The year 1983.
January and February were very hectic, on many days I had to utilised all its twenty four hours. By January 10 Mon my thesis was ready typed for Dr Huglin to brush through cover to cover, then paging, then the next day photocopying in Darul Rahyat, Rashulme, and finally had them in binding in Prestwich. Photocopying service was scarce, not many wanted to do the business perhaps because the machine is a tangible element for copyright violation. I remember when I wanted to photocopy the reprint of my own paper in a stationery shop in Manchester, for the appendix, I was asked to preduce my ID to show that the paper was my own paper, not somebody else paper. On January 17 Mon I submitted the thesis. Two days later Dr Huglin informed me that the examiner had phoned him that he had received the thesis for reading, and the viva was set to be on February 8 Tue. The examiner was Prof Alastair M. North from Strathclyde. The date was actually relatively fast, but it was a blessing in disguise, for Prof North was then in a hurry to take up as a new Chairman of Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, in March. I visited the last baby, on January 23 Sun, Mahadzer's fourth, a girl.
Ibrahim and I gave a farewell for Dr. Huglin and his wife Shelly;
Waiting for the big day, I sat down with Dr Huglin, almost every day, to draft more papers. I could sense that he naturally wanted to have the drafts before I leave for good from his experience last year that Maimunah had not sent a single draft after a year at home. In one occasion I told him about my nervousness in the viva, despite his assurance that Prof North was a very nice man. He unstressed it with the reply, "I am more nervous than you. When he ask you a question you can answer it, because you did the works. What if he turn the question to me? I can't answer it, because I did not do your work." Admittedly he realised that many of us would leave him very soon, and probably in bulk, and after many years of polymeric frolics in the lab, with him getting many indispensable helps, he invited us, John, Azim, Mahmood, Ishak, Ibrahim, and myself, for a dinner on February 3 Thu, at his place in Hill Side, Liverpool. I pooled with Ibrahim (practically, Azizah pooled with Tini) in giving him and his wife Shelly a return and farewell dinner at Ibrahim's place at Poplar Court, Salford, on February 7 Mon, on the eve of my viva.
Prof Alastair M. North of Strathclyde; Dr. Huglin;
February 8 Tue was one of my important days, the viva of my doctorate. The examination proceeded as scheduled, after lunch break, and Prof North arrived early. It was in Dr Huglin's office, a closet in Lab N22, with him sitting on my right for Prof North sat on his chair facing us. Dr Huglin was absolutely right, that Prof North was a very nice man. He firstly admitted himself that I was the one who knew best and a lot about the work I had done, not him, nor Dr Huglin. So he did not ask many questions on my work, instead asked me to tell him what I had found out from my three years work in the laboratory and library. He then said he wanted to know whether I knew or not about some basic principles of polymerization which he said all three of us in the room should invariably know. It was about the entropic changes during polymerization of which the extra point he wanted to get in focus was that, under favourable negative free energy changes, it proceeds the opposite way of natural entropy, leading to a very high negative, exothermic enthalpy which can cause explosion during polymerisation if heat transfer is not sufficiently efficient. With that he was more interested in chatting about the exotic Bangkok (where very soon he was going to Chair the Asian Institute of Technology) and other South-East Asian cities, before I was asked to leave the room, after about forty five minutes, for two of them to confer on the verdict. Prof North finally emerged from the room, followed by Dr Huglin, asked for me, among Ibrahim, Azim and Mahmood who turned up to give me moral supports, and said, "Mat, I am very, very sorry that I could not award you a PhD degree…", at that moment, for a few nanoseconds, my blood was frozen, stiffening all the denerved muscles, in total silence of all those present, except the sweetest smile of Dr Huglin and Prof North himself; then he continued, "but, I certainly would recommend to the Board of Postgraduate Studies of Salford that a PhD degree be awarded to you." which instantly rethawed my blood and renerved all the muscles in the broken silence of congratulations from both of them, and others who present. I left for home immediately. Azizah congratulated me even without asking the result for she knew it from my mood on entering the door. Later that night I sat with her listening to the prceedings of the viva which I secretly recorded on a microtape concealed in my coat. We were amused to find out that during those tense hours I had unconsciously unleashed a few Malay words and a few times, "dan" instead of "and", and "ya" (in Terengganu accent) instead of "yes".
The corrections were very minor, and done within an hour the next day. With the main mission accompalished, the packing began, we were exalted happily to go home, and every body were in homeward-bound mood with Ishak left on February 10, the day I cleaned the lab for all the messes I caused for the last three years. UKM sent a telex for home-bound flight particulars on February 19 Sat, two days after the crates to pack all personal effects arrived, packed in and sealed by March 3 Thu, the day Ibrahim had his viva, a week after Azim on February 21 Mon by Prof J.M.G. Cowie. In a week the plane tickets arrived from MAS in London, the crates were taken off by Five Oceans for shipping to Malaysia, pooled with Ibrahim and Zaleha Omar, the car was sold through British Car Auction in Trafford Park (with the help of Alias to collect the cheque), a long distance phone call to Malaysia was made in Mahadzer's home in Trafford Park informing Abang Ra of my flight schedules, CA and DA in Midland Bank were zeroed into hard notes, and Azizah acomplished all the house clearing matters, including her O&G letter from Hope Hospital, punctuated by a sad news that on March 7 Mon, I was informed by Mustaffa in Cheetham Hill that the wife of Mohd Md Tan in Nottingham (a SAS-UKM colleague in Geology) passed away a couple of days ago, and her body was to be flown home tomorrow.
I last visited the lab on February 25 Fri, the day I said good bye to Dr Huglin; Dr Fitton was also there to say good bye to me and apologised for he could not invite us for dinner at his place in return for our dinner invitation for him in Malaysia in 1977, because his wife was on a serious treatment scheme in London for a cancer. In March we spent more times with friends, mostly invited for dinners before we go; at home only to sleep or to be with visiting friends, Mahadzer, Johari, Sulaiman, Umran, Md Isa, Alyas, Ansari in areas around Trafford; Sulaiman Ghani, Safuan, Omran, Bakar, Fauzi, Ghani, Izwar, in areas around Salford. Our last day in Monton was on March 11 Fri, I missed my Jumaat prayer when I reached Eccles Mosque, late on foot, unable to estimate the walking time since the car was sold. Later in the afternoon, I settled all the bills, got the electricity and gas cut off, vacated the house, left the keys on the door inside the flat, as instructed by Mr Smith, gathered all our belongings, took a taxi to become guests at Mahadzer's place in Trafford Park and put up there, then with Zaini's family in Eccles the next two days, March 12 Sat and 13 Sun.
|In Manchester Airport|
In London Heathrow
We took off homeward-bound on late morning of March 14 Mon from Manchester Airport, sent off by the families of Zaini, Mahadzer, Alyas, and many others, and one Pakistani Dr Ibrahim, a close acquaintance of Zaini in Eccles who insisted that he drove us in his big Nissan station wagon to the airport; to London to take MAS MH001 direct to Kuala Lumpur. Malini then closing three whose skin grew only in the cold British atmosphere, was very much 'British', steadfasted to her overcoat and mitten, carrying only her packet of nappy, talking and running rather than walking very fast always ahead of us, obviously unpercieved of where we were going, while Rubaini then four and half was very much more mature and knew partly that we were going home although she obviously had no idea what would our home looked like, and in Azizah's womb, was our third baby, then five months. The flight was otherwise very pleasant, except for a very scary turbulence through air pockets on landing for a stop-over in Kuwait that the pilot Capt Adil had to apologised to everyone, not specifically to Azizah who was then in the toilet. Malini began to discern that Malay, not just English, was a publicly spoken language, through the PA in the plane, a new experience she clocked.
And we were home on Tuesday evening March 15, via Terminal 3, Subang Airport. My mother, all my brothers and sisters, including Num, Azizah's parents, Noriah and her family (who got married in our absence in 1980), Hamid Hadi, Mohd Osman, and their families, Wan Ahmad Jusoh the friend-neighbour in Damansara Utama in 1979, were welcoming us at the airport. I took my two weeks breaks to Terengganu with the family after I reported myself for duty the next day, Mar 16 Wed.
Malini was in agony I think getting in the heat. She steadfasted with her ever-coat right from Eccles in Manchester, in the plane, until for the first time she was exposed to the heat of Malaysian air on emerging from the plane at Subang, she threw away the coat on the plane ladder that we had to collect it on the ground. She was very restless indeed through out the car journey to Terengganu, and in kampung in Terengganu and added to the jet-lag and time zone difference, she could not settle down for three days, with irregular sleeps, crying, getting scared from the flying insects and itcy of their bites, and most of all she was crying to 'go home'. She eventually cooled off in five days. Rubaini in contrast regained her psyche experiences of Terengganu relatives and life and got along with the family members almost instantly.
No 31, Jalan 1/3C, BBB. Rubaini and Malini began thier "life" here; Zidni and Muzani were born here.
I got back to KL on March 29 Tue taking my family in TD7419, which I newly baught (not brand new) in Terengganu, stayed temporarily in Num's place then moved on April 4 Mon to settle down in a rented house 31, Jalan 1/3C, Bandar Baru Bangi. Chemistry Department, and in fact the rest of UKM had moved to its permanent campus in Bangi since last year 1982. The sciences studies had mutated into three faculties, Chem Dept was in the faculty called Physical and Applied Sciences; the other two sisters was Life Sciences (bilogical based) and Quantitative Studies (math-based). I gave away my designated office, to take over 2154/2144, designated for Prof Jamjan who was seconded to USM since 1978, for no one knew when or even whether he would be coming back. It was not yet a busy period in UKM since then it was a long break before new session began in mid June. By mid May we settled down fully, having gathered all our belongings that we trusted friends before leaving for England in 1979, Dr Akram in SS21, Prof Hamid in SS2, Wan Ahmad in SS22 and Dr Mansor Salleh in Second College UM; including crates clearance in Port Klang, Rubaini's registration in a nearby TADIKA, Azizah's registration in Dr Ariffin's clinic in Pantai MC, reestablishment the rapport with publishers, particularly En Yusof Shamsuddin formerly of PFB, Petaling Jaya, En Hassan of Sarjana Enterprise in Subang Jaya, En Chua Hon Koon of PFB, several editors in DBP, Mohamad Saleh of LIMMA in Sungai Penchala, and former friends elswhere in UKM, and friends then in UTM, USM, UPM, UM and PUSPATI, relatives, close and distant, former acquaintances, visiting and visited. Chem Dept was then in full function, and starting the new session in mid June, I was made to function fully in teaching, mainly SK3632 the basic polymer chemistry paper, supervising hons students' theses, and as always manning several committees. The head of the department was Dr Hamid Othman.
The hall, Dectar, and the Chemistry Department;
When Ramadan set in on June 13 Mon we were in Terengganu for a second break to see that Malini was successfully 'neutralised' in being able to acquire Malaysian completely, but mainly for the reason that we might not be able to spend the Aidil Fitri with parents, we were waiting for our third baby. It was a boy, the one Azizah wanted, Ahmad Zidni, born on Friday evening July 8 Fri. We were very happy to have Mak Ngah all the while to assist since returning from the last break, but by a pause that the night following the birth the baby had breathing problem, the pediatrician Dr Chin said his lung did not fully expand. He was put in the incubator, and the next day deteriorated that Dr Chin had to perform a surgery for IV feeding. We did not 'celebrate' Aidil Fitri which came on July 12 Tue although Azizah was discharged the day before, for the baby was still in the incubator, but on that day he won some fights by being able to breathe the oxygen in the incubator rather than through the mask. All the while I commuted twice a day to PMC delivering the baby's natural milk, and we had the bless of God that on July 21 Thu, the baby was discharged and returned home. He then progressed very fast indeed that on the second review in PMC on September 8 Thu, the pedatrician said "judging from the weight gain, he is very healthy" after two hours queue and sixty five ringgits fee; the same words said by Mak Ngah before she returned home on July 27 Wed.
The works on the piece of land in Sg Buah that I bought in 1978 began soon after Aidil Fitri, in the middle of UKM's 11th Convocation on August 6 Sat which I attended, by a few workers-relatives, Abang Zak, Jusoh and his father and Abang Ra himself, in anticipation to build a kampung-style house for my family, although Azizah preferred the kind in housing parks, notably in BB Bangi. However, when Mak Ngah went to see the place, and also Azizah's parents, they were of the opinion to hold on for a while, or get some where else nearer, which I could well read their minds. My mother later agreed with them. Nonetheless I spent many weekends through the year end, pruning the plot, mostly with Mohd Tanjung who lived in Sungai Rumput and came all the way to Bangi to help us. By sheer incident Dr Abdul Rahman, a SAS-UKM colleague in PPK asked me to participate in pioneering a neighbourhood in a place along Jalan Air Hitam in Sugai Merab Luar, to whom I was very glad to say yes immediately after seeing the place, and I bought the designated plot, about a month after Eid Adzha on September 17 Sat. Obviously then I ran out of fund. I took Zidni home to Terengganu for the first time on November 19 Sat during the first semester break.
Out of respect, Dr Arisol and Dr Rusli came to see me on September 10 Sat to discuss the possible research areas that we could all together, in the polymer field, participate. They suggested two, metathesis of olefin and chitin. I perceived more in the latter since I had some experiences with the related materials in my master works in 1975. Both were the students I supervised in 1979 when they were doing their Hons projects. The former went to Durhan, and the latter to Manchester for their doctorate in Sep 1979. And that was about two weeks after I received a call on August 23 Tue from a female teacher in SAS asking my biodata for an exhibition to celebrate 20th anniversary of SAS, an honour for being the HB in 1970.
The year end was marked by a sudden sad news that my cousin Ahmad Yusof passed away in a road accident in Kota Bharu on December 12 Mon during his break to wait for his second baby, with his wife's family. The last time I saw him was on June 26 Sun, at his place in Taman Selasih, Gombak where our families, including his parents-in-law, had an iftar together. He went to Indonesia a few years after SPM in 1972, and eventually graduated an agronomist from USU and returned home in Feb 1977. In the mid-year 1978, he pursued further for a master degree in UKM, and stayed with us in Damansara from Aug 1978 until we left for England again in Sep 1979, whence then he became a UKM residence tutor, and moved to flats in Sect 17, P.J.
Edition dated Jan 1999