(Severely personal post ahead. You have been warned.)
Majalah 3 tonight featured Mr. Abdul Halim Yazid, a dikir barat artiste and his travels in the Deep South of the United States to trace the story of the blues. I only caught it halfway when my ears pricked to the call of prayer from Senegal that was featured on the show (caught the rest on online). I happily abandoned the dishes I was washing in the kitchen and sat down to watch.
It was nice to see how musicians from different backgrounds and musical traditions could mesh together so beautifully when they sit down for a jam session. But what made me tear up was the song "Al-Fatihah untuk Ayah" (Al-Fatihah Prayers for Father) that Mr Abdul Halim sang together with some blues musicians. No one uploaded that version just yet, so here is the plain dikir barat version.
It was a beautiful tribute from a child to his father, singing farewell to his father who has departed this world for the next. My understanding of the Kelantanese dialect is poor, but I got the gist of the message of the song. The words were simple but heartfelt, the melody plucking the heartstring as it beats along to the rhythm of the drum.
(The rest is undercut for intensely personal navel gazing which may not be of interest to you.)
Like many out there, I am guilty of taking my parents for granted. I am a recalcitrant and disobedient child and at this hoary age, still I aggravate them to no end. People say that terrible children come from terrible parents; I am the example of the contrary. My parents are hardworking and disciplined, polite and mannerly; their child is a termagant who is arrogant and lazy. I had the best of examples to follow, but I wallow in my weaknesses and has yet to act my age.
I am grateful that my parents are still alive and hopefully I will learn to mend my ways and one day make them feel proud that I am their child. The scholar at one halaqa I attended urged the audience that when we go home, we should call our parents, if they do not stay with us, and ask them to make du'a (supplication to God) for us. For those whose parents are no more, cry because you have lost so much. When I listened to that, I was awash with a multitude of emotions. As a Malay, we ask our parents to make du'a for us only when they go for pilgrimage in Mecca, because it is said that prayers in front of the holy Ka'abah has greater oomph! to it. It is a little odd to ask for it otherwise. But the fortunate creature that I am is privileged to know that my father includes my sister and I in his supplications after every prayer five times a day, so I don't need to ask him to do so.
Does the fact that I am still a sorry example of a good child mean that God doesn't answer my father's prayers (and my mum's too)? I would like to think that having me as a burden on them will make their passage to Paradise much quicker and with less arduousness, hehehe. I am not yet a parent, and as my mum often told me in a dire tone, perhaps one day I shall be blessed with a child that is just like me.
*shudder in fear*
So love and honour thy parents while you can. And if you can no longer do so, remember them in your prayers.