Friday, September 28, 2007

In Kampong Kepayang, a long time ago

All the way north to Butterworth (my kampung is on the right side of this railway line)

Reading Pak Cha's childhood antics of long, long time ago on his blog Nginap Srengenge reminds me of my own childhood days in Kampong Kepayang, Ipoh.

Kampung Kepayang is a traditional kampong right smack in the middle of Ipoh city. It is a gazetted Malay Reserve Area surrounded by ever-encroaching urban development on its peripheries. The kampung is bounded on its west by the KTM railway line which runs all the way to Buterworth in the north, and Singapore down south.

To the north is the Tasek Industrial Estate (famous for producing, among others, the Tasek Cement) as well as the North South Highway which links Ipoh to Kuala Kangsar and farther beyond.

To the south is the Ipoh town proper -- the Ipoh Anderson School and Cator Avenue school compounds and Fair Park, to be exact.

The kampung has not changed much since my childhood days.

Its area size has not grown bigger. On the contrary modern housing schemes are forever knocking on its door, so to speak. The total number of population seems to have stagnated, too.

Those days it used to have a lot of dusun buah-buahan (fruit orchards) with durian, rambutan, nangka and cempedak trees.
One of those dusun belonged to my Nyang (my grandmother's father). It was located in a lembah (valley) close to the Kinta River. The dusun had a neat dangau for us to sit when enjoying our durians. The dangau also provided a very comfortable and cooling resting area whilst waiting for the durians to fall from the trees around us.

The dusun is still there. But the dangau is no more. The big durian trees still stand tall. But one could tell that they are well past their 'service life' and not producing fruit anymore.

The woods around the kampung were our playground. My brothers and I used to spend hours in there looking for "fighting-spider", cutting down rattan plants, searching for woods to make hockey sticks, catapults and so on.

Sometimes we'd get a sting or two, or bruises here and there. But the lure of the kampung surroundings was too great for us to resist.

Putik durian Kampong Kepayang

I remember once during one of my outdoor excursions a black snake slithered and crossed the path right in front of me. I froze. And the snake did enough to make me retreat (ok, actually I dashed home in panic) and promised myself not to wander too far away from home next time.

But of course I broke my own promise! Ha, ha.

Boys will be boys. What's more, any kampung boy worth his salt is not going to be intimidated by the mere sight of one Mr. Snake, is he?

You know, sometimes I feel sorry for my own kids for not being able to do and enjoy what I did and enjoyed. The freedom to roam all over the kampung. To stay out and play in the rain when there is a downpour. To wander in and out of the woods at will.

Perhaps I am partly to be blamed for this too. Over-protectiveness. Yes, that's the problem with us parents nowadays. For example, a light pitter patter of the rain drops would hear parents hollering all their kids to "masuk rumah, hari nak hujan!".

But then again, I wonder if my kids would be interested at all in all those things we used to enjoy. By the look of it, they are more into computer games, internet (mySpace, friendster etc.), television (Astro), music (mp3 players) and going on an outing to downtown KL with friends to catch the movies or merely time-wasting window shopping .

*Sigh* how times have changed.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Iftar, tarawih on Putrajaya Lake

A totally unique and moving experience.

That is how, in short, I would describe my boat ride on the Kelah yesterday.

For the uninitiated, kelah is a prized freshwater fish in Malaysia. But this Kelah I am referring to is one of Perbadanan Putrajaya Cruise Tasik's handsomely-built dinning cruise boat that ply the routes on Putrajaya Lake.

I have been on the Kelah a few times before. But this time around it brought a different experience altogether. I was invited to have iftar (break of the fast) on the boat as it traverses the beautiful, clear waters.

As the time for iftar approaches, the boat captain anchors the boat in the middle of the lake at its the deepest end (14-15m deep), facing the qiblat.

As maghrib sets in, a beautiful call of the adzan was made by an ustaz from a local university. How serene and enchanting the lake looked at that point in time, especially against the background of the beautiful sunset, forming dramatic silhouettes of the distinctively charming Alam Warian development in the foreground.

Subhanallah. It makes me feel so tiny in front of The Creator.

After the Maghrib we continued with our iftar. This was followed by Isya' and Tarawih, also on the cruise boat.

Ramadhan is the month of barakah. And to my mind, this small but meaningful event should bring lots of barakah to those who came up with the idea for iftar and tarawih on the beautiful Putrajaya Lake.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Longing (for Husnul Khatimah)


This morning whilst driving to work, by the grace of ALlah, I had the opportunity to listen to a talk over the radio by one Ustaz Zahazan Mohammed.

Ustaz Zahazan is a lecturer at the International Islamic University of Malaysia. His morning talks is usually on tafseer of the Al Qur'an. But today, due to un-avoidable circumstances, he couldn't come on air. So the radio station (IKIM) played a recording of his past talk instead.

It was on Husnul Khatimah.

I was overwhelmed (floored, literally).

Ustaz Zahazan said "Husnul khatimah ialah mati atau berakhirnya kehidupan seseorang itu dalam keadaan baik, iaitu beriman, dalam keadaan ingat kepada Allah.

"Lazimnya antara tanda mereka yang mati dalam keadaan Husnul Khatimah ini ialah mereka boleh mengucap dua kalimah syahadah.

"Lawan kepada ini ialah Su’ul khatimah. Ini ialah mati dalam keadaan tidak baik. Umpamanya tidak boleh mengucap, atau dalam keadaan marah kepada Allah, atau berada di dalam pengaruh iblis" (na'uzubillah).

"Mereka yang mencapai Husnul Khatimah adalah terpilih. ALLah akan memberi taufik dan hidayah kepada mereka supaya terdorong untuk berbuat baik dan menjauhi perkara mungkar.

"Lihat saja mereka yang ahli masjid, mereka yang mendekati Quran, atau suka berbuat baik kepada orang lain. Lazimnya, mereka inilah yang dipermudahkan oleh ALlah untuk mati dalam keadaan Husnul Khatimah.

"Sebaliknya mereka yang mati dalam Su'ul Khatimah adalah mereka yang berbuat perkara khurafat dan juga mereka yang mengulang-ulangi perbuatan dosa, walaupun sudah selalu diperingati".

Oh, ALlah. You work in mysterious ways, beyond our comprehension. You give guidance and enlighten whom You please, as and when You please.

Whatever you have in store for me in this worldly life, oh ALlah, please bestow me -- as well as my parents and my family -- Husnul Khatimah.

I seek your mercy. Amiin.

Note: Ustaz Zahazan Mohammed's talk can be followed on Radio IKIM, Monday - Friday at 6.30am-7.00am (repeats at 7.30pm-8.00pm).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ramadhan: What's the score so far?

It is now four days into Ramadhan. Before you know it, it shall be Shawal and Ramadhan would be gone for another year.

Ramadhan is the month when Rasulullah and his sahabah would increase their ibadah. For, it is the month when our deeds would be rewarded many times over by ALlah.

How have we fared in so far as increasing our ibadah and improving its quality is concerned?

I would ask my self, thus:
  • Have I done the Tarawih solat every night without fail?
  • No. of times Tahajjud solat is done at night
  • No. of times other sunat prayers are done - Dhuha etc.
  • Progress so far in recitation of the Qur'an
  • Reading to improve knowledge on Islam
  • Ceramah attended/listened to
  • Zikir, and do'a
  • How much have I given for sadaqah and fisabilillah
  • Good deeds done to my parents, family, friends and others.

That's a long list already. The big question whether I have achieved any of them?

I have to admit that I've still got a long way to go.

How weak I am, oh ALlah. I pray that You give me the strength and iman to undertake these responsibilities. And also ALlah, give the same strength to my beloved parents and members of my family -- my wife and my children.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ramadhan al-mubarak

Ramadhan al-mubarak: A reminder to my family and I

The day after tomorrow will be the 1st day of Ramadhan, the month of barakah. It is the holiest month in Islam, the month when ALlah SWT is most gracious and generous with us.

Rasulullah SAW says:

"Sungguh telah datang kepada mu bulan yang penuh barakah, di mana ALlah mewajibkan kamu berpuasa, di saat dibuka pintu-pintu syurga, ditutup pintu neraka, dibelenggu syaitan-syaitan, dan di mana dijumpai satu malam yang nilainya lebih dari seribu malam.

Maka barang siapa yang tidak berhasil beroleh kebaikannya, sungguh tiadalah ia akan mendapatkan itu buat selama-lamanya"

(Riwayat Ahmad, Nasa'i dan Baihaqi)

Therefore, I am reminding and urging myself and members of my family to take this opportunity to seek the pleasure of ALlah SWT.

First and foremost, take care of your fasting. And then, do increase the quality of your ibadah in whatever means possible: be it through solat, reciting the Qur'an, do'a and supplications, by giving alms. Or by just being nice to other people.

May ALlah give us the strength to perform our ibadah so that this Ramadhan shall be a better month of Ramadhan than our previous ones.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Perak 0 -- 3 Kedah

Ok, Ok, I know. Perak lost.

You could almost tell it by that big smirk on the Mem Besar's face. And I just can't stand looking at it. Arrrghhhh!!!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

NS: they never learn, do they?

Another serious misfortune has befallen on one of our National Service trainees. This time, a death.

The death of Mohd Rafi Ameer a trainee at the Cheneh Cemerlang camp in Kemaman last Saturday is said to be the twentieth since the National Service was started by the government.

I can just hear the defensive mode of the people in charge getting into overdrive here: “death occurs everywhere”… “the safety and interests of trainees are always on the top of our mind”…“some trainees do not properly declare the sickness that they have” etc. etc.

The truth is, we parents are being taken for a ride – and sometimes even – taken for fools, I might add.

And I’m talking from experience, here. For, my daughter Sakinah went through an ordeal herself at the National Service camp in Pasir Puteh, Kelantan. It was an experience which made me feel betrayed, and one which moved me to write to Malaysiakini in March of this year.

You see, when I encouraged her to go I was confident that she would be well taken care of. After all, these are teenagers we’re talking about. Hardly the G.I. Joes or Janes. But nothing could be farther from the truth – well, at least not at that Pasir Puteh camp, anyway.

The dinning hall was so filthy that the local authority had it sealed (as in closed down!). The equipments for training were next to non-existent.

But the saddest part is, a trainee girl from Cheras (staying not far from our place, actually) died in a bathroom. Whatever happened to her that fateful night, nobody really knows until today. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s being conveniently forgotten.

Please buck-up, the powers that be. You are gambling with the lives and safety of our children! Would you do the same with your children?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Perak vs Kedah

The Malaysia Cup finals match this Sunday at the National Stadium, Bukit Jalil, shall be between Perak and Kedah.

Yours truly is from Perak. The Mem Besar is of course from Kedah. Although she's not into football -- can't even tell a soccer ball from a basketball :-) -- she has already started taunting me.

This is an act of provocation!

So, who do you think will win?

My bet is on Perak. Kejor Yob kejor...!