Saturday, 12 March 2011

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

MOVING TO KOTA KINABALU

1990 was a significant year in my family’s history. 26th June 1990 marked the day my husband and I moved our family to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. My husband got a job in Kota Kinabalu that we felt would promise us better future. Though I was skeptical at first, fearing the worst since there were a lot of unknowns in the world of Borneo and the fact that it was only accessible via air travel, I decided to do the right thing and support my husband.

We uprooted our family - Andi, then 8 , Jaffri 7, Afzal 6 and Aiysha 11 months (Atiqah was born in KK, in 1994) and moved to Kota Kinabalu, which became our home until today. Looking back, I felt that was the best decision we made for the family. Sabah, generally and Kota Kinabalu specifically lacked the hustle, developments and varieties offered by our previous home, KL (in 1990 that is – come to KK now and it’s so alive!). But nevertheless, it provided something more important- peace and the ideal surroundings to bring up a young family like ours.

The original 4 that got uprooted to KK-Andi, Jaffri, Afzal & Aiysha.


We got to send all our children to school ourselves and pick them up later. We knew who their teachers, friends and friends’ families were. KK boasted of only 2 big shopping complexes then, and one of them only opened in July 1990. Thus, we knew where and with whom our children hung out. If we did not find out on our own, our friends or neighbours would inevitably relay the news to us.....These are familiar conversations we heard all the time “I saw Andi in Centre Point yesterday, with so and so”.... “what was Jaffri doing in Karamunsing last week at 8pm?”....”Afzal went bowling with my son last weekend”. And of course many times our children hang out with us (some children would be embarrassed to be found going around with their parents – not cool!).

Bringing up children is a challenge to be reckoned with. Doing it away from the hustle and bustle of the city is indeed very helpful.

I admit it was not easy trying to juggle between attending to my work and having to manage my children’s school time-table. It was especially challenging because my husband’s work involved a lot of out-station stints. But indeed Allah’s plans are beautiful and only He knows what is best. Those trying times of having to ferry my children to and from school or other places gave me the opportunity to lecture them on values and challenges in life. After listening to my lectures for the whole of their “school-going-days”, I’m sure some must have stuck in their head and remained till today. In a way, they grew up with my words guiding them.

There were times when my husband and I wondered if the decision to bring our children to Sabah was right, because by doing so we have deprived them of so many opportunities and choices that were easily available in KL. Every year we only got to bring back our family for Eid celebration (those days airfare per person was about RM800, so to bring everyone back would cost me - RM800 x 7 = RM5,600). But luckily, the Government pays for one trip every 2 years and since my husband was also a Government servant, we both enjoyed that privilege, so we all get to go back every year.

Each time we were in KL, my children would go wild with excitement over the simplest of development. They would marvel at ordinary things like sky-scrapers, double-decker buses, fast food outlets and chain stores. That made me felt so guilty and sad. To make up for the deprivation, each time I go to KL for work, I often brought home stuffs considered weird by some....McDonald burgers (before McD opened in KK) A & W waffles (things my children loves to eat), longan (longan in KK cost RM8 –RM12 a kg!), pajamas bought from Reject shop (they used to be dirt cheap but nice!) and the list goes on....


The close age-gap made them the best of friends.


AFZAL AND KK

Afzal loved food. From small, he had a sweet tooth too. He refused to bring plain water to school, so I had to make sure I’m well stocked with cordials. His favourite is orange juice (well, cordial juice). Papa would never fail to bring home Sunkist orange cordial every time he had work in KL (It’s only RM9.90 in KL, but cost RM14 in KK). He would put them in his brief case (5 bottles fits nicely in the brief case!) and hand carry it. When I ran out of cordials, I would make “air sirap”(home made, red-coloured cordial). I remember, when we came back from the U.S back in 1987, and Afzal was about 2 years old then, he did not like this red coloured cordial drink. He called it “yucky water”. He was so used to milk and orange juice in the U.S, so he could not accept a red coloured juice! I used to have a lot of problem when I brought him to weddings where they served nothing but “air sirap”. But surprisingly, he loved nasi minyak and curry or “rendang” eventhough they were spicy. Since he did not like “air sirap”, he would only drink water when we reached home.

Just as he loved food, he also loved reading. He reads all the time (well, when he was not playing football that is! That’s another great love of his). He liked to read while having his food even – a habit I tried to stop, but failed. Everytime he ate, he would grab whatever reading material available, be it books, newspapers, magazines, even flyers or cereal boxes!

Because I had 3 growing, school-going boys, I get very concerned if they did not get enough to eat at school. The solution – packed food everyday for school for everyone. When my children were in primary school, I pack them heavy food like nasi lemak, fried noodles and nuggets. But as they grew up and while in secondary school, they preferred lighter and less messy food, so I opted for sandwiches or other finger food like curry puffs and "pau". They all brought packed food to school from home everyday until they were in form five (I must say I’m so proud of them because they did not feel embarrassed eating packed food even in high school!).

I remember one day Afzal came back from school (he was in standard 4 or 5, I think), and complained that he only got to eat about 2 spoonfuls of his nasi lemak because his friends ate the rest. He then asked if i could pack him a few extra nasi lemak the next time I made them so he could give to his friends (actually I suggested he ate away from the crowd in the canteen so no one would bother him, but he said it was no use because his friends knew he always brought interesting food to school, so they stalked him!). I did just that and he came home bringing a list of orders from his friends, for more nasi lemak, instead!

Well, since I had to wake up early to prepare the nasi lemak anyway, so, why not prepare more.

Partners in crime, and always looking out for each other.


AFZAL AND MAYONNAISE

As a working mother, I was always on the lookout for quick ways to prepare good tasting and if possible, healthy foods for my children. As a precaution, I made sure that there was always bread, mayonnaise and sandwich fillings like cheese, tuna, eggs and sardines in the house. With these ingredients I could easily whip up sandwiches which were a hit with my children....or so I thought. Little did I know that Afzal did not like mayonnaise and I put them in all my tuna and egg sandwiches! He never let on about it because he did not have the heart to do so. He just took the sandwiches to school everytime I prepared them. His two brothers knew but never spilled the beans either. I only found out about it during out family chats years later, when he was already studying in Sheffield. When I asked him why he did not tell me, he said “..kesian mama dah susah2 prepare”("I pity mama already took the trouble to prepare them"). And when I asked him what he ate in school then? His answer was “..saya makan keropok je!”("I just ate some chips").

Being busy working mothers are no excuse to not attend to our children’s needs be it at school or at home. If there’s a will, there’s always a way.


Two pairs of brothers winning a bowling tournament in 2000 - Mas Jaffri/Mas Afzal Masarudin & Shahreen/Shahfie Tahir.

Afzal and Jaffri at the Inter-School Parliamentary Debate with teachers cum trainers Cikgu Wan Suriyani and Cikgu Lily Kua in 2000.

Afzal received the "Tokoh Pelajar" (Best Student) award of SM La Salle, KK in 2001-here with Andi and teacher Juliana.

.........to be continued

16 comments:

nadia mustafa said...

Thanks aunty for the post! i know every mother out there can feel the pain of having lost a son, but if this makes you looking forward to meeting him at Jannah, continue and spread the love, motivate us to be a good muslim/muslimah.

Thanks again~

salmi said...

Thanks mama Afzal for the sharing!

Fiery Phoenix said...

thanks mama afzal for writing this entry! keep up your effort to share :)

Cik La said...

every single word is really inspiring! i really want to be like u, mama afzal :)

EdaManAli said...

ank2 aunty mmg baik2 semua nya...mcm mane laa aunty didik diorg. i'm impress...nk ckp xsuka mayonise kt ibu pon xsampai hati...t'harunya kalau ank saya pon mcm ni...

Nana said...

salam...
teringat dulu2 di sek. tanjung aru 1, msk kelas sama dgn arwah..dan satu group dgn arwah ms darjah 5...arwah jenis sahabat yg "bercakap bila perlu" ms tu arwah chubby dan comel...dan lama kelamaan dpt lihat perubahan arwah ms sama2 tinggal di taman orchid di kota kinabalu...badan nya semakin susut...ada juga perasan arwah selalu jogging...tp cuma perhati dr jauh...

salam takziah dr keluarga kami...

Cikgu Yatim sekeluarga ( menetap di Tmn Orchid) & Doktor Abu Bakar sekeluarga. (Bekas Pengarah Hospital Sandakan)

Farhad said...

Many thanks for sharing this piece about Mas that we didn't get to know whilst he was with us in the UK. Hope all's well with the family

Anonymous said...

kept waiting for the new post..thanks mama afzal:)

An-Nur said...

Thanks mama afzal..=)

Rayyan Haries Aaron Davis said...

Salam Auntie, you have no idea how bro Afzal have changed my life. I really hope that God repays him Jannah. InshaAllah...be strong ya Auntie...

Anonymous said...

Rayyan: I would love to know how he has changed your life. Maybe you can tell me via my email - norinchun@yahoo.com - mama afzal

IEKAN78 said...

untie,
finally u update the blog!!!
lama saya menanti....ada masa cerita la lagi yer!! cerita untie blh menjadi panduan utk saya mendidik anak saya pula....

Anonymous said...

what a great lost we have here...
but after all, he just won both battles! semoga berbahagia di sana.

thanx ibu afzal!:)

zafiqa said...

so sweet...
terasa dekat sangat ngan entry ni...
pengalaman membesar di sabah tak sama ngan membesar d semenanjung sana...
rasa lebih seronok dan tenang...
dan lebih kampungan...but i think its a better environment to raise kids...at that time la...
semoga auntie boleh share lebih banyak citer...

wmsuhaimi said...

Thanks puan for sharing your experience,may Allah give you and your family strenght to cope with sadness of losing him.Puan maynot remember me,but I happened to pay a visit to your house in March last year when Allahyarham was just gotten back from UK.

Marilyn Barlow said...

To my dearest sis, This is a great post. I had to smile at the piece on Afzal and Mayonnaise and how none of the boys told you he did not like it on his sandwiches. Oh my goodness. I kept wondering who actually ate the sandwiches! :) Love you, Marilyn