Father of the bride – finding Iman and TAQWA

October 29, 2011

How do you identify those who are TAQWA? To ask that to a pair of young prospective couple could be a lot to ask for but these are the basic pursuit of life. The whole journey of life is about putting in practice the simple do’s and dont’s

As a simple guide see if he or she does or practice the following. Or in your conversations you can actually pick up and understand one’s value system. it is simple, but first and foremost you yourself have to subscribe to these.

“Take not with Allah another object of worship”

“Be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour”

“Render to the kindred their due rights, as to those in want, and to the wayfarer””

“But squander not your wealth in the manner of a spendthrift””

“Make not thy hand tied (like a niggard’s) to thy neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach, so that thou become blameworthy and destitute”

“Kill not your children for fear of want”

“Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil”

“Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause””

“Come not nigh to the orphan’s property except to improve it””

“Give full measure when ye measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight””

“Pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into””

“Nor walk on the earth with insolence: for thou canst not rend the earth asunder, nor reach the mountains in height”

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Boundary management in relationship

August 11, 2010

In Malay there is this proverb or simpulan bahasa Jaga tepi kain. You manage the seam of your sarong. Do not bother about the sarong of others. My sarong may be bursting at the seams, or a few stitches may have opened up to show some flesh,  just let me restitch it or cover it up.

In relationship it means minding your own affairs or minding your own business. In a society where extended family is very much alive it could be very challenging. One has to learn to identify when empathy and caring stop and when minding your own business begins.

Among close siblings matters relating to your brothers or sisters marriage life and those relating to nephews and nieces are particularly sensitive issues. You are so used to being told by your parents to share, to care for each other but when we have our own family there are tendencies for brothers and sisters to continue applying those values although generally with noble intentions but not welcomed by the affected party.

Often families fail to realize that siblings need to adapt to new relationship rules  when each has his or her own family. You tend to take your brothers and sisters for granted. You are so used to shouting at each other that when you grow up you find it awkward to exercise diplomacy and tact in your communication. The rule of the game is be respectful and tactful when you feel you need to alert but otherwise it is  better  not to get involved unless assistance or counsels are solicited.

Once you are married you are sailing your own ship. Navy rules apply, NEVER cross the bow of another ship without permission. You may be tempted to pass comment or come to the defence of your sibling or even your parent, in a perceived disadvantaged position But remember these are autonomous ships that have their own captain and crew. If you do you have transgressed the boundary management rule 2.

I guess the Malay Tepi jaga kain is the best practical example of managing relationship. You must NOT offer to stitch someone’s else sarong unless asked. Manage your sarong or in the navy it is your ship that matter!!


Father of the bride – Kueh bungkus

June 20, 2010

Kueh bungkus, or banana leaf wrapped Malay sweet dumplings are traditionally prepared a day before the wedding. There are two popular types, kueh koci and kueh bongko. The kueh koci is steamed  glutinous rice flour with palm sugar fillings, the gula melaka or gula enau. Kueh bongko is steamed banana dumplings.

The ladies of the kampung would gather  commune style, to pack and steam these lovely dumplings. My brother and I often chided these  activities.Why not other kueh? Why the need for such activities?Why not just buy the cookies?

On the morning of the wedding I discovered the wisdom of the kueh bungkus. The morning was the busiest morning. What with the table arrangement, the zapin party, the flower delivery, the sound check, the last minute clearing of rubbish. Who has time for the preparation of breakfast?

Kueh bungkus came to the rescue. We had koci, nasi lemak bungkus and mee siam bungkus ready to serve about 100 family members. Accompanied by piping hot black coffee there was no bothering of serving plates, and washing of the dishes.

Only the black bin bag was the necessary implement to take care of the biodegradeable, organic, banana leaves,

I had 2 helpings each of the nasi lemak, mee siam and kue koci.

I did not know when my next meal would be. That was a wise move as I could only eat at 4 pm that day, once everything was alright.

Me? a nervous wreck? naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay


father of the bride – My band of brothers

June 18, 2010

One of the first few people that I informed of the  engagement and wedding was MO. He was the proclaimed Godfather of the bride.

When we last met  during LIMA at Langkawi, he asked if there was any new development on his God Daughter, love wise. There was no indication at that time although we could smell something brewing.

” You let me know, I will investigate who the prospect is.  I will make time for the engagement and wedding” that was  the level of intimacy we have.

“Who said I do not have a daughter? I have 3 sons and a daughter” he added up the god daughter to the three sons that he has.

We have been brothers since we were 15, a member of my band of brothers. I was one of the early birds as far as marriage was concerned. At 24 I had my first daughter and she became the adorable baby of the many doting UNCLES and MO was the unchallenged Godfather. There was this special picture of the bride sitting on the lap of her godfather.

So when I told him of the engagement, he was excited. Ross was the other one who got excited.

” I am inviting myself to the engagement and wedding”

When the news spread, the group had all sort of ideas. A bus trip, golf, overnight. Over lunch at the Pressroom, we initiated a working committee  consisting of TJ, OM, Cik Ngah Mo and Ross.

Overnight the Facebook event was generated and I relied upon OM to be representative of the group.

On the wedding day, as always they were the first to come and the last to leave. It has now become a tradition for us to don our official Baju Melayu and samping, a tradition started when one of us was getting married.

” I need to have support and to show my father in law that I have many friends”  said the cheeky OM, the groom.

Weddings now are opportunities and excuses for  reunions. We are going through this phase where one after another of our children get married. These are opportunities to renew the kinship and brotherhood.

Weddings are events we enjoy and make full use of, besides the occasional organised  get together. The  other reunions are at funerals which has been slowly creeping in regularity.


Father of the bride – the wisdom of makan berdamai

June 15, 2010

There are many versions of formal dining for  newly weds. There are the ‘makan pengantin’, the makan beradat’, the makan berdamai’. Makan means eat or dining.-A better choice of word would be Jamuan which is more formal in nature . A jamuan is a feast.

I insisted that it was going to be Jamuan Berdamai. Liiterally translated Makan Berdamai is the the Feast of celebrating Peace .

It was becoming  common to see a specially set up high table.  The high table is reserved for  newlyweds to dine accompanied by the VIPs. At the most there woulds be  five couples of VIP guests.

I also insisted that the Jamuan Berdamai be done in the traditional Malay way, sitting crosslegged, with the spread on white “safrah” or serving spread. The Big House Ruang Tamu or Guest Living Area  became the choice location. Even with a section taken up by the Pelamin the area can accommodate 56 guests.

The kampong makan bearadat team made up of the kampung makciks and fair maidens, whose specialisation was attending to guests in Malay formal dining and serving, was roped in. What an excellent service they provided. They looked awesome in their Malay baju kurung and batik sarung.

The menu was the same as the other guests but with two additional dishes. The AYAM PECEL was the mandatory  special javanese Dish of grilled chicken in herbs and coconut milk. The Bagan Fresh White pomfret in acar sauce was the other family speciality.

The guest list was made up of the aunties and uncles of the bride and the 25 guests from the groom side. My brothers and sisters and their spouses including the in-laws  have been working very hard to help out with the preparation. I included the godfather of the bride, my aunt and aunties and the six children to be part of the special occasion.

That was  the wisdom of the Jamuan Berdamai. In the course of the preparation of the wedding, voices could have been raised, feelings could have been slighted, nerves could have been disturbed. The Jamuan Berdamai was the time to make peace. Many would attest that preparation for weddings could be very testing and stressful. What better way to then celebrate by honouring them, the time to forgive and forget in a joyful occasion.

It was also the time for the two families to get to know each other, to celebrate the newly cemented tie.

I decided to give a speech. The idea was to articulate the various proceedings, and for the guests to share the spirit of the occasion. Otherwise, although there  was  flow of the function the various activities could be disjointed.  The Jamuan is not fopr show, but with a genuine desire to foster siraturahim. or good relations amongst those attending.

Addressing the bride, my emotion got the better of me when reciting Khalil Gibran’s, I am letting go the arrow………….

What better way to let go then during the Makan Berdamai. I was pleased.


Welcome home

September 28, 2009

welcome home said the front door

apa khabar said the sofa

i have been missing you said the fridge

give me a hug said the towel

this is home.

for a nomad the tent is his home

for the street beggar the hardboard is home

a home is a home

as special as any home

there is something to welcome you home

the door, the sofa, the fridge and the towel

or the hardboard.

not when you are dead

the door remained closed, the sofa is occupied,

what need you have for the fridge

your towel is now a rug for the pets

and you find someone else occupying your bed

stay away

go away

although they may not say


Abah in Debt after Long’s wedding

August 2, 2009

Long was my eldest sister.

When she finished her standard six, she was called for the interview to become a teacher. Yes dear, to join teachers training you only need to finish standard six. She was one of the smarter ones having benefited from the mentor ship of Che Salim my uncle. He was already a teacher and Long was his favorite niece.

But then she was already engaged.  The fiancee was a bloke  who lived further up the kampong. When the news of her pursuing  a career in teaching reached the family of the fiance, it must have caused an embarassment. Here was a prospective wife in government service and this guy was  a brawny kampong bloke. It must have created a deep dent to the man’s pride.

A party was sent to end the engagement. To be told that the engagement was henceforth broken was a great humiliation to my family.

That was the value system then. Just last month my neice broke her engagement, and surprise surprise it was taken in good stride by my emak.

When there was a pinang party from the next kampong for Long,  emak must have felt there was a score to settle.

I heard it was a grand wedding. I could not remember a thing. I was told there were kuda kepang, barongan and nasyid, berzanzi and Qasidah.

Abah was bergolok bergadai, which literally mean having to pawn his ‘kris’ or “golok”  and be be in debt to finance the wedding. You snubbed my daughter? She got a better man , an ustaz instead of you  a lousy kampong rubber tapper.

The good Eng Choon was the savior. Perhaps that explain why Long’s children we called Cucu eng choon, the grand children of eng choon.

I do not know whether he went to the chettiar, but I remember accompanying abah to one of the chettiars shop. It was behind Jalan Rahmat. The Chettiars were seated in a row behind these small tables.  I saw this old low table  in one antique shop in Kelana Jaya. He managed to clear the debt and get the land title back. The debt was for a few hundred dollars.

If Kedah could be “sold” for a couple of millions to the King of Siam what was a couple of hundreds for a commoner. Abah managed to claim his land back, but for Kedah it was lost of soverignity and it took the British to exchange Songkhla fo Kedah. That was and still is the hazard of Malay weddings.