Sunday, July 24, 2011

Keeping Up with the KMB-ians (Part 1)

Two days ago, I was honored (read: bored to death) with the opportunity to watch "Keeping up with the Kardashians" with my sister. I was "entertained" by the antics of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe and their Mom (who I only knew as "the Mom") and some other people whose names start with "K" - and after 30 minutes my mind was numb with both sleepiness and disgust…it was all so superficial - and so trivial! I mean, who cares if Kim had changed the curtains of her toilet to aquamarine from ultraviolet (yes, I know ultraviolet not a colour), or if Khloe was taking a 17-minute and 52-second nap, or if "the Mom" had decided to not cut her toenails for the week (like, oh my gaaawwwd…!).

I have no idea why Kim (or Kourtney or Khloe or "the Mom") had to talk to the camera (in full make-up) in an interview-like manner every time some little thing happens. E.g. "Kourtney: Like, why can't Khloe flush the toilet after she uses it, ya know? Like oh my gawwd…etc, etc.". WHO THE NERAKA CARES???

So, I have decided to come up with an alternative version of "Keeping up with the Kardashians", centered instead on the lives of KMB students. Nothing superficial, and with the International Baccalaureate in the equation, definitely not trivial! So, let the (imaginary) cameras roll, sit back, and enjoy: "Keeping up with the KMB-ians".

(Italic letters represent words said in front of the camera interview-style).


* * *

At 7.50 in the morning, the camera finds Mike in the TV room, putting the final touches on his Mathematics folio – due at 8 a.m. His hands were trembling slightly as he typed the values of OP and OP', names for the radii of intersecting circles. In 10 minutes, the folio was finally done: printed, stapled and glued. But the deed was not yet done; with hair yet to be combed, Mike rushes to put the cursed folio on his teacher's desk. The camera followed unsteadily as Mike rushes across the road and past the ko-op, up the stairs and into the staff room. The teacher not at her desk, Mike leaves it there. His face visibly relieved, he now rushes to class. The clock showed 8.05.

Mike: Like, oh my gawd…I've slept for only two hours last night, and I was still late. I mean, it was, like, hell, man… I was sleepy, and, like really really hungry, and totally pumped up with the deadline and all that, and I was totally trembling by the time I went to class, ya know…?

The camera in class records Mike entering the classroom cautiously. Realising that teacher is still not in, he sits with a satisfied sigh. He has done it! But sitting just next to him, K-own is still not out of the woods. He is still busy typing away on his tiny laptop. His folio was still uncompleted. Intersecting circles fill his screen, uninterpreted. And worse, the Mathematics teacher (an intimidating lady indeed) will enter the class soon. Will K-own survive??


Meanwhile, a storm is brewing in the back of the same classroom. The camera will testify that Azizi had a face which betrayed no emotion, but his heart was a storm of uncertainty. He was the Project Manager for the Year 1 inter-class Debate Tournament which will take part later in the day…

Azizi: I was not too nervous…but yeah, I was…kinda. It was quite a big thing, you know, this tournament – I had to handle the judges, and the contestants, about…<makes mental calculations>…96 contestants…so yeah, quite a bit to think about…

All that is put on hold, though, as the Math teacher enters class. The camera captures K-own tensing up visibly. The thoughts in his mind must be intersecting almost as intricately as the circles on his laptop screen. Will he pay attention in class, or take the risk of finishing up his folio (due an hour ago) in front of the Math teacher – a lady as observant as she is intimidating?

K-own: Math class was totally scary…it was, like, totally hard to focus on those circles while, like, trying to avoid been caught, you know? Totally…

The class endures a 50-minute mental-bashing in the hands of the Math teacher. The teacher asked questions, many of them; and answers (complete ones) were demanded. After a night of little or no sleep, such mental-bashing was the last thing the students needed. The camera captures the mixture of drowsiness and fear on their faces…

And K-own continues on his covert mission


It was now close to 2.20 in the afternoon, and class was about to end. In an occurrence nothing short of miraculous, K-own's secret attempts to finish his folio in class have escaped detection by any teacher. His predicament may be over, but Azizi's had just begun. During recess, Azizi disappeared without a trace, leaving even the efficient cameramen behind. Zul, a close friend of Azizi, speaks:

Zul: Azizi totally disappeared again during recess today…I mean, I have known him for, like, a year now, but I still don't know how he does it, ya know? He doesn't walk fast or anything…but he could be beside you one second and gone the next…ya know? And as far as the eye can see, he won't be there. He could be a machine. Like, oh my gawd, man…

It was later revealed that Azizi had met the Debate Club advisor during recess. Azizi still kept a cool fa├žade in front of the camera, perfectly hiding the maelstrom of insecurity in his heart. But the question nonetheless remains: will the weeks of planning he has put into the tournament be worth it? Only time will tell…

Meanwhile, another camera records Mike and Zul in the Warden's Office, about to make yet another announcement. Today was a particularly announcement-packed day, with 6 announcements booked through SMS. Those announcements have taken a toll on Mike – the camera captures the look of tension on his face as he leaves the room. Two announcements down, four more to be done in specific times later in the day. The problem was that Mike is a judge in Azizi's Debate Tournament, and he has no idea how to juggle the two duties for today.

Zul: I've known Mike for a year now, and I am, like, totally good at reading people, ya know? Oh yes, I know how Mike is…things around him "psycho" [emotionally affect] him too easily, ya know?

Mike: Argh…! I'm, like, totally freaking out now!

Folio done, K-own has decided to go Facebooking. But the camera notices an unusual expression on K-own's face. Something is wrong. K-own is the president of the Bio-D club, a club tasked with the planting of pineapples in the college. But Bio-D members are now staging an online demonstration against K-own's presidency – a challenge stemming from a mix-up of fertilizers which occurred a week ago. They were supposed to use chicken crap, but used a different (excessively powerful) fertilizer instead. The pineapples were now dying in the fields. It was (quite literally), a crappy situation.

K-own: Crap…

Meanwhile, Azizi's drama also unfolds. The camera records Azizi's calm front gradually disintegrate as the latest problem crops up: the Lecture Theatre 1, which was meant to be used by the tournament organisers to brief the contestants, had been double-booked. The other party which had booked the LT1 being teachers, Azizi had no choice but to back down. The tournament was to start at 3; in only 20 minutes, and Azizi had just lost his base. Time was ticking.

Azizi: Crap…

Will Mike find a way to resolve conflicting responsibilities? Will K-own survive the crappy challenge to his leadership? Will Azizi find a place to brief the contestants, in an even briefer time? Find out next week, on the season finale of "Keeping up with the KMB-ians".


* * *

In the next episode:

  • The camera pans out to take in the mob of year 1 students outside the LT1 like flies around chicken crap. Azizi is nailed to the spot, but he knows exactly what to do.
  • The camera captures Mike nearly in tears as he says on the phone: "Thanks, bro…"
  • The camera witnesses Jet yelling at K-own: "Its your responsibility, you are not ready for this!!"


Stay tuned :D

Monday, July 11, 2011

An Empty Nest

In my old classroom, you will find a bird's nest tucked in a corner. It's not much to look at, being composed largely of mud and tattered feathers. Inside, you will find 3 or 4 chicks; and by God, they are ugly little things. They were noisy too, especially when they were hungry. When not hungry, they would be busy adding to a pile of bird faeces on the floor below the nest.The chicks' mother would enter and leave the classroom through a broken window, and once shat on my friend's table (beside the window) while flying out.

Despite all that, though, I find the nest to be a thing of beauty. I admired the way the mother bird would return ever so often to feed its ravenous chicks, despite the troubling presence of 20 students and an irritated teacher in the classroom on weekdays. I loved the way the mother bird sat in the nest, flighty but all the same firm. I had no doubt that she would defend her chicks with her life if the need arose. Something I am sure my parents would do for me too…

I am sorry, Mama and Papa…I didn't mean to hurt you.

I totally forgot to tell you about my change of plans on Sunday. I don't know why I forgot – maybe I was too busy. But one thing is for sure, I didn't purposely hide my plans from you just to hurt you. And despite your claims, it is untrue that I do not prioritise my family.

Adik sent me an sms yesterday. She told me how Mama cried, and how it seemed that I only I see you guys as my ATM or my chauffeur. I don't. I see you as my parents. I love you guys, and I am really sorry that I don't show it most of the time.

I was as down as you guys were that day. I hate letting you guys down. I am your first-born, and I shouldn't be doing things like that. But maybe the whole problem is because I am the first-born. Maybe it is difficult for you to let me go.

I do admit that we have grown apart. I don't know when and I don't know how. But we have. Once upon a time, I would to come back after school and excitedly tell Mama about my day. I used to climb all over Papa as a kid, when Papa was still as tall as a tree to me. I used to "manja" with Mama up to the age of 15. I don't know how things between us grew awkward. Maybe it's a phase of my growing up.

But it's not because I want to. I still love my family very much. In Adik's sms, I was told that I don't have emotions attached to my actions. It doesn't mean that I don't have emotions at all. It's just difficult for me to show it.

You guys have no idea how much I think of you. Ask my friends here. I once told my friend why my Mama is my hero, and I gave plenty of justification for it too. Just last week, I told my mentor group the story of how my Mama and Papa met and fell in love while working in Public Bank.

I won't forget you guys. I was not raised to do that.

Yet I am in the course of spreading my wings; I am leaving the nest. The process won't be easy, and as this incident shows, it will hurt. I still live half-an-hour away from you guys, but it already feels like another country. What will happen when I further my studies overseas, which, InsyaAllah, I plan to do next year?

It's hard for me to say all this to you through an sms or a phone call. Or even face to face. Like I said, I just find it too hard to do. That is why I am telling you this the best way I know how to convey a message; through my writing.

I have started leaving the nest quite a while ago now. It won't be long before I finally take off. Don't worry, though, Ma and Pa. The nest won't be empty – there are still 3 ravenous chicks left to feed after me. And Adik has grown up to be a very mature lady indeed. It was obvious in the sms she sent me.

The last time I checked, the nest in my classroom was silent. The mother nowhere to be seen. She had died. A friend told me that the mother bird had run into the ceiling fan one day and died. The chicks had starved to death by now.

I do agree with you, Ma, when you told me that our close-knit family is something to be valued; because we don't know how long it will last.

I'm sorry Ma and Pa, for not showing how I truly feel. I love you.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What the Fog???

This was written on the evening of the 30th of July 2011. When I went to sleep that evening (something I rarely get to do nowadays) I had little idea that I would wake up from my dreams and into a nightmare…

30 minutes ago…

I was awoken by an otherworldly blaring sound and the smell of smoke in my nostrils.

My ears were then bombarded by Boiler's (my roommate; not his real name) complaints that "you can't see a damn thing!" and "Shit man, it's like a war zone out there!" [All Boiler quotations in the previous sentence were translated from Malay]. I opened my eyes to see a thin film of white smoke throughout the room. "Fogging", said Idris coolly, while sitting on Boiler's bed (why the hell was Idris in my room anyway??).

It seemed that someone had suddenly decided to fog the area for Aedes mosquitos without first notifying the non-mosquito residents (namely, me). The curtains were not closed, because it was our only source of fresh air – the door was shut, with smoke creeping in through the cracks around it. Boiler was right: you could barely see anything out there. But suddenly, he tied a hand towel around his nose and mouth and moved towards the door. In a thin white shirt and an improvised face-mask, he looked like a post-apocalypse freedom fighter wannabe. Before he left, Boiler uttered a line which will forever echo in the voluminous chambers of human history:

"I have to go to the toilet"


25 minutes ago…

That left me and Idris in the room. The golden question once again arose: why the hell was Idris in my room anyways?? But the question was fleeting, as I have come to realize that people popping up randomly in each other's' rooms are a typical dormitory phenomenon. Anyways, I have decided to go back to sleep…my brain drenched with sleep-inducing melatonin. The blaring noise of the fogging machine fluctuated – I could imagine the masked man operating the machine moving ominously towards my room, but still I was too exhausted to escape; or even move from my pillow. But abruptly, the noise filled my ears. The machine was right outside my window. Opening my eyes, I saw the fog just flowing into my room through the unclosed window. Idris, on Boiler's bed, was holding his shirt to his nose. "Draw the curtains together!" I said in an attempt to sound heroic; but laden with sleep, I probably sounded more drunk than valiant.

Regardless, Idris rushed to close the curtains. Perhaps a bit too late - the conditions in the room was almost as bad as the atmosphere outside. The door was still shut and the room was sullen with the curtains drawn. All we could do was sit down. And wait.

"Damn", I said groggily


20 minutes ago…

Boiler was still not back. It was close to 7, and I haven't done my Asar prayers. I had to take my wudhuk, although
the smoke still thick outside. But I decided to take the risk – if I'm going to die, I would want to do it with the blessings of God. I opened the door and closed it quickly behind me.

I was on the other side…

Putting on my slippers, I could barely see the trees near my dorm through the thick white anti-mosquito film. I headed towards the toilet, and saw the slow amble of a familiar figure moving towards me. It was Boiler, finally back. Moving past me, he told me that everybody in the block had left us. He was right.

The doors I passed were all open, lockers ajar and clothing strewn across the floor. People definitely left in a hurry. Suddenly, though, I spotted some people on the walkway in front of me. Through the smog, I struggled to recognize them. It was Shamer (or was it Ismael? I still can't tell them apart) and Arif (the M10E one), looking into the distance like war-weary veterans.

I saw what they were looking at, and it was beautiful almost as it was scary…



I hastily took my wudhuk and left for my room. After performing Asar prayers, I turned my laptop on to record the events of the past half-hour on my blog.


That was 15 minutes ago. I had planned to write a doom-and-gloom story of despair and betrayal (you guys left me behind!!!), but I have changed my mind. Over the last 15 minutes, the people of Block A have been returning from god-knows-where they've been hiding. The sounds of the dorm are back. Boiler and Idris are watching Anime on Boiler's laptop (so that's why Idris was in my room…). And even the ping pong table is back in business. I guess we need the abrupt occasional trauma to appreciate the wonder of normalcy. But please guys, wake me up next time T.T