Rays of Splendour


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Of parents’ birthdays and other random updates

Lying in bed in the dark while blogging on the WordPress app. This is the first time that I’m using the app!

Figured I’d just quickly jot down some moments that occurred in the past few days for the record.

Celebrated the parents’ birthdays

The parents’ birthdays are only 4 days apart from each other. As they gained an extra year in their ages, I’m reminded that my time with them could be getting shorter.

Unlike during times when I was much younger, these days I began to comprehend more the sacrifices and love they have for me. I saw how the parents are very giving towards my siblings and I, how they are always our biggest supporters in whatever that we do and how they never fail to continuously make duas for us to be granted with nothing but the best.

They have such unconditional love for us. I feel it in not just the way they always go the extra mile for us but also in the way that I never felt as though my presence was not wanted.

Everytime I’m with the parents, I felt it in me that our presence are such a blessing to their lives.

For all the goodness they’ve shown my siblings and I, I pray that Allah grants them abundance both in this world and the Hereafter. I pray too that Allah forgives any of their sins and places them in Paradise, amin.

Korean language class

This week, I received news that I am being offered a place to learn Korean at the language institute on campus. Alhamdulillah!

It’s a ten weeks programme. Currently, I’m supposed to start attending lessons this March daily from Mondays to Fridays from 6.30pm to about 9.10pm. I also have the option to change the lesson start time to summer which is in June and attend the morning 9am lesson instead.

So now, I’m in a dilemma whether to postpone the start times or not. If I were to continue with the March start time, it means that I will be going back home from school late everyday. Plus, I will be juggling that with the other courses in the day.

If I were to start in June, it would mean that I would not be going back home to Singapore for the summer vacation. That means: After flying to Seoul next week, I’ll only be back in Singapore in December. I’ll literally be gone for the next 10 months!

Not too sure what I’ll do. Regardless, praying for Allah to help guide me to the suitable choice.

Heartache

That’s “ache” in a literal sense.

Not too sure why but the heart has been feeling a tad bit odd these past few weeks. Even as I’m blogging this, I felt a slight tug at some vein near the heart area just mere moments ago.

Also, I do not know whether there is a co-relation but past few weeks too, there have been some moments when my world just seemed to momentarily spin. It will spin for a few seconds. The feeling’s as though I’m losing my balance. Like I will fall on the ground. It’ll last only a few seconds though.

Hmmm. Hoping it’s nothing and just my imagination!

I’ll be living alone in Seoul yet again. Gonna be doing everything alone and it’s gonna be back to times where I have to rely on only myself to survive the days. So yep, praying that my body continues being healthy insyaAllah.

Just a few days ago I was feeling worried when I read news of someone who passed away suddenly. That compelled me to send a panicked WhatsApp text to both my bffs to tell them to start wondering if they don’t hear any replies from me for more than 3 days. Though seriously, who they have to contact to check if I’m allright is beyond me. I really do not have anyone in Seoul whom the people in Singapore can contact to check on me.

Okay. Hand’s getting cramped from typing this blog entry on my mobile phone. Gonna stop now. It’s pretty convenient to be using this WordPress app though!


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The family finally left; and thus begins life in Seoul (again)

Last Saturday when I flew to Seoul, I found it to be an enjoyable experience for me. This is because I came here accompanied by people so dear to me – the parents and the youngest brother. Having them around in the past few days, I had sort of forgotten the fact that they would be headed back to Singapore again before the week is up.

So today was the day when I bade them farewell. They had a morning flight to catch and was out of the hotel by 5.30am.

When I finally got back to the hotel room after seeing them off, I couldn’t help noticing the glaring silence that greeted me. The absence of their warm presence was so acutely felt. It’s amazing how these three people out of the billions of human beings out there could create such a brilliant sunshine in my life.

I did not want to dwell on the fact that I’m now living alone in Seoul because I’m fully aware how that will just steadily lead me down the path of sadness. So I went about filling the rest of my day with packing my belongings into my luggage bag, checking out and then into the hotel again, went to Itaewon for an interview, bought a takeaway from one of the halal shops there, went to the bank to pay my school fees (but I realized that the deadline for payment is now over so I’m unable to pay!), went back to the hotel room to hurriedly drop an email to the school to ask how else I could make my payment for tuition fees, finally ate my takeaway, squeezed in a 30 minutes nap, prayers, and then started re-packing my luggage so that I could squeeze in all my stuff.

I’m finally settled, waiting for bedtime (I’m very wide awake though so I wonder what time I will eventually be sleepy enough to sleep!) and blogging.

Presently, I’m trying to blog more often due to a request from someone so that he knows how I’ve been. I don’t usually blog so often but this time, I’m more than happy (I derive such joy to be able to do things for him and I don’t know whyyyy!) to accede to the request and am going to try.

Before I end, just one anecdote to share which I found pretty interesting. So I mentioned earlier that I had gone to the bank to settle my tuition fees right? My bank (Nonghyup Bank) has its roots with the farmers in the country. As I made my way to one of the branches just now, I saw a small pop up stall selling fishes and other agricultural products being set up outside the bank.

I did not give it a second thought when I saw that. I mean, stalls outside a bank which has an affiliation with the farmers being set up along the streets? I think to a certain extent, I was not surprised to see that.

However imagine my surprise at seeing people packing fresh fish into plastic bags as soon as I entered the bank! You have the bank tellers processing customers’ banking requests at the counters on one side of the room and just 5 steps away in the same space, people were happily packing fresh fish and putting ice cubes into those styrofoam boxes.

Times like this, I need to let my inner Malay (oh, not inner. I am a Malay!) come out in response to that scene. So here goes: Eh, sila ehhhhhhh!


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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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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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Missing daddy

Last week for some reason, I thought about my dad and how much I’m missing him. Then while on the way back, I saw someone that resembled him. My heart did a jolt even though I knew it was not him. Yet, that incident which lasted only mere seconds made me miss him even more.

Then today, I came across an article about the heartwarming illustrations that portray the love between dads and their daughters. I found myself being able to relate so much to some of the photos like the following:

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I can remember many instances during my growing up years when my dad did all of the above with me. Even now when I’m all grown up and in my thirties, I can still relate to the scene whereby my dad moved himself right at the edge of the bed in order to give me space during those moments when I lay myself in between my parents to take a short nap.

Today as well, my dad was the most concerned over ensuring I was available to receive a parcel he sent from Singapore. For the past two days, he has been tracking the shipment of the parcel he sent and texted me updates about the current status of the shipment. The parcel eventually arrived and when I opened it, I was so touched to see a few packets of blueberry and strawberry biscuits – the ones that I love munching on so much – among the contents inside. Apparently, my dad had gone to especially buy them while on the way to work as soon as he received my random texts asking whether he could get them for me should he see it.

Thinking back, I realized that my dad does a lot of things for me and indulges me a lot. Sometimes during those moments when I witnessed how sincerely he goes about offering me his support and showing me his love, the thought that I hope my future husband makes a great dad to our child just as my dad has been to me, fleeted through my mind.

So I’m missing my dad a lot but I pray that each time I thought of how much I miss him, God will grant him goodness.

This is something else I realized these past few weeks of being here. When you’re miles away from your loved ones, the doa becomes a powerful tool with which you reach out to the person given the distance. What’s extraordinary here is that through the doa, you are essentially reaching out to them spiritually as opposed to the conventional form of connecting to the person face-to-face. Because of that, and because the prayers are offered when the person isn’t aware you have made a supplication for them, sincerity emerges.

That’s when magic happens; when your prayers are done and offered with utmost sincerity.


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It’s 7 March… and I’m another year older!

It’s my first ever birthday overseas.

During each of the previous birthdays before this, I’ve never been one who expects to celebrate it nor do I expect to receive gifts for it. To me, it is enough to have my family and close ones by my side. I believe that their presence in my life forms one of the biggest blessings I am ever granted and to know that they’re there with me is enough. That on its own is already a huge, huge, huge gift for me.

So to wake up for fajr to silence and no glimpse of the dad peeking his head into my room to wish me a happy birthday, or the mom singing me her rendition of the song in her off-key tone, or the brother going “Kak, it’s your birthday today?? I didn’t know sehhhhhh!“, or the two bffs attempting to pull off some birthday surprise to humorous results… Well I must say, all these have opened my eyes to how Allah has been so generous all these while in placing those people in my life.

That aside, those people never cease to make their presence known in my life.

In the past few hours, I’ve received birthday greetings from them through WhatsApp (seriously, the wonders of technology!).

I’ve also received a video which I could see required a lot of communication and logistical planning between the people involved. The video sparked off a variety of reaction within me: I was moved and appreciative of the effort that goes into it (they said it took two months to prepare! *salute the effort*); I was also tickled immensely by it and couldn’t help laughing out loud by myself as I watched it; it made me happy to see my friends coming together and enjoying themselves as they shot it; and I was just… grateful in general.

Lastly, I also received gifts from them! 🙂

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You know how sometimes you just share things with your friends? You thought it was just one of those usual conversations you have with them. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package from Sut, Kin and Fad and found a Pandora box inside. See, I have been raving to them about the sudden inspiration I had to add a pendant charm to my Pandora bracelet and even spent time with Sut to look through its website at possible ones to get. To open the package and be greeted with that… Well, that made me go “Wow! But weren’t we just talking and raving about it together like we normally would when it comes to our other buys?“. I had initially planned to buy it for myself as a gift for completing the semester many months from now (insyaAllah) but now that I received one as a gift, that made it even more special. I’ll definitely be admiring this charm as it hangs from my wrist whenever I put on my Pandora bracelet.

And that basket of flowers over there? Never ever in a million years do I expect to receive it from this friend. So to open the door to my apartment and be presented with the delivery, then to read the card and found out who sent them, and thereafter noted that they contain pink roses and carnations… I couldn’t help think “But wasn’t I just texting random updates about what I saw during my first day of school when I was raving to him about pink roses and carnations? He’s sending me some??“. Yet, I love the flowers a lot and shall appreciate its beauty while it’s still alive.

Amazing how these people can be hundreds of miles away from me and yet I can feel their presence as strong as ever.

So, I’m an extra year older in my thirties (and ever closer to meeting the Lord). I pray that He continues keeping my heart turned to Him in faith and grants me an increase in it, that I am never heedless of His blessings, that I am in constant remembrance of Him, that I never neglect His rights upon me and that I always have the love of Him and the Prophet pbuh in my heart.

I pray too that He grants my family and the people close to me His constant love, care and protection always; and that He grants them all that is good in this life and the Hereafter.


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Doing it for mom

Our moms are one of the greatest blessings in life that God has granted us. They’re the first person who loves us even before we are born and once we are in this world, they are the first one to love us unconditionally. You might have done things to disappoint or anger her along the way, or even not spend enough time with her but that motherly love still remains steadfast in her heart.

Truly, out of all the experiences of love we can ever encounter during our lifespan, the love from our moms forms one of the most sincerest of them all.

And today, that same love moved me greatly.

My heart can’t help but go all soft inside as I recalled how she went about trying to help me settle some administrative matters related to my studies just now. Despite being all exhausted from the lack of sleep after getting back late from our weekend getaway and then having had a busy morning, she still found it in her to go the extra mile to help me. Then later in the night when I came to look for her to get her opinion on a good seat to choose for an upcoming flight, she got up from the place she was initially lying down and gave me her 100%.

She always, always, always gives my siblings and I her full undivided attention no matter her physical or emotional state.

Regardless of how strange or crazy our pursuits may be, she would also be there to give her full support to our endeavors if she is convinced that it will bring goodness for us. Then if our intended pursuits seem otherwise, she works hard to talk it out with us and get us to consider alternative options. Yet if we are still adamant to go ahead with our choices, she would still be there to give her blessings.

Importantly, she never, never, never fails to keep us in her prayers and praying for the best for all of us.

As I reflected on all these, I realized that I’ve also reached that point whereby I’m embarking on my studies for her. After all that she has done, I’ve come to a stage where I pray that Allah allows me to complete this whole two years for my mom, she continues to be there to witness it all, and may this pursuit be a conduit for me to achieve His pleasure, insyaAllah.

I’ve always believed that everything we have in our life is not ours. That job you have. The salary you are earning from it. The promotion or position you attained in your job. That educational qualification you own.  Your property. Your wealth. Your family. Your children. Your beauty. Your talent and skills. Your health and even time. Everything is His and the only reason why that particular blessing is in our life at that exact moment is because He is giving us an opportunity to use it in His path.

And from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely pray that I always remember never to take for granted any blessings that He has given me and to always use it for goodness and a means to serve Him, insyaAllah. They’re never mine. They’re His.