life

It is obvious that…

It is obvious that…

  1. …staying in love requires work. A lot of works. There is nothing called ‘going with the flow’, because there are other forces trying to separate you and your partner.
  2. …children imitate. This is a precaution to be aware of what you are doing as a parent, and also as a reminder that whatever a child does or says, it may not be a good judge of their actual capability or intelligence or maturity. He or she may just, for instance, imitate and replicate what you say to them.
  3. …regardless of how much you learn and gain in knowledge (in religion for example) it doesn’t matter and perhaps useless if the most basic and fundamental things e.g. being kind to your spouse, parents, children and establishing solah are still so-so.
  4. …people change, so there’s no point in lamenting or wondering about that. New experiences, challenges, life situation and stress can change even the most rock-solid thing about that person. Take yourself: who you are half a year ago may not be the same with who you are now. Something that happened along the way might have change, and consequently change some parts of your view of the world and hence your resulting actions.
  5. … with a technology comes the inevitable change of culture. Life without (internet) connectivity and social media specifically is nearly forgotten: I myself could not remember how my day went about without these things, and it was only less than 12 years ago that Friendster became an in thing. How was life without consistently telling people where we go, what we eat, what we wear, what we just bought, which toilet we take selfie in, or in general, just what do we do on a daily basis?
  6. …each phase of life throws different challenges to you. In responding to that, you should either understand that for certain things, you just have to start now – no postponing or it just won’t happen, OR you just have to take things easy. I think in general for my observation, when it comes to performing religious duty of spiritual improvement, the first one is applicable, while the latter suits worldly affairs better.

Some random thoughts these are, in response to today’s prompt ūüôā

A Year of Recalibration

Calibrate: to plan or devise (something) carefully so as to have a precise use,application, appeal, etc.

It is difficult to resist writing. I planned for a hiatus on writing and learn confined my thoughts to myself, but it proves to be a difficult thing to do. It is not as much as the craving for an audience as the need to structure my thought process – writing things down does not seem practical when I live with an infant who keeps eating papers. I am back at writing, for this purpose.

Though I truly am glad if you are reading this.

***

Courtesy https://www.pinterest.com/pin/115897390386624491/

I turned 31 years old a few days ago. All praise be to Allah.

When I really think about it, being 31 is honestly very scary.

A research shows that women are most beautiful at that age, and although I certainly do feel (more) at ease with my physical self compared to my younger years, that is not my major concern at this point in time, though it gives me a slight joy.

It is scary once I realise that the female life expectancy in Malaysia is averaged at 76.3 years and for myself half of it has nearly passed by and I am still this being who is nowhere near the kind of person I thought I would be when I was 15 – spiritually, or all other aspects being accounted for.

Nevertheless, I am just glad the past year has given me the space to think, rethink, plan, and above all, recalibrate my life compass.

Being a full time homemaker, I am in a phase of life where I am least exposed to interaction with people outside my immediate family – and without me intending for it to happen, the introspection and epiphany come easier in this phase. Days may pass by without me speaking to any other adult except my husband, and living with my children for most part of the day, I learn that I am free from being judged and consequently free to be my true self. And as they say, that is when your true colours and akhlaq show.

It sounds like common sense – solitary times surely allow for better self-reflection – but I refuse to take it for granted. ¬†Such a phase doesn’t come often I figure. I was enrolled to a primary school when I was 7. And since then, it has been a non-stop thing – I had to be somewhere at a certain time of the day, for a certain hours, for a specific purpose, subject to interaction with people I like and didn’t like – until I quit my day job a year ago. In short, I was attached to institutions over institutions outside my family for the past 23 years ¬†which without me realising it left me with very limited time to reflect, introspect, and become more attuned to my inner thoughts. Such a regimented life left me too occupied to examine and understand myself; why I do things the way I did, good and bad.

Not that such attachment is wholly unwelcomed.

It is just that for someone like me – a type A person – such preoccupation with being liked to a certain extent for instance, and filling the the need to do something to achieve something (each institutions – schools, university, work – give me something to accomplish and work for) and shamefully to prove something to some parties other than God.

But being at home things are different. Cut off from any social affiliation (by choice nevertheless), my view is somehow, gratefully recalibrated. It ¬†doesn’t matter anymore whether I am assertive, or a good team worker, or ¬†if I dress right for the occasion, or making any impression whatsoever. What matters now is what matters in the eyes of God, and I am left with only myself to answer to. I have no external system to blame for my shortcomings – everything comes down to myself, and how I regulate it.

Of course, by hierarchy I am answerable to my husband but in this thing, as he often allows me to grow in my own time – he’s there more like a teammate who offers some kind of check-and-balance when I feel like I need it and when he feels like I need it.

And what matters to God now, is what should have been my priority all this while: being my best person when I am around my family. After all, Islam is sent down to perfect our akhlaq,¬†our ethics, our manners, our morality. And the prophet (saw) taught us that the best of people are those with the most excellent character and those who are best to their family. When the¬†most productive part of the day with people who actually don’t matter much consumed my energy¬†– what would be left for the most important people in my life?

Only when I am not tied to any social convention on how to act and behave that I finally am reminded on the important things in life beyond the usual ‘family first’ mantra.

I appreciate this phase as it is – knowing that it could be temporary.¬†I have been taught better than forever secluding myself – ¬†The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind. And thus my role in this life is never limited to my home life only.¬†Regardless of the beautiful things this semi-solitary life offers me, I still do feel the inherent need to acquaint myself and interact with others. While solitude makes me learn more things about myself, the scholars have provided us with tips on becoming a better person: befriend good people, and sit with the learned ones. More often that not what I learned from a book or a lecture is seen through someone else’s akhlaq and action – and this real-life example is what often inspires me instead of the words I’ve read and listened to. It tells me that it is doable – not just some out-of-the-world anecdotes that seem impossible to emulate.

But above all, I am truly thankful of the past year and the decision that made the year possible (at a huge material cost nevertheless). A recalibration is indeed a much needed exercise – in this world of turbulence and confused priorities.

Alhamdulillah.

Amphigory Number 1

I am restarting.

***

I have a deadline tomorrow. I also have a deadline next Tuesday. And the next Thursday. And I have at least three more essays waiting to be written.

I feel like I have no time to breathe.

And always, always at times like this I begin questioning the whole purpose of me putting myself in this position, when I could easily walk on a calmer path.  Why bother thinking and thinking and trying to find solutions to the neverending stream of problems in this world, when I could easily confine myself to thinking no further than my little life?

Why bother with preparing for a presentation, structuring and re-structuring my essays, reading articles over articles, squeezing whatever left of my brain juices when there is always a way out while making sure the children are all showered, clean, and fed? I could, at these moments, I told myself , settle with laughing with my children, truly enjoying them without suffering even the tiniest speck of worry, wait for my husband to come home and enjoy his company over a film or two?

After all, my doors to His Jannah are opened when I perfect the Prayers I offer, fast in Ramadhan, protect my chastity and faithfully obey my husband.

But then again, my other side of refuses to agree.

And that part keeps reminding me of a time Рjust a few months back Рwhen I had nothing on my plate other than looking after my two kids and devoting myself to the family life. I remember feeling like I was losing my mind that I could not wait for September to come so I could begin again working on my degree. I could not imagine going through what I did during that period day by day, week by week, year by year and stay sane. I could not.

I resolve at that point that it is down to my nearly primal need  for movement. I need movements. Movement of some sorts. Perhaps of any sort in which I could see myself progressing. Achieving milestones that I set. Just something. Something of my own.

If my sanity of any importance at all to the family, I should keep doing this. I should not surrender to this temporary slump – this I need to be telling myself more often than I do now.

I do not know what exactly causes my restlessness when it comes to the idea of focusing solely on homemaking. Certainly not because I see it as a worthless or undervalued enterprise.

Possibly because it doesn’t satisfy me intellectually. At the end of the day, I always find myself exhausted of any physical energy, but upon lying down my brain can’t stop working and thinking – that’s when I knew that part of me has not been satisfied.

Maybe because it offers me less possibility of meeting new people – those who would inspire, those who would challenge me (not that my husband doesn’t) to move out of my comfort zone. Perhaps it is the thought that some parts of me will be left underutilised should I focus all my energy only for that trade. Maybe, just maybe.

I don’t know, really. I am yet to discover the root of my uneasiness, which appears whenever I toy with the idea of doing ‘nothing’ after completing my Master’s degree.

But I am certainly lucky that my husband needs no further convincing on this. Very, very lucky in fact. He has his own ideas on what a woman, or maybe, his woman should and should not be, and I am just happy that up to now our views are still parallel.

This is me, mentally vomiting. Till then.

 

 

 

 

Kembali di Meja Itu

Saya bercuti, dalam erti kata yang sebenar.

Saya diam-diam mengisytiharkan pada diri sendiri yang saya akan bercuti dari belajar dan mengulangkaji,juga terlepas 1-2 kelas sepanjang minggu ini (Pensyarah manakah yang begitu rajin mengadakan kelas ketika cuti pertengahan semester? ). Saya sungguh-sungguh bercuti, melayan anak-anak juga mengemas rumah ala spring-cleaning. Sempat juga bermusafir ke pantai timur untuk urusan keluarga; majlis pernikahan adik ipar di sana.

‘Percutian’ saya ini juga membenarkan sang suami lebih fokus untuk belajar. Hari peperiksaannya tinggal kurang dari separuh bulan dan saya betul-betul boleh merasai kekalutannya menghabiskan buku teks yang hampir dua inci tebalnya. Dalam perjalanan lima jam kami ke pantai timur pun sempat¬†diusahakan supaya suami boleh mengulangkaji – bila anak-anak sudah tidur di belakang, suami hidupkan pilihan pemanduan ‘auto-cruise’ dan saya bacakan nota untuknya.

Tapi hari ini, hari terakhir cuti pertengahan semester ini,  saya kembali di meja belajar. Sesak di dada melihat senarai tugasan yang perlu dibereskan tidak akan hilang jika saya terus bertangguh. Dan momentum untuk kembali belajar perlu dibina sehari lebih awal sekurang-kurangnya.

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Sarapan? Sudah.

Kopi? Ada.

Internet? Sudah disambungkan.

 

Ayuh, kita mulakan kembali langkah dengan nama Allah!

 

 

The Scar I Keep Hidden

*(Day 2 of NaBloPoMo)

I have a scar on my right foot.

It is in the shape of a slice of tangerine, or so I thought when I was smaller. The scar grows as my foot widens, and now it is nearly 2 inches length.It has been there as far as I remember.

As much as possible these days I would hide it from being seen by my parents. Now that I’ve become a parent myself, I come to understand how they feel when they see this, especially my sensitive dad. My dad often mentions of it with a tone full of guilt when he sees it.

You see, the scar came about when I was not yet two years old, according to my dad. I accidentally ran onto a still hot electrical iron my mom had just used, and forgetfully put on the floor. My dad would recall how I would limp a few days after the accident, often regretfully.

After nearly 30 years you can say that they are probably over it by now, but judging from how I’d feel whenever I see a mosquito bite on any of my babies (which will have some scars imprinted) , I’d rather keep doing what I’ve always done. This kind of things give a punch to a parent’s heart, a pang of guilt to add to the existing, neverending list of things ‘I should have done and not done’. It is the kind of guilt which elicits the well-known advice to parents: ‘Forgive yourself’.

I hold no grudge. The scar has never bothered me.

I Don’t Sacrifice Anything

Sacrifice : the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone

It has definitely been a while.

I have tonnes of thing I’d really like to write about, mentally vomiting all my thoughts, or if you please, cataloging them all.

I am back to being a student, 9 hours a week I will be away for what I call my me-time, the time I could call myself anything but a mother. Not that I hate being one, but motherhood, as people have always cautioned us against, is consuming. Without the awareness of its tendency to occupy my mind endlessly with mom-related worries, I’ll cease from being myself. And there is nothing healthy about it.

But some people call it sacrifice. A sacrifice a woman will do (and sometimes expected to) once she is endowed with offspring.

I hate the word sacrifice. It is a word most often associated with a noble connotation, but I have never allowed myself to use it. It is self-defeating, full of self-pity, and to a certain extent grandiosity and self-glorification – ¬†at least that is what it sounds to me. I have taught myself to call it ‘investment’. We human are doing things out of self-interest, and there is nothing wrong about hoping and aiming for a return of our ‘investment’.

The things you let go in the hope of something else.

A delayed gratification.

Even God Himself terms it as a ‘trade’. It is a business, a bargain.

‚ÄúThose who read the Book of Allah, establish regular prayer,¬†and spend in the way of Allah secretly and openly out of what we have provided¬†for them. They hope for a commerce that will never fail.‚ÄĚ (Qur’an, 35:29)

“Verily God has purchased from the believers their persons and their property that Paradise might be theirs.” (Qur‚Äôan, 9:111)

And the return I hope for is nothing but His pleasure, and hopefully meeting Him in Jannah someday.

The Quest for Reason and Meaning


Isa has been in the ‘why’ phase for nearly a year now.

Being his parent, and now one who stays 24/7 with him, I can say this phase can be really tiring. I am ashamed to admit that there were regrettable moments when my responses to his endless questions were less then encouraging.

I love to answer his questions most of the times, because I know he really wants to find the answers. It keeps my brain working. Simplifying processes, information and knowledge that I know to make them comprehensible for a 3-year old is no easy feat, and as Einstein once said – it takes a genius to do it!

Nevertheless, the ‘why’ trail of questions can get too long. Sometimes just to check whether he’s just asking because it has become a habit I’d purposely ask him back: ‘Why what?’ and 99% of the times he can rephrase his questions, which means he is not merely saying ‘Why?’ meaninglessly.

There were many times I honestly want him to just shut up. Like when I requested him to keep silent because her sister is trying to sleep, or when I am just too exhausted that I need to nap.

“Please keep quiet, Abang Long.”

“Why?”

“Because mommy needs to sleep.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m tired.”

“Why?’

“Because I did a lot of work today.”

“Why? I don’t like you sleeping.” (Darn, have I raised a selfish human being here?)

“I need to sleep.”

“Why?” This will either accompanied by the annoying whining sound (God help me), or by another cycle of Q&A.

And by the time you get to that part of the conversation, the window for you to sleep will be gone forever because his sister has just woken up from her nap.

*sigh*

…………

I noticed that for the past month his curiosity has now expanded to finding the origins of things, which is kind of interesting for me. This conversation normally happens at the dining table, where he’d inquire (repeatedly, of course) on ‘What’s the chicken made of?’, ‘What’s the egg made of?’, ‘What’s the rice made of?’ etc. Well, there’s no point in me learning so much in my younger and single days if I could not find joy in imparting the knowledge to my offspring, isn’t it?

But more amazingly to me, very recently he’s moved on to asking the meaning of things he heard and learned before. We mainly converse in Malay, as I have written before, but these days Isa is exposed to English (through TV and books, which I now read to him in English and then translated to our mother toungue) that he picks up a number if nursery rhymes and becomes obsessed with them. He has also memorised a few Quranic verses in Arabic along the way. All those while I assumed that understanding what those words will come much later…

…until the other day, when he asked me to translate ‘London Bridge’ and ‘itsy bitstyspider’, mind you, word by word.

Just yesterday when I had to explain what Alhamdulillah means, and what each phrase in his favourite ‘Erti al Fatihah’ by Ummi means, I felt so glad and thanful I have spent my youth learning all those, that when such times come, I could explain, satisfyingly I hope, what ‘Allah Maha Pemurah’ and ‘Segala Puji’ means to my children.

But above all, I thank Allah for his inquisitive and curious mind. I pray that my weakness and my impatience won’t in anyway dampen his curiosity or worse, kill it.

After all, the world has enough memorisers and rote learners, that we have only a few who think – and perhaps that’s why the world is as it is now.