By Massita Ahmad
SINGAPORE, Feb 12 -- “Allah is the best planner.”
That was the quick response of Hidayat Ngay, a Singaporean, referring to his life journey after being forced to be away from his wife, a Malaysian, since tighter border measures were implemented since March last year to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
There was a huge sigh of relief after his application to enter Malaysia was approved by the authorities two weeks ago, but it put him at a crossroads as it was obtained ahead of Chinese New Year.
Hidayat, 65, who converted to Islam more than 20 years ago, has to decide whether to be with his wife who lives in Shah Alam, Selangor, whom he had been away from for about a year now, or to spend time with his 97-year-old mother in Bukit Timah here for the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Following the closure of the border, Hidayat, who moved to Shah Alam, Selangor, four years ago, had to return to Singapore alone as he did not have a long-term visit pass.
However the stalemate ended, as his supportive wife suggested that he should spend time with his mother for the Chinese New Year and return to Shah Alam after the celebrations.
“For the past four years I have celebrated (the Chinese new Year) in Shah Alam. As Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days, I would only return to Singapore (to be with my mother) a week later. However, for this year I spend time with my mother first,” said Hidayat who choked up as he reminisced how his mother gave him a blessing to embrace Islam.
“Alhamdulillah, my wife is very understanding. Even though she knows I have the permission to travel back to Malaysia two weeks ago, she didn’t say come back now. She said, you stay here (Singapore)... finish your Chinese New Year, only then come back,” said Hidayat.
Hidayat noted that he will then spend Ramadan with his family in Shah Alam.
Hidayat, who was met by Bernama recently at a food distribution centre in Pasir Ris, is one of Singaporean volunteers who prepare food packs for Malaysians here.
After returning to Singapore last year, Hidayat said he immediately joined the group.
Under a slogan “From Ummah For Ummah”, the group has distributed more than 180,000 packs of food to Malaysians since March last year, with an average of 1,000 packs a day.
“We try to do whatever we can for the sake of Allah. I just pray that only when He is pleased with me then He will take me with him,” replied the father of five, when asked whether he felt tired doing volunteer work at his age.
Inspired by philanthropist Ebit Liew, Hidayat is grateful to be able to return to Malaysia, but at the same time he has mixed feelings as he needs to leave this group after almost a year together.
“It is a mixed feeling because after doing all these works here with all the other volunteers I feel very happy. I thank Allah for giving me a chance to get to know them and in a way I got the chance to work with them to give all these contributions to society.
“It is good to be here in Ramadan as I know like last year it is going to be hectic for the group but I will be back in Shah Alam…. It is a mixed feeling. I will miss this type of ongoing event. This is how I feel,” he said.
One of the volunteers said that Hidayat, the ninth of 11 siblings, who stays in Jurong while he is here, would be visiting his elderly mother almost every week.