2010, Tweeted
December 31, 2010

As posted on Twitter.com/asrif.

It's the last day of the year. Guess it's time, for my 2010 Year In Review. :-)

January: Welcomed 2010 with a bang. Yes "Bang!" was the sound of me knocking my head on the wall from toothache. 8 root canal visits ensued.

February: Took @azaliasuhaimi to the lake to propose to her. It's usually quiet there but the loud fishermen couldn't help it. She said yes.

March: UK road trip with the family. Witnessed the amazing sights and scenery of the isles including Scotland, Wales, England, and Pakistan.

April: Turned 27. @azaliasuhaimi amazingly gathered my friends for a surprise. Too happy but didn't drop a tear. Not until later that night.

May: Threw my first ever surprise b'day party. For none other than @azaliasuhaimi. I expect an Oscar nomination for my directing and acting.

June: Bought my first car off my dad. A 2005 Honda City. That's right. A 1.5L mean driving machine that will surely scare your sleeping cat.

July: World Cup South Africa. Spain outclassing Holland, Paul the Octopus, and the sound of the vuvuzela still buzzing in my earBBZZZZZZTTT!

August: Recorded 6 songs with my band Fed Hi for our debut EP. Lost my voice by the fourth track. Final mixing and release by mid-year 2011.

September: My 3rd article in The Star: http://bit.ly/9U4fsW -- Getting the hang of it after getting my writing featured in Classifieds only.

October: Moved from Planning to Branding at work. Still don't know what I'm supposed to do in office other than annoy people with bad jokes.

November: Parents went to Hajj & I was in charge of things. House got robbed, my MacBook stolen, City lost to Wolves. But it's all good. :-)

December: Wedding countdown. Everything's in place apart from my manly mani pedi sesh with the Godbros. http://plixi.com/p/66826804

And that, was my 2010. A beautiful year full of love, learning & trying to be funny on Twitter while failing miserably (more in 2011 sorry).

Here's to an awesome 2011. May it bring us smiles as we learn more about life. I surely look forward to @azaliasuhaimi's smile everyday. :-)

The Journey Within
December 05, 2010

The following article was published in The Star on December 5, 2010.

Caught on camera, the two seconds when I wasn't weeping that morning

The haj changes a pilgrim, as well as the people he leaves at home.

The sun was just peeking as I got out of bed on that cold November morning. A sombre one too, I should say. As it has been the past few days.

I saw my parents taking out their luggage as I peered through the door, half-awake They were already in their ihram, the white garment worn for the haj. A sight that, while foreign to me, got me choked up a little.

It wasn’t too long ago when we were told that they would be performing the haj this year, although I’m sure it had been in their plans for a while. The time was right, I suppose. My father was a year into retirement and my younger sisters, who used to go to my mother for the smallest things, are big enough to do some of those things themselves. Or make mum make me do it for them.

The plan was to drive to the neighbourhood mosque where some of our family members were already waiting to pray Subuh together before bidding my parents farewell. We would then head for the Tabung Haji Complex, their final stop, before boarding the bus that would take them straight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. A straightforward itinerary, had it not been for all the tears I had to hold in.

You see, I haven’t been the most obedient of sons. I had my share of mischief. Suffice to say, I have given them enough headaches to consistently make Panadol the number two item in our grocery list, after random candies my sisters throw into the trolley.

So sending them for the haj, as simple as it seemed, was a daunting task for me. And explaining why is just as challenging.

It’s not that I’ve never been apart from them in the past. There were those two years in boarding school and five in college abroad, compared to the 30 days they would be spending in Mecca and Medina.

But having them away to perform one of the pillars of Islam is an entirely different experience. You can feel the magnitude of the voyage as they join millions of other Muslims, the chosen ones for the year, in the glorious pilgrimage.

The weeks leading to the day of their departure for Jeddah brought me closer to their preparation for the journey and, consequently, closer to them.

As the eldest of their four children I wanted nothing more than a smooth-sailing haj for them. I felt the need to be responsible for ensuring that things are okay at home while they’re away.

All I wanted for them over there was peace of mind... something they were denied during my coming of age years, thanks to my antics. The sleepless nights I caused them; the misadventures I stumbled into as I made my transition from childhood to adulthood.

These were the images that crossed my mind as I was driving them to Tabung Haji that morning. I couldn’t help but reminisce about the times when I could have paid more attention to what they said, made better decisions, and not given in to the immaturity of youth. Only to realise there’s no way of reversing the bad turns I’d taken in the past. And there’s no point regretting.

Alas, those were lessons I probably couldn’t have learned better otherwise. And through it all, they had stood by me. Never short of the love and care they’ve given me since I was a child; which I couldn’t be more grateful for.

At the departure gate, I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer as I hugged them goodbye. The macho, impenetrable man in me was thrown out of the window and boy did I weep. Probably the loudest I’ve cried since Finding Nemo.

It’s been two weeks now since my parents began their journey and things are going well. They have completed the requirements and are currently on their way to Medina. Over here, apart from the fast-food diet I’m feeding my younger siblings for breakfast, lunch and dinner, things are fine.

We’re all eagerly waiting for them to come back. While we have been in contact through phone, there are simply too many stories to be told and anecdotes to be shared. Tales from what seems to be, as we’ve only witnessed in pictures, a breathtaking voyage.

I’ve surely learned a lot while my parents are away. Well, even before that actually. And I look forward to their return. For I plan to be a better son, brother, and soon, husband.

That’s the beauty of the haj, I believe. It doesn’t only change those taking the journey, but also their loved ones at home.

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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