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Monday, August 29, 2011

The ticking (of time)... The morning I will NEVER forget!!!

Dear readers, any new post shall come after this one. This will always be my first ever entry, in honouring my memories with Mak.

New entry below: Eid greetings from Pakcik Turtle.

First created: 25 March 2011, 8:50am
Last updated: 04 May 2011, 8:25pm

When I decided to blog again a few weeks ago, little did I expect and never did I wish that the 2nd entry this year would be about the day that my mum passed away...

Mak was loved by many due to her loving and caring nature and how she touched people's lives. We are missing her so much, so greatly that sometimes, until today, some of us still shed our tears.

One thing for sure, Mak's death has greatly affected different individuals in different ways. Some miss how she regularly visited them. Others miss the sight of her, when she greeted and welcoming them at the front door right up to when she bid them goodbye.

People had turned to her for advice or just to share our problems, whether by seeing her in person or by calling her up. Mak made us feel appreciated and she treated us all the same, respective of who. We are still in sorrow Mak, saddened by your unexpected passing.

I trust, not one person in this world who has their mums by their sides when they grow up, would ever want to lose their mums. Ever! As for me, I’m not sure how or when it started, but I do know that some time when I was still in school, I was praying that my mum would never leave me alone, that she would never die. I was even hoping to God to take me first, instead of her, because I couldn’t imagine living without her around...

Maybe that belief had somehow crawled its way and embedded itself in my subconscious mind that up until recently, I still thought that my mum was going to live forever, or at least she would outlive me.

Just like between most parent and child out there, my mum and I were quite tight. There were stuffs that until today, only Mak knew and I am quite sure, some of the things she told me, she never told anybody else.

Every day, I would call her up. Even when I was attending a course or on a vacation (if not abroad), I would still make the effort to talk to her.

For some, you might think what I could possibly have to say to her every day. Well, just like those who still live with their parents, there are always things to say to each other rite?

I just loved to hear her tone when she picked up the phone and said “Assalamualaikum”. She put a certain melody to it. Sometimes, the way that I responded "Waalaikumussalam" also in tune with hers. Now, it’s just in my memory.

Some of our conversations may occasionally revolved different things, but for most calls, these were the usual stuffs that I would ask her:

“Mak buat apa?” (what were you doing?)

Mak dah sembahyang (Dhuha) ke?” (Were you praying Dhuha?) “Mak tengah ngaji Qur’an ke?” (Were you reciting the Qur’an?)

“Sky (our cat) teman Mak solat tadi tak? Sky sekarang suka tidur kat mana? Sky sihat?” (Did Sky accompany you while you were praying? Where does Sky like to sleep these days? Is Sky well?)

Asking about Sky was a must for me everytime I talked to her over the phone. She too had noticed that about me. Sky - now 16, who was bought by my sister in the US, had become my parents’ companion. Sky was very cuddly with Mak – sitting by Mak’s sejadah when she prayed or reading the Qur’an, waking Mak up almost every night just to get her to accompany him eating, climbing up the stairs only when called by Mak and at times, would follow Mak around the house to whichever rooms she went into. I remember how she was so concerned when Sky had developed a growth underneath his ear. She was against the idea to get the growth surgically removed, fearing that Sky might not take the operation well and died. She did not want to risk losing Sky, losing her pet friend...

Turned out, it was Mak who left us first......

“Mak minum apa pagi tadi? Mak makan apa tengah hari ni, masak ke beli?” (What did you have for breakfast? What are you planning to have for lunch, you cook or just buy from outside?)

“Mak takda merayap pergi mana-mana hari ni?” (You are not planning to crawl around today?) – we always jokingly said the word merayap to describe going somewhere.

“Ayah buat apa? Ayah dah pergi kelas (mengajar)?” (What is Ayah doing? Has Ayah gone to teach religious classes?”

“Mak Ibu ada plan balik Muar?” (Is Mak Ibu (her older sister who lives in Malacca) coming back to Muar?)

“Atuk Batu Pahat apa khabar?” (How is Grandma (Ayah’s mother) in Batu Pahat?)

“Tadi Mak ada pergi rumah Mak Lang? Mak Lang apa khabar?” (Did you go to Mak Lang’s house today? How is she doing?) - Mak Lang is Mak’s auntie who lives on her own.

“Tok Cik sihat? Apa khabar dia?” (How is Tok Cik doing?) – Tok Cik is Mak Lang’s brother. Tok Cik lost his wife a few years ago. Both were very close to Mak. Mak had helped in whatever ways she could to ease Tok Cik’s grief. Tok Cik recently remarried, two days after Mak was laid to rest. The date for Tok Cik to remarry was agreed by many, including Mak. Mak’s death was indeed unexpected… by many.

Of course, our conversation was never this scripted. For most of time, after asking one or two of the usual stuffs, we ended up talking about almost everything under the sun.

On certain days, if there were more things to say, like if we had certain plans the coming weekend, or to update her on my son’s funny behaviours (who turned 4 last 1st April), I would call her more than once in a day.

Unless I heard from her or Ayah that she had not been feeling well, I hardly had to ask from either of them if she was well. Mak had always been healthy and well. She made her regular check ups and doctors always gave her the good news. Other than her cholesterol level which was sometimes quite high, she passed all her other tests. Maybe this was partly the reason why I still thought she had plenty of years ahead of her – plenty enough to see her grand children grow up.

One time, I asked her if my routine calls ever bugged her in any way. She said, she was very happy everytime she received my calls. She would start to wonder (though never to make a big fuss about it) when I missed calling her.

In the past, I didn’t realize I had this one funny habit, until Mak pointed it out one day. She said, despite knowing that it was her who picked up the phone (and the fact that there were no other female adults in the house), I would still ask “Mak ya?” I made her chuckle (silently) every single time I did that.

The habit stopped after that. Now that Mak is gone, the habit had mysteriously come back, during the few times when I called Mak Ibu. I remember, I had said "Mak Ibu ya?" Could my subconscious mind be hoping that Mak Ibu would correct me? Like Mak did….?

(You might wonder, how often did I call Ayah? I spoke to him whenever possible, during the times when I called Mak up. Usually, at the time when I called, Ayah was busy doing house chores, or preparing his course materials, or was not even home, teaching classes. With Ayah hardly kept his handphone with him, calling Mak’s handphone seemed to be the best way to keep in touch. Ayah would normally call me after his night classes, to ask how everyone was doing or to speak to Ikhwan)I go back hometown with my family at least once in a month. Occasionally, we also take extended weekends.

Mak just loved to see Ikhwan whenever she could, or to speak to Ikhwan over the phone, (although sometimes, Ikhwan was too busy playing or not in the right mood, to want to talk to her).

Mak practically knew about almost every single cheeky and smart thing that Ikhwan said or did. Even by just hearing stories about Ikhwan from me, she was already excited and sometimes impressed by his behaviours. She said, judging from Ikhwan’s bubbly nature and quick thinking, he could very well grow up to be a very smart and soleh (religious) man. So, she encouraged me to raise him well. Insha’ Allah Mak…

About one month prior to that fateful day, we went back hometown (the 2nd last time I ever saw her in Muar). Not long after that weekend, Mak started complaining about how she lost her appetitie to eat. She went to see 3 different doctors, including the one who gave us the immunisation for our Umrah trip. She took different tests just to be certain - but test results all showed Mak was fine. I did not go home again during this period, as Mak said she was not in a serious condition. Further, we planned to do so on the weekend of 12-13 March.

10th March (Thursday) - I was listening to IKIM FM on my way home from work. The ustaz was talking about ways to get others to listen and follow our advice/instructions. One of the examples given, was how to talk to our sick parents so we could get them to go to the hospital. Immediately upon hearing that, I had this weird feeling. For some reason unknown, I thought about Mak. Mak was never afraid of needles or the doctors. Although she had seen different doctors, Mak sure had not gone to the hospital. Maybe this was a sign that I should bring Mak to the hospital this weekend. If only I did...

11th March (Friday) - After work, I brought wife and kid to catch the movie, Mars Needs Moms. We couldn't go back to Muar that Friday evening (as we would usually do) because wife had to work the next morning. So, we departed on Saturday evening instead. The movie ended after 9pm. While waiting for wife to complete her Isha' prayer, I called Mak. When Mak heard where we were, Mak commented in a non-scolding manner "merayap aja korang ni.." (you guys hardly stay home). It was the last time I ever heard her saying "merayap".. How I Need my Mom still....

12th March (Saturday) - it was the start of a week long school holiday. The traffic along the highway was horrendous. Because of that, I only reached Muar close to 10pm. I was surprised to see how pale and frail looking Mak was. Mak said, she had lost 7kg for the past one month. Knowing that we all already had our dinner, Mak wanted to go to bed. I didn't object. In fact, I encouraged her to (sleep). Mak didn't make me any coffee that time, and neither did she have any energy to chit chat with me as usual. Poor Mak, because of waiting for me, she had to stay up late. Otherwise, although she may not be able to sleep immediately, she would have gone to rest on the bed early, as early as 8pm (according to Ayah).

That night, I had a weird feeling again. There is a single bed in Mak's room. I felt so much wanting to sleep with Mak that night, to sleep on that single bed. But, I didn't voice it out. I was thinking, how could an adult man like me, still wanting to do that. If only I did go ahead. If only I did sleep in her room. Now...that chance is never going to come again.

13th March (Sunday) - We didn't have Mak's fried rice that morning of course (I sorely miss her fried rice, along with her few other dishes, that tasted so delicous and different, no one else could beat). As early as 8am, all four of us (except Mak) were ready to go to Ayah's Umrah class. Mak couldn't go for she did not feel very well. She looked very sad, for she wanted so badly to go to the class with Ikhwan.

After lunch, both my wife and I mentioned about our intention to bring Mak to the hospital, in order to be thorough. Mak didn't really object, except saying that she would get the result for her complete blood test from a GP the next morning. She said, any decision to go to the hospital would depend on what the result entail. Mak didn't really object, and I didn't really persuade (like what the IKIM ustaz had taught me). I was so stupid and selfish. Even worse, I fell asleep for the whole freaking one and a half hours on the couch. That time could have been better utilised by bringing her to the hospital instead. I feel like I had let Mak down....bad!

After waking up, it was almost time to go back. Ayah had gone for a class, so we missed him. Before getting into the car, I kissed her hand and cheeks, and whispered to her ears 'Mak...try to get something to eat.' When leaving the house, as usual, I honked and waved again for one last time. Usually, I couldn't really see Mak anymore from inside the car - my view was normally blocked to see where she was standing. But that day, she actually bent down so low that she almost touched the floor, just so as she could see me leaving (and I could see her). She waved at me and smiled. She looked so sparkingly cheerful. At that time, I had that weird feeling again. Maybe because it was her last goodbye.

Earlier that day, it crossed my mind that maybe I should take leave the next Monday, just so that I could be with Mak a little longer, or at least so that I could bring her to the hospital (since that Sunday was such a short day). But I didn't go ahead with that plan. I didn't even mention it to anybody. If only I did, I might have make Mak really happy and appreciated (during her final days).

14th March (Monday) - 11:40am, it was the last time I made a call to her. When she picked it up, the first thing she told me was "Mak kena warded ni. Tak dapat pergi Umrah." (I had to be warded..I won't be going for Umrah). When I reacted all panicky, then she laughed "Eh, Mak gurau aja ni. Mak tarik balik. Mak pergi Umrah..." (I was only kidding. I do want to go for Umrah).Turned out Mak wasn't kidding.

Mak said the doctor's result showed that she was fine, except that this time, it also indicated that she had a tiroid, which was new (as she didn't have that before). The doctor gave her some medication, plenty enough for her to bring some supplies for Umrah. At that time, she sounded so happy, so I asked her why. She told me, she was at Tok Cik's house, talking about the preparations for Tok Cik's big day. She said she was excited for she'd be getting a new aunt.

During that one month period when she had no appetitie, she once cried to me over the phone, saying that if anything were to happen, she hoped she could at least witness these 2 things: Umrah with Ikhwan and seeing Tok Chik remarried again. I remember at the time when she was crying, all of a sudden, the line got cut off, and I had difficulty calling back. When I did manage to call back, the moment was gone. She was already calm. I explained to her what happened and told her "Ok ya Mak, tak ada apa-apa lah Mak." (you have nothing to worry about). At that time, I was still thinking Mak's condition was temporary, Mak was going to be OK, Mak was going to live much longer... I was a fool (for thinking like that and for not seeing the signs). Those were the exact two things that Mak didn't get to see and experience....

After work that monday, I wanted to pay RM 500 for my credit card bill. But the ATM machine at the place that I went to, didn't have cash deposit service. So, the RM 500, along with some Ringgit bills remained in my wallet.

I then walked into a bookstore. A book grabbed my attention. The title "Doa-doa Untuk Ibu Bapa" (Prayers to Recite for Your Parents). Initially, I did not realise that the title was actually "...Untuk Arwah Ibu Bapa" (...For Your Deceased Parents), since the font for the word 'Arwah' was smaller than the rest. I decided to buy the book nonetheless, thinking that Mak could use it, to pray for her deceased parents. Little did I know, that the book is actually for me to use instead.

15th March (Tuesday) - 1:00am, I received a call from Kaklong. She told me that Mak had been hospitalised. Ayah said, Mak had difficulty breathing and her blood pressure had dropped. Kaklong and I planned to leave after Subuh the next day. But wife said, with Mak's blood pressure dropped, that could mean serious. So, she called up Muar Hospital and talked to the doctor in charge. After hanging up, she advised us to drive home immediately. We trusted her coz she knew better. So, we convoyed together, driving back to Muar.

We reached the hospital after 4am. Mak was awake, with her breathing mask on. All four of us (me, wife, kaklong and brother in law) managed to see her and talked to her a little bit. When we went for Subuh prayer, wife told us that Mak's heart responded well to the medication. We were relieved to hear that. But she then added, the first 48 hours after any heart patient was admitted was crucial, and anything could happen. Something did happen. We were called back to the hospital. Mak had a major attack during Subuh time.

Mak was pronounced dead at 10:55am, although I had a feeling, she might have left us before that official time.

In the past, Mak mentioned that if given a choice, she would rather not to be bed ridden for so long, so as not to trouble her children and children in laws.

She was only warded for about 12 hours or so... Mak, if given a choice, I wouldn't mind taking care of you at all, even if it meant quitting my job.

I helped in the process of bathing her. When the lady poured water on her lifeless face, my heart was saying "Mak, janganlah tinggalkan Nizar Mak. Bangunlah balik Mak. Orang tu jirus air kat muka Mak tu. Bangunlah Mak." (Mak, don't leave me behind. Wake up Mak. That person is pouring water onto your face, so please wake up).

The total costs charged by the Hospital for Mak's funeral arrangement: mandi, kafan + keranda (bathe, kafan + coffin) was RM 500. I had the exact amount. The RM 500 was still in my wallet. I still had not used a Ringgit of it.

25th March 2011 was the day that I went for Umrah with my wife, Ikhwan and Ayah. Mak was so eager to go there with Ikhwan that time around. But Allah had a different plan for her. She was called upon to meet The Almighty, before she could experience all that.


Ikhwan 'performed' one complete Umrah on the night we arrived in Mekah, although he did that while he was unconsious (sleeping) and he was pushed on a wheel chair.

One afternoon, Ikhwan managed to follow his Mum, making one complete round of Tawaf.

In total, Ikhwan made 4 trips between Safa and Marwah for Sai'.

Ayah and I managed to bring Ikhwan to Raudhah, Alhamdulillah. Look at the way he posed here Mak.

On the final day when we were in Madinah, Ikhwan was so playful outside our hotel room. His laughter and boisterous voice had caused occupants from other rooms to come out and 'play' with him. You would have been entertained by him too...


Twice, I cried so hard while in Masjidil Haram. One time, at Marwah, after completing my Sai'. The other, after the call for Subuh prayer, in front of Kaa'bah. It was the final Subuh in Mekah for me.

The images of you kept playing in my head. You, wearing that favourite blue robe. You, waving goodbye to me on that Sunday evening. Witnessing your suffering that Tuesday morning, struggling for air. The images of you after you had that major attack.

I was too overwhelmed by my feelings. Although I managed to compose myself after a while, my tear glands couldn't seem to stop. Tears just kept running down on my cheeks, hard and continous, that before I managed to wipe away a tear on one cheek, another (tear) already dropped from the other (cheek).


I always feel that I don't have that many friends but that never seemed to matter to me before, because at the end of the day, I knew that....I had you, you were there for me to turn to. Even by just hearing your voice, you just took my troubles away.... But now..you're gone Mak......

Not that long ago, I decided to assign different ringtones to different names (those whom I always call). For Mak's number, I chose the song Come Home by One Republic. The reason for the song was because, I knew that Mak would always eagerly await for me to come home, to see me again whether at her home, or my home, or kaklong's home.

The number is still in my phone, with the same ringtone. Except that now, the song has a different meaning. Now, I wish I could see you again Mak, to hear your voice, to be comforted by you, to hug you and kiss your cheeks and hands again, even if it's only in a dream. Now, it's more apt to say, Mak is never coming back Home again.

Rashidah Abd. Hamid

Born: 3rd of June 1939

Date and Time of Death: 15th March 2011 (10 Rabiul Akhir 1432H) at 10:55am

Place of Death: Ward no. 16, CRW1, CCU, Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital Muar

Place of burial: In front of parent’s house at Parit Besar, Jalan Temenggong Ahmad, Muar Johor

The above was her last ever photo. She no longer needed spectacles after having her eye surgeries done. She took the photo to renew her passport for her planned Umrah trip with her grandson.... that never happened.

This is Ikhwan's first ever video when he was only 2 months' old. Other than Ikhwan's shrieking voice towards the end of the video, it only has Mak's voice throughout. The video is also on YouTube.

My blog tagline says 'one half completing the other half'. The thing is, I feel that, that other half (which is me) is no longer complete ..

P/S: I decided not (yet) to elaborate, the chronological events that happened on the day that Mak passed away, and the days that follow... Maybe one day I will...

© Copyright Abdun Nizar Ahmad

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Raya without Mak....

This year marks de 1st Raya of not having Mak around.

It's Raya eve today. I just want to say Happy Eid to all Muslims, and end this message with a little poem from Pakcik (Uncle) Turtle. You can see the photo of Pakcik Turtle at my Flickr page here.

Pakcik Turtle looks at his clock,
It's time for de Eid prayer,
Pakcik Turtle puts on a 'songkok',
And wish u Selamat Hari Raya...

P/S: 'songkok' is a typical head covering worn by Muslim men in Malaysia, as shown in the photo.

© Copyright Abdun Nizar Ahmad

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

A 'surprise' after 9 months...

After 9 months of silence, what better way to start blogging again, than to begin it with the above photo eh? One look at the photo may make you think that it seems age never really catches up with me, or rather, it actually moves backward? Hahahaahhaa......

In my defense (like I need one, haha), the lady photographers (yes! more than one) told us the guys, to make funny faces while they snapped our photo. How could I know that those guys didn't have a sense of humor? I mean, that was how they interpreted as being funny? As a result, I became the only one who acted clownish. Sob.. sob...

Anyway, as the banner behind us suggests, the photo was taken during my 3-week course in Tokyo Japan, last July 2010. These guys may give you the impression that it was a seriously grueling course. Actually, it was not. I had a blast touring around Japan (as much as I could and for most of the time, I ventured out on my own) and I was much loved (kes perasan.. haha) by my course mates, facilitators and lecturers.

Anyway, I have so much to tell you (readers, or at least, this blog diary of mine), not only about my 'trip' to Japan, but also what went on throughout the past 9 months (had this involved a pregnant woman, the baby is going to or already pops out eh?). Hopefully, I can give you a quick overview this weekend, before blogging those interesting events in detail, after that. So... yes! I'll c u soon....

© Copyright Abdun Nizar Ahmad

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Some stuffs that crossed my mind or touched my heart....

1) Loving me...

The other night, my son was wearing his home-slippers which he got from the Hollywood Hotel in HK Disneyland, where he spent his one night, early this month. I was taking out a work shirt from the wardrobe when he suddenly came into the room and asked me to look at him with the slippers on. I complimented him and the slippers, and then he said "Saayaangg Ayah" Wanting to kid with him, I asked whether was it Mickey Mouse or him who loved me. Hiis reply was "Ikhwan..lah.." I came down on one knee and hugged him. He hugged me back so tight that I couldnt un-hug him. It lasted for a few seconds longer than the usual (hugging time). If not mistaken, that was the first time that he held on to me, not wanting to let go until he was ready. Usually, he would rush it just so that he could start watching his favourite show or go to the kitchen to get his sweet from his mum or something. Nonetheless, touching eh...?

By the way, isn't it cool that while most hotels only provide (crappy) complimentary adult slippers (which can usually be worn for only a few times), the hotels in Disneyland do think about their small guests and give them a pair, and they are of good quality too.

2) Beverages

Almost every morning, I would call my folks' home. Sometimes, I call hometown, up to 3 times a day, especially if there WAS something else to talk about, other than a quick chat. A quick chat would usually involve some usual questions I ask my mum or dad.

Likewise, every now and then, we get calls from hometown too. Usually, it's from the grandparents wanting to talk to Ikhwan - to listen to his bubbly words.

One night, it was just me and Ikhwan home. When the phone rang, Ikhwan picked it up and it was my dad on the other line. I could hear my dad asking him whether he already had his dinner or not. He said he already did, which was true. Then my dad asked, what did he had for a drink? His response was "Kopi takda, teh takda, air suam aja..." (No coffee, no tea, just plain water).

Again, his answer was honest, but it made me burst with laughter. First of all, the way he answered was like, as though he was 'orang tua' (some old man). Then, what's with such an elaborate answer son? Yes, we gave you sips from our coffee sometimes, but never the whole mug. We hardly drink tea and most likely never mentioned it to you before. You must have learned that such a drink exist from someone else eh?

Finally, "..air suam aja..."? Son, were you trying to hint that plain water was so.... errr... plain? Aaahhh.... poor you.... You see, my wife usually makes him Ribena, or water mixed with honey, or some other tasty drinks. But with me, I usually stick to plain water - simple plus less dishes to wash. You may think I'm lazy, but plain water is also good what? :-)

What he said that night was one of those many harmless-but-yet-really-funny lines that came out of his mouth, that really cracked everybody up.. WE ALL LOVE YOU SON...

3) A friend to Nature

Malaysians are more environmental conscious these days or at least, this is what the retailers are trying to educate us. True?

There is one major book store which deducts RM 0.50 off your purchase, if you bring your own reusable/environmental friendly bag. Now, more and more hypermarkets and mini markets in Malaysia (even the less well-known ones) are encouraging customers to bring their own reusable bags on certain days of the week (otherwise, customers will have to pay for the plastic bags). It's also been said that in the future, the practise of charging customers for plastic bags will become a daily thing.

Actually, the latter practise has been adopted by developed countries way way back. I remember how when I got back from my study in the UK a decade ago, I wanted to bring this good habit home. I was also under the impression that the same policy was being practised here.

There were a number of times when I went out to shop, I told the cashier that there was no need for bags, either because I brought my own or because I didn't see the need, due to the small number of items purchased, or I wanted to consume that one item straight away.

Here were some responses that I received from the cashiers, who were obviously perplexed by my request:

(a) "No! You have to put that in a plastic bag. Otherwise, the security will hold you for stealing." (Hmmm, I wonder why we didn't think this before - that customers could carry out their bought items in their hands, so long as the cashiers had put the sticker 'PAID' on them).

(b) "No! You can't put that in your own bag. Otherwise, the security will check your bag and hold you for stealing. You should have left any other bags outside anyway..." (Hmmm, I wonder why we didn't think this before - that customers could carry out their bought items in bags other than the retailers' ones. What was the security alarm system for anyway? Wasn't it to detect any unauthorised smuggling of unpaid items?)

(c) The cashier nudged her friend, upon looking at me taking a bag from my pant's pocket. They both laughed, probably thinking how silly it was to bring your own bags and fold them into your pockets (Well missies, look who's laughing now? You were lucky I didn't take out pigeons after pigeons from my pockets instead).

It is amazing just how slow we came to realise the need to reduce the use of plastic bags. If only I were the Environmental Minister a decade ago? :-)

Coming up soon:

(1) How colours colour my life...

(2) Travel journals and photos - A Famosa Resort Malacca and Hong Kong

(3) How I made Ikhwan cry and I still couldn't get that image and his cries out of my head...

(4) How I made my mum cry for close to two weeks...

Stay tune, if you can bear the delays between updates :-)

© Copyright Abdun Nizar Ahmad

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ikhwan and his toys - I hope Ikhwan will always remember his Thomas & Friends toy collections

Last 1st April marked the day when Ikhwan turned 3 years old. His current obsessions include Thomas and Friends, raksasa (monsters), Ultraman, cars and the animals (elephants, ducks, tigers etc).

For most parents in the world, some of the earliest things they teach their kids would be the 'A', 'B', 'C' and what better ways to make that learning interesting for the kids other than to match the letters with animal names such as 'C for cat - meowww', 'E for elephant - eeekkkkk' and 'T for tiger - aummmmm'. Likewise for Ikhwan. This (the learning of A,B,C), together with the catchy 'Old McDonald' song and the recent family visit to the Safari in Malacca (I will write more on this soon), has contributed much to Ikhwan's fascination with the animal world.

- I'm not a caratic (car fanatic, hehe), but once in a while, I do read articles on cars or buy car magazines. I notice that whenever that happens, Ikhwan will always want to take a peek, if not wanting the paper/magazine all to himself. I guess his liking for cars is in his genes. I just push his interest further by buying him some car toys and letting him watch Cars (the cartoon). Also, the fact that he always sits in the front passenger seat whenever we ride together since he was little, may have also played the part in arousing his curiosity on cars. I remember when I just got my new car last November, he kept saying, "Car Ayah, car baru" (baru means new - you see, we Malaysians always mix the language, even the little ones).

Ultraman and monsters
- thanks to our previous baby sitter whose son always play the Ultraman video game, and his mother, who entertained his request by buying him some Ultraman movies, he always imagined himself as Ultraman. Whenever he said, "Ayah, nak yash!" - that would mean he wanted some 'sparring' sessions with me (don't ask me where he get the word yash from). He was always Ultraman, while I was a monster.

Guess the Ultraman stories always depict monsters as baddies and uncool - until one day, he caught the movie Ice Age 3. That movie completely changed his perception on monsters. Nowadays he is always a monster. I remember one day, when he was pretending to be a monster, I asked him "Who am I?" He immediately replied "baby elephant" (in reference to Ice Age 3). Funny huh? I would prefer to be named a father elephant instead. Our roles have reversed somehow haha.

Recently, all three of us watched the movie 'How To Train A Dragon' at the cinema. As expected, he had a blast!!!

Thomas and Friends (T&F)
. I admit, it's all me who started it. You see, when I was a kid, I've always wanted a train set, with all those little houses, little trees, little people, mountains, animals etc etc. But that would be a ridiculous thing to ask from parents yeah?

So now, I'm living up my unfulfilled childhood fantasy through Ikhwan by telling him "Let's watch T&F on the Disney channel". Not enough with that, I bought him (close to 10) T&F DVDs, T&F story books and lots and lots of railway lines (ops sori, that's the line from T&F opening sequence, heeee). I meant lots and lots of T&F toys. This way, I get to be a kid again - minus the diapers, haha!!!

I memorise the T&F theme song and always sing it to him. Imagine a jovial dad singing to his kid - Disney style. By Disney style - I mean 'hitting' high frequencies when reaching the end of the song and spreading my arms out while doing so.

I also teach Ikhwan the different characters from T&F - Thomas (of course), James, Percy, Emily, Toby, Gordon, Henry and Edward. Impressively, Ikhwan has memorised them all. Even if the pictures in his books don't clearly show which particular characters, he can still tell the difference and name them correctly. I remember how one night, my wife tried to make up her own storyline and blindly named the train characters in one of his books. She ended up being corrected by Ikhwan due to wrong names given..... :-)

Anwyay, here are photos of our T&F toys (mine and Ikhwan's that is, hehe).

Twist the knob and see Thomas moves along the 'railway line'.

I just love Percy and his carriages. The chocolate did actually smell like chocolate, for quite some time after it was unwrapped.

Don't you just love (I guess) Harold the helicopter, carrying Sodor mails? When you pull Thomas, the fans of the planes will spin around, while the crane at the back of the lorry will turn left and right.
Flick one of the switches at the back of Percy - you can hear the choo choo sound when you move it. Flick the other - it's the theme music. For James, his eyes will move as he is pushed or pulled. Thomas has switches that will turn either the front or the back lights on.

I haven't opened this toy set yet. I'm waiting until we have finally moved into our new home in about 2 months' time or so.

The first Toby has slide shows, viewable from the lense. The other Toby 'gives' you three different surprises everytime the door is closed and then opened back again. Plus, what better way to brush your teeth while on the train, if not using T&F toothbrush eh? Ok, I'm rambling... Heck, it's close to 1am....

This is all Ikhwan. His imagination must be running wild when he arranged the toys like this, or he was probably remembering episodes from T&F, where the coaches always ended in trouble whenever they reached the dead end at high speeds. Sadly, Emily was considered useless and thus, thrown into the bins :-)

P/S: While it may seem that Ikwan and I are very tight, he's actually closer and cheekier with his mother. Not that I blame him or feeling jealous with my wife or anything, but I do know the reason behind this. This had something to do with what happened in the past, when I, a new father with still a lot of temper issues to handle, was left with a baby, and my wife's work schedule was a lot crazier back then. What I may reveal in a future post may shock you, and possibly Ikhwan, should he reads this when he's older...

© Copyright Abdun Nizar Ahmad

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I remember the time when...I devoured at my wedding...

Last 29th of January was our 4th wedding anniversary. Both me and wife had been wanting for a quick getaway. So, this year's surprise from me to wifey (and kiddo) was a quick getaway. More on that in a separate entry.

In some places, it is impolite or improper for a bride or a groom to be eating so much. In other words, we need to control our behaviours while eating in front of the guests. Not only do the newlyweds are forbidden to be chewing so loudly (obviously), we are also expected to be eating only in small portions. This means, no bone crunching or shell crushing or soup slurping is allowed. Despite how hungry the newlyweds may be, our plates should only have some rice, with some gravy and a few pieces of meats (which preferably be stripped down from the bones by the maid of honours).

Looking back on the day I got married, I kinda' forgot about these 'rules' (despite having received a few reminders from my aunties beforehand). Because of that, I ate like nobody's business. It only hit me when my cousin's wife, who sat across the table, raised up a bowl of rice and said to me insinuatingly, "Nak tambah?" (You want some more?) before she laughed.

© Copyright Abdun Nizar Ahmad

Yikes, that was embarrassing! It became talk of the town for quite a while. I got teased even to this day (if somehow, a related topic is brought up). My cousin even said that he had never seen such a hungry groom in his life before.... Hahaha... well, what to do? I'm not really good at following rules plus, I like to eat!

Anyway, I realise that I've never really shared my wedding photos before, so here are some:

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Monday, January 25, 2010

I will always remember...Ikhwan's sleeping habits...

A quick glance at the above photos, may make you to think that they show some kind of skin rashes or diseases or something. Or perhaps burn marks?

Well, neither is correct. Actually, that's what happen whenever little Ikhwan sleeps on my hands a little too long - he would leave his 'ear' mark on my skin.

Ever since he was less than a year old, he really likes to sleep on our palms - guess they are just the right sizes to be his small pillows!

Only when he is fast asleep, would we gently lift our palms away. Cute - if you ask me. I just love watching him falling asleep. How he slowly dozed off - eye lids could hardly remain open (and in the process, I too would start to doze off, haha...) On the occasions that he slept for too long on our hands (his other favourite is to put his head on the lower arm, close to the elbow), our hands would feel so cramped, we could hardly move them.

Surely, when he's grown up enough, this sleeping habit of his would be a thing of the past. He may not remember it anymore, but I will surely remember it, and thus, 'documenting' it in this blog is one sure way!
Even now, he's slowling starting to 'drift away' from this habit. He would rather, despite how cumbersome it is, cling on to his Thomas, Percy and Toby trains than to hug our hands before he sleeps, and Thomas, Percy and Toby trains would be the first things he would look for when he wakes up. Talk about 'obsessed' huh? Which reminds me, how at one time, he liked the song Obsessed by Mariah Carey :-)

Anyway, here's another photo which clearly shows my hand being pinned underneath Ikhwan's head while he was asleep. See how my palm is directly under his cute chubby cheek?

That's our 'little' Ikhwan....

© Copyright Abdun Nizar Ahmad

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Friday, January 01, 2010

I remember the time...when I took my first roller coaster ride...

Time is.... 2:43am of 1st January 2010. You may think that I stayed up, to wait for the 2010 countdown on t.v. or because I just got back from celebrating it elsewhere. If the latter, with Ikhwan in the picture? No way, and for me to abandon my wife and kid just to do that? Even more no way...

Actually, the whole family was 'unconscious' (sleeping) through midnight just now :) At least this year (or should I say last year?), all of us were home on new year's eve. During last new year's eve, my wife was on-call. That night, I already put Ikhwan to bed before the midnight came. Only when the fire-crackers were lit up to mark the beginning of 2009, was I awaken and remembered 'Oh... It's new year...'

So you see, new year, or rather, new year's eve is just like any other day and any other night. Not just to me, but also to my family and parents. We never went out to celebrate and sometimes, we hardly waited in front of the t.v.

Looks like this year, the fire-crackers (whether the ones at KLCC or at the nearby lake) were not loud enough to make us wake up and cheer Happy New Year 2010. Nonetheless, I am wishing this to you - For the brighter future in 2010 and beyond.

Anyhow, I would like to start the year by blogging about the past. While it is true, no good will come out by reliving and pondering about the past, especially the bad memories and mistakes, but it is from past bad memories and mistakes, that we learn to grow. After all, there is no tomorrow if there was no yesterday, right?

However, what I'll be blogging (now and more to come) is not about past bad memories and mistakes. But rather, those unforgettable memories worth to be documented, in multiple colours and white and orange (as opposed to black and white, since the wordings in this blog are in multiple colours against white and orange background - see the joke? Hahaha....).
From the entry title, I reckon, you can guess what memory that I'll be sharing with you today.... The year was 1999. The ride was Space Mountain in Disneyland Paris.

Why was it memorable? Not just because it was in Disneyland and that it was my first time, but also because my life could have ended that day.

Now, the latter statement may stir some questions, like did I almost get hit by the roller coaster or was there a serious technical failure? Well, neither of those.

When I agreed to go to the Disneyland with some friends, little did I imagine how frightful a roller coaster ride would be. I also forgot how I was never fond of heights, and that roller coasters and heights - they mixed together! Guess the word Disneyland had clouded it all...

When we got there, the guys decided to take the Space Mountain as the first ride. As the que moved slowly, fear started to sink in, but for some reason I just kept it to myself. Probably because I still wasn't sure what to expect and thinking, it was only my normal reaction since I was about to try something new.

What made the ride so frightening, other than the swooshing and turning and twisting, was... the whole place was so dark! The ride was enclosed in a building (and with the lights off!) instead of out in the open like other rides in the park. But that was not the worse part. The worse part was, despite how frightened I was, I couldn't scream at all... I couldn't let my fear out - not even a short shriek. Luckily, the ride didn't trigger any abnormalilty to my heart conditions that could lead to...death? Yikes!

I was grasping so hard on the restrainer (each passenger was restrained individually, unlike what is shown in the picture above), had the ride been longer, the metal would have dented by my clench. The fact that it was dark around me, made it feel like I was thrown into the space. I couldn't shut my eyes either. Perhaps, it was fear of the unknown and I was looking for something visible that could comfort me.

Then, the ride came to a sudden halt. Slowly and surely, the train was climbing up. As we were ascending, the passengers were cheering by the sights of planets and stars, temporarily litting up the place. The others may be enjoying themselves, but not me. Do you what I did? I was hell bent on trying to 'escape' by trying to push the restrainer open. Had my attempt been successful, I could have fallen to a certain death...Yikes!

After reaching the peak of its climb, the train descended to such a great speed, that I could feel my head was dangling at certain points. My friends later told me, the 'dangling' feeling that I had was due to the train making a 360-degree loop (or loops).

The train stopped (finally!) at its starting point. But that was not the end of how close I was to danger... or death. Funnily, or rather, stupidly, while others exited from the train by stepping out to their right side, I, who was sitting on the left side of the train, stepped out to my left. Immediately, the train was filled with new (exited) passengers. Puzzled, after realising all the others were on the other side of the track, couple that with my dazed and confused feelings, resulted from the traumatic roller-coaster-ride experience, I felt the urge to climb down onto the track (to get to my friends). Had I not been told by the security, that there was a door that I could enter to exit from the place, I could have followed that urge (to climb down) and be electrocuted...Yikes!

My friends were shocked to learn that I had suppressed my fear. They taught me to just let it go - scream it out... I followed them and took other rides after that of course (Heck! it's Disneyland). From thereon, I just screamed and screamed... even when I was not feeling that scared. Alhamdulillah... I survived the first and those other rides. However, at this age, no more rides for me, thanks. Kiddy rides... maybe... with my kid(s), hehe...

Meantime, I leave you with some photos, taken when I went to Disneyland the 2nd time. Yep, I went there twice, with different groups of friends.

© Copyright Abdun Nizar Ahmad

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