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Chapter 5

M.kamel Abdullah A3

The Perfect Prefect Man

Recollections of N.Fouad&W.M Yusoff&N.Farid

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Balik Bukit was an exclusive village of about 3 acres situated between the Terengganu river on one side and the Pok Apil Hills on the other side, fenced in with bamboo hedge. Before the azan for fajar prayers everyday one would hear the unmistakable sound of the chugging diesel engine from the boats as the fishermen goes out to sea to fish for the day. It was here that the family of Sheikh Abdullah grew up for more than 1 century from 1916. This was where the only surviving son of Sheikh Abdullah Alfatani, Nik Mohammad Kamil and the youngest daughter Nik Hafsah brought up their children. Another sister Nik Maimunah joined later with the matriarch head called Siti. His mother’s actual name was Fatimah binti Abdul Rahman. She was the wife of Sheikh Abdullah, the eldest son of Sheikh Muhammad Ismail Ad-Daudy Fatani of Mekkah. Sheikh Abdullah had passed away in Patani in 1919 soon after receiving this piece of land as a royal gift from the Sultan of Terengganu Sultan Zainal Abidin III. The eldest brother Yahya and another sister Asiah settled with their family in Mekkah. Sheikh Yahya passed away quite young after having Abdullah, Zainal Abidin, Faisal, Zakaria and daughters Asmah, Aishah and Fauziah. Asiah had Safiah, Azizah, Mahmud, Asmah, Hamidah and Saadu.
They were all born and bred in Mekkah except for Hafsah who was the only one born in Patani.
This exclusive village in Kuala Terengganu was known by the local people as Kampong Mekkah.
Balik Bukit was full of children at one time, 18 of them. A few went missing staying in boarding schools. Notably missing were Wan Mahmud and his cousin Nik Farid who went to Malay College Kuala Kangsar.
The children of Nik Mohammad Kamil were Nik Khalid, Nik Faridah, Nik Abdul Aziz, Nik Farid, Nik Ghazi, Nik Fuad, Nik Nordin, Nik Abdul Majid, Nik Habibaton, Nik Murad and Nik Hakim. Hakim died young, leaving the family to mourn forever.
And the children of Nik Hafsah were Wan Zakiah, Wan Mahmud, Wan Najiah, Wan Zaki, Wan Abdul Halim, Wan Asiah (Fatimah), Wan Mohammad Yusoff, Wan Azmi, Wan Rosina, Wan Noraini and Wan Suraya. Zakiah died as a baby, Azmi was born autistic and died young.
Nik Mohammad Kamil inevitably assumed the role of the family head being the only surviving male of the family of Sheikh Abdullah. Kamil aka Khali was a natural leader, he was kind of the tribal headman of “Balik Bukit Clan”.
Nik Mohammad Kamil was the ninth of the eleven children of Sheikh Abdullah. Six of
Sheikh Abdullah’s children died young. Loosing so many children must have affected Abdullah very badly but he had never showed any kind of emotional stress. He had already chosen the name “Kamil” (complete) for his seventh child who had not survived after birth. He quietly prayed that this one will survive him, and true enough this Kamil lived for 85 years.
Kamil was only 5 when his father passed away in Patani in 1919. At that age he probably had not picked up much from the examples set by his father.
But somehow, he picked up relevant knowledge and skills to become an effective leader. Not only his own children, he equally managed and motivated the family members of Hafsah. He knew the value of sending children to English schools. He was far-sighted.
He spoke Arabic. One day when he was still a kid he was brought by an elderly cousin to visit a famous ulama Tok Ku Syed Paloh. At that time Tok Ku Syed Paloh was giving his lectures from the verandah of his house. It seemed that his students could only qualify to listen from downstairs. His students came from as far as Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia. Kamil however was given exemption to be privileged to go upstairs only because he could speak Arabic. That was the value of the Arabic Language in the State of Terengganu at that time.
Khali taught the children how to recite takbir on the eves of Eids. He taught the children how to play during the floods, Merdeka days and other festive events. He was passionate in conducting events such as marriages, ritual shaving for newborns, circumcisions, berzanji and tahlil. This probably was designed to inculcate togetherness among the clan of Sheikh Nik Mat Kecil.
He was the major link between Malaysian relatives and Saudi counterparts. And he kept the rapport going so that both sides knew of who was who even though most had never met each other. The Saudi relatives who frequently visited Terengganu would long remember the warm hospitality accorded by the folks in Balik Bukit. And Mohammad Kamil was the uniting leader on the Malaysian side.
He was also a part-time farmer who planted pineapples, tapioca, cucumbers on the slopes of the hill at the back of the village.
He was also a creative carpenter who would renovate the house and make things in wood and concrete. He had all kind of tools in his tool box. As soon as he was back from work at the Religious Department, he would don his work uniform which was a sarong pelikat rolled up high and a white Pagoda singlet and he would start gardening or carpentering until its time for maghrib prayers.
He had a dream that one day he too could have a brick house, single storey for convenience in old age but saved from the floods. Finally he literally built his new dream house singlehandedly at the back of the village at the foot of the hill. It was quite funny to observe that when the house was completed and the children moved there, he instead preferred to take his afternoon naps in the old wooden house. Probably it was cooler there due to the wooden floorboards.
This was where his wife Khala Mah or “Ma” to her children (Nik Fatimah binti Wan Abdul Rahman) would bring his favourite hot local black coffee and he would sit and enjoy sipping the coffee. He would be discussing with his dear wife the affairs of the day and any outstanding repairs around the house that required his attention. He never like to sit still and everything he wanted done by his children must be done fast and with quality. The sound of disapproval from him would be something to be avoided at all costs. As a caring leader, he not only remembered names but took the trouble to record significant dates in his diary of events that happens to family members including events relating to his nieces and nephews. He would also take photos for the album and dated the events for some reasons only known to himself or maybe as a retired chief clerk it was a matter of course to have it dated and properly catalogued. It was now that we realized the value of those dates.
His caring for them was evidenced by the notes that he left behind. Long after his death, his close nephew Yusoff and niece Asiah discovered that their dates of departure to study in UK in 1973 were recorded in his diary. It was an amazing manifestation of the caring quality of this passionate uncle.
He was indeed seen as a strict man, feared by all his children. He would sit with them at night while they do their homework and nobody dared to even talk to each other. This was the manifestation that education was top priority in his mind. Alhamdulillah they all grew up to be successful in life.
On the other hand, to his nieces and nephews he was a different person, a warm and funny uncle, always pulling their legs to make them laugh.
Nik Mohammad Kamil was brought to Malaya by his father Sheikh Abdullah, along with the other siblings, in 1916. Had Abdullah decided to settle down in Mekkah, many things would have been different, as far as children, education, marriages, and lifestyle were concerned. Mohammad Kamil would likely have married a Saudi woman or intermarry among the cousins decided by match-making aunties. He would have worked with the government, manage the pilgrims, sell dates, or sell kacang foul for breakfast. A long list of other possible scenarios could emerge if Abdullah along with his children decided to remain in Mekkah.
Regrets were not on his mind as he strongly believed that Allah has already decided the living path of his future generations. Otherwise how could Abdullah have endured his separation with many of his close relatives whom he grew up with in Qushashiyya for good.
Nik Mohammad Kamil was born on 14 January 1914, in Kampung Qushashiyya, Mekkah, in the vicinity of Mount Shuaib (where Prophet Muhammad was born). Kamil was the ninth child of Sheikh Abdullah bin Sheikh Mohammad Ismail Ad-Daudy Fatani aka Sheikh Nik Mat Kecil and Hajjah Fatimah Abdul Rahman. Kampung Qushashiyya was demolished by the government to make way for the enlargement of Masjidil Haram in the late 1980s. Family members had to move to Aziziah and Jeddah and were adequately compensated.
Sheikh Nik Mat Kecik died in 1915. Sheikh Abdullah was considering the offer by Sultan of Terengganu when he did his hajj in 1915, to give him a piece of land if he decide to live in Terengganu.
In 1916, his father decided to move the family to Terengganu. Upon returning to Kuala Terengganu, he entered the Bukit Jambul School and from 1931 was admitted to the Grammar School and Government English School until Grade 7.
Kamil began serving as a clerk in the Terengganu State Government Office in 1938 at the age of 24 and also in the Treasury (State Finance) Office, British Advisor's Office, Department of Education and Government Printing Office. He was transferred to the Dungun District Office, Terengganu and retired as Chief Clerk of the Terengganu State Government Office. In 1938, he married Nik Fatimah daughter of Haji Wan Abdul Rahman Wan Daud (cousin of Nik Mohammad Kamil) and they lived at Kampung Padang Kuala Terengganu (now Sultan Ismail Road where the Terengganu State Economic Development Corporation Building still stands today). Kamil often expressed his wish to die in the month of Rejab. Allah kindly granted his wish. At dawn on 2nd Rejab 1420, all the children were back home except for Majid who had rushed to Sandakan to fetch his family.
It was time for him to go, Mohammad Kamil calmly took his last breath. Farid was struggling to hold back his tears when he recited the azan for the Fajar prayers. The family performed the Fajar prayer with tears realising that the man who had been the centre of their lives since they were born was now gone forever. With the grace of Allah, upon his death his face had changed significantly and resembled the image of his father Almarhum Sheikh Abdullah. A close look at his motionless face resembled that of Abdullah in the picture hung on the wall next to where the body was placed.
Relatives in Mekkah were informed of the sad news immediately by phone.
Haji Nik Mohammad Kamil was buried at Sheikh Ibrahim Cemetery Kuala Terengganu. The van that carried Almarhum passed though Jalan Hiliran, Bukit Kecil, Gong Kapas, Jalan Wireless and Jalan Pusara – the familiar places that Almarhum drove through regularly with his Ford Prefect.
Born in Mekkah, Nik Mohammad Kamil was safely buried in Terengganu next to the graves of his loving younger sister Hajjah Hafsah and his mother, Hajjah Fatimah marking the end of an eventful era for the Mekkah settlers of Balik Bukit.