Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Passing Away of Che Loh

Syazwan received the call. Kak Na (his cousin in Seberang Takir) told him that her father (Che Loh) was no more (tak dok doh) while sobbing...

Syazwan later relayed the news to his mother. "Ma, Che Loh tak dok doh.."

Ma immediately broke down and began wailing furiously.

I remained calm and composed, trying first of all to confirm the news. Finally it was confirmed. Abdullah Abu Bakar, my 'biras' had passed away in Madinah.

He had just arrived in Madinah from a top-over in Doha on his long-awaited umrah mission. According to Reyha representative he felled down in his hotel room.

As usual when it came to family matters it became my first priority. I immediately told my family members to get ready for a drive to Kuala Terengganu.

After calling everybody breaking the sad news, off we left Taman Samudera Timur at 6.45 pm. We decided not to wait for maghrib prayers, but just go to save time. Cik Mek (my wife's sister) and her family followed us in her car.

We stopped at Beris Meraga mosque for maghrib.. After a hurried prayers we continued our journey, all impatient to reach Cik Ani's house.

The night drive was quite a challenge for me, more so with the numerous unfinsihed roadworks and 'lencongan'. The speedometer rarely reached more than a hundred km/hour level. The heavy traffic did not help much too.

We stopped at Nil Restaurant in Batu Burok for a dinner. Our stomachs had been rumbling for it was well past our usual dinner time.

We reached Cik Ani's house at half past ten. There were many well-wishers and sympathizers came and go. There was this extra sad mood in the house as well as in the neighbourhood.

Kak Long and Kak Na were swollen eyed and still clearing sobbing when they greeted us. Ma immediately embraced Cik Ani. Both of them cried.

I remember how Cik Loh was very excited and looking forward for his umrah. We talked on many things when we met during SUKMA games.

He was a straight forward man, well-liked by all young and old. I just could not believe that he was called to Allah as suddenly as that. But that was God's way. When the time comes nobody can postpone it, not even for a second.

Kak Na, still sobbing, told us that her father called twice that night. But they could not talk for their handphone batteries were running low. For that she regretted very much.

Baby (the youngest of the three girls) asked Diyana how was her father buried in Madinah and said that her father probably forgot to take his prescription...She was disturbed...

Visitors still came visiting right up to midnight...

We decided to stay another day so that we can offer our help to the family longer....The first night's tahlil was attended by surprisingly many people. The 100-over roti canai that we ordered were barely enough...

We all redha for Che Loh's demise...he was blessed to be able to be buried in the land where our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his sahabats were laid to rest.

It was the one he left that we were worried. The fact that they were all females added to our worries.

The family was thinking that Cik Ani should move back to Kemaman where many of her siblings and relatives are...

We pray that Che Loh's roh is blessed and placed among His beloveds. Amen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Animals too need love

It always make me sick whenever I come across news of people angrily asking the proper authority 'to once and for all overcome' the problem of their oil palm plantation being damaged by elephants.

The owners of oil palm plantatation in Perlop, Sungai Siput (Utara) Perak for the umpteenth time came out on tv protesting of elephants damaging their trees. They requested PERHILITAN to put to end their problem. Were they implying that PERHILITAN destroys all the elephants just to safeguard their crops?

If that was their intention, it is a sad affair....Allah created man to be the caliph on Earth, to look after Earth's equilibrium, not just after their wallets!

Elephants were there first. They were the intruders - destroying the pristine jungle making way for their plantation. Where could the elephants go searching for food then?

I remember many many years ago, in 1984 if I was not mistaken, I was involved in translocating wild elephants from Jerangau in Terengganu to the National Parks Terengganu side.

For the exercise I had to camp in the forest for a week, braving the blood-thirsty leeches and mosquitoes.

There was this humongous elephant bull that we successfully darted and tranquilized, According to the rangers it was the biggest bull that they had ever confronted. So big and old was the bull that the 'denak' elephants refused to push it in our attempt to get it walking to the trailer. It was a case of a junior respecting a senior, or in animal science terms, pecking order.

Having seen what stress could do to a newly caught elephant (a few elephants died just because of extreme stress a few days before), I prayed to Allah to make it moved voluntarily. My prayers were answered - it gradually moved willingly to the awaiting trailer.

It was transported to a raft in Lake Kenyir. From there it was brought to the National Park. All along the three-hour rafting, I constantly sprinkled it with refreshing lake water fearing that it would be overheated.

The magnificient well-built bull happily walke down the raft onto the land, and believe it or not, it looked back at us and curled up its trunk and trumpeted as if saying thank you to us for saving its life! No words could describe how happy we felt at that moment.

So you see elephants too have feelings. They don't just go on rampage destroying your crops for nothing. They did it for a valid reason - they don't have other alternative. They have to have food to survive.

On the contrary, we human kill other human beings in wars, criminal acts just to have power, take revenge and other life trivia. For food (not to say that we will perish if we don't have them) we kill millions of animals like fish, poultry, cattle, goats, sheep, etc daily. Do the animals concerned act against us? No! They know that they are created to be finally the food of humans!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

welcome back mama tailor bird

The common tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) had come back. This time I could only see the mother making so much fuss about something as it hopped from a flower tree to another a few feet away from the car porch. Sometimes I saw small insects in its beaks. I was sure that mom was feeding its chicks somewhere. I searched high and low for its nest, but failed.

Just I was about to depart for the land office for a meeting with the newly elected Deputy Chief Minister there they were, two tail-featherless chicks jumping out of their nest! They tried their best to escape us, but their flying ability failed them miserably. I finally caught them and put them back into their nest.

The nest was built, of all the places, on a tree in a flowerpot near the entrance to the administrative building. It was expertly concealed between two broad leaves beautifully knitted at the lower end with natural threads forming almost a cone and filled with dry blades of grasses, bird feathers and cobwebs.

I had been searching high and low for such a nest in the laboratory's compound for a long time, almost for six long years, but failed to find any. Suddenly, there they were in between the broad leaves just a few feet away from the door. The mother was frantic as its well-hidden secret was finally uncovered. It continuously called out for its chicks.

I quickly summoned our photographer, Chef Ibrahim to record my finding on film. According to Zullina, she knew about the nest for quite a while. She had witnessed the entire process of nest building, egg laying and hatching. I was so frustrated that she did not inform me about the nest. If not, I would for sure have the entire beautiful process recorded on film.

No matter what, welcome back my dear common tailorbirds!

Up the acacia tree across the hoarding bordering the soon-to-be-demolished pig farm, I saw a pack of dusky leaf monkeys (Presbytis obscura) busy foraging for tender acacia shoots and flowers. As I made my way for a closer look, they one by one jumped onto the hoarding and scampered onto the pig houses. Altogether there were seventeen adults and juveniles and six babies tightly holding on to their mothers' bellies. They were breeding all right, but I was sure that inbreeding was rampant in such a small flock. I wondered how long these monkeys would survive in their seriously diminishing domain.

The imminently looming construction works of the new laboratory would further aggravate the already hopeless situation they were in. Trees that all these whiles were their foraging grounds would soon be felled down to make way for the new laboratory. Their only hope then was the thin forest lining the Juru River, but that too was not a guarantee.

In the grasses of the former cactus corner, a meager five to six White-rumped munias (Lonchura striata) were diligently gathering grass seeds. Gone were the days when we could easily see these munias foraging for seeds by the hundreds. The munia's weight barely bent the slim stems of the overgrown grass.

A metre or two away on the badly rusting and crooked chain-link fence, a lone Brown shrike (Lanius cristatus) gave out a warning shrill and flipped its tail up and down defensively as a pair of Yellow-vented bulbuls flew in its direction. The bulbuls meant no harm to the shrike. They were just flying by the fence, probably looking for breakfast.

On the still-wet brownish earth deposit making up the embankment of the drain, a juvenile, barely one foot in length, monitor lizard stayed still in the freshening morning sun. It was well camouflaged. Its rustic skin blended well with the recently dug silt from the earth drain. The non-stop stream of passing cars, motorcycles, lorries and buses along the busy number 1 federal road did not seem to disturb it in any way. It just stayed there motionless, collecting enough solar energy to increase its body temperature to an optimum level, suitable for its metabolism and other bodily functions. Once in a while it extended its forked tongue out to catch the passing flies and gnats.

Under the shade of the yellow bells, a shy Swinhoe's snipe (Capella magala) flew in and sat still with its long slightly curved beaks almost touching the bare soil. I simply loved to observe the snipe resting. It would just sat there as if it was the only creature around. So peaceful, relax and tranquil. It would only fly away if you moved in too close. But, I wondered why it was alone. Where were its mate and family members? Why was it left alone like that?

Suddenly my eyes were attracted to something brown flying towards the windowpanes. It was that Pied fantail flycatcher (Rhipidura javanica) again. It went straight to the glass and using its fantail as a break, it stopped as its feet touched the glass. It was chasing after a moth. By the look of things, it was successful. The moth was clearly seen dangling from its small beaks.

A Yellow-bellied bulbul (Criniger phaeocephalus) flew away in disgust as it failed in its hunt for the moth. The flycatcher was faster this time.

As I was walking around the old condemned building, I heard something scratching against a metal surface. I went into the former registration room and went straight to the old-but-still-useable incinerator. There was a large monitor lizard in it. It was probably going after the chicken carcasses. The smell of rotting carcasses had probably enticed the lizard from its normal dwelling area in the swamp nearby. I tried to coax it into escaping, but it seemed reluctant. Leaving the lizard to figure its way out of the incinerator, I walked back to my room.

On the way I asked Samy whether he relished lizard meat or not. He said no and so I kept the story of the trapped lizard to myself and hoped that it found its way out soon.

The silence of the morning was broken by the sound of an old lawn mower. It was Azahari mowing the week-old grasses, mostly Imperata cylinderica.

A pair of ingenious Common mynahs (Acridotheres tristis) was following closely at the back of Azahari, combing the freshly mown grasses looking for exposed grasshoppers.

On an old wooden stool beneath a fruiting jackfruit tree, two Greater coucal (Centropus sinensis) were enjoying the half-ripe jackfruit. They did not seem to be a bit disturbed by my presence.

Up the acacia tree a singing Asian koel sat restlessly on a twig as it realized that I was watching its every movement. Satisfied with the birds that I had seen around the laboratory, I made my way back to my room to prepare for the coming laboratory meeting.

Monday, June 2, 2008


She is our eldest and our 'diamond umbrella' (direct translation from Bahasa Intan Payong). From small she always is our darling daughter bringing joy and pride to the family.

Noorul Diyana is her name...the light of religion is its meaning...

Still remember how she smiled at us when she was barely three weeks old. She was on her mother's lap at the time.

Befiting her 'sulung' status she was really an independent child from the very early age.

She ironed her own clothes when she was in Tadika.

She braved it out in our Volvo 244 with me when her brother was hospitalized in HKL for leukemia...still remember the two of us having dinner at 1.00 am in a stall near HKL...

She was also a great survivor, organizer and a leader...

There was this episode that I would never forget...I was in great dilemma, whether to attend a meeting in Sabah or wife was showing signs of asthma...being a new state director, I was too scared to miss the meeting and chose to attend it with the hope that she would be ok...

Reluctantly I got on board the plane to Kota Kinabalu....on reaching KK airport I saw a note telling that my wife was in CCU and I was requested to return to Melaka a.s.a.p. So I took the next plane to KL

I was frantic, to say the least, when I saw many cars parked in front of my house in Melaka...My mother and father together with my in-laws were there in my house...I was later told that it was Diyana who contacted all to come and help her for ahe was all alone in the house....she was only 9 then...

A second incident occurred when we were in Kuantan...she was 12 then...she was in a music camp in Serdang...after the camp the car from Jabatan Belia never came to fetch her...she quietly organized flight home together with her friends...I only knew about it when she called me telling me to fetch her at Kuantan Airports!

In US she made us proud by being the best all-arounder student...she scored straight A's, even in American History! It was a proud moment when she was up the stage receiving the scroll that was signed by Bill Clinton himself..

She has just completed her third year LLB in IIUM and hopes to join Petronas when she graduated in April next year...actually she has been booked bu PETRONAS...she impressed the national oil and gas company during her internship there when she was in the second year...

We hope and pray that she will be an excellent Legal Adviser to PETRONAS and continue be a good daughter....