I am now in my forties. But I wished, I was still in my twenties. If only I could use the time machine, and go back to those youthful years - the abundance of energy and spirit. Who knows, it would then change my outlook and the inside of me.
Alas, it was only a dream because time flies quickly and never will be back.Scholars had divided time into three categories - yesterday(the past), now(present) and tomorrow( the future).To the thinking group of people, we have only the present because yesterday has gone and tomorrow nobody knows what would happen.
Yesterday was too far because it was history.But I would like to recollect some of the things that I did and what I should have done during my youthful years as a guideline to youths after I received this e-mail from a young man, using the nickname Alakazam.
(Alakazam's letter is produced in its original form to enable us to gauge the standard of our youth's English)
" Assalamualaikum Mr Lanh,
I was hoping that you can write impressive article about youth in Malaysia. A bit motivational and guidence article for youth who's seeking guidence to achieve success in thier lives. Many youth nowdays were not entirely knew what to do with their life as education gets more complex and life struggle being more demanding in this hectic world of globaliztion the western views.
Reading and knowing doesnt make enough, guidence for better life improvements are extreamly needed for this purpose.
Wish that u can write something that thoughtful for these class.
Prior to this e-mail, Alakazam had written to me in Malay, asking me if I could lend a hand to improve his English. Here is the extract of that e-mail (also unedited).
" Assaalamualaikum warahmatullah...
Wahai Saudara Lanh
Saya seorang budak remaja Melayu amat meminati artikel nukilan saudara setiap kali Harakah diterbitkan.
Di sini saya ingin meminta nasihat serta tunjuk ajar daripada saudara tentang bagaimana caranya menghasilkan penulisan berbahasa Inggeris yang senang difahami dan padat dengan isi sepertimana yang telah dinukilkan dalam setiap artikel saudara.
Sesungguhnya saya seorang yang amat lemah dalam menguasai penulisan dalam bahasa Inggeris dan sememannya penggunaan bahasa Inggeris amat penting didalam bidang kerjaya saya. Harap dapat beri nasihat yang bermanafaat.
Sekian, terima kasih."
Firstly, I would like to congratulate Alakazam for writing in English. Although his notes were punctured with glaring grammatical mistakes, his courage won my heart. And for this, I am in the spirit to share the experiences of my youthful years with readers and 'insya-Allah', if my views are right, they could be of benefit but if they are 'nonsense' readers have the right to thrash it.
For easy reading, may I break up the views into several sub-topics.
I have many reasons to choose 'love' as the No. 1 topic of discussion. 'Love' has a very broad definition, for example the love for one's religion, the country, parents and between a boy and a girl.
Falling in love with the opposite sex is a gift from Allah SWT. But this gift should be controlled, treated with extreme care just like fire, which if under control, is useful but if it is uncontrollable, it threatens life.
This gift or in certain cases 'disease' started off early, may be at a tender age of 12, as I found out from a love letter sent by a girl to my son of the same age, a few years back. As the letter 'was shipped' off by a daughter of mine by a 'kakak'(girl) to my son, I 'hijacked' it and what a horror that I discovered.
When I drilled my boy, he said he knew nothing about it and kept his cool. From his reactions, I knew he was still green but it was the girl who made the first move. Girls grow fast, as the saying goes...
For the benefit of teenagers and youth out there, don't play with the fire of love. If you're entrusted to shine in your studies, just do it and don't mix it with 'a sub plot' named love, because as mentioned earlier, as a gift of Allah SWT, sooner or later, it will be a part of you.
I too played the fire of love as a teenager, and by the age of 20 'was out of love'.
At that tender age, I had experienced the bitterness of life and was hooked to sad songs like ' Di Hari Persandinganmu' by Yunizar Hossein or ' Ku tunggumu di Pintu Syurga' by Alleycats.
On that unforgetful day when my love was 'down in the drain',I took the express bus to Kuala Lumpur (merajuk konon), and during the 'long and winding' journey, I read 'my love letter'over and over again!
As I was writing this article, I had a big laugh because from my point of view now, I looked very silly indeed. Actually the puppy love was nothing if it was to be compared with the duty Allah SWT has entrusted upon us.
We are born in this world with heavy responsibilities. And each of us, are answerable to it. As youth,where our energies used to and for what purpose? So to youth out there, if you are entrusted to study, please do so.
My wife after hearing my mischievous and playful years in secondary school, said this to our children: "Your father should be a doctor or an engineer, not a writer". She should know better because for my tertiary education, I preferred the Arts (kacang goreng) stream and ignored the sciences.
Knowledge is the key to success.I am not saying education because from the general point of view, education is limited to obtaining a certificate, diploma, degree, masters or a PhD. May be I'm wrong(please do correct me), but after 'becoming an adult' (they say it begins at 40),I discovered that I know nothing in the sea of knowledge.
Human beings' knowledge is only like a drop of water in the vast oceans of knowledge so could you imagine how little we know compared to what we don't.
After hundreds of lessons in mosques, 'suraus' and 'tazkirah'(religious talks), only then did I realize how I longed and craved for more and more knowledge.
If you know yourself) this only could be obtained by seeking knowledge), only then you will know Allah SWT and the heavy responsibilities you shoulder in this world.Our existence is not without purpose or to 'suka-suka saja' (for play only).Each and every one of us holds higher responsibilities to God, the human race and in fact everything.Everyone is accountable for his actions, even if it is as small as an atomic part of substance.
So to youth out there, don't waste your time,grazing aimlessly at the empty sky.Fulfill your days seeking knowledge,for with knowledge, you will understand that everything you do, is to seek God's forgiveness and acknowledge His Greatness.For example when you stare at the empty sky and acknowledge Allah SWT's greatness in creating without pillars and feel how small you are, then you are in the right direction to have His Blessing in this world and the Hereafter.
When you realize this,you will understand, there is no such things as unemployment in Islam. There is so much to do and we are short of time to make them materialize. If we were to look at the Prophet as an example, he successfully preached Islam in 23 years - 13 years in Mecca and 10 years in Medina, and died at the age of 63.If we were to look back at our past, we will realize that we had been wasting our time.If we are now in our forties and suppose we die at the same age as the prophet, we have about 20 years left to spend our lives.If we had done 'practically nothing' during our past 40 years, just imagine what could be done in our last 20 years.
Learn foreign languages
How I wish I could communicate and write in Arabic, Mandarin and other languages. To study Islam in depth for example, one needs to master Arabic because its source, for example the Qur'an is written in that language.Other than Arabic, many books on Islam are written in English, so it is an advantage to those who master this language.
So how I wish I could turn the clock back, back into my younger days so that I could benefit the lot of spare time to learn Arabic a few other foreign languages.To know only one language is not good enough because the more languages one masters, the more opportunities one has,including in gaining knowledge.
There were many more things I wish I had done in my youthful years like travelling ( around Malaysia and the globe), writing books and polishing up my reading of the Qur'an, but I didn't take them seriously.During those youthful years, money was the setback, but wise man used to say, if you have the will, you will have the way.
Time passed, and after getting married and blessed with children, I found out that I too am 'burdened' with family's matters that I don't have enough time and energy to fulfill some of my dreams.So to guys and girls out there, please don't waste your precious time, fill them with your treasured dreams, for when time passes, it was gone forever. That precious time will never return!