FICTION: The Light of Forgiveness

Bismillahirrahmaanirrahim.

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This is the story of Amin and Basyir.

SPM was only a month and a half away, and the Form 5 students of SMK LOL (Ladang Orang Lidi) expressed various reactions towards their official trial results after loyally waiting for two hours straight outside Cikgu Fauzi’s room, clamouring impatiently for him to pin the documents on his notice board.

One young man did not mind the heavy pushing and shoving of the crowd as he beamed up as his results. A beautiful work of art! All A’s! Well, almost. Unfortunately, he only got a B for Add Math. He would have to work on that, pronto. He’d do exercises until his eyes cried blood. He was Basyir, one of the most intelligent students SMK LOL had ever produced! The teachers basically worshipped him! Losing was not an option. He was a person whose ambitions did push-ups in his sleep. One day, he was going to be a successful Cambridge lawyer, and if that meant cooperating with Add Math, so be it.

After the pasar malam-like crowd dispersed, a bespectacled boy wearing a Han Solo backpack went over to the notice board to check his own results. He received an A- for Pendidikan Islam, an A for Bahasa Malaysia, and most of the other subjects consisted of B’s, C’s and even D’s. Not very impressive. However, his Math and Add Math both had an ‘A+’ printed next to them. But Amin wasn’t surprised in the least — he’d never got less than an A for any Math-related subject anyway before this. I’m talented in one area I guess, he said, shrugging.

For the next month and a half, Basyir would ask for Amin’s help every other day. Basyir wanted to learn from the best, and Amin was happy to help. However, Basyir did not think much of Amin’s lenient attitude. Sure, he was born with Math capabilities that would put Einstein to shame, but instead of working hard to improve his other subjects, he’d rather play online games and whatnot. He heard rumours that Amin was a world-famous hacker under the username BRUC3WAYN3. Now how would that ever result to anything?

Deep inside, Amin could tell that Basyir often wanted to tell him to do something actually useful with his life but resisted the temptation. Unlike you, not everyone is compatible with the mainstream school system, Basyir.

Pejam celik pejam celik, and SPM results were finally out! Basyir, as the whole school expected, received straight A’s and a fancy certificate as he grinned widely, walking across the stage. He received a fancy scholarship from a fancy company to go to a fancy law school in a fancy place called the United Kingdom.

Amin could find no more than 5A’s on his result slip. That was okay, that was good. He applied for a diploma in Computer Science with Gaming and Animation at a local university that required a minimum of 3A’s for SPM, and got in. Hurrah! No more dealing with chemical equations. Sure, there were more prestigious programs, ones that could take him abroad in fact, but he wanted the one with a clear emphasis on gaming and animation.

If Basyir’s ego was a balloon, it was inflating more and more with every passing second. He received praise from everyone under the sun. In fact, he would turn his nose up at those who he deemed inferior. He called Amin to ask what he was studying now, and when Amin replied, “Gaming and Animation”, Basyir shook his head with disappointment.

“Amin, I’m telling you this directly, without any trace of filter, for your own good. If you listen to my advice, you’ll probably thank me one day. Apply for something else, please. Gaming won’t take you anywhere. Our teachers would be totally unimpressed when they find out you’re in that low-class university. Forbes even listed computer science as one of the ten top useless degrees. You’re talented, Amin. Use that talent for something good.”

And he hung up before Amin could reply.

The months went by.

Amin never truly forgave Basyir for his words, despite trying. There would always be a feeling of hatred and hurt whenever he thought of the other boy. Basyir, on the other hand, made no effort to keep in touch with those who had once helped him. Ibarat kacang lupakan kuilt, as the Malays say.

The months went by.

It was as if Basyir was sinking into the deep sea, and had no means of reaching to the surface for air. His A-level results were the worst of his batch. B’s for English and History, and a D for Math. He couldn’t understand that last part. He was sure he paid great attention to his Math lectures and read du’aa before he exhausted himself with homework. What was he doing wrong? All his batchmates were on their way to drinking tea with the Queen, and here he was with….. absolutely nothing!

Six months passed by, and there were only a few months left until Basyir’s A-level retake.

He hardly had time to read the news, maintain his social media accounts or spend time on his hobbies as he was drowning in his work. He was starting to get the hang of calculus and trigonometry but still encountered many mental obstacles. One night, Amin crossed his mind for a second. That kid was a total whiz at Math. He suddenly remembered the phone call that ended with a bad note, felt the slightest amount of guilt, and decided to log in on Facebook for the first time in two and a half years.

He ignored his 300+ notifications and messaged Amin straightaway. It was just a simple message. “Assalamualaikum bro. Sorry I haven’t been in touch for ages, super busy over here. Hope you’re in good health and doing well :). I have no idea what you’ve been up to. I have no idea what anybody from SMK LOL’s been up to. I also suddenly remembered what I said last time, and I apologize. I’m sure I’ll be proven wrong.

A sudden instinct to google Amin’s full name came over Basyir. What he found on the internet left him flabbergasted.

…the worldwide success of the Demi Masa (By Time) and Khaleefah Android apps are not Amin Baharuddin’s only outstanding achievements, he has also maintained a CGPA of 3.75 and above for five semesters now. For his sixth semester, he is doing an internship at the animation company who produced Gegerlgerl and they tell us he’s a gem…

…this twenty-year-old received praise from a renowned lecturer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through a tweet two weeks ago for mastering the art of coding at such an early age…

…when asked about his life goals, Amin mentioned that he wishes to be the next Steve Jobs, only better and with a noble purpose to serve the ummah. The world seeks more creative, ambitious young minds like Amin…

Basyir had never felt worse in his life. It was like being smacked directly in the face. With a truck. Did he once try to persuade this boy not to pursue computer science? He found Amin’s Twitter account, which had 146K followers from all over the world. His cover photo was a screenshot of the Forbes article deeming computer science as the ninth top useless degree in the world. Basyir did not know where to put his face.

Ting! Amin had responded to his message.

Waalaikumsalam. It’s good to hear from you, Basyir! I’m doing okay. Alhamdulillah. I’m in my final semester. Aren’t you supposed to be in Cambridge by now, studying law? Oh that’s okay, I’m glad you apologized. Kosong kosong, okay?

Basyir breathed out a sigh of relief. His iPhone started ringing, and on the screen was the name of a contact that he hadn’t contacted in two and a half years. Amin Baharuddin. They talked all night. Eventually, Basyir came clean and told Amin about his failures and regrets, and how he didn’t know how big Amin was until after he sent that Facebook message. He even cried a bit. Amin assured Basyir that he was forgiven, listened to his worries and gave him advice to purify his intentions and recheck his relationship with Allah.

After that one phone call, Basyir found that his life was going a lot better than it was before. He was more focused in his prayer, he gave off more positive vibes to the people around him, he started playing sports again, and believe it or not, Math became significantly easier! He excelled for his A-level retake and flew off to the UK.

Twenty-five years later, Basyir was giving a speech at a local university.

“As the dean of the law faculty, I wish to apologize for all the mistakes I’ve made throughout this year. And I apologize sincerely, because I deeply understand how not apologizing, even for something seemingly insignificant, could be the cause of your downfall. It was no bed of roses, getting to where I am today.

Let me tell you something. During my time, we never imagined that Noor computers, a product of Malaysia, would one day beat Macs and PCs. Well, guess what? I went to school with Amin Baharuddin himself! But I’m sure you all know Mr. Amin’s story by heart.

This, on the other hand, is the story of Amin and Basyir.”

***

With this, I, Arifah, sincerely apologize for every mistake I’ve ever made, big and small. Salam Maal Hijrah.

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