Farah and I chatted with the cabin crew. Farah said that the ladies were not as pretty or friendly as the ones on MH or AA. Iyer lahhh….ni mak arab, mana ader finesse nyer. Unlike the golden girls (of the yesteryears, something I must stress here) they were so much loved by the passengers. I told her not to be critical as this was an umrah trip, silap cakap nanti susah. It wasn’t easy toeing an opinionated 16 year old. But Alhamdullillah, I was happy with Farah for she managed to bite her tongue, not just this time, but many times during the trip she has kept comments to herself. It must have been those slow talks she had with her Daddy and also that friendly tazkirah by our family doctor, that helped keep her sharp words at bay.
Our plane took off again after the refueling. No new passengers joined on board. The flight from Riyadh wasn’t long, in an hour we were already in Madinah. I must admit one of the reasons why I was more inclined in choosing the umrah package from R*yh** was because of the direct flight from KUL to Madinah. Unlike packages offered by the rest, flight goes to Jeddah and jemaahs would have to travel by bus to Madinah. That’s like another 6 hours ride. When one travels with senior citizens, my advice is, do consider the former option. Reason being, less exertion is best for them. I couldn’t imagine having Mom sit on the bus for another 6 hours after enduring an 8 hour flight. During my first Umrah trip, we went through this and I saw how exhaustion took a toll on my parents (incidentally it was arwah Abah’s last umrah trip).
We disembarked at Madinah Airport, nothing big and sprawling like KLIA or those of our local equivalent. I must say, it’s something like Kuantan Airport, so both immigrations and customs clearance was fast.
There were two buses already waiting to ferry us to our hotel. We were in bus No 1. I got a Bangla porter to help us with our bags. During the initial negotiation on price, he said, “Sedekah..sedekah.” Haa..iyer lah tu….and I just smiled at him.
Once the bags were lugged into the baggage compartment in the bus, si Bangla mulalah keneng-keneng at Mom. He asked for a sedekah of 30SR. Mom said he earlier asked for 20 je, but now asking for extra. Tak pe lah, I told Mom, sedekah je lah to him.
The ride to the hotel was not long. The ustaz gave us a brief intro about the holy city and the significance of the place. Once we were within the boundaries of the Tanah Haram, he coached us with the doa. From the rows and rows of new buildings sprouting I could see how much the city had developed from the last time I was there. There were already malls and new commercial areas have come up like mushrooms.
Somehow, behind the bright neon lights, I felt the spirit of peace and tranquility. I felt so calm here. Perasaan sayu started to envelope me. The last time I was here, Abe and Mom were with me. Now, I have come again, with my Mom and my daughter as my company.
Dear God, “I'm here, I'm finally here, All praise to you Almighty who brought me here again."
“Ya Allah, Ya Rahim, I’m here with my loved ones, both Mom and my daughter. Guide us, lead us in our journey.”
As our bus approached the hotel, I managed to catch a glimpse of Prophet’s Mosque, Masjidil Nabawi. The moment my eyes fell on the minarets, tears started to fall.
Farah's first view of the mosque
I told Mom that I wanted to go check out the route to the mosque, particularly the route to the ladies entrance. Farah came along with me. I did a quick orientation of the mosque with her, showing her the nearby surroundings and buzzing “jual beli” activities as night time falls in Madinah. Farah was amazed alright by the beauty of the mosque. I told her, “Wait till you see the inside tomorrow morning.” She kept quiet and I didn’t add anymore to my words. I just wanted her to experience it herself.
Solat times in Madinah
We then got some titbits from the store across the road. Mom had earlier pesan that I got her an alarm clock since she left hers at home. So pi lah jumpa this one Tok Sheikh at his shop and got Mom a 20SR alarm clock. It must have cost less else where, I supposed. But tak pe lah, since we needed it, halal je lah to the Tok Sheikh. Tak de alarm clock nanti, kot lah tak terbangun pulak. Though I assured Mom earlier that my BB does make some pretty irritating alarm sounds to ensure one gets up from slumber. But tak kisah lah, ader jugak souvenir from Madinah nanti nak dibawa pulang.
That night all three of us slept like logs. The alarm from both my BB and Mom’s new alarm clock woke us from our slumber at 3am. We took turns to get ready and in no time we were making our way to the mosque, just as the others around us.
As I placed my footings, I couldn’t help but wondered if I were stepping on the ground that the Prophet's feet once touched? Could I be sitting in a place that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once sat in? And I prayed, "Oh God, let my feet touch a spot Prophet Muhammad's feet once touched."