The year 1981.
We started the year by attending the wedding of another couple, Che Seman and Biah on January 3 Sat, in Eccles Mosque, another two of Mustaffa's pack. Zaini Hamzah, in Liverpool Road a few doorsteps from the mosque, who himself was married to Sham, not to one of the pack, back home about a year ago, was the 'Penghulu' for all of these. Malini began to develop her own-self, different from Rubaini. Firstly, right after she was taken home after the birth last summer, she preferred to sleep alone in her cot that we had to keep her bed very warm all the time, needing her mother only for feeding and changing. Then in the following winter she got the 'lemak' taste of the dairy fresh milk delivered to our door steps every morning. She decided to stick to the milk, direct from the bottle with a straw, in preference to her mother's, probably because it was tastier. Rubaini, previously taking from a Boots mug, learned from her little sister. And that apparently was an added convenient to us since then we never had problem with their feeding any where we go.
In the lab, I had made a further progress, that the polymer I prepared needed to be cut in thin disks, simulating the real contact lense thickness. Dr Huglin came with various suggestions, including using the microtone techniques in the histology lab, but in the end it was a great success merely by using the mechanical lathe machine in the metalurgical service room of the Cockroft building, of course by the assistance of the technician, Mr G Haslam whose experience in cutting the metal was abundant. I befriended him through to the rest of my study, even though, as always, I became independent, except occasionally I needed him to sharpen angular-correctly the lathe bits, the skill which I failed to acquired.
Soon after December break last year, Dr Huglin probed into my files on the results of my works, and naturally he did not come up with sufficient 'new' data since all this while I focused on the techniques. However, the latheing techniques that I discovered really attracted his interest; that we managed to compose it into a note to J Appl Polym Sci, my second paper with him after the paper on cross-linkers preparative purification, in Polymer, encompassing data acquired by Ishak.
Since Malini was strong enough, and Azizah was ready to be 'physically stressed' again, we plan to move to get rid of Sony, who nonetheless 'behaved' himself a little bit realising that no Malaysian were seeing him anymore to rent his flats after Sulaiman, Md Soot, Mahadzir, and including Pak Sjahril had moved. I served him a notice that January was my last tenancy after I was informed that one of Mr Smith's flats in Monton would be vacated by a fellow Malaysian, Mustaffa-Hanim of UM, whom I knew, and we started packing in the middle of the month. However he was delayed by the thesis, through the entire spring and I had to regain my patience.
In the middle of February, Dr Zawawi, Dean of Science Faculty and Dr Ariffin, Head of Chem Dept UKM visited Salford on IUC tickects. Pitying their exhaustion and looking pale and weary in the February cold, I took them in my car, to-and-fro for a dinner in my place on February 16 Mon; Azizah spent a considerable time in the kitchen and I had to stay away from lab to spend with Rubaini and Malini. Two days after that, in Salford Precints, I was stopped by a policewoman (PW7125) for leaving the car with the engine on infront of the vendor (loading-unloading area) to run for a megazine I subscribed weekly. The trouble doubled when all the documents needed were left at home. In the evening a policeman came to my house to check the driving licence which was just an International Driving Permit issued by JPJ, Petaling Jaya. The next day I took the decuments to a police station near Moss Side. A couple of hours after that a policewoman came to my house to rechecked the driving permit, and to say 'its fine, thank you, Sir', and I was actually freed by her prerogative.
Spring came, and I had yet to hear from Mustaffa the date he actually would vacate the flat. It was about the month end. Restless with Sony's antagonizing stare, I took Azizah, Rubaini and Malini out on April 3 Fri for a fresher air to Scotland for a week, visiting my brother Num in Aberdeen. Ibrahim-Noraini, still in their honey moon, accompanied. We made a night stop in Durham to see how Arisol was doing, and met many others in the university. I took along Dr Zawawi's message that UKM then was recruiting staff for applied science studies, since many Malaysian in Aberdeen were doing applied courses like electronics, QS, and even architecture. There were more visits done in Aberdeen than in Durham.
My patience with Sony ran out on April 12 Sun. I could not gamble the safety of my family, and the next day I got all the helps needed from all friends in Monton and Eccles to move, temporarily to stay with the family of Mohamad Osman-Kak Ton at Belmont Street, until Mustaffa vacate his flat at Lansdowne Road, next street, in two weeks. To fill the time comfortably among the family members, I organised a trip to enjoy the English spring air, in three cars, including Hamid Hadi. We coasted to St Alban, Colchester, Clacton, Reading, Henley-on-Thames, Loughborough, Bradford, and back in several days, meeting friends, old and new and many newly met ones.
We eventually moved to our new residence on April 29 Wed, Flat 2, No 8 Landsdowne Road, Monton, Eccles. Staying downstairs in Flat 1 was Khir-Ina's family of Telekom, Mohamad Osman's colleague, three days after Md Soot returned home, and two days after a brief meeting with Prof Ghazali, who was visiting Salford. It was a blessing in disguise that I decided to stay for a while longer in Chorlton, for moving to Monton was incidently on a lower rent, carrying on from what Mustaffa was paying, whereas then the cost of living in Britain was soaring like a burning comet that UKM had to increase more than double the mantenance allowances of its staff in Britain. Mr Smith, an English, the landlord, then very familiar with the Malaysian tenants to whom his entire flats were rented to, and changed the traditional English weekly rate to Malaysian traditional monthly rate, was an extremely good landlord, in a black-and-white contrast with Sony. He never stepped, not a foot, across the front door of his rented-out flat, every month he came to collect the rent. He would stand outside, in the cold, rain or snow, after he rang the bell, asking for me, not the rent, when Azizah answered the bell, and immediately left when she said that I was not in, without promising when he would come back. I obliged to be nicer than him then, that at the end of every month I prepared the cheque in advance for him, so that Azizah could hand it to him in my absence. The flat I was staying was not very comfortable actually for a family with two kids, but centrally heated thus very warm, and I was eying for the flat below, even though colder, which would be vacated by Khir next year. Malini was not yet a toddler, but Rubaini, then two-and-half, certainly felt rather confined in the small and closed rooms, that Azizah had to take them outside, or I took them to the nearby parks to stretch their legs on the weekends. It took us through though to summer of the year.
On Wednesday, May 13 afternoon, after zohor prayer, I sneaked out of my lab into the fully packed Chapman Hall to listen to the talk of Yusuf Islam who recently became a pious Muslim from a contrasted heavy rock-singer Cat Stevens. He related incidents which I could vividly recalled, once in Malaysia in 1979, that his final rock album was asked to be withdrawn for the printed 'Bismillah …' on the cover, to which his response then was "Take as it is, or leave it altogether". He also detailed out the lyrics in the album, all related to his verge of conversion, one was his insistence for "a book" so that it could be meant the Al-Quran, rather than "the book" which implicitly taken for the Bible. To the final question, from an English woman from the floor, before the Chairwoman closed the session, of how he determined that Islam is the true religion, he answered it by reciting Verses XI: 83-86 which tell the Prophets before Muhammad (pbuh), and during the recitation he asked the assistance of a Malaysian who he insisted to sit beside him from the beginning of the talk.
My first book published in 1981, very crude, the ms was drafted in 1979, in rather hurry, before I left for my doctorate.
Ramadan set in July 3 Fri, and the iftar for the first day was 9.40 pm, still in British Summer Time, and it would be earlier in Ramadan next year; four days after I received the news that a colleague back home in Chem Dept, Dr Bookhari Anuar passed away on June 24 Wed, of leukemia; and a month after I received complimentary copies of my book from PFB, Petaling Jaya, my first book to be published, 'Kimia STP'. Since several closed friends had already returned home, I joined others, mainly for the iftars, many times in Didsbury Mosque for the Arab cookings and Eccles Mosque for the Pakistani cookings.
Tempted by the summer sunshine, I took my family to Scotland again on July 31 Fri, with Mohamad Osman's family, to my brother Num's place, for aidil fitri there which they celebrated on August 2 Sun. I stayed until August 15 Sat sight-seeing Scotland, after Mohamad returned to Manchester; with my brother's family to Aviemore Wild Life Park, and to Edinburgh and Glasgow filling the car boot with laces at Barrowland, to Oban where we had our first B&B ever since we came to Britain; to Forth Williams, Loch Ness, and Inverness. With the rather long stay, Rubaini then knew my brother was her 'Ayah Chik', and no more an 'Uncle', while Malini crawled every where whenever we stopped beside the road for a break. Later on with some of the remaining families; to Swansea, Wales on August 28 Fri visiting Ramli-Jaharah, Alias-Rohani, then to Aberythwyth visiting Basir-Yam and Pauzi-Jah, the latter, on his few weeks left to go home, and the whole of his family came to Manchester with us, that then we went to Bradford, visiting Yusof-Maimon again on September 4 Fri, and to Chester Zoo on September 6 Sun where we had a picnic on the bank of River Dee.
In late autum, through to winter, the cold and wet weather again gave me a chance to strike another serendipity, a new technique for measuring the swollen disc in equilibrium with the liquid at elevated temperatures by magnification of visual photographic imaging, using simple camera out-fits, which I incidently bought in Aberdeen in summer. That measurement enabled us to calculate the swelling activation energy, a parameter not yet available then. We published the technique in a paper, and since then Dr Huglin included it in his lecture whenever he went on invitation throughout the world, including to Malaysia, to UPM and in my own department on December 23 Thu, 1993.
Hill Side, Liverpool, 1981 October 30 Fri
Moss Side was not abandoned completely since we moved to Monton, we still visited the shopping precints, where there was an attraction, 'bonito', rock-frozen small tunas imported from West Indies, and occasionally we met Kak Nora and her daughters. The frozen bonito was a delicacy, for Azizah could make 'nasi dagang' for us and for friends, the same way she did in Malaysia, and she made quite sufficient for Eid Adzha celebration on October 8 Thu, on which occasion I visited Kak Nora and her daughters in Moss Side. I had taken them for a visit at my new place in Monton once before, on June 20 Sat. Then autum, Hamid Hadi left for home on October 22 Thu, and by late of the month I knew that Pauzi had been back home, and I wrote to ask him to enquire about the SPM book which I wrote with him in 1978 and had been submitted to Sarjana Enterprise before I came to Britain in September 1979, for publication.
Then winter again; with many close friends had already back home, especially Md Soot and Pauzi, and many more were packing for home, my skin began to feel the pressure of missing the homeland. After my first night in Britain, in Chorlton, in late 1979, I made a thumb calculation, that I would be in Britain, again, for about three and half years. Rubaini was then eleven months. She would be four and half when we would be packing for home, and when I saw a four and half years kid of my newly met friends, I could perceive the long way from home, and I dared not tell Azizah the perception. Malini was on her last leg to getting up and walk on her feet, and in fact started to climb on my study table which was more like a desk in a primary school, to press the Silver Reed II typewriter keys which I bought last winter, specially in anticipation for the thesis. I had actually started writing the intro of my thesis since January, the moment Dr Huglin began to poke into my files for the results data, and those were at nights in between Rubaini and Malini's bed time, usually at past mid-night and my bed times a few hours after that. This year it was a white winter, a winter Azizah was looking forward for, at least once in her life-time. In late November it was very cold, sub-zero temperatures, minus fifteen I heard in one night. All roads were covered with ice, very slippery; they were no longer sprayed with salts, could not afford to do so. I once slipped, almost to crash Malini under me. Then there was a lull, then rains, and finally in early December the snow fell, full of snow falling days and nights, white everywhere we could see, in every Monton, Eccles, and Manchester. Azizah, Rubaini, and Malini had a jovial frolics outside the flat, in the parks, with me, or just three of them without me, and even made 'ais kacang' from those she collected on the edge-rows.
Edition dated Mar 1999