Thursday, January 29, 2009

Diary of A Pilgrim - Mina On My Mind (II)

Mina at night
People, people everywhere
Sunrise over the hills of Mina

From left: Nor Aziah, Zabiah, Jaimah and Norizan (my Makkah roommates). We stuck together through thick and thin during the Hajj. Their kindness and understanding helped pull me through in my moments of despair.

Mina - Day Two

Truth be told, life under the Mina tent wasn’t all peaches. Serenity was a precious commodity. Sometimes it was like the Tower of Babel in there that one couldn't even 'hear' one's own thought!

Nobody minded the prayers, zikirs and Quran-reading, but they certainly did the idle talks interspersed with raucous laughter. It could be quite trying on one’s already frayed nerves.

Late at night one could hear a cacophony of coughs and sneezes from one end of the tent to the other, for the flu epidemic was at its height in Mina. It reminded me of a hospital ward.

Outside, the lanes between tents were narrow, making it difficult to negotiate one’s way. Puddles were everywhere, courtesy of pilgrims taking their ablution outside the tent instead of at the wash area.

Rubbish overflowed faster than they could be collected. Miraculously, just like in Makkah, neither maggot nor fly could be found in Mina.

The bins were cleared twice daily by a motley band of African boys, using wheelbarrows. And they would sing merrily while doing their work.

There was neither stench nor unpleasant smell anywhere, not even from the toilet. However, one young woman was found retching her guts out one day near the loo. She said the stench was unbearable. Wallahualam.

For want of a shower, I woke up at 3.00 am that second day in Mina. All was well and good; a refreshing bath I did have, before performing dawn prayers and partaking breakfast with Pak Abu at one of the foodstalls by the main road.

Although I had ‘deputised’ Pak Abu to do the stoning ritual on my behalf the day before because of my persistent headache, I did express my intention to experience it myself, at least once, and he agreed.

It was to have been that evening; then news filtered out that a pilgrim was trampled to death at the Jamrah that very day. That got me all tensed up, which prompted Pak Abu to decide it might not be safe for me, then still nursing an aching head, to go.

That evening, Malaysian pilgrims were strongly advised by both Tabung Haji and the Muasasah management not to leave camp until further notice; via ‘live’ feed at the Sheikh’s tent, we could see how dangerously overcrowded the Jamrah was.

To further emphasise the seriousness of the situation, the main entrance and exit to our camp was locked for a few hours to prevent pilgrims from leaving. Pandemonium broke out and voices were raised when they realised they had to wait for the Jamrah throng to subside.

In other words, the pilgrims were angry at Tabung Haji and Muasasah for taking measures to ensure their own safety. As usual, some pilgrims simply ignored advice and ‘escaped’ via emergency exits at the back of the encampment. Worse, a few even had the gall to leave by climbing over the fencing!

As it were, Pak Abu left without me after Maghrib. The mass of humanity thronging the three jamarats were clearly visible on the Sheikh’s TV, as I waited with bated breath for his return.

Alhamdulillah, he did two hours later, with news that the movement of people in Muassim Tunnel was extraordinarily massive that evening. We decided to call it a night after having dinner, by the roadside again, around 11pm.

Two days in Mina, and I wasn’t even close to Muassim Tunnel, let alone the jamarats on the other side of the hill. Along with a throbbing head, I was beginning to feel rather irritable with the whole situation.

Mina - Day Three

Day Three dawned with me yet again making a beeline for the toilet at 3.00 am to shower. This time, as God willed it, there was a big crowd comprising women pilgrims from a neighbouring country up north waiting to use the facilities.

I knew their mother tongue well enough to understand snippets of their conversation. They were belly-aching about Malaysian women pilgrims ‘encroaching’ into ‘their’ territory, using ‘their’ toilet facilities and such.

Noticing a few of us Malaysian women pilgrims waiting for our turn at the cubicles, one of them turned and berated us of same, in Kelantanese dialect.

Our ladies behaved perfectly, averting their eyes and ignoring the tirade, albeit with a strained look on their faces. It was, after all, three o'clock in the morning and we were still bleary-eyed with sleep.

I remember thinking to myself: "We don't need this crap. This is everybody's toilet. So be it." But I was slowly getting hot under the collar all the same as she droned on and on, unabated.

Cantankerous and crabby by now, I well and truly lost it. I should have had the grace to hold my tongue; instead I turned, looked at her squarely in the eyes and in perfect Kelantanese, gave her a piece of my mind.

I told her off in no uncertain terms that she was wasting her time in the Holy Land with that disgraceful attitude of hers.

Hardly had the words left my mouth the right lens of my glasses popped out! It plopped right there in front of the toilet cubicle and disappeared into the grating. How swift was Divine retribution!

Blind as a bat now, I hung my head low in shame and walked away from the toilet, measuring my steps slowly for fear I might trip and fall. Full of regret, I returned to the tent.

With no spare glasses to speak of, and miles away from the nearest optometrist (hopefully there was one in Makkah), what was I to do?

Me and my obsessive preoccupation with 'toilet issues'; How could I be such a moron? I knew I had earned demerit points in the eyes of God and had just received my dues.

Not a day passed in Mina after the incident that I didn’t beseech God to forgive my momentary lapse of reason.......


Anonymous said...

Salam Kak,
My first time commenting here. It's true how one must hold one's tongue and negative thoughts when in the Holy Land. Upon arrival in Makkah, I had to perform tawaf immediately, although I was obviously drained out from the long journey. Dalam kepala dok terfikir, lepas ke ni? penat yang teramat sangat. True enough, the first tawaf was an ordeal for me. Sampaikan habis tawaf, terus terpele'ot kat tepi tiang...couldn't functioned anymore.

am waiting for more stories from you..i can learn a thing or two from your experience.

Mek Kelate

Aida said...

Kak Puteri,

That is what my best friend calls "Paid in cash" hehehehe tak der credit, credit (meaning tak tunggu later, terus kena in your face).

I am sure, if I was in your shoes I would have done the same thing.

Now am anxious to know what happened next? Surely with a headache, losing one lense (of either a spectacle or a contact) would make it even worse, unless u just close both eyes and do nothing.

Tak sabar nie.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Mek, Aida - memang betul bayar tunai. menyesal tak sudah. That's one thing about Tanah Suci.. mulut kena jaga betul..

Pi Bani said...

Eh, time I dulu takde pulak share share toilet dengan pilgrims from other countries. There was no way whatsoever to "encroach" into another's territory. Memang yang jumpa kat toilet tu confirm semua Malaysians (except the pak-pak Arab yang datang to refill the water tanks lah).

Anyway, memanglah di sana always bayar tunai. Tapi sebab perangai I kat sini pun memang kalau marah I diam (sampai takut orang tengok muka I, hehehe...), so didn't really face the problem of "terlepas cakap" over there.

And the bayar tunai is not only for the bad things but also for the good things that you do, no matter how small, janji ikhlas.

Wani said...

Salam Kak Puteri, have been reading your hajj journey before tanpa menyampuk sikit pun :) sbb seronok membaca while trying to remember my own journey abt 10 yrs ago. looking at the pictures.. nostalgic sungguh. isu toilet di mina, as i can recall dulu pun camtu jugak, ada jugak "neighbors" yg masuk kawasan malaysia, with the very same accusation .. and the same too kalau nak "aman" sikit di bilik air kena pergi awal-awal like 3-4 am. I am waiting to hear more of your journey...

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

The "tests" in Mina come in many ways. Cash ader, delayed pun ader.

We had "foreign visitors" to our toilets too. Most of them were the ones camping outside, by the roadside. Kesian pulak, one family dengan little children, so untidy and smelly. When it came to my turn, I bagi je they use the toilet. Of course, yg queue belakang tak suka lah. Many times I wanted to reply to all the not so nice things said. So tempted to do so, but, but....Mom who was with me, gave all sorts of facial gestures to keep my mouth zipped. What would I have done, if she wasn't there to guide me. I felt so humbled after that.

p/s This hajj pun ader stampeed? I didn't get to follow much news on this year's Hajj.

Muhammad Azli Shukri said...

moga Allah makbulkan doa kita...

Roslan said...


Have been reading your articles closely since I intend to go for Haj with Salmiah next year, insyaallah. After reading your article, I find that performing an umrah is nothing compared to performing the Haj. Looking forward for more articles from you....

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Pi - now pilgrims from nusantara ditempatkan di satu kawasan perkhemahan khas, thus we end up sharing facilities.

Wani - Salaam. some things don't change kan? hehehe

Kay - stampede takder, just the normal berterak2 which unfortunately caused a couple of deaths.

Azli - Amin to your doa.

Lan - Happy to hear that the two of you intend to go for Hajj tahun depan. and it's such a pleasant surprise to hv you dropping by :)

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