Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And Home They Came Back, Purified

I remember Grandpa and my late Grandma landed on Terengganu soil many years ago. Sultan Mahmud Airport looked like Dungun's District Officer's house. You leaped from the passenger seat of a teksi and you suddenly realized you were already standing before the 'check-in' counter, just so you know – how small our airport was.

The engine's sound of Boeing whatever-seven-you-might-have-thought-in-your-mind shattered the calmness of Gong Badak and its surrounding areas. The proud looking big steel bird slowly approached us to disembark its passengers now that we had to plug our ears with our forefingers as the turbines shrieked so loud it wanted to pull out our cochleas. With other village bumpkins huddled by the fence's steel nets to witness the perfect landing of the plane, I craned my neck to spot Grandma and Grandpa. After that, about five minutes later, old men and women clad in white clothes were seen marching out of the passengers' deck, looking all so god-fearing, annur-driven, spiritually enlightened, pious, happy, relieved, tired.

"Beloh nung! Beloh nung!" as one of us shouted. Over there! Over there!

And the entire flock of landing plane's spectators began disperse to change location. Children were the happiest when this happened. We clamoured in our high-pitched voice, arghh!!! arghhh!! arghh!!! and ran towards the meeting point, as if we were about to devour sweets and balloons thrown on the ground by the airport officials prior to the scheduled arrival of the Hajj pilgrims.

At a meeting point, adults had already huddled there, being frontliners behind steel bars of a padlocked gate, to welcome their family members who were now carrying the salutations 'Haji' and 'Hajah'. Cries of joy evoked when they hugged with each other. Be strangers or my adult relatives – they all expressed the same emotion. I saw Mother inserted her arms in between the space of the steel bars to reach the other side of the gate, and Grandma (later, Grandpa) was brought closer to curl her arms at Mother's back. And that too, brought up the same type of emotion expressed by others I did not know who they were, where they came from.

They detached with each others soon after that, because I was told the pilgrims needed to fetch their beg (baggage) at the arrival hall. So the padlocked gate was not the arrival hall at all. It was a... I did not know. It was just a gate, where we can get a clear view of homecoming pilgrims waddled in a long line like a swarm of aphids marching to a destination we never knew. And again, we changed our direction, to the arrival hall I ran as if sweets were thrown on the floor waiting for us children to peck like hungry hens.

That night, at home, I had my sweets. One piyoh Arab (Arab skullcap) that had beautiful ornaments embroidered with colourful threads along its brim and a white robe many people said wearing it means 'ikut sunnah Nabi', which is 'following the Prophet's way of dressing'. My male cousins had themselves the same presents as mine. The female ones – I'm sorry I have forgotten already what Grandma had bought for them.

From then on, these were my typical mindset towards Hari Raya Haji; Grandma and Grandpa came back to Terengganu after a long tiring journey at the land of the Arabs. She bought myself a piyoh Arab and a white juboh I was forced to wear them when riding a bus back home to Dungun. Had myself for the first time tasted the sweetness of dried buoh ting (figs) and rare varieties of dates and zam-zam water which taste like a mineral water added with a pinch of salt. And observed aunties and older cousins getting busy in the kitchen cooking beefs donated by kind strangers.

Many years later, these mindset hadn't changed much. Except Grandma was no longer here since time was a greedy thing it took her from us already. I do not know where the sam hill my juboh is. Grandpa was still a healthy old man he had a new wife of the same age with my auntie who is a year younger than Mother. Bab Menunaikan Haji, I reckon, was the most complicated part of Pendidikan Syariah Islamiah I learned at school. I missed the sweetness of Arabian dried figs. I missed the soft fabric of white juboh raked my skin when I was still an innocent child. I guess, being innocent then, a white robe was suitable for me. But not for now.
By Him whose House the loving pilgrims visit,
Responding with ihram at the appointed limit,
Uncovering their heads in total humility
Before One to Whom faces bow in servility.
(The Hajj by Imam Ibnu Qayyim al-Jawziyyah)
I, a sinful Dungun man, under the pseudonym of Sir Pok Deng, would like to wish my readers, Selamat Menyambut Hari Raya Haji. Yes, we say 'Hari Raya Haji' in Terengganu.


  1. You remember the tiny airport well. Do you remember feri Llosong? How many cars could the ferry accommodate and how long did it take to get across?

  2. ...selamat Hari Raya Haji, Sir Pok Deng... dok mmeléh ghebbang taung ning..?

    Allahuakbar... Allahuakbar... Allahuakbar...
    Walillahil hamd...

  3. I still remember the day I went to the old Teganu airport even though I was 6 at that time.Now look at our beautiful new airport and we can send all the jemaah straight to mekah. this year i'm so happy to be home to celebrate raya haji with my family after not coming home for 5 years to celebrate with them!Alhamdulillah. Selamat hari raye haji to you too Pok Deng. =)

    p/s: where's your kerepok pose post?i want to read your replied comments but failed to find it.huhu

  4. Selamat Hari Raya Haji, Pok Deng! :D

  5. Me wish Selamat Hari Raya Haji too ;]

  6. Abe nie gelakah.. eheheheh... :)

  7. Al-Manar,
    I rummage the catalogs sorted as "Feri" and "Llosong" in my memory box. I'm sorry, Pak Cik. I haven't found any. Hee hee...

  8. yohteh,
    Baghu je dua haghi lepah gi semeleh pale lembu ha! ha! Selamat Hari Raya Haji untok Yohteh jugok.

  9. D.R.,
    Terengganu airport now amazes many people. Thanks to the government for the re-construction.

    Oh. Sorry I've deleted the particular post. The spirit of Ulek Mayang has controlled me then. Can't fight it!

    Regarding your previous inquiry, kerepok losong means kerepoks made by the hands of Losongers, the famous kerepok's lair in Terengganu. Kerepok Losong is either in the form of 'lekor' or 'keping'. Both forms are good snacks though.

    By saying 'kerepok lekor' alone in any sentence, we're referring to the lekor forms available throughout Terengganu, of course including the Losong's too.

  10. Lisa Farhana & Bluey,
    Selamat Hari Raya Haji to both of you!

  11. You are too young to remember ferry Losong and Bukit Datu.. and was small when people start going to Mecca by air.. I remembered the ferry and also the time my grandpa and headmaster went to Mecca on ship.. now that is some age gap between us Non?.. semoga Pok Din tenang selalu..
    Saya beraya di Sungai Udang and Seberang baroh