This July, 2011, I turn 53.....pretty old, physically, but not necessarily wiser. Nevertheless, I feel it is high time I accord due recognition to all those responsible for the person I have become, because indirectly, they are also responsible towards how I have brought up Afzal. I relate here stories of my own humble upbringing, which I think have contributed as the basis of values I uphold, that I have passed down to Afzal and to which he has value added to form his own personality........
STORY NO. ONE - My Father (now 79 years old) taught me the meaning of Family Ties
My father, Hj. Mohamed Salleh, calls Afzal Tok Imam
He is not perfect, but he helped laid the foundation for my personality. He instilled in me the importance of doing things as a family unit. As a child, my siblings and I are taught to eat our meals together (the rationale then was because there would be enough food for everyone if meals were eaten together, but if everybody ate at their own freewill, the last to eatmight have to be satisfied with just rice and soy sauce!).
The girls in my family seldom have the pleasure of social outings with friends, especially out-of-town or overnight outings. If we really needed to go somewhere, the whole family will go together (the rationale was, we were still too young andnot ready to face the challenges oflife out there, unchaperoned!). It may not be as interesting going with the whole family, but we were not deprived of going, nonetheless.
STORY NO. TWO - My Mother (passed away 22.6.2007, at the age of 72, four years ago) taught me the meaning of Responsibility
Mom, Hajjah Zaharah Samad, when she visited us in the United States in 1986
She was a working mom (she worked as an assistant nurse). She taught me, at an early age, the meaning of responsibility.
I am the second daughter in a family of 8. I have an elder sister (by one year) and a younger sister (by one year). My fourth sister, diedat the age of 3 1/2, from Polio. My fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth siblings are all boys. My seventh brother died at the age of 13, fromThalasemia Major. My elder sister was also stricken with Thalasemia Major and died at the age of 22. While she was alive, there were times when she was too weak to shoulder much household chores, but spiritually she was strong. She passed her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia exam, even though she missed many classes!
When I was in form 5 (1973), my mom gave birth to my eighth brother, Azmir. After 42 days of confinement and maternity leave, she had to resume work at the hospital and this create a lot of challenges because there were times when we did not have a maid inthe house! I remember when mom worked the morning shift, her working hours were from 7am to 2pm. My elder sister and I would usually come home from school at 1pm and my father (a teacher) would be back by 1.30pm. My younger sister attended afternoon school and would be the one babysitting little Azmir in the morning until my elder sister and I came home. But I also had to cook lunch! Fortunately, no family member ever complained about my cooking....either because I was a good cook or because everyone was too hungry to complain, since lunch was usually only served at 3pm!
It was even scarier when my mom had to work the night shift(her working hours were from 9pm to 7am the next day) or on weekends, because it meant I had to look after little Azmir throughout the night, feed him, change him, bathe him and put him to bed! Imagine me, 16 years old then, bathing a 43-day-old baby!
STORY NO THREE - My Siblings taught me the meaning of Sacrifice and Perseverence
Me, and my siblings : Azmir, Roslina, Ahmad Shukree and Ahmad Shahrir at his wedding
Being the "eldest" in the family, my brothers depended onme for many things while they were still studying, especially after I secured a job, got married, had a family of my own and was living in KL. Times were tough then but I am thankful that Allah gave me the strength to persevere. Whatever assistance I could give to my brothers may not have been much, but I was glad I helped them as much as I could at the time when they needed me most and I believe that formed the basis of our bonding that remained strong till today. I also believe that whatever little help I gave them back then, I am reaping the benefits now because while I lived and worked in Kota Kinabalu for 16 years and my children studied in Kuala Lumpur, I did not have to worry because my siblings were always at hand to assist them.
STORY NO. FOUR - My Husband taught me the meaning af Unconditional Love
Masarudin Mohd. Yusof - very proud father at Afzal's graduation in July, 2009
It does not matter if you are a Mother or a Father. Both play a vital part in the life of a child. There is also no need to compete for your child's affection because each parent has differentroles to perform, roles that are perfectly meant for one and not the other, complementing each other, just as Allah has decreed upon partners in a marriage.
I thank Allah for giving my children the privilege of enjoying the pleasure of both a Father and a Mother. And I thank Him too for giving me a husband who knows his responsibility and discharges them well, according to his own mould and capability. But then, I did not always feel this way............
I have had my share of frustrations and anger towards my better half. Frustrated because I feel that I have done so much, whereas he is always not at home (his job takes him out-station a lot). Angry because I felt that I have always been giving and sacrificing for the family, whereas he has not appreciated it....But how wrong was I!
Indeed, reading entries in Afzal's and Jeps's blogs has made my realize a lot of things about what kind of father my husband has been to our children. He is the very opposite of me. I am very vocal and express my feelings openly towards my children, whereas he is more reserved. I cry when I am sad, laugh loud when I am happy and nag when I am angry! He keeps his emotions in check most of the time. Throughout our marriage, I have only seen my husband cry twice...once when he got news of his father's death and another when sending Afzal off to the UK to study, in 2004....and I thought he was not a sensitive person! After Afzal left us, I have come to realize also that my husband loves his children and cherishes them more than his life! It does not matter to him if others realises that or not because he is not out to impress anyone. He is just loving his family unconditionally!
Reminiscing over all these stories make me also realise how true Afzal's words were in these Entries:
Title - "I know what you don't know (Part2)"
"...and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know." [2:216]
Titlt - "I know what you don't know (Part 1)"
".....even the Prophet couldn't initially comprehend the wisdom of Allah's planning, only to learn that his Creator is indeed the best disposer of all affairs..."