Monday, January 28, 2008

Life After a Death

A Sufi teaching says, "Die before you die." One interpretation is that you should strive to learn what you would be shown at death while you still have the time to make use of this knowledge, that is, while still alive in a body. The wisdom we achieve on death reveals the true value of what is important and what is not. How much richer life becomes if we are able to gain this perspective beforehand.

- An excerpt of Essential Sufism by James Fadiman & Robert Frager.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

"To Where You Are"

Who can say for certain
Maybe you're still here
I feel you all around me
Your memory's so clear

Deep in the stillness
I can hear you speak
You're still an inspiration
Can it be...

That you are my forever love
And you are watching over me from up above

Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile to know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are

Are you gently sleeping
Here inside my dream
And isn't faith believing
All power can't be seen

As my heart holds you
Just one beat away
I cherish all you gave me

'Cause you are my forever love
Watching me from up above

And I believe
That angels breathe
And that love will live on and never leave

Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight to see you smile
If only for awhile to know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are

I know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Letter To My Soul Brother.

Dearest Mad,

I remember clearly when we first met. I was upset after breaking off with my boyfriend at the time. You and I were both 18 and studying at KDU. Right from the beginning, you were distinctly different from the rest of the guys in the college. While others were judging me by my reputation, you were sincere in your friendship and never questioned why I was the way I was. You really saw me as who I am.

Throughout the years, our friendship deepened to a new level. We became soul siblings. Our living arrangements, you living and working in Penang and me in KL, made our hearts more fond of one another. We kept in touch with each other and never allowed the geographical distance to be an obstacle to our friendship. We wrote letters back and forth while I was studying in Swansea. When I returned to KL, you thought nothing of making an effort to look for me just so that we could catch up and update each other with what was going on in each of our lives.

You would drive down to KL from Penang at a drop of a hat, just to come to my Hari Raya open house. You would, without fail, call me on my birthday to sing to me "Happy Birthday" followed by words of appreciation of our long lasting friendship. You would always wrap it all up with a prayer for me, that I'd be happy and loved. You always made sure I felt happy and loved. Whenever the world seemed hostile and ugly to me, I knew for certain that you were always in my corner. You never left any room for my doubts or insecurities to creep in. You made sure I believe that we were always gonna be there for each other.

Our marriages to our respective spouses only magnified and enlarged the love shared between us. We even absorbed each other into the lives of our respective siblings and their families. Our friendship had produced a huge extended family unit. You became a part of my family, and I yours.

On the morning of 4th of January 2008, I received a call from your sister's phone. It was her husband, Dzuhari. He asked if it was me on the phone. I confirmed it, although my head was still foggy from just 2 hours of sleep. He mumbled something and mentioned your name. I couldn't make out what he was saying. My head was still blurry. And then his words hit me. "Mad dah tak dak. He passed away an hour ago." I was shocked to silence. And then I felt the tightness in my chest progress up to a lump in my throat and then I heard myself screaming, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not Mad!! No! No!! This is not true!!" I refused to believe this atrociousness. After he filled me in with the family's plans to drive up to Penang, I quietly thanked him for informing me and I ended the call.

The things that I did immediately following that call is still a pandemonium of recollections. My denial was the only thing that kept me from collapsing. I steely called Jasmene who was sending Jc and Lissa to school. I heard myself telling him about your death. And that was when I broke into pieces. I am broken. When he returned, Jasmene immediately came to hold me. But at that moment, what I needed most was another call. A call from you telling me that it was all a mistake. But that call never came. I am still waiting.

Jasmene, being the strong one, made all the necessary arrangements for us to make our way to Penang as soon as possible. I called my mom and asked her to handle Jc and Lissa who were in school. We handed her the keys to our house, packed an overnight bag and sped to KLIA to buy a flight ticket.

As I stood at your doorstep, I could see Fairoz, your sister, sitting there crying. She looked at me, as if in a daze. In a flash, she was hugging me and we were both crying in each other's arms. She invited me into your house and there you were, on a bed in the middle of the living room, covered in kain batik and your face covered with a white cloth. Za, your eldest sister said to me, "Come see Mad, Ana. Come give him a kiss..." The moment she lifted the white cloth that veiled your face, my knees gave way. I broke into an inconsolable bawl. I literally felt my heart shatter to smithereens.

I braved myself to really look at your face. You looked as if you were sleeping. You had a smile on your face. I was half expecting you to sit and say, " Awat? Terkejut kaa..? Hahahahhahahaa..." I was expecting you to be the joker and prankster that you're known to be and loved for. I lowered my face to kiss your forehead. Your forehead felt cold to my lips.

Your siblings made sure Jasmene and I were included in all the preparations for your funeral. Jasmene was asked to participate in giving you your last bath. I was asked to lay some flowers and camphor mix inside your burial cloth. There was not a single dry eye in the house that day. Everything went very well, right from the beginning till the end.

I felt a wreaking pain in my chest as I heard your Talqin being recited to you. I opened my palms skyward, pleading and praying to Allah that He'll bless your soul, forgive your sins, widen your grave, spare you from torture and punishment of barzakh and hell fire. And when the crowd began to slowly leave the cemetary, I sat by your grave and said my goodbyes.

Mad, I'm sorry I never got to say how much you really mean to me. I never got to really thank you for all the wonderful things you have said and done. I never got to apologize for any wrong doings I may have unintentionally done onto you. There's so much more that I never got to say to you, although deep down I know you already know it. I can still hear you talking to me in my head. I can still see your smiling cheeky face in my eyes. I told myself that I know for sure that your death has changed me forever. But soon after, I heard your voice in my head saying, " Ana, janganlah berubah banyak sangat. Sat gi Mad tak kenai.."

Don't worry about your beloved wife, Jee. Jasmene and I promise to shower her with your portion of our love, friendship and loyalty. We will take care of her. Same goes for your whole family. Zah, Khalid, Latif, Bod, Zee, Bear, Fairoz, Hanim and all the other members of your family have embraced my family and I into their wonderful and loving arms. We will continue to maintain everything beautiful that you have created during your lifetime.

I am hopeful that there will come a day when my grief is replaced by something beautiful. I don't know if the dead can return to this earth and move about unseen by those who loved them, but if they can, then I know that you will always be with us. You are not gone forever. You are standing with Allah, alongside my soul, helping to guide me toward a future I cannot predict.

This is not a goodbye, Mad. This is a thank you. Thank you for coming into my life and giving me joy, thank you for loving me and receiving my love in return. Thank you for the memories I will cherish forever. But most of all, thank you for letting your death show me how to really live. To live good and well.

My birthdays will no longer be the same without your calls and birthday songs. I shall always miss you.

I love you, Mad. My soul brother, my friend.

Al Fatihah for Mohammad Abdul Rahman Zubaidi
2nd June 1965 - 4th January 2008.

A preamble to the beauty my soul brother had brought into my life
Please feel free to leave a comment in honor of his memory and let us all celebrate his life.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Yada-Yada Sisterhood

On the first day of the new year, my soul sister, and I decided to invite our much loved baby soul sister, Laton, to our very first Perjumpaan Vagina Monologue. The purpose of this gathering is mainly to celebrate and give full support to the wonderfulness of being women, wives and mothers while successfully (and most of the time, painfully) juggling our personal and professional lives.

We started chattering upon arrival at Wa's place, while beautifully setting the table for a wonderful "english weather" tea party, aptly furnished with scones, jam and butter. We laughed at each other's discovery of how similar (and dissimilar) we are to our mothers in the way we go about being wives and mothers in our own right.

Although the spread was hardly world class cuisine, the company made the treats extra special. It was laced with laughter and interspersed with wisdom shared. The cool rainy weather failed to dampen our spirits to rejoice and enjoy each other's love. Truly, the love of a sisterhood is beyond words and comparison.

We realize that the road to happiness is sometimes bumpy with challenges, misty with the tears of frustration, and scary with the unknown and unexpected. We also realize that we are women: the gender that Allah has chosen to bestow the gift of birth. Through our wombs, He brings forth His creations. Indeed, we are the blessed ones. For we are the ones with Rahiim.