(function() { (function(){function b(g){this.t={};this.tick=function(h,m,f){var n=f!=void 0?f:(new Date).getTime();this.t[h]=[n,m];if(f==void 0)try{window.console.timeStamp("CSI/"+h)}catch(q){}};this.getStartTickTime=function(){return this.t.start[0]};this.tick("start",null,g)}var a;if(window.performance)var e=(a=window.performance.timing)&&a.responseStart;var p=e>0?new b(e):new b;window.jstiming={Timer:b,load:p};if(a){var c=a.navigationStart;c>0&&e>=c&&(window.jstiming.srt=e-c)}if(a){var d=window.jstiming.load; c>0&&e>=c&&(d.tick("_wtsrt",void 0,c),d.tick("wtsrt_","_wtsrt",e),d.tick("tbsd_","wtsrt_"))}try{a=null,window.chrome&&window.chrome.csi&&(a=Math.floor(window.chrome.csi().pageT),d&&c>0&&(d.tick("_tbnd",void 0,window.chrome.csi().startE),d.tick("tbnd_","_tbnd",c))),a==null&&window.gtbExternal&&(a=window.gtbExternal.pageT()),a==null&&window.external&&(a=window.external.pageT,d&&c>0&&(d.tick("_tbnd",void 0,window.external.startE),d.tick("tbnd_","_tbnd",c))),a&&(window.jstiming.pt=a)}catch(g){}})();window.tickAboveFold=function(b){var a=0;if(b.offsetParent){do a+=b.offsetTop;while(b=b.offsetParent)}b=a;b<=750&&window.jstiming.load.tick("aft")};var k=!1;function l(){k||(k=!0,window.jstiming.load.tick("firstScrollTime"))}window.addEventListener?window.addEventListener("scroll",l,!1):window.attachEvent("onscroll",l); })();

M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

My Photo
Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Excerpt #34: The Power of Prayers

Excerpt #34:  The Power of Prayers
M. Bakri Musa

Like my friend Ramli, I too was on a scholarship for medical school but unlike him, mine was sponsored by the Canadian government. Nonetheless the terms of our bonds were identical. Again unlike him, I had the opportunity of working during the summer holidays while still drawing my stipends. I had invested those extra earnings instead of taking expensive trips home. Thus I was able to buy out my scholarship obligations when I graduated.

            I had to, for the Malaysian civil servants in their usual presumptuousness to know what was best for Malaysia and for me, had demanded that I return home immediately. For my part, I was in equal measure determined to stay behind and begin my specialty training. Iknew better what was best for me and also for my country. I would bring more value to Malaysia if I were to return as a surgeon instead of only an MD. I had read somewhere that there was only one Malay surgeon in the country at that time, the late Dr. Syed Al Hadi. Indeed, when I finished my training five years later, I doubledthe number of Malay surgeons!

            I remember one cold winter weekend in Canada when it was too miserable to go outside, I occupied myself reviewing my investments and admiring those golden bonds and stock certificates. It struck me that those were merely pieces of papers. I knew what they signified and their power in real life, nonetheless they were still fancy papers. Besides, my investments were financing the Canadian economy. So why not put them in Malaysia and thus benefit her economy?

            The next day I liquidated most of my investments and wrote a cashier’s check for my father with instructions for him to use the funds as he saw fit. I told him those were my savings from my many summer jobs over the years.

            A few weeks later I received a reply thanking me and assuring me that the money would be put to good use. Alham du lillah! Praise be to Allah! Nothing beyond, nor was any expected.

            A year later upon graduating from medical school, I came home for a visit. It was right after the May 1969 riot. With my parents’ concern over my safety, I spent most of the time with them in the village. One quiet evening my father mentioned to me about the money I had sent him earlier, and what a savior it had been for him. He had been surprised and wanted to know how I managed to have such savings while still being a student. He was also curious as to what prompted my sending the check at that particular time.

            I reminded him about the long summer holidays and of students working during those breaks. For someone who was a traditionalist and who thought that being a student should be a fulltime and year-round endeavor, that surprised him. As to what made me do it, I answered that he could make better use of the money. But why at that particular time? I had no answer to that.

            That check may have been written by me, he replied, but it was Allah who guided me. He then related how he and my mother were in a severe financial squeeze at that time. My brother, who was then in Australia, was sick and needed money as there was a snag in his scholarship from Malaysia. He was penniless, having exhausted the savings he had brought from home. He wrote desperate letters home but my parents were helpless. They had no money left, having spent it replanting their rubber acreage and paying for their new house in Seremban. The builder however, had declared bankruptcy before completing it, leaving my father holding the loan but no house, and those trees were now ready to be tapped but he had no funds to buy the necessary tools. No banks would lend to a villager. Besides, my parents had just retired.

            Paralyzed, all he could do was pray that Allah would show him a pathway out of his crisis. He said that he and my mom would go the mosque in the middle of the night to pray to seek His guidance. Then out of the blue my check arrived! Part of the money he sent to Sharif and the rest to buy tools for tapping his now-matured rubber trees. With the income from the latter, his cash flow, as the accountants would put it, improved.

            I was disappointed that my parents did not apprise me of their problems. My father’s rationale was that I was in medical school, a grueling undertaking in itself, and he did not want me to be distracted by problems at home.

            “Never underestimate the power of prayers,” he counselled me.

            So what made me decide to review my savings that one cold winter evening and then liquidate them and send the money home? It must have been my parents’ prayers.

            After that visit and seeing that he was trying to finish his dream home in Seremban, I gave him the leftover of my savings after I had paid off my scholarship obligations.

            That was the last time my parents accepted any money from me. When I had my first job in Malaysia, I gave him part of my check, more as a tradition of homage offering, but he returned it. I now had a young family, time to save for them and not to worry about my parents, he said. His and my mother’s journey of life was nearing the end; they could see the shore on the other side. Nothing much could happen to them in between, Insha’ Allah(God willing!). Mine was just beginning. Who knows what high seas and strong winds I would encounter; so be prepared and not worry about them.

            I had received many good advice over the years but none matched the wisdom and clarity of the one that my village schoolteacher father imparted to me on that day. As for his offering his pension checks to me many years later so I could build my dream house in PJ, he wanted to reciprocate my earlier gifts to him.

Next:  Excerpt # 35: Getting Reacquainted With My Old Culture
From the writer’s second memoir, The Son Has Not Returned. A Surgeon In His Native Malaysia, 2018.


Post a Comment

<< Home