The letter confirmed my PhD award from Imperial College
This letter confirmed my PhD award from Imperial College

Alhamdulillah wa syukurillah. Berjaya meletakkan noktah di situ.

Ini adalah karangan 2 muka surat yang saya masukkan juga dalam tesis saya. 4.5 tahun untuk menunggu mendapatkan penganugerahan ini dengan pelbagai cabaran dan pentarbiahan terus dari Allah SWT. Sesungguhnya kejayaan ini semata-mata dari Allah SWT. Atas rahmat Dia juga. Percayalah bahawa, setinggi mana pun tahap kecerdikan, tahap kerajinan, tahap kebaikan kita (e.g. dengan supervisor, dengan examiner, dengan technician lain-lan) untuk mendapatkan anugerah ini, ia tetap perlu datang ‘mercy’ daripadaNya. Perbanyakkan amalan sunat (dhuha, tahajjud dsb) untuk memohon daripadaNya. Andainya kita terlajak dengan dosa, bersegeralah bertaubat atas kesalahan diri. Sekiranya ada rasa kekurangan, muhasabahlah diri, mungkin ada hak kita kepada insan lain yang tertinggal, e.g. hak kepada isteri, hak kepada anak, hak kepada mak ayah, hak kepada keluarga, dan yang terpenting sekali ialah hak kepada ALLAH.

THE JOURNEY

Once I graduated from the University of Sheffield for my BEng and Newcastle University for my MSc, I learnt how chemical engineering knowledge is very valuable to me, and, hence, inspired me to become an academician in my own country, Malaysia. To become a capable academician and researcher, I therefore needed to pursue my PhD, hence, my reason for returning to the UK, this time to Imperial College London. However, this is not what I wanted to share here. This PhD is not only a journey to climb the career ladder as an academician. It is a spiritual journey, the toughest that I have encountered so far in my life. I started my PhD in October 2009. My wife in her third pregnancy had to forget her career the first time we arrived here since she was not allowed unpaid leave to accompany me here. I was a young father with two going to be three kids at the age of 28 when I started my PhD. We left our big family, big home and luxurious car in Malaysia and commenced to hold out for another four years in a little apartment in London. Without any other family members except us, this left me juggling between the household and my PhD work. I had to make sure while doing my PhD that the needs of my wife and children would never be overlooked. Paying a high rent and rationing food were part of the price to pay, but it did not deter me from moving forward.
As time moved on, things went as usual until one day I was infected with scarlet fever or scarlatina, a rare disease today. It was for a month prior to my MPhil to PhD transfer exam. My two sons were also infected and one of them had to be hospitalised for the antibiotic course. Fortunately, I managed to pass my transfer exam. Afterwards, my wife began her PhD in Petroleum Engineering and my family members from Malaysia had a rotating schedule to get to London to look after our children. Unfortunately, I was again infected with a dental related illness, which consumed three weeks of my precious time as I was bedridden. After a month, the third disease attacked me, which was related to arthritis, and about which neither my GP nor I had any idea about until then. I was a healthy person back in Malaysia and again I was prevented from doing my PhD work for a few weeks until finally being cured.
Starting from then, I tried to lead a healthy life and felt much more active and healthy. I was enjoying the third year of my PhD, collecting and analysing data from the experimental works, until one day, disaster struck when our lab caught fire due to a hydrogen explosion. I was demoralised and demotivated from not being able to retrieve anything. I made up my mind to go back to Malaysia, to meet my employer and request for an extension and to do some analytical works there. However, after I got my catalysts out of the affected lab to be brought back together to Malaysia, a further incident happened when a postgraduate student fell from the window of my office while watching the Skyfall 007 red carpet moment outside the Royal Albert Hall; apparently she ruined my catalysts located on my desk. Some of the prepared and spent catalysts were ruined and were not able to be salvaged. I was later interrupted from my PhD for 5 months, and not able to do any further experiments.
One fine day during my period of interruption, my wife found that she was pregnant for the fourth time, which was unplanned. I consulted with my supervisors on the results and the data that I received earlier and decided to start writing my thesis. My wife wanted to deliver the baby in Malaysia and switched her PhD program to Malaysia for reasons of childcare, and we went back there during my writing up period. But finally I manage to finish the thesis despite the struggles.

This journey taught me about patience, love and being benevolent to others. There are things in this world that I cannot control and I seek forgiveness and help from the God Almighty. I have learnt that everything happens for a reason and that this PhD journey is just a sign that we might not get everything that we want, but whatever we do have, are the most precious things that no other people might have. However depressed and unlucky I was throughout my PhD progress, the most important thing is that my wife, my children and my family members and friends were always there to support me and it is my responsibility to care for them the most. There is no point in me venting my anger at them, even though I had arrived at my lowest point in life. I learnt to balance between the work and family matters, and there is nothing more important than a strong family bond.


My wife quoted this and I want to share it here:

“Sometimes all He wanted us to learn was the meaning of endurance and patience.
When we feel like we cannot go on anymore, that is when we have to endure a little bit more. When we thought things could not get any worse that is when we have to be patient with the tides that keep on coming. May this lesson enable us to endure the ever-challenging and testing life of this world. And to be patient and have patience with anything that will be inflicted upon us throughout our life until it finally ends.”