Thursday, November 15, 2012

Akmal Hariri's TV Debut

So Akmal has been invited to perform on live TV tomorrow. It is a break and it is a start for this up and coming Malaysian pianist.

But it is a long way to go, I know that. Hopefully this will give him platform for his future endeavor, and bode him well for the future.

So don't forget to watch live performance of Akmal. He would be on the (digital) piano, and it will be instrumental music all the way. We are trying to promote instrumental music to the Malaysian audience. If Richard Clayderman, Maksim and Yiruma can do it and captivated Malaysian hearts, why one one from their own kind, right?

Channel: TV9
Studio C, Sri Pentas
Program: Nasi Lemak Kopi O
Start time: 0800 hours
Date: 16 November 2012 (Friday)
Format: Four (4) slots featuring four songs, including a short interview

  • Skyfall - Adele
  • Terukir di Bintang - Yuna
  • Mimpi Sufi - An Akmal original composition
  • Ketulusan Hati (Anuar Zain)
So take the opportunity to watch him live on his TV debut. Hope it is the start of great things for him.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Life After Death - Berbicara dengan Mak

I kept on glancing into the darkness of my laman. There was only nothingness there, and emptiness filled the saturated night air.

Empty chairs graced the deck near the pond, a place she would normally sit on. Every night during the first weeks after her death, I 'waited' for her to appear at my house - out of the darkness of the night. I really wanted to see and talk to her. In fact, during the initial period immediately after her death, I really thought she would appear at my house. While I do not really believe that that would happen, deep in my heart I was hoping that she would.

It was a strange feeling to be honest. Even if she would appear as sekadar bayangan. But it was a futile wait. It made me nervous, and it gave a sense of surrealism.

As days passed and turned into weeks, there was still no sign of her, the reality began to hit me and soon I was hoping that she would appear in our dreams, that I kept on asking my siblings if anyone had any dream about Mak. I need to know how she is doing. I needed to be sure. I am hoping that she is doing well, as I am sure everyone of her children is going all out doing deeds for Mak in our individual own ways.

And she is a mother to 13 children, so she is infallible to my eyes.

I kept on praying for her to appear in my dream. But it was a long wait, and she didn't seem to be coming. I was getting restless.

"Mak, muncullah dalam mimpi Aman. Aman nak cakap dengan Mak," I would pray in my mind, before I hit the sack. I would even invoke God, asking Him for permission to see Mak in my dream. "Ya Allah, izinkan la Mak untuk muncul dalam mimpiku."

In the morning, I would try very hard to remember all my dreams, and look for signs. 90% of our dreams are lost within 5 mins of us waking up, or so I was told or had read somewhere. But I am sure I would remember it if it involves Mak.

So on the nights of the 8th and 9th Oct 2012, finally I dreamt of Mak. On consecutive nights. That was about 22 days after she passed away without this blogger saying goodbye to her. 

Actually the one on the 8th was not the first one. The first one was slightly earlier than that but it must have been immemorable. 

And the third dream (and second) turned out to be the most real and memorable that I don't think I will ever forget it. Ever.

And suddenly I saw her legs moving. Somehow I could not see her body at all, but I knew they were her legs and they had a slight movement in them. "Dah nak bawa masuk Mak dalam kubur dah," I thought to myself. I thought they were lowering her body to bury her in the grave.

I moved quickly across to see her.

But no, she was still alive. At the other end, I can see that they were digging her grave - I can clearly see that. She was dying, but for now she is still alive. So I can still talk to her, I thought.

So I went to her, and lay myself beside her. Again, as I wrapped my right arm around her (as opposed to using my left arm when I talked to her the last time at the ward that Wednesday afternoon before she was wheeled into the ICU). I was level with her and we were facing each other directly.

"Mak, Mak zikir banyak-banyak," I said. She looked at me. "Kita tak tau bila kita akan pergi," I continued, noting that it will take a few days before she would leave us (as in real life).

"Ya, Mak baca Al-Falaq dan Mak sebut nama Allah banyak-banyak," she replied. She knew that she is leaving and had prepared to bide her time by reciting the holy Qur'an.

At this juncture, I began to weep. My tears started to swell. I can't take it anymore as I could not take it just before she was wheeled out to the ICU that fateful day. I looked at her; she can clearly see me. Now it is the time for me to ask the question I had been wanting to ask the past 22 days.

I had not talked to her for over a month now, and suddenly she was with me again, albeit for a short time. Now is the time to ask her. It is now or never.

"Mak, bila lagi Aman boleh berjumpa dengan Mak?"

Tears rolled down like never before, as I was asking this question. I wanted to see her again. I wanted to talk to her like before, even after she had gone. This was the question I had wanted to ask her when she was sick, but did not, since I didn't want to stress her.

I wanted her to reply that we will meet again in the hereafter. I wanted her to tell me that we will all be family again in our afterlife. I wanted her to tell me that she will always be my mother. I did not want to lose her for sure, but at this stage I knew it was inevitable; something I did not acknowledge at the hospital when she was sick earlier.

You know how desperate I was for her answer. I was sobbing when I was asking her this question. She was right in my face. I was not sitting down; I was lying down with her face to face. I could very well see her. We were breathing the same pockets of air.

"Nak jumpa? Boleh, tapi ramai orang nak jumpa Mak. Kejap boleh la," she replied.

At this juncture in my dream, things were starting to get 'busy'. I then realized I had to catch a plane to ensure I would return and see before she was burried. I then remember another sibling who may just return in time to see Mak, but since I had to travel, if I did not rush, I may not be able to see her myself.

Things got hazy afterward. I don't remember much after asking her the two questions. At that point in the dream, I took her answer at face value.

In the aftermath of the dream, I was puzzled by Mak's answer to my second question. It was not an answer I was expecting. I was expecting a more straight forward answer - that we will meet again di akhirat. But I guess I can't dictate her answer in a dream - I can only try to interpret her answer to me.

And I have no clue.

Nonetheless, I was relieved to be honest that I was able to talk to Mak. That's what I had been waiting for. She was dying, but her answers were very rational. I always thought that in a dream if the other person talked, then it would not be them. If they did not talk, then it would be real.

In this case, Mak talked to me, and her answers were real and not irrational. She had been reciting Al-Falaq, and had been reciting (zikr) God's name, she said so herelf. Why Al-Falaq, and not other surahs, I have no idea why.

But I was happy with her answers.

The answer to my second question puzzles me even today. I am not sure what to take of that answer - that so many persons had wanted to see her, so she can only see for awhile only. An uncle to whom I related this dream told me that I was thinking so much of Mak (for her to appear in my dream), and that my time has not come yet (this is his interpretation to the second answer Mak gave).

Surely I had been thinking so much of Mak. That's for sure. I think of her all the time. Not a second passed without I realizing that Mak is no longer with me. That I can't just pick up the phone and talk to her.

Whether my time is now or sometimes in the future, I guess that would be in His realm. There is a 100 percent chance that it would be either!


Death is a fact of life. But we can never prepare ourselves enough to losing our loved ones, no matter how much we psyche ourselves to accept the inevitable that would happen sooner or later. We could only wish that it to be latter - much much later, obviously.

I remember many years ago I had a conversation about death with Mak. I don't recall the details anymore of that conversation, but the gist of it is still fresh in my mind.

She was talking about her own demise obviously, something I dreaded thinking even today.

So I told her - perhaps in jest - that may be, just may be, that I will go earlier than her and her reactions were fast and furios.

"No, no, no, tak mungkin," she responded, with strain in her voice and face. "Mak yang akan pergi dulu dari engkau. Aman tak mungkin pergi dulu sebelum Mak."

Seeing her reaction and how painful it was to her, I did not try to argue with her. It would be futile. I knew I had made a mistake breaching a taboo topic. And I can understand her reaction, to be honest. Which mother would want to have to bury her own children? It is as tragic as one gets in life, that's for sure. She had experienced once already when one of her twin sons passed away a fews back due to stroke.

And she did not want to have to go through that again.

I guess she had her wish fulfilled. She passed away before any of her other children, sans one. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

History repeats itself - Welcome home K Sham

You know 28 years ago, just days before Bapak passed away, he spent a couple of days in KL visiting his eldest brother who was going for Haj that year (1984).

He was naturally excited attending the doa selamat hosted by his brother in Ampang Jaya. He knew he could not afford to go to Makkah himself - not in his lifetime, anyway. He knew that; that's for sure. So that thanksgiving feast was perhaps the closest he would ever get to going there for Haj himself. I am sure he had been to many thanksgiving feasts given by those heading for Haj, but this one was different.

This was for his own big brother, his own flesh and blood; while he was not going himself, he was right in the middle of of the celebratory mood, and excitement generated by the Haj.

In all his excitement, during the days he was in KL, he didn't take his blood pressure medications. That is what we were told later.

So when he had to walk the 2.2 km journey from Taiping train station that fateful evening of 12 Aug 1984, after arriving back from Kuala Lumpur, something had to give the next day. He had a hypertensive attack that dawn, and he passed away in the afternoon on the 13 Aug 2012.

When I returned home from Melbourne, I managed to see his bro (my uncle Pak Long) on 15 Aug 2012, before taking the bus home to Taiping. Obviously with tears in his eyes, he would relate me the story of how bapak was so excited when he was in KL, noting that he would not be able to make that journey himself. I don't remember the details of this conversation anymore, nor the conversation I had at the end of the year 1984 when I returned (for the second time that year) other than that point.

I am sure there were stories told by Pak Lang about his haj trip immediately after the death of his own brother.

It is within this context that I told K Sham (at the ICU ward corridor) a day before Mak's eventual demise that her trip for Haj this year had its parallelism with that of Pak Long and bapak. Days before his eldest brother flew to Makkah, bapak passed away; twenty eight years later, days before her eldest daughter went for her haj, Mak passed away.

In my sister's case, three days later, to be precise (Mak passed away on the 16 Sept 2012, while she flew out to Makkah on 19 Sept 2012).

In a sense, I am not sure if there was anything to make from this two parallelism in our lives. I am not sure if it would be advantageous for the dead, if a close relative were to be in Makkah for haj, immediately after their death. Perhaps there was none. Perhaps there was. I don't know.

But I am sure the both of them would have benefited from having his eldest bro, and eldest daughter performing one of the pillars of Islam - the Haj. Being at the two holiest cities of Islam, and being a traveler (musafir), one can only think positively of one's ability to reach out to Him.

I am sure they would have had their prayers heard at Masjid Nabawi and right in front of the Kaaba. One can't get to holier sites than these two. 

Last night, I went to greet the two hujjaj coming back from Mekah at the KLIA. I have not had the opportunity to talk at length with my sis and brother-in-law as yet. I am not sure if she had any story to tell of Mak (or bapak) during the past 1 1/2 months she was in Makkah/Madinah, and I can't wait for all kind of stories one would get from our hujjaj.

KLIA 3 Nov 2012 at 2315 hours
Especially that of Mak.

Welcome home K Sham and Abang Jabar.
Lama tak jumpa. TUan Hj Jabar memeluk
anak bongsunya Madiha.