Thursday, December 20, 2001

cerita kedai kopi #81-[19/12/2001]

Remembering Ramadhan...

Again, I bade farewell to Ramadhan al-Mubarak. Thanks to Allah swt for His mercy that I was  able to fast in the holy month of Ramadhan 1422.I hope and pray that I will once again meet the next Ramadhan,1423. As a muslim, I fast during the day-lights and I do not have many stories to tell from my conversations while having coffee or tea. Occasionally, I did have some time after our teraweh prayers to sit down with my fellow neighbours at our 'surau' (minor mosque) and we chatted after the prayers over a cup of tea and some cakes before we go home. I think it was a time well spent to talk and to get to know my neighbours closer. Our urban life-style does not allow much interaction between neighbours-many of us hardly know our next door neighbours especially in big cities like KL. Most of the time,we just say hello as and when we meet them on our way to office or back home-that is all. By being at the mosque during Ramadhan, it allowed more time for most people to meet and get to know one another. Truly, this is one of the many benefits of going to pray at the mosque.

Now, I am back home with sweet and sad memories of 'balik kampung'(return to one's village). I was happy to meet my mother,brother,sister,relatives and friends.I was happy and even nostalgic to be 'home' where I was born,to see the school that I first learnt the alphabets and simple multiplication tables and to meet familiar faces that I grew up as a child. I was happy to eat 'moreh'(drinks and light foods) after teraweh prayers at the same surau that I prayed and played truant when I was a kid. It also reminded me of my late father who used to lead the teraweh prayers. Quietly, I told myself how lucky I am.

Most of the places in my kampung have changed over the years but a few remain as they were someforty years ago.On the other hand, I was equally sad because only a few of my elders are round-many had died over the years. I am no more a young man, and soon will have to take the place of my elders. During one 'asar prayer, I was the only makmum-for many young people have left the kampung. That is the cycle of life. A few of my relatives are gravely sick;even my fifty-two  year old uncle is still paralysed due to a recent stroke and my cousin is suffering from cancer. One of my classmates that I met at a kenduri at my uncle's house looks like a 60 year old man. My kids got a shock looking at him when he told us that he got eight children and already a grandfather.By the way, he is only 49 years old-same age as me. He is a father who supports his family using his 'tulang empat kerat'.(physical efforts).The hard life he had undergone was reflected on his wrinkled and worn out face. Again, I whispered to myself how lucky I am.

Balik kampung is an annual ritual for urban population who hailed from kampung. It is at least oncea year affair that many of us do. I believe not less than a million do it without fail every festive season and I think it is a good practice that we must maintain despite its negative effects like road accidents. I beg to differ with a local TV commentator who said that balik kampung is 'budaya lapuk'( obsolete culture). To be modern we do not have to drop our religious and cultural values and practice. Japan is a living example. In fact, I agree with with Dr Siddiq Fathil in his monograph produced by IKD that modern Malays need even more religious and cultural values to ride the New Millennium. I am afraid that our society will get lost on the road  for modernisation and globalisation if we start discarding our good religious and cultural values and practices.

Everyone of us has a story to tell every time we balik kampung.This year my family and me went home from KL to Bachok by train. We boarded the train(Kenali Expess) at KL Sentral at 7.08am and arrived at Wakaf Baru by 6.45pm. The KTM officer told me that we are 20 minutes late. To me, by Malaysian standard it was a perfect journey in term of time. My ever helpful brother in-law with his Volvo 920 was at the railway station to pick us up and he even got some food and drinks ready so that we can 'buka puasa ' in the car by about 7.02pm. How lucky some people are! Please don't get jealous because last year it was the opposite when no one turned up to pick us up because our train was delayed by 6 hours.(You can read the story entitled The Longest Journey Home at my Travelust,Pergi website- Three days later,on the eve of Hari Raya Puasa(15/12/2001) my cousin left KL at about 9 a.m and managed to arrive at his father's house in Bachok, Kelantan at 2a.m the next day-The Hari Raya itself. The road was full with cars and at certain stretches in Pahang and Kelantan the road was under water due to heavy rainfall. In fact, I could safely say that many of us from the east coast were having a wet Hari Raya celebration. Only on the third day of Hari Raya that we can move slowly around even with our car.Kota Bharu was jammed with cars at every round-about and traffic junction. Most of my relatives were busy during the third Hari Raya,so I have to engage a private taxi(privet sapu) operated by Pak Lah who lives 200 metres from my house to send my family to the railway station. His car is a 20 years old Toyota, no air-con, smelly and there was one inch of water in it.On the way he told us how he raised four children by doing part job as driver privet sapu taxi because he was only a school gardener.(Pak Lah retired three years ago). Despite his low income and educational background, he managed to get two of his children to the universities. To me, that is a real achievement! As we endured the uncomfortable ride, I exchanged glances with my kids to ensure that they listen to Pak Lah 's story and telling them how lucky they were as compared to Pak Lah's children.We took The Wau Express from Wakaf Baru railway station at 6:38pm and arrived in KL the next day around 7:30am the next morning -almost on time by KTM standard but the train had to stop just before  Bangsar for almost 45minutes before we could enter the ultra modern KL Sentral Railway Station! Reason- there was a black out at KL Sentral ! Otherwise, my train journey would be almost perfect. That is too good to be true;-)

Despite the heavy rain during the time I was at my kampung, I made an extra effort to visit as many friends and relatives-especially the older and the sick ones.The lessons that I learnt from this short stay at my kampung are really a lot. Some have great spiritual impacts and effects on me. It would be meaningless for me to elaborate because they were of experiencial and personal in nature.If you wish to know more about it, just go home more often, walk around and meet your kampung folks.

Now, we are in Syawal and let's maintain and continue our good deeds and behaviour until the next Ramadhan. And let our balik kampung be our annual pilgrimmage to renew( tajdid) and rejuvenate our religious foundamentals, cultural roots and values.....and pass them on to the next generation, insyaAllah.


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