Ordinary Mokhtar by Tengku Zarina
Published on February 10, 2020 | Source: R.D. Selva, et. al. Sports Flame, Stories Never Told Before, Percetakan SM Sdn. Bhd.’ pp.208-09
Most people remember my husband because he was extraordinary – a legendary football player of his time, gracing the sports arena , sending fans into ecstasy with his sublime goal- scoring touches.
He was worshipped by his fans for his God-given talents. I have watched from the stands , how the stadium would wait in anticipation whenever he took the ball, and would erupt when he sent it crashing into the back of the net.
But as his wife, I have loved and revered him for being the simple and ordinary man that he was. I have cherished the ordinary moments with him. They were just too precious to me, and I am thankful to God for this..
In our bewildering journey of a challenging life as a football celebrity, I have learnt to see him for what he really was – not a football icon, but a husband, a father, loving and well loved.
What touched me dearly was when I fondly recall about it now, is how Mokhtar would always talk to me about football, share his dilemmas or strategies, when I was no expert. It made me
feel good that he valued my opinions, my input, and turned to me for support when he could have done that with those who were trained in the mechanics of the game. I wasn’t a ‘ football widow’ I was never left behind as he pursued his career and his love for the game.
I would help him to structure his points and would offer him ideas whenever he was invited by universities to give talks to aspiring students. I have never meddled with his career or told him to quit football, no matter how hard it was on me or on him.
For, I knew that it was his passion , and he was inherently born to do what he does.. Whenever he comes to me all battered black and blue by the stresses of his football life, I would say “Be patient, there are always ups and downs”.
I remember my husband most vividly for the good father that he was. Whenever he got time off from the rigorous football schedule he was on, he would spend it with his children.
He would pamper them and give them their baths. He was also an exceptional husband, never hesitating to help around the house.
He particularly enjoyed certain chores like mopping the house, and cleaning the bathrooms. But he would jokingly ( or seriously ) tell me that he would never hang out the clothes because then our neighbours would make conclusions that he was being queen controlled.
Now so many years have passed and I still see Mokhtar in the three children that we have – seeing glimpses and sparks of him in their personality and the way they live their lives.
The virtues that he had passed down to our children was aplenty, like compassion and empathy.
The children used to get upset when they heard other people trash-talking their father, but Mokhtar would respond by asking , “Are you proud to have me as your father? In order to be good at something and famous, you must be willing to be criticised. Try to be empathetic and take pity on the person who is name-calling me. We must always be compassionate even to these people”.
I am forever thankful to God for picking me to have the privilege of knowing Mokhtar for what he truly was – away from the lenses of the public – his private beautiful brilliance of the man that he was.
Source: R.D. Selva, et. al. Sports Flame, Stories Never Told Before, Percetakan SM Sdn. Bhd.’ pp.208-09
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