Skip to content

A (Confident) Post-Raya Note

September 15, 2010

Ummi is cleaning the house, putting things together in the aftermath of Hari Raya. It is pretty quiet in the house. Hari Raya “war” is over in Kelantan (unlike the ongoing one-month celebration in the West Coast of Malaysia). I am glad it is over, for one important reason – I don’t have to worry about not celebrating it at all.

Really, after I received the bad news on the last day of Syawal, I thought Hari Raya was already over before it took place. I thought the most dangerous aliens had finally landed in Pasir Mas and stolen all the rendangs, lemangs and ketupats from everyone’s houses. Not only did Hari Raya was cancelled, the world seemed to come to its end when I received this email.


Dear Hilmi,

We just had some unfortunate news that the Arts Faculty did not fund your application. John and I are quite upset about this as you can imagine. Our representative on the committee fought very hard on your behalf. We are so sorry about this. They have been very strict this year and we have both been quite taken aback by this decision.

Kind regards and I hope all is going well in Kelantan.

Janet and John.


I swallowed these words with pain as if they were wild piranhas slicing my hands, my legs, my brain… For a moment, I felt like retreating to the wild jungle in the middle of Pahang and hiding myself for a week. But after pulling myself together, I wrote a reply to Janet and John:


Hi Janet & John,

Thanks for the message. It’s a bad news indeed, but trust me, I won’t be discouraged by the Faculty’s lack of support for my fieldwork. I’m sure there’ll be a way for me to survive here. Thanks for your concern. I’ll be fine.

Have a good day.



I thought I felt better after I hit the ‘Send’ button. But I couldn’t help feeling like Julia Roberts after she knew that she loved her best friend who was going to marry someone else. Feeling a little down, I told Pilah about my sad little story.

“Why did you write like that?” she told me.
“Why not?”
“It sounds like you have already given up. You should fight for it and show them that you badly want it. Don’t give up!”

Pilah made me confused. I had never thought that I had surrendered. It was a plain and simple statement of confidence, telling the whole world: “Hey you, my name is Hilmi Hamzah. I am not Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I can terminate all the aliens with my mighty words!”

Okay folks, here is the deal. I was just looking at things from a bigger perspective, eyeing for other alternatives and opportunities, instead of whining or complaining about some misfortunes and mishaps, or focusing on some trivial matters. Funding was just one aspect of my research and I know it wouldn’t deter my research in Kelantan, at all.

About God, I would rather ask Him to make me stronger in facing any calamities, instead of asking Him to turn bad things into something good, like changing the minds of the funding committees to accept my funding application. I believe God is testing me with this particular challenge for a reason, the very reason that I would be thankful one particular day, if not today.

So how did I get this idea? You see, I have been blessed with so many achievements in life so far, so why should I complain about not getting (just) one of them? I should be ashamed of myself for feeling bad about bad things. They are supposed to make feel loved and protected. God still cares. If He doesn’t, He wouldn’t care about “poking” me this way. And one more thing, I believe that, if one door is close, there are a lot more doors opening for me out there. I just have to keep looking and moving on. In this way, I always see the world from a beautiful perspective. In the end, I usually find my own peace, my own tranquility, my own equanimity.

Maybe I was too proud. But as they say, the show must go on. The game is not over. There will be Hari Raya again next year. And Ummi is still cleaning the house.


p.s. I received a warm message from Janet this morning:


Hi Hilmi,

Thanks for being such a sport about this. I am still going to make a “case” to the Faculty about this because I don’t think they fully appreciate the difficulty of doing the kind of work you are doing “outside of the laboratory” in a field situation. I should also emphasise that the feedback John and I received was that the merits of the project were not the issue – all agreed it is a good and worthy research project. We still feel that they have not really understood the nature of the project.

Best wishes and I hope the celebration for the end of Ramadan is a welcome diversion.

Kind regards Janet


5 Comments leave one →
  1. ikpunye permalink
    September 15, 2010 4:36 pm

    As you quoted before, “Brick wall are there for a reason….” rite? Enjoy your brick wall!

    Take your time to hide in the wild jungle but with Arnold susah-nak-eja’s spirit in Terminator when he said ‘I’ll be back”.


    • September 16, 2010 8:34 pm

      Nice try. But I won’t actually go to the jungle. A retreat in Binjal is enough 🙂


      • ikpunye permalink
        September 16, 2010 8:56 pm

        Hah , try apa??
        Betul2, tak yah masuk hutan, skang ni masuk kelapa sawit pun bahaya. 😦


  2. September 16, 2010 4:00 pm

    You’ll be fine, mate! purrr….meow!


    • September 16, 2010 8:35 pm

      Thanks, Angie! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s