About two years ago (February 2012), I wrote you a letter. Then, it was nearly a year after you came for a short three weeks residency at the humble 'Kebun Rupa', behind the Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah USM building.
In the letter, I told you about the 'transformation' that you have brought to people around you when you were here, which eventually led to the manifestation of 'Kebun Rupa'.
Now, it has been three years. Time passes so fast. I am not anymore at the Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah, and am not attached under whatsoever capacity to it.
Kebun Rupa is not around anymore, at least not physically at its original location. It happened somewhere in May this year. Few weeks after relinquishing Kebun Rupa, my beloved Bapak (father) was hospitalized, and after about two weeks, he passed away.
My dear friend Najjar,
As I looked at the photo above, I felt so grateful that I was able to fulfill my wish (that I expressed to you when we were students at SIU-C back in the USA in 1990), to bring you to see my parents in my hometown Teluk Intan, especially 'Bapak' (my father). I still remember the way you narrated your 'prison' story to Bapak, as I translated your words for him, at the dinner table. After listening to your story, Bapak opened his arms to embrace you. Two most important men in my life, separated before by lands and seas, thousands of miles away, brought together to meet, in my parents' house at Teluk Intan, in the embrace of love. I wish I could linger in the vibration, frequency or energy of such embrace forever. Sadly, I can't.
I miss Bapak. I miss you too my friend.
Ya, ya... I know, everything is transient. 'Nothing stays'. Our father, our parents, our family members, our relatives, our friends, our job, our belongings or things we buy and own, even our mind, our feeling, our expertise, our talent, our pride, our sense of 'self', all are transient. Underneath all the 'lost', what actually stays? What can we 'unveil' beyond all our 'lost'?
It has been a very testing period, not just for me, but for Malaysia as well. One MAS plane went missing until now, with the fate of its passengers unknown. Another MAS plane was brutally shot down, killing all the crew and passengers. The 'transient' theme, together with 'lost', 'death', 'unveiling' and 'return' seem to be at the forefront lately, at least to me personally. Perhaps, all are signs for deeper reflection from all of us.
As muslims, we have been taught not to over-think to much, to always stay in the state of 'presence' (from 'fikir'/thinking to 'zikir'/remembering). Alhamdulillah.
To do that, we have been taught to 'forgive' and seek forgiveness (astaghfirullah) and 'surrender'(la haula walla...) or 'submit'.
And yes, as muslims, we have been taught to utter the syahadah, to bear witness. First, to witness our own thought, and feeling. By being the witness, we become aware of the noises of our thought and feeling. If we are able to pass through the noises, to unveil, we can reach true consciousness, the fundamental homecoming, the awakening, the witnessing that...
......there is nothing, only ALLAH,
the Source, the One.
Everywhere we turn (within, without), we are witnessing manifestations of ALLAH's Will. Allahuakbar!
Of course my friend, sharing and explaining what have been taught to us are different than experiencing them.
I was given the 'experiential' lesson by Bapak, during the time I spent comforting him at his hospital bed. Yet, he was not able to speak, as there was this ugly tube running though his throat. He kept on asking me to take it off, as it was hurting him badly. I could only say no, as I was following doctor's order.
Bapak could only communicate by writing on pieces of paper with a red marker pen. The tube stayed until the time he passed away. Beyond the tube, the red marker writing (most of them, incomprehensible, because Bapak's hand was too weak and his eyes could not see clearly), became my lesson on 'Iqra''.
Bapak's hands were shaking, at times rather strong. His eyes looking through me, egoless. I felt as if this existence called 'my father' was not 'there' anymore in the eyes.
I felt as if I was looking at the eyes of a newborn baby with no 'identity', no sin, no history, no memory, no past, no future, no desire, no 'thing'.
It was an empty look, yet piercing through my 'artificial' self, my ego, cutting through my thick layers of thoughts and emotions (thickened and hardened veils), touching my 'soul'. I felt, as if I was looking at.........
I (or perhaps, that artificial construct or ego pretending to be 'I' or 'me'), was shattered.
Throughout the ordeal of struggling to comfort Bapak at his hospital bed, when I was strong enough to overcome sadness and stable enough talk calmly, I whispered to Bapak's ear:
"Bapak, you are the strongest man I ever met. You are my hero."
"Bapak, be in peace. Allah is so close."
"Bapak, you are in company of so many angels."
As I hold his shaky hands, I could only offer him few healing verses (syifa verses), tasbih, tahmid and zikir (subhanallah, alhamdulillah, la ila ha illallah, allahuakbar), and......running the syahadah, again, and again, and again until finally, after about two weeks, the time came for Bapak to 'dissolve' and 'return' to the Abode of Love, the True, Timeless, Eternal Home.
As I sat by the side of his body, looking at his face for the last time, I felt as if I was embraced by peace, as if someone was whispering to me, "everything is ok."
The time after Bapak's passing, including the month of Ramadhan and the Eid, was also very 'unveiling'. I went back to my hometown and house in Teluk Intan. I went with Rozana, and our three daughters. My mother and my siblings celebrated Eid in Kuala Lumpur. Yet, I 'returned'.
Now my friend Najjar, as I resume back my transient 'form', my job, my career, my creative pursuit, my artworks, and everything that I used to hold on to as 'mine', 'me' and 'I', all seem to 'appear' in a different light. They are not as opaque as before.
Despite the transient nature of everything, including our friendship, and in the midst of these harsh bodies of us, the lowest (and slowest) frequencies of energy field, the shadows or reflections, the 'manifested', the 'sign posts'..........underneath all these , is the silence presence of True Love, Eternal Source of Light, emanating and illuminating a timeless essence.
I am grateful.
Salam my dear friend, and please convey my salams to your wife and kids, and friends. We will surely meet again.