“It’s fine, Mi. I’ve got your back. It’s unfair for the school to treat you like that.” Zul said, patting Mazemi’s shoulder in an attempt to console his friend and also SMASZAL’s athlete. Mazemi smiled bitterly, holding back his tears. Zul went to Mazemi’s house to talk to his friend’s father.
That morning, the teachers’ room was in an uproar when Zul, the school’s athlete suddenly drops out from the school’s team which will be competing in the district competition in a mere one or two days. Teacher Md. Nor, the person who is responsible is in such a predicament. “Man, why would Zul quit now…!” he wondered, lamenting in his heart.
The word that went around the school is, there is a misunderstanding between Teacher Md. Nor and Mazemi. Mazemi was then punished and he is banned from participating or representing the school in any sporting event. Upon hearing about it, Zul made the drastic decision of forfeiting from all sports that he is supposed to compete in, 1-2 days before the event as a sign of protest against the ban issued by Teacher Md. Nor.
Teacher Md. Nor went to talk with Zul and advised him. However, the talk was unsuccessful. Zul stubbornly refuse to retract his decision but just kept silent. He neither argued nor did he quibble with his teacher, for he is mindful of his manners. However, at the same time, he disagreed with how his friend, Mazemi, is being treated.  Zul is headstrong and unyielding and due to his refusal and obstinacy of not wanting to participate in the school’s sporting competition, it invokes the fury of SMASZAL’s headmaster, Ustaz Yusuf. Of which, ultimately led to the announcement of his expulsion.
Pokcik Ripin’s bus arrived right on time after school just like any other day. Zul steps in and sits in his usual seat. But nothing is the same anymore. His steps are slow and unwilling, eyes narrowed and mind numb. What lies ahead of him after this? Is there even a future for him? It is as though life has been knocked from his body following the announcement made in front of hundreds of SMASZAL’s students earlier that morning. Other students who rode the same bus with him would give him furtive glances. Whispering, speculating and some even laughed at him. There were some who are empathetic and look at him sympathetically.
“Mom, I got expelled from the hostel,” Zul muttered under his breath, informing his mother. He was timid, hesitant and kept his eyes on the floor. There was silence, he didn’t hear a reply. At the time, Hajah Ramlah was cooking lunch for the whole family. Zul braved himself, looking up, he only saw his mother’s back. She didn’t turn but continued with her cooking. “Mom…?” Zul called her again. He knew that he couldn’t hide the matter. His parents will eventually know about his expulsion.
Hajah Ramlah pauses, moves towards the sink and washes her hands. She turned and sat at the dining table. “Zul, come here,” Hajah Ramlah beckoned towards her son softly. Zul steps slowly towards his mother, pulling a chair and sat facing his mother.
“I don’t want to know why you are expelled from the hostel. That is a matter between you and the school. I’m only going to tell you one thing, and that is life is never easy. Everyone will have to face their own challenges. When anything happens, just remember that the supplication of a mother for her children will be granted. And I will always pray for good for all of my children. You will be successful, insya-Allah.” Hajah Ramlah consoled her son.
Ever since that morning, Zul has been distressed and worried. Hajah Ramlah’s words somewhat soothe his worries, it is as though cold water was poured over a parched land. Zul felt a little bit calmer and comforted. “Thanks, mom,” Zul said. It feels as though the dark cloud that hung over his shoulders is now slowly drifting away.
Unknown to both mother and son, Ustaz Mad overheard their conversation from behind the curtain separating the kitchen from the living room. He stopped by for he had planned to have lunch before heading back to his office. He smiled to himself listening to the advice his wife gave to Zul.
“Ayub, now you’re in Form 2. I know you’ll need my SRP books next year. But, if you couldn’t get into Form 3 A, don’t you dare touch my books!” Zul warns and challenges his younger brother. Ever since he was a kid, Zul loves to challenge others and himself and sets high goals for himself and his siblings. He strives when challenged and loves to test how far he can go.
Getting expelled hardly affected Zul’s academic achievements. He’s still among the best students and the school’s pride and hope. His Form 3 schooling session went on as usual. He became more driven and hardworking in his studies.
“Dad, if I get 10 A’s in my SRP, what will you get me?” Zul asked his father one late evening.
“Well, I know that certificates are important now. I would love it if you can get 10 A’s in your exam. But you’ll have to work really hard. Then you can enrol into SMAASZA Batu Burok and sit for the Thanawi exams. If you get 10 A’s what would you want?” Ustaz Mad countered back with a question. He knew that Zul must have something Zul wanted for him to ask the question.
“Hehehe…if I can get a Honda Cub motorcycle, I’d be thrilled…” Zul answered smiling bashfully, scratching his head.
Allah is The All-Knowing and has the best plans for His servants. When the results are announced, Zul managed to get 11 A’s. SMASZAL teachers were delighted. Zul’s friends came to congratulate him. Ustaz Mad and Hajah Ramlah are overjoyed with their son’s success. They knew that it was the best for him and they were the ones who witness first-hand how Zul studied day and night before the exam.
That very evening, Ustaz Mad brought Zul to Jani Jaya Shop in Bukit Payong to buy him his motorcycle. “You can choose for yourself. I’ll pay…” Ustaz Mad said to his son. RM1500 cash was exchanged with the motorcycle keys at the end of the sale.
Zul was thrilled after getting his first-ever motorcycle and test it out in his backyard. “Hmm… he keeps on going to-and-fro on that bike of his. It has been more than 10 minutes, that’s all he’s been doing.” Khairul murmured to himself as he watches his older brother trying the motorcycle.
“Ustaz, which school do you think I should enrol into for me to pursue my studies?” Zul asked Ustaz Yusuf, his headmaster. At the time, there were three famous schools for students to enrol to continue their studies after SRP; Sultan Zainal Abidin Religious College (KUSZA), Sultan Zainal Abidin Upper Religious Secondary School (SMAASZA) and Klang Islamic College (KIK).
Ustaz Yusuf grasp Zul’s shoulders and said “Go to somewhere there are not many people. Insya-Allah you’ll be successful.”
“SMAASZA, wait for me, I’m coming,” Zul whispered in his heart.
_______________ Alhamdulillah, I met with Teacher Md. Nor several years ago and stayed in close contact with him till today.