Rays of Splendour


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Wk 12/104

“Oh Allah, provide me with Your love and the love of those whose love will benefit with You. Oh Allah, whatever you provided to me of the things I love, make them a source of strength for me in pursuing what You love. Oh Allah, and whatever you kept away from me of the things that I crave, make their absence free up time that I can devote to whatever You love.”
Sunan at-Tirmidhi, #3413

Unlike the previous Seoul Weekly Highlights, Week 12’s will be slightly different. Though I found myself engaged in several activities that formed the highlights of my week, I won’t be blogging about that. This is because I feel that they’re all connected to the dua above and this seems to have overwhelmed all the small little activities I’ve been occupying myself with during the week.

Upon retrospection, it seemed like I started and ended Week 12 with that dua. It was during one of those mornings spent on the prayer mat that I found myself thinking to God and asking Him why He created the love in the first place if it makes the heart feel such void when the people you love are absent from your life.

As I thought and ruminated over that, my mind got reminded of this prayer I read at one point in my life. While the context where this prayer is now made is different than previously, the core of the issue remains the same: What are the role of people in our lives if they are going to be absent after leaving an impact in it?

Armed with this prayer, I found Week 12 unfolding in a different manner from previous weeks. It is a week that saw me engaging in lots of activities that seemed to fill a portion of the void left by the absence of people who mean a lot to me.

By the end of the week, I do still feel the void. However, I also found myself at a point where I’m reaching a level of acceptance about that. This is because through the time I spent engaging with the world outside me, I am somehow led to some conclusions about why God places and removes people from your life, whether temporarily or permanently.

In its essence, people are never meant to stay in your life. At any point in our lives, people would leave either through their own volition or involuntarily like in the instance of death. For every moment when a person ceased to be part of your life, the contrasting message – that God remains – seems to be conveyed loud and clear and I feel that this is part of the mercy of Allah. Through their absence, it gives a person ample opportunities to realize and turn to the One whom by His will, existence came into being. It is also in that moment that a person realizes that the one hand he should hold firmly at all times is God’s.

I read in a hadith once that Allah divides His mercy into 100 parts. Out of this 100, He has kept 99 parts to Himself and sent down one part of the mercy to Earth. It is because of this 1/100 part that He has sent to all the creations on earth that mercy and other feelings associated to it like love, compassion, generosity, kindness and many more exists between us.

So that love we have for our parents, grandparents, siblings and friends; the love between a mother and her child, or the one between a husband and his wife; even the love one has for His other creations like towards the animals or plants. All these are manifestations of that part of the mercy which He has blessed us with.

With that in mind, I figured that perhaps at the end of the day, the point is not to question why we felt the love in the first place but rather, to embrace that feeling as one which insyaAllah, comes from Him. Afterall at its core, that feeling is one borne out of the mercy of Allah.

So on that note, will end this entry here. At the end of the day and despite the theme of this entry, I’m allright. I’m still looking at things positively for I believe, all affairs of a believer are good. ๐Ÿ™‚


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18 days to Ramadan, and 30 more days to Home!

I woke up to today with two thoughts: 18 more days to Ramadan. 30 more days (1 month!) to Singapore.

These are the two things I currently look forward to very, very, very much and I pray so much that Allah allows me to experience them.

Ramadan is a month whose impending approach I wait with bated breath every year. It’s one of my most favourite months of the year for the increased blessings that Allah showers His creations and the ease (insyaAllah) in gaining closeness to Him during that time. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but whenever Ramadan comes, the days always feel different from other months. I’m unable to pinpoint the exact aspects about this month that causes it to have a different feel than others but yeah, I always noted that somehow the whole atmosphere during that one month is just different from other months.

As for looking forward to being able to fly back to Singapore… That’s something new for me. I’ve never been in a position where I’ve been so excited at the prospect of going home. Been excited, yes, but not at this level!

I’ve been talking to some of my classmates and we’ve been sharing with each other our plans for the summer vacation. I’ve one classmate who will be flying to both Philippines and Iran as those places are where his parents came from. I’ve another who said she will be going back home to Uzbekistan. Then there’s yet another who told me she will be going back to Malaysia to be with her family.

In all of these conversations, one thing stood out to me: Every single one of them talked about going back home to someone.

I found myself being able to relate very much to their sharing. It seems to me that despite the laughter, smiles and excitement that all of us bring to class and at embracing the experiences that living in South Korea offers us, our hearts seem to firmly belong somewhere else. Well, at least that is how things are for me.

These past three months that I’m here, I realized that I left a very big part of my heart over there. On the one hand, I am truly grateful for the opportunities to grow, learn and see new aspects of the world while I’m here and admittedly, there have been many days where I woke up giving my thanks to Allah for placing me at a point in life where I’m contented with, alhamdulillah. Yet, I’m also very much aware that despite being contented, my heart isn’t entirely whole either.

This is because all the people whom this heart beats for, and the ones that it has never ceased longing for since Day 1 that its owner arrived in Korea, are all there in Singapore.

So this journey back home – unlike the ones I made when I return from a holiday abroad – is one where I find myself not merely closing the geographical distance between Singapore and I. It’s also one where, insyaAllah, I would find myself making the journey to connect back to the portions of my heart which I’ve left in Singapore.

Until then, I pray so much that Allah allows me to go back home safely. Yes, that paranoid part of myself do sometimes ask myself this: What if I am able to go back home but then it’s only the lifeless body that reaches Singapore?

Many things happen in life. In this past one week, I knew of two deaths that occurred which reminded me of how fragile life could be and how our ultimate home, as well as where all the pieces of our heart should rightfully belong to, is with Him.


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Wk 11/104

1) Hanging out at a Korean friend’s house

One of the Koreans I made friends with invited me to her house at Sillim-dong this week. It’s amazing how despite lacking proficiency in English, she is still able to communicate very well with me. On my part, I’m able to connect with her and talk about a lot of things in life.

This makes me realize that when two people are able to click, then that affinity can sometimes be able to surmount the barriers posed by language. On the flipside, two individuals might not even be able to overcome the obstacles posed despite being proficient in a shared language if both lacked that connection in the first place.

In a class I once attended, the ustaz said that God makes for every soul several other souls that they can connect with. For those that they have an affinity with, one of the reasons is because they’ve known and connected with each other before they were born into this world. When the souls entered this world and they happened to encounter another soul whom they have known, liked and connected with in the previous realm, then the two souls instantly recognize each other even though our physical and mental self do not. According to him, this is one of the reasons to explain for instances when we encounter a person and feel as if we’ve known him before, or why we feel so comfortable communicating on a deeper level with someone whom we’ve just met as opposed to others whom we’ve known for a longer time. I say… This certainly puts a new twist to the phrase “It’s like I’ve known you for a lifetime“!

Anyway, back to the friend who invited me to her house. She will be leaving to follow her husband when the latter goes to Australia to further his studies. This means that when I come back to Seoul in August for the fall semester, she would’ve gone to Australia. So truly, it is very nice of her to invite me to her place before we part ways as according to her “I would really like to show you how the Koreans live“.

Some photos from the time we spent together on that day:

20160513_145527_hdr.jpgSaw a Juicy outlet en-route to her house so we went to get a cup of juice for ourselves.

20160513_151038_HDRLike a lot of the houses in Seoul which are located along a steep slope, hers is no exception. It looks steeper in real life. This photo doesn’t do justice to the degree of its steepness!

20160513_151509_HDRHer living room decorated with portraits that she drew herself. My friend is a designer so it’s no surprise that she chose to decorate her house with her artwork!

20160513_151503_HDRThe dining area. Again, it’s decorated by more pieces of her artwork.

20160513_172920_HDRShe made this poster when she got married. Roughly translated, it means “I (in terms of life) did very wellย  when I was alone but when both of us are together, things are even more excellent.”

20160513_173022_HDRCool poster that shows the wifi access details for guests to her house!

We’re planning to go to a museum some time in June, insyaAllah. Looking forward to that!

2) New places found

I felt the need to take a break from studies this week and resolved to explore a part of Seoul which I hadn’t done before. The initial idea was to head to a nature park but since I’ll be alone, I really did not feel like doing that.

In the end, I decided to head to the eMart at Guro Digital Complex. One of the reasons I went there was to look for some Gudetama merchandise that Del had asked for her birthday. However I couldn’t find them there and was told by the sales representative to head to the eMart at Yeongdeungpo which is bigger and might carry the Gudetama merchandise. On a whim, I decided to head there.

The eMart branch at Yeongdeungpo is located inside the Times Square Shopping Mall. To my surprise, I found myself being in a pretty cool part of Seoul! The mall is huge and has many wings. They had one wing dedicated to luxury items (not my focus here) and another for those looking for items priced between the low and middle range.

The mall has lotsa cool cafes as well like the following which attracted me. I didn’t buy anything from it though as I just had some fruit juice before that.

20160514_190629_HDRThey call it “fish croissant”

20160514_175216_HDRThe fruit juice I had. I kinda like Cafe Pascucci. It sells only products related to fruits and desserts. No meat!

2016-05-14-22-57-47.jpgMy buys at the mall.

I was pretty surprised to discover that Yeongdeungpo is a pretty vibrant shopping area for the locals. I stumbled upon its underground shopping centre which is filled with tons of shops selling clothes at reasonable prices, a stretch of street where there is a night market and countless other shops!

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I have a feeling that I’ll be headed there again soon!

3) Feels like Christmas

I had three packages delivered to my apartment this week. The thrill I felt at opening the door and signing for the packages is such an out-of-this-world feeling that I question the state of my psychological health! I mean, is it allright to feel this pleased at receiving your online purchases? Do I need to seek professional help for this?

That said, one of the packages delivered that made me so happy was this:

Yep, my first purchase from Fashion Valet after a long while! I had stopped buying from the website earlier this year as I was busy preparing to fly to Seoul and then when I had eventually settled down here and ready to buy again, I was told by the people from FV that they do not deliver to Seoul.

However, dUckscarves recently released the Mother’s Day edition (which is just soooooo cute) of its scarves. That tempted me tremendously and ended the shopping hiatus from FV.ย  I really have to thank my friend for making it a possibility that I received this package.

I always never express it enough to him but I’m truly thankful to him for going the extra mile to help me with all these things and more. For instances like these where he helped to receive my package, checked to ensure its contents were correct and then went out to courier it to Seoul. Or during instances when he listened to me when I’m feeling a bit down from being away from home and offered me advice or just the comfort of a listening ear. Or just contacting me from time to time to ask me what I’m up to which made the days of being away from Singapore be more manageable. I always feel that all these are such a huge inconvenience to him especially since truly, my existence in his life doesn’t add value to it in any way but he still went ahead to do it. So yes, I’m moved by the kindness and feel deeply grateful to God for filling my life with awesome people like him.

Allright, so those are the highlights of my week!

It’s gonna be a short school day next week since one of my professors will be away on a business trip. Regardless, I still have quite a number of assignments and presentations to work on. I’m looking forward to the day I clear all these deadlines.

Ramadan is coming too. That’s yet another thing I pray Allah allows me to experience yet again. Amin.


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When did they start to age?

“My Lord, have mercy on them as they brought me up when I was small.”
Al-Quran, Surah Al-Isra, 17:24

Two days ago, dad sent me a photo of him at the hospital. He was dressed in hospital garment and waiting for his turn to be examined. Upon having a closer look at the photo, a thought ran through my mind: Since when did dad start to get old?

In between the time when I was a little girl and saw my dad as a huge and strong figure until now, age seemed to have rapidly caught up with him. It’s not just dad which is showing the signs of aging but my mom as well.

My parents have always been filled with such vitality and energy towards Life so I have never seen them to be anything but young. However, there have been signs in the past few years that have hinted to me that my parents are not the young people I’ve always perceived them to be.

One of those signs was when my mom collapsed twice on separate occasions right before my eyes about two to three years back. Only God knows just how lost I felt when I saw her on the floor in front of me and I did not know how to call her back to consciousness. I am still traumatised by that experience and would instantly panic whenever I’m out with my mom and she suddenly stops in mid-path and yet it was that same encounter which gave me a big wake up call that my parents are not young anymore.

It was since then that I began to see my parents with new eyes. It’s in the way that they tire more easily than usual, in the existence of the little lines I observed etched on their faces, in the greying of their hair, how they sought our opinions in matters, in their talks and the plans they made for a time when they reached retirement age, in the way they talked about death and related it back to themselves whenever someone in their family or social circle passes on, and also in the way they expressed their hopes for all of us to find our respective life partners and for them to be part of the growing up years of their grandchildren before they are gone.

Time really isn’t on our side isn’t it?

It is this awareness that makes me realize the brevity of the human existence and to appreciate the little blessings that He has given us. Sometimes, we are always on the look out for things we consider to be ‘huge blessings’ like a job, a promotion, owning a big house, having a spouse, a child and many more. However I believe that God has filled every single day of our lives with blessings. It is just that most times, we are blind and unable to witness them.

For now, one of the blessings that I consider I have is that my parents are still around and that alhamdulillah, they are healthy and in a state of iman.

One day, there might be a time when I wake up to the realization that I would not be receiving texts or calls from them asking me how I am; or with the knowledge that by default, I will no longer have two people in this world who will be the most interested and concerned about me, love me unconditionally and have my back no matter what. Because there is that possibility, I pray so much right now that God will allow me to serve and love my parents the way He had decreed them to be during this little time we have left.


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Wks 8 – 10/104

For the past three weeks, I’ve been telling myself to blog an entry as part of the Seoul Weekly Highlights but I never got around to it. A huge part of the reason for the lack of updates was because I had been feeling largely uninspired to pen down anything. Even my Instagram account has similarly been suffering the same fate – no updates for the past three weeks cos its user is uninspired!

Nevertheless, I still strongly believe in the virtue of journalling the unfolding moments in our lives. So, here’s my attempt to fight off the inertia from the lack of inspiration in order to squeeze out an update of the time in Seoul. Hopefully one day when I’m older and read back all those entries I wrote during my time here, it’d bring back fond memories.

1) Still missing my dad

I still miss my dad very, very, very much. He is the person at the top of the list that I truly miss and look forward to seeing again when I’m back in Singapore this June, insyaAllah. While I sometimes talk about the food, places or activities that I miss during my time away from Singapore, the truth is that all these things does not even come close to the level that I miss some of the people back home… And my dad ranks right up there at the top of the list of people I truly and deeply miss.

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When I think of him, my heart constricts. Lately, I found myself getting flashbacks of times when I sat beside him in the car as he drove me to places. Just the two of us. Perhaps I’m missing him too much and hence why I’m getting flashbacks like the aforementioned from time to time.

2) Bank account and foreigner ID

Finally, I now have a bank account and a foreigner ID! Frankly, I’m more joyful and relieved over the fact that I now have a Korean bank account. Since receiving my debit card and internet banking account, I have been using it to pay for most of my purchases.

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One of my Korean friends was surprised that I went with Nonghyup when opening a bank account. According to her, not many people used this bank these days and the ones that do are the old people and farmers. Now… Of course I did not know that when I chose to go with this bank!

In fact, the only reason why I eventually chose to open an account with this bank was because there is a Nonghyup Bank right on campus which is barely three minutes walk away from my faculty. There is even a Nonghyup Bank ATM inside the building of my faculty.

Anyway, one good thing out of opening an account with Nonghyup is that they have an English version of the internet banking app. I did not even know they had banking services in English when I first signed on with them and had initially mentally-readied myself to painfully Google Translate everything should I need to use its internet banking service. Thank God I don’t have to do that! Its English Language banking services have been a tremendous advantage for me and helped me a lot when it came to transferring funds to pay for my monthly rent and utility bills.

3) Semi-vegetarian for now

It’s been almost three weeks since I last had any meat intake. One of the reasons for this was because I do not feel like travelling all the way to Itaewon just to purchase some halal chicken or beef/mutton. Since I do not want to get myself any halal meat, the alternative would be that I have to go without it.

I never knew I could ever survive a day without meat but hey three weeks on, I have done just that!

The paranoid and imaginative part of my brain wondered whether there would be side-effects if I were to consume meat again once I get back to Singapore. I don’t know why but I had imagined scenes of myself having a physical reaction that caused my body to convulse and chicken feathers to pop up on my skin the moment I placed like 2.5cm of chicken rendang into my mouth….

Okay, that’s all for now.

Hoping to update again soon!