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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.


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.)