Awat Pak Arshad, terkekeh2 sampai tertunduk tu? Pak Abu and his 'Hajj Buddy' sharing a joke..
Soft-spoken Masnah, my 'Hajj Buddy' who hails from Tanjung Karang, Selangor, demure as always..
Baby blue's the theme colour of the day at Faezal and Nordiana's reception. And a three-tiered wedding cake with blue icing, no less..
Day of the Hajj Buddies
She gave us all a scare during our Hajj pilgrimage three years ago when she passed out one cool morning on our second day in Mina.
I touched her feet; they were cold. Panic-stricken, I searched for her pulse, and found it, before scrambling to find help and to locate her husband in one of the tents some metres away.
Kak Nor, a diabetic, was on insulin jabs twice daily. In the hustle and bustle of Mina with its millions of pilgrims congregating under a sea of white tents, and the rush to the Jamrah for 'Stoning of the Devil' ritual, she had forgotten about those all-important jabs.
It didn't help that she had also undergone a heart bypass not long before the trip to the Holy Land. Although frail in health, she did manage to live up to the rigours of the pilgrimage.
Kak Nor and Masnah (pix above) were amongst the six women, myself included, sharing a room in Qutubah Barakah Hotel, Makkah, during the Hajj 2008 season.
In Dar As-Salam Hotel, Medinah, the two ladies and I were again together, whilst their respective husbands shared a room with Pak Abu.
Kak Nor and I prayed side by side on the barren plains of Arafah. In Mina, she slept next to me during our four-day encampment. After 40 days of togetherness in the Holy Land, it was inevitable that we became firm friends.
I found a kindred spirit in this pint-sized grandmother of 11. She was the only one amongst my roommates who spoke fluent English, and she understood perfectly where awkward me was coming from.
Her husband Haji Ahmad is an ex-army man who used to serve as Defence Attache at the Malaysian High Commission in New Delhi. Upon retirement he joined a Tabung Haji subsidiary.
We kept in touch after coming home; meeting in One Utama for coffee and such. Pak Abu and I had also visited their modest single-storey bungalow in a charming kampung called Sri Kundang near Sungai Buloh, just half-hour drive away from where we live.
Last week the couple dropped by our place to deliver a wedding invitation; their pilot son Faezal was finally ready to settle down. Thus, at noon today Pak Abu and I made yet another trip to Sri Kundang, this time to honour the newlyweds at their wedding reception.
Traffic was light, rendering the drive a smooth one. We took the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP) and went past Sungai Buloh and Rahman Putra before taking a right turn just beyond Sungai Plong.
The reception was a reunion of sorts too; we met again our 'Hajj Buddies' Masnah and Arshad who live in nearby Tanjung Karang. Kak Nor wasn't expecting the rest because they all live out of state.
I have always enjoyed rambling out of the city and today's short foray was no different. Meeting old friends had made this particular trip twice as memorable.
To Faezal and Nordiana, Selamat Pengantin Baru. May your union be blessed with lots of love and happiness. And Auntie Puteri awaits an invitation to marhaban at majlis cukur jambul in no time at all....