I was told of the story of Nadra Maarof a.k.a Maria Bertha Hertogh by Tok (Grandma) when I was about 10. When my two younger aunts made a fuss about me reading Seorang Tua di Kaki Gunung by Azizi Hj Abdullah, SAGA (the winner of Sayembara Novel sometimes ago) and was struggling to understand Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Bumi Manusia, while kids my age were happily reading Bawang Putih Bawang Merah or Noddy. Padahalnya it was them whom introduced me to karya-karya berat since I was 9. Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales had become my treasures by that age, tak pandang dah (ye statement super bongkak).
My Tok's house was like a Perbadanan Perpustakaan Negeri (I thought then even My beloved SP town library pun couldnt beats the collection at my Tok's).I've known so many great writers from that 'library', even the good Indonesians novels by Ike Soepomo, Mira W etc .From politicals book like Universiti Kedua to the classicals of Jane Austin and Louisa M. Alcott and even some Mills and Boons (and the collectors mestilah include My own mother kan, haissyyy kecik2 pandai baca buku romen depa ni, anak Tok Guru pulak tu). Tu belum lah termasuk Tok Guru's (my tokwan) priceless collection of Kitab-kitab yang pancawarna, and of course la tak sangat menarik perhatian I, coz banyak "live book worms" dan pelbagai makhluk kecil pemakan buku yang aneh -aneh belaka manakala I buka kitab-kitab tu.
Memandangkan cucunya ini sungguhlah bijak (maklumlah peminum susu ibu tegar), Tok told me the story about Nadrah. She even kept some newspaper cuttings about her story. Some in Jawi and the rest in pop yeh-yeh Malay (Rumi). She read me those in Jawi and of courselah in Rumi I pulak yang kena baca balik buat siaran ulangan kat dia since she only reads Jawi. Even then I was deeply felt for her story.
Later, when (Datin) Fatini Yaacob (wah dah Datin?!!!!) wrote about her in Dewan Masyarakat I plead my Abah to buy DM instead of my frequent Dewan Siswa and Abah was like, dah baca Dewan Masyarakat pulak dah budak ni, Dewan Budaya , Dewan Sastra, tak mau ka??? Amboi Abah, main kasaq nampak,sapa yang bagi baca buku A. Samad Said masa orang darjah dua???
Datin Fatini kalau tak silap I did a jejak kasih with Nadra in the Netherlands. Among others stories, she admitted that the happiest moment in her life was back then in Terengganu, living with her adopted family and she has never been any happier. All she has left was sweet memories of her childhood. She turned emotional upon seeing a photo/or videos of Mansor Adabi's recent life with his wife and children. She was a victim of circumstances, a child who's happiness and the right to enjoy life was ruptured badly.....how sad. And she had passed on. As a Muslim, we look at it as a heart wrenching experienced of how a girl whom had been brought up as Muslim, khatam Al Quran and was named Nadrah upon her circumsition, had been forced to a Convent and forced to abide Christianity. But as a Mother, I would have done the same thing, fought my life and blood to get my child back.Both of her parents biological and adopted, had done the right thing, but still she was the one who had to bear the result. If only her story would have a happier ending, if only her biological parents would have mercy and unconditional love to their long lost daugther, would it be different if they made a sacrifice and migrated to be near their daughter???? If only they decided to live in peace and harmony with their daughter and her adopted parents whom had taken good care of her, and was once their good friends, there wouldnt be any riots , there wouldnt be any deaths, there wouldnt be any sorrow, any misery , any sufferings. Life would have been better. But that is only a wish.
Aminah was offered a handsome offer to give up Nadra but she refused. The case was taken to Court.The High Court of Singapore had ruled that the custody of Nadra were given to the Hertoghs. Aminah then appealed. The appellate Court overruled the lower court decision due to some ambiguity in her biological's father submission. Nadrah was married to a 22 year old Mansor Adabi very much later.
However, according to the Law then, a domicile of a child was determined through her father's and Nadrah was a Dutch accordingly, as decided by the Law and her counsel failed to prove that she was a domicile of Singapore. Nadrah was then 13, a minor who was incapable of deciding on her own. Her father contended that he never consented to her marriage and her conversion to Islam. Based on those ground, Nadra was again given to her natural parents whom later took her to their country of origin. There were riots in Singapore soon after. A few were killed, some were convicted.
Along side with my obsession with Nadra, I came to know this great man. Through my readings, I learned that He was the Defend Counsel for Nadrah and Aminah.Later on, I found out that he was the Sheikh (Dean) of Kulliyah of Laws in The International Islamic University. I was zealous since I hade made up my mind (finally) since Form 4 , to pursue law degree in IIU, period. No other options, no plan B. I MUST GET MY PLACE IN IIU.... I was that kind of determined about my life and my future (apasal sekarang aku macam lost track and bengong tah). Abah I sujud syukur dengaq my decision, because I eventually drop my other options of being a Muzium Kurator , a photo journalist or an Editor for fashion magazine, since he was lagi komunis, I MUST be either a lawyer of a teacher, lain tak payah. Eh ni dah jadi karangan bertajuk Cita-Cita Saya pulak dah.... sorry.
Ok. I iconized this man. Although he was called to the British Bar, trained in Cambridge became Singapore's first Attorney General and all, he was fond of developing Syariah Law especially in Singapore and Malaysia. He was a walking law Dictionary, fulled of charisma and brain full of knowledge, yet very humble and gentle despites all his great achievements.He even speaks Latin, the languange of Law, and how cool is that? Among other established publications, he wrote The Malaysian Legal System, the text book yang menjadi Kitab Suci to all law students in Malaysia. And I got an A for that subject (apakah motif kenyataan ini ? Hanya untuk meriakkan diri? Nauzubillah)
He sat as one of the Panel in Syariah Court of Appeal , in deciding the matter of alimony claimed by the former wife of our Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
I came face to face with the man during my first year in the IIU Main Campus (then in PJ), I was shocked and startled to see him standing in front of me. He was the one who offer me Salam. Sungguh bedebah kerana rasa nak nangess and I heard myself contemplating of how to adress the man I have so much respect for. Tan Sri, Eh Datuk eh Prof ke Bapak ,Cissss and cissss. He was so tall, fair , handsome and a gentleman. He said to me ' Are u new" Obviously lah kan dah terketaq-ketaq macam tu. Yesss Tan Sri err Prof. First Year." Then he went 'Good, welcome and I wish u good luck" he then pointed at the door and said "After U young lady" he said THAT to me, young lady.... nasib baik dia tak cakap my dear, I swear I 'll be his research assistant forever, FOC. And where were my crony when he spoke to me??? Why did I decided to go there alone??? Ohhh tadak eye witness untuk mengebestkan diri... (meroyan).
He was the man of perfection. During his reign of the Kulliyah, the percentage of our exam papers were elevated. To score an A , there was no room for any grammatical error. Zero defect. The exam papers were marked and ditapis 3 kali pemeringkatan, Jah, macam minyak cap buruh. First, by the lecturers themselves, second by the external examiners consist of panels of professors from other institutions, chaired by him and lastly must be endorsed by the Senate. So kalau ko pandai macam kancil dan otak ko geliga macam batu geliga ular pun, if ko tulis nak cepat and your english was bad , spelling salah sana sini, tiada harapan untuk dapat A. Walaupun ko saiko aku dengan pen ko yang 57 batang tu dan kejap2 angkat tangan mintak answer booklet, kalau kau salah eja, ko adalah habisss ok (siapakah orang yang dimaksudkan ini???) So come the notion among the law students that A is for Allah, penuh kesempurnaan. During the introductory of the system, ramai students gagal mencapai target and had to either reregister for other courses or be dismissed kalau tak cukup makan. And he, although a pejuang Islam and bahasa, he put a great emphasize on good command of English among students, without sekelumit pun mencacatkan beliau sebagai Tokoh Bangsa dan Agama. ( I wonder kalau arwah masih ada what would he say about PSSMI).
After his death, the IIU Kulliyah of Laws was named AHMAD IBRAHIM KULLIYAH OF LAWS.
Tan Sri, you will always be sebutir permata yang tak akan pernah hilang sinarnya, walaupun ternoktahnya masa. Al-Fatihah and Nadra a.k.a Maria Hertogh R.I.P... Sesungguhnya Allah maha mengetahui segalanya.
Walaupun nafas keduanya terhenti di sini, kisah mereka, walau berbeza, akan tetap abadi di hati kita. Pada mereka mungkin ini titik penghujung, pada kita bermulalah sebuah pengakhiran.
Jangan jadikan kisah mereka hanya sebuah kenangan semata, tapi titik permulaan untuk perubahan yang hakiki.