My Uncle, My Inspiration – A great teacher is one that inspires

I posted the following comment in the facebook album of my cousin nephew Nasir Razak on 9th of June

Tq nasir for capturing the moments. a few pics evoked that special feelings, your tok aki has always been special and inspirational, yr dad was my special cousin @ the malay college, kluang station was the station that launched me to the world, i.e i took the first train to Kuala kangsar, 23 jalan ahmad khan is another one that is special which served as my night stop before traveling back to kk.

The Tok Aki I was referring to was Haji Salim Said, the younger brother of my late father Salam Said. He was my special uncle. You know that you may have a dozen uncles or a dozen brothers or sisters, but there will always be one that is close to your heart. One that is extra special. In the case of Chek Salim, as I addressed him, he was not only extra special, he was inspirational.

At a time when the kampong I was brought up in was in darkness he was the light that attracted me, the kalkatu. I was referring to the state of education and economy of the kampong. At a time my abah and emak was attending sekolah dewasa to learn the A,B,C he was already reading Shakesphere  and other great literatures. He was already a headmaster when I was scrounging the old cabinet in my Nyai’s, my paternal granny, house and these coverless, brownish books were my archeological findings. They were all Greek to me and I said to myself I must be able to understand all these.

During the Holidays, I would be longing to be invited to be with my cousins in Kluang. There were already 6 boys in the household and I would be the additional head that will share the Mak Ning’s ikan belanak, or ikan selar kuning goring that acompany the sawi, kobis or taugeh masak air.

I, the kampong boy, held my first badminton racquet, I saw my  first bullet casing, I saw a house full of books and other boys gadgets while doing my sabbatical in Kluang. Taza my cousin,  although  about the same age as me was a bookworm so I was closer to Ajak his elder brother. We would be exploring the British Military Camp in Kluang where the school was located.  The adventure of looking at soldiers in parade and going to the firing range to look for spent bullet casing were exciting for this kampong boy. I learned my first lesson in metallurgy in Klunag, extracting the tin from the spent casing from Ajak who later became a King Scout.

I guessed I develop my hunger for reading seeing a house full of books rather than useless paraphernalia and glassware, in Kluang.

Prodded by Chek Salim Taza , ajak and I would be talking about the kind of cars we wanted to have. For someone like me, it was unimaginable that I would be driving a car, when abah’s worldly possession then was a rickety bicycle. And we talked. Taza said he would be driving a car that was so quiet that no one would ever notice him coming. Chek Salim was driving the FIAT 600. Imagine a family of 8 cramped into a Fiat 600!!

As expected Taza was the first to go to The Malay College.  It was the Fiat 600 that took them to Kuala Kangsar. My Emak accompanied them. When they got back, emak and chek salim said to me ” Sekolah Anak Raja, cantik, semua ada. Kau mesti pergi Sekolah Kuala Kangsar” . That was the inspiration that got me cracking.

When I became  one of the top 3 students in Batu Pahat, Chek Salim drove to Bagan to give me a present of two ringgit  in an impromptu ceremony witnessed by Li and man and Lina my younger cousins. Hasnah my cousin also received the two ringgit for the excellent LCE result. Two months later i was in The Malay College and Hasnah was in Sekolah Kolam Air, which later became Sekolah Sri Putri. Ajak and Taza were the receiving party in Kuala Kangsar.

During the Sports and Speech Day in 1973,  I was so happy because Chek Salim came to visit us. That was special as I had never had any visitor in my entire life in The Malay College,. I remembered we had durians at the little hotel next to the oldest rubber tree in Malaya. It was me, ajak, taza and cek Salim.

I also learned this lesson from this special man. He never retired. He became a fairly successful Class C contractor. He was a thinking man. His mind was always inquisitive. In the last few years however his memory was only on Random Access. So there were times when he would be calling me to ask about the Nisan for the grave of his late parents  Hj Said and Hajah Marseh. I did the repairs but he kept forgetting.

On one occasion, when I was shopping at the open market the few man at the meat stall unexpectedly asked me ” kau anak cikgu Salim ye?”

These were elderly man in their 70s. They explained that they were his students 60+ years ago. I was moved. I drove to Kluang to pay my respect to this great teacher.

I wrote this while driving to Kluang to pay my respect to this great man. He passed away today at a ripe old age of 92. Alfatihah.


8 Responses to My Uncle, My Inspiration – A great teacher is one that inspires

  1. Azaruddin Jamil says:

    Even though I did not have the opportunity to get to know him closer, I heard alot of good about him from my mother. From the stories I can relate that he was an inspirational uncle to my mother and her siblings.

    Last year I manage to visit him at Kluang during our Eid Mubarak celebration. This was my second visit to his house throughout my life and the first for my wife and my daughters. My wife and daughters were amused with his resemblance to my late grandfather hence reminded us of our beloved Tok Salam.

    His passing go with our prayers. Al-fatihah.

  2. nurul razak says:

    i’ve never had the chance to meet my atok aki before he passed away
    thanks for tagging me and telling me about the story of you, my dad, atok aki & my uncle
    i do appreciate it very much =)

  3. abrazak says:

    He was inspirational to us in the family as well. He always tell success stories of successful people even at the kampung level and . That will make us feel and appreciate it better with living example around us. He tell stories again and again until it nailed into the head. May Allah blessed his soul and alfatihah. Thank you for the writing.

  4. Hj Bhar says:

    Inspirational he was. The great Tok Salim.

    Like you too, I enjoyed spending school holidays in Kluang with the uncles Cek Taza, Cek Razak, Cek Man etc. Instead of normal school holidays in kampung with activities like ‘godak parit’ or ‘main gasing’, it was filled with reading books or comics.

    Another thing I will not forget – the trip Tok Salim organised to send off Cek Taza to UK. He hired a bus, the driver was another atok, Tok Mian. Being the first time to Subang airpot and able to see the aeroplanes from near amazed me. And I remember Tok Salim told me and my brother “kamu nak naik kapal terbang? belajar rajin2 boleh pergi luar negeri naik kapal terbang, macam Cek Taza kau”. After sending off Cek Taza, he took us around KL. It was my first trip to KL to see the National Muzeum, Tugu Negara and the National Mosque. I believe that the trip he organised was not really for “makan angin” but to motivate us to excel.

    And few years later more trips to Subang airport, to send off Pak Ecam to UK, Abang Adin to UK and Pak Latif to US. It was my turn after that, to UK.

    Thank you Tok Salim for your kindness, inspiration and motivation. Alfatihah.

  5. Nasir says:

    at time of his death, people around him never stop reciting the Quran especially surah Ya sin even during the night time when everybody else asleep. We took turn to teach him syhadah. when I did it, he seem to respond. He can’t speak since the life support system is in his throat pumping oxygen to his lungs.

    During the last two hours my brother Nazim told that his finger was moving making the gesture of zikr. at 230pm Jun 19th 2010 the doctor confirmed he passed away. I uncovered the blanket that covered his hand. he died while making zikr to Allah.

    at the masjid while we are bathing him, his face was a smiling one. then, each one of us put a smiling face too. We know his ending was a good one. We had no problem taking care of the Jenazah. everything was smooth. May Allah bless his soul and admit him to the eternal garden.

    Thank you uncle Esham and others for sharing his stories. Now we know he left a legacy of success. Now its our turn to carry on the legacy.

  6. azie says:

    Alhamdullillah, his passing was grace and peaceful as I witnessed every moment of his last breaths. My mom , Shahizam and myself were in the ICU with the rest of late Tok Salim’s family.
    As I stood there opposite arwah while he was lying for his last moments, I couldnt help to resist the tears flowing as his state at that time reminded me of my late Tok Salam during his last moments too. They looked no difference from each other. Their faces were serene with no sign of in pain or suffering. The last breath they had of almost similar gesture till the eyes closed for the the last time ever. At that point in second, I knew Tok Salim had left us forever and ever. From Allah we became and to Allah we I whispered to my myself..witnessing a kind soul whom I have always remembered passing in my very own eyes. Since yesterday, I have been reminiscing his kindness moments from my personal accounts with him.And maybe due to that I was determined enough to shoot to kluang in no time to visit Tok Salim after knowing of his critical illness. I couldnt help now but to share these two important moments in my life with regard to this man Tok Salim.
    First, while I was 8 years sitting next to Cik Lina who was few years older than me while Nek Oteh was behind us. It was a bus trip driven by late Tok Mian to send off Pak Isam to the airport for his first venture ever to UK. Cik Lina talked so highly of her father, Tok Salim. Some of the things I could remember crystal clear, she said her father always wanted her to go to the boarding school like her brothers.To be independent and then to oversea to see the world. My respond to myself was ‘ her father is very ambitious’. She also said her reason of coming along the trip was to be inspired by other’s success stories as what her father always advised her to.You know we had that girl’s chit chat about each other’s father all throughout the journey and off course with all good accounts and story tellings. As such, Cik Lina always stay closed in my mind though in reality we hardly meet each other till yesterday as we hugged in those moments of sadness and condolence.
    Ever since that trip, I have been having very high regards of a man named Tok Salim. Cik Lina’s very fine accounts and inspiration kept my spirit high to also be like my uncle in a flight to UK one day. In effect to that, I saw the Thai Airways jumbo feeling so excited and dreamt that one day I would be in that kind of plane too.I nailed that dream deep in my heart always associating the impetus with Cik Lina, her father’s stories and the Thai Airways jumbo which took my uncle off to another man’s land.. As along that after, years after years, my dream kept building and became a reality. Alhamdullillah.
    Secondly, after a month of my return for good from UK, me and my mom took a trip to Kluang, just to visit Tok Salim and my uncle Cik Can. I remembered Tok Salim receiving us from the teksi stand as we made the visit first to his house.I noticed he was always beaming and full of excitement. The moment he saw me he said ” Ini rupanya cucu yang belajar kat UK macam yang lain, cik Taza, Pak isam, abg adin, baang.Bagus..bagus..”and even mentioned to me the university that all these guys went to. At that moment, I wondered why he talked very highly of Uk’s education but one thing for sure he took the chance to praise me as such..’cucu perempuan salam pertama nilah kiranya pegi uk.Bagus..bagus..hari ni kamu kena tido rumah atok. Malam nanti macam2 kita boleh cerita..” I raised my eyebrows wondering how come he could note this in the Tok Salam’s family. Nevertheless, those were his unexpected sayings and true enough during dinner Tok Salim kept sharing to me his family stories and meaning of success in life.
    These two accounts kept flushing in my mind every second throughout my witness of his demise moment till his sending to his final resting place.
    To Arwah Tok Salim, thank you for all the inspirations that made us to what we are today. Though you are now gone forever, but your spirit of success is always there in our heart and soul. May Allah bless Almarhum Hj Salim bin Hj Said. Amin

  7. Anina Saadudin says:

    My heartfelt condolences to the family of Hj. Salim Hj. Said. It is my sincere hope that the sad memories fade soon, leaving only all the happy ones that you as family must have in the days ahead. May the Allah the Almighty be your comforter at this time of great need.

  8. hj ahmad b hj salam says:

    Bagi saya che salim telah meningalkan banyak kenangan yang mendalam dihati saya disamping aruah abah saya sendiri sejak saya dilahiarkan hinggalah ia meningal. che salim saya angap seperti ayah saya sendiri.Apabaila emak menelepon saya mengatakan che salim baru saja beberapa minit meningal dunia,saya terpegun sambil menybut innalillahiro……bermacam hal bermain diingatan,dan amat terharu dan ralat sekali kerana saya tak sempat dan tak dapat nak menghadiri waktu pengurusan jenazah pengkebumiannya untuk penghormatan terakhir, amat sedih sekali.
    dan yang kedua kesilapan saya yang amat saya ralat sekali kerana tidak pergi menziarahinya waktu saya berada di Kampong pada 5hb jun hinga 10 hb jun 2010 yang lalu.
    waktu saya lahir pd 30 march 1946 che salim adalah orang yang bertangong jawab mendaftarkan kelahiran saya dibalai polis batu pahat diberi nama saya ahmad bin abd salam. Kemudian pada awal tahun 1947 che salim sekali lagi report daftar kelahiran saya dengan nama Ahmad Tahir bin Abd Salam.”curi umor biar pandai di sekolah” jawapannya.che salim menceeritakan pada saya waktu saya mengunjunginya ketika ia berada di rumah azman anaknya di sungai siput perak tahun lepas.Dengan ketawanya berdekah2.tapi abah takgunakan surat branak yang kedua. “lambat sangat nak sekolah” kata nya. waktu kanak2 saya sering mengekori chik salim terutama ketika hari mingu kerumah bapa mertuanya Datuk penghulu haji sirat di peserai.
    Pada sekitar tahun 1960 kalau tak silap saya chik salim pindah ke kampong melayu kluang, saya menghantarnya berpindah waktu itu. Pada tahun 1963 saya ikut chik salim tinggal bersama2 kelurganya di rumah guru sekolah di camp askar melayu batu 6 jalan mersing kluang.Chik salim adalah guru besar sekolah disitu. dan saya bersekolah di sekolah bandar tinggi kluang setelah meningalkan high school batu pahat.Pada 1HB Ogos 1965 saya join polis. Kemesraan saya dengan anak2 chik salim seperti adik saya sendiri.
    saya kira pada era tahun 40hn 50hn dan sebelumnya jarang orang2 kampong orang melayu hususnya yang faham dan mengambil berat tentang betapa pentingnya pelajaran.tetapi chik salim adalah orangnya yang sangat2 faham tentang betapa penting nya pelajaran.Berpindah ke kluang sebab kemudahan persekolahan anak2nya. sangup berkorban apa saja kerana pelajaran anak2nya dan anak buahnya dan anak muridnya.Selain dari itu apa yang saya tahu 2 tahun tingal bersamanya chik salim adalah orang yang benar2 beriman, warak dan sangat berdisiplin dan menghormati orang lain. Jam 9 malam mesti tidur untuk anak sekolah. Sembahyang tak bolih tinggal.Rotan pembaris kayu 12 inchi ditangan tapi achah sahaja.Surat Khabar New Straits time.Baca kluar suara kalau bersaorangan.
    Amalan wiridnya Yasin, Doa Kinzil aras dan Doa Akasah. disamping wirid2 lain.Dimalam jumaat husus nya. Alfatihah untuk chik Salim. Semuga Allah cucuri rahmat yang luas keatas rohnya, ibu bapa nya, dan seluruh keluarganya.Amin.

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