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Of idols and Abah

May 24, 2011

We all have idols we look up to. Well most of us do. So far I see many people idolise our beloved Tun Dr. Mahathir. Not a bad choice considering he was the one who mostly carried Malaysia to where it is now. He is a true statesman. And staying as sharp as ever at 86 years old is certainly no easy feat. I would definitely be a drooling and rambling old man at 86 (if I do reach 86 that is). Recently he was admitted to IJN for a chest infection. I heard he is doing good and is responding to treatment well. That’s good to know. I spent my formative years knowing just him as our Prime Minister. When he came into office in 1981, I was in Standard 1. He stayed in power for 22 years if I’m not mistaken. Of course there’s been mistakes, but the good deeds vastly overwhelm the mistakes committed.

Anyway, now back to my own idol. I have 2. The first is my Abah, Allahyarham Haji Mustafa Albakri Mohd Amin about whom I’m going to write about today. To say that our relationship was bad was an understatement. Earlier on, we were at loggerheads. Abah once said we have the same character. No wonder we couldn’t get along. He was always the rather quiet and understated type. Doesn’t really speak his mind but I know he always had our interests at heart. Way back when I was in Standard 5, we had this Government examination called Penilaian Darjah 5. We were staying in Kajang then. Midway through the year, Abah was transferred to Gombak. He had to commute daily from Kajang to Gombak which was quite a distance. We didn’t move to Gombak as it was my exam year.

I remember him telling me, “Kalau kau tak dapat 5A (which was the best score in Penilaian), nanti Abah pukul kau macam mana penat Abah berulang dari Kajang ke Gombak hari-hari”.  If that doesn’t get you studying, I just don’t know what will. So I busted my backside studying. Just after I finished my exams, we moved to Gombak. When the Penilaian results were announced, suffice to say I didn’t get the beating promised earlier. Probably in his own way, Abah was trying to motivate me to study. And man did he succeed. I don’t think that method is applicable anymore nowadays. Now we promise our children all sorts of rewards should he/she succeed in examinations and other tests. I do too. Wouldn’t know if Abah’s method would work in today’s environment, but just see how we turned out to be, right?

I’ve always seen myself as the naughty son. Hanging out with friends, always coming back in the early hours. I know I caused my parents a lot of worry those days (who says I don’t cause Mak to worry about me even nowadays?). Even when I was 18 years old, Abah once waited for me to come home, belt in hand. I was bloody lucky I didn’t get beaten up that day. The thing we had in common was we both went to Victoria Institution. Abah was from batch 1958, I was from batch 1993. I know he’s always been proud to have a son in his Alma Mater.

I still remember vividly during the Centenary Tattoo back in 1993. I was the school band Drum Major then.  Coincidentally I was also the School Captain (at some schools they call it the Head Prefect). I remember during the tattoo I insisted that Abah sit with the VIPs who came to watch the tattoo. He would have none of it and sat with the other students. The other thing is in VI the names of all of the School Captains are engraved on a board at the school hall. Most if not all the captains before me had their names engraved in a line on the said board. I could’ve chosen to just have “Shahrin Albakri” engraved to keep with the others. Instead, I insisted that they engraved my full name on the board, even if it would occupy two lines. They obliged.

So that night after the tattoo was over, I brought Abah to the school hall and showed him the board. I remember telling him, “Look, that’s you and me on the board”. It read, “1993 – Shahrin Albakri Mustafa Albakri”. I could see tears welling in Abah’s eyes. He knew what it meant, being an ex-Victorian himself. Let me tell you that’s my single proudest moment in my life. Thinking of it really chokes me up every time.

Eventually, he mellowed. We began to understand each other better. After I got married in 1999, I stayed in his home. Abah renovated the house so we had a place to stay. I remember him telling me, “Duduklah sini, mana tau kalau-kalau Abah sakit ke apa nanti, bolehlah kau tengok-tengokkan”. And just two years later, on 14 June 2001, Abah was gone. We were all there. I didn’t cry by his bedside in IJN. I remember all of us thinking of going back home to get the house ready, which we did.

What I do remember was crying my eyes out in the car on the way back home. I remember saying to Murni, “Saya dah takde Abah lagi”, tears streaming down my face, crying like a child. It was early in my life then. I didn’t have then what I have now. I remember on more than one occasion telling my siblings, if only Abah could see what we’ve become now, he would be so happy and filled with joy.

Abah, I have three beautiful children now. I just bought a house near your house where Mak currently stays with Ajan and Shafiq. It’s a good house, a big one. I work in Johor at this moment. I’m sure it wouldn’t have occurred to you that I’ll be out of KL someday. I have a superbike now, been having one for the past 5 years. I don’t think that fact would’ve occurred to you either. Long story short, I think I’m doing quite well now. Everything thanks to what you and Mak taught me over the years. Thank you Abah. I love you, always. Al-fatihah.

From → Looking back

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