The life of Yunus the dhobi man

Diterbitkan: Khamis, 15 Januari 2009 12:00 AM

(Ubah saiz teks)

At Jalan Rahang, Seremban, opposite the Masjid Jamek Rahang there is a wooden dhobi shop run by an octogenarian from Uttar Pradesh, India.

Mohd Yunus Murth Ali who operates the laundry business there migrated to this country with his father in 1947 at a time where religious strife was rife in India.

"I ventured into laundry since I first arrived in Malaya. I started working at the Port Dickson military camp dhobi and later worked at the military launderettes all over the nation," he said.

He has fallen in love with the country and considers his arrival here being the will of Allah almighty.

He said, Malaysia is a land blessed by Allah with peace that is evident all over the nation and in fact the Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who can't see eye to eye back in India coexist peacefully here.

A SIMPLE LIFE

The pious Yunus leads a humble life. Often others see him living hands to mouth, in fact the writer himself advised him to seek assistance from Baitulmal or the Welfare Services Department.

Yunus however felt uneasy over the advice and replied; "I'm not poor enough to receive assistance from Baitulmal. A faithful Muslim will use all that is endowed upon him to persevere...it is a different thing altogether if I could no longer work or have no food to eat, only then I can receive alms from the others."

The conviction that he has to work hard to earn a living kept Yunus washing clothes for almost six decades now. There were never any washing machines and instead he has been using his hands to wash clothes at the shop, which also serves as his home.

Yunus, however, admitted that due to his advanced age now he only takes in a limited amount of clothes to be washed and nowadays he only prefers to iron them.

Yunus charges 70 cents to iron a shirt or a pair of trousers and will iron them using an antiquated copper iron dating back to 1950s that he inherited from his late father.

A PIOUS MAN Yunus starts his day with prayers at dawn at the mosque opposite his shop and then proceeds to wash 10 to 20 pieces of clothing depending on the situation.

The wooden shop was rented by his father in the 1950s with a monthly rental of RM25 but now it is RM250 a month, and the structure looks dilapidated with the wood rotting away.

"I like to stay here because it's close to the mosque. Muslims should pray in mosques and stay close to the house of worship, that is the best thing to do," he said.

His father, Murth Ali was the bilal (muezzin)of the Masjid Jamek Rahang in 1965. Currently, Yunus is living alone in his shop with one of his children living nearby and another one in Pulau Pangkor. Five more of his children are in India.

YUNUS' FINAL WISH

The frail looking Yunus, who on and off struggles to speak, is assisted by his nephew Mohd Alam Mumtaz Ahmed, 23, who works at a nearby bakery.

Yunus earns between RM300400 monthly and after deducting the rental there is very little left for him.

Yunus who completed his Haj pilgrimage two years ago wants to visit his family in India but he has put his plans on hold as he has to save RM2,000 before he can realise his dream. BERNAMA

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