Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The love that was lost in the air

It was nerve-wrecking and tear-jerking. Nervous because you are hopeful of outcome and wishing that it will end as what you wanted. Emotional was seeing the crumble of people's dream, life, love and whatever that is related to it. It was an experience that I hope and pray that I don't have to go through again. But it was good reminder.

I had to accompany someone very dear (let's name her N) to me to settle her divorce case in a Syariah court. I've never been to any court before. My first impression, the court was too small. Well maybe it's because it a "low" court, not a high court. It was a public court so you get to hear everybody's case before you, not so loud and clear but you can still know what's going on. And surprisingly, you have to cover your aurat in the court. The court police will ask you to go out and cover yourself properly if you don't. What shocked me was most of the audience which consists of plaintiffs and defendants, and their supporters (family and friends) are YOUNG people. I seriously believe I was the eldest person in the court other than the judge at that time. I'm beginning to wonder what is the meaning of the marriage institution for the youngsters these days.  

N's case was the fifth one to be called. So I got to listen to four other cases. Of which the first one was read too softly for us to hear and the other was represented by a lawyer and again she spoke too soft for our nosy ears. The one that moved me was a divorce application of a very young couple  who seemed to be not more than 25 years of age. Without even a glance to each other they stood before the judge, answering him confidently. The guy read the divorce lafaz without hesitation, no quiver, no emotion. Me on the other was already in my tears (even not knowing who they are!). The ex-wife had a somewhat sad face. The next case was a fasakh application - an application to dissolve a marriage due specific reasons. The plaintiff, a lady, came alone. The judge asked, "so where is the defendant", she said - "at home, and he knew I was coming to the court today". The lady spoke softly only for the judge's ears the reason of the fasakh. It seemed that the couple was still staying together and obviously the husband refused to come to the court.  No wonder it takes ages for these cases to end.

N's case was called. They answered the judge accordingly and N's answers were more confidently said than her counterpart. Obviously she was more ready. Her husband (now ex) seemed a bit lost. As he said the lafaz, he was hesitant at first, and in tears. I was already in tears the minute N went stood in front of the judge! Ah.. so emotional! N cried too, but a cry of relief, and perhaps a bit of sadness over the love that is lost. But definitely I know she did not cry of losing the guy! After it was over, N's ex came to salam me with respect. I thanked him for taking care of N for the two years they were together.

That was it. Short, but earth shattering. Short but only the ones who had to go through it knew how painful it was. Two hearts became one, then broken into two again. Two paths met leading to one and suddenly one took a different route. Life is full of twist and turns. We can only plan, but only Allah knows best what's in store for us. 

I pray N will find another love. Or love will find her. She still love him, she said.. but I told her, it's not him that you love, it's the love that you had with him that you love. It's ok to hang on to the love, but not to him. And if she truly understands that only love to Allah is eternal, it will be easier for her to love another being again. I hope she will get up and love again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Maid oh maid!

Anybody who hires a domestic helper a.k.a maid, for whatever reason, surely has a story or two to tell. The stories are endless. Good ones, bad ones and horrifying ones! I have four maids so far in the span of 7 years. Let me tell you my stories.

Maid 1 : A spinster who hailed from East Java. She looked more like a man and spoke with a rough voice. She's very hardworking in her own way. She followed her work routine pretty well but if the routine was disrupted, everything else went haywire. Most of the time it was disrupted, thus a lot of work was often unfinished. If I scolded her or even told her nicely of her mistakes, she'd get really angry. Either she would talk back defending herself or say "Allahuakbar, Allahuakbar" then went off to have her wudhuk and sometimes even perform solat sunat to cool herself. The good thing was, the kids like her because they like to play with her. After two years, I terminated her contract because her "talk back" was getting too unbearable!

Maid 2 : A very soft spoken and pretty little thing who seemed to be godsent after the rough Javanese. Came from Bandung and a Sunda. Sunda is known for their softspoken and good heart. She can cook and clean pretty well. Kids love her. She seemed to be perfect for the first year. We really fell for her that we treat her real good. Things started to go wrong when we gave her a handphone. She claimed she has a "paman" living in Malaysia. During this time, my hubby was away working. So there were only me, kids and her. I truly depended on her on many things, and she was often reliable. And perhaps because of this I overlooked many things. Since I was working and needed her help badly, I tolerate all the little things I noticed. Until one day I went home unannounced in the mid day. My heart almost stopped beating when I went into a messy house and nobody in it. Including my two little kids. I was almost histerical. I called her handphone and asked her where she was. Not knowing I was at home, she sweetly told me she's cleaning my room upstairs. I told her off telling her I was at home. I was already screaming then, thinking of my kids with her. After a few on and off the phone because she was scared of my screaming.. she told me she was in Shah Alam in a taxi with my kids! She even let the taxi driver spoke to me. He reassured me that my kids were OK and they were returning home. He claimed that my maid called him to take her to the clinic. But why so far away (about 20km away)? Why not tell me? I could take her myself. We (me and my neighbor) waited for 20 minutes before the taxi arrived in front of my house. That was the longest 20 minutes of my life!! I blew off my top when she reached home but at the same time so grateful that my kids are safe with me again. She claimed she was having stomach pain. She confessed she was pregnant. Since I did not allow her any weekend breaks, I gathered she brought home men (not just one man) while I was not at home or at night when I was sleeping. I also suspected she went to the clinic to have an abortion (with the kids along!!) but the doctor was not in. I sent her back to the agent half an hour after that. Took one week off from work before I found a babysitter near my house.

Maid 3: This one came 3 months after the horrifying experience of Maid 2. I still have the phobia, but I need a helper badly since my hubby was going away again.She lasted for 3 months only since she already showed bad signs since day 1. She claimed my house was haunted. She was very weird in many ways. Her mom was working in another state. She was 30 yrs old and her mom was abt 45. She begged to see her mom almost every weekend. One day I found her ready with her bag to go see her mom. I sent her back to the agent instead before she ran off while I was at work.

Maid 4: The most efficient, longest serving and almost too good to be true. This is my current maid. I took her in after she's being sacked from a millionaire's house. They accused her of stealing an expensive jewelery. My agent believed she didn't take it. I decided to take her anyway because I was desperate, because I believed my agent and because I tawakkal to Allah. Also, at that time I believed they were all the same, either way I will get a bad one! I have lost hope. I don't have any expensive jewelery for her to steal anyway! Still, I was cautious for the first few months. I was very strict on her as well and watched her like a hawk. She turned out the most OK. She knows of her roles and responsibilities, she does her work diligently. I don't have to ask, she will do it. Almost perfect. It's been two years now. I renewed her permit last November for her third year here. I gave her 5 weeks off (way too long) for her to see her family last Hari Raya. Her husband is working here in a restaurant. I brought her see her hubby once in a while. Last few weeks we allowed the husband to stay overnight at our house. I guess we are the most "understanding" employer. Understanding the human needs! Right! And now, serves us right for being so understanding. She is now a few weeks pregnant! She is pregnant!!

My almost perfect maid, pregnant! I know it is her right. It was with her legal hubby. But she has a contract with me.. she's not supposed to get pregnant while working. But who am I to question Allah's plan for me. I can only pray for her health before I send her home. And I can only pray for the best for myself to handle the four brats and a house, and the never ending laundry. I shall brace it all!

Maid oh maid.. to have or not to have! Since I'm not working anymore, the need is not so great, but since the four are growing, there are too much to be done in the house and I need to concentrate more on the kids, I do appreciate some help!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another baking project

This is my second baking project for this year. A surprise cuppies for my brother's birthday. The cake is Red Velvet cake... not a very common cake but it's rather popular in the States. A traditional southerner cake as they put it. I've never tasted it before either, but I was really tempted to try because of the uniqueness of the color and the ingredients. The color is dark red due to food coloring and you have to put vinegar in the cake mixture. Surprisingly, as I followed the ingredients strictly, it came out beautiful. Almost perfect except for the color. I didn't feel good to pour the whole bottle of 25ml red coloring into the mixture. I only put about 3 tablespoon. Thus I got just a hint of red and the rest were chocolate. As the reviewers of the recipe put it (this recipe comes from the internet of course! complete with review), this is not supposed to be a chocolate cake. And beats me, I have no idea what it's supposed to be. It tasted rather nice, a bit tangy and chewy not really cakelike but still soft. I liked it.

As for the toppings, I used the usual butter toppings as opposed to cream cheese as suggested in the recipe. And still, it turned out well.
The theme is LOVE.

Red velvet cupcake. It's supposed to be red! Up close and personal: my sister's design.

My favorite design...


The finished product. The birthday "boy" was touched. His wife loved the cuppies! HAPPY BIRTHDAY my dear brother. May Allah bless you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I like!

I haven't done this for ages. I thought this blog needs an uplift.. so this is what I've come up with. Took me a few hours to do this.. amateur! Oh well.. I like what I see so far. Will definitely work on it more tomorrow.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A prayer for Qistina

Qistina is an 11 year-old daughter of my friend, Dr.Maryna and her hubby, Azhan. She was diagnosed having a condition called hydrocephaulus since she was a baby. She has been treated accordingly with a shunt system in her brain. The system is supposed to last her a lifetime. Somehow recently, things got complicated. The shunt somehow was displaced over time perhaps due to her growth. She is taller than most kids her age and the shunt was inserted when she was a baby. Qistina was in much pain for quite some time (months!) before the doctor discovered the cause. She underwent two surgeries early January to replace the shunt. The doctors discovered the very next day that the shunt was not "properly placed", hence the second surgery. She had high fever one week after the second surgery much to everybody's worries. It was not a good sign in fear of infection or other possible complications. She recovered after a few more days of antibiotics and observations. She has started school this week.

What amazed me is this family's courage, patience and determination over this situation. Qistina's parents are very positive and patient handling her sickness and treatment given. They spent sleepless nights at the hospital taking care of her. I guess that's what all parents would do in times like this. They somehow looked very calm and cool to me despite going through heart-wrenching moments seeing her pain. Not like any stressed and worried parents with a sick child. Qistina is also a very strong child. Though she wailed and screamed in pain, she is determined to make it through.

I pray that she will fully recover with no more complications and lead a normal life as she's supposed to. Having a great parents like hers will definitely help I'm sure. To her parents, well done. I feel for you both, I salute you and I hope you will always be patient and strong for this test Allah has given upon you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The kampung memories

There's always a price to pay for development. Yes? No doubt. I was in my kampung over the weekend. I love my kampung, I love my parents house. Over the years, slowly, I saw a lot of development in the kampung which I wish did not happen. But you cannot stop other people selling their land and build a house or even developing another residential area altogether.

I grew up in a kampung where there were rubber trees behind my house, a swamp if you trek further enough after the rubber trees, and also another small forest in front of my house. All houses in the kampung were nice wooden kampung houses with lots of trees in between them. It was really dark at night that you dare not go out at night. The town would be dead by 8pm. Supermarkets, cinemas or any entertainment outlet was unheard of. The only hapening thing was the Pekan Sehari on Friday nites and continued on until Saturday afternoons. They sold kampung vege and food and sometimes clothings. There was also the most awaited event of the year which was a month long bazaar in the month of October in conjunction of the Sultan's birthday. Everybody loved this bazaar which sells all sorts of things ranging to food, clothings, acessories, kitchennetes, furnitures, etc, etc. It took up a whole strecth of street at the riverfront. It was simply happening!

But that was then. These days, sadly all of it is almost gone. The rubber trees was cleared to make way for more kampung houses. Recently my right door neighbor sold their land to make way for a housing area all the way to the swamp area. My left door neighbor sold their land to a dentist who then built a huge bungalow complete with landscaping and all. Overshadowing my kampung house. I used to sit by the window to watch the trees, listening to the birds and bees, and inhaling real fresh air. Can't no longer do that, my view is blocked by the bungalow, but thank god I can still listen to the sound of nature and feel the fresh air. And on my right, I used to lie down at the balcony, read some books or simply lazing around looking at the trees and the sky. Well I can still do that, but there's no more trees, but a road leading to the new housing area. I can even see the main road which was then very much hidden by trees and bushes. Looking ahead, the small forest is also cleared for more bricks house or maybe another bungalow. I feel so bare! It's like the house is exposed! And worse, the 40 year-old house looked VERY old as though it can come down anytime.

The town itself is now mushroomed with shops, supermarkets, cybercafes and what not. Very much alive even at 10pm!

I hope the development will not tear down my parents' house. It is the only house my parents left us. It is the only memory I had with my parents. It is the memory that I shared with my kids of my childhood. And it's the only place I go back to during Hari Raya and such. Perhaps me and my siblings should 'redevelop' the place to be at par with the surroundings? No I will not agree!