29 years ago, on 12th October, 1984 Afzal came to us as a bouncing 8lbs 12ozs baby, crying his lungs out with a big, husky voice, filling the still and quiet Bentong night, as though making sure his arrival is not missed! By December 1984, Afzal's details and picture was already in my international passport, getting ready to depart for the United States of America, to join papa who was doing his Masters in Eugene, Oregon. He was 11 days shy of 3 months old when we set foot in the land of Uncle Sam and the Star Spangled Banner.
Afzal at 1 and 1/2 months at Subang International Airport, ready to depart for the US.
Afzal is the only child among my five children who enjoyed the priviledge of having me by his side 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 2 years. And as fate would have it, he is also the only one who lived away from home the longest and furthest. He went to Lembah Beringin to do his A-levels at the age of 18, then proceeded to Sheffield, U.K when he was 20 to pursue his first degree and only came back when he was 26. This is by no means my effort to establish some sort of record. It is just my way of going down memory lane, reliving my life with Afzal.
1st month in the US.
Afzal started primary one at SK Tanjung Aru 1, in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Both his brothers went to school there too. I remember his first day at school.....the classroom was in a mess. There were broken tables and chairs around and Afzal ended up with a good chair but a broken table. I found him a good table from the class next door. During recess, I was shocked looking at the height of grass in the yard surrounding the canteen and most green areas around the school. It was even higher than the shortest student....I bet if this is anaconda country, one could easily be lurking in those tall grass. Nevertheless the school had some of the best and coolest teachers. I remember one day seeing Afzal sharing his water bottle with a teacher and when I asked him about it, he said "that's normal ma...he drinks from my water bottle many times". I tell my husband that I do not mind if the school building is a bit dilapidated and not as modern as long as my children can learn in it.
Afzal was awarded the Half Colour Award for Best Student at La Salle Secondary School, Kota Kinabalu in 1994 - with brother, Andi and teacher, Juliana.
After UPSR( Primary School Accessment Examination), despite scoring 5As, Afzal was not offered boarding school anywhere and he was placed in SM La Salle to start his form 1.(Actually all of my children only attended day school, but they still fared well in their studies and all finally ended up in university, and I credit all that to Allah's beautiful plannings) Off course Andi and Jep were already seniors there! Ironically, in primary school, Afzal could wear long pants, but in form 1, at La Salle, he had to wear short pants. He was not comfortable at all wearing the short school pants being sold in the market because they were about 2 inches above his knees....He kept telling me that the school's ustaz was fighting for Muslim boys to be allowed to wear long pants! Meanwhile, until that finally happened, I had to resort to buying long pants and cutting them off to the length that Afzal is comfortable.
All siblings' day-out at Crocodile Farm, Tuaran. My beautiful children.
As I look back at those years when my children were growing up, I could not help but thank Allah for the beautiful enriching experience. I would not trade it for a different one. Afzal, like his other siblings, went through humble beginnings, where schooling is concerned, but, managed, to succeed and fulfilled his dream to become a doctor. Today would have been his 29th birthday. On this day, I pray Allah place him amongst those promised Jannah. Till we meet again my dearest son, I have memories of my beautiful life with you.