Sunday, September 27, 2009


Toddlers and young children especially in all their innocence have a grand time during festive seasons. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is no exception. More so it must be the most celebrated occasion in the Muslim year. Even adults may look back and fondly remember the youthful exuberance of welcoming the evening of Shawal with the dins of crackers and bamboo-cannons, intermixing with verses of the 'takbir' from the mosque and the radio/TV schedules in the background. Mothers, sisters or the women folks in the family busied themselves in the kitchen racing to finish the varied dishes and savouries which would grace the dining tables early on the first day of Aidilfitri. Earlier the 'jemaah' at the mosque after the Isyak prayer had melancholy said good bye to Ramadan after devoting themselves throughout the holy month . Suddenly the evenings took a change from the previous month's nights of Ramadan. It was not a release from having to fast in the day time, because everyone adhered to the rule but it was obligatory that we celebrate the first of Shawal. The day after and the subsequent five days Muslims may fast as continuance and celebrating 'Raya' puasa enam' on the seventh day of Shawal.

Celebrations follow in many forms. The exodus of 'balik kampong' capped it all. Sons and daughters make a point to return home to the family roots. Those with wives and husbands naturally have to transport their retinues. Airline, railway and express bus tickets were grabbed month ahead. Extra leaves were requested beside the extensive four or five days closure of offices and establishments. It was returning home of a special kind: to enjoy the special atmosphere and exuberance that comes once a year, to be in contact with all relatives near and far, friends and classmates and admittedly to touch ground and taste home cooking. Wedding celebrations are held during the week with the expectation of a larger attendance especially of relatives. Attendance at functions during the festive week took a grandeur scenario when all came in their finer attires, typically in traditional dresses in hues of colors. The quiet home at all time, inhibited by two loving couples suddenly awoke to laughter, merriment and joyfulness as all shared the treasures it held all the while. All rooms and spaces were occupied: sleeping on the floor and hitting the hay stack hours after midnight chatting over old tales came naturally as that was how it began earlier. Pillows and mattresses suddenly came out of no where to cater to the needs. It was a sin and uncalled for should family members resorted to check into hotel rooms in town. In reference to the many foreign workers in the country, they too made the annual home visit in preference to this auspicious day. The Indonesian being closer made a beeline to their nearest ports of call.

The Aidilfitri prayer at the local mosques attended by all: men, women, boys, girls, parents and their siblings turned to be a large gathering after it was over. Everyone met each other offering greetings, affections and forgiveness. Many then walked beyond the gates of the mosque to visit and offer prayers at the graves of their love ones, rekindling loves and affections to the departed. Alfatihah.

Back at homes, sons and daughters kissed their parents, asking forgiveness and likewise parents too. Son and daughters- in- laws followed with grand-children each and every one in that brief moment realizing filial piety . Soon it became a never - ending queue as others visited the home and meeting in like manner too. Children received 'raya' envelopes containing 'ringgit' as token of goodwill on this occasion. The more adventurous of them made a beeline to the neighbors' homes collecting their dues and planning to purchase the best of gifts with their new found wealth. Some among them would intimate to proceed to the nearest cinema hall and of course to view the latest of the shows aptly put up for the day.

For this auspicious day, we had all our five siblings ( sons and daughters) at home on the first three days. With their spouses and children it grew to two dozen and expectancy grew with the arrival of three sisters and a brother along with spouses and their own productions. Not counting the home crowd and relatives, it was a feast to cater to all. Preparations had been made to provide for eventualities such as this and the self -service counter at the corner of the house helped greatly. No doubt 'ketupat', 'rendang', 'nasi Mansor' ( from a local restauranteur) with the inevitable 'dalca' and 'ayam masak rose' were pullers. Added to that a fresh addition of 'laksa siam' with its aromatic 'curry or 'kuah' kept all in good mood.

The festive atmosphere however had to bow down to reopening of work schedules and schooling. Slowly but definitely the visitors had to start packing, loading their unwashed clothing, piling one another into the Nissan, Proton, Isuzu, Honda vehicles that carted all of them here, contented and happy for a break that promised goodwill and family indulgences. Never mind the long queue of vehicles on the return journey. The children would for sure be quieter on the return leg, having frolicked all the days. Goodbyes with kisses and and deep embraces accompanied all that had come home to root. Next year's Aidilfitri would see them again. 'Balik Kampong ' will be a sure fire anecdotes to home grown family gathering solemnized by the ending of Ramadan and the resonance of 'takbir' that play on your deeper emotions.

Yes he is just as happy as the rest discovering new avenues and learning experiences. He will continue to appreciate the 'balik kampong' scenario and will insist for a return sooner than you think.

The lights of 'Shawal' , the characteristic homely atmosphere helped to pull the family home. The frolics of youth haunt many to feel the atmosphere again however distance they may be,

Shoes off. Left at the foot of the staircase. Their owners in the house sobering the early delights of Shawal and conscious that the children awaited for them for fireworks and crackers to din the nights at least

Casual and relax maybe after the day's meeting with members of the family. Now a time to sit down and give thoughts to family identity and future well being.

A family photo at the 'rumah kayu' / 'rumah seni Melayu' that welcome all and look forward to see many more occasions like this

Friday, September 25, 2009


FRIDAY 25 SEPTEMBER / 6 SYAWAL 1430 – ON THE SIXTH DAY OF SHAWAL, you are still numbed by the number of fatal victims on the road. Despite all attempts to halt where possible road accidents during festive seasons, there appear to be no go at saving the lives of Malaysians. Imagine - despite reminders, road and highway surveillance etc the death now totaled 192. Code named 'Ops Sikap 20' seemed to be heading to the previous year figure of 208 dead persons due to fatal road accidents. Maimed bodies of children, youth, adults, men and women were witnessed by relatives, parents and families as they laid their loved ones to rest yet the gruesome avoidable happenings continue on. Attitudes, road manners, speed, road worthiness of vehicles, dangerous corners and sections of the highway and federal roads are offered as reasons or excuses. In totality Malaysian road manners or adventurism need drastic changes. Strict and no excuse execution of checks and summons must take precedence for all road users. Camera as promised at strategic places to record road code breakers must be installed immediately. Too long we have heard of the planning but nothing come of it. Driving schools and acquiring driving licenses must be geared towards road safety as priority. Or do we wish to see multiplication of death tolls on our roads continuing due to careless and unconcerned attitudes?

2. At the United Nation New York, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya turned up at the august house to deliver a scanting rebuke at the World's body slamming the veto rights of United States, Russia, China, Britain and France and reacted by tearing the front cover of UN Charter. He spoke for 1 hour and 36 minutes although only 15 minutes are allowed for all speakers. Earlier President Obama crossed the fifteen minute line by being at the mike for 38 minutes.

3. At the annual gathering of former students of Sekolah Menengah Darulaman in Alor Star on the third day of Aidilfitri which I attended in my capacity as a former principal of the school and meeting again some of my former students and teachers there was the usual camaraderie. Stories and recollections of the students in their teen years, thirty to thirty-six years ago where they received their education under strict but friendly principal- ship and guidance of dedicated teachers echoed year after year. This year was no exception. A record number of former students (140) attended the gathering at the school hall smacking their love and adoration for their alma mater. They returned to their homes for the Aidilfitri during the holiday break to be with their families but never dismiss the invitation to be with their school buddies. Not surprisingly, all in varied fields of business and career have grown in girth and size. Noticeably students of the later years especially of the 1980's, seemed to be over-sized than their elder brothers. The photo attached concur this foresight.

Some of the later students of SMD who sat for their SPM in the early 1980's. Fast food as favorite may have been indulged and saw size a factor. True or false? Lan Pat Pat in baju Melayu a huge puller that night.

Yet more exciting is to learn an interesting tale from one of the students. Che Ani, a grade 1 student, a school prefect and a scholarship student of the school and today an officer in the maritime service having served in TLDM that one day more than three decades ago he delivered a packet at my home. On the assistance of his father he went to my home at Jalan Sekerat Alor Star to deliver a 'buah chempedak' as a token of appreciation. Timidity caught him off guard and he left the fruit at the gate never telling me till tonight. Still it is a great appreciation I accept with honor. Sadly too Che Ani's father has passed away. The tale also marked the close rapport I had with parents when holding the helm of the school making it one the exciting and competitive schools in Kedah during 1974 – 1980. The ex-students gathering also congratulated former students who have made their way in industries, corporations and public sectors; namely Dato Farizuan Darus who is Penang State Financial Officer, Dato Zaharudin Zainol Abidin of LX-Mode and AzamHais Sdn Bhd, En Ibrahim Manager of Regency Hotel Alor Star, Lan Pat Pat an up and coming film and television personality and many others who have distinguished themselves making SMD a continuing bye word. I promised I would attend their future gatherings as long as their invitation comes in the wake of AidilFitri celebration giving support to their alma mater. Echoing their thanks ' for making them men and women' is a reward that touched all the teachers' hearts. Those years at Darulaman capped my career years.

4. No sad or unworthy story can equal that of a young husband in his 30's to discover in stark reality that his equally young wife has been playing fiddle. Expecting to celebrate her birthday he had bought a cake as required and yet to catch her on the eve of the day in close proximity with another man in a hotel room when a religious party knocked on a hotel door early in the morning. Shouldn't she be at home?

5. Grateful that on the occasion of this Eid Celebration, all our children and their families made their way home as first priority. They would otherwise in consideration of their partners (those married) choose to visit first their in-laws. Added more sweetening was the visit and stay of my three sisters and their families too, coming from Kota Bharu, Klang and Kulim respectively. This homage home to meet the father/brother and mother/sister is a tradition to be cherished and exemplified.

The school air-conditioned hall saw SMD former classmates coming together and reliving their nostalgic moments in the classroom and the fields.

Surprises of the sweet things are most welcome making highlights of our days. Aidilfitri 1430 sets a precedence.

The patriarch with his family , brother, nephews and nieces, grand -sons and daughters

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The beautiful interior of Masjid Zahir Alor Setar with its ornate 'mimbar' will be thronged with the 'balik kampong' exodus early on Hari Raya Day when Aidilfitri prayer is performed here. His Highness the Sultan of Kedah has always attended the Eid prayer here and consented to 'berhari raya' or meet the jumaah after the prayer. InsyaAllah it will take place.

THE RAMADAN OF 1430/ 2009 IS COMING TO A CLOSE. IT then heralds the the 1st of Shawal , the first day of the month when Muslims celebrated with mixed feeling but with gestures of happiness, success, recollections and trepidations of the past, present and future. Every night during Ramadan as he joined the large congregation, standing in rows in the open hall of the mosque or surau with his fellowmen behind the Imam, completing the 'terawith' prayer he is encapsulated with the holy verses from the Koran and at times bringing tears streaming along his cheeks over many recollections and rewards bestowed upon his life while flashing too sadness , turmoils befallen others. He is grateful to be there, accomplishing the twenty plus 'rakaat' special prayer every evenings during the month after breaking fast upon 'iftar', more so on occasions when he breaks his fast with fellow community friends over simple dishes prepared by the mosque or surau committee, following with the 'maghrib' prayer. Truly Muslims in the country are blessed because during Ramadan 'bubur lambuk' are served at most mosques, surau, community halls and even at hotel's premises. They are so many givers; people who are open-hearted and recognizing the wants of their fellow beings willing to assist and donate. Ramadan is truly great. It is recorded that three months consecutively in the Muslim calendar have special distinctions. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. enjoined "Sesungguhnya bulan Rejab adalah bulan Allah s.w.t., bulan Syaaban adalah bulanku dan Ramadan adalah bulan umatku."

Over the years I have had occasions to witness and participate Ramadan at varied places. Wherever it maybe either far away from home or in the comfort of your own house alongside your families, Ramadan never failed to lent its distinguished characteristics while leaving also at its tail-end a saddening reminder 'Will you be around the next it comes around'.

We are most grateful that we have seen through Ramadan AL-Mubarak 1430. The family gatherings during the first week of Shawal approaching possibly this Sunday 21 September 2009 always grant a strong camaraderie of family unity and friendships while keeping the traditions and cultures alive.


This AidilFitri we will have an opportunity to welcome friends to the wooden home as seen in the picture, having salvaged one and restoring to its present condition.