We were 19 and hungry. I was exactly 18 and half, still in discovery of what life has to offer, still struggling with learning the French A-B-Cs, still struggling to understand what the lecturers taught us in class and suddenly we were told to depart for France.
The announcement was like a Bomb in my head. Our departure was premature, sudden and rather unexpected. Psychologically, we were not ready at all, but leaving for France was definitely a better option than sleeping on the upper bunk bed in front of the toilets, in that shop lot that housed 16 of us in Damansara Utama.
So off we went winter clothes shopping to brace autumn in France. To make things worse, JPA sent us without mercy, to the coldest region – they dropped us deep into the middle of the ocean, expected us to swim to the shore – and then bode farewell and good luck. And they said – you’re the first batch who will try out the French Baccalaureat in a French High School.
We didn’t have any choice – so we put on our “OK, whatever” cap on.
28 years ago, we left on the 7th of November 1989, on board MAS flight. But excuse me, 16 of us flew, not Cabin, but Business Class to Paris, France with a break in Dubai, cos at that time, the plane need re-fuelling. You can imagine our level of Jakun-ness – of course, as I recall vividly, the good old days of our national carrier flying out of Subang Airport. The good old days of Mahathir Administration, where average students like me still had to opportunity to try their luck overseas. Most of us had our vests on for a picture perfect souvenir with the family. That shot is still hanging in a frame in my Mom’s house. Needless to say, the whole village came to say goodbye, including the uncles and aunties from faraway land.
The good news was, we were heading to a country where the language was foreign. Yes, we had some basics. Yes, we knew some day to day survival sentences but French is not the most easiest language to learn – one cannot expect to master it within a few months, especially not in Malaysia laaa.
That’s Paul, the most good looking lecturer. He lived on Jalan Batai, Damansara Heights and had us all for dinner one night. Paul taught Physics, had a very cool temperament, was tall in built and 90% of us had a crush on him. The picture depicts our state of gedikness, but at 19, I guess that’s kinda alright.
Today, I look back and smile at these days. These student days, which undeniably were fun-filled – interlaced with a lot of hard work, stress and frustration of mastering French.
If you think your studying is tough, try studying in a foreign language and see how your brain gets twisted and turned each day! Learning French is God Damn Bloody Difficult. I still curse the early days when I couldn’t understand why the words are written in one way and pronounced in another. I still curse the days when I couldn’t get the bloody gender right. Every word was either feminine or masculine. And I still curse the days when I couldn’t string the words properly.
We struggled, but we marched on with much grit, we didn’t cave in and in the end, it all paid off, with God’s grace, of course.
Isn’t that what life is all about? Pain, pain and then, some gain…
Happy 28th Anniversary, friends of the 4th Batch.
As Muslims, we are taught to give charity, especially on a Friday, especially in the month of Ramadhan, and especially when you are going through a hardship. This is the norm. We are also taught not to wait until we are rich to give out charity. And that smiling is also a form of charity that costs nothing at all.
Recently, I came across another type of charity. The unexpected kind. The most unplanned version. In short, the unbudgeted version..
At first, when it happened, I was displeased and angry. Then I figured, no matter how upset I was, no matter how high I jumped up and down, or screamed at everyone, the money is no longer there and that, it was perhaps, not meant to be mine in the first place.
It took me some time to gather my cool head back, and in the end, I decided to log it in my books of Charity. For this is what you call Acceptance.
Personally, this is one form of a big, fat charity, until, I heard this story…..
A few days ago, I met a couple who looked like they were working for a cafe in one of the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur. Very averagely dressed, very humble in their demeanor, and gentle in greeting us in their premises. The wife looked like she had just finished her chores in the kitchen, while the husband was busy clearing up dirty plates on the tables.
To be honest, they really looked like they were running the cafe.
I smiled at her as she politely sat with us at the verandah of the cafe for a chit chat session.
She was very quick to let us know that the cafe business isn’t her core business. She actually owns a few IPPs in the country, and that the cafe business belongs to her youngest son, who is only in his 20s.
Wow, I thought, IPP is not some cheap business. Requires heavy and deep pockets to run independent power plants, eh???
As she continues her story, she shared her journey on how she first started.. and how she hired an Electrical Engineer as her partner for her first IPP project. One unfortunate day, she went to the Bank, and found only RM145 left in the account. He husband collapsed but she remained calm and collected. In fact, when she was recounting this memoir to me, she was smiling from ear to ear.
She said, she didn’t know whether to believe it or not – but her 6 Million MYR had just disappeared in thin air. After the signature tests was done at the Bank, it was clear that the partner had forged her signature and ran away with the funds. All she could recover was his house in Malacca, which had his wife and young children in it. She said she just didn’t have the heart to snatch that away, as she felt that they were not at fault.
Soon after that incident, she spent one whole month in Mecca, to get a breather and to get closer to her Maker. In the meantime, her husband who had 4 blockages, was getting himself fixed medically.
As she tells me this story, I thought of my “Great, Big Charity” … and what a fraction it was when compared to her 6 Million MYR charity.
I was compelled to ask her… did you get back your 6 Million in other forms?
This was her answer : Yes, in less than a year, I had two other IPP licences and my plants were fully funded by foreigners. In fact, I had more than 6 Million MYR.
But the key is – to accept the test as they are presented to you. She said, ” You have been chosen- so accept it with an open heart, and be grateful for it.”
In Malay, we use the word Redha.
Today, whenever I think of that unbudgeted loss that happened to me, and to the others who continue to lament on their losses and hope for their money back – I smile and think of this 6 Million MYR story. We will never know how this “investment” will turn out to be transformed into something greater. We will never know the wisdom behind it until much, much later…
And after all, He had already told us that we shall all be tested in many different ways and forms.
But he always end with ” Bring Glad Tidings to the Patient Ones”.
So, Be patient, as He loves those who are Patient.
Join my team #RamadanGiving on ShareTheMeal and let’s start helping children together! Want to know how it works? With a tap on your smartphone you can “share the meal” with a child in need. It costs only RM2 to feed one child for a day. Together we can end hunger! ShareTheMeal now: https://sharethemeal.org/now/?team=RamadanGiving&adjust_t=krjp1p
I wrote this short movie based on a true story. I witnessed how my own friend crumble into pieces when her own mother could no longer recognise her. A heartbreak that is truly indescribable.
Wishing all mothers Happy Mother’s Day – well in advance, because you truly deserve it! #MothersDay #Annahl #Hongleongislamicbank
As I lay down on my daybed in the living room, I see the Papaya Tree, belonging to lazy owners like my husband and I, bearing so many fruits, despite the fact that no one really bothers to fertilize it or water it on a daily basis.
It has since grown so tall and pretty, amidst my unkempt garden. The rain and sunshine takes cares of my papaya tree, Alhamdulillah for lazy people like us. When the fruit ripens, it falls to the ground, and feeds the squirrels and birds. We are happy that we have these occasional pets in our garden, feeding off that Papaya tree that is wholly taken care of by God the Almighty.
I had just finished reading the morning papers which I put down after a few giggles. An ex Senator is suing the Prime Minister and his 13 generals over the 1MDB case. I had to smirk because this ex Senator was my successor at the Ministry of Finance. It’s just so funny that the 1MDB case is being put to “snooze” and muted for the nth time, and it is business as usual for most Malaysians.
I then scroll down the FB page on my smartphone – and I see sad pictures of war torn Syria and cute babies in bloodbath. Do people actually kill cute babies? Oh yes, they do – pictures don’t lie. I read the headlines, but never the whole story – cos I already have an overload of sad stories in my own lifebank that I don’t need to deposit anymore into it.
I switch to Linkedin, and numerous messages sit in my inbox. Some are pleading for a job, some are asking for donations, some are promoting their services and products – and some are just thank you notes for accepting their request for connection.
I feel bad, that I cannot help everyone. I feel bad that I cannot feed those in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Middle East countries. I feel bad that I cannot offer a job to those who send me countless messages, pleading over and over again. How I wish I was one of the 1MDB beneficiaries (Nauzubillah).
I move to my Watsapp. My friends in the UK are sending me fund raising invites for the Middle Eastern countries, donation links to help feed hungry children and families, donation links for winter clothings, etc. etc. A lot of people are asking for help – but there is only so much help I can extend. If only I had some 1MDB monies.
I stop for a while and ponder. Where is this world heading to? I turn to google and type away “Signs of the End of the World”. http://www.imranhosein.org/articles/signs-of-the-last-day/76-ten-major-signs-of-the-last-day-has-one-just-occurred.html
These signs are scary. Most of them I have already witnessed and are currently happening as I type. Many a time, I stand alone defending things which are wrong – but are deemed right by certain “learned people”. I know and realise that I can never win a war of truth with the Learned, so I drop the polemic. I try to sleep to forget the frustration of living in a corrupt and filthy world.
Power abuse is rampant. The Deen is now being commercially used for self gain and self enrichment. It’s core purpose is being trivialised. No one really cares anymore about source of Halal Money. Even Zakat money that is meant for the Poor is being mishandled. What is worse is when the term Fisabilillah gets twisted and turned in so many creative ways – just so it can benefit friends and families. (and this is just some bullet points, amongst others – all listed in the links, not my words!)
It is kinda depressing. But nobody said this world is meant to be enjoyed. It is just a transition to the next. A temporary world to see how well you fare, how well you score, before he decides your final abode. The closer he wants you to be to him, the more tests he will hit you with! That much, I know.
Dear friends who are reading this,
Islam is such a wonderful religion, whose guidance is bundled up nicely in a book of knowledge. It was sent down to a man ( may Peace be upon him) who was illiterate – he couldn’t read nor write. The message here is to tell us all how easy the religion is, and that you don’t need to be a learned scholar to be a good Muslim. You don’t need a Ph.D, a Master’s, nor a string of qualifications.
In all Muslim families, the Quran is taught to toddlers, as early as 2 or 3 years old – it is that simple, I cannot emphasize more. If it was simple 1400 years ago, why did mankind choose to make it complicated and/or sophisticated?
Go back to the “Signs of the End of the World” – and the answers are all there.
I have since, stopped asking and choose to resign to the fact that this world is ending.
Although not a scholar in Islamic teachings or studies, I have sufficient knowledge and I hold on strong to the fact that Islam is simple and easy and that, is was always meant to be and stay that way.
But what are we subject to today? The overrating of the so called “Learned” that because of the centralisation and overbearing of power, have become intentionally or otherwise, abusive in carrying out their duties, resulting in a defenseless, weak, feeble Muslim community.
Are we reaching the end of the world? I think the answer can only be YES.
I recently met and spoke with a non-Muslim who reads and practices the Quran on a daily basis. After less than an hour of dialogue, I left the room feeling ashamed.
It is amazing how he understands the concept of Rezq and how important it is to rise early and look for means of sustenance – or one remains poor and should not be blaming the universe for his miserable fate.
He understands the concept of giving and helping the underprivileged, because he grew up not know what luxury is.
He is not a revert, and won’t be one, but he believes that the Holy Book is one that provides a Good Way of Life, and he tries as much to follow the teachings via his act and demeanour.
In short, he walks the walk and talks the talk.
His charitable acts knows no race, religion and boundaries.
I stand embarrassed next to him, while he effortlessly makes my CSR work look negligibly small when compared to his.
That brings me to the question, where art thou, exemplary Muslims?
- Why is good conduct a rare commodity?
- Why is a smile inexistent?
- Why is selfishness the order of the day?
I don’t get it.
When you preach, why must your tone of voice be condescending – it annoys me.
When you are fully covered, why do you judge the few strands of hair I let out occasionally cos I am hot? I despise the look you give me.
When you eat, why do you forget to keep your stomach one third empty for air? I am shocked that you don’t know when to stop!
I don’t get it.
I am far from being classified as a Good Muslim, and I know I have a long way to go – because I sometimes make mistakes which are habitual in nature, intentional or otherwise – but I do hold on strong to the wish of being exemplary, before I blow my last breath.
I know it is not hard. It doesn’t require further studies in the best Universities of Cairo or Yarmouk, nor speak fluent Arabic. All you need to do is be at your best behaviour at all times and display good conduct.
Because Islam is simple and teaches us that the best of us are those who treat each other well. It’s so simple, but yet difficult to attain.
If good conduct is the hallmark of Islam, then help me understand why good conduct is beginning to fizzle away and becoming a cherished memory of the good old Prophetic (may peace be upon all of them) times?