge the camera battery. And yeah .... no one else cared to remember either. Semua ibu jer yang kena ingat tau! Mana aci?!

Anyway .... let's see what we've got.

A basket full of home made ketupat, manually weaved by yours truly, ready to be handed over to Bibi. 30 pcs ngam-ngam, no wastage whatsoever this time. Yesss!!!

Ketupat ready to for the hungry tummies.

Ibu's hari raya signature dish - Ketam Masak Menjilat Jari! Hehehe... tapi memang ramai yang menjilat jari this year coz we only managed to secure about 5 kg. That was 3 kg short of our usual ketam-raya supply for both families ( Ibu & Ayah's sides).

The pak & mak sedara to you my boys ....

From left, Pak Uda & Pak Long, puffing their cigars.... the reason why I had to stay further away; couldn't stand the stench!
Then Mak Uda & Mak Anjang.
Followed by Pak Anjang, who escaped Udang Goreng Kunyit this time around. Kita masuk buku 555 ye? Patutlah ketam tak cukup!
The ever popular tuan rumah MAK LONG still looking fresh and vibrant despite hours of hard labour in the kitchen the night before.
My everdearest Ayah at the right end. Ironically, he's the one with the most white highlights despite being the youngest brother.
Hmm... banyak no berfikir ye?!
Eh! Who's that standing by the door? Cik Ton kah? (Ayah's younger sister). I just enlarged the pic. Opppsss... mana bisa Cik Ton berkumis? That was Pak Cik Kamal daaa. Cik Ton's hubby.

Not quite the full quorum. Yes.... They have a big family indeed.

While the adults bergebang, let's see what the kiddos were doing.

Ameer & cousin Nakhwan (anak Pak Lang) bonding at pondok.

The bigger boys having some kicks outside Mak Long's porch. All are "Alongs" except for Hafiz.

The other Angahs, Achiks and don't know what else were upstairs playing PS2.

The girls?! Where were they? Hmmm....all locked up in another room having their girls' talk. I could hear their giggling from outside the room. Been there, done that. Didn't want to spoil their fun.

My headaches, my heartthrobs - the three musketeers.
Yang berbilang warna.
Abang Idin (milo). Ameer (horlicks). And Hafiz (choc-o-cino).

At last, after about 4 hours at Mak Long place, they started squeezing into the back seat, getting ready to hit the road to balik kampung to JB pulak. A long journey for Ayah. An opportune time for Ibu to get some sleep. Yeaaaayyyyy!!!

I have to mengorat my sisters & nieces for pics in JB. Our camera battery dah kong by then!

So that's all for now folks.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Eid'l Adha and beyond (part 2)

It is quite common in a typical Malaysian family for the parents to be amongst the first members of the household to perform the hajj. My family was no exception.

We were all very excited when Bapak and Mak (or Atok & Nenek to you my boys) received their invitation and confirmation letter from Tabung Haji circa late 90s. Each one of us wanted to have a piece of it somehow, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem - from sponsoring the whole kenduri doa selamat, a token in the form of a nicely embroided telekung for Mak, a comfortable pair of sandals each, a sturdy and safe luggage for Bapak, right down to the ribbons in striking colors that were to be tied to the luggage for easy recognition at the airport carousel. Without doubt each one of us also started calculating in our head silently how much more did we need to top up our savings if still insufficient and started to wonder out lout rhetorically when our turns would come actually in the very familiar tone of "bilaaaaa la agaknya turn kita pulak eh?".

Nearing the weeks that my parents were due to leave for the holy land, all of the children, most of their siblings, lots of relatives & close friends flocked down to visit them in JB; either to attend the kenduri doa selamat, to seek forgiveness, to wish them well for a safe return trip, or even to simply kiss their hands to 'ambil berkat'.

BUT .....

With this kind of story, there is always a but somewhere ...

Barely 3 days prior to their departure to Mekah, in the middle of the night, I received an emergency call from my elder brother (Uncle Bard to you my boys) about Bapak complaining of severe chest pains. That must be serious I thought. The Bapak that we know hardly fell sick during his entire working life. A retired marine police officer, our non smoking Bapak had a very high threshold level for pain and would never ever consider falling sick as an option for him. Such confession of serious pain from Bapak, what's more in the middle of the night, was a real concern indeed to everyone and no one in their right mind dared to dismiss that as trivial . My brother said, Mak and my 2 other sisters were waiting nervously for my steer. Somehow, despite being the younger sister, I became the final consult that particular night. And without hesitation I requested Bard not to risk waiting at the emergency ward at GH JB but to rush him direct to a private specialist hospital instead. It has got nothing to do with lack of confidence with the public hospital but time was of essence. My view struck the cord with everyone and we assured Mak not to worry about the medical bill. Ayah and I, being the only ones out of 'hometown', drove down to JB that very same night.

It turned out that Bapak had a heart attack; with 3 arteries blocked at 98%! The surgeon's advice was to do angiogram on one of them straight away. He said, due to Bapak's critical condition, one of the arteries must be unclogged as soon as possible as temporary measure to ease the blood flow; the other two blockages can be discussed later subject to financial consideration. The consultation, surgical and medical fees? RM5,000. For one and one blockage only. The doctor assured us he would help with all the necessary reports and paper work to enable Bapak to claim back whatever claimable from the Pension department or for us children to claim from EPF. We agreed without objection for the need of speed. We had to. We must. Who to bear how much and pay back to whom - belakang kira. First things first, better be safe than sorry.

The very next morning, my sister and I went to JB Tabung Haji office to report the incident and to seek advice on immediate next steps with regards to my parents' intended pilgrimage that year. Needless to say, the much anticipated planned pilgrimage for Bapak and Mak that fateful year had to be postponed until the next Hajj season or until Bapak recuperated well enough to be medically re-certified as fulfilling the "able-bodied" criteria, whichever is later.
Let me take the pleasure of repeating when this happened. Barely 3 days prior to Bapak's flight departure to Mekah, okay?. Yes, only 3 fingers up please and count: 1, 2, 3! Not many. 3 days only!

The officer@ Ustaz yang I dah lupa namanya, was surprisingly very calm. After taking us through all the administrative procedures, he shared with us one classic piece of advice, "Ini lah namanya ketentuan Allah; kita manusia hanya merancang, tuhan jua yang menentukan. Adik berdua pesan kat Mak, jangan risau banyak sangat ya? Mesti ada hikmah disebalik setiap yang ditentukan."

A very common advice. One so common that could have been heard anytime anywhere from anyone - even from the TV cerekarama. So common that it could have been easily taken for granted without much heeds. For me personally, that particular morning advice pierced right through my skin, bones and rib cage straight into the center of my heart; triggering a high pitch shrieking alarm bell that seemed impossible to switch off, sending an alert message throughout all my blood vessels and a wake up call to my active yet semi conscious neurons.

The irony of all this was that all the while before this particular chapter, it was always Mak who had to be in & out of the hospital or clinics, either for medication or emergency treatment for high blood pressure, migraine, pain in the knee or other joints and what not. It was as if the hospital and the clinic had a specially designed revolving door custom made just for Mak's frequent and unobstructed access. Yet, as fate had it, when it came to the moments of truth, it was Bapak who stole the thunder.

Bapak felt very guilty for the delay and kept apologising to Mak and all of us for all the unnecessary trouble he thought he had caused. Mak remained very supportive and played her household counselor's role to Bapak and all of us, reminding that every cloud had its silver lining and this kind of things that had happened could well be a blessing in disguise.

After the angiogram, Bapak went through angioplasty for the other blockages at the then Universiti Hospital (now PPUM). Cost? For police force pensioners, only RM6.00 for registration. He was heavily prescribed with medications though, some free, some expensive drugs on own expense and was recommended to follow a strict diet. Bapak recovered well throughout the coming year and was eventually certified medically fit to go for his pilgrimage with Mak the very next Hajj season, albeit with a reminder that he would be under close monitoring by Tabung Haji medical team. What was there to fuss? The closer monitoring the better, we thought.

Amidst all these, I found out that one of the heart surgeons handling Bapak's case in UH that bapak affectionately called as 'Tuan Doktor' turned out to be my once long lost class mate from college prep days who happened to be the husband of an old buddy from my alma mater. What a small world! Maka terjejak lah kasih dan tersambung lah semula tali silaturrahim antara kawan-kawan lama. A blessing in disguise? You bet.

Meanwhile, Ayah & Ibu still shuddered with the thoughts that hovered in our mind - what if we continued the typical planning for such a worthy trip to take place later for our golden years - you know, after we have lived our life to the fullest? When the pockets are not drained by the mega sales, long term loans fully paid, children all grown up and can take care of themselves, and the mind all prepared to go, YET with an ailment that surfaced at the 11th hour like what happened to my very own Bapak? The spirit ever willing because the end could be near but the flesh naturally weak because the end could indeed be around the corner.

With all these happenings, it only further entrenched Ayah's & Ibu's heartfelt desire to perform the hajj the soonest we could.

BUT then again .... kita manusia merancang, tuhan jua yang menentukan.

So there is another BUT? What now?!

To be continued.....


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Eid'l Adha and beyond ...

It has been two years already. How time flies.

I have a mole below my left ankle. I remember during my childhood days, my aunt Busu ( now known as Nek Busu to you my boys) interpreted that as I would travel far. I believed her. How could I not? I was told she was the one who chose my name for me. That sounded like a big deal to me. So I grew up with a self fulfilling prophecy that I would travel far because 'Busu' predicted so.

I am now residing in Rawang, working in Mutiara Damansara, commuting daily on the NKVE - hmmm.... doesn't that count as traveling far? I've only used the car for 3 - 4 mths now, and I checked this morning it has already clocked about 15,000 km already. That shows I do travel far, don't I? Ahhh... I digressed.

Yes, I wanted to travel far. Not just between Rawang & Damansara daily. I wanted to travel the world over if I can.

Soon after marrying Ayah, I found out that he too wanted ( actually he still does) to travel the world over. Specifically, he wanted to visit the 7 ancient wonders of the world. Busu was right after all! Now we both husband and wife would travel far together-gether.

As we progressed in our own careers, it soon became apparent that my jobs were mainly desk-bound. You know, shuffling papers here & there, meeting and talking to people now & then. The farthest would be Sabah & Sarawak. Oh yes... overseas, but South China Sea only. That was it. Ayah on the other hand, with his IT background, backed with the much sought after software license and project management exposure, could easily secure jobs or assignments that involve traveling to anywhere in the world. That's if and only if he really wanted to. But that would mean him traveling on the job on his own. Concern is, the traveling far was supposed to be done together-gether by Ibu & Ayah. Attached to the hips if possible. Not one here and the other elsewhere. Tried it once - away from each other for about 9 months. Ayah in Jeddah and Ibu in ...where else? Rawang. The absence of each others' company was too much to bear. We've decided we have to be under the same roof, well... at least most of the time.

That didn't kill our desire to travel the world over. Except that the vision became clearer - it cannot be solely dependent on work related ( i.e 'sponsored') travels because that would be synonymous to both of us traveling to different directions at different times on our own agenda, mostly business. We want to travel the world over together-gether. I snap your photo. You snap mine. I hold your hands, you hold mine, and my luggage too please :). Get the drift?

There is another twist. Not only do we share the same desire to travel far, but without necessarily influencing one another, we both also came to the same conclusion that our travel destinations must be prioritised. We made up our mind to go for hajj as soon as 'possible' before we travel to other worldly desired destinations. They say, great minds think alike. But hey... fools seldom differ either.

We figured Eiffel Tower would not get any shorter. The dome of Taj Mahal would not be any less shinier. Stonehenge would not lose any of the stones. The leaning tower of Pissa would still stand, though tilted. The Sphynx, well.. it may be further eroded year after year - but it too will still be dusty just the same. And the Sydney Opera House - my choice this one - would not move on its own.Not visiting any of these during our lifetime would not be a major 'non conformance' in our books. After all, it's the 5th pillar. So we thought, let's get the priority right for both us.

Some of our friends and relatives said, that must be an early calling for us both. The beaconing.

Some others said, you two rugi lah... Enjoy first gua cakap lu! Still young what? What's the point of going too early? There would be too many remaining years after you return, hence the higher chances of you two still committing sins after sins. The idea (perhaps) is live your life to the fullest, then go to hajj & repent. Upon return, go to surau often, concentrate on ibadah and start preparing for the life hereafter.

Well, what can we say? Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion.

We had one of our own. And we were sticking by it. Our priority got further self reassured, at least while we still can and while we were still able-bodied to do so.

Is being able-bodied good enough though? Is having enough savings to fund your pilgrimage sufficient? Apparently, for "young people", that may not be good enough. Not quite. Not just yet.

So for some good number of years after Ayah & Ibu embedded our desire to prioritise our travel destinations, and for many moons after we carved in stone our commitment to perform the hajj while we were still able-bodied, we were kept waiting for the invitation to be the guests of the holy land.

The waiting that we dutifully obliged with. Without much fuss.

To be continued ......


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pringles tak halal?


Don't eat this one!

p/s Hafiz pesan, " kita tak boleh makan pringles banyak-banyak. Sebab nanti kucing nak makan pringles, pringles dah habis.... kesian kucing ....... " Meowwww!

p/s That is NOT ibu in the background.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Takziah Simah, di atas pemergian Baba ....


They call him the "professor of professors".

They call him "master of economics".

He must have educated thousands of students and scientists, amongst whom include Turkey's own President Abdullah Gül.

And the list of awards & honors in recognition of his contribution are almost endless.

But to Halil and Simah, he was simply Baba - the beloved father and father-in-law.

To their beautiful children, Hatice & Baddin, he was simply Dede.

When I received the short text from Simah yesterday, "Kak, bapa halil dah pergi"; I stood frozen for a while. In a flash, the memories of admiring the family photos in Simah's hallway and running my fingers through his books on Halil's shelves came running back to me.

Ayah & I did not have the chance to know Halil's & Simah's Baba up close and personal when we visited them in Istanbul a few months back. Yet having learnt of Simah's modern fairy tale love story from the horse's mouth herself and having met her beloved husband Halil and their two lovable children Hatice & Baddin, I feel that the tribute to the late Professor Sabahattin Zaim
as is now spread all over Turkish newspapers on his contribution to "humanity & culture" is almost an understatement.

Nevertheless, there are things in this world that cannot be seen or even touched, rather felt with the heart.

For what we have witnessed during our short stay with the Zaim Jr family, it was crystal clear that Baba has indeed raised a fine gentleman and that Baba has done more than what words can describe with his consent to bind the two hearts in a marital bliss despite the lovebirds' prior challenge of being shores apart.

Simah dear, I read about your relentless service to the late Baba during his final days with much admiration.
Each time I read your entries on caring for Baba, I have this funny mental picture of a "Malaysian Nightingale" in action, clad in her baju batik kelawar, burning up her midnight candle running up & down the ward aisle caring for the ailing Baba (though your roster were normally in the morning, right?). Joke aside, I'm very sure not many would be able to do the same like what you have done for Baba, my dear.

To Halil, yes... it is for the better as the pain and suffering is no longer felt by him. And there is no greater treasure a father would have amassed other than a son who prays for him after he left for the hereafter.

To Hatice & Baddin, you'll miss him we know. He'll miss you too, do you know? A little prayer for him would bring a smile to his face wherever he is, bringing you two closer at heart to him each & every time always.

With Professor Halil Zaim (Jr) surviving - carrying the educationist DNA in his flesh and blood, with the love of Simah the Malaysian Nightingale loyal by his side, and the young and fast growing Hatice & Baddin ever ready to conquer the world, Professor Zaim (Sr) 's legacy as one who lights his candle to enlighten others will surely prevail ....

May he rest in his peace. Al-fatihah ....

A true modern epic of "cinta dua benua" - Simah & Halil

Hatice & Baddin cuddling a kitty

* read more from the press *

Zaim passes away, Turkey loses master of economics
Professor Sabahattin Zaim, known as the “professor of professors” and the “master of economics,” passed away in a private hospital early Sunday in İstanbul.

Professor Sabahattin Zaim, known as the “professor of professors,” opened high schools and faculties in İstanbul and Sakarya and educated thousands of students.
Zaim, an 81-year-old professor who had been receiving treatment for lymphoma for some time and who underwent an operation two weeks ago, died around 4:15 a.m. on Sunday at Sema Hospital in the Maltepe district of İstanbul, where he was placed in the intensive care unit on Saturday. Zaim will be laid to rest today in the family’s graveyard at İstanbul’s Edirnekapı Cemetery after the noon prayer, to be held in Fatih Mosque.

Zaim’s doctors said he was in critical condition on Saturday. President Abdullah Gül, one of Zaim’s former students, upon hearing that Zaim had been hospitalized called Zaim’s relatives and received information on the state of his health.

Zaim was born in the İştip (Štip) province of Macedonia in 1926 and moved to İstanbul in 1934 with his family. He graduated from Ankara University faculty of political sciences in 1947 and was nominated district governor in several provinces of Turkey. He was admitted as a research assistant in the department of economics at İstanbul University in 1953 and served as department chair until he retired in 1998.

Zaim worked as a member of the Higher Education Board (YÖK) between 1996 and 2000 and contributed to the establishment of Sarajevo University in 2003 as a founding rector.

He was given the Honorary Award for Contributions to Turkish National Culture by the National Culture Foundation of Turkey in 1990 and received the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) award the same year for his contribution to Islamic economics. He also received the Lariba Award from the Lariba Islamic Bank of Los Angeles in 1996 and was nominated for the highest award given by the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) in 2002 and for the award of merit by the Turkish Writers’ Association in 2003.

Zaim educated thousands of students and scientists including President Gül. He was married with five children.

Associate Professor Numan Kurtulmuş, one of Zaim’s research assistants, stressed that Zaim’s memoirs, which he shared with his students, will be published soon. “Zaim told his stories to a group of his students, including me, in the 20 weeks after he retired. He had a great collection, bringing together all the documents and news articles prepared and published about him. He approved the publication of his memoirs and we will publish them in the coming weeks.” Recalling that Zaim was the most important Turkish figure in the field of labor and Islamic economics, Kurtulmuş added: “He contributed to the establishment of the majority of charity organizations and foundations in Turkey in the last 50 years. He was a man who continuously strived to serve humanity and was loved by his students.”

President Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Deputy Prime Minister Nazım Ekren, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, Finance Minister Kemal Unakıtan and former politicians, Ali Coşkun and Nevzat Yalçıntaş, stand out among Zaim’s students. In a previous interview with the state-run Anatolia news agency, Zaim noted that he did not imagine that his students would be prominent figures in Turkish politics in the future. “Yet, I believe that they will exert their utmost efforts to serve the country and Turkish society,” he said.

Zaim continued reading and writing after he retired from the faculty of economics and administrative sciences at Sakarya University in 1998 and is known to have spent his retirement giving lectures and involved in social and cultural activities both in Turkey and abroad.


Today’s Zaman İstanbul

Saturday, December 08, 2007

There's still tomorrow

With much excitement each one volunteered

Hafiz: "Patricia !"

Ameer: "Nasya !!"

Abang Idin: "Siti Rooney !!!"

It was very heartwarming that all of you my boys thought of a girl's name for the baby. For once you were all unanimous that it should be a baby girl.

Hafiz, Ibu will have to check if there is a meaningful arabic equivalent of Patricia, ok?

Ameer, I wonder how you knew such a name? Did any of Ayah's friends or my friends' hubbies have anything to do with this choice of name?

Abang Idin, Siti maybe; similar to your cousins in JB. But Rooney? hmmm ... not likely I think.

Thank you my boys for suggesting those lovely names.

For the time being, Ibu will KIV them first ok?

Hopefully we will retrieve this posting again in the near future for practical reference, insyaAllah.

Meanwhile, Ibu need to recline deep into sleep to prepare for tomorrow's procedure.

Good nite all.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

In search of the missing little one ...

She said she couldn't detect it.

She said it could have disintegrated.

She said it's the body's natural way to either absorb back some disintegrated things to remain in the body or flush out some others.

She said (and we could saw it clearly from the screen) that the gestational sac is still intact, which explains why I am still feeling the common hormonal effects.

She said this is quite common in the first 8 to 12 weeks.

She said causes for most are not known.

She said 1 in 5 ends this way.

So have I become one of the statistics?

She added that I should go for the procedure soon. As soon as today.

She noticed how Ayah & Ibu fell silent and instinctively knew we were not immediately agreeable.

She said perhaps we should seek second opinion if we are not sure with her explanation.

Perhaps we should.

Ayah led me out of the clinic in silence.

Perhaps Ayah knew Ibu too well not to dwell on the emotional side of this kind of things. Rather, rationalise what to do next.

Perhaps Ayah may not be so sure how to handle Ibu if Ibu became too emotional about it right there & then.

As usual I didn't. I remain stone faced. Yes I was rationalising hard in my mind.

Perhaps we should seek second opinion, Ayah suggested. Ibu agreed - third & fourth if we have to.

We went separate ways back to each other's office.

I dived my nose into the contracts piling up in my tray.

I set my mind to enjoy the dinner & croaking session planned for the nite.

Later Ayah sms.

For the first time after I left the clinic, tears welled up in my eyes and finally trickled down my cheek - behind closed door.

We've been praying hard for one that is healthy & well and for the best.

Perhaps this is His answer to our prayer because only He knows what's best for us.

Perhaps the best is yet to come :(