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Archive for October, 2008

Happy Birthday, Abah!

Abah turned 65 yesterday, 30 October 2008.

 

Since my husband is on night shift this week, we decided to postpone the celebration to the coming Saturday. No plans on where to go or where to eat yet, but I hope it will be a nice place. (I may try out Restoran Nasi Lemak Ayam Kampung in Jalan Yang Kalsom where PAS had a Raya Gathering last week!) But we still had a small outing last night. I took him and mom together with the kids to a local Kopitiam where we had cappuccino. The food was actually quite nice. And in fact, the Asam Laksa was incredibly delicious! (it only costed us RM4.50 compared to the same food for RM9.90 at Laksa S****)

 

How do I describe my dearest father?

 

He is to me, an extraordinary man. He went through a lot of hardships during the early years of his life. Born and brought up in Parit, Perak to a not-so-well-to-do-family, he suffered to survive. He used to tell us how he had to wake up like 4 o’clock in the morning just to get to school by 7.30 a.m. The school that he attended was on the other side of the river so he had to walk for a few kilometers, and then take the boat, and then walk again for another few kilometers to school. And on weekends, he helped his parents at the rubber estate just to earn some extra money to pay for his books and school fees.

 

He choose to become a teacher simply because he believes that only education can change a person’s life. However, he was transferred to the State Education Department for so many years until he retired. He used to tell me how he hates administrative work and misses teaching but that is the way things work. He must have been performing his job well because he was sent to Jakarta for one year to further his studies in Universitas Indonesia.

 

By the way, Abah has nine siblings, three of which have passed away.

 

Abah is a very, very, very calm man. He would never scold us unnecessarily. The only time that he would get really, really angry is when it comes to our education. I remember once, when I was in Standard 2, my grades dropped terribly in the year-end examinations (I got number 7 in class) – and he was furious! I think he even refused to speak to me for a whole day! And I learnt my lesson from that day onwards. He is very concerned about life-long learning, and he is the one who encouraged me to take up my PhD. In fact, he has been accompanying me to my classes in Gombak just to ensure that I get home safely after class. A lady driving alone at night on the highway – that is unsafe, he says.

 

And one thing I know for sure, he loves my mother unconditionally. After nearly 40 years of marriage, they are so still in love with each other. They can talk about just anything and they understand each other so well that the only time I remember them fighting was when I was about 10 (and it was over my mom’s hobby – cats!).

 

Abah is and always will be my inspiration in many, many ways. Happy birthday Abah!

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A Quiet Weekend

My husband loves fishing. He can talk about fishing for hours, just like he talks about cars. But he has been so occupied with so many other things for the past few months that he was unable to do this thing that he likes. On Saturday, he decided to leave for Lumut with his six other colleagues and spent a night there fishing. When he came back on Sunday, I have never seen him so excited about the whole thing!

 

Meanwhile, I managed to finish three books on Saturday while he was away. Sentuhan Muttaqeen, Dalam Mihrab Cinta and Boy Meets Girl – and I enjoyed all three extremely.

 

 

Umi Kalthum Ngah’s Sentuhan Muttaqeen is a story about Afiq, who was brought up by his grandmother after his parents were divorced. It tells about Afiq’s life at an Islamic school and how he made it through successfully even without the attention from his parents.

 

Three major lessons I learnt from this book:

1.     When parents divorce, the children will definitely suffer the worst. This is quite apparent and I have a few cases myself. Therefore, as a reminder to myself and to all other married couples out there, before you make the decision to separate or even think about getting a divorce, think about the children and the impact on their life. Think about the amanah that Allah has given you!

2.     The people surrounding you including your friends and your teachers will play an important role in shaping your identity. Afiq’s father made a wise decision by sending the originally-problematic Afiq to Al Muttaqeen, and after so many years, and after going through the necessary “tarbiyyah” (or education) and having supportive teachers and friends, Afiq made it through successfully. So, as parents, we must select the right school for our children so that the Islamic fikrah is instilled in them from small.

3.     Money is not everything. Afiq’s dad is a successful businessman. But what is money if your family is suffering? I would rather have less money but more happiness!

 

 

Habiburahman El Shirazy’s Dalam Mihrab Cinta contains three short stories. I love his books as they never fail to remind you that Allah should be above everything in a Muslim’s life. I am reminded that in any case or any circumstance, Allah is always the best planner.

 

The first story is about Zahrana who was in search of a husband and finally married his own student after so many tribulations (some were so horrific!). No matter how much she planned, Allah still knows best. The second story is about Syamsul who was being accused of stealing but managed to prove it wrong after years of suffering. And it further proves that Allah knows it all for He is the Most Knowing! Finally, the third story is about Zul and Mari who met in Malaysia and fell in love but the circumstances were so against them. But Zul is such a strong character in this story and I am so touched by the way he surrenders himself to Allah. Zul and Mari met again in Indonesia and the circumstances were much better and they finally got married.

 

The one lesson I always get from Habiburahman’s books: Allah is your best companion so confide in Him!

 

 

Boy Meets Girl is a novel written by Meg Cabot and it is extremely funny. It is not the normal novel but it contains exchange of emails between the main characters, instant messages at work, journal entries and notes written everywhere (including on a menu at a restaurant!). One major problem I had when I first started reading the book was trying to digest the ‘to’ and ‘from’ in the emails, and the characters in the instant messages. But after sometime, it was enjoyable.

 

I think I should spend all my time reading books instead of working and studying!

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101 Malaysian Anecdotes

 

I bought Salmiah Alias’ 101 Malaysian Anecdotes during the KL International Book Fair in April 2008. The first attraction was the cute cover and after browsing through the pages, it was full of cartoons and illustrations – and it looked more like a comic to me. But I had a good feeling about it so I bought the book and actually got the author to sign her autograph on the last page of the book. Puan Salmiah is a very pleasant lady who had been practicing law for the past 20 years. She has nine children and I can’t help but wonder how she managed her time so well! It is just amazing! Anyway, the short conversation that I had with her at the KLIBF was something that I would remember forever.

 

The book contains short anecdotes of her daily experiences in life. She wrote about her childhood, and I think she had described it so well. Some of the tales were so funny that I just couldn’t stop laughing:

 

One day, my friend, a senior civil servant told me “A group of us senior civil servants accompanied a prominent minister to a fishing trip. We did not talk much in the presence of the minister. We were afraid to make any remarks or comments in his presence”. My friend continued, “The fishing trip was a failure and we did not catch a single fish!” I was surprised and asked, “Why is that so?” He answered, “Even the fish closed their mouth!”

 

But this piece of advice from Puan Salmiah brought tears to my eyes:

 

So, for young mother, this is my advice.. Firstly, take a lot of photos of your children as they grow, if possible every day, for those faces would soon be just a memory. Secondly, enjoy your life with your young children while they still depend on you and listen to most of your words. Hug them, kiss them and smell them while they are still sweet smelling and allow to be hugged. Carry them and walk with them, holding them by their hands, for soon you will be walking, dragging your feet and holding on to them!

 

Thank you Puan Salmiah for the great advice. And most importantly, thank you for a book so well-written. I pray for your happiness!

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Falling Out of Love?

Falling in love is not easy. But lately, I seem to think that falling out of love is much easier than falling in love.

 

I have come across so many cases where married couples fall out of love. One of the main reasons for this is incompatibility, which I find it hard to believe since compatibility was the main reason why people fall in love in the first place.

 

Some of the usual statements when people fall in love: “I know that he is the right person for me. We can talk about just anything. We complete each other.”

 

And a similar statement but in a different context would appear when people fall out of love: “We just cannot get along anymore. I just realize that I chose the wrong person. We fight even about the smallest thing.”

 

Isn’t it weird?

 

It gets even worse when after five or ten or in some cases, twenty years of marriage and after having two, three or even four children together (and most importantly, an additional 10 – 30 kg of weight on both husband and wife – but of course the wife is more noticeable), you suddenly fall out of love. If the past five or ten or twenty years wasn’t love, then what was it? What was all that “sticking together through thick and thin” or “till death do us part” thing?

 

Couples grow apart so easily nowadays. The divorce rate is alarming, not only in the “non” Islamic countries like US or UK but even in Malaysia where the majority are Muslims. But although Allah allows for divorce, it is not something that Allah likes. And Allah has clearly emphasized that it is the responsibility of the Muslim husband to safeguard his family as mentioned in His book:

 

                                              

 

“O you who believe, Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones over which are angels stern and severe, who disobey not the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.”

 

I am blessed to have parents who are still “in love” after nearly forty years of marriage. And alhamdulillah, the “fire” between my husband and me is still “burning” and I pray it stays that way.

 

But there are other unlucky people out there.

 

So, the question is, how do we stay being in love?

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Love this photo…

http://kickdefella.wordpress.com

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Baked Macaroni

I had a few friends over for Hari Raya last Sunday. I haven’t done this for some time, so I decided to give it a try. Turned out well ..Alhamdulillah. 

 

It is an easy recipe: Boil the macaroni until soft. (I used the elbow pasta). Fry lots and lots of onion and put them aside. Heat a small amount of butter, add some chopped onion (not the fried one), spices, minced meat and the boiled macaroni. When nearly cooked, add in the fried onions and two eggs (beat them first). Don’t forget also to add in salt and sauces (I used lots of tomato sauce and a bit of chilli sauce). Pour into baking tray and add four more eggs (remember, beat them first!). Bake for 20 minutes or until brown. Serve!

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Plastics Everywhere!

I love books, I must admit.

 

But I also have a terrible habit when it comes to books. Truth is, I cannot read books which are not wrapped in plastic. I must plastic-wrap every single book that I buy, from the thickest to the thinnest. I get this weird feeling that the book would tear or become dirty if I don’t wrap it properly, with plastic.

 

The week before Eid, when I was on one week leave to take care of the kids, I started wrapping some of the books that I have bought over the past 6 months. I admit that I have not read all these books for the obvious reason stated above.

 

So these are the “before” and “after” photos. I finished wrapping a record of 46 books over one whole week using 5 meters of plastic!

Now, I can enjoy reading… J

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