Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Raya with a difference di perantauan

These articles below appeared in the September issue of Her World.  I was asked to write a Hari Raya special from abroad and it was with much tears and difficulties that I managed to produce these.  I would like to thank Mak Ndak and her children for sharing her story with me, D of Pause to Reflect and also my dearest Nina.  Thank you for sharing and apologies for the tears that flowed and for the painful journey down memory lane.


Khadijah Tifla  - Dearest D of Pause to Reflect


Khadijah Tifla tries to make Ramadhan and Hari Raya as normal as possible for her four young children.  She busies herself in the kitchen, wakes them up for early morning baths before sending them off for the Eid prayers at the mosque and has visitors over to enjoy the day together.

But normal was when her husband was around to fuss in the kitchen and see to it that the children got ready in time for the prayers.  Nomalcy ended when his health suddenly deteriorated two Ramadhans ago.

The Ramadhan of 2007 saw her life turned upside down when her husband of 11 years was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. The month was spent with endless visits to the hospital, consultations with specialists and news that were not very encouraging for the PHD student and their four children.  That was the month that saw her once healthy husband literally shrink before her very eyes.

The Hari Raya of the same year was to be their last together, partly spent at the hospital bed in Coventary.  Hazlishah Abdul Hamid succumbed to the killer disease eleven days later on his 38th birthday, about a month after it was diagnosed.  

Their twin boys, Izz Zhareef and Izz Hanees were then 10, their only daughter Ulfa Mysara was 7 and their youngest son, Muhammad Aaryf Dean, was only 5.

Khadijah herself was only 35 when she was widowed, but her faith in God Almighty never wavered as she faces the tests and challenges put in her path.

"Everyday, the only thing that keeps me going is the believe that He knows what's best for me. Hanging on to this, with every echoing emptiness, perplexing trial and excruciating downfall, I need to only remind myself:
'For truly with hardship comes ease.
Truly with hardship comes ease.'"

Hazlishah had put his career on hold to look after their children while Khadijah pursued her studies.  It was a partnership that had seemed ideal and worked well until his health began to deteriorate suddenly. And although the signs were all there, Khadijah didn't allow herself to think that it was going to be their last Hari Raya together.

"I remember that it was a weekend and the doctor said that we could take him out.  He wanted to go to a friend's place. And it was just wonderful to see him finish three plates of meehoon goreng," she says. That night they went back to the hospital where his condition started going downhill, prompting Khadijah to call his and her parents over. The Malaysian community was quick to render support.  Readers of her blog www.pausetoreflect.blogspot.com sent their prayers and wishes in everyway possible. She wasn't alone.

Khadijah now remembers with fondness the division of labour in their household during the Ramadhans and Hari Rayas that they had together.  He'd make sure that the house was tip top while she did the cooking. He loved nasi minyak while she wanted nasi himpit. So they had both.

"Basically he enjoyed food and nasi beriani and kurma was his signature dish," she adds nostalgically, sadly noting that everything about her beloved husband had to be in the past tense now.

Hazlishah's passing meant that Khadijah had to soldier on in a foreign country where friends became her extended family offering support when needed.  But she knew she had to learn to go it all alone.

The first Hari Raya without Hazlishah, Khadijah found that she had to take on the role of paying the zakat for herself and her children, and came Hari Raya morning she took the children for prayers.  For the boys, it was their first without their father praying by their side.

"As for the hari raya itself, sure, I could easily give in to my emotions.  But I have to think of the children and not be selfish.  I tried to make it as cheerful for them," she says.

Although they visit the grave every week, that first Eid was a special visit to offer their special prayers.

According to Khadijah in one blog entry, visits to the grave was a time when apart from the prayers, the children reported something to their father.

Most of the time, it was a heart wrenching session with little Dean saying endless goodbyes to his father.
*********************************************


Che Yah Nyak Ahmad  (Mak Ndak) - a mother to everyone, a woman with a big heart and with lots of love to share.  I go and see Mak Ndak for my dosage of motherly hugs.



When Che Yah Nyak Ahmad came to look after her new-born grandson in London eighteen years ago, little did she realise that she would also be taking on literally the entire Malaysian community in London. The single mum who brought up her three girls single-handedly after the break-up of her marriage found London to be her sanctuary; a place to mend her broken heart and devote her life to her children and grand children.

Having been made dependant of her youngest daughter, Zuraiha Zainol Rashid, 45, who is a permanent resident here, Che Yah set her mind to make London her home, much to the delight of Malaysians starved of good home cooked food and motherly love.

"Mak has always loved to cook. She loves to see people eat and she remembers who likes to eat what," says Zuraida, 51, her eldest daughter who is also working in London.  Indeed, there's standing room only on Hari Raya open house at their place.  From morning till late at night, friends and friends of friends will troop in for Che Yah's meehoon soup, freshly grilled satay, soto and rice with a variety of accompanying dishes. There'd be enough to take home too.

Indeed, it is no secret that even strangers who hunger for the company of Malaysians and crave for the Hari Raya atmosphere where Malays, Chinese and Indians celebrate together, were directed to their place in north London where it is literally an open house where no one is turned away.

Che Yah, or fondly known as Mak Ndak to many of us in London, is now 81, a mother figure to many of us and a substitute grandmother to most of our children.  It is to Mak Ndak that we go to get our regular dose of motherly hug even if it is proving very difficult for her to hear out our woes as she is hard of hearing.  It is to Mak Ndak that we readily let ourselves be spoilt with her delicious home cooked food.

"Mak used to sell nasi lemak in Jitra where we grew up.  I remember searching for banana leaves to wrap the nasi lemak for Mak.  She also made school uniforms to earn extra money.  Life was indeed hard for her as a single parent.  But she persevered," remembers Zuraiha whose father left when she was still in her mother's womb.

Mak Ndak used to be a regular at our weekly tahlil or tazkirah meeting at the surau in Malaysia Hall.  Certainly, she was there almost every night for terawikh; praying while sitting on a stool as her legs began to pose a problem.  But as the pain got worse, her presence became rare and now almost nil, but she still takes delight in preparing food for the congregation.

"She would insist on contributing the food and there's no way we could persuade her not to," adds Zuraiha.

If life had been harsh to Mak Ndak when she was younger, it is now compensating her with the love and affection of those around her and more.  Daughters Zuraida, Zuriyati and Zuraiha and their families have kindly shared this wonderful lady with us here. 

*********************************************

Nina Yusof - the memory lives on

Nina Yusof remembers with fondness last Raya when everything went according to plan. Well, almost! 

"I am always the one so excited; planning for everybody and hoping that we'd get ready in time to pray together before the Raya breakfast and then go to Malaysia Hall for prayers with the rest of the Malay Muslim community in London. And then come home to receive guests.  Well, it was a bit hectic in the morning but we made it for prayers at Malaysia Hall together and then we had so many people who came to the house from morning and left quite late at night. It was wonderful," remembers Nina of the last Hari Raya. That was also to be the last Raya that she spent with her late husband, Faizal Abdul Aziz.  More importantly, she remembers that before taking the usual Hari Raya photographs, they salam and asked for each other's forgiveness.

Faizal was taken away suddenly on 2nd April this year.  He collapsed while taking his professional accountancy exams and died in hospital.  He was 43.  His death stunned the close-knit Malaysian community in London as he had no known illness; no warning of any health problems, no tell-tale signs that he would leave us so suddenly.  The weekly congregation at the Malaysia Hall surau, of which he was a regular member, gathered to offer their prayers at the mortuary of the London Hospital in East London.

The very same crowd and more turned up almost every night at Nina's house for prayers and to give her support and mostly to let her know that she and her young children are not alone.

Nina knows this.  Her children; Norman, 12 and Farah, 5, too realise they have 'uncles' and 'aunties' around when they need them. But none of us can fill the void that they feel, the emptiness that Nina vividly describes when she misses him so.

She has cried till there's no more tears to cry, she is picking up the pieces and she is moving on.  But there are still those unexplained moments.

"Last week, I missed him so much. There's an emptiness I couldn't explain. I just wanted to be with him.  So, I reached out for an old album.  I looked at a photograph and the date is 3rd April 1999.  He passed away on 2nd April 2009.  It is exactly ten years.  That was a picture of our day out picnicking at Virginia Waters with some friends. If I were to know then that in 10 years time he'd be gone, I would have been so, so sad," says Nina of her husband of just 13 years. 

Nina knows that there will always be that empty seat at the dinner table, the one person not there at gatherings and functions and conversations that will refer to arwah in the past tense.  She also knows that there will no longer be any requests for soup tulang for the breaking of iftar, and rendang daging served on Hari Raya will always remind her of him for he loved rendang daging. 

"In fact, " she corrects herself as memories came rushing back, "he'd eat anything I put on the table, although initially he'd make a fuss because he said I cooked too much."

This raya, Nina says positively, instead of going straight home after the prayers at Malaysia Hall, she will drive the family straight to the Garden of Peace in Hainnault, for that is where Faizal is buried.  She and her children had been visiting his grave regularly, but this Raya will be a special visit with some special prayers.

"This is something I must do with the children".
*********************************************

51 comments:

MHB said...

thanks for sharing, Kak Teh... D told me about this but didn't manage to get the copy. sayu...

Kak Teh said...

MHB, thank you. Take care and selamat hari raya to you and the children.

Kama said...

poignant piece, kak teh... makes me feel how blessed i am, here surrounded by loved ones.

aliff muhammad said...

Salam,
Kak Teh,

Reading this with Anuar Zain songs "Bersabarlah Sayang" on my pc speaker.

Sayu sangat.

Sesungguhnya dalam kesusahan pasti ada kemudahan.

Kak Teh said...

Puteri, salute these ladies and their new found strength - the strong will to move on. Yes, we are all blessed in different ways. Thanks.


Aliff, "Sesungguhnya dalam kesusahan pasti ada kemudahan." - how true and how apt.

NanaDJ said...

Kak Teh,
Very touching and brought tears to my eyes and heaviness in my heart. I salute these brave ladies and may Allah bless them.
Please vonvey my salam nad admiration to them.

Kak Teh said...

NanaDJ, thanks for the marathon read and Insyaallah , I will.

kay_leeda said...

Kak Teh,

Ohh...difficult to go on reading. So courageous they are. A few of my friends are just like them, single Mum at a very young age. At times I wonder how they'd manage. Guess it's the love that keeps them going.

Thanks for sharing Kak.

Kak Teh said...

kay, that is true. And with that love comes the strength.

ilene said...

Thanks for sharing Kak Teh. Remarkable women! I envy the strength that they possess. It's hard, I know, to move forward. There's always that empty void and memories. sob!

Pak Zawi said...

Kak Teh,
Followed D's story in her blog but never knew about the other two. Thanks to you now I know another two great ladies who preservered through thick and thin. They are all great ladies.

Kak Teh said...

Ilene, it makes one more resiient and tough, I think.

Pak Zawi, i think there are more ladies like them; strong, resilient. We just do not know their stories. Thanks for reading.

Kak Elle said...

KT...

I don't buy Her World but reading this make sad when I myself just loss my father a year ago but nothing compared to those who lost their other half and I am sharing this story on my FB for readers to read too if you don't mind...

Kak Teh said...

Kak elle, of course I dont mind. The stories are aready published. Take care kak elle. They may be gone, but their memories are still with us.

Shahieda said...

What a beautiful piece written once again KT. These women are the epitome of bravery & strength.

May Allah continue to grant them the ability to be positive role models to their children & society at large!!

Naz said...

Salam Kak Teh,
...I'm counting my blessings...

Kak Teh said...

Shahieda, indeed they are!

Naz, yes. I know.

hiro said...

Nice to meet you.

I was going to paste the link without permission because I had very felt the interest for your blog.

Please link me with the blog if it is good.

URL:http://hiro-anniversary.blogspot.com/

E-mail:h-mori@ibs-office.com

Zendra said...

Kak Teh, I've always admired the grit of single mothers and their will to stay the course - what more yang di perantauan. Syabas ladies!


Emmm, tapi cerita single fathers memang tersangat sedikit ya?

Kak Teh said...

hiro, thanks.

Zendra, sinle fathers? hmmm, maybe they dont stay single for too long?

Life for Beginners said...

Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for what I have already and to treasure it while we are all still here.

*hugs!*

Kak Teh said...

my dear kenny - yes, alas, we are only sometimes jolted by stories such as these into realisation. Take care and hugs back!

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Kak Teh dear,
Reality check: always count our blessings. InsyaAllah, everything will turn out well.

Kak Teh said...

catinsydney - true. how true.

Mama Rock said...

kak teh, i am glad you share these stories with us...thank you!

Kak Teh said...

Mama Rock, I know these stories are long but thanks for reading.

Kitchen Guardian said...

hmm what am i doing here fretting over trivialities...insaf...
Selamat Hari Raya Kak Teh and family!

Raden Galoh said...

Kak Teh my dearest...

You write with passion and each one moved me so deeply that tears welled in my eyes as I read 'em...

Allah loves them all kak... In each one, He offers strength and perseverance that are so intensified. He knows the best and i respect each one of these gutsy women kak...

To D, Mak Ndak, and Nina... God bless you all always... ameen.

Ms B said...

KT,

"single fathers dont stay single for too long". *grins* lawak lah kak teh ni.

Anyway, thank you for sharing/reproducing this, esp for us who have trouble to get a copy.

Adam said...

Can't remember much about Raya celebration in London then Kak Teh,except a Raya gathering at rumah En.Wahab was with our High Comm before retirement from service later he was with Petronas Student Attache in London.Rozita her daughter was like a sister to me.My classmate at PCL then.
But for sure there was a year we celeb at my flat,out of the blue someone put a casset of Ramli Sarip,'Kau Yang Satu'
The full one bed room flat at Dawson Place was stone quite and one of our dear friend Che Mat,storm out '....aku nak balik....sopping wet.
Puas jugak nak memujuknya to cool down.Some Raya nostalggic I reckon.

Ordinary Superhero said...

KakTeh, it is heart wrenching indeed to finish your entry. My prayers to the ladies and their families for Allah will give them strength.

Kak Teh said...

KG selamat hari raya!

Radin, thank you reading the stories.
They have been given strength to cope. Insyaallah they will continue to be strong.

Kak Teh said...

Ms B, am hoping to hear from you. Come to the usual place tonite - ada acara.

Kak Teh said...

adam@pak tuo, am sure you have some wonderful memories of raya di perantauan - do write abt it.

OSH, inysaaallah and thank you.

masterwordsmith said...

A very moving post that reminds us of how fragile and precious is life and our loved ones. Thanks, Kak Teh.

Salam,
Paula

Kak Teh said...

Hi Paula, indeed lfe s fragile. Salam to you too and take care.

NFA said...

salam, kak teh..is there anyway i can contact u..probably email add? i hv got some questions regarding london. tqvmuchhh.slm aidilfitri.

Kak Teh said...

salam aidilftri NFA. My email is zwan_uk@yahoo.co.uk

Thanks for visiting.

tireless mom said...

May Allah continue to give them strength as they continue with their lives and al Fatihah untuk yang pergi. Surely they are remembered at all times, but above all terlebih sayunya during Eid. Thanks for sharing Kak Teh.

ps Dah jumpa Kak Aishah dah?

Lyana Mauseth said...

dear kak teh,

tadi masa visit kak naz, i dah meleleh ayaq mata..mai kat u lagi la deraih ayaq mata i ni huhu...i take it as a reminder to cherish all the people i love and never to take them for granted bcoz we dont know how long we have together....

TQ for sharing kak teh...selamat hari raya...u know, im happy i met u and the rest of the people here...somehow i feel that i love all of you for all the stories we share...

Kak Teh said...

TM, belum jumpa lagi sebab she arrived yesterday and I was in Sheffield the whole day. I think we will meet up later when her hols with her siblings and family over. They are going somewhere and will be back 9th and 10th in London. Canrt wait to see them!

Lyana, the feelng is mutual. Kak Teh anggap semua yang membaca di sini sebagai adik-adik kak teh dan kita mengongsi apa-apa senang susah bersama dalam alam siber ini. Take care,, Lyana.

zulomar said...

AlFatihah. I knew Faizal personally when I did my ACCA in London back in '91-'94. His house was just a few block away - St Thomas's Road, Finsbury Park (walking distance to Highbury Stadium - the old Arsenal ground) and I used to lepak at his place. I remember meeting you at Keda Pok Loh Yunang during the Monsoon Cuppa - GUiT Launching (25/12/2007) and asked about Faizal & sent my salam to him. Moga digolong dalam kalangan orang beriman and ahli syurga. Amin.

We should appreciate our loved ones, friends and people around us and show that we care while they are still with us.

Kak Teh said...

Zulomar, yes I remember meeting you and I did convey your salam to him. It was so sudden - I still cant imagine that he has left us.

AK47 said...

Aunty Z,

A sad piece but a reminder to us all. May these ladies, who have lost their loved ones, fill their hearts with Allah's Love and continue their lives with iman yg teguh. The same goes to us all. Amin.

Ainun

Kak Teh said...

Ainun, amin! They are truly resilient and redha kepada yang telah ditakdirkan.

ailininstockholm said...

Assalamualaikum Kak Teh and family. Sorry for wishing you guys late, but I had quite a plateful this Hari Raya. But I was not alone, alhamdulillah. I had two whole communities to keep my spirits up the whole time.

Kak Teh said...

Wa'alaikum salam ailin. You are excused cos I know u've got yr hands, plates full. ALhamdulillah you are alright.

edelweiss said...

kak teh...

thanks for sharing. *sebak*

Kak Teh said...

edelweiss, thanks and take care, Kak Teh a bit busy and preoccupied nowadays to blog. Hope to be back wth right frame of mind soon! :)

Royalshoppingarcade said...

Salam Kak Teh,
I can imagine you writing this with tears streaming down your face just like my tears came pouring out just by reading this.
Raya is always the hardest to celebrate when you don't have your loved ones. I thank Allah everyday that I have my family still intact.my hubby and my 3boys mean the world to me.
thanks for sharing.

Kak Teh said...

Royal shopping arcade, yes, it was very difficult to write the pieces as I know all of the subjects. and although I didnt know D's husband, I know D and had met the children. I spent the whole night not being able to sleep, not being able to start. Well, thank you for reading.