My front neighbour, Abdul Halim, insyAllah will one day make the cover of a magazine as a true Rags to Riches story. Though he is yet even to be a millionaire now, he is slowly expanding his businesses ranging from a small chicken abattoir-retail to 2nd hand clothes to retail shop, and now, a warung-eatery in Kota Damansara. He has several medium cost houses which he rents out, and lives in a double-story-endlot presently valued at RM500,000 - no doubt a small value for corporate figures, but certainly above reach for the average medium income family. But it has not always been this way for Halim, for as he himself will tell to anyone new to him, he is a high school dropout. And his Rag-to-Riches began when at the age of 15, he ran away from his house near Kamunting, Perak to KL, to begin a life of his own.
I do not know his full story, but I do know that he took on several menial jobs somewhere around Chow Kit Road. Later, he joined a small Land Survey firm and traveled to many parts of Malaysia - mainly the jungles - to make surveys of the terrain for future development. After spending several lonely months in the jungles, he decided to call it quits and return to his hometown where he learned the art of slaughtering animals according to Islamic ruling from his father. With that knowledge, he set off to KL again and worked for several chicken sellers before setting up his own small abattoir in Kampung Kerinchi, KL.
It has been more than 15 years now since he opened the small abattoir cum retail outlet. Apart from the outlet's size has since doubled in space, so too has Halim's knowledge not only in the art of his trade - he holds certification from several Islamic bodies - but the art of business as well. Yet, for the achievements he has made in religious/community affairs and wealth, Halim has continued to be humble and soft spoken.
Several nights ago when he asked me to join him for teh-tarik, I gladly accepted as it has been more than a month we did so. We stopped over a row of roadside stalls where he showed me the end lot which he will be occupying for his food business. Naturally, I was happy and excited for him, as I know this was near to a dream he has been having for more than 2 years now.
Some 3 years ago, a friend introduced me to some business agents for a municipal council (PBT). To maximise the usage of an open community hall, the PBT had moved traders from another district into the grounds of the hall. A year after that, the PBT Director saw a business opportunity where on one part of the grounds would be leased out to an operator who would operate the place similar to a food bazaar. I, by then, had introduced the agents to Halim and we were both very keen to embark on this venture. Problem was, the PBT Director wanted a cut in the profits as well - without forking out a single cent! We were turned off with this and pulled out. To this day, there has been no takers on the proposal and business is running as usual; it was a good honest opportunity that turned sour due to greed on the PBT Director's part. My want to offer a menu which include Thai Green Curry, and Halim's idea of Ayam Golek, just could not be realised.
Just after maghrib earlier this evening, Halim called asking me to go to his new stall and collect a freshly cooked Ayam Golek. I was taken by surprise at the swiftness of him getting the stall ready, but am never the one to reject a kind offer. And there I was just now, sitting and mixing with Halim and his friends while the chickens turn slowly over an open charcoal pit built with metal frame.
Halim, the business minded as well a religious man, decided to cook 52 chickens and gave away all of it free to anyone who approached his stall. Within the 2hours I was there, scores of people - mainly children - had a delightful taste of his Ayam Golek! Some adults, even offered to pay full price so they can take away several chickens, but was turned down by Halim; my guess is that it was Halim's way of giving sedekah. But it was the children from the nearby apartments who had the adults laughing with their antics! Knowing that Halim was giving 1/2 of a chicken to each person or household, some took the opportunity by pretending they were strangers when in fact we know they were siblings! Some were denied, yet some got to Halim's soft side.
On his Ayam Golek, while I will not say it is the best I ever had, the taste is by far better than many including Kenny Roger's and Ayam A1 or even Ayamas - it is tender, juicy, and does not reek of charcoal smoke at all! And from tomorrow night onwards, the other part of the stall will begin its business of Tom Yam and drinks. InsyAllah, as the several businesses Halim has had his hands in, this too will be a success.
Success however, no matter how small, does seem to have its price. Sometime last year, when I wrote Could It Be Magic? Pt1 , I mentioned about Halim. Then, he was afflicted with a mystery ailment which medical doctors could not identify. It was only after meeting many people, Halim met a pious man who, alhamdulillah, was able to assist in curing the ailment. Though the pious man did not specifically mention it, Halim - who is a part time Imam at a surau in Kampung Kerinchi - was made to understand that his ailment could be due to some unseen forces, if you get my drift.
*Off topic: I have been following Halim's advice for sometime now, to avoid eating chicken and meat from Mamak's shops. Though he did not mention the chicken as non-halal, he did relate his experience.
In wanting to expand his business, he has been trying to supply the Mamak's shops with their need for chicken. However, after a year of doing so, the Mamak stopped buying from him, citing that they need their supplies almost 365 days a year, taking away 3 days for Eid Fitri and Eid Adha holidays. As most halal chicken suppliers take long leave - some up to 7 days - during the 2 Eids, Halim suspects the supplies might be coming from non-halal suppliers. He however, is unable to prove it. That leaves us to ponder on the matter ourselves. Hmm...and Malaysia is aiming to be the Halal Hub of the world.