Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I first learnt the meaning of the word 'travel' from Ayah.

Ayah. Yes, my father. He always reminds us how we are all travellers in this temporary world. He even named our house back in Terengganu "Darul Sementara" which literally translates to "The Temporary Home" - which easily means that this world is impermanent, that there is something more important at the end of the road - the hereafter.

Ayah is a very simple man. He was the one who taught me to set goals or matlamat as he loves to say it, even if it seems so far from reach. And repeat them. All. The. Time. Have your goal visible so that you are always reminded by it. I remember when I was in primary school, he wanted to go to Beijing (for whatever reasons) so badly, and during that time, whenever we asked him where he was going (to office, surau, etc), he would answer - Beijing. He even bought a toy bus for us and pasted "Beijing" at the front of the bus as the destination. Little things, but he did them nevertheless.

Needless to say, he did go to Beijing at some point with Ummi few years later.

(I'm thinking that was probably one of the reasons why I insisted to study in the UK, regardless of whatever course I would do - I just have to study in the UK) -- On another note, nak sangat study UK, dah sampai sini homesick menangis nak balik. Pooodah.

He was the one who taught us to have plans of the day, to work out what we want to do on that day, and at the end of the day do a reflection of our achievements. His usual words over dinner, "So apa hasil kamu hari ni?" And we would be eager to answer, listing what we've learnt at school or simple things like reciting the prayer for my class. On days when we thought we had nothing to be proud of, he would encourage us to just mention good things that we did, as petty as "not watching TV for hours." And when we really didn't have anything to say, we would feel ashamed of ourselves. To that extent.

When he sent us to school (in my case, drop me at my boarding shool or during the weekly visits), he would remind us of this magic phrase "Orang berjaya memberi hasil, orang gagal memberi alasan." At some point we got really annoyed by it, and often mocked him, and he would laugh and dismiss it and still keep saying it. My father is a patient man. A very patient man.

He never raised his voice to us. Never. Not once have I seen him shouting in my entire life. When we did something unpleasant, the easiest example would be fighting among each other, he would simply remind us that if one of us cried, both of us would be punished. Often we compromised, with the elder ones not wanting the little ones to cry.

Whenever we raised our voice and upset him (and it took an extremely high effort to upset him -- he's just too patient), he wouldn't argue back, he would simply keep quite, and said "Don't talk to me" - and that meant not talking to him until we apologised. It wasn't much of a big deal especially when you were a kid and not talking to your father for a day meant extra hours of TV and playground. But back then not talking to Ayah meant the whole house wouldn't talk to you, as if you didn't exist (as dramatic as it sounds), so it wouldn't be long till we succumbed to our ego and asked for his forgiveness. And that was all it took - apologise, and he'd smile like nothing happened.

But if we did cross the line, Ayah would count from one to seven, literally one, two, three, .. up until seven. Once the number reached eight, it would be official, we'd get punished - which is a stroke of rotan on our butt (or palm, whichever we prefer) in the prayer room away from the other siblings to maintain our dignity just in case we cried (which we usually did). But then by the time we left the room, we would be smiling like nothing happened just to show to the other siblings that it did not hurt. Dignity. Your emotions are yours - that's what I've been taught since I was a kid. Which I usually failed terribly. And still failing.

Ayah used to keep a book with a huge "Mesyuarat Keluarga" with him, which was exactly what it said - the family meeting book. We had family meetings usually on Thursday nights after Maghrib to discuss anything we wanted to share. I remember once, my "big" issue was wanting to join the school field trip to Kuala Lumpur by flight, and it would cost around RM200. And back then, RM200 was a lot if it was to be spent on me alone. I had to write an official "letter" stating why I wanted to go so badly. In fact I had to write a letter every month asking for my monthly allowance since I was in primary school. The letters would be kept in a family file so that we knew whether I've received my monthly allowance or not. At some point I really thought it was such a hassle, but money did not come easy back then, and Ayah was just training us to be well-disciplined.

He is also the man who lives by the rule - early to bed, early to rise. Which pretty much sums up who I am today. His words -- "Find a man who can wake up for Subuh by himself, then everything else is sorted."

Ayah, the man who keeps telling us to work hard while we still can. "Hidup ini memang untuk bekerja, kalau nak berehat lepas mati nanti." Subtly addressing the need to work hard to survive this world and prepare for the hereafter. So that we can truly rest there, in Jannah.

He's the one who keeps encouraging me to write. Write. For one day you'll forget.

A man who firmly believes in the power of mind control - "No one can hurt you with your consent." You choose how to feel towards things.

Recently he said this to me, "Life is not just about looking for flight tickets to Belfast in weekends" -- with regard to my never-ending need to be with my husband, reminding me to see the world from a different point of view. Yes, we're married. But no, we're not an ordinary couple. Togetherness is a luxury.

I always thought him as eccentric and different, when I realised that I, too, have many of his traits - even some of his way of thinking.

I am pretty much the emotional version of my father. 

We both love to travel, and needless to say, with the distance separating him from Ummi, and Adam from myself, we do travel. A lot.

But most importantly, in this temporary world, we are all travellers, wayfarers, making our way to the hereafter while trying our best to be reminded of the temporariness and not be drowned by the world and its glitters. 


Fieda Redzuan said...

A good story about your dad. Remind me of my father. I still have him in this world but we are not close to each other :(

Syaheeda said...


Bella said...


It's okay, we all have our own stories. Chin up ! :D