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Maria-Syamsi

From My Heart

Month

September 2010

My Uncle Razak

My uncle Razak is my dad’s cousin. We call him Cik Razak, because his father is my grandmother’s younger brother (if his father is my grandma’s ELDER brother, he’d be called Wak Razak).

I met him only on two occassions in my whole life.

He lives in Sabah with his family. When dad said we were going to visit his cousin when we were in Kota Kinabalu, I thought he might be one big super-friendly uncle who talks a lot.

I was wrong, and I should have known that.

One, he’s not big. Not at all.

I was truly amazed with him the moment he spoke.

He was friendly, yes, but in a calm and peaceful manner.

He is THE definition of “prim and proper”.

His hospitality was such a delight that you’d always remember his welcome to his home and his family. He was incredibly polite, he spoke very softly, with a smile always on his face.

When one talks to him he’d listen intently.

My first visit to Sabah was amazing just because he was a wonderful host.

* * *

I visited my granduncle many times after that, but never managed to meet Cik Razak. He’s either away in Sabah, or he was home but out somewhere with his children.

* * *

The second time I met him was not a happy occassion.

I was partly looking after his father (my beloved granduncle, Embah Pandi), because he was very ill. I told my dad, and his brother, that he should come home. Now, like, now.

I was worried, I was anxious, I was agitated. His whole family needed to come together. I knew what was happening, but I can’t be the one deciding what to do. I knew they all need each other but where were they?

They called him to come back.

And so he did.

I was nervous when I saw him coming. I knew he’s very kind, very gentle, and I hoped I was right in the sense that he would be a very rational person too. I explained to him what I know, from my experience as a palliative care doctor, also as a granddaughter who used to care for her own ill grandfather. More as a granddaughter, I think.

This time I wasn’t wrong.

I was right about him being kind, being gentle.

And I was very right about him being rational.

His presence made me calm.

His composure soothed my nerves.

His peaceful words just blew my anxiety away.

He’s back. That’s good enough for me.

That’s my uncle Razak. The calm, peaceful, prim and proper Cik Razak.

Oh, and have I told you, he’s 48 but looks 10 years younger?

Dear Cousins

Written on 17th September 2010

Embah Pandi passed away that morning.

* * *

Dear cousins,

Let us promise each other something.

Let’s all take care of our parents, each other’s parents.

They are not old now, but they are approaching that age.

Some of them have one or a few grandchildren already.

We love them like we love our own parents. Our aunts and uncles, they are.

They don’t have many children, not like our embah lanang and embah wedhok.

We have, on average, maybe 3-4 siblings.

When they are sick, when they need help, we might not be immediately available.

So let’s promise ourselves, promise each other.

Ask for help if we’re in need.

There’s only a number of us in a small family

But in a total our number has reached 40.

And the number has not stopped growing.

So with of the 40 of us, should any of our parents be lonely?

Should they lie down being ill alone?

Should they die alone?

I have seen too many old people die alone.

I have seen too many old men cry for loneliness. With anguish and distress.

Let’s not allow that to happen to our parents.

If you need help, call any of us.

Just about any of us.

You might find one of us available.

Our parents may have done some mistakes in their lives.

We may have done some mistakes in our lives.

We all may have hurt each other a lot.

But let’s forgive each other.

How long must we hold that grudge.

And let’s not be judgemental.

Especially not to each other.

Embah lanang was always gentle and loving to all of us.

And embah wedhok’s love and care is just endless.

So dear beloved cousins,

Let us strengthen this love between us.

We meet each other at least once a month, just to keep this bond.

Never should we break it.

Let us throw away all the hate and spite.

Because it’s not worth it.

Let’s make the world a better place for each other.

Nobody should feel lonely.

Because there’s so many of us.

Love,

Kakak Maya.

Post-exam Projects

Written on 15th September 2010

I have so many things in mind….

1. To print out all my blogs nicely and compile them into a book that can expand. That will need a printer and maybe the help of Martha Stewart.

2. To buy an oven (credit card points redemption) and bake, bake and bake!!

3. To buy a proper gas stove and cook, cook and cook!

4. To take mom and little sis for another trip. Maybe to Langkawi in October and join the rest of them there.

5. Continue writing.

6. Make-over little sister’s room. That may also need the help of Martha Stewart.

Time limit? One month. And then after my results are out then I can decide.

If I pass this time around:

7. Start to practice talking. Yes, talking. I get very nervous during viva so I’d better start early.

8. I’ll have a little more time to travel and slowly prepare for part 2a because the next exams will only be in May, if I’m not mistaken.

But if I don’t pass, I’ll be stuck for another few months until January!!!!!!!!!

For the time being, let’s concentrate

Meaningful Eid

Written on 14th September 2010

Before Eid everybody started talking about the Eid “feel”.

“It doesn’t feel like Eid is coming,” one would say.

“Why does it feel like there’s not going to be any festivities soon?” another person would ask.

“I have played raya songs repeatedly but I just can’t feel it,” one more person said.

“All the new dresses done, the cookies bought, but I can’t feel that it’s going to be Eid soon,” another comment that I’ve heard.

Well, personally I think the meaning of Eid is not about new clothes, festive songs, new home decorations or even the cookies and the food.

There’s a reason I usually would want to take leave before rather than after Eid. Or even during the day itself.

A few things would make my Eid more meaningful. And it doesn’t need raya songs to make it joyful for me.

The preparation.

Not exactly the preparation. It’s more of the family ties that bond during the preparation process.

I love it when we all get together in the kitchen, each trying to finish one chore after another.

The sounds of the blender, the heat, the wind blowing through the doors and windows.

The smell of the fried spices and herbs.

The smiles and laughter.

The joy when another relative arrive home.

Pulling each other’s leg.

Sitting together making ketupat and lontong, telling and re-telling funny stories of the past, touching tales of our grandparents’ time, lessons to be learnt.

The Eid morning.

When after Eid prayers, our grandparents and parents all will be waiting in line.

We’d all take turns, giving salam and seek forgiveness.

Looking into each other’s eyes, heart full of honesty, keikhlasan.

Thanking each other for all that’s done.

Exchanging loving embraces, all that would say, “thank you for being there for me”, “I feel for what you’re going through”, and “I will always be there for you”.

Then we would have our second breakfast, and the visits.

The visits.

Uncles, aunts.

Granduncles, grandaunts.

All with their own stories to tell.

Maybe as young people, our lives may not have changed too much from last year.

For them they may have new life-changing occurrences to tell.

Another illness, death of a partner, success of a son or daughter.

Not forgetting the old stories too. Stories with deep meaning and lessons.

When grandpas tell and uncles explain.

Amazing lives of theirs all those decades ago.

Learning about simplicity of life, courtesy and humility.

About wisdom and mindfulness.

New clothes, good food, are all luxuries.

Raya songs are just accessories.

A meaningful Eid means that one becomes a better person.

From his honest amal in Ramadhan; and embracing the true meaning of Eid.

* * *

I guess for me what defines Eid is this takbir.

Allahuakabar Allahuakbar Allahuakbar

Laailaahaillallahu Allahuakbar

Allahuakbar walillahilhamd

Allahuakbarukabira

Walhamdulillahi kathira

Wasubhanallahibukratawwaasila

Laailaahaillallahu walaana’budu illaaiyaahu mukhlisinalahuddin

Walau karihal kafirun

Laailahaillallahuwahdah

Sadaqawa’dah

Wanasara’abdah

Wa-a’azzajundahuwahazamal ahzaabawahdah

Laailaahaillallahu wallahuakbar

Allahuakbar walillahilhamd

Eid Mubarak part 3 – Peace, Love, Friendship

Written on 7th September 2010

As one life leaves us, one lesson is learnt.

Tonight a 21-year-old girl lost her father. And it is another 3 days to Eid.
Now she has no one left.

This month a few of our patients left us to go to a better place.
And many, like them, will spend Eid this year, and the years that will follow,
without their loved ones.

Life’s like that.

For us lucky people who still have our dearly beloved on our sides, this is the
time to cherish this love.

Let us treasure the fact that we have them to come home to on this beautiful
day.
The day of victory, after a month of jihad, a month of hard work, a month of
sacrifices.

Let us relish in each other’s love and care and even fuss.
Because we are still around for each other.

Let us say our thanks to Allah, for giving us this chance to celebrate life in
this world again.

Let us forget the past hurts and evil.

Why not put up a cheery face, no matter where we may be, for the sake of their
happiness.
One may say, why pretend to be happy? But you know what, why one would have to
pretend to be happy, when you still have a reason to be happy – people who love
you are still around you.

Yes, why not wear that beautiful smile, the way we wear our beautiful new
clothes.
They love you, and you love them too.

Oh, and make those whom your loved ones love happy too.

Let’s make the effort to make this day meaningful.
It’s a day of love, of forgiveness, of friendship.
It is a day of peace.

Because we can never tell, whether this is the last time we make each other
happy.

Eid Mubarak, my loved ones.
May this be another beginning of a peaceful life.

Brrrrrrrrr…….

Written on 2nd September 2010

I have not started my revision tonight, but I’m beginning to talk nonsense.

I have a good reason. I’ve been up since 5am and been working since 6.45am today, until 6.45pm. Tough day, busy day, feeling like boss is breathing down my neck (although he’s not) because of Tuesday’s issues. Had to bring up the quality of my work again.

But today has been a satisfying day. Hectic, but satisfying.

Tomorrow is another story. It’s another wonderful journey (hopefully) and I hope and pray God will give me the strength to go through it.

Somehow my dreams could really influence my days and my feelings. Like last week. I had a beautiful dream with a sad background. I was in Sabah, riding around in a car, holding hands with a man. Not Mr He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named who brought me there more than three years ago.

It was wondeful, the dream last week, and the reality all those years ago. But I don’t know when will I ever enjoy myself like that again…in my dreams I was happy but I was a tad anxious – I was hoping that he was happy too. Maybe I’m too anxious in a relationship. Any relationship, that is. Maybe I should just let go and be myself, because maybe “myself” is the most wonderful person although she has flaws.

Maybe. But I’m still scared.

Talk about not knowing myself…
Funnily there’s so much I don’t know about myself that sometimes I had to learn the hard way. But not all the time, of course.
At times I can have this very strong instinct, and a lot of times I wished I have followed this sixth sense of mine.
I didn’t know that I can be very chirpy and jovial whenever I’m happy and relaxed, and I get mum when I’m anxious or relaxed too. And I learnt it the hard way.
Or when I thought that I’m not too much of a caring person until someone told me that I actually seem to care…

I think I haven’t taught Jaspal enough things but she’s learning fast enough anyway. We created a few new systems so she didn’t have to adapt to the old ones. She’s amazing with the patients. But yes, I think I still have a lot to tell her. Although maybe our ‘jonah’ness has kept the learning process going through hands-on stuff.

We ate too much after a tiring day and I got very sleepy.
Now after rambling I’m feeling more fresh, I could start my studying and all else.

Oh, and do be cheerful, ok. It’s Ramadhan. What can be better than this?

The Blissful Emptiness

Written on 30th August 2010

Ramadhan has always brought me this feeling.

This feeling of emptiness.
How do I describe it.

It’s like my soul is hollow. When you talk into my soul, there would be echoes.
It’s like my mind is void. If you hit my skull you could hear the resonance.

But it’s refreshing.
It’s a pleasant, blissful feeling.
It feels so light I could fly in the sky.
The air around me so still, I could hear the trees whispering.

This emptiness needs to be filled.

With enlightenment.
With ilmu.
With strength.
With faith.
With love.

There will always be space.
Ramadhan is ending soon. With hopes to fill up some of the void.
With a need to hurry, because yes, it is ending soon.
Hoping that it could sustain me, until we meet again next year.

I hope and I pray, that we will meet again next year.
I will miss this feeling of blissful emptiness.

P/S: Thank you, Stranger, for lending your sweet voice to my inspiration. 🙂

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