Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Best Of Their Kind

A group of Emiratis came to visit our factory. They are young officials and trainees. At the moment, there is no Emirati working as an associate in our company. Working in a factory is not a popular choice for these privileged nationals of the UAE. I don't have much contact with these people as much I have worked with the Egyptians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Syrians and Palestinians. So when this group came to visit us, I took them for a plant tour. I had the opportunity to interact and understand them better.

These Emiratis are humble. Compared to the other kinds of Arab, they are less agitated and more liberal in their thinking yet they hold on dearly to their values and national identity. They are overly concerned about their look though they dress conservatively. They are peaceful and united. They respect their leaders and they are blessed with good visionary leaders to ensure their well-being and protected future. They are the lucky lots. Looking back, who would have thought that these once nomadic people who relied on camels for milk, falcon to find their meat and lungful of air to dive for pearl, could pin superlative achievements in today's map.

Monday, 27 July 2009


I don't get sad easily. In life I try hard to find the goodness and the greatness of things even for those that hurt. But sometimes when there are just too much sorrow displayed on the screen, I just have to let it be. Today I let myself be low and restless with sadness.

It started last night when I switched on the laptop to hook on the FB, I found myself muttering Al-Fathihah to the departure of two souls. First was the death of a storyteller whose work I really admire. It is such a big loss among Malaysian dwindling talents. Next, was the death of a university friend. He worked with primates and studied them in Sabah and he had earned a PhD for doing that. I just feel sad thinking that their deaths are sudden and untimely. There must have been many things left undone and unsaid. Anyway who am I to complain in the matter of life and death. I might be next on the list, one can never tell.

Also in the FB, today, an ex-colleague left a farewell message that is really touching. He was sacked for being himself, an abrasive Egyptian. There are other terminations before. But this one is sudden and untimely. He just got married. He has brought his wife weeks before, from Egypt to Dubai. Now he is jobless and in a month time they have to leave Dubai. Isn't it ironic? He might have his ego. He might be careless. He might struggle to fit into the template of associate profile the company prefers. But I think his termination is not justified. He can be warned and given feedback to improve. I am planning to talk this matter to my superior since it affects my sense of job security and peace of mind at work, apart from being sad and sympathetic for the dismissed friend. I'm sure they are prepared to give all the politically right reasons for the decision, but at least they will see the sign that many of us are not happy with the way it was handled and the inhumane outcome.

Of all the above, the one that really makes me sad the most is to see the photo of my little boy on my mobile phone screen, who is now down with fever. This is the boy who fell down from the bed just weeks before I came home in my last homecoming in April. Now when I only have less than 2 weeks before I return home, he's unwell. How I wish I could be there to hug him, kiss him and take away his heat and misery. And also the sad look of his lonely sister waiting for him to get well soon, to play with, just adds another pinch of salt into the already salty sadness........

Sunday, 19 July 2009

An Inspiring Death

There is a source of inspiration, even in death. My grandmother's uncle passed away recently at the age of 91. He succumbed to a complication in the intestines. There is no epic nor heroic tales that I could narrate about this old man. I hardly knew him. I didn't even know his name. We were kind of distant since I only met and exchanged very few words with him when I visited my mother's hometown in Serkam for weddings and funerals. I couldn't recall what he did for living when he was young. But I knew he worked in his farm. He was an ordinary man living a simple life, fulfilling his duties as a husband, a father, a grandfather and a member of the jemaah in the village mosque. The last duty is worth elaborated. The people in the village knew him as he had always been the man who walked to the mosque to perform the 5 prayers daily. Even on the days before his death with his deteriorating physical conditions, he was able to muster all his might and did not miss the jemaah. Old habit just dies hard. He stopped only on the day when he could not walk anymore and that was the day he died.

I came to know about his death when I last called my mother. This was what she said.
"Pagi tu bila dia tak boleh nak bangun, dia orang bawak dia pergi hospital. Tapi belum sempat sampai kat hospital, dia dah takde dah. Orang kampung pun buat pengumuman, orang yang paling tua kat kampung dah meninggal. Murah betul rezeki arwah Atuk Yang (Moyang) kau, penuh masjid orang datang sembahyang jenazah untuk dia..."

And my mother would not let me go without saying, "kau tu sembahyang jangan tinggal....."

We are all blessed with the seed of faith as newborns. As we grow and age, some of us are blessed with the strength to hold the faith above anything else. Some of us have just enough strength to juggle faith with everything else in life. Some of us have diminishing faith that can be fit in our pocket as we play and concentrate on other cards that seem to matter more in life. Faith may get greater or smaller; but it will not be lost, I think. Some of us may have misplaced the faith, as it may have been getting small and forgotten for a while.

It never occurs to me that the death of a simple old man who I hardly knew, as told by my nagging mother over the phone in a short long distance call, open my stubborn and dark heart to regain the faith.

Al Fathihah. Alhamdullillah.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Like Dates For Rambutans

Many years ago, I walked out of my boarding school, located in a sleepy place called Simpang Kerayong on Friday afternoons to go the mosque. Instead of making a bee line to the mosque dutifully and religiously, I found myself reaching for the bunch of rambutans and plucking them from the trees lined along the road between the school and the mosque. Damn it, those rambutans, freshly plucked and peeled in that sunny afternoon, were simply one of the juiciest things ever tasted in my younger years. It was the taste which was sweetened with the sins of stealing the fruits from their rightful owner and skipping the Friday sermon. Those days I reasoned that there was no point listening to the sermon delivered by somebody who just read the text and didn't understand what was delivered. One day we had a good laugh when the preacher mouthed the word Aedes, when it was supposed to be AIDS. So that was my excuse not to listen to him anymore and instead I took my time sucking the juice, nipping the sweet flesh of the rambutans and spitting off the seeds to the ground.

x x x x x x x x x x

Over a decade later, I was under the shade of cherry trees in Nagano. I had been better then. I paid to enter the cherry farm. I plucked the red cherries from the trees and feasted on them. They were fresh and juicy, but they were not as great as the stolen rambutans.

x x x x x x x x x x

Today is Friday, the off day for most working people in Dubai. I found myself at work on this Friday morning and thinking what to have for breakfast. An adventurous colleague of mine, who once worked in the tall oil rig in the middle of the Indian Ocean, climbed up a date tree in our factory compound and snatched down a bunch of ripe dates. The dates were washed and served on my desk. They were so sweet and soft that I had nothing else for breakfast. While feeding on the fleshy dates, I couldn't help thinking of the stolen rambutans. Some experiences are mentally framed forever.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Other

A friend that I met months back, asked about my wife. I said she is in Malaysia taking care of my kids and many others. I told him that she's a doctor. The friend that I met, then commented that doctors are not really up to date with the IT , gadgets and stuffs. Though I was reluctant to agree in general, I said, yes, my wife is not really into those IT stuffs. Well, she goes online in search for medical journals, occasionally she checks on my blog and others, but she doesn't trust online banking, she doesn't own a credit card and she doesn't give a damn about iPod, Blackberry, etc. She has been loyal to her Nokia hand phone, the basic model, until the day the phone failed her after years of service. She has bought a new Nokia now. I'm not sure what model, but it's definitely an upgrade from her old one since she can now send me photos. So now, though being miles apart, I am happy to see my kids blew the seven candles that signify the seven years of me being a father on the recent Father's Day, I can close up on Hadiff's medal on his Sport's Day and keep track of the growth of Aimi's front tooth which she had lost months back. My wife has also given me visual update on the renovation work of our house. Perhaps, she is not updating herself with the IT, up to the pace like some of us, but she's getting there when there's a need. It's just a matter of choice, definitely not an issue of capability. After all, an apple remains merely a fruit to at least half of the people on earth or even more.

Now that I have mentioned 'apple', I was having one for breakfast. I was thinking, if life in a year is like the red juicy apple, I have had the better half now and I'm looking at the other remaining half, which is turning brown so quickly. It's just a thought that crosses my mind, 'eat your apple quick or else it'll be badly brown, aged and wasted'. From now to year end, it's like a race against time to get things done and more things done. In between the bites of the half apple, I wish I will remember how sweet it is from the skin all the way to the core.

And by the way, I have booked my ticket home in the August. Indeed, I am busy pushing and being pushed at work during this high chocolate season, crunching my ab at the gym to shape out the 6-pack, running to get the engine started for the next marathon (how I wish I could be there running in the recent SC KL Marathon), yet I never miss counting the days to get home. Exactly, 32 days to go....

Saturday, 4 July 2009

An Ode of Shifting Space

As I packed my belongings
I tried hard to breathe in the memories
I left nothing but the dried roses
I hired a small pick-up to take away the little that I own
x x x x x x
x x x x x x
As I locked the door
I experienced the emotion
I made a promise to cherish the humble space
That was a home of mine since the last summer
x x x x x x

x x x x x x
I drove ahead
Heading to a new space
I was tired and sweaty on that humid summer day
Yet I felt fresh in my new found kingdom
Seeing the welcoming white weeds
x x x x x x

x x x x x x
In my new space
I felt the emptiness
I could hear the echo
I bought a TV, a washing machine and a fridge
So my new space is now vibrating
Then I bought a sofa set and a coffee table
So it is filled and stuffed
Later I will get a bed, an electric stove and a play station
So it will be a place to dream, dine and dodge
In my new space
I felt naked and exposed
The curtain man promised to come
But he missed his appointment
In the meantime, the bed cover keeps my privacy
x x x x x x

x x x x x x

In my new space

I waited for days

For the cable guy to come and get me connected

Now I have had the Internet and the cable TV

So the new drama begins.....