I am a proud Malaysian living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Being alone thousand miles away from home is a life-changing experience. Hence, I have been called to write about gratitude.
It all started when my friends confided in me their feelings of lacking in material wealth and looks. I would often say to them, “You have to learn to be grateful and contented.” Take me as an example. I am at the ideal age to be married but unmarried and a plain Jane, to top that off.
If I were to compare myself to friends of the same age, I am far behind. My best friend’s eldest son has commenced his primary education this year and some others are blessed with at least a child. While nothing has particularly changed for me. When I am asked about a life partner, I tell them, God surely knows best. At my age, it is a lie if I say I have never been bothered by it but I would never forget what Mum once told me, “There are three types of marriages: First, at the beginning of the age. Second, at the end of the age and third, God save them to be found in Heaven.” After all, I have learnt that the human heart belongs to God – no one can force anyone to love or to be loved.
So instead of worrying over the matter, I went for a walk in the park and started counting my blessings.
I am blessed with amazing parents who understand and never fail to provide support even if that means being present at the tennis tournament under the hot sun when I was 9 to watch the endless match which my partner and I finally won.
I am grateful to be able to know their whereabouts every day when others like my Venezuelan friend could not get in touch with hers as frequent as I could because of the chaos in her home country.
I am grateful my parents are always under the protection, mercy & love of God. I am grateful to still have them while some of my friends and relatives have lost their parents and close family members.
God has showered me with too many blessings that I have no reason to grieve.
My focus is diverted from being a self-centred person to (trying) making a difference in others, God willing. I have adopted a child in Gambia though I know, I am no Angelina Jolie. She is a very bright girl who loves poetry. I am moved by how sincere her words are every time I get her letters. One of them says, “I thank you for everything. Without you, I will be a street kid. I wish my late father was able to meet you and say thank you. I am treated just like the daughter of Obama.”
How can you not cry? For us, a £1 coin might be the loose change we have in our purse but it means the world to them.
Then I started getting involved in raising funds for a couple of charitable organisations in the United Kingdom and Australia including Cancer Research UK, Refugee Survival Trust, Ummah Welfare Trust, Charity Right, and MATW Project to help beating cancer, the refugees and less fortunate families all around the world. Most excitingly, I volunteered to demonstrate at the Edinburgh Science Festival as part of the public engagement activities to inspire children to become (the future) engineers and scientists. Witnessing the enthusiasm in the kids’ faces were priceless!
The question that I am often being asked, “Are you happy now?” All praises due to the Most High, I am very, very happy. If we value happiness with the blessings of Iman (faith), health, family, good friends, knowledge and many others, we will learn to appreciate every little thing we have.
N. Jamil, August 2017.