After The Years..


1. When I was young, I used to learn al-Quran from To’ Njang, a wife of well-respected Imam who led daily prayers in the kampung mosque. Learning Quran those days was free-of-charge. The only fee that we, students, have to pay was to obey whatever commands from her.

2. Before the real session started, it wasn’t uncommon that we will be told to pick up water from the well, cut fire-woods or pick-up dried clothes from the hanger (ampaian). Feeling tired, we jumped into the nearby river, refreshed ourselves, before starting the mengaji. During the rainy season, the river has overflown causing flash flood up to the knee level every time rain starts pouring continuously for more than 2 days.

3. The session began with a tadarus in which all of us had to synchronously read the verses together in an orchestrated manner for almost an hour producing a buzzing sound yielded from a group of honey bees. To’ Njang was nowhere to be seen. Then each of us had to be facing her and read the previous page in order to be promoted a new page.

4. When I was small, I was suffering from sinusitis and allergic rhinitis. On most days, I was sniffing mucous to and fro the nasal passage that made, my reading difficult and I was gasping for air. To’ Njang never seemed to bother about my agony. To her, my tajwid, pronunciation, and dengung must be right.

5. I still remember when she corrected my tajwid and pronunciation instantly while doing some household chores. Now I realize, it was probably encoded as procedural memory and stored somewhere in her cerebellum or striatum.

6. Quranic mind helps her restoring good memory and as a result, she has never forgotten her students. Her knowledge of the genealogy of her students was still robust.

7. At the age of 80, she has never failed to remember the order of my children and their levels of education. Even, I was reminded that I had forgotten to visit her last year. In fact, I was too busy with other commitments, attending school reunion with my newly founded FB friends.

8. Some of my friends, her former students are scared to return, thinking of her overzealous critical comments as if we are still her former students, years back during mengaji times.

9. When I met her last week, she had just fallen down in her bathroom and I immediately recognized she had fractured her femoral neck. She was in pain, immobile and her left leg was shorten. She was advised to be admitted to the nearest hospital.

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