I can't quite remember when I started to frequent the mosque for the tarawikh prayers during Ramadhan. For sure it was before I got married. Back then the visit was more frequent as when I was busy being a wife and mother to young kids.
As far as I could remember then, Arwah Pak Long Lah was the imam for the tarawikh prayers. He was the imam until his death. Pak Long Lah was my grandfather's friend. He was not a haji at the time of his demise although he dressed as one i.e with the headgear (serban) popular at that time. My grandfather, Pak Long Lah and another friend whom we called Tok Aad (short for Tok Saad) were 3 friends who would be going to pray for the jenazah whenever there was one aroung the whole state. During those time, in the 1980s era, when someone passed away, there were congregation from outside the community which would be doing the prayers for the date. They would come in drones of cars just to perform the jenazah prayer. The tradition has no longer being practised now.
At the time when phones and handphones are not as widely used as now, communication on where and when to do the prayer was successfully communicated. It baffled me as well, but I did not, at that time thought of asking my grandfather of it. I believe it was through the word of mouth. A lot of the times the dead was not anyone related to those who come to pray for him or her. But those who came to pray were given some token wrapped in a newspaper as a sign of gratitude, I guessed. There were no green/yellow/red/blue packets like now. If the dead was someone who was quite well to-do then the token would be more, if not then the wrapping would only contain a ringgit or 2. But then, at that time that was considered a lot of money.
There was a time when, there not enough transport to ferry these people to the jenazah prayer. My grandfather, although knew nothing of how to drive a car bought a second hand morris minor car for their convinience. The driver was Tok Aad. Besides going for the jenazah prayers, the car was also used for their recreation, like when my grandfather wanted to take my step-grandmother back to her kampung etc.
Back to Pak Long Lah the imam, he had a melodious voice when he recited the ayats during the prayers. His voice was firm and for his age that time he had a lot of energy toperform the 20 rakaat of tarawikh + 3 witir. It was the tradition in this kampung that the tarawikh would be performed using the ayat-ayat lazim (the short surah). It is normally over by 10.00 pm. Until now it is being practised that way. I still could come back and watch CSI after the prayers hehehe. (Luput pahala tarawikh sikit ekk..)
Pak Long Lah after his demise was succeeded by his son, the one popularly known as Ustaz Mad. His real name was Osman. I have no idea how he became known as Mad rather than Man. Maybe, when he was young the name didn't suit him. So that his parents had to give him another name to call eventhough his I/C registered him as Osman. Although he was not an ustaz at the school, he was working as a goverment officer in the Pejabat Ugama Penang, but he was popularly called "ustaz", maybe as a sign of respect to him and his father.
Ustaz Mad had a softer voice than his father, his recitation of the ayat was not a melodious as his father. Since his house was just behind the mosque, his younger sons would also frequented the mosque during the prayer. I used to resent their visit because of the noise they made, especially by the youngest son who would be running in and out of ladies prayers' saf. He was there on the ladies site because his mother was also performing the prayers.
Ustaz Mad was at one time responsible for me being elected into the PIBG of the primary school. That year was the year Ayin UPSR exam year. I had never attended any PIBG meeting because of the fear of being elected into the committee. Why? I didn't think I could be committed to the work, due to my own pressures at work.
Ayin insisted that I attended the meeting saying that the principal had asked all parents of the exam year student to attend. Not wanting to be in trouble with the school against my better judgement I attended the meeting.
Prior to the meeting, Ustaz Mad spotted me amongst the parents (although, I tried to sit well on the far end as possible). He came to ask whether my name was "Aminah". I said Nom Aminah is my older sister. Aminah is not even my sister's name, but it is her pet name given by our grandmother. The whole kampung actually known her as Aminah and not her real name. I also have a pet name, so I guessed Ustaz Mad could not be using that name because, it is not appropriate for me to be nominated as "Adik Besar" for a PIBG committee. ( Now semua orang tau nama glemer AN ye...hehehe)
So when the nomination started, Ustaz Mad nominated me as Puan Aminah, and knowing that he was refering to me, I had to make the correction for my name. I got nominated and serve the committee for a year.
Ustaz Mad had 6 sons. I had a feeling that he was hoping to for a daughter too. He didn't get his wish and he passed away about 2 years ago. His eldest son is 25 years old and his youngest is only 7 years old. Incidently, his widow has re-married this year. She is just one year younger than me.
The 3rd imam is Ustaz Mad eldest son, Faiz. I knew him when I was helping out with the bilik gerakan pilihanraya ke-12 last March. We were on the same party. He was one very active youth, techno-savvy and a teacher in one of the primary school in Butterworth. I once referred him as ustaz but he refused to acknowledge that title, saying that he was only a teacher.
Incidently, this young imam has a voice almost as firm as melodious as his grandfather and I would say his late grandfather and father wpuld have been proud of him for being elected as a assistant imam in the kampung at that young age.