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Tuesday, 9 August 2011


Life is so transient. Ramadhan makes such notion more pronounced.

The blessing of Ramadhan is infinite. Ramadhan is beyond fasting. It's light detoxifies and unveils many layers of frozen thoughts and feelings. It synchronizes my quantum field to return and be in peace with the Will of Allah, and the natural working of the universe. It prepares me to return to my true nature (fitrah) thus hopefully a meaningful celebration of eidul fitri. Ramadhan brings a specific and unique test to everyone who submits to it. One has to let go, submit and react naturally. Ramadhan also promises gifts of liberation and awakening beyond the veils of what one normally would take as 'bad experiences'. Sometimes the experiences cannot be transcribed in words.

Just before Ramadhan sets in, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal passed away. He called me several times but the last time he called I could not make sense of his words. I felt so sad for not having being there at his funeral. But more than that, I still have this lingering regret for not giving him a loving hug like what a son should always give to his father. I had many opportunities to do that but I didn't, even though at times I felf the urge to do so when I was with him.

I missed similar opportunity with the late Ibrahim Hussein too. The last time I saw him at his house in Bangsar, I managed to put my arm around his back as we took a picture in front of his iconic and seminal "Ayahku dan Angkasawan (My Father and an Astronault)".

I didn't hug the late Redza Piyadasa either. The last time I saw him was at his house for a video interview about MGTF USM. I just said thank you and goodbye, shook his hand like a gentleman and bowed like a typical Malay man to show my respect. No hug. I didn't hug Pak Mail (the late Ismail Zain). He was my most influencial guru. I saw and spoke to the late Rahimie Harun, the late Amirul Fakir, and Avroco, but didn't hug them. Now, there are all gone forever, leaving me with a lingering regret. Ramadhan makes me reminisces my encounters with them, wishing that I had at least hug them once when they were alive.

Ramadhan sets in after Datuk Syed left all of us. His death came at a time when I had (and still having to) encounter some of the most challenging times of my life. At times, one has to accept some hits that came from other people's shit (pardon my harsh language). The hits come in many illusive forms - untracable SMS, posion letters, phone pranks and threats etc, some of which might had at times destablizie my quantum field. But I submit to the Will of Allah. I act and react as natural as I possibly could, without too much scheming. Afterall, this year's Ramadhan also brings into my life a fresh breath of energy in a form of Najjar Abdul-Musawwir.

It has been a bit more than 24 hours since I bit farewell to my dear friend Najjar Abdul-Musawwir at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I can still feel his tight and long hug. Najjar has taught me the value of a warm and sincere hug full of love. I am happy to know that he is now safe in the loving embrace of his wife, daughters, family, relatives and friends. Of course I feel sad to bit him farewell after an intense 3 weeks of re-visiting old friendship. But home is where the heart is, and distance is just an illusion (from quantum point of view). Najjar is forever etched in my heart. He occupies a special spot in it. I'm sure the same goes to others whom his big heart has touched. Physically, he has left a large void, especially his big hug. I could still sense his loud presence too. He left a lasting mark in the hearts of all the people he met here in Malaysia.

I have written about how I met Najjar in the USA before in my blog, so no need to repeat here. But the circumstannces that have brought Najjar back into my life (as several others were taken awayfrom me) are truly remarkable. Najjar travelled half the earth to see me, his old pal, leaving his beloved wife and daughters, including one who had to undergo a critical surgery just before he left. That shows how persistent he was in coming to Malaysia. I will write more about Najjar's presence in Malaysia later.

I picked my eldest daughter Adeela at Shah Alam before we (Najjar, Shamsul Bahari and Aizuan) left for the airport. Shamsul's daughter also joint us. On our way back from the airport after sending off Najjar, we dropped her back in Shah Alam. I gave Adeela Najjar's big hug.

As we dropped off Shamsul daughter (and her friends) at Putrajaya, I saw Shamsul giving her similar hug. We stopped by for a night at Teluk Intan, Perak to see my parents. Before we drove back to Penang, I gave them a hug, albeit a softer one (Najjar's hug would break some bones for old folks!).

Perhaps now is not the time yet for me to write about Najjar's 3 weeks presence in my life. Perhaps another time when my quantum field is more at peace. For the time being, I would be contend to send my virtual Najjar's big hugs to everyone out there, full of love and peace.

May the blessing of Ramadhan places us at peace with our selves, others and the whole universe.

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  1. It is our culture that we restraint ourselves from hugging one another but I do agree with you, it is one of the best physical form of love. I have also wished I could hug someone (shhh) but our culture was just not so. My twin sister had this thing about hugging me when she sees me. Again I agreed with you, it is so good to be hugged although kekok. Have to break through our own mindset. I always hug Samuel (who is now 9 yrs old). Why? because I know when I do that he knows I love him.

  2. Eid Mubarak!

    One year has past since my travel to one of the most beautiful places in the world -- Malaysia, Penang Island. My residency there was hosted by the highly respected Director of Tuanku Fauziah Museum and Gallery Hasnul Jamal Saidon, and his amazing staff of passionately informed individuals. My research for twenty-three years in understanding and sharing global Islamic aesthetics in the context of cultural components has been profoundly amazing for me.

    My creative research travels have included: University of Cape Coast- Ghana, Bilkent University - Turkey, Quaraouine (Al-Karaouine) University - Morocco, Cheikh Anta Diop University and Village des Arts - Senegal, and University Science Malaysia - Malaysia. Each travel brought me to a higher level of appreciation for the creative energy that connects all of us together.

    The African-American and Malaysian connection was two fold. The first is the personal relationship I've had with Professor Saidon, that was developed through our academic studies in the School of Art and Design at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in the early 1990's. The second was my love for global knowledge of the visual arts within an African/Islamic aesthetic. Because of these two points, my residency in Malaysia provided one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I was able to visit: academic institutions and speak with administrators, faculty and students; museums/galleries directors/curators and learned about historical and contemporary art of Malaysia, and surrounding countries in Asia; artist studio visits and discussed theories/concepts of their creative works; publisher/writers and answer questions about my work and culture; collectors and saw the outstanding body of works they have preserved; and What does it mean to me after a year of reflections?

    More to come . . .