Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tagging is the word

By a small twist of blessing from the Almighty, I'm sitting comfortably on the bed right now, having just finished my mug of green tea, composing my second blog post of the day (is this some kind of a record? haha). The past two weeks have been a major eye-opener for yours truly, a complete starter kit of experience on life's greater picture awaiting me in the near future.

I have gone through ten days of 'tagging' so far, which means I come to work before 7am and finish officially at 10pm (but my average is 11.30pm, the latest being 2.30am!), with unofficial breaks for prayers and meals in between accordingly. Tagging serves as a period of time to familiarise yourself with your workplace- how the whole system operates, how to fill in the plethora of forms, how to manage the ward, what is expected from you, etc., etc. In medical department, the usual length is 14 days, which means I have four more days to go before being slotted into the shift roster like other more seasoned housemen.

Morning shifts here start from about 7am (official time is 8am, but housemen always arrive earlier to review the patients before the medical officers come) and finish at 5pm (though I've never seen anyone in my ward going back at 5. haha. earliest would be 6). Nights shifts begin at 4pm, where the overlapping one hour serves as the 'passover'- for the night-shift houseman to be briefed about that day's patients- and finish at 10am (again, nobody goes back at 10am. usually 12pm).

My worry for now is to handle the night shifts- during the day we have like 5-6 housemen to manage the ward, at night there will be only one of us to take care of the entire ward. Of course, there'll be the medical officer on call, but they won't be in the ward all the time, as their responsibility is even greater- 3-4 wards (or more, I'm not sure) altogether. So you don't want to piss your MO off by calling them every half an hour for something they will deem as trivial. And if you get the really nasty ones, they'll tell you straightaway not to disturb them before morning comes (one of my senior HO was told exactly this during her first night shift).

The first five days of work was simply indescribable. I have never been so... 'blur' in my entire life! The whole place was chaotic and everybody was just rushing here and there to keep the old rusty ward from falling apart and the MO in charge of HOs was on leave so I didn't get a proper orientation and was just told to ask anything if  I didn't understand. It meant bugging people every five seconds so in the end, I tried to figure some of the things out by myself, which took a whole lot longer than it normally would. I was moving at a humiliatingly slower pace than the snail which was so against my nature and it terribly frustrated me. The others were well into their housemanship and have become so competent and I felt like I was thousands of light years behind them. It was not a good time for me, and I knew the feeling had escalated to an alarming level when I walked past a ward cleaner once and seriously thought of switching jobs with her.

Luckily I've got a home to return to, and even if I don't, I know I have Allah to turn to. I kept telling myself that everybody went through the same phase, and it would all come to pass. Slowly, I got the hang of the basics and things got better. Then, the heavy and lengthy working hours kicked in. Working for almost ten days straight without break was taking its toll on my body; dinner at midnight had become a routine (I even fell asleep whilst eating once -.-), and I just didn't have the time to study after finishing work. I got all stressed out again, and even shed tears after talking to my mum at work, right in the middle of the ward. haha.

But Allah is Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim... Al-Mujib... He has promised in the Quran,

"Verily, with every difficulty there is relief." (Al-Inshirah: 6)

The next morning on Friday, as I was reviewing one of the patients with my MO, he asked me how long I have been tagging, and then told me to take the weekend off. Take the weekend off! I almost couldn't believe my ears. Thank God I had my mask on so he couldn't see the stupid grin plastered all over my face.

So that explains how I get to write two happy posts in one day. :D Tomorrow I'll be going back to work, but inshaallah with much better spirits and perspective. Please pray for Allah to ease me and all of us in everything we do. :)

ps: Today, 4 Sha'ban 1433, is my birthday! ^_^

A Wedding Wish

One of my dearest friends, Erfa, is getting married this Saturday, and I, being the busy bee, won't be able to attend (if only Teluk Intan were ten minutes away...) :(

There are but a few people in this whole wide world whom you just 'click' with upon first meeting(s), and for me, she is one of them. We share a lot in common, and she is like the most easygoing person I know- the kind of person who will take your troubles away simply by being around them.

We have steadily kept in touch over the years, most recently when she suddenly had to come and spend a night in Kuantan for work and I happened to be home alone that very day because my parents and brother went for umrah and my sister was on call at the hospital. It was truly a blessing from Allah, as I was quite worried about spending the night on my own. That was when she broke the news of her wedding, which had been decided just a few days prior, and was going to be held in just a little over two months.

I have so many things I love about this beautiful friend of mine, but I'm compelled to highlight on her wedding ideas here, particularly because it has become such a distressing issue in our present-day society. I love her determination in going against the wedding-of-the-year craze by choosing the simplest options in every way possible, amidst strong resistance from her own mother. ;D From choosing her own, simple wedding dress (nice but not the kind that you'll subsequently hang in your wardrobe forever 'cos it's too fancy- and expensive- for words) to limiting the number of hantarans to making invitation postcards (my favourite- very original, economical and eco-friendly!), she just WOW-ed me. May Allah bless your efforts and make your marriage full of barakah. :)

Many people today spend close to a fortune for their weddings which is just, mildly put, unnecessary. You want to start your married life with an abundance of blessings, but how can you have that when you've ruined your wedding day with overdone extravagance and display? It really is disturbing when I see, read, and hear about how obsessed many people are with having the perfect wedding for themselves. It's a testimony to the magnetic lure the material world has got on us present-day Muslims. Some are plagued by worries of their relatives' and friends' impressions and expectations, which indeed can be ruthless. It is hard to change old-age mentalities, but we are an awfully blessed lot of people- we have the Quran and Sunnah to abide by, and if we hold on tight to them, the rest- all the worldly burdens and worries- will be lifted from our chests, inshaallah.

"Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasseth all, and he knoweth all things."

An-Nur: 32

To Erfa- Barakallahulak, wabaraka alaik, wajama'a bainakuma fikhair!

Fantastic Four: me, Nabihah, Mutheerah and Erfa, the last time we met in March. 
Another exemplary wedding with lots of happiness and good food!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Goodbye Note

"... And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]."

-Ali Imran: 159

The above verse rang through my ears on my way back from work last Friday. By some reasons, I have chosen medicine as my first posting- arguably the busiest department in the hospital. After taking some time to let the fact sink in, I feel that I've made the best decision (or at least a good decision)- I hope to learn as much as I can for the next four months and come out a better person. To quote a couple of speakers at the induction course, "We don't expect you to become superheroes. We just want you to become safe and competent doctors". Also, "Welcome to the ministry of health, not ministry of hell!" haha. I'll try my best, inshaallah... let's all try our very best in whatever we do, and leave the outcome to Allah, the best of planners.

Goodbye Facebook.
Goodbye Euro 2012.
Goodbye Eid holidays. 

(I'm not complaining, I'm quite excited actually. ;D But sesiapa yang berkenaan, tolong la bagi match updates at least. hehe)

ps: Welcome to the latest additon to Pelindung Pantai safari- Lettew and Vam-Vam! :D



Saturday, May 26, 2012


Many, many years ago, I read about Prince William taking a gap year before commencing his university education and thought, cool, I want one, too! Thinking about it now, I did get my gap year after all, and although I didn't get to go across the world in some soul-searching quests, I did what my heart had longed for more than anything, and received much, much more than what I had bargained for.

Yesterday I paid my last 'official' visit as an unofficial student of the maahad tahfiz which had become my home for six months (from October to March). Without a doubt, I will miss the serene atmosphere of the musalla, the peals of laughter and lively buzz surrounding the girls' hostel, the zam-zam water (whilst it lasted) at the cafeteria, the beautiful sound of hundreds of people reciting different verses of the Quran at the same time resembling that of the bumblebees, and the radiant smiles greeting me along the corridors each day, every step of my way.

I will miss the short nostalgic aura of a school life revisited... the sound and smell of the field grass being cut, the periodic ringing of bells, the naivety and innocence of a schoolgirl, with questions like, "Is Russia located near Mexico?" (!), "At what age do you plan to get married?" (!!), and "Studied in Russia? But you ARE Malay, aren't you?" (!!!). I will miss them all. :)

I will also miss writing in this once-almost-dead blog. I hope to be able to 'steal' a post in from time to time, but even as optimistic a person as I am, I know it'll be quite a feat if I manage to keep this site updated once I start working. Hmm. I think I'll reward myself with a cheese cake for every post in the future (ehh?!). Haha.

This Monday, my task as a house officer officially begins, although I'll be going through five days of an induction course first (the kind of program where I wish I could own an invisibility cloak throughout) before getting on with my clinical duties. I pray for Allah to ease my path and make me strong, rain or shine. Let everything coming my way be a learning experience towards getting closer to You, Ya Rahman.

Nostalgia: Dinding seorang pelajar, 2010.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Sister

Happy birthday to my sister Sarah, the one who:

1) would always cook for me during her student days (and is an amazing cook even with the most basic ingredients).
2) has been my longest ever roommate (and is currently complaining that I've turned our room into a kitchen).
3) knows me inside out (and routinely uses it against me. -.-).
4) often irks me (and I her) but I love her to bits! Hi hi. May Allah bless and guide you always, kak.

Cheese coconut sandwich pancake with cinnamon and lots of love! :D

Friday, May 04, 2012

Of Inspiration and Challenges

So I had this request in my comment box a few posts ago to write about what inspired me to memorise Al-Quran, the advice I had received, risks and challenges for putting work on hold, and the ideal tahfiz school. It's a tough one, and this task has been hovering at the back of my head for the past two weeks or so, never quite managing to find its way out. People can say, just write what you feel- write from the heart- but the truth is actually gobs more complicated than that. I used to write carelessly, but over the years it hit me that you are responsible for what you write, and that thought alone makes my stomach do a double back somersault and a full pirouette.


Right, done with the disclaimer. Many things inspire and have inspired me in life, but for something as momentous as Al-Quran- the divine words, the book of guidance, the light- to carve its mark upon your heart, it has got to start somewhere very early in life, and by that I mean my dear parents- my two beacons of inspiration. :) I thank them for starting to teach me Al-Quran when I was a wee child, and for sending me (and my siblings) to the best Al-Quran teacher I could imagine- Ustaz Yusuf.

I have blogged about him, but I can easily write paragraphs and paragraphs more about this good, blessed soul. He would come to our house every Sunday on his motorbike and sit down with us for about two hours- grinding us with constant hard work, our father's cane faithfully by his side. He was very strict, and we were quite terrified of his furious stare and booming voice whenever one of us got distracted (my favourite side-activity was fiddling with- or destroying, more like- the woven plastic carpet. Sorry Mak). He was also a brilliant and dedicated teacher, and was fastidious in his methods to improve our recitations. We would sometimes spend an entire lesson on just perfecting our pronunciations (makhraj) of certain letters, and I remember being at the brink of giving up many times for not being able to pronounce some letters perfectly, but he kept pushing me, pushing all of us to persevere until we really nailed it. I have never seen another teacher like that, ever- in a typical scenario the teacher would often lower the bar a little after several unsuccessful tries and eventually cave in with a grudging "bolehlah...". Ustaz Yusuf demanded the absolute best from us, and thinking back to those eight years or so, of him on his motorbike, sunshine or rain, I feel so  humbled and little.

That was the first push I had as a child. Granted, I was not always eager to attend class- I had even pretended to be sick (or exaggerated my sickness, rather) several times, hoping to get an 'MC' from my father (needless to say, most of the attempts failed miserably). But my younger life revolved around reading Al-Quran and it made me realise the importance of this book, despite not being able to appreciate the spiritual aspect of it.

Entering primary school was the next step- memorising Al-Quran was part of the syllabus (it wasn't a complete program for the entire book though). Alhamdulillah, Allah has made memorising relatively easy for me. At that time, I simply enjoyed reciting Al-Quran for its beautiful flow of words as they came out of my mouth- the poetry in the language was tangible even to a foreign tongue like mine.

Years passed, and I switched to a government school in standard five. To cut a long story short, my school teacher encouraged me to enter tahfiz competitions, which I did, up until form 5. In the meantime, I was also fortunate to be able to learn the art of tarannum and (a little bit of) barzanji from another dear teacher- Ustaz Hussein, whose gentle personality was a stark contrast to Ustaz Yusuf's. ;) My parents also made sure that we always had a Quran teacher to review our regular recitations, and I continued to have home lessons until right before I went to college. Thus the love, dreams and wishes were always there and I did manage to memorise several selected chapters on my own, but the dream to memorise the whole Quran had but evaporated by the time I entered medical school.

I can't pinpoint exactly when the idea crept its way back into my mind, but I was truly inspired after reading an article a couple of years ago about a grandmother who completed her memorisation of Al-Quran at the age of 82. The 'light bulb moment', however, came when I had a talk with my friend, Kak Ma after we had finished checking each other's memorisation one day. I shared with her about my then-abandoned dream and she immediately sold me on the idea of memorising Al-Quran in six months which were offered as a program in a number of institutions in our country. She sounded so serious and adamant that I eventually started to seriously think about it (which actually took place just a few minutes after, me being the compulsive person I was). I emailed my father that very afternoon to ask for his opinion- he promptly replied in the affirmative, and the rest was history.

The reason for me to do this, as I had said in a previous post, was as a wasilah for me to get closer to Him. My... 'saham akhirat', as they say. On the Day of Judgment, everyone will be seeking for something they can hold onto as a source of comfort and strength, and I hope this to be mine, inshaallah. And I hope to benefit others by sharing my humble experience and knowledge, and teaching Al-Quran to those in need. All these require hard work, and at times I do think I can be overly ambitious, and may Allah forgive me for it, but I believe I have procrastinated too much throughout the course of my life, and now is the moment to make up for all the lost time.

Another source of inspiration for me came from watching, reading, and learning about other people doing amazing things for the better of themselves and the ummah. First and foremost, which goes without saying, was our prophet Rasulullah s.a.w., other prophets, their companions, and leaders and fighters of past and present. Learning their sirah made me utterly proud of my roots and origins and stirred the dormant spirit in me to buck up and be more proactive. Some of us are leaders. Some are helpers/advisers. Some are fighters. Some are scholars. But all of us are a part of an ummah, and if we do our parts to the best of our ability, by the grace of Allah, we will be deserving of the title 'the best ummah' as described in the Quran.

And of course, my friends. :) They were at the core of my strength and inspiration, the ones who taught me what life was all about. And I know I keep gushing about how great my friends are from time to time, but honestly, I'm still at awe of this one tremendous blessing in my life- for Allah to always send good people to me to be my close company. Always. Alhamdulillah.

Putting work on hold was not that hard on my part, but my main concern was to have to fully rely on my parents financially again, as I wouldn't receive my scholarship money anymore. Thankfully my parents were very supportive and that was enough reassurance anyone could have. The other side of the matter was having to push myself harder when I started to work, not being 'fresh' from graduation and all. Moreover, this was Malaysia- notorious for a housemanship environment crazy enough to make you question your own sanity. But I tried to look at things in a bigger picture, and simply remained optimistic. You help in Allah's cause, He will help you. 

Now that I'm about to enter the working world (still waiting for the invitation letter, by the way), I know I'll be treading on thorny paths, and I'll probably cry a lot like many often do, but I'll be comforted by the feeling that it is all worth it. When you have found something that you feel really strongly about- your cause, your vision, your calling- all the blood, sweat and tears will only make you a happier person. :)

And that about concludes my long and winding answers to the questions. ;) As for the tahfiz school, I am not the right person to answer that; it is best to refer to other more experienced teachers or scholars who have gone through a thorough process of religious education and are familiar with the system. But I will say that environment is of utmost importance when you talk about memorising, so choose a place where you feel most comfortable and at ease, surrounded by good people (extremely important) and food.

Let's all do our best in making Al-Quran an integral part of our lives- read it, memorise it, live it. For those who are busy and can't dedicate their full time to it, you may try the famous Jibril method in memorising Al-Quran. As for me, the harder part has shown its colours- I still go to the maahad almost every day now to revise with my teacher, and it already feels much harder than the first time around (to which my teacher said, "that's normal". hehe).

So there... I know this is long, but I believe I've written longer stuff. ;) Well, I hope at least the one who asked me these questions would finish reading this. :) Have a good day.

ps: Quote of the week- my sister, a medical officer and future O&G specialist (inshaallah) called me from work three days ago to say, "I'm on call in labour room on labour day!" haha. May Allah bless you. ;D

pps: A little over an hour after I posted the above piece, and I received my job invitation letter! Alhamdulillah. (a bit sad as well because fun menganggur time's over.)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

not-so-Little Brother

I just have to continue with this birthday-post spree, don't I? :D What can i say, we have so many April babies in the family (and friends too), of which I had outlined in detail in this ancient post.

Today is my brother, Muhammad's birthday. I think I have never dedicated a post to him either, except maybe the one about his capture by the Egyptian government. So, happy birthday Momad- may Allah bless you with the best from this world and the next! And I pray you'll come back one day as a successful cardiothoracic surgeon (or has the ambition changed?) and we can proceed with the plan to take over the nation. haha.

I've always liked this photo of you and Luqman. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Walking Companion

I’ve never written an entire post about this person who holds a special place in my heart (I thought I might have over the years, but after a quick browse, nope, I in fact have not). So, seeing that today is her birthday and that I have been going on a birthday-post run once again for the past two posts- what better time, eh? :D

Happy birthday to my roommate of six years, Fatin- the one who had to put up with everything I brought to the table- good or bad- since we lived together; the one who would cook for me when I got home late, became ill, or was simply not up for it; the one who reluctantly (at least in the beginning ;p) became my sports-enthusiast buddy- watching all those matches on TV whilst also having to listen to my personal commentaries; the one who taught me just how diverse we are even amongst our own people (there are so many things done differently in Penang compared to Pahang in so many ways!); the one who supported me in every single thing I did, and still does.

She was also my faithful walking companion, so here’s a short video of pictures collected along the years (it’s very incomplete though, as I couldn’t find many pictures I searched for and was pressed for time and have zero skills in video-making), dedicated to the one place we’ve covered miles over on foot, the place we have come to call home- наш город Волгоград. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


"Selamat menginsafi diri bahawa dgn bertambah satu nombor lagi usia dalam diari hidup ini, maka rasmilah juga yg baki umur makin berkurang dan takdir ajal makin menjelang... Eid milad saeid, as'adallahu hayatakum fiddarain"

The above text from my Arabic language teacher (he speaks like, six languages, by the way) near midnight on the eve of my birthday last Friday made me bawl for a good few minutes under my pillow. Twenty six years have rapidly passed, and I'm still wondering about what good I have done for my life, my religion and future afterlife. Very little, if any. And I'm not sure what to make of the words many people have thrown upon me for the past fortnight or so- amazing, inspiring, awesome... they're almost like heavy rocks being stuffed into my chest, because I am not. Any of those. I'm happy that my friends benefited from my experience, but I hope not to be seen other than as an average Muslim struggling to be better at best. Some might think I'm being modest, but I honestly am not. ;) At times like these the prayer of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq r.a. (or in some narrations Ali r.a.) will echo in my mind:

"O Allāh, make me better than what they think of me, and forgive me for what they do not know about me, and do not take me to account for what they say about me."

Often we look up to certain people, thinking they're so great and all perfect, when in fact it is due to the mercy of Allah that He has concealed their flaws from our eyes. And some of us take for granted that very blessing- that when people think you're such a nice and sweet person, you aren't just all that, you have a bunch of bad habits and weaknesses having been veiled in your favour by His grace.

In the light of turning a year older, I hope to improve my relationships with my Creator, other people, the nature, and with myself; to gradually eliminate all my bad habits; to survive housemanship with grace and dignity (and not lose my head in the process!), and to continue spreading da'wah in every way I know and am capable of. 

Please make du'a for me too. :)

Birthday cake bought by my dearest grandmother.:D

ps: I never thought I'd still receive gifts from my family members, but surprisingly I did! Thank you to my mother for the blouse, my father for the colour-illustrated sirah book of the prophet s.a.w., my grandparents and aunt for the novel and ang pow, my younger sister for doing my laundry duty for the day (hehe!), and my (ex) roommate for the cards and shopping bag (pos ekspres no less!). And of course, all the lovely prayers and wishes throughout the day. It was especially heartwarming to receive calls and messages later that night, for I immediately knew they were from my HO friends who had just finished working their heads off the entire day and still remembered to call their little friend to show they cared. Aaah, I love my friends.

Thank you Allah. ^_^

pps: My parents, youngest brother, grandparents and aunt are in Makkah, probably performing tawaf as I write. ;D May Allah accept all their deeds and keep them safe throughout their journey. And may He grant me the opportunity to visit His two most blessed lands once again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dearest Abah,

Happy 51st birthday! May Allah continue to confer blessings after blessings upon you in this world and the hereafter. 

I'm sorry for not being able to sing "Allah selamatkan kamu..." this morning like you used to do in the car to each and every one of us on our birthdays on the way to school. And I'm sorry I won't be back earlier tomorrow, but as I had explained (which you refused to listen), it was you who insisted I booked my interview for today last week. Hehe. Anyway, here's a little birthday note for you as a teeny consolation from your daughter.

You are the one who have always supported my every (okay, almost) little idea and endeavour; from my earliest childhood ambition (astronomer) to my various extracurricular activities to my latest undertaking, you have always been there to offer sound advice and encourage me to be the best that I can possibly be, and I can't thank Allah and you enough for that. 

Thank you for taking care of me for the past (almost) 26 years, for (almost) always being patient with my serabutness, klutziness and forgetfulness, for instilling the love for knowledge in me, for buying me kuih koci every Thursday, for your tough quizzes and illustrative insights, for your generosity in always giving me more than what I expected, for not giving up on me and believing in me.

And I apologise for every hurt I have scratched upon your heart, for my never-ending questions, for constantly making your coffee less sweet than you would prefer, for the times I complain too much, for not always rising up to your standards and expectations... and many more.

One of the best lessons that you have taught me which I will always distinctly remember was when I had a fallout with a close friend several years ago and lost contact with her for two years. I was certain that it wasn't my fault at all and thus, I thought, the weight didn't fall on me to offer an apology. But you told me that it didn't matter in the least, which one of us was at fault. What matters is to forge and maintain ties of friendship, and if we apologise to the other person, we might be seen as admitting we were wrong, but Allah knows the truth and will hold us in the highest regard in the Day of Judgment. And that that is all that matters. That really moved  me, and prompted me to straightaway contact my friend and apologise for our relationship turning sour... and all's well that ends well. ^_^

All in all, I thank Allah from the deepest corner of my heart for blessing me with a father who does not only love, but also educates. Alhamdulillah!

"The best gift from a Father to his child is education and upbringing."
Hadith of At-Tirmidhi on the authority of Sa'id Ibn Al-'as.

Love, Sofi.