Grandpa stood next to my brothers, relaying instructions on how to assemble the fan back together. With one hand he pointed at pieces of metal lying on the table, and with the other, he hung on tightly to his walking aid. Barely minutes later, he let out a wheeze, and hobbled to the nearest seat. There he sat, silent and still, looking at nothing but yet his eyes showing everything — as if a reel of thoughts was playing in his mind.
I watched him as I went about cleaning the house. He’s still handsome despite his old age and the multitude of ailments that were fast catching up to him. Full head of hair, a presence that still felt strong despite his decreasing size, a face that was gentle but firm, and eyes that seem to bore through you when you looked a them.
Grandpa was never one to speak much. When we used to live under the same roof, he would silently sit next to me, sometimes watching the television, other times watching what I was up to. My fondest memories with him were the times when I had art homework. He had a love for arts and crafts, grandpa, and constantly had amazing ideas on how to incorporate recyclable materials into my work.
Once, I told him I had to build a model of a traditional Malay house, a kampung. I reached home the next day greeted by pieces of cardboard in the living room. We sat together the rest of the day, him cutting and using the cardboard in ways I could have never thought about, and me just being constantly blown away by the creativity and intelligence of this man called Grandpa.
These days, Grandpa talked even lesser than he used to.
Sometime last semester, my friends and I came across a video of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and we voted to watch it while eating our lunch. We loved the episode so much — it made for cheap entertainment — that we decided to go through all the other episodes (and seasons) during all our lunches and dinners in the days to come.
So every single day, twice a day while we dig in our food, we watched as Gordon Ramsay threw restaurants upside down. He would come in, scrutinize the dishes served, and make blistering comments peppered generously with vulgarities. Our dates with him went on undisturbed for weeks until one evening we decided to eat out at a restaurant off-campus.
The Night of Transformation
The restaurant was empty when we entered it, save for a small family of three seated in the middle. We were quickly ushered to a corner booth, where the waiters took our orders without much fanfare and made for the kitchen.
“Where are all the other customers?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it says something about the food here?”
Every year on the last day of December, I take out a piece of paper (or create a new entry on my blog) and list down all my resolutions. My resolutions differed throughout the years, but one thing that binds them together is this: usually, none of them stuck.
Why Resolutions Don’t Work
The thing about new year resolutions, ironically, is that there’s nothing resolute about it. Most people do their resolutions the way I do it: make a list, put it up somewhere, and magically expect that just by looking at the list everyday, our entire lives can change.
Once, the Prophet SAW noticed a bedouin (desert Arab) leaving his camel without tying it, to which he asked the bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” In response, the Prophet Muhammad SAW then advised him, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah.”
“Why is the quality of media content today declining?” I asked, genuinely and urgently wanting to know.
The man representing the broadcast industry in Malaysia scrunched his forehead, his lips pursed as thoughts ran through his head. Several seconds passed. The hall was static with suspense. I started wondering if I had crossed the line with my question. I am a writer, a content creator, and I know how it feels like to be on the receiving end of a critical judgment.
It stings. Every content creator, every artist, will tell you that.
The man shifted in his seat and cleared his throat, “I disagree with your statement that the quality is declining.”
I was piqued. A running image of the never-ending slapstick comedy broadcasting in my campus’s cafe ran through my mind; all the mindless horror comedy films, the Islam-coated romance films, all the gangster action movies full of drugs and clubs and women being manipulated – and he disagrees?
I love new beginnings. Waking up on Mondays, getting a brand new notebook, trying out a new app. I love the idea of crumpling up an unsuccessful attempt at something, throwing it in the bin, and just having another chance to try again with all the wisdom gained only through experience.
New years, to me, are just that: blank new slates filled with the promise of a second (or third, fourth etc) chance :)
I lived 2013 with the word “Explore!” screaming in my mind, and true to word, 2013 has been one of the most exciting years for me ever. Sometime in the middle of the year, I told myself to stop over thinking things and to just do it, whatever it was. Since then, I’ve been saying yes to this and yes to that, and masyaAllah Allah SWT has been very generous with His rezq!
Alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli hal. Here are the 10 lessons I’m thankful Allah SWT has taught me in 2013:
(Taken from Zaytuna College’s Facebook account)
We should really stop and look at the nature of the self. We are on a journey to Allah. As we move in life, we are moving to the end of the journey, the meeting with Allah Almighty.
The end is coming and people will do anything to occupy their time to avoid the inevitability of Death.
People are completely distracted and they are not present in their lives.
People completely fade away as we are living in a very trivialized civilization.
The Prophet (peace & blessings upon him) has warned: the “The intellects will be removed from people”; these are our Prophetic traditions.
The things that make us humans unique to other species, is our Aql (intellect).
Human beings are losing all sense of what they were intended for. Our whole purpose is to get to Paradise.
Selfies in Arabic are called Nafsies.
According to Bukhari and Muslim:
The Prophet ﷺ said that Allah has angels roaming the roads to find the gatherings of dhikr. When they find a group of people reciting dhikr, they call each other and encompass them in layers reaching up to the first heaven.
Allah asks His angels, and He knows already, “What are My servants saying?”
The angels say, “They are praising You (tasbih) and magnifying Your Name (takbir), and glorifying You (tahmid), and giving You the best Attributes (tamjid).
Allah asks, “Have they seen Me?”