Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The World Ends Again

We’ve been here before.

From Heaven’s Gate to Y2K, from the Jupiter Effect to Jehovah’s Witness, from Zombieland to The Terminator; history is dotted by (often absurd) examples of doomsday prophecies.

And so (insert yawn here) this Friday, once again the world is coming to an end.

What’s interesting, though, is the insanely wide range of reactions people have had to this piece of news.

At one extreme are the Preppers, folks who have decided that the world will end, and they will be prepared; no ands, buts, or ifs. Preppers stock up on food for months, hone survival skills and fortify their houses for the off-chance of, let’s say, a zombie apocalypse.

On the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, are the people who have decided that the Apocalypse is a great opportunity to party the night away (“hey, it is the end of the world after all!”). Flyers abound for such merry doomsday get-togethers from those thoughtful nightclubs.


But maybe I’m being a little too hard on them. After all, at the very least they’re doing something at the face of imminent widespread death and destruction.

What about the rest of us?

Most, I guess, lie in the “I don’t give a rat’s gluteus maximus” category.
The average person shrugs dismissively: “what will be, will be”
We don’t know and/or care that the world will one day come to an end.

Here’s an epic line from Tuesdays With Morrie which I want to quote at this point, said by the author’s dying professor:

“Everyone knows they’re going to die…but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.”

Because here’s the first painful, blindingly obvious truth: You will die one day.

You can die a thousand years old (if those medical journals are to be believed), or you could die an hour old.
You could die as heroically as being hit by a bus after pushing a child out of the way, or as embarrassingly as slipping in the toilet and breaking your neck.
You could die as spectacularly as a soldier in a hail of bullets, or as quietly as an old man on his deathbed.

Which brings me to the second painful, blindingly obvious truth: you don’t know when (and how) you will die.

Yes, the world will end one day (third painful, blindingly obvious truth).

But when it comes down to it, does it really matter when?
You could very well die tomorrow, with the world going on its business as usual.

In the end, the question (addressed to myself as well), is this:
Have we prepared enough for that personal doomsday of ours?

Will you face Death and say: “I am not afraid”?
Will you look back at your life and say: “I have spent it well”?
And will you look ahead to the hereafter and say: “I am ready”?

For myself, to all those questions, my answer right now is “No”. And I want to change that by becoming a better person everyday.

I am young and naïve; but I think that’s an aspiration we should all share.

And hey, it’s not too late; the world hasn’t ended yet. ;)

[The time of] their account has approached for the people, while they are in heedlessness turning away. (21:1)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Mujahadah

"Free, free Palestine!" 

Something wasn't quite right...even as I believed every word coming from my lips.

"Free, free Palestine!" 

15th November 2012: The savage Zionist attack on Gaza has just begun, and around the world people were gathering in public squares, streets and town parks; keen to show solidarity with the Palestinians. One such gathering took place at twilight in Picadilly Garden, Manchester. 

And I was proud to be part of it. 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

It was heartening to see that so many people have woken up to the tragedy of the Palestinians. Things seemed a bit different this time, compared to the reaction to a similar attack by Israel in 2008. 

The Palestinian cause is not forgotten; if anything there were more people out to demonstrate their support this time around. 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

And yet... I could not shake off the feeling in my heart that something wasn't quite right. More than once during that cold twilight at Piccadilly Garden, I questioned what I was actually doing. Yes I was voicing out (quite loudly): 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

But what exactly was I achieving? How exactly does my chanting and yelling here help my brothers and sisters all the way in Palestine? 

In that sense nothing has changed since 2008. How I felt then I feel again now: a feeling of utter helplessness... 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

The cheer is, to my tongue, tarnished by a tinge of hypocrisy now. I am saying something that I've done nothing to achieve. 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

But then I realize...I too have my own mujahadah; my own struggle. Everybody does. In everybody's personal way everybody struggles against something. 

It could be a mujahadah for good grades. 
A mujahadah to show patience with that annoying little bro. 
A mujahadah to keep fit. 
A mujahadah to wake up for Fajr prayers in the dead of winter. 
A mujahadah to not text that particular girl so much. 

The list goes on. 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

My Palestinian brothers and sisters are prevented from studying through the night by troops knocking on doors; nothing stops me but my lack of will.
They are prevented from contacting their parents because they are split into different refugee camps, or by death; nothing stops me but forgetfulness.
They are prevented from going for Fajr prayers in the morning by falling bombs; nothing stops me but the weight of my duvet.

My brothers and sisters in Palestine undergo a very public mujahadah; but alongside them I undergo a personal one. Yes it does not involve picking up a rocket launcher or a dusty battlefield - but in many ways the struggle against personal desires is just as difficult.

"Free, free Palestine!" 

So I thank my Palestinian brothers and sisters. They have reminded me of a vital lesson in mujahadah. Their struggle continues in the public eye. For the rest of us, our mujahadah continues in our own private lives. 

"Free, free Palestine!"

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Chronicles of Dayah


The year is 1990. There hangs an awkward silence over the dinner table. A man breaks into cold sweat as his mother, without a trace of emotion, sizes up his girlfriend.
Will the relationship work out?
Or will true love be smashed irreparably against the unreasonable expectations of a mother?

Those questions bear heavily on every mind at the table save for one: a hyperactive 5-year-old girl named Dayah. She is the only cucu of the family, the apple of her grandparents’ eye, and allegedly as cute as a China doll (refer to pic above). Also, Dayah has taken a liking to this man’s girlfriend; constantly calling her cheerfully: “Aunty Esther, Aunty Esther!”

Suddenly, as if on cue, she jumps on the table and starts singing and dancing. The man breathes a sigh of relief as his mother and father laughs and claps along to the tune of their grandchild’s impromptu performance. All tension in the room seeps away; the ice is broken.

A year later the man and his girlfriend is married, the next year she gives birth to an adorable little boy named Mikhail.

On that basis it can be argued that Kakak Dayah, as I would call my eldest cousin, had a crucial role to play in my birth; that she broke down the walls to my grandma’s heart, so that my Mum could move in and win it with her charms. Without which I would not be here.

Mindblowing stuff right there, dude…

Kak Dayah: mastermind who made marriage possible.

Yet, I never really saw Kak Dayah as a puppet-master of my conception.

Instead I have always seen her as the natural Head of the Council of Grandchildren (CoG). After all, for 5 years Kak Dayah was the only member of the CoG – before Kak Nadhirah came along (henceforth to be called Kak Ngah)

Then I arrived, becoming the third-in-command of this esteemed organisation.

The membership of CoG did not stay at three for very long though; soon after came Taufiq, my BFF <3 <3 <3 (agak gedik di situ...)

Then my sister came along as the 5th CoG member.

Next, Ajmal a.k.a. “The Weirdo”.

Later still, Akhyar at no. 7.

Inayah a.k.a. “Penan” next.

Aqashah a.k.a. “The Sumo” at no. 9.

Danny boy my bro at 10th.

His partner-in-crime Haikal at 11th.

Along with Aishah at 12th.

Then Baby Chu my sis at 13th.

And last but not least, Raziq at 14th.

But the story, of course, is not as simple as an addition of cucus.

There has been no shortage of drama, intrigue and Korean drama-like twists.

A few dramas which come to mind include (but are not limited to):

  1. Kakak Dayah’s epic struggle for the family’s attention as Kak Ngah’s birth stole the spotlight away from her.
  2. Taufiq and I were arch-nemeses as toddlers, beating each other constantly (with fists). And stealing each other’s pacifiers. And pushing each other off baby chairs. But then we became buddies, and today only a petty MU-Arsenal rivalry (which MU totally dominates) is a thorn in our BFF-hood <3
  3. Dan lain2 lagi.
But sweet memories totally outweigh them:
  1. Acting out of P. Ramlee scenes for nenek/atuk’s birthdays.
  2. Random Cucu Day incidents (Mak Long tripping over a log comes to mind) :D
  3. Being forced to say “Mak Chu is pretty” everytime we visit rumah nenek (I’m totally not kidding) -.-
  4. Ajmal’s consistently odd facial expressions.
  5. Pak Yep’s stories (starring elephants and snakes. And the trademark line “Ko jangan salah paham…!”)
  6. Taufiq and I curi2 main snooker on Raya eve quietly so that Pak Yep won’t wake up and catch us.
  7. Playing badminton with pizza boxes as rackets.
  8. Playing football with balloons.
  9. Trips to the 7/11 near rumah nenek in Mak Chu’s car.
  10. Main mercun on Raya eve until kena marah by neighbour T.T
  11. Watching Jeepers Creepers 2 on Raya eve.
  12. Being called a “Kendil” (a species of monkey) -.- by Inayah.
  13. Calling Inayah “Penan” in return 8-)
  14. Beating Aqashah at Fifa 12 (despite him using the Classic 11 team :DD
  15. Dan lain-lain lagi.

Between the first cucu and the 14th lies 25 years, and how much has changed in those two and a half decades.

Kak Ngah is a teacher now. Seriously.

Taufiq in five years will be Dr. Taufiq, or Ustad Taufiq. Or both. :O

I’m not too far behind, also studying to be a doc.

Adik is studying to be a lawyer. Seriously.

Ajmal is taking his SPM soon, Akhyar and the Penan not too far behind.

Aqashah is a Standard 5 boy who is also a Pengawas Perpustakaan (macho kot).

And who knows what the Danny, Haikal, Aishah, Baby Chu, Raziq rabble will turn out to be one day?

But perhaps I am going a little off topic here…after all, this post is titled “The Chronicles of Dayah”. Hehe. So let’s get back to Kak Dayah.

And what has our protagonist been doing these past 25 years? She has gone to school and graduated, opened her own business, moved into her own house, gave countless Head of CoG speeches (primarily during atuk/nenek birthdays)…and fallen in love.

As of last week…THIS HAPPENED *jeng jeng jeng*

The engagement

But wait…there’s more!

During the engagement ceremony, my Mum was Kak Dayah’s make-up artist. The former “Aunty Esther” now puts on make-up for the girl who once upon a time sang and danced on the dinner table.  22 years on it is the 5-year-old who will soon be married.

And so the story comes full circle.

In the end, I guess this post is not just the story of Kak Dayah growing up; it is a story of how the family has.

This Raya I realized how much the family has changed. No longer are we spirited little kids dying for mercun on Raya eve. No longer do Taufiq and I stay up to play snooker as quietly as we can, so that Pak Yep wouldn’t wake up and catch us. Now the older cousins stay up to take advantage of rumah nenek’s Wifi, and are put in charge of making sure the younger cousins are asleep.

Before I get too sentimental, lemme just show some pics, aite? T____T

The Chronicles of Dayah in Pictures

Kak Dayah spotted at Mama & Papa's akad nikah. I can't help pointing out Ayah Ngah's 'Mat Rock' look :pp

Pic featuring an early Cikgu Kak Ngah

By the look of things, the founding of CoGG (Council of Great-Grandchildren) is not too far off :D
Kak Dayah: still at rightful place as Head of CoG

This is the chronicles of Dayah.

But it is not just her story, it is ours too…

Monday, August 13, 2012

Half-time at Badar

Half-time during a battle on the 17th of Ramadhan 2 Hijrah: 300-odd Muslims stubbornly occupy the wells of Badar. They could very well have chosen to stay home, but instead they were here. Ahead of them stood a Quraisy army, calling for nothing less than Muslim blood. Still they stood proudly, against a force outnumbering them 3 to 1.

Half-time during a match on the 24th of July 2012: 53000 odd fans (many of them Muslims) stubbornly occupy seats of the National Bukit Jalil Stadium. They could have chosen to fill their masjids, but instead they were here. Ahead of them stood 22 players, playing nothing more than a friendly. Still they stood proudly, the score 1-0 to Malaysia.

*                                             *                                             *

Half-time is a time to reflect on how the match has panned out so far. And so it should be for Ramadhan.

Have we been playing at too low a tempo, putting off our pursuit of pahala for the 2nd half?
Have we overlooked teammates, to go for a failed solo attempt at pahala?
What of player morale? Have we approached this month with the necessary enthusiasm?
What of the attendance at our masjids?
Have we been sloppy in front of goal, missing open chances? For is not Ramadhan an open goal pahala-wise?

Half-time is a time of anticipation of the rest of the match to come. And so it should be for Ramadhan.

Will the momentum be lost, so that eventually we just go through the motions?
Will the fans stay in the masjid until the final whistle?
Will we be blinded by the commercialism of Eid to lose to a last minute goal?
Will we make the obvious substitution, that of takwa in the place of nafsu?

If we find it hard to answer these questions perhaps we have not truly understood the Quran, our ultimate book of tactics.

*                                            *                                             *

Half-time at Bukit Jalil, Malaysia led 1-0. At full time they have lost 2-1.
Half-time at Badar, the Muslims were outnumbered 3 to 1. At full time they have routed the Quraisy, killing 70 and with only 14 syaheed.

Half-time at Badar showed how much we learnt. Half-time at Bukit Jalil showed how much we have forgotten.

Written by a big fan of football and a bigger fan of Islam.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Men of The House

The drizzle has just stopped as I write this post.

The fresh scent of rain wafts in through the window ahead of me. All is quiet. Not too far to my left Papa is on his laptop, working. Downstairs Baby Chu is up and watching the TV. And not too long soon Danny will be back from school, noisy as always.

Adik is at UITM as I write, as she has been for two weeks. Mama is in Bangkok for a conference. With the exception of Baby Chu, it is only the men of the family left at home. Yet it hasn’t been the macho bachelor’s experience of Maggi meals, futsal-til-late-at-night-followed-by-ping-pong-til-later-at-night which I have kinda expected.  

Because even though I know how noisy Danny is, I also know that even he won’t be able to truly break the silence which has enveloped us all day.

The quiet in the house is not a mere absence of sound – it is the absence of two loved ones. An absence as tangible as the raindrops drumming on the windowpane just a few moments ago.

It is said in Islam that Allah created the first woman, Hawa, from the rib of the first man, Adam.

But it doesn’t mean she is inferior to him.

It just means that, like a rib, a woman is always close to a man’s heart. And without her he is incomplete.

Miss you, Mama and Adik :-/

Men of the House

P.S. Papa and I are planning to play ping pong tonight :D

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Birthday Prank

KMB harbours a friendly, intelligent population of students – the “best of the best” of the country, or so I’ve been told.

Still, reflecting KMB’s isolated location in the middle of nowhere, these students – like the lost tribes of Congo – exhibit some peculiar customs. One of these is the ‘Birthday Prank’, a savage tradition which involves in most cases flour and eggs being dumped with force on the unlucky birthday boy/girl.

For decades this behaviour has been one of the greatest mysteries of anthropology. What, after all, can compel such pleasant students, the crème de la crème, to carry out such ferocious attacks on each other?

No one really knows.

But there no shortage of theories: behavioural scientists point out that the constant stress on IB students could be a chief factor – eventually the said students have to find an outlet for such pressure, and birthday boys/girls become easy targets.

Psychoanalysts propose that perhaps bright students are not as innocent as they seem:  that the outwardly nerdy façade hides the ferocious conduct of gangsters.

Economists, meanwhile, highlight the surplus (and thus, low prices) of flour and eggs in the local kooperasi as the main reason for the birthday attacks.

However, this post will not be a macro analysis (che-wahh..!) of this social phenomenon. Instead, I will tell you the story from the point of view of a victim of such a horrendous

*dramatic music*

*                                             *                                             *

23rd of June 2011. 11.30pm.

It was my second year in KMB, the dreaded third semester. By now I have intimate knowledge of the ferocity of birthday pranks. My roommate has been soaked with soapy water during his birthday. A senior of mine was tied to a chair and tortured on his birthday, and pictures of the event posted on the bulletin board the day after. Even the usually mild-mannered girls of KMB happily fling flour (with deadly force) at birthday girls.

Half an hour to my birthday. I was not looking forward.

Yet I knew I could not escape. By now my friends know my mannerisms well enough to know where I would be at this time. My room, or (more commonly) the TV room. Thus, unless I was willing to hide among the oil palm trees, there isn’t much room to hide in KMB. Resigned, I sat alone in my room, turned my laptop on, and tried to get some work done before the terror begins. I sat facing the door – if I was to be dragged out I would at least like to see it coming.

11.45pm. A flicker of movement by the window beside my door catches my eye, but by the time I look up it was gone. Still, I knew who it was: my neighbour Salman. I knew what he was: the one-man recon party. I could imagine him reporting my position to the others… it won’t be too long before things start now…

24th June 2011. 12.15a.m.

Nothing has happened yet. Hesitantly, I went to bed with the realisation that I could very well be dragged out of it, screaming and kicking, in the middle of the night. I closed my weary eyes…23 hours and 45 minutes to survive.

A few hours later I woke up. The night had passed without incident…it seemed to be a miracle! But a frantic search around my bed revealed that something was wrong – my phone was missing. My heart fell as it dawned on me that the mind games have begun. And there was still most of the day to go through.

Walking to class, I remembered the times when I myself have taken a sadistic joy in pranking others. Take Jet (bukan nama sebenar) for example. During his birthday back in Sem 1, I collaborated with a bunch of friends to prank him during JPAM practice. It was a totally public prank, witnessed by half the batch. Good times :’)

That prank made Jet and I friends – “brothers” even, in his words – but whenever that particular incident is brought up, I always notice a vengeful glint in his eye. “Nanti ko, Mike”, Jet would say with a crafty smile…he would make sure I will be pranked publicly too one day.

I shuddered, remembering that today is that day.

None of my classmates mentioned my birthday that morning. I was fine with that. Eyeing the horizon worriedly for a Jet-initiated birthday prank aimed specifically at me, I didn’t want to worry about one from my classmates too.

Soon it was 12am. Class was almost over! With any luck, I could run off to my room after classes and lock myself in…maybe I would even give the hide-among-the-oil-palm-trees plan a try. Who knows – I could survive my birthday unpranked!

Then WHAM! This happened:

It was well played by my classmates. They recruited the help of my roommate to lure me into a garden where flour spilled would not be noticed. Truthfully, guys, I noticed that something fishy was going on as my roommate persuaded me quite energetically to go to the garden (he doesn’t invite me to gardens energetically often). But equally truthfully, I didn’t expect the flouring which I received – and who planned the whole thing if not Kirin, the unassuming ‘good girl’ of the class. (She is evil, I tell you!) :p

And so, covered in flour (which mixed with my sweat was becoming a crust on my skin) I headed off for lunch in the canteen. I should mention that Jet looked quite happy, with me looking like a yet-to-be-fried KFC drumstick. But the glint in his eyes was still there – and I knew my ordeal was not over…

The day went on normally…many wished me happy birthday; without, thankfully, flour. Eventually it was 11pm, and I thought that was that. The flouring at the hands of my class was all that I would go through – considering all the things I’ve done to others on my friends’ birthdays, I thought I survived quite well thank you very much. So I went to sleep in the TV room.

And a few minutes after midnight, it happened.

I was awoken from my sleep by rough shaking. After that, I walked out groggily into the block courtyard. Then I was led to a chair. Or maybe I was dragged. I don’t remember, to be honest. My memory at this point is a bit fuzzy – as expected from someone who has been through a traumatic experience.

Eventually I found myself crudely tied to a plastic chair by raffia strings. I don’t have any pictures of it but if you really want to see it imagine me strapped in one of these:

Haha…ok, fine, it wasn’t as bad as an electric chair. But tied down I felt doomed anyhow. And by the way, I was blindfolded as well.

A voice addressed me, saying something along the lines of:

“Buahahaha…now it’s your turn, Mike!”

Hmm…on second thought maybe the evil laugh wasn’t there…but whatever, it wouldn’t have been out of place anyway. There was, after all, no mistaking the morbid triumph dripping in that voice. And there was no doubt of his identity – Jet.

I remind you that it was the day after my birthday, and still I was being pranked! It was totally unfair! But try telling that to Jet.

Gleefully, he told me to finish a drink that he had concocted. If I did not finish it within a minute, I would be soaked with a bucketful of soapy water mixed with only-God-knows-what. Not exactly being in a position to negotiate, I did as I was told. And I have to say, the drink wasn’t quite that bad. Later I would learn that it was a mixture of drinks bought at the koop (we KMB-ians really like mixing things, if you haven’t noticed by now) :D

I nearly finished the drink, but unfortunately not under 60 seconds. So, as promised, the bucket of soapy solution was tipped over me. What joy =.=

The block courtyard being something of a public square (there is even a ping pong viewing area nearby), the whole thing was quite a public event. Jet had definitely wanted it to be so…biding his time for this opportunity to avenge his own public humiliation in Sem 1. I have to say…well done, Jet. *grudging handshake*

The night ended with me hugging Jet – while I was still soaking wet. At the very least I could console myself with the fact that Jet, too, had to take another shower that night. Buahaha!

And oh yea, I got my phone back from Salman too.

Happy ending for everyone. ^.^v

*                                             *                                             *

That all happened exactly one year, one week and three days ago – but, clichéd as it sounds, I still remember it like it was yesterday.

In the end the Birthday Prank, savage as it seems, is the way we show the love which had developed through the time in KMB. In that sense I am honoured to have been at the receiving end of two Birthday Pranks. 

Thank you guys for taking the trouble.

And I love you too :’)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Reminder to Myself: Jangan Anggap Dirimu Suci

"...Dia mengetahui tentang kamu, sejak Dia menjadikan kamu dari tanah lalu ketika kamu masih janin dalam perut ibumu. 
Maka janganlah kamu menganggap dirimu suci..." 
[An-Najm 53:32]

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mama's Boy

The fever was more stubborn than I thought.

It began right after Math SL Paper 2 on Friday – giving new meaning to the phrase ‘exam fever’. So after Friday prayers I decided to take a few hours’ nap, hoping to wake up fine and nerdy to face the next test.

I woke up nerdy; but not fine.

So that night I slept early, but to no avail. Saturday morning and I was still light-headed. Ironically, it was one of those rare moments where I was eager to study. But the irony is lost when you consider that an IB final exam was less than 72 hours away, and it was Chemistry HL, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!!!

Saturday afternoon – my family was to come over to KMB for lunch. Great. Just what I needed: my mum to fuss excessively over a fever which I was already excessively fussing over =.=’

For most of the lunch, though, things were going quite smoothly. We talked about Adik’s education, Danny’s football game, etc. … basically anything other than my fever. Then, suddenly:

“Bang, why are you wearing a sweater??”


Cornered, I had to admit that I was having a fever. Before I could finish my sentence my Mama’s hand had shot to my neck (to check my temperature, not – thankfully – to choke me to death).

As expected, the lunch proceeded after that with irritated questions (“Why didn’t you tell Mama earlier??”) to blindingly obvious statements (“Dahlah tengah exam. You don’t want to tell Mama you have a fever”) and the absurdly farsighted (“You are going to become a doctor! Macam mana ni kalau nak take ubat pun tak nak??”). <-- O.o

Reluctantly, my family eventually left KMB. I thought that would be the end of that, and they had (thankfully) left me alone to wage my private crusade against this darned stubborn fever.

But no such luck.

A few hours later, an SMS from Papa: “bang, we’re coming at nite to bring ubat for u”

Quite incredibly, my parents – like a pair of superheroes on steroids – have squeezed into their hectic schedule a visit to the family doctor to obtain some medicine for me. That night I met them once again, still in my now-starting-to-smell-funky sweater (showers are optional during exams; according to expert opinion). I sat resigned as Mama explained with the thoroughness of an experienced medical officer which medicine to take, how many times per day, and at what dosage. And then Mama brought out a Tupperware containing what no medical officer could ever do for me – a home-cooked meal warm with love.

I was touched, of course, but in the silent way teenagers usually are to their parents. Mama and Papa then offered to take me back home for what’s left for the weekend, but I declined saying it would affect the momentum of my studies. But I guess my ego had a say in that too – I stubbornly wanted to defeat this fever alone.

But Mama proved to be even more stubborn. She visited once again on Sunday night, then on Monday night, all the time bringing hot home-cooked meals and tireless reminders to “eat the ubat, especially the antibiotics. Finish the antibiotics!”. Once, mama even brought over an electronic thermometer ("more accurate") - no joke... :OO

Tuesday – I was, Alhamdulillah, well enough to take both papers of the Chem HL exam without blacking out halfway. Remnants of the fever remained, but I have mostly kicked its stubborn butt out. Thanks, in no small part, to Mama and Papa as well.

By the end of the week I was completely fine. When Saturday rolled along so did my parents for lunch. It was then I noticed how tired Mama looked. It wasn’t just my fever Mama had been losing sleep about – Adik had just gone through an interview for a scholarship, and knowing Mama I knew she was just as stressed out about the interview (if not more) than Adik was.

Wrapped up stubbornly in a battle against my fever, I forgot to look at Mama.

I know this post is about six weeks late – I should have posted this in Mother’s Day, not Father’s Day.

I don’t think I have thanked you enough, Ma. Happy Belated Mother’s Day. And I’m sorry for being so stubborn…I guess, in that sense, I’m just being Mama’s boy :-/ Love you.

P.S. Happy Father's Day Pa! I’ll post something for Father’s Day soon, k? (mebe in the next 6 weeks) :pp Luv u! 

P.P.S. Disclaimer: egos do not cure fevers. Ubat and home-cooked meals do J

Saturday, June 16, 2012

House Arrest

 On many nights, just after the stroke of midnight, they appear just outside my gate. They materialize seemingly out of nowhere – like apparitions out of the dark. And their appearances have become so common that I have taken to giving them names.

The dark, brooding figure, I named Dark Night. The one in the white coat, seeming to shimmer under the orange streetlight, I named Princess. And sometimes they will be joined by a smaller, more jumpy third (their child perhaps?) which I named Ginger.

And so on many nights I would be near those figures, separated only by a gate. I would sit, to lower my profile, to not appear threatening. And I would talk to them.

Dark Night, being the boldest of the three would sit the stillest. It stares transfixed on the strange person talking to it, with eyes as dark as its coat. Gazing from the blackness.

Princess would pace around, cat-like, nervous. Seemingly trying to convince Dark Night to leave this strange man across the gate. Who was he anyway?

Ginger would tolerate my presence only a while, before dashing across the street in an eerie blur.

And still I would sit. And talk to them.

And then I realise that I have been cooped up in the house for too dang long. That I have begun to talk to three random stray cats =.=”

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Test

Beware the Pre-Exam Syndrome. A debilitating disease common among individuals of educational institutions. Pandemic during the time period of 2-3 months before a major exam.

Symptoms include:

Low-quality or (in extreme cases) non-existent social interactions.

Sleep deprivation stemming from late bedtimes compounded by early waking hours.

A lack of interest in sporting activities.

A lack of appetite.

A drop in personal hygiene (due to irregular/no showers).

Violent, unpredictable mood swings.

Basically, a loss of personality (Pre-Exam Syndrome is believed to be a precursor of Zombie-ism).

An eerie quiet engulfs the aforementioned institution of education stricken by this contagion. Every word uttered or heard is seen as a distraction –except if it is to do with the formula for an acidic buffer, diagram for cost-push inflation or naming of plant groups.

Of course, maybe I am exaggerating things just a bit (I should mention that a tendency to exaggerate is a symptom of Pre-Exam Syndrome).

After all, things aren’t that bad here in Kolej Mara Banting. People still eat food, play futsal and take their showers (mostly, at least).

But there are subtle signs of the disease as the IB exam nears.

All of a sudden, the surau suddenly becomes a favourite hangout. The Quran a favourite read. The jemaah for the 5 daily prayers spills out of the surau due to the abrupt exponential increase in number.

Reminders abound – by word of mouth and notes posted on bulletin boards – to “get closer to Allah in this trying of times”.

Alhamdulillah…it is a refreshing change.

But my question is: why wait for an exam for all this to happen?

Perhaps it is human nature that we only remember Him when times get hard. For it is human nature, after all, to forget.

That every breath is a blessing.

That Death is a constant and fickle companion.

That life can be hard

but His reminders are everywhere you look closely enough to find them.

That every blessing is an opportunity to be grateful.
And every tribulation is an opportunity to be patient.

That the true test of life lies not in the decisions made in the duration of an IB exam;

It is the decisions made in every second of the day.

This is all, of course, a reminder to myself as much as it is a reminder to anyone else.

I will be the first to admit that the closer I get to the exam, the closer to the surau I have been. That should not be the case: faith should not wait for the finals.

I must remember that even in the middle of a test, I must not forget to live.

Because the real test of life…is life itself.

A victim of Pre-Exam Syndrome 
(note the un-showered hair)

[29:2]...look it up

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

An Analysis of Limbo

The very word “Friendzone” strikes fear in the very hearts of men (and sometimes women) everywhere. The harmless-sounding word has been a source of pain since the written word was invented millennia ago. The toughest man can crumble at its very prospect (hiperbola).

Admittedly, the Friendzone isn’t scary for everyone. Nor is it scary all the time. The vast majority of people are happy to stay in each other’s respective Friendzones. The system, in equilibrium, is constant, predictable, and in that it is comforting. The Friendzone is like a mother’s womb, or a warm blanket in the morning, or like supporting Manchester United – you will always be sure of a win.

BUT (because there’s always a but)…things get tricky when one tries to step out of this zone. As 9gag wisdom states:

Those who have attempted to leave the Friendzone will discover that the comfort it gives is very deceptive. The warmth of the Zone can thus be likened to the warmth of a pit of quicksand – comforting but asphyxiating.

Still it is not totally impossible to leave this Zone. Countless souls over the generations have taken the leap from the Friendzone to the More-Than-Friends Zone. But beware: few make the jump. Many others fall to their deaths, or worse, the No-Longer-Friends Zone.

Besides landing (or falling) into the More-Than-Friends Zone or No-Longer-Friends Zone, there is a third possible outcome of this ‘leap of faith’ (to use a line from Inception). It is, in my personal belief, the worst outcome of the three – being caught in ‘Limbo’ (to continue the Inception analogy).

A person condemned to the terrifying fate of Limbo finds himself in a strange land between ‘friends’ and ‘more than friends’, while at the same time hanging ominously over  the ‘no longer friends’ drop. This is best illustrated by our friend Mario below:

This Limbo region has been the subject of much study by nuclear physicists and relationship gurus alike. The only consensus about Limbo is that it is somewhere where the laws of physics do not apply. Other than that, numerous conflicting theories arise regarding its nature and composition. Some believe that the Limbo region is a tangible element yet undiscovered by science, others say it is an imaginary concept with real-life applications (like Mathematics), while others still insist that it is made up of equal proportions of dark matter and pixie dust(the theory, though absurd, is yet to be discredited).

The paragraph above can be ignored. Saja nak merapu.

Those in Limbo are often given advice by concerned friends and family along these lines:
  • Just get over her lah…!
  • Dude, if she’s the one, go for it man!!
  • If you love a bird let it go, if it belongs to you it will surely return.
  • You have to fight for love…stop sitting around doing nothing you idiot!
  • Kalau ada jodoh, you guys will end up together…
  • Kalau jodoh pun, mesti ada usaha…

As you may very well notice, the torrent of advice is often contradictory. Thus, on the subject of Limbo, I have grouped advice-givers into two schools of thought:
  1. Interventionists – This group of people recommend a gung-ho approach to love, preferring action over waiting. People of this group generally recommend a “listen to your heart” approach which borders on the impulsive. They suggest direct displays of love and get mad at the prospect of “sitting around and waiting for the One”. The Interventionist approach is usually criticized as being an impatient idiot’s approach to love.
  2. Market-Oriented Advocates – This group of people recommend a more patient approach to love, preferring waiting over action. They are staunch believers that the many tentacles of Fate will deliver you to the One regardless of whether you try or not. Trying, in fact, may make things worse. So why try? This approach preaches “listening to your head” and is generally more rational, but is also a biggest test on patience. They have a “what will be, will be” mentality and frown upon displays of affection which they believe has a negative impact on the course of the relationship. The Market-Oriented approach is usually criticized as being a cowardly idiot’s approach to love.

Typical when it comes to the issue of Limbo, the dispute between the above groups is far from resolved. Due to the unnecessary stress it causes, I believe that someone stuck in limbo listening to such advice is – well – unadvisable.

I write much of this post from personal experience, because currently I am in Limbo. How I got here was via a strange combination of Interventionist and Market-Oriented policies. Reporting from the Limbo, I can tell you that it is a place full of questions and insecurity. It is a blind drift in a thick fog. It is not fun.

But, perhaps surprisingly, the Limbo is not my biggest worry. I end this post with a message to my Mum* (a lady whose basic tenet is ‘no relationships while studying!’):

Your son has grown up, and his mind will drift to thoughts of marriage. I guess its inevitable. But I know how important a good IB result is to me…and the family. Don’t worry Ma, I won’t do anything without your consent. I know my priorities.

*Mama is a staunch Marked-Oriented Advocate. She believes in ‘jodoh’ but tells her children that romantic relationships are permissible ‘once you have a career’. It is not just talk; Mama takes concrete steps in preventing such relationships. In that way, her believes are Market-Oriented, but her actions are Interventionist.

This contradiction isn’t that weird though…I understand that it comes from the heart of a mother. One of the rare types of love which doesn’t involve Limbo. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Placement to Happiness

“OFFER LETTERS Threaten to Tear the Very Fabric of KMB Society”
BANTING: Emotions run high and friendships strained as a portion of the KMB student population receives offer letters from foreign universities. An emerging divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ threatens to tear D’Batch into two warring factions.
The recent IUMC placement announcement, in particular, has led to the emergence of a large chunk of discontented students ready to strike out with violent acts. Those who have received such offers, on the other hand, live in fear of those who did not. Meanwhile, a third group of those ‘in the balance’ (awaiting an offer letter) are caught in between.
As tension continues to mount, students have resorted to panic buying everywhere from the dormitories to the college Kooperasi. A faulty ATM has not helped in calming frayed nerves. All this has occurred in anticipation of a college-wide outbreak of chaos.
“Yes, the koop has seen sales go up in the last few days,” commented Kuchai (name changed to protect identity), former ALK member-turned-economic analyst. “But hey, its nothing personal, just business” he added with a grin.
The current MPP, expecting a Second Year revolt, has bolstered security. Checks on the MPP financial record reveal the purchase of bullet-proof windows for the MPP office, highlighting the potential magnitude of the imminent mayhem. The head of the Public Relations Bureau, though, refused to remark on this worrying development when questioned during a recent press conference, preferring instead to announce the details of upcoming college activities (go figure) =.=”
Authorities have called for calm in the coming months – D’Batch president calling for “a batch spirit which transcends the award of offer letters” in an interview at the local Surau.
Regardless, there is no denying that the placements are a very real threat to KMB security. Everyone live in a climate of terror, seemingly surrounded by enemies who were once friends.
It seems only to be a matter of time before the Banting Spring explodes into life – AP

Disclaimer: Comments from the ‘sources’ quoted above (Kuchai, MPP financial records, Head of Public Relations Bureau, President of D’Batch) are totally made up and should not be taken seriously. Everything in the above ‘article’ is a work of fiction and is a product of my overactive imagination only…

Or is it?

Okay, okay, fineeee...the situation isn’t THAT dramatic, but isn’t it true that the offer letters have divided KMB-ians? And isn’t it true that little joy can be found on either side of the divide? Those without offer letters (obviously) are saddened; but those with offer letters too feel only temporary delight before a creeping sense of guilt overtakes them. Guilt stemming from the feeling that they are somehow leaving their friends behind.

“Somehow I don’t want this offer, placement anymore if it only destroys happiness”, an IUMC-bound friend of mine told me in a bout of such sadness. She wanted to comfort friends who didn’t get offers, but was countered with comments like “those who got the offers will never understand our situation”.

Such a situation is not unique to her. KMB-wide there exists, not anger, but a feeling of despair+guilt+helplessness that definitely isn’t fun. But take a pause and think about it: should we really be feeling this way?

I it as a blessing that we have secured a place in KMB anyway: that we have had the opportunity here to meet roommates, classmates, maybe even a soul mate, whom have found a place in our hearts. And it is not a blessing that we have that heart in the first place?

This offer letter fuss has made us yearn for what we do not have, instead of treasuring what we do. By painting a mirage of what could happen, it has made us forget of what already has.

Yes, some would argue that I am in no position to tell people to ‘cheer up’. I am, after all, one of those who have received an offer letter. Which means that if a Banting Spring really does begin I will probably be on the receiving end of a beating (I can’t run very fast).

But my gratitude today does not stem from that offer letter alone – although I really, really am grateful for it. No, I am thankful for ALL that I have. A non-comprehensive list of things I am blessed with in the past 19 ½ years on this Earth, off the top of my head right now, would look something like this:
  1. an awesome family,
  2. a complete set of body parts in the correct proportions (lazy eye notwithstanding),
  3. great friends everywhere I had the privilege to spend time in which includes:
  4. an awesome neighbourhood called Puteri 8,
  5. an awesome school called SKPJP,
  6. another awesome school called SMKPBP(1),
  7. an awesome PLKN camp called Kem Temasya Rimba Templer,
  8. an awesome college called KMB,
  9. committed teachers at 5, 6 and 8,
  10. a neighbourhood futsal court,
  11. a neighbourhood playground,
  12.  neighbours to play futsal and ‘Dinosaur’ with at 10 and 11,
  13.  a wonderful childhood,
  14.   enough food and oxygen for the last 19 ½ years,
  15.  the mere but profound fact that I’m alive

And I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Look closely enough and we are all blessed.

So, as long as I can say it, I’ll say it: friends…please cheer up. As we are all blessed, the next step is to be happy. Because:

“…And We will reward the grateful” [3:145]