Whenever this time of the year - dzulhijjah - the month of haj , my mind and my soul always fly going back to the year of 2003 when i performed my first Haj. Why do i say my first? Because i believe , insya Allah with  God's permission i'll perform my second haj with my mom,dad,husband and other people that i love.

Whenever i see the news of haj coverage in the television or in others media, tears fall from my eyes without even i realize it. The chant of labbaik allahumma labbaik,labbaik alaa syariika laka labbaik.. makes d goosebumps all over my body.

The moment, the prayers, the weather, the people, the venues,the clothes and everything related with it, still stuck in my mind.

I performed my haj with my used to be besties. I was working with the one national carrier of Saudi Arabia when i performed haj. It was my second year there when i pursued my besties to perform haj, though one of them decided not to go - sadly, till now she hasn't performed one - hopefully soon enough she will fulfill this obligation.

To perform one, we must get 6 full days - off during the date of 8-13 dzulhijjah. unfortunately, i who pursued others, could net get that days off. i cried.. then i gave up. the temptation from the evil was so hard that i decided not to join my besties and cancel my wish to perform haj. till i heard the green lights coming from the management that i could request for unpaid leave or changed my days-off. the effort was not that easy, i again almost failed. i cried in front of my supervisor requesting to be able to perform haj.  not to mention, at that time i also prayed to Allah wishing to be able to perform haj. then out of nowhere, God answered my prayer that i can perform one. with smile in her face, my supervisor gave the paper signed by the management. i was not alone at that time, i was with the other two Indonesians.

i could not tell how happy i was. i have prepared the clothes, the books and all other preparations back in the end of 2002. and now i got the permission, it was just unbelievable.

at that time, for 4 or 5 nights accommodation, i paid around 1500 Saudi Riyals.

on the date of 8 dzulhijjah, we were gathered in one place in jeddah. we were divided into different groups where each group would occupy one bus with the driver and the guide. the guide is some saudi teenagers which is quite handsome and shy,lol. they took care our belongings, they took care anything we need though they did not speak english.

good that i was in the same bus with my besties. our groups consisted only with Indonesian  those flight attendants, those domestic workers and any other Indonesians staying in Saudi Arabia. the leader is an around 50 years old man we called 'ayah' and he is such a nice guy.

before the journey started, i prayed to God, not to poo during ihram. why? i read somewhere that soap is not allowed during ihram and i was scared that i poo where i feel disgusting when soap is not used. alhamdulillah, God heard my prayer. i only poo when i finished my ihram.  at that time, i ate a little not to make my stomach felt full so that there was not any urges to do one.

i also remembered that time, before haj was started, my besties wrote their wills in a piece of paper whenever they did not return safely from haj, all their wealth will go to her, him or any other people that they mentioned. i consulted my parents about this and they said that i did not have to do that.

back to the journey, after we gathered and brought to the miqat area, we were then already in our ihram and any prohibitions should be followed. we performed umrah, at that time mecca and ka'bah was already quiet. weather was a bit cold and we finished our umrah easily.we then brought to arafah where we arrived around midnight.

we stayed there for the obligation of haj on the date of 9 dzulhijjah. the temporarily tents and bathroom was not a big problem since the weather was cold enough. we slept and feeling so happy since we finally in arafah.

since most of the people are young, the journey - i can say - was less spiritual that what i had imagined. laughing, talking, chit chat and everything were there (perhaps also gossiping). after performing jama' and qashar of zuhr and ashar, there started arafah. we prayed and prayed. we asked forgiveness. i fell asleep at that time - my kind of habit - asleep while reciting some zikr. then i woke up and continued everything written in the books. when ashar came, this arafah was finished, we were then brought to muzdalifah.

i could not draw how crowded the area was. people with white clothes are just like sea of humans and mountain of humans. the bus was stuck-could not even move. my prayer at that time was not to feel any urges of pee. i could not imagine where to pee, toilets were unseen. we then had to collects the small stones. some people found it difficult to find one, some found it easy.

it was after midnight when we first performed our jumrah. this jumrah area, i believe is such a place where devils are gathered. we should just throw the stones, but as a matter of fact, people throw bottles, sandals and everything in their hands that can be thrown.

i made a joke once on how to throw the stones and there went something bad to me, a stone hit me out of nowhere.

after jumrah, then again we were brought to ka'bah to do thawaf, 7 times walking around the ka'bah. it was totally hectic, unbelievable how many people were there. i was in the same level as ka'bah is, i could not even walk. i felt like my body was brought by the people who performed thawaf. i suddenly decided to move to the upper level of masjidil haram. there in the second level where people were less but made the journey longer than it should be. i was so tired. i took a Qur'an and opened any random papers and read it to make my thawaf much easier that i did not have to feel the tiredness. it took almost 2 hours to finish thawaf, which actually can be done only in 30 minutes. that was fine. finishing it, mean i finished my ihram. i am free... free in term as written in the books.

we were then brought to our tents. we were totally exhausted. we took shower then we slept.taking a shower was another uneasy things, we had to queue and the toilet is just a small cemented place with shower above the squat toilet.

the same ritual of jumrah then again was performed for another 2 times before we finally ended the journey and returned back to our apartments.

the moments, the experiences again now come and visit me at the time of the year. i then again pray hopefully soon enough i can visit the house of Allah. if not for haj, umrah should be just fine.

i miss the place - ka'bah, i miss praying there, i miss meeting the people from around the world there, i miss everything about haj and umrah....


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