Father Sez

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My Late Mother and Father’s Sad Demise

Friday, March 12th, 2010
Dear gentle readers, my father, Hj Anwar Batcha Hj Ibram Ghaney, (a.k.a fathersez) had passed away due to heart failure on the 4rth of August 2009 in Sunway Medical Centre. It was a really shocking news to us and we are still very much coping with things without our beloved father. Our loss was indescribable. For those who knew my father, they would know that he was a good and humble man, a reliable friend, a wise teacher, a sincere and honest individual who are always willing to share his knowledge and experience to anyone including a stranger, the best boss anyone would want to work with, a responsible husband and a wonderful father anyone could possibly ask for. Truly my father was known to be a respectable man, a far-thinker, principled, god-fearing, intellectual and a wise man.
I am typing this with tears flowing down my cheeks as I could not control myself how grateful my siblings and I were to have a father who has done a lot for us and he has not once (not even once) troubled those around him even he when he was sick and till the day he died. What sadden me the most is that he had left us in a such an organized way where he had the will done so much earlier when we were small (he had to keep on updating it then), he had all his documentations filed in a such organized way where it had made our lives easier to understand his filing manner after his demise.

Yes, two or three weeks before my father’s passing, I had dreamt of him passing away. Little did I know that the dream was about to come true at that particular time. Sadly, I couldn’t go back to our home in Seremban as I was also infected by this so called dangerous Influenza A virus (H1N1). I was quarantined and I choose to stay in Damansara as I learnt that if people with diabetics and heart disease or older people were infected, it could be deadly. Therefore, I would rather stay somewhere else rather than to harm my family.

One week before my beloved father’s passing, a family meeting was held in our home. My father had told my siblings and I on what we should do if something were to happened to him and our mother. He had also brought a lawyer to our home just for us to understand all the will and probate concept. The lawyer was a good and nice man, but we have no questions to ask as it was a very sad topic and our beloved dad was okay at that time. We did not feel as if it was necessary to understand the concept at that particular time. Therefore, the lawyer’s laugh and said that we can ask him anything, anytime should we have any queries. Shocking as I must say, just before the lawyer was about to leave, my late father said to him, “So, if you received a call from my daughter, you know what it means”. The lawyer was shocked and told him not to say such thing. It was as if he knew that he was going to leave us. This was few three days before his passing. I am very sure of the timing as three days after we met the lawyer; I had to sit for my Islamic Finance’s professional paper exam. It is sad that I did not get the chance to see my father when he was still alive on his deathbed. A wise friend told me that all the traffic jams and delays that made me came to the hospital late was the Almighty Allah’s will; maybe Allah wants me, my other siblings and mother (except for the eldest, she was there with our father) to have the memory of our late father Alive.

This holy month, Ramadhan will be the first ever Ramadhan without my father. What I learnt from my late father is that it is always important to save for the rainy days, be punctual, always choose god-fearing friends and we should always respect people in order to be respected. My father had never ever skipped his prayers, no matter how busy he was. He will turn to various hadiths and the Quran if he had any doubts. He would do sunnah prayers if he felt sad and in order to seek guidance. And if he was feeling so much grateful for something or sad beyond words, he would book a ticket to Mecca and perform his Umrah. He will always spend his time reading and doing productive activities. My late father was a hard working and sincere man. Being an accountant by profession, he had always been frugal, and saving was his main priority. My late father was a super dad to us and understanding father as he listens to our wish and wants. However, he will ask us to weight it with our priorities. He has never beaten us (not even once), like all the parents do when they want to so-called teach their children on manners and principles. My father was wise enough to treat us like an adult since we were young. He was and will always (still) be my mentor and idol despite his demise, as I am very sure I will never ever meet anyone close to my late father’s personalities. I still remember when I was working in one of the big 4 firm, my father had told me to find a mentor and start learning from that particular person, I told him straight away that my mentor was him and that there was no one in the firm that was fit and had strong personalities like him. Still, even if you ask me 30 years from now, my mentor would still be him. Not that I adore him because he was my father, I adore my father as an individual.

Dear readers, do pray for my late father and recite Al-fatihah for him as he was a good man and a wonderful person you would wish you could have met. Having a person like my father makes the world a better place to live in. Semoga Allah S.W.T menempatkan ayah kami di kalangan orang-orang yang beriman dan bertaqwa. May Allah S.W.T grant him HIS heavens. Ameen. May my siblings and I grow to be righteous children who will always pray for our late father. InsyaAllah.

We would like to thank those who had attended our late father’s funeral and continuous support and encouraging words from all of you. We have received various letters, text messages, calls, and even cards from unknown people who were thankful to have met a person like our beloved father. It is really touching when you go to a small shop or a restaurant to buy stuff or food, and the waiter or shop owner cried because you told them that your father had passed away. I had not once heard anyone talk bad or heard any bad comments on my father. My father had always had the “positive aura” around him. He was truly, almost perfect. We love him but Allah S.W.T loves him more. And we could only think of nothing else except so highly of our late beloved father…..


With Love,
Your Loving Daughter, Aja

p/s: this was sumthing i wrote back during the holy month of ramadhan. Just my thought of sharing.

My mother, Hjh Zuraidah Hj Abdul Aziz,had just passed away last Friday (05/03/2010) at 3.10 pm in KPJ Seremban.All of my siblings and I was there with her when she breathe her last. My mother was buried in Senawang and the funeral was done on the same day. My mother left us with a smile on her face…and plus it was friday…I wasnt sad because I want her to come back. but I am just sad that she had to go through so much mental turmoils and pain…but I had always told her and reminded her that Allah SWT would forgive all her sins when she is sick and in so much pain.Ya Allah, May you grant my mother your Jannah , Ya Allah..
May you place her with those who are righteous and pious…
Please be soft and gentle with her Ya Allah…
Please forgive her and please be kind towards her…
Amin Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin


As I am writing this, I am somehow happy that I did not cry much as I did before when my late father left me and my siblings…I am more calm and accepting things,in malay we called it redha than I was before..Though at times, tears will still flow..

I can just feel better by looking at her pictures as I have whole loads of my family album in my room as well as my mother’s last blouse that she wore on the way to the hospital..and also by bending down, sujud to Allah S.W.T as well as listening to the Quran. Prayers and unity really helps in times like this.

My mother was beautiful, inside and out. She was very independent and she does not care if she had friends or no friends. She does not rely on people at all. She does have a few good, trusted and god fearing friends. But thats it. My mother was a Secretary by profesion, and she had met my father in one of the leading banks in Malaysia where she and my father had worked together before. My mother was jovial, happy and she had good sense of humour.

My mother had stopped working completely to look after the family because when I was still a toodler, i fell down the stairs- thanks to the maid who went out with her bf and left me with my sister alone in the house. I was in such traumatic condition to my parents, but alhamdulillah I survived and now I grew up to be a fine young lady. I just wish my mother did not stop working because I feel she could had become a lawyer or anything greater than that due to her voice-up nature. My mother was very understanding and you can tell her anything.

My mother had fair complexion because she had chinese-baba and nyoya blood, and she had rosy cheeks.She was very generous and she would treat you like her own family. My mother had told me not to save in terms of food and we should always welcome our guests and make sure that they eat before they leave our home. My mother was very up-to-date in terms of fashion as she used to sell nice muslimah clothings, custom jewelleries as well as crystal brooches.She would always make sure that her husband and children look neat and clean due to my father corporate reputation and as a muslim anyway. She is very hygenic and clean (clean here means, CLEAN like a real clean maniac), she would go berserk if you are in the category of hiding all your stuff in the closet, making your room looks clean, because she knows!
She would even know if you sweep the floor but push all the dust under the carpet.hehe. She was also very particular about grooming, like getting your nails & hair done, doing facials as well as SPAs treatments.

My mother was not born rich, so she had to do all the housework on her own, because she was the only rose among the thorns in her family. But after she got married with my father, my father provides her with so much necessities and that she does not need to do the housework or any work anymore. She just have to sit and watch my younger siblings. But like any other housewives, she would still do the housework.

My mother had always told me to do istiharah in anything I plan to do. To tell you the truth, I had never really done istiharah before. I am more towards tahajud. She had told me that she was in love with someone from saudi but when she became friends with my father, she starts telling him about all her relationship problems. And my father told her , “leave him and marry me”. My mother did not like my father at first as he was an Indian Muslim and is not the type that my mother was looking for. But my mother adore his strong personalities and sincerity. She did istiharah and she felt that Allah SWT gave her the sign to marry my father. She married my father not because of love but because of religion. And so in Islam, if you pick religion, the rest will flow after that-such as wealth and happiness.

My mother had been fasting always, 3 months straight starting from Rejab, Syaabaan and Ramadhan. She will sit on her sajadah early morning when my siblings and I were still snoring :),after subuh, she starts making breakfast for all my siblings and I and after all of us including my father left the house, she will continue doing prayers, until noon. How do i know this? Its because during school I had the reputation of skipping class for no reasons. I had miss classes 98 days per year approximately due to the reason I am in love with home and the Internet.I should had been home-schooled. Tsk Tsk.Seriously.My mother does sunnah prayers and reciting Quran everyday when she was still in healthy condition. My mother was diagnosed with a tumor in one of her ovaries, therefore the doctor had to remove one of her ovaries and that had made her unable to have children anymore and that, this had stopped her having menses. That is why she can fast for 3 months straight, Alhamdulillah.Only Allah SWT knows best, this misfortune turn out to be a great blessing to my mother as she can pray and fast more.

Even for my late father’s employees, they could actually talk to my mother as my mother was a good and kind listener and she was alert to my father’s office environment, and she would keep their secrets well and try to help them.

My mother took care all of us for years, alone as my father was working abroad. It was not easy for her as I recalled, when she was about to deliver my youngest sister, she had to take taxi to the hospital, and without her husband being with her on her side in the labour room. But Alhamdulillah, my youngest sister grew up well and healthy. Even when my father was back in Malaysia, he would still leave for overseas from time to time.

And so,

I have endless stories about my parents. I have no bad stories to share with you about my parents as they are truly beautiful inside out.I am really missing both of my parents, and truly I know that they belong together in this world and in the hereafter. Dear All do pray for my mother. My siblings and I are very grateful that we were born to such wonderful, God fearing and kind parents.We hope that we could be like them too, Insyaallah.

Lets recite Al-fatihah and prayers for my late father and mother.May Allah SWT forgive them and grant them Jannah.Amin Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.


p/s: I am truly sorry for taking so long to update my late father’s blog. This is actually two separate notes. Please know that it is none of my intention for the delay in updating all of you. I can be contacted at xynix1805@yahoo.com ,if you have any enquiries.

Drinking milk in a toddy shop…..

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

My late father was wise. He had his own simple rules on bringing up his children. Simple and graphic rules which have stuck in my mind despite my age having crossed the 5 decade barrier a few years ago. 

And one classic rule was the …….“Even if you drink milk in a toddy shop…..” 

Toddy is no more the commonly understood drink it once was. I suppose there would be plenty of youngsters today who have never seen a pot of toddy in their lives.  

Listed below is an extract of a scientific paper presented in 1952 on Toddy. 

“The partly fermented sap of the coconut palm (COCOnSu cifera), called toddy in Malaya, is a popular drink among certain sections of the population in south-east Asia and among the natives of the central Pacific Islands. The methods of obtaining toddy from various species of palm have been described in detail by Gibbs (1911) and by Browning & Symons (1916), so that only a brief account need be given here.  

The young inflorescence is tightly bound with twigs and beaten with a weighted wooden mallet, morning and evening, for a number of days. When the inflorescence begins to ooze its sap, the tip is cut and the sap allowed to trickle into an earthenware pot. Owing to the yeasts and other organisms already present in the used pots, alcoholic and other fermentations begin immediately. Each morning and evening a ‘tapper’ climbs the tree to collect the toddy, and at each visit he shaves off a fine transverse section of the inflorescence so as to leave a new oozing surface. The fermented toddy, which is milky in appearance, is brought to the Government toddy-shops for sale within a few hours of collection.”  


A toddy tapper doing his thing. Note the collection pots that are still on the tree. Source: Flickr

Not far from where I grew up in Penang, there was a toddy shop. The fermented toddy, whilst looking like milk had a powerful foul odour. And it was a common sight to see many of the port workers and labourers staggering out drunk from this toddy shop most evenings. Being called a “toddy drinker” was a grave insult beaten only by being labelled a “toddy drunkard”.  

And my late father’s saying……”Even if we drink milk in a toddy shop…” meant crime by association.   

Even if we had the noblest of intentions and drank only milk in a toddy shop, we would still be labelled as a toddy drinker or worse a toddy drunkard. So we should just stay away from places like toddy shops. Of course this also extended to a number of other places, like where the young men of those days would gather to play cards or just talk shop. I should not even be seen there…period. 

Maybe sayings like this still have their usefulness.  

Many are the young of today who gather at shopping complexes and “happening places”. I am sure most of them start off with innocent intentions of having fun. Until the crime by association starts. Some of these kids end up trapped into the world of cigarettes and drinks and maybe even worse, drugs.

I don’t know how I would be able to bring up the issue of toddy with my children. They’ll probably look at me as if I had gone unhinged. At least I have been allowed to hammer home the dangers of smoking to them.    

Surviving a heart attack!

Monday, May 18th, 2009

It’s been 9 days since the great event, my first and God Willing, the only ever heart attack.  

It started the night of Saturday, the 9th May at about 1.20 am. A warm sensation around my chest kept getting stronger. I tried drinking some water, thinking that it was heartburn and would soon go off. Well, it didn’t, rather the pain got worse. At about 4 am, it became unbearable and my wife and second daughter took me to a private hospital in Seremban, where the doctor told me to “trust him” as he knew what he was doing.

Nothing he did made any difference to the pain and all the while they kept telling me that my regular doctor was being kept informed and would be arriving in the next half and hour or so. That family doctor arrived only at 10.00 am, and told me that the indications were that I had suffered a heart attack! But it was my clear feeling that after about 4 – 5 hours in this hospital that they had done nothing to alleviate my pain or to help out in my healing.  

At 10.00 am, I gave up and asked my wife to call my brother in Subang Jaya. I had not wanted to bother him. After all, I was in a so called premier health institute in Seremban, or so I thought. My brother and sister in law arrived not long after with my second nephew and his wife, who are both doctors. That was when things got interesting. My niece in law looked at my files and asked a string of questions on why this and that were not done, to which she got unsatisfactory answers. She called her superiors in HUKM, told them about my case and they agreed to admit me.  

I was put into an ambulance and arrived in HUKM about 1 pm. My brother and sister in law had arrived a little earlier and gotten me registered, so by the time I arrived, I was whisked straight to the CCU. The rest of Sunday was a blur as the doctors frantically covered for the wasted time by the Seremban Hospital.


The HUKM. I must have been somewhere in this building. I have to go back for physiotheraphy soon. I should have time to explore and get to know this Hospital better.

The angiogram was done on the Monday, the 11th. I was retained at the CCU for another 3 days and spent the last day, Friday at the Recovery Ward, before being discharged. My diagnosis from HUKM said it was a “missed anteroseptal MI complicated with VT, Post PCI LAD”.  I am not sure what all these fancy terms mean, but it sure seems to match my feeing that the Seremban Hospital screwed around with my health.   

I have nothing but praise and gratitude for the HUKM doctors and nurses. And even their cleaning team. I am very grateful for the sterling health services provided to me with a clear sense of service beyond expectations.  

Maybe the fact that my niece in law was a Doctor at this huge hospital might have helped.  But I agree completely with what my new friend at the recovery ward, En. Othman, has to say. He had been admitted for the same procedure about a few days earlier. He was 69 years old, and called me a kid! He told me that he still remembered the days of Japanese Occupation and the conditions of the country in the years of the past. If there was one example he would show that our country had developed to first world status, it would be HUKM! 

I am back at home now, resting, and slowly working to getting back to the normal grind of my life. I have a whole new and fresh canvas to be drawn regarding my life and future. The Life Contingency Manual has taken on an increasing sense of urgency. Many other seemingly unimportant things have taken a new hue of importance and vice versa.  

My family responded to this crisis in a manner I can only wonder at. My wife, two elder girls and the younger kids all pulled their weights and supported one another as I became a burden instead of the normal role of provider / supporter. Maybe this is final confirmation that my two elder girls are now adults and that I can let go. 

And to my unearned and purely God given gifts of brothers, sisters in law, nephews and nieces in law, I can only say thanks for your being pillars of support to me and my family in our time of need.    

In this, there are lessons for those who think…..

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Life is full of surprises, it is often said. But is this always true? Or are we given subtle warnings and guidance on what we should expect as we go on with our lives? 

Recently this phrase has been often playing in my mind.

It started when I was having tea with a friend, a retired senior official of one of our Banks. My friend’s children have all about finished school or are in University, except for the youngest, a girl who has just finished her UPSR. He is basically living a live of contented retirement and has increased his religious activities in place of the hours he put into his office work.  

I was talking to him about another friend of mine. An old friend, who is now fighting a valiant battle against one of the scrouges of our lives. A battle, God Willing, he will win. I mentioned that I had last met him about a couple of months ago and he was full of vitality, plans and hopes for his future. And since recently he has been in and out of hospitals.  

And my retired bank officer friend listened intently and said, “In this are lessons for those of us who think”. 

It was one of those statements, which though made in passing, has an extremely profound effect on us. I asked him what he meant, and his reply was that: 

“We should always have our affairs in order so as not to burden our loved ones in the event of anything untoward happening to us. As you can see, the future can be really surprising.”  

How many of us actually think about this possibility?  

The possibility of life as we know it no longer being there. About the so many things that we do and manage and keep the information to ourselves. About the so many things our loved ones would have to tackle and try to decipher and put the pieces together if anything untoward were to happen to us. 

I am not talking about just taking on adequate insurance and hoping that the loved ones we leave behind will sort themselves out somehow. I am talking about something a little deeper than that.

A life continuity contingency plan, so to speak.  

Yes, in this is a lesson for those of us who think. I have written earlier about writing my final letter and stuff like that. Now I feel that the letter would be woefully inadequate if I were to expect my family to continue living seamlessly if anything untoward were to happen.  

This may be a little morbid a subject to talk about, but it is about the same as that of going for regular medical checkups. 

A life continuity check should be in order, don’t you think? After all this is a standard practice in many companies.  

Will our children ever appreciate the stress they are to us parents?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009


The normal morning traffic outside my daughters’ schools. Our two youngest girls are in primary and secondary schools which, luckily or unluckily, are next to each other.

As many parents can testify, the traffic build up around schools in the mornings and when school finishes can be quite bad, and often nerve wracking.  

This morning I watched more closely the parents as they dropped off their kids, give some last minute instructions, etc. and the other cars patiently lining up waiting their turn. Drivers of cars of all shapes, colours and types, buses, MPV’s and an occasional commercial vehicle all doing their daily duty in the name of their children.  

I am luckier than most. I don’t have other pressing appointments after dropping off the kids. But not all parents are as lucky as I am. Some have to rush back for some other chore or other while others continue on to work. Some drivers are cool and relaxed, others try to cut in and speed off and yet others seem to have completely no idea that there are many other cars behind them. 


Another hazard, though a rare one! A waste lorry getting caught in the traffic and giving us all an unwanted aroma!

All in all, I can safely say that dropping off the kids in the morning and picking them up after school can be pretty stressful.  I wonder if the children would ever appreciate the stress the parents go through on their behalf.  

Many months ago, I wrote a post about how the paying it forward concept relates to bringing up our children. 

I mentioned a quote in that article: 

“You don’t pay back your parents. You can’t. The debt you owe them gets collected by your children, who hand it down in turn. It’s a sort of entailment. Or if you don’t have children of the body, it’s left as a debt to your common humanity. Or to your God, if you possess or are possessed by one”      

So I understand and accept that my kids may not fully appreciate the tension that we have to go through. Though I am sure they are grateful that their Mama or Papa comes to pick them up, I am also sure they sort of assume that it’s the thing to do.  

A paradigm shift will take place when the time comes for them to send their kids to school. That is when, maybe, just maybe, they’ll be truly grateful for what their parents did for them.  

They may not be able to pay us back, but they’ll pay to their children!

What does a father do when your daughter unexpectedly calls and tells you she had an accident?

Monday, April 27th, 2009


Thank God, Along’s accident was nothing like this. Just a little more than a fender bender. 

Picture source: Google

We have five children and each of them are different. The eldest is very reserved with us, while she is like a house on fire with her friends. Her conversations with me are monosyllabic. Most of my text book learned attempts to ask questions and to have a conversation have failed.  

Anyway, a couple of Saturdays ago, I received this unexpected call from Along. Luckily at that time, I had stopped after the Jalan Duta Toll and was waiting for a friend. (Our family is in Seremban, whilst my 2 elder girls work in PJ and are sharing a rented house. On this particular day, I was in KL.) 

She asked me if I was free. Of course, for my daughter, I’ll always be free. Then she dropped the bombshell!  

“Papa, Along just had an accident!” 

How do you describe your feelings and thoughts when you hear something like this? To say that my heart dropped a beat, maybe a few beats, does not quite describe my feelings. This is something all parents dread. A type of call that no one wants to receive from their loved ones. 

My first response was to ask her if she was all right. She told me she was, but her car was teruk! I told her not to worry about the car, but just tell me if she was all right. Then I asked where the accident had happened. Luckily it was in one of the minor roads in her housing estate and was not blocking any traffic. 

She asked me to talk to the motorcyclist she had knocked down. That guy was talking excitedly and I got a little worried. I told him that I would be there in about 20 – 25 minutes and asked him to wait, which, thank God, he agreed. 

To cut a long story short, I got to the scene of the accident after about 25 minutes. His bike was no longer rideable, though it could be pushed. I hugged my daughter and asked her again if she was all right.  The young man, Harry, was a very decent Sarawakian. He had been knocked off the bike and had some bruises. I told him that I was very sorry about all this and what should I do. He asked for some money as a deposit to repair the bike and that he would call me after the full repair cost was known. I agreed, though it was a possible open ended arrangement.

We exchanged contact numbers and I told him that I lived in Seremban.  I asked Along to go home, keep the car at home and not to drive the car till we got it repaired and sorted out. Harry asked one of the passing motorcyclists to give him a tow to his mechanic’s shop.  

This is the first accident my daughter has had and I pray that it would be the last. I am most thankful to God, that:- 

-         no one was seriously injured in this accident, 

-         the accident happened in a minor low traffic road, 

-         it was not raining heavily at that time,  

-         I was in KL and not too far way so that I could quickly turn up at the scene and try to resolve matters and  

-         Harry was a very decent human being who though injured was most understanding that the event was indeed an accident. 

I cannot be thankful enough to God for having given us a simple test in this whole episode.  

And another thing, karma does go around.

About three months ago, a motorcyclist, a young boy waiting for his SPM results, knocked into our car whilst I was driving with my wife. He had no license and had taken his sister’s bike without permission. Our car door was badly dented. Still, we took him to a clinic, paid for his bills, paid for the bike repair and sent him back home. I think he could not believe his luck! And his father, a retired Army man, thanked us profusely. 

Maybe this was why my daughter got off lucky. 

And to my eldest daughter, Along, I say this. No one will love you more than your Mama and Papa. Your safety, well being and happiness are always foremost in our mind. Yes, you have had this accident, which in all probability could have been avoided. When the car is repaired and road worthy again, continue your driving.  

Just be more careful.   

Our children’s weddings – is it going to be a major cash drainer?

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Asian parents normally bear the full cost of their children’s weddings. This cultural norm + keeping up with the Joneses + inflation + number of children can inflict serious damage on a parent’s finances. 

We have five children. The two eldest should have marriage in their plans over the next couple of years. The younger three are still young and have quite a number of years to go. So, as you can imagine, all aspects of weddings are an important part of our long term planning.  

Malaysia is still a young nation. Until recently we were still an agricultural nation, basically a rural economy, with a large number of people living in the villages. Development has resulted in the migration of many to the cities with the villages being left with the old or the very young. As this phenomenon is relatively new, many of us in the cities still have a strong rural background, at least in our minds.  

As they say, “You can take a Malaysian out of the village, but you cannot take the village out of him.” 

These days many weddings are held in hotels or halls. The grander the hotel or the hall the higher would be the price tag. This is usually the case for city folk.  Some just have it in their homes, often barricading off the roads to function as the dinner / lunch venue. Though this inconveniences the neighbours, it is taken in good spirit and everyone just goes with the flow. 

Village weddings are another thing. They are far cheaper, as there is no hall to rent, no caterers and almost everyone pitches in to help.  

I had an opportunity to be present at a wedding in Zai’s village last week. Whilst having lunch, I thought about the cost of the weddings for my children and wondered if going rural should be the way to go. After all, on my wife’s side, the grand matriarch of the family has a huge house which is lying empty now. It would be prefect for a wedding.    

On the negative side, attending the wedding would be a major pain in the neck for my friends who mostly live in the city.  Well, just thinking.  

Here are some pictures taken at the wedding. Enjoy.


The King and Queen for the day. The groom is from Zai’s village, whilst the bride is from another State. Her delegation was there is full force to lend support and to get to know the boy’s side better.


The official car park. The unofficial ones were any house which had space in their lawn, and there were plenty!

  the-kitchen.jpg The kitchen. All the cooking was done by men. It started at 5 a.m. and finished at 11.00 am, just in time for the guests.  Notice the firewood, it’s rubber wood from the nearby rubber smallholdings. Almost everyone in the kampung has a small lot planted with rubber.


We cannot have the function without the DJ, can we? This DJ was perfect for this crowd, speaking in Nogri slang for the groom’s people and Kelantan slang for the bride’s people. 


The ladies wearing yellow are from the village association. They help out at all the village functions and weddings with the serving of food etc.


The main lunch hall. With tall rambutan trees providing the shade and the cool kampung  wind providing the ventilation.


Guests having their lunch. Though the seating could take only abouy 50 people, the function spread out over 4 hours. People came, ate their fill, mixed with the other guests and left. Then others arrived to take their place. This is a great way to accomodate the late comers and the early birds.

My family and I offer our deepest sympathies to Liam Neeson. We were spared from such a tragedy by God’s Grace.

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

There have been lots written about the tragic accident to the talented and young Mrs. Neeson, actress Natasha Richardson.  The cause of her death was apparently an epidural hematoma caused by blunt-impact trauma to the head, as per the New York City medical examiner’s office. It seems the severity and the consequences of the accident was not fully understood as the family had thought it was minor and even turned down medical treatment.  

My wife and I went through a similar situation about 22 years ago. My wife and I were both working and our two senior girls were tots. Along was a year old and Azah was about 2 months.  

We returned from work one day to see Azah going into fits. We took her to a clinic who then referred us to a nearby private hospital. The doctor at the private hospital in turn referred us to the University Hospital, after his diagnosis that the child was having a blood clot in her head.  We got to the hospital around 9 or 10 pm and it was well after midnight by the time we got the doctors at the University Hospital to examine Azah.  

It was the most worrying 3 hours of our lives for both my wife and I.  

The lady doctor who examined my daughter, (I don’t remember her name, though my family will always remember her in our prayers) told us that there was a blood clot in her head and that she had to be operated on. Our precious Azah by then was turning blue.  

By the grace of the All Mighty everything went well and Azah was transferred to the child ICU ward early in the morning. Her mother stayed back with her whilst I went home to get her some stuff. The UH Child ICU ward was an open ward with a number of children with all kinds of chronic ailments.  

I asked the doctor if I could transfer her to a private hospital and I have never forgotten her answer. The doctor told me that whilst the private hospital may have better room facilities, UH had far better medical expertise, and what was more important for my daughter was medical expertise.  

My wife and Azah (with one year old Along in tow) spent about a week in the ICU before our daughter was discharged.  The doctor told us that this clot could only have been caused by a fall or someone knocking Azah on her head. There was no other way.

This incident resulted in my wife and I reviewing our priorities in life and my wife agreed to resign from her work to become a full time mother.  

Azah is now a fine young lady looking forward to living life to the full. No amount of story telling by my wife or me can ever let her know how terrified her parents were that fateful day.  

All these happened about 22 years ago, but reading about Ms. Richardson’s tragic death has reawakened those memories.  My family has been blessed by the All Mighty in that our precious daughter was saved in time. We are deeply grateful for this gift. 

My heart goes out to Mr. Neeson and his family. Our prayers are with him and we pray that God will give him and his family strength in this time of need. We are sure that the thoughts of families the world over, who saw Ms. Richardson in The Parent Trap as we did, will be with Mr. Neeson.  


Our undrawn personal boundaries

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

We all have our own boundaries. Not the physical ones, but the mental ones. Boundaries that we don’t cross unless pressed to under really extenuating circumstances.  

I was reminded about this lately when I read the story of how one guy found some old pictures (taken more than 30 years ago) of his then girlfriend and sold them to the media. The pictures were taken when the girl was a teenager and showed her in lingerie and semi nude. Unlike the guy, the girl had risen up in life and was now a politician. Hence the pictures became so called “news worthy”.

And this brings me to the point of my story. 

I’ll never ever have considered doing this. (not that I have any such photos, anyway). No matter how down and out I was, putting another person into such an embarrassing position purely for monetary gain for me would be well outside my personal boundaries. And honestly speaking, I also think that the media house that bought these pics also had very porous boundaries.  

We must all have seen movies about people who swear to certain principles and lines that they would not cross, whilst the hero looks at them with a cynical look. At the end of movie, there would be a scene where these boundaries are crossed. One such movie was Rambo 4. A Christian missionary, who was part of a team illegally crossing into Myanmar to help some of the refugees, berated our John Rambo for killing some pirates, claiming that nothing justified the taking of human life. By the end of the movie, he had killed someone.  

But our life is not a movie.  

Our boundaries are defined by our upbringing, our education, our religious inclinations, our morals and conscience. Some boundaries are tighter and others may be a little more porous.  

Then there was a time when a colleague asked me to join him in a “side deal”. He was holding a very senior post in a subsidiary, whilst I was holding a senior position in the holding company. The deal was for both of us to work out a cut on purchases done by the subsidiary. And I must admit that it would have been quite lucrative. My friend’s logic was that the prices would be at the company’s budgeted levels, so any savings should not be missed. I turned him down. 

Let me assure you that I am no angel. Like my friend Jaya pointed out, all of us have a dark side. I also do. So I am not being judgemental at all by writing this article. It is just that I do have some boundaries that I won’t cross. 

The present difficult times can result in many of our boundaries being tested. There was a recent story in the local papers about a young mother caught stealing milk powder for her baby. And shoplifting was the only way she knew how to get milk to feed her baby. 

I am sure my children have already formed some boundaries. Some of these may change over time, and I hope that their boundaries will not veer far from the lines I have drawn for my life.   

And I pray that neither I nor any other member of my family will be tested like how the young mother was tested.


How do we prepare our kids to handle stress?

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Many adults are being seriously stressed by the current economic environment. Plunging retirement accounts, job losses and plunging businesses are contributors. These stresses are reflected in worried faces and forlorn looks at home, and often harsh responses to innocent questions by the kids. 

Children do get stressed too. And as parents, we often just brush it off and do not give it the attention it deserves. Children and young adults get stressed up about exams, relationships in and outside school, their parents’ relationships, parental expectations and a whole host of other things. Read Channel 4’s take on Young Lives under Pressure.  

We learn in our adult life that knowing how to handle stress is important, and in fact, often live saving. And we take steps to better handle this stress. Young adults start their working lives not really capable of handling stress. And we all know how stressful working life can be.  

Picture Credit: Google 

So shouldn’t we start talking to our children earlier on how to manage stress? 

My belated advice to my children on handling stress is to learn not to worry. Worrying will not solve anything. If it could, by now I should have solved the world’s hunger problems….hehe 

Sometimes we do get into situations which seem insurmountable. Then we should seek the help and guidance of the All Mighty. As Muslims, my family has the Quran to fall back upon as the ultimate guide. Reading and understanding the Quran and its advice when it comes to matters of “tests” upon us, is very soothing and calming. 

Third you can sing! Just open a window or go to a washroom and sing! People are happy because they sing, not that they sing because they are happy. A really great song that I strongly recommend is “Hakunama Tata”, the theme song from The Lion King. 

Fourth, exercise. A good brisk jog or a walk should clear away a lot of worries. Maybe it’s something to do with the pumping of oxygen into the brain, I don’t know. The doctors talk about endomorphins and stuff like that. They must do some good. 

Fifth, you can take time out and immerse yourself into an activity that you love. Like taking your rabbit out for a walk. Or watching a movie. Or listening to some songs. Or doing some gardening. 

Sixth, you can look at what would be the worst that could happen. Usually we realise that no permanent damage would be involved. Than why on earth should we worry? This rule can be applied in all those seemingly most important relationship issues.  

Life will be sure to bring about a lot of stressful situations.  

But most of them can be avoided as “we have to allow them to become stressful”.  All we have to do is not to give them permission!!!

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