The Power of God – A Dedication to All the Wonderful People

Monday 31 October 2005 – a day before Deepavali and three days before Hari Raya Aidilfitri: this was easily the worst day of my life. It was the day when Life fully mangled, crushed and spat me out. It was a day of bitter disappointment, hopelessness and total despair; of feeling that God had abandoned me.

After three months at the harsh and abusive prison of Pengkalan Chepa, it turned out that my incarceration was far from over as I had fervently prayed for, each and every day, for no less than five times a day during that holy month of Ramadan. Unlike the four others who were with me on that day, I had also made the effort to fast the whole of that month. And, unlike them who were already planning to shoot up drugs again should they be released “just for the heck of it”, I had no such thoughts. I honestly and sincerely felt I had done “all the right things”, the best that I could. I only wanted to be released; to go home and see my children. Was that too much to ask from God??

But yet, while all the others were granted supervision and immediately released, I was issued the order to undergo compulsory treatment and rehabilitation for two years at a Pusat Serenti! I was shocked by `the injustice’ of it all: How could this be?! How could God have granted the others their immediate freedom while I – `the most deserving’ – have to undergo more of this ordeal?!

“The reason, fool, is because He Wants to give you more than the pathetic crumbs that you had asked for – A LOT MORE!”

That was one of my misconceptions then, which came about through ignorance and stubbornness: I had inadvertently led myself to ask from God what I specifically wanted instead of what God Knows is best for me. And the things that I had asked for at that time were indeed crumbs: “To be granted supervision” by the magistrate, and `freedom’… being able to walk out from the court’s lockup, to go home and being able to smoke freely whenever I wanted to; to have enough to eat and drink, to have some privacy and to read. These are the simple-minded and unambitious wishes and desires of those who find themselves in lockups and prisons. And what then?

I have often wondered how things would have turned out for me had I actually gotten what I had specifically wished for – being released on 31 Oct 2005 instead of being sent to that glorious place of Pusat Serenti Gambang. There would have been elation, relief and excitement, that’s for sure. And I saw it on the faces of the other `lucky four’. But these would have been for an extremely short time. At least for me. In reality, there was practically nothing left for me then and this much-vaunted and desired `freedom’ was limited to just all those desires mentioned above.

My life, situation and circumstances then – they were pathetic, dreary and dreadful. On 31 October 2005, all I had at that time was all of RM1 (would have been enough to pay the 70 sen bus fare `home’). From having relatively good and secure jobs and with some status in society, I was unemployed, shunned and scorned. Although I had a wife, the marriage had essentially crumbled some years before and all that remained was anger, resentment and bitterness. I was also estranged and cut off from my elderly parents and sisters. I was all alone; abandoned, unwanted… But worst of all was the feeling inside – the self-loathing and hatred of having failed my children; of them suffering through no fault of theirs. This was something that had deeply tormented me.

What would have that `freedom’ led to? “I will slowly and patiently claw my way up again, make amends for all the wrongs that I had done and create a better future…” That’s the hope and dream of every addict including me. Often, it’s a short-lived fantasy, as had happened to me and so many others. How could it be otherwise when all or most of the factors and ingredients were the same? And especially when one isn’t much different from that of previously, as I also was (or wasn’t)? Faced with these, the previously determined addict – in facing the various obstacles, the unchanged environment, and negative situations which include unsupportive families and toxic members of society – would inevitably be frustrated and discouraged. “To hell with it all!”, and the vicious cycle starts all over again.

Only God, as always, can change this. AND MORE. With me, it was in Allah Mercifully Granting me a whole lot more than what I had asked for: the freedom that He Gave came in the outwardly form of `incarceration.’ It was during that journey while handcuffed in a police van, and the generative stay at Gambang that had started and brought it all. Everything had started from there…

And Allah had also granted to me “the gift of people” – of those who had come into my life and given me so much in various ways. At Gambang, I managed to reconcile with my parents, and then my sisters.  This one is critical; the blessings and support of your parents especially. Then there was David, whose contributions and support when I was at Gambang and after have been enormous (I can write a few posts specifically on him alone – and I do wish to. However, I have to respect his request for privacy) …

…The various people who appeared at crucial moments, like Rahim Pendamai who had given a talk at Gambang during my very early days there, which encouraged and gave me hope that “Perhaps, there might be some future for me…” — ArahMan7: can we dismiss as `coincidence’ that I should find his blog on the very same day I started mine; and whose own often similar accounts and experiences have heartened and encouraged me as Rahim Pendamai did? … Rocky Bru: whose post about this blog during its infancy, besides encouraging me further, had also resulted in me getting to know many of the readers here.

Sheila Rahman: People who work/had worked in the media will definitely know her. Sheila gave me the chance to write again, and with it came the confidence (and some useful money) that I could make a real living out of writing. No less important, she was not just someone whom I worked with but who had also given me the hope and courage to start again with my children. Elviza: The popular, multi-lingual writer and columnist – her encouragement and help were priceless. And her visit during Raya Aidilfitri at my previous wife’s house in Pasir Mas plus gifts – she elevated my stature among the people there. (Some might be confused with all of this, but please just bear with it).

And Sherry Nor Jannah: the person who had started it all for me, directly and indirectly, in so many important things; and her wonderful husband, Nazmi for his trust and support. Although I have mentioned it a number of times previously, I simply can’t say enough about them. It was through their help, encouragement and guidance that I made that critical move; of finding the desire and confidence to re-enter society and to try claw my way back again. Many of my colleagues at Gambang had gone down the road again, going back to the vicious cycle and undergoing that dreary existence yet again – did they have people like Sherry and Nazmi to guide and encourage them?…How Allah had Blessed me!

And the person who took me to another level – in fact to levels I had not ever been before… not even “during my prime”. God Bless the day of 1 April 2010 when Dr Aniza Zain Ahmed was curious enough to investigate one weirdo whose comments at Rocky’s Bru had intrigued her (and whose pen-name also coincides with one of her products) … my best friend who is now my wife and the best step-mother anyone could ever hope for. But don’t take my word for it – ask my children:-)

Actually, it is because of her that this post came about. After so many months of this blog being dormant, I simply have to write today, jumbled as the contents are. I have been busy with quite a number of things during this period but today I’m faced with something that was once the norm – loneliness. I had sent Aniza to KLIA for her flight to London yesterday morning, and it didn’t take long – that feeling came even before I had reached the Sepang toll booth. It was so odd going out to a restaurant near her house in Kota Damansara; this being alone. A lot of things came to my mind, and I simply have to write something to try and get my bearings again.

I had thought I “was okay with being alone, for I had been so for YEARS.” I was wrong. Yes, maybe I was used to it once. But that was before I came to Batang Kali on 25 May 2010… “Before Aniza”. How massive this wonderful woman has been for me and my children! And to my friends too (Sherry, Elviza and Faten have met her).

All these jumbled thoughts in my mind the whole day! But they are connected and intertwined – that day of Monday 31 October 2005 and Monday 16 January 2012. Five years have passed but so many things have changed – for the better. The people, things, situations, circumstances… Ya Allah: Syukur for giving someone who was crushed and defeated what he has right now.

[My wife and her sister arrived safely at Heathrow at around midnight Malaysian time to join another sister there – one reason why I was staying up. Hoping they will have a good time there for they deserve everything that is good in life. And I’m not saying this just because she’s my wife and they are my sisters-in-law. It’s just that… they have been great to me. Syukur for yet another blessing from Allah.]

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Down and Out in KL: The Homeless and the Street People

The homeless and the people living on the streets, and many off them: much as the thought might create discomfort and uneasiness among many of us, we have to face it – they exist. And here in Malaysia, in KL too; in the land of plenty.

We would catch glimpses of them here and there as we go about our daily lives and they are the stereotypes in our minds when we come across the terms of `homeless’ and `street people’: dirty, unkempt and smelly; begging, sitting on pavements with a vacant look in their eyes, walking with a sack and on the lookout for discarded aluminium cans. Occasionally, we might come across one sleeping on the pavement; his pillow being a dirty bag that contains all his worldly possessions. And we’d wonder how it was that they had gotten there.

Taken from a Google search. Don't know who owns this image, sorry.

“Addicts, drunkards, gamblers and former prostitutes who had lost everything through their own misdeeds”, many of us might conclude, and dismissing further thoughts of them. And we would be right too, for some of them are or were and that’s how they had eventually gotten there. But many aren’t… and yet they too are there on the streets! How could this be?!

There are a lot of misconceptions about them, and a general lack of interest among us to know more; much less to do something about. And that included me. Previously, like many people, I had thought that “there are some who are homeless: beggars, addicts, drunkards, Myanmar… the usual suspects.”

If I had to make a guess as to how many there were in the centre of KL, I would have ventured “maybe something like 30 or 40.” An outing at night around the heart of KL with an organisation called REACH OUT earlier this year (two days before I married) showed that I was way, way off with this estimate. And there were many women and children among them too… Malaysians.

Reach Out organises an activity called “street feeding” on Saturday night, usually from around 11PM to 2AM. Volunteers would gather at Jalan Pudu and from there would drive around various places to distribute freshly cooked food packed in styrofoam boxes and also bottled water to the street people. At some locations, these people would be waiting to collect the food. The volunteers would also  leave the food packets beside those sleeping on pavements along the way. Many weren’t visible from the road: only by walking and exploring the various nooks and crannies would you find them. And these volunteers were dedicated enough to do so.

That outing was an eye-opener. I was disturbed by what I saw: there were so many of the homeless in Malaysia. And those whom I did see that night were most likely only a fraction of the total, whatever that might be! And something inside kept reminding me: if not for the Grace of God, I too would easily have been one of them… easily.

I tried to, but it’s very hard to imagine their lives and what they have to put up with. The only experience I had that came closest was in 1999, when I had spent a few nights sleeping under the porch of “show house” at Tampoi Indah in Johor Baru. That was with the permission and invitation of the guard whom I had befriended a few hours earlier (someone from Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan. There’s an unwritten code of conduct that says: when outside the state, the Kelantanese is obliged to help each other).

But I knew it would be temporary; just until I obtained a rented room at Taman Perling nearby (Again it was through a Kelantanese’s help). Even then I could remember the discomfort and inconveniences – the hard floor, the mosquitoes… and the toilet was a guard post at the entrance to a few blocks of apartments 200 metres away (the guards there were… you guessed it – from Kelantan). But those people on the streets – what they have to put up with are a few magnitudes worse than those few nights in Johor Baru.

It might be tempting – and very easy – for us to conclude that “they are used to it”. Used to living on the street, eating and sleeping there?? I don’t think so… unless if they had been born and brought up from there. And even if that were so, is it something that they’d choose if given the choice?

What is it like, to see other people – US – passing by (and with us averting eye contact; not wanting to know that there are other humans living such wretched lives)… seeing others seemingly so happy and “having everything”; especially the fact that our presence there is only temporary, for we all have some place to go back to to eat, relax and sleep? And where will they go to?

What is it like to not have a place where you can ease yourself, to wash your clothes, to have a refreshing bath when you feel like it?…and especially when you NEED to? “There are restaurants, mosques, suraus…”, we might helpfully suggest. Yes, there are. Trouble is, you aren’t allowed to at many of these places – not when you’re dirty, unkept and smelly. Ironically, that’s exactly when you really need access to these facilities! You have to be clean and tidy first before you can; forever dooming these unfortunates from being so.

And what is it like, not being able to go down to the kitchen to have a quick bite when you’re hungry, to have a cold drink when you’re thirsty? “You can easily have these from the many restaurants and 7-Elevens. Surely there are many around the centre of KL?!” Yes, there are many of these outlets in each and every direction. The main problem is, you need something called “money” to get them; and the homeless can’t simply go to the nearest ATM to withdraw some.

“Why don’t they get a job? That should solve everything!…able to rent a room, buy food, pay for public transport, get new clothes. And if they are thrifty, they’ll be able to get a motorcycle too soon enough!” YES, that’s so very right! But there’s one problem: potential employers are reluctant to take people who don’t have an address; a place to stay. And therein is another rut and a vicious cycle: to be able to pay rent, you need a job. But to get that, you need a place to stay first. And guess how many landlords there are, who are willing to give someone a room without paying rent upfront and possibly a deposit also?

So what are we going to do about it? One option is to throw up our hands, shrug and lament: “It’s something too big… not something that I can help with. I have my own problems – the house’s payments, the car, groceries, children’s education…” and pointing to others by way of washing it off our hands: “The government, the authorities – it’s their responsibility.”

But we know we must do something; that we can do something. BUT WHAT? I don’t really know myself – however, besides REACH OUT I do know of another organisation that was formed recently to try and do something about it: Program Agihan Makanan Kpd Gelandangan @ Masjid Jamek KL. The Facebook page is here and you can learn more about the people involved and the activities planned.

Briefly, the group meets at Masjid Jamek from 9.30 PM every Thursday night – which is tonight. Instead of just handing out food, the volunteers also organise other activities for the street people, including a short religious ceramah (by the way, despite it being held in the vicinity of the mosque, everyone is welcomed to attend).

Sceptics and armchair critics might doubt the effectiveness of the program, like “How would it help to solve the homelessness problem? Doing the activities mentioned would hardly make a dent.” To this I say: What do you suggest? And, more importantly, when are YOU going TO DO IT?

There might be much better ideas, no doubt. But let’s talk about NOW. Yes, it might “look small” but you have to start somewhere. And this group at Masjid Jamek has started… Many would be at the Shah Alam Stadium tonight or glued to the television set, watching the Malaysia-Singapore football match. But that’s okay – there are those other Thursday nights ahead, if you’d like to see what’s going on and what you might be able to do to help. In the meantime, it would be great if you folks could just have a look at the Facebook page and see what’s going on. Having more people there would help to encourage the organisers, at the very least.

Ameng Spring: Thoughts and Memories

I was reading the New Straits Times yesterday when I saw this: Ameng gets 8 years jail for drugs. Not only that – the Sessions Court also ordered that he be given 10 strokes of the rotan.

It was also reported in The Star, that “Ameng, whose real name is Wan Aminuddin Wan Ismail, 42, was almost in tears when Judge Abu Bakar Katar meted out the sentence yesterday”. His picture here (from The Star), after the sentencing: it is of someone… defeated. And seeing someone like this moves me because I know what it is like – crushed and defeated.

ameng-malacca

No, we don’t know each other; and I don’t really know why I’m writing this particular post. But I feel sad about it… And there are various snippets of thoughts in my head that are connected to Ameng Spring: I have to write something, and hope that it will be coherent.

Ah, now I know one of the reasons – I did a search at Google yesterday of “Ameng Spring”, and I was incensed about some of the posts and comments… especially those of the gloating, “Padan muka!” and similar arrogant, imperious and insensitive kinds. My first impulse was to take on these bloggers and commentators and give them a dose of their own medicine. However, I’ve decided to refrain from doing that. At least for now. Instead, it might be much better for myself and others that I use the time, energy and emotions to just write this post.

[By the way, I had started to write this last night. But after just one sentence, I felt tired and sleepy; going to bed at 10 PM… and surprising my wife because I almost always sleep after midnight. I think I know why: writing here is much different than at the Hack Writer blog or/and comments at similar socio-political sites]

Based on the news report, it indicates that Ameng was surprised to receive the sentences (there were three charges) – the severity for the main one particularly. And there are a few questions in my mind; not just the sentences but also about “other Ameng-related things”.

From The Star:  “On Feb 14, Ameng was jointly charged with his wife Sabariah Zakaria, 41, at the same court here under Section 39a (2) and Section 15 (1) (a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952” [The link is to a copy of this Act stored at my Scribd.com account] That’s only two charges: my guess is that the other one is the Duabelas dua 12 (2) of the same Act… something that I was also charged with in 1979 at the age of 18. But that’s another story.

S. 39A (2): Although it might be `better’ than the notorious 39B which carries the mandatory death sentence, it is still not something that you’d ever want to face. The amount of cannabis which Ameng had in his possession was 105.90gm; which exceeded the minimum stated: “50 grammes or more in weight of cannabis” (Page 29/30).

You can rightly say that “Ameng had twice that amount”. BUT, to me at least, it’s not really that much (The minimum for heroin and morphine is 5 grams). If you have a weighing scale, try using tobacco (cannabis aka ganja, marijuana is something like it in form and substance); or sugar, salt, flour (to replace heroin and morphine) – you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about here.

Okay, how much is “a lot” then? This is subjective, and one person’s opinion will most likely not be agreed upon by another. And in some places – including certain states in the US – you definitely won’t spend even a single day in prison for possessing cannabis. Please note that I’m not advocating for cannabis to be legalised. At the same time, I’m also not against those who’d want to advocate this. Contradictory? No, I don’t think so.

As you all should already know by know, I’ve had “working experience” with these substances. And more. With cannabis, its possession and usage are against the law in Malaysia; and that’s that.

However, for the sake of perspective – and despite the possibility of harsh criticism by some – I must state here that cannabis/marijuana is not and should not be seen in the same light as the opiates (BUT this sentence isn’t to be taken to mean “Cannabis is okay”). The dynamics and mechanics are significantly different: with cannabis, the addiction is `only’ mental. But it’s a different story with heroin and morphine where the addiction comes with real physical pain. And the mental addiction is also much more intense than that of cannabis.

To digress a bit: After a few months in Gambang, most of the officers came to know about me. For some reason, despite their experience with addicts (and the AADK are the people who know the most about addicts and addiction due to the nature of their work) a few just couldn’t believe “who and what I was”! Based on his questions, the tone and his response, one policeman in particular had difficulty accepting it.

He had asked: “Masa kat luar, chegu ambik ganja, kan?” (When you were outside, you had taken cannabis, right?). “No. It was either morphine, heroin, methamphetamine, opium. Preferably all when I had the chance”… which was met with laughter by the guys who were with me. But the policeman’s face was quizzical. “Tapi chegu hisap, kan?” (But you had smoked them, right?). “No, jab (intravenous)”.

From his expression, I knew he simply couldn’t get himself to accept it. Despite being skinny “and not looking too healthy” (before knowing my present wife especially), some people – including those in prison and Gambang –  had remarked that I “don’t look like an addict…definitely not someone who IVed heroin, morphine and methamphetamine”.

I was surprised with what that policeman then said. I knew that he was sincere; wanting to help. He knew how difficult it was for recovering addicts – of how many former Gambang inmates had relapsed when they were discharged. He suggested that I take cannabis instead: (translated) “Compared to heroin, it’s not anywhere as bad”.

Some might decry this as “irresponsible advice”. But hold your horses: there is a lot of truth in what he had said. Anyway, for those who might be concerned – don’t worry, I don’t take cannabis. But there’s no need for applause: the main reason why I don’t take it is not because “I’m strong”. It’s just that cannabis doesn’t hold much attraction to me.

But back to Ameng Spring: I’m surprised that he was already sentenced – just two months after he and his current wife were arrested last February. That means he most probably had pleaded guilty and not gone through a trial. This begs the question: Why did he do that, knowing the severity of the sentence? The section says: “…be punished with imprisonment for life or for a term which shall not be less than five, and he shall also be punished with whipping of not less than ten strokes.”

I’m just speculating, of course: (1) Out of nobleness, by pleading guilty and insisting that he alone was to blame, the charge against his wife was dropped. (2) He believed that by not wasting the court’s time by undergoing a trial, the judge would be more lenient.

As it was, the judge couldn’t have meted out less than 10 strokes. However, he could have decided on the minimum of five years… Yes, it’s true that he could also have decided on life imprisonment. And it wasn’t Ameng’s first case either: he went to trial on another S. 15 case last year. He claimed that he “was fixed” by his former wife, S. Aida and her new husband, a police officer. This was denied by them, of course. I don’t know who was telling the truth, but I do know that many believe Ameng was lying. And that’s probably one of the reasons why some were so vicious with their comments towards Ameng yesterday.

ameng-urtv

CAPTION: Ameng and ex-wife S. Aida during better times in 1999. Original picture was from URTV. Taken from MediaMalaya.com

I’m not siding with Ameng – or with anyone – on that particular matter. However, I sympathise with what he had gone, is going and will go through. Despite the new remission system where he might be released after half his sentence is served, four years in prison is still a long time. And the 10 strokes of the rotan…  I had talked with a few people who had received this – ranging from 2 to 6 – and all of them said it’s very, very painful.

***

Ameng and his group, Spring: The hit from 1993 of Sampai Hati was one of the songs that had resulted in my giving some attention to Malay pop music. I’ve done a search and the version below is worth listening to (there’s no embedded code, so you’ll have to click on this link or on the image below. It will be well worth it, with the lyrics included).

ameng-sampaihati

That year of 1993: it was also when I had made that horrific mistake that brought about a relapse that eventually almost totally destroyed my self and life. And immense hardship to innocents…

And the image above it: the entertainment magazine of URTV was something that I had never bought in my entire life. However, one of my former wife’s nieces did and I remember this particular issue of late 1999. In fact, I had read this piece about Ameng and S. Aida quite a number of times during those years.

That was the start to the period when I was truly down and out in the gutter. Those six long years – that was when all the days, weeks, months and years meld into one; where one was almost entirely like the other… days of pain, hurt, humiliation; days of bitterness, of hardship, of hopelessness. It was when I was totally all alone by myself; of when even I hated and loathed my self. And that’s the very worst state that one would ever be.

I can still feel the pain and despair – even now – whenever I project my self back to remember and feel what it was like. It’s a good thing that we don’t know what the future holds:  looking back, if I did know then what was in store for me during this godforsaken period, I wouldn’t have dared to live it. And there were times when I gave serious thought to it… of wanting to just end it all, of not wanting to have any part in this life anymore.

The article in URTV – What was I and what did I have as compared to Ameng (among others); with his family, his apartment, car…future.

And Ameng “came into my life” again – if you can call it that – at the end of 2005. I was in my first week at the newbies’ hostel of “Orientasi B” in Pusat Serenti Gambang, and during TV3’s 8 PM news, there was something about Ameng: he was handed a court order to undergo supervision for something totally similar to us all. There were various responses from the inmates, including some resentment. After all, it was something that ALL of us had pleaded for in front of the magistrate: that we “be given a chance… to undergo supervision instead of being sent to a pusat serenti”.

ameng-gambang

CAPTION: Click on the image to see a satellite map of Pusat Serenti Gambang and the various places there

During the morning assembly the following day, I remember Encik Hasnizam, who was the AADK officer in charge of the Orientasi B hostel and a nice person, mentioning it during his short talk. He said (more or less): “That’s the reality of life. It’s something that you all have to live with. Those with money, with some influence, are well-known… they are fined, or get the supervision order. Whereas you guys get sent to Gambang. But there’s a way to not let this happen again: you guys must try to become stars!”

At that time I was still sore with the Pasir Mas AADK officer and magistrate for sending me there, while four others “who were worse than me” were given supervision and immediately freed. As such, I was cynical about Ameng getting the same… of how I “had gotten the short end of the stick”.

But even then, I was starting to be aware of something which I felt to be odd: for the first time in a long while – or maybe the first time in my life – I actually felt happy… contented! Only later did I know: something magical was happening to me in that most unlikely of places!

With this matter of Ameng and his recent sentence: NO, I am certainly not gloating about it. I might have resented his getting a supervision order then but that was 2005. And I do know that what I have now isn’t permanent… that God can take away everything if He so wishes. Or to give more. And that works for every one of us, and not just for Ameng and I. I don’t know how to relay this – I just hope that Ameng will find the strength to undergo this severe trial in his life. “The book” isn’t closed yet for him, for me, for us all – what and whoever are down now may not remain so in the future. My best wishes to you, Ameng… and to all who face the same trials as I do.

My Best Friend’s Wedding

[*Someone’s* status update at Facebook on 6 May 2009] 

“Prospective Wife’s Minimum Academic Qualifications & Standards” :

  • Must have a Masters degree; or at least two degrees in different fields.

  • Must also possess a minimum proficiency in English that is equivalent to the GCE A-Levels or better.

  • Able to understand and tolerate `standard Malay’, English and the Kedah dialect spoken with an odd, decidedly Kelantan rhythm and intonation.

Now which snobbish and eccentric aristocrat – real or assumed – would insist on these unconventional requirements? And what does he have to reciprocate for the stringency demanded? By the way, there’s another requirement that was not originally included:

  • Having shelves of books, magazines and other reading material (must be in English) will be an added advantage.

All the above were what I `had insisted on’ at Facebook on May 6, 2009 upon returning from the Syariah court after I was officially divorced. These (requirements) were apparently in jest — ostensibly, looked like it, so it seemed… What else could it be? In fact, that’s what I had felt too, at that time. But deep inside, subconsciously, maybe the soul and spirit was trying to tell me something…

 

By the way, I wish to state again that, although my plans and attempts to reconcile were undermined and sabotaged “by certain third parties – each with his/her hidden (but quite visible) agenda” -  the lafaz cerai on May 6 was made by my choice and on my own accord. The judge had made an important decision “against me” during the previous hearing, but it was something that I could have had revoked on appeal. And this was something that I had wanted to do, and I had even discussed it with a lawyer.

I must admit here that I had lost sight of my original intentions to salvage the marriage and to make amends. I had thought that the only way I could do something about all of my wrongs towards my four children especially, was to ensure that the 23-year marriage to their mother remained intact. I was therefore dismayed and angered by the decision, for I knew that the court was manipulated towards that by the various deceit; including by supposedly `pious’ , `respectable’ and `dependable’ members of the local society.

From the information that I received, and from the written minutes of the case that I had obtained, I discovered how they had maliciously taken full advantage of the prejudice against someone who had been in police lockups, prisons and pusat serenti to poison with half-truths, insinuations and pure hearsay. Saving the marriage and to make amends weren’t the goals anymore – my sole objective at that time was to publicly humiliate a few people. And this I would do during the cross-examination on appealing for a review of the decision.

But I decided to refrain from doing so after hearing the opinions of eight people whom I have high regards for. They include people whom I’ve come to know through this blog especially, and although I had never met them, I know they are people whom I can – and do – trust fully. It was a difficult decision to make, for I’m the fighter type: it doesn’t matter if I get hurt or die in the process, figuratively speaking … if I can inflict something on the other side, then that’s fine enough. I wanted to extract my pound of flesh – plus interest. But I made the decision to listen to them; the people whom I know sincerely care about me.

The judge was surprised by the change; especially when I was so magnanimous with my concessions. During the previous hearing, my former wife had stated that she was willing to pay some `compensation’ (I forgot what the term is. Does anyone know, please?). The May 6 hearing would have presented me the chance to extract more, and to pay as little alimony as possible. That’s what most people would do.

But after being touched by the advice and opinions, “I wasn’t most people” on May 6. When the judge asked how much I wanted as compensation, I announced: “Toksae langsung” (None at all). That resulted in soft murmurs among the spectators present – [“This is so different from the cases heard before this guy. Who is he?”]

It was the same for the payment to my former wife (eddah). While those before me had twisted and turned to try pay the bare minimum – and grudgingly so at that (try being a busybody spectator at your nearest syariah court to see and hear what transpires here) -  I offered something more than that. In fact, the judge had helpfully told me “That’s quite a lot. The cost of living in a kampung isn’t much – you can pay less…” My reply: “Tak apa, Yang Arif. Saya nok buwi jugok secemok tu” (the hearing had degenerated from some use of standard Malay to full Kelantan dialect in less than a minute. "That’s alright, Your Honour. I wish to give that much anyway.”)

And so it was – after the judge gave advice that “we not think so much about ourselves, and make decisions based on the children’s benefit”, I pronounced the Cerai – it was loud and clear, to the full satisfaction of the judge. 2011002

I went to a restaurant after that, and sent messages about what had transpired to the eight people. I was especially struck by what my father then sent. It was a copy of his message to my sisters: in it he had said “Syukur”  (Grateful to God). Huh? Why should it be so – I had just divorced!? He had also mentioned something that I had thought to be merely consolatory words; that “…now the way is opened for Mat to further improve himself.” 

This is something that I had learned – lessons paid for in blood, sweat and tears; and something that I’m quite sure most of you will agree: that parents’ words are masin (literally `salty’, but in this context means `often fulfilled by God’).

Anyway, on Tuesday 25 May 2010, I finally left Pasir Mas, Kelantan. It’s true that I had lived elsewhere before, including in Johor Baru, Gambang and Kuantan. However, I had always felt that these were just temporary; that I, like Douglas MacArthur, “shall return”. MacArthur Leyte 

 

CAPTION: MacArthur returns to Leyte, Philippines in October 1944

 

 

But this time it was different: although I was sure that I would come back to Kelantan, it would just be for social visits or whatever. After all, my four children were all born in Kelantan (both daughters at their mother’s house while the boys were at the HUSM Kubang Kerian and the Pasir Mas Hospital) – it will always be a part of me. However, there won’t be any more of “returning”, as I had previously felt for 28 years, for my heart is now elsewhere, and with someone else…

As a postscript to the above: after eight months, I did go back to Pasir Mas with the 8.30PM Ekspres Wau train from KL Sentral last Monday; reaching there at 9.30 AM the following morning. There was something that I needed to take care of at the district religious office. After this matter was settled, I bought the return ticket to KL – it was at 7.18PM, and the time then was only 11-something. So I took the Number 46 SKMK Tok Uban bus, and I got down at this place below … my former wife’s house.

2011004

CAPTION: Pix taken at 5.45PM while waiting for a taxi across the road with the toy `camera’ function in my cheapo Nokia 2630 handphone.

My elder daughter, who has just completed her Degree in Education 5-year course and is waiting to be posted, was there. So were my former in-laws… and my youngest, who came back on his Honda Wave motorcycle from 28 miles away when I sent him a text message that I was in Pasir Mas. My former wife wasn’t there though.

2011000There wasn’t any awkwardness at all; neither with me nor with my former in-laws. I chatted with them in the kitchen, and told them about my eldest son, who is now in Batang Kali (more about him, my other children etc and how things intertwined later… in Part 2). They were especially relieved to know about him – the same son whom I mentioned in the previous post who had left home in August 2005… just a week before I was detained.

My in-laws knew about how things were with me – they have reliable sources in my eldest son and the two daughters. And they now also know about “the things at the syariah court” – of who did and said what, when, to whom and the real reasons. That’s from this blog especially: as I had known, some of my former wife’s relatives read the posts here…

Anyway, the short visit left an impression in me. They and this place were also a part of me, and whatever had happened were God’s Will and in the past. There have been a lot of lessons learned – for everyone. As I waited for a taxi to go to the train station towards dusk (the pix above), I felt something in me: there and then, I decided to let go of whatever it was between me and my former wife. I’ve made mistakes, and so did she. At that place and time, I made the decision: that I forgive her about everything, whatever her thoughts, words or actions and regardless of whether these were intentional or otherwise. I can only hope that she would feel the same towards me.

And at that time and place, I have only good thoughts and wishes for her: I wish that she will find happiness in her life, and that her life will become better and better. There had been a lot of bitterness and dissatisfaction previously – the “he said, she said” thing, of which I don’t see any point to delve into anymore. I hope she will also move on… as I do now.

(TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2. Yes, I know many are wondering how the title tallies with the post, because it seems “like something else”. Sorry – I had simply written what came to mind with no systematic plan or editing… and suddenly it has become this long. Just regard this as “the introduction” – Part 2 is the real thing.)

What a Wonderful World

A LOT of things have happened to me over the past five years – a combination of things and events that most people would never encounter even if they lived to be 100.

(1) In August 2005, my eldest son Matyin, then 20, left home without telling anyone. Over the past decade, it had turned into a place of confusion, sorrow and hardship — a condition brought about by my having done something that was the epitome of irresponsible behaviour and sheer stupidity.

(2) But a lot worse was the moral cowardice as shown by my failure to check the downward spiral by taking the necessary remedial actions to rectify the situation. They required courage and resilience to undertake and sustain…qualities I lacked. The knowledge that the innocents had suffered, and that I was responsible: this was the worst torment by far. The feeling of guilt and shame ate into me; with ever increasing hatred of my own self.

(3) A week later, another tragic event struck: I was detained by the police and was incarcerated in remand at a dreadfully abusive and violent prison. I was alone; essentially without family, relatives or friends – abandoned by everyone…

(4) This was followed by another 13½ months of separation from my family and children; coming about from a court order to undergo treatment and rehabilitation at a pusat serenti (one-stop rehabilitation centre). I remained there right until the end of 2006.

(5) Upon returning to Pasir Mas, Kelantan, there was the hassle of reporting to the police-station and the AADK (National Anti-Drugs Agency) once a month – plus attend activities organised by the latter, ending only at the end of 2008.

(6) After the December 2006 discharge and until March 2008, I was essentially idle for 15 months; with no work, no money, no opportunities, and without the most basic means to communicate with the world. I had nothing, and to many people, was nothing.

(7) If the above aren’t enough, in June 2008, my wife filed for a divorce. Despite the best of intentions and effort, including my attempts to make amends for all the wrongs that I had done in the pre-Gambang years, I was willing to sacrifice, to make painful changes – all that I asked was the opportunity to do so. But as the respondent, I failed to prevent the breaking up of the 24-year marriage.

(8) The frustration and dismay that followed was secondary as compared to the feeling of outrage after discovering the deceitful, and at times cowardly manner, in which a few third parties had undertaken to undermine my case.

“Witness”, “Arbitrator”, “Adjudicator” are among their official descriptions – they were involved not only a legal case where the universal concept of “truth and justice” are paramount. More importantly, it was a Syariah court, and therefore the religion of Islam was at the very forefront.

That being the situation, one would certainly expect everyone1 connected to be aware of and strictly adhere to basic Islamic principles which even kindergarten kids are able to understand and accept… the truth and justice above. And that lying, manipulating, covering facts or selective presentation that would distort, obscure or overly magnifying something is the way of syaitan and the munafik.

But that was what had happened.

Lebai

CAPTION: “Lebai-X Photo” WHO is Lebai-X?? Clue: Find him at the Mahkamah Syariah Pasir Mas.

And how ironic – the “pious, Islamic-image, salt of the kampung earth and pillars of the society” menganiaya and menzalimi a “bad, jahat, jahil bottom-rung ex-prison and pusat social outcast”!

1(Islam 101: “Wearing a kupiah, jubah and having a goatee does not exempt one from adhering to the above. Nor serve as `a shield’ from shouldering the dosa.)

Yes, I know that those who are close to and concerned about me might ask: “Why bring up this again, and now? Just leave it to Allah – HE Knows what to do with them and when if they had maliciously wronged you.”

Yes, I know; and I am leaving it to Allah. The reason why I’m mentioning is because it was one of the major things that had happened to me during the five-year period. And the other reason is this: I want to THANK them. Really. Sort of…

As it turned out, the divorce had then created and opened up “situations and circumstances that are definitely to my benefit albeit unplanned!” These `lebai kampung’, `oghe sohor’ (kampung, bandar, internet, blog – semua tempat oghe kenal and ikut… influential kelas giler, `Mark Zuckerberg Pasir Mas’ HAHA!)

So, to this illustrious local alumni – and I KNOW will read or hear this;-) – please receive my thanks: “Tok seko-seko deh… puok demo hakikatnya susoh-susoh (TER)jadi BARUAH FREE ko kawe! HAHA!

(i) By the way, this particular post is written not by “Cendana287” but the incarnation who writes at the Mat Cendana: HACK WRITER blog. “They are in the same physical body, so what’s the difference? …” The former is `the Gambang self’… amicable, obliging, peaceable, tends to turn the other cheek and strives to improve.

Mat Cendana: the hybrid of the above and that of the pre-Gambang self known as `A.S’ who had strived to improve the venom, acidity and laser-sharpness of his self and words. This is said not with egoistic pride, vainness or conceit but with some shame and regret about not being more forgiving. Try asking those from “back then” who knew this A.S (here at WordPress, Blogger or Facebook)… like Mekyam (the best writer without her own blog), Sheri Din, Faten Rafei, Rehman Rashid (YES, the A Malaysian Journey author). Okay, enough name-dropping for this week:-)

(ii) I’m very well aware of the lurkers at the Recovery blog – `locals’ as in `people who live where I had or not far away, OR/AND people who had known me.’ And they have their own reasons to WANT TO KNOW about me! That’s flattering:-)

[Yes, I know some/many people are probably puzzled by this “odd/bizarre/`macam mental sikit’” post. Don’t worry – a few parts are “for a specific audience” .

By the way, about my eldest son, Matyin above: I’m pleased to tell all of you that he is… HERE! Yes, with me at this very moment at Dr Aniza’s treatment centre at Desa Jaya Commercial Centre, Kepong, 52100 Kuala Lumpur.]

NEXT POST: My Best Friend’s Wedding (A continuation of this post – AND MORE)

 

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During the process of this matter especially, I was dismayed and incensed by the words and actions of some people; especially since they were also Malaysian, Malay by race and, I presumed, followed the religion of Islam. I had also presumed and through the malicious and deceitful words and actions of some people, I was exposed to these facts: i) fore

It’s four years since I was discharged on Decor two years 18, 2006.

God has brought some very important people into my life. Indebted to them. I want to repay…