17 October 2008 – Friday
1. At random, before my subuh prayers, opened the Quran to Surah X: 23-26 pondering on “to Us you shall return”, in deep meditative mood.
2. Made the three rounds, until the sun peeped over the crests, hitting at the wall of the factory which turned to burning yellow. In other mornings, that building would recede often lost in the mist.
3. I knew I would have a heavy day today. I had checked on my schedule last night, and again, after breakfast this morning. I also knew there was one meeting that I jotted down on my whiteboard in the sarang but not in my diary. In the shower at 8.30, I got a call, the clerk asking me to get my ass over. The meeting was at 8. 30.
4. I wrote and submitted a memo to the dean listing the names of the 6 students caught copying.
5. No lecture given except picking at students to ask me questions.
6. 3 students, Tan, Rahman, Rahim helped me to sort out 4 years of the NYRB, to be bounded later. I belanja them lunch at the faculty canteen.
7. After the Friday prayers, I got stuck in the mosque because of the heavy rain. I got to talking to the atuk next to me whom I liked due to his Negri turns of tongue. He said he was born in Batang Kali, went to Minangkabau to study religion, which was interrupted by the war. Could not get the volumes of fiqih books because of poverty. He returned home after the war, belonging to the Kaum Muda, whose attitude he still holds, such as refusing to amin the doa of the imam, whose Arabic he did not understand. What if the imam said you fools be damned. Would I amin that? I recite my own doa in Malay. God understands Malay. God understands any language man speaks. You can eat pork if pork would save your life, he insisted. He is now 84; he married a second wife when he was 60; she 20. He eats little, for lunch. In the morning, one biscuit, one cup of sugared coffee. Whenever he stressed on a point, he kept wanting to quote the Quran or the hadith but failed. He said he had no interest in trying to influence people on his beliefs. I beckoned Akmal, my student, to listen as well. Later, Akmal and I walked back to my sarang in the rain, umbrella-ed by a plactic picked up at Abuya.
8. One batch gathered in the sarang for yet another session of Q&A, photos.
18 October 2008 – Saturday
1. Stepped out of the house at 6.40 am. Determined to make five rounds, which I did. Patrick and Yuni joined me at round two. Then have a breakfast of oats, mixed with liberal servings of raisins, powdered milk, and one teaspoon of honey. Realized that the raisins are really sweet; so cut down on the honey, which I added this time, measured. Just pouring it down would be simply too much.
2. In my Terrano, the four of us headed for Shah Alam to attend the wedding of Aziz’s daughter. With the help of Firos on the phone we found our way. Filled the NGV at Rawang – bad gas, low pressure, barely 25 km to a bar, when it should have been 40 to a bar.
3. Then to RA Fine Arts, the grand open house. As always, Engku’s party is lavish, truly royal. With the roasted goat, plus the usual Malay varieties, everybody feasted. We met Wira who was leaving when we arrived. Cunning: she did not want to have to meet people who resented her, and there are hordes. I presented Rozaimah with the portrait of her and her first husband. All the girls were eager to see, wooing, ‘how handsome’. Patrick presented Raja Ahmad with a fairly large oblong painting of his latest waterfall series. He made sure the Berita Harian reporters were there to snap the occasion.
4. I knew I must control: so after one plate of the delicious tender roasted goat, a plate of rojak, and a bowl of nasi himpit, I waved at the water for a bottle of water. I diluted the cholesterol with glasses and glasses of mineral water. At my table, Isle the printmaker, her husband, SAJ, Pakarudin, Fatimah, Sharifah Fatimah, later Dzulhaimy joined us, so did Long Thaih Sheik. We left at 5, refilling at Rawang, in the heavy rains.
19 October 2008 – Sunday
1. Made the five rounds.
2. Jojoi ill, arrived last night. His doctor said, possible dengue, which alarmed us.
3. Patrick went to the market early to get some Janahak fish heads, cooked them at DC, curry.
4. It was a delicious meal, prompting me to nickname him Patrick the Curry-man. Jojoi, poor boy, could not eat. Nor happened to drop by, and the whole thing became a family gathering.
5. We were there till about 10.30, lazing around. I managed to string together 3 essays for Prof. MHS, who has been bugging me for the last 12 months.