Friday, November 26

I have moved

Dear friends and family, I have moved to Typepad, and will no longer post here. All my posts have been transferred there, but this blog will remain alive until I've finalized everything.

Here's my new address:

Hope to see you there!



Tuesday, November 9

Into the Rain (Published at KAP, now dead)

Thunder rumbled overhead. Usually I would count the gap till lightning struck, but not this time. I was busy praying I wasn't too late.
I bounded up the narrow stairwell two steps at a time. I held on to the banister, fully aware of the filth and grime that were beginning to coat my palm with a thickening layer of slime. Not that I had much choice. Raindrops pelted at me like an endless wave of angry insects, limiting my vision and making my steps treacherous. I'd already lost count on the times I almost slipped. Above the din of the building storm, I could hear my heartbeat. I could even feel it in

Monday, November 1

Equatorial Snow at Crossed Genres

My short story, Equatorial Snow, is up at Crossed Genres. It's free to read, but please support CG by buying the print/ebook formats.

Friday, October 29

What is good critiquing?

I'm venting, I'm bitching. So forgive me in advance.

Thursday, October 21

It Gets Better

I wanted to write a post about my birthday bash (which was airwolf, by the way), but as I was browsing the net this morning, I came across something much bigger than me, happening on the same day: Spirit Day 2010.

Tuesday, October 19

Tweet, tweet!

Took me forever, but I finally joined the Twitter community. My user name is fadz_johanabas. Feel free to add me, though I may talk crap most of the time. I'll follow you like a Digi Yellow Guy in return.

Thursday, November 5

Friday, October 30

Published Author in the House!

Finally, I'm a published writer! I got an email from one of QLRS's publishers earlier tonight: From: Kai Chai subject: QLRS Oct Issue Dear Fadzlishah, I'm Kai Chai, the short story editor of QLRS. I'm happy to tell you that we have selected your contribution, Mother, for the October issue, which will be ready in a couple of days' time. Have a good weekend, Kai Chai. That's a big first step. QLRS carries substantial weight in the Southeast Asian region, for future print publication. Now I have something to write for the credential part of a query letter. And that's the aim, to have my name on a cover of a book! Will post the link once it's out. HAPPY! I bet I'll fall asleep grinning tonight. A big shout-out to Sarah, who told me to submit the story to QLRS. Cha cha cha cha cha, cha! Cha cha cha cha cha, cha!

Thursday, October 8

Loving October

Hotdamn! I haven't updated in ages. Since I joined (WDC), I've been actively writing new short stories. I also joined a small writing group within the site, where I give reviews and comments on other members' pieces. Works both ways, so it's all good. I couldn't give reviews on poetry because, quite frankly, I suck at it. Speaking of sucking, I went to Kinokuniya during lunchtime and guess what I saw. Books on vampires, zombies, werewolves, and other creepy crawlies on display, sold at 25% discount with other purchase (in other words, buy something else to activate the discount). And right beside the entrance I found this amazing book: By Blood We Live, an anthology of vampire stories by famous authors including Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Tad Williams, Kelley Armstrong and many more. Come on. Vampire short stories! That's something to die for and to sink one's teeth in (pun intended)! I've always wanted to buy anthologies from top authors, and having a whole collection on Click on the picture for a link to the official website). So the price is RM64 before discount. My receipt shows a minus RM16 (25% off). I've only started reading the second story. The first one is Neil Gaiman's interpretation of the original Snow White, not the happily-ever-after Disney version. He told the story from the the stepmom's perspective, in first person PoV. The story is dark and twisted, the prose beautiful. I love it! I'll read the whole book through and write the review later (maybe much later, at the rate I'm going with my lousy journal-keeping. There are other books on the display counters, books on vampires and witches and angels (my favorite supernaturals), some of them I never even noticed all the times I went to Kinokuniya. I don't celebrate Halloween (although I find it fascinating). But being able to afford to buy all these books (two or three at a time, mind) gives me reason to celebrate! Speaking of celebration, my birthday is coming this 20th. I'll turn 28, which means I will have less than a year to come up with a complete manuscript, and another year to put my baby out for acceptance. Tita forwarded me a mail saying MPH is accepting submissions for novels and anthologies, but limited to mainstream, literary, crime/horror, romance and some other literary/mainstream-related genres. Strictly no fantasy, no sci-fi, no erotica. Crap. So MPH is out of the question for me! Funny thing is, my Urban Fantasy/Supernatural novel showcases Kuala Lumpur, from the loftiest vantage points to the shadiest alleys. But since Fantasy is a niche-genre, local publishers are hesitant about buying the works. Same goes with Malay novels. So in order for me to publish a novel that partly advertises Malaysia, I have to seek out publishers from other countries who I hope will be interested at the exotic settings and cultures. I hope to really finish that novel, so that I can revisit this post, and we will all laugh together at some lame joke I tell, simply because I'm famous and everything that comes out of me is golden. Seriously. That's the true Malaysian way, eh? Well, I've discussed with Tita about a possible anthology project. Theoretically, it shouldn't be hard for me to come up with 13 to 15 stories in a few months. I've produced 14 new pieces since I joined WDC mid-August, and won 8 out of 11 Writer's Cramp entries. If that bears fruit, I may be able to approach MPH for possible publication. I am also sending out some of my babies for online magazine publication, to add to my resume when I type out that query letter. Funny thing about publication is, in order for a new writer to publish a work, he preferably has to have other published works. Weird, right? So for agents to know how serious I am about my novel, I must have a few stories published or competitions won to impress them, more or less. Did I mention I'll turn 28 this 20th?

Thursday, September 17


Thanks guys. Don't worry. I'm not fragile. I didn't post this argument on my blog for the sake of getting pats on the back. I appreciate it, though. Honestly, absolutely appreciate it. I knew from the start this guy had a point, logically thinking. But the main character in that story isn't an ordinary guy, and the squadron of 24 Knights is worth more than a whole army. I asked him to read the whole thing through before passing judgment. There are a few lessons from this, though. 1. Sometimes people are blinded by how they perceive things, you cannot put in a word otherwise. 2. A majority of writers are defensive about their work(s). Say something negative, and ouch. I'm thankful I've been cleared off that silly notion (don't worry, Tita, you're not evil). Although this can be looked at as pride in one own's work, but when it hampers growth and progress, this can be dangerous. Same goes for other things in life. I thought I gave him a fair review on the techniques of his writing. I'm still learning, but I've learned a lot from reading both fiction and books-for-writers. 3. I can whip out an argument out of nothing. The guy has medieval history to back him up, that's why he has a firm belief on how high fantasy should or should not be. If he hadn't been an ass, I'd have asked to learn from him. As it is, I don't know squat. My take on dragons is how the general population perceive them. Big, mythical creatures that can or cannot spew fire, nasty temperament, and with luck, can occasionally be killed. Because a dragon is a metaphor for adversity, of a near-impossible challenge, that only those who persevere may overcome. 4. The piece is in sore need of an overhaul. I'll be the first to admit it. The concept is nearing a Dragonlance-fan-fiction (was too immersed in reading those books at that time). But sometimes, it doesn't matter if you've written a gem. Some people will think it's crap. Don't get angry with them. Don't get angry with yourself. You know you've created something beautiful. You're capable of it. Go create more. Well, there are lots more to be learned, but as it is I've written more than a single post! Hell, why not. Copy > Paste it is! I love computers! Anyway, bottom line is, you can't please everyone. The person whose opinion should matter the most is yourself. Just not all the time. You'd end up like Chronicler. Thanks everyone, for your positive feedback. John, I saw the cover of your book popping up on Sharon Bakar's sidebar, under "Books from Malaysian Writers" (or something like that). You're an inspiration, mate!

Saturday, September 12

Family Secret

Writing but not writing

OK. I know I haven't been updating much. I'm a lousy journal keeper. Unlike the characters of Vampire Diaries, who diligently progress the storyline with "Dear Diary." Speaking of which, I've watched the 1st episode of the new series, based on L. J. Smith's books of the same main title. And I loved it. Granted, the story's along the line of Twilight, a Daywalker vampire in love with a human girl, and will do anything to keep her from harm, which seem to follow her doggedly. But the vampires here don't glitter in sunlight, and they need a special ring to be able to do so. Plus, I've always had a soft spot for anything vampire. Sigh. But talking with my sister earlier tonight, I've come to realize why I love watching Twilight and Vampire Diaries. No, not because of Rob Pattinson, goddammit! This is the reason why: I've read the books before watching the motion pictures (series, in the case of Vampire Diaries), and to be honest, with the amount of adverbs and shallow, cliched writing, I wonder how the books made publication and are well loved in the first place. When reading Twilight, I had a feeling I was inside a simpering teenage girl's head who whines whines whines all the time. Felt like a pervert too, getting into Bella's head. The saving grace for the novel-series is the amazing and believable chemistry between Bella and Edward (Stephanie Meyer lost that connection in Breaking Dawn, but gained in action sequences and strength of plot). Reading Vampire Diaries...well...felt like I stole a girl's diary and read it! I honestly don't consider myself a literary snob. I'm not. But I've read online stories from unpublished authors (I still think published online is not the same as published in print. That's why I consider myself unpublished) that are waaaaay better than those books. But not only did the books go into reprints (not just single prints, mind, but reprints!) but they transited into the screen! That's the Holy Grail for authors anywhere! And, regardless of what people may say, having read those book made me appreciate the improvement scriptwriters and directors made! Twilight may have stayed true to the book on most parts, but Vampire Diaries was totally changed! In the book, Elena is blond and blue-eyed, a typical all-American popular girl who seems to be OK with her parents' death, and looks at getting Stefan a conquest. In the series pilot, Elena is a brunette (hot, extremely hot), who has a junkie brother (instead of a toddler sister), and is having a hard time dealing with the death. The TV series seems much more believable, and has depth and layers. So why do I like both books-turned-motion picture? They give me hope. Hope to be published, hope to reach the stars and beyond. They tell me that getting published is not just a pipe dream. Not 'just a hobby' as my mom puts it. Granted, she's amazed to no end at the pieces I come up with, but she'd strangle me to death and raise me to kill me again if I ever quit my day-job for writing. Anyway, speaking of writing, I'm glad to share that as of this moment, 7 out of 10 new stories I posted for Writer's Cramp have made the winning spot. Well, competing against 5 or 6 other writers for 1000-word short stories may not be anything, not like winning a national competition against 1000 other writers (I'm still licking my wounds from the rejection of the MPH-Alliance competition). But still. One of the stories was featured in a weekly newsletter (that is big news, bubba!). Wanted to take a screen shot, but the frame wouldn't include anything about the newsletter or the editor's picks. Please click on the hyperlink. Thank you! Oh. Will post the story after this. A few of the fellow writers there keep on giving me constructive criticism. They say I have a special God-given talent, and they want to push me far. They apologize for being harsh, but I tell all of them the same thing: Fire away. My IR (ideal reader) cum editor Tita is ruthless and never spares my feelings. Which is why I keep on bugging her to edit my works! And I've found out something interesting too. No matter how enthusiastic and serious I am about writing fiction, people don't look at me seriously so long as I am unpublished, or I haven't won any accolades. Praises I have for, but readership and reviews for the works I submitted only increased if that particular piece had won. People will only start noticing you if you've proven you're worth anything. Story of my high school life, all over again. And I love it. So now, part of the reason why I want to get published is to stand up to those who ignore my writing because I'm a nobody right now, and tell them to shove it. OK. One last thing about me. The application forms for Masters program is out. But I'm having second thoughts. Of applying this year, at least. The reason: I want to get myself published first, before I hit 30. I don't want to give up on that. Least not for now. My mom will kill me if she finds out! As long as this meme post has been, my debut in the global writing community is nothing compared to what my siblings have achieved. My brother has won Harper's Bazaar-Canon Fashion Photography Competition, and is featured in this month's magazine. Don't have a working scanner to scan the page. You have to check it out for yourselves, interview and all. Heck, his interview was published! That's what I've always wanted for myself! Too proud to be jealous right now. And my sister's baby poster business has lifted off! She's made over RM500 (and counting). She's a genius when it comes to captions and typefaces, and she's finally found her calling. Feel free to visit her advertisement blog here, and place your orders. So far they're for babies, but I'm sure she'll make exceptions. Sorry this post is all words and no pictures. Will try to update more often than what I'm doing now.

Sunday, August 30

The End of Summer (Winner, Writer's Cramp 28.8.2009)

Family Man (Writer's Cramp Entry, 26.8.2009)

Hmm...again, I have to thank Tita for introducing me to So far I've entered 4 short stories to be considered for the daily prompts, and I've won 3 of them. Of course, there aren't that many entries, but some of them are good. Somehow, if I had won every time I entered, I would suspect the quality of judging and writing, and I would doubt my own writing. Writing short stories less than 1000 words is hard work. Because of the limitation. I find it difficult to use elaborate descriptions to create setting and mood, and to have character development and story movement as well. I try not to use narrative summaries, and use immediate scenes instead (remember the previous tutorials?), but it's bloody hard with 1000 words or less. Would have been more comfortable if the limit is about 2500 words. But the good thing is, I now have 4 brand new stories written within 1 week, not recycled ones, and all of which can be developed more. I also have my eyes set on a few open competitions, namely Happy Ending Love Stories (at least 4000 words), Classic-Character driven Short Story (maximum 10000 words), and Newbie Short Story Competition (can't remember the details). Maybe I'll recycle some of my older stories, maybe I'll write new ones. Wish me luck. I'll be posting the 4 short stories here. Comments and criticisms are appreciated.

Tuesday, August 25

Need help

So. I'm in-between cases, I'm sleepy, cranky, and also hungry. But sleepy trumps all, so I just want to finish this case and crawl onto the bed and under the blanket. Not that I'm complaining, but hey, I did say I'm cranky. Anyway, I have over 60 viewers for the short stories posted on Heart-warming and encouraging comments to boot. Feel like upgrading to a paid account so I can post more stories (my current portfolio is limited to 10). Which brings about the real reason for this post. There is a quarterly competition for short stories less than 10,000 words (trust me, 10k words is so doable) where characterization is judged. Sorta like a typical literary fiction. We are to create a resonating character, whom people still think about long after they finish reading the story. I'm not sure if my characterization has reached that level, but there's no harm in trying. This is the catch: I need some prompts, some ideas from life. Tita knows how I roll with this. I hear a glimpse of people's lives, and I turn it into a short story. So I'd appreciate ideas from all of you. I promise to let you be the first to read it (after Tita and I edit the story, of course). So how about it? You game?

Thursday, August 20

Sweet Taste of First Victory

Oh wow. I was hoping, I was hoping, but I was too afraid to have expectations. Before that, a quick recap. Been busy procrastinating. Playing online games again. EVE-Online, to be exact, a game about spaceships and space exploration. And I had a tiring call on Sunday, and when I came back on Monday, I...well...kinda went dead(er). Slept from evening to the next morning. Problem was, I didn't take off my contact lenses from when I put them on, on Sunday morning. We're talking about daily contact lenses here. Naturally, my eyes were red and swollen. Could barely open my left eye. And I misplaced my spectacles somewhere, having not worn them for a long time (skin condition, later story). Spent the whole day almost blind. Yep, without my spectacles or my contact lenses, everything is just a blur to me (short-sightedness, -7 both eyes). Had to squint mere inches from the 'puter screen to make out what I was doing. At any rate, Tita mailed me a website for writers, It's a hub for aspiring writers to display their works, and to share comments and constructive criticisms. A platform for exposure, of sorts. She also linked me a daily competition on the website, where they give a prompt and writers submit stories less than 1000 words or poems 40 lines or less. When I checked the site after midnight yesterday, the prompt was to end the story or poem with "In the end, there were no regrets." I wrote a storm. In less than an hour, I came up with a story (what else, jiwang la), and disturbed Tita at 02:30 with a mail asking her to check it out for editing. I know. Totally wrong of me. Lucky she wasn't asleep. Other than some minor hitches, she gave it a green light to be submitted. So. I submitted. Immediately after I did, I received a mail congratulating me for becoming a Registered Author. Hear that, me, author. Anyway, I waited. And waited. And kept on refreshing the pages. And waited. And read the other entries. There were a couple more short stories and three or four poems. Fine, I can hear your derisive laugh. With so little entries, it's not a competition. Well, bugger off. I watched The Matrix to kill time. Man, I miss watching the trilogy. And when it was done, sometime after midnight, I refreshed the competition page. 2 winners, and mine is one of them. Yay! I've even gotten 2 criticisms to boot. Life is good. So this is what it feels like to win a writing competition. Sure, it's 1000 Gift Points (GP). I don't even know what the points are for. I can sleep almost blind but happy. Now the next prompt is a story about a conversation overheard in a bus. Hmm.... PS: Do tell me if you can't access the short story. I'll post it here.

Wednesday, August 12

Saturday, July 18

Visiting old ghosts: Angel

On Muse and Metaphor

Tuesday, July 14

MPH-Alliance winners are announced

Argh! It hurts! It burns my eyes! It breaks my heart! A little melodrama is therapeutic, I heard. Sharon Bakar posted the list of winners for the MPH-Alliance The Prize 2009. And my name's not in it. There goes my delusion, my last dangling hope like a monkey clinging to dear life while a swarm of ants gnaw at his tail. Splat. Just like that. Oh well. Life's like that. On with life. With more heads to open, with more bad news to break, with more life to be photographed, and of course, with more stories to be written. Just because I didn't get shortlisted doesn't mean my pieces were crap. I will find a way to publish them, maybe here. Then I can link the stories and you can comment on them. Want to post them here, but apparently even posting on my own blog would consider the stories published, and that will put a red light on getting them published anywhere else (never been published rule). One thing for sure though. I want to one day walk on the raised platform at Kinokuniya, my footsteps clomping on the polished wood, and stop by Malaysian Literature section, to see my name in print. The numbers of Malay English writers can be counted with one hand at the moment. But I refuse to do it for the Malays. I refuse to do it simply to see my name on the shelves. I want to do it because I love reading, and I hope to share that love, that experience, with the world. I want to do it because deep down, I know this is what I do best. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 7

Help with Major Life Decision

Hey guys. This is gonna be a short one. The MPH-Alliance The Prize 2009 shortlist is out (unofficially). Official result will only be out on the 15th, published in Quill (MPH magazine). The 12 shortlisted entrants were contacted today, and my phone remained silent. Well, other than the ICU calling me throughout the day. I'm gonna wallow in self-pity and despair, and then get on with life. But what I would appreciate is a poll from you, my readers. I don't care if I have less than 10. You've been reading my posts. Anyway. Should I continue pursuing my dream of writing and publishing fiction, be it a novel or an anthology, or should I stop this delusion, thinking that I'm a good (fiction) writer? I would love and appreciate your input. And please, be as honest and as scathing as possible. Hit me.

Sunday, July 5

Finally down with the flu

My whole family had been sick, with upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) some weeks ago, including baby Arwen. Keeno (our cat) doesn't count. She's always sniffling and sneezing since birth. I alone escaped unscathed. Maybe it's because of the Influenza vaccination Sister Yee insisted to inject me with. Maybe it's because I was on-call most of the time and didn't hang around home that much. Came Friday morning, my throat started to feel weird. Yes, I know. This is not a description a doctor should use. But if I go into specifics, I could post this in a Medical journal or something. Anyway. By afternoon my throat hurt to high heaven and I couldn't even swallow my saliva without wincing. I aimed a torchlight into my throat and as expected, the back of my throat was already blistered in patches. Pharyngitis. Crap. I had a fitful sleep Friday night. My nose was either completely blocked, or snot was streaming out like the Nile. Or both. Now that's annoying. When I came for work yesterday morning, I my eyes were puffy from lack of sleep. My voice came out wrong (more than usual) I think, due to the blocked nose. And I was developing fever. Double crap. I popped in two tablets of Paracetamol (tradename: Panadol), the KK (Kementerian Kesihatan) version. And the medication worked like a brand new car. For my fever at least. Couldn't do anthing about my mini Niagra Falls, or the clogged up plumbing. And it still hurts to take anything solid. Let's just hope it's not H1N1. I didn't come to contact with anyone suspicious. Then again, I work in a large hospital. Anything can happen. I'm on-call again tomorrow. Yippie! Hopefully everything will be quiet at night, like yesterday.

Saturday, June 27

Thursday, June 18

Tender Moments

I lie reclined on the thick mattress with my elbow in an almost right angle, and my hand cradling the back of my head. My eyes crawl in a lazy trail from her quiet face to the stacks of boxes behind her. Our room is a maze of piles of clothes waiting to be organized in the wardrobe, which still has the strong scent of wood, of picture frames in their protective wraps begging to be released and displayed, of table lamps and other small furniture with their matching partners lost in one of the unopened boxes, of my books and her magazines, stacked into little towers threatening to topple at the slightest sneeze, and of her odds and ends, her makeups, her vanity affair. We don't even have a proper bed yet, just the mattress pushed against the wall with the window. The guys from IKEA promised us delivery of the rest of our furniture today. My eyes return to her, as they always do. Gentle morning light dances between the leaves of the tree outside our apartment block, peeking through the window, bathing her in a warm glow. The way her body moves with each breath reminds me of the quiet waves of the beach at sunrise. Her hair, usually a mystery of cascading silk, is sticking out everywhere, a stark contrast against her tranquil face. Her long, curved lashes catch the light of the sun, but still her eyes dart about behind closed lids, assuring me that she is still deeply asleep. Her full lips curve slightly. Maybe she is having a pleasant time in her secret dream world. Even asleep she takes my breath away. I long to caress her smooth cheek, to trace a line down her angular jaw, to the small scar at the base of her neck, a token of her spirited childhood. She always tries to hide the scar, but I always tell her that it makes her even more perfect. Of course, she doesn't believe me. But I love kissing the scar. It's slightly cooler than the rest of her warm skin, where I love to kiss as well. Heck, I love kissing her, period. But I also love watching her sleep, so I refrain from risking waking her up. She moves a fraction, and her hair floats down to rest on her lashes. Without thinking, I smooth the hair from her eye and tuck it behind her ear. My fingers caress her earlobe with the slightest pressure. "Hey," she whispers without opening her eyes. Her dimple burrows a deep impression on her cheek as she smiles. "Hey." "Watchadoin?" "Watching you sleep." She lets out a throaty groan and pulls the blanket to cover her face. My exposed feet suddenly feel cold from the air-conditioning. I intertwine my feet with hers to share warmth. "I'm ugly like this!" I smile even though she can't see me, with her face buried under the down cover. I wait a moment before pulling the blanket over my head to join her. "No matter what time of the day, no matter how you look, you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever laid my eyes on." She lifts the blanket enough to peer at my face. She narrows her eyes to slits. "Well…besides Angelina Jolie." Which earns me a hearty punch on the chest. "Oof! Ouch, that hurts!" And we both break into a fit of laughs and giggles. I feel a stitch on my ribs from laughing so much. Settling down, I caress her chin between my thumb and forefinger. "Well, I’m thankful you consented to share your life with me. I’m glad I’m able to wake up beside you every day, and to be able to look at you, to watch over you while you sleep."

She rolls her eyes. "Last I checked I didn't marry a poet." She lifts her hand and uses the back of her fingers to trace the contours of my face. "I love knowing you're watching over me. I love having our feet twisted together like this. But most of all, I love you."

And we kiss, a long, soft, and gentle kiss.

"Ugh," she mumbles between kisses. "Your breath stinks!"

"Yours too. But I’m not gonna stop kissing you!"

Monday, June 15

People are so dependent on crutches it's humiliating

I came across this article in Utusan Malaysia on Thursday, 11th June. Yes, people, I do read newspapers. Occasionally. Whenever there's one in front of me, that is. So stop that smirk I see on your face. Yes, you. So, anyway, the article. Feast your eyes.
ARKIB : 11/06/2009 PPSMI wajib dimansuh KUALA LUMPUR 10 Jun - Dasar Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris (PPSMI) wajib dimansuhkan mengikut Islam kerana ia mendatangkan kemudaratan kepada anak bangsa. Pengerusi Sekretariat Himpunan Ulama Rantau Asia (Shura), Abdul Ghani Samsuddin berkata, lebih 800 ulama di negara ini bersetuju bahawa dasar itu wajib dihapuskan secepat mungkin berdasarkan nas-nas naqli serta dalil-dalil agama. Jelasnya, kanak-kanak golongan miskin yang berada di luar bandar kebanyakannya tidak mampu menguasai bahasa Inggeris bagi memahami ilmu sains dan matematik. "Itu jelas satu bentuk kemudaratan. Berdasarkan nas-nas naqli, dinyatakan bahawa sesuatu yang mudarat dan boleh membawa kemudaratan adalah wajib dihapuskan," katanya. Beliau berkata demikian dalam sidang akhbar selepas mengetuai penyerahan memorandum 'Muafakat Ulama Mansuhkan PPSMI' kepada Majlis Raja-Raja Melayu melalui Penyimpan Mohor Besar Raja-Raja, Engku Tan Sri Ibrahim Engku Ngah di pejabat Penyimpan Mohor Besar Raja-Raja di sini hari ini. Memorandum setebal lima muka surat itu mengandungi 11 tuntutan yang didakwa diperakui lebih 40 persatuan ulama dan disokong oleh beberapa persatuan lain. Turut menyertai rombongan itu adalah Presiden Presiden Teras Pengupayaan Melayu (Teras), Mohd. Azmi Abdul Hamid serta Timbalan Pengerusi Gerakan Memansuhkan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris (GMP), Prof, Shaharir Mohamad Zain. Antara tuntutan yang terkandung dalam memorandum itu adalah:
  1. Menolak pelaksanaan PPSMI dalam sistem pendidikan negara.
  2. Mendesak agar tulisan jawi kembali diperkasakan dalam sistem pendidikan negara termasuk menggalakkan urusan rasmi menggunakan tulisan jawi sebagai identiti negara.
  3. Menegaskan kerajaan, khususnya Kementerian Pelajaran tidak boleh berdalih dengan alasan pencapaian Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) atau Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) dijadikan asas bagi meneruskan atau memberhentikan pelaksanaan PPSMI.
Rough translation (coz I'm too lazy to translate the whole bloody thing):
Learning and Teaching Science and Mathematics in English Act (PPSMI), implemented by the government some years ago, MUST (capitalized to emphasize wajib, which means if you don't do this you'll burn in hell) be abolished as it is, get this, harmful toward the nation's youths. The chairman -- excuse me -- chairperson of Sekretariat Himpunan Ulama Rantau Asia (Shura) stated that over 800 ulama (learned, religious men) in Malaysia agreed that the Act should be abolished immediately, following Islamic dictum (nas) and proof (dalil). He explained that most poor children in rural areas cannot master English to effectively learn Maths and Science taught in that language. He went on to say that this is clearly harmful for those children (I'm trying hard to keep this translation unadulterated and to refrain from adding my own comments here. Read on for my comments in additional info). This guy actually led a group of pro-Malay language enthusiasts to submit a 5-page-long memorandum to the Sultanate. Among their demands are:
  1. to reject the implementation of PPSMI
  2. to push for the usage of Jawi (the Arabic lettering format) in writing in the Education System, in official context, and as a national identity.
  3. to tell the government not to use the results of UPSR (Standard 6, end of Primary School), PMR (Form 3, mid Secondary School), or SPM (Form 5, end Secondary School) to decide whether to continue with or to stop PPSMI.
Oh, hey, will you look at that. I actually ended up translating the whole damn thing. For my cousins in Perth and Paris, this proves that I love you guys (feel free to roll your eyes here). The government implemented teaching Science and Mathematics in English a few years back, initially for Primary Schools only, and then followed by Secondary Schools, basically when those Primary School-goers grew up and entered Secondary School (or high school, whatever). Well, the government keeps on implementing new devices every few years or so to torment school goers I'm actually thankful I now belong with the working class. To me, personally, this was a good move. English is an international medium for business, as well as for higher learning. Mandarin and Japanese too, but let's not get that far. Most subjects in universities and colleges are taught in English. Most textbooks for such students are in English. Some of my friends failed their first year Professional Exam in uni because they could barely understand the lectures, and they had trouble understanding the reference books. Of course, having some of the lecturers teaching in a thick Southern Indian accent didn't help one bit. Even I had trouble understanding "Yeeyh Wai Eay Yehl Yuu Arr Ohw Yenn Aiy Sieh (HYALURONIC)". And this is a fact; not kidding. But those who persevered improved, and are now zombies -- er...I mean doctors -- in the Health Ministry. (Caution: Highly scandalous paragraph. Skip if you're the sensitive type) The Malays and other indigenous races of Malaysia are already given a mighty crutch. Article 153 in the Constitution protects our special rights and the benefits that come along with it, be it in education or in business. Seriously, don't go flaming me as a traitor of my own race. I'm not questioning the Article. I'm just saying that we are handed this privilege just by being born Malay, or Kadazan, or Iban, or some other indigenous race. We are given a free boost, a head start if we decide to participate in the competition. Other races have to do it on their own. When someone mentions withdrawing part of the crutch, everyone bitch about, complaining about everything. But if we look at our current situation, how many people actually make full and effective use of the help freely given? (Continue here) Now we have these so-called learned religious men flaunting Islamic teachings to protect another major crutch. They want poor villagers and rural people to stay poor, to deprive them the potential of good, solid education when these children grow up. They want these children to later on fail in education and get cheated on in business endeavors simply because they have difficulty mastering English. Likely, they didn't think about this future issue, just the ones at hand (like condemning whatever move the current government makes). That's why we need visionaries (i.e. evil, faith-deficit guys and gals) to think long-term benefits and consequences of any major decision that would affect the country as a whole. I get where Malay Language activists are coming from. Article 152 in the Constitution states that Malay Language is the national language, and is used for official occasions. This protects the language from being eliminated altogether. But with most subjects being taught in English, Malay Language could become obsolete in later generations. It certainly is headed there. It doesn't matter that the language itself is hardly original, but has a majority of words borrowed from other languages. It doesn't matter that the written language differs greatly from the everyday spoken language. Take my brother for example. He actually wrote 'amik' instead of 'ambil' for 'take'. We usually pronounce it as 'amik' or 'ambik', and rarely use the correct term 'ambil'. Imagine the gut-splitting laugh the whole family had when he showed us the test paper in dismay, generously decorated with red ink throughout the page. Slightly off topic, but bear with me. Malay Language, learned by all school-goers, is one of the glues that hold our nation together. I converse with Chinese and Indian patients in Malay (or using crude sign language and drawings, while jotting down 'Language Barrier' on the clerking sheet). With the so-called educated ones, I converse in Layman English most of the time. Easier for me to communicate, easier for them to understand. Win-win situation. Oh wait. What if everyone becomes educated and can converse well in English? Imagine the horror! Then anyone who's anyone can browse the internet for information of various diseases and can better understand their ailments. Oh the nightmare! Sarcasm aside, in a future where globalization is the in-thing, we cannot afford to lag just because we can't master English. And why can't we master English? Some zealots are complaining that learning in English is harmful toward the nation's youths. We are now all about One Malaysia. The rest of the world has already promoted One World ages ago. (Caution: political sentiment ahead. Skip if you're the sensitive type) Before we reached independence, the British only allowed Primary Education, segregated and taught in each race's native language. They didn't encourage higher education. The communists didn't encourage any education whatsoever. Why? Simple. Knowledge is power. If the locals understand English, they can't be cheated off their rights as human beings. If the locals can get access to higher education, they will band up and fight for their independence. Oh wait. That happened in our country. Our neighboring countries shun us for achieving our independence not with brute strength, the manly way, but with words, like a wuss. Well, we kept the killings at the minimal, yet we got our independence. Because of visionaries (evil, faith-deficit men). We retained more than enough manpower to build the country after gaining independence. (Continue here) These zealots are trying to prevent the youths of our nation from gaining education at its maximum potential. So what makes them different from those oppressive colonialists? Well, I may be exaggerating things a bit, but frankly I don't see the difference. Unless Malay Language is used internationally, by the whole world, stopping teaching learning Science and Mathematics in English because it is harmful to the nation's youths is just maintaining the crutch that will keep our children crippled. People can always say, "We learned in Malay back in the good ol' days, and we're educated. We're doing OK." And they're right. I learned Science and Math in Malay. I'd like to think I did OK. But I'm talking about learning at its fullest potential here. I found the transition from learning in Malay medium to fully English medium in uni seamless because I'm good in English in the first place (not bragging, mind. Just stating a fact). The same can't be said for my friends who weren't so good in that language, although their minds are far brighter than mine. That being said, teachers need to brush up their mastery of English in order for them to teach properly, and to make this move work. They cannot say, "Eh, susahla nak ajar guna Bahasa Inggeris," because that mentality will affect the students under their care. OK. You can start flaming me for the evil, faith-deficit guy that I am. For those of you who made it this far, and think along my train of thoughts, please share this with the whole world.

Friday, June 12

A must read for those who write fiction

Nathan Bransford is a Literary Agent, based in San Francisco. A lot of agents in the US and UK have blogs where they dispense advice, as well as share their experiences in the publication world. A whole different world than the one I reside in, I say. I came across his blog a couple of months back, when I was browsing for literary agents. I'm not sure if there are English Fiction agents here in Malaysia. Google came up with zilch result. If I do end up finishing a novel, I'd like to be represented. 'Cause my knowledge of the publication world is like that Google result: zilch. So. This ginormously beneficent agent has compiled all his previous posts pertaining to steps to publish a novel, which can be reached by clicking on this post's title, or here. So if you're serious about writing, and can't spend the moolah on how-to-write-well books, do read the posts, including the 200+ comments. A lot of the commentors are writers as well, and they share their thoughts and wisdom too.

Thursday, June 11

Tender Moments

I pluck the guitar strings together with my eyes closed. Picking up the discrepancy in sound, I turn the peghead and try again. I smile a fraction when the two strings sing as one. "What are you so smug about?" "Eh?" I crane my neck to the right and look at her looking at me. In her face I register honest curiosity. "Not smug. Why?" "You were smiling to yourself just now." "I wasn't even looking at you. How could you tell?" "Your dimple showed." "I thought you're reading?" With a sigh, followed by a shrug, she lifts her book off the grass and continues reading. Brother Odd by Dean Koontz. Not my genre, but then again, we disagree on so many things that I still can't believe she is sitting here beside me under the shade of this old tree, partially leaning against my back. I continue looking at her in silence, but I could've been a stump for all the attention she is giving me. Her eyes, half closed, dart about as she reads, her long lashes catching slivers of sunlight. Her lips are partially opened, and once in a while she would form soundless words.
Careful not to move too much, I give a shrug of my own. I love the feel of her weight on my back. Not too much pressure to make me exert a counterweight, but enough to assure me that she's really here. I turn my attention back to my guitar. Its once polished surface is now faded, and the original lighter color of wood grain shows where my callused fingers have been strumming all these years. I've changed the strings countless times, but the guitar still plays beautiful songs for me. I pluck the strings again, two at a time. This time the tuning is just about right.
I start plucking the opening chords of my favorite song. After playing the same chords twice, I start singing, just under my breath.
"And even though the moment passed me by, I still can't turn away..."
I must have drifted into my own world again, 'cause I don't feel her weight lifting off me. When I look up, she is already kneeling in front of me, her right hand resting on mine, effectively stopping me from plucking the strings. Her head is slightly cocked to the right, her expression a curious mixture that I can't quite figure out. That's one of the things I adore about her: I can never figure her out. Her book is on the grass beside her, closed.
"Wha?" I raise my eyebrows in a show of calm inquiry. Inside my heart is thumping madly against my chest. I give a quick prayer that she can't feel the slight trembling of my hands.
This is the first time I sing in front of her, for her. And she hates it. Goddamit! I knew this is a bad idea. I feel like shoving my guitar into its canvas bag before I do anything rash and stupid with it.
"I told you I can't sing that well. Hell, this is one of the only songs I can play."
"Which part?" I give her the most innocent look I can muster. "I can't sing well or I only know a few songs?"
"I know you can sing a lot of songs."
"Well, you're not Johnny Rzeznik, obviously." It's a wonder her expression remains unreadable. My own must be changing like a tropical storm.
I look for the condemnation in her eyes. I find none. I watch her in nervous silence, my fingers frozen awkwardly on the fretboard. Without taking her eyes off me, she reaches into her jeans pocket and takes out her handphone. She then looks at her phone and fiddles with it.
"Start again. I'm recording this."
My fingers refuse to budge. "Why?" "Simply. Sing. Now." "Why?" She blows her wispy fringe off her long lashes in a loud huff. Sunlight dances in her dark brown eyes. A slow smile plays on her lips. "Because it's you, singing this song. Because I love your voice more than I'll ever love Johnny Rzeznik's. Because I want to hear this every day." A sudden wave warms my cheeks. "You'll get bored." "So sing me a new song when that happens. Sheesh. Now shut up and sing." I face down toward my guitar to hide my smile. I'm still smiling when I start singing Name.

Tuesday, June 9

Major Blockage

My head feels like a shithole right now, heavy with dumps and junks that just can't be flushed out. I have a few half-written entries, mainly short stories, saved in drafts. I get stumped after a few sentences. I know I'm no brilliant writer, but I can't come up with something even half decent, much less tear-inducing. Last time I experienced this, I couldn't write a single story for 4 freaking years. People have a term for this: Writer's-freaking-block. Some people argue that writer's block is just an excuse for not being productive. A writer should just trudge on, regardless of lack of inspiration or capability to string words together to make a complete, lovely sentence. A writer's block is just a state of mind. I say, shove it up their jolly asses! Writing is Art, and artistic ventures need inspiration. With the state of mind I'm in, it's a small wonder I can even write this gibberish rant at all. On a lighter note, I'm being critical even though I'm writing crap. I'm filtering out plenty of 'even' even though I'm itching to use that word. I'm even (ahaha...didn't filter that out on purpose. In your face!) counting how many times I use a particular word, how a sentence sounds, and all that technical stuff about writing well. The whole shitty-jing-bang. Oh. And I'm loving being able to cuss about with reckless abandon in this post. It's the state of mind I'm in, see. So, back to this writer's block. I think I should first be an actual writer (i.e. paid to write) to be eligible to have a block. Like, whatever, man. Let me have my demons to fight and bitch about. Then again, I get paid RM40 for each Medical Report I write. Booyeah! I've almost exhausted my options of books on writing. I've bought and read so many that I start to see the pattern. They kinda sound the same, more or less. Hell, I've written an attempt at creating a writing tutorial from reading those books, as well as from my own experience. There's no such thing as reading too much, mind. Not even when it comes to porn. Hehehe. One book that I do find refreshing is Stephen King's On Writing. I love it so much that it warrants a review. One day soon. I promise. Funny thing is, Kinokuniya staff shelved the book along with other Stephen King books in Horror section. A non-fiction about writing, in Horror. Whatthehell?! So, what am I to do? When one finds that one cannot write, one can either rewrite something, or read. I bought Kill Your Friends by John Niven for my sister ages ago, and it's still in its plastic cover. Dark Comedy isn't my preferred genre, but one cannot be restricted when enriching oneself. I may even start reading those Medical books again. Urm. Ah. Gah! This block is. Freaking. Annoying! Just like a festering zit, throbbing, aching to explode with all its purulent glory. Gross. I know. Live with it. Ok. Now to start writing. I mean reading. The hell. Cheers!

Sunday, June 7

Salam from JB

I'm in my grandparents' home in JB trying to sleep. Definitely not looking forward to driving back to KL tomorrow evening.

Been having a good time here though. Good to be able to catch up with my cousins, aunts and uncles. Even better is the food. The ikan bakar and ais kacang (here they use cocoa instead of those funny colored syrup) are simply divine. My family's must-have food everytime we come back to JB.

The weather's superb. Sweltering-hot as usual, which is good since my cousin's having her wedding receptions from last night till tomorrow afternoon. I know, we Malays are suckers for celebrations.

Uh. Oh. What I'm looking forward to is being on leave till Tuesday. Time to recuperate. But Mother dear had her shoes stolen last night during the late night reception. Some sod must have been too tired to care that she put on the wrong pair. My mom says there are people who deliberately wear old shoes to be exchanged with nicer ones at gatherings. Not that any Westerner will ever come across this blog, but in spirit of clarity, we take off our shoes before entering a house. It's not gross walking around barefoot. Get over it.

So, anyway. I think my mom may be on to something. At any rate, she mentioned a shopping excurtion on Monday for a new pair of shoes. Some pairs, more like. Oh well.

Hmm...two days of (hopefully) 1 Tender Moments piece, 1 tutorial (I've been slacking, I know) and maybe some soul searching, to find the voices of Adrian and Rina again.

Oh. By the way. I never did get a chance to buy myself a cup of Caramel Signature Hot Chocolate on Thursday. Got out of OT just in time to do rounds and wardwork, and went home after lunch. Zonked out until 2300 ish, spent some quality time with my beloved computer (which is, thankfully, still nameless) and continued zonking out in as I recall a dreamless sleep. I woke up late on Friday and immediately checked my phone. No missed calls. I guess the ICU staff passed over the message that I'd be on leave.


Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, June 4

Sleepless in HKL

This is a random, unintelligible entry. No joke. I have not been sleeping since...lemme see...when I woke up at 0700 hours, Tuesday. And now it's already 0600, Wednesday. No patients to operate till 1630, and that's when the day actually began. I didn't go idling about before that time, mind. And no, before anyone who happens to read this thinks that I'm bitching about work, I'm not. I'm currently in between cases. Just finished opening up someone's skull and taking out the evil blood clot, and waiting for the next patient for me to poke a tube in. Fun, isn't it? I'm halfway drowsy, hence this crap excuse of an entry. Anything to get my mind going, and HKL server blocks Freesky Online. That's a browser-based game. WoW is definitely out of the question. I tried, waay back in 2006. Uh. Oh. I got an idea on a novella or novel while chatting and gossiping (yes, you read right. Gossiping.) with my OT staff nurses (Kak Yana, Kak Haili and Mas) from midnight to 0230. I know, I could've slept then. Meh. Time well spent, I say. Anyway, before I get deviated. The story idea. It's definitely a romantic story. What else, coming from me? A girl gets dumped on the eve of her wedding. She gets heartbroken, she swears off men, the usual female reaction works. But, as I keep on saying, life goes on. She meets this guy, who's not exactly her type. He antagonizes her, he irks her, but he's kind to her at the same time. Just when romance starts to unfold, her ex-fiance appears into her life. He's still everything she wants, and she still loves him. So she has to choose. Well, I dunno if anyone has come across the storyline before. Not exactly 100% original. Some variation must exist somewhere. It's rare to come up with something totally different and completely original. At first glance, everyone would likely take side with the new guy. But what if the old flame is portrayed to be a good guy as well? What if he had a strong reason to have broken off the wedding, and that he still loves her, and only her? I can imagine Tita shaking her head at this. Likely the girl's character will be flaky and not strong enough, and she'll likely end up disliking the girl, like most of my other female protagonists. Sigh. triangle sounds like a Bollywood movie. If I add another female character, who's the new guy's best friend who's secretly in love with him, I'd get the formula for a successful Korean drama. Winnah! I told you, this entry is random, just like life. Total randomness. Oy. When is the patient arriving at the airlock? My change of clothes is still in the car, untouched since I arrived at work. Methinks, I'll grab a quick shower after this (hot water is out again. Lame.) and drive to Starbucks KLCC for a fix of Venti Caramel Signature Hot Chocolate and a Cinnamon Roll, heated up, for RM 19.20. Or, as what the barrista says whenever he sees me there, "The usual?" Goes to show how many times I've spent RM 19.20 at that place. Oh. By the way, some people would guard their ideas with a tenacity rivaling a mother koala. I don't mind sharing. Maybe someone will come across this entry and writes a story with the same setup. I'll say, "Good on ya!" and buy a copy of that book, to see how he/she tackles it. Basic ideas may be the same, but each storytelling is different, based on the author's background, education, character, prejudices, and beliefs. Life is too short and too precious for us to be spoiled sports. The patient still hasn't arrived! WHATTHEHELL?! OK. Gotta go. Can't think of anything else to say. One more case, shower, Subuh, Starbucks, Morning Conference, rounds, and if I'm lucky, my specialist wouldn't mind my chucking off after that. If he ends up minding, I have to continue working till 1630. Crappers. Friday it's driving back to JB for my cousin's wedding. I hope I won't face statements along the line of "Fadz bila lagi?" Aku lepuk kang. Cheers!

Sunday, May 31

It never gets easier

It was early this morning. Or late last night, depending on how you count days. Around 0200 hours, give or take ten minutes. Most people were either asleep, getting home after a late night show or a session at the latest clubs, or surfing porn behind closed doors, with the lights turned off. I was wide awake longing to be asleep. I just came back (to the hospital) after grabbing a quick dinner at McDonald's Ampang Jaya. Before that I was drilling holes in people's skulls. I knew there was a patient who deteriorated an hour past midnight in our ICU. I knew there was a possibility I had crawl into the blue OT attire again, to open up the patient's skull, to take out the bone, the blood, or whatever that was making him more ill than he already was. Sounds routine, doesn't it? The patient has not quite reached sixteen years breathing the air we're all breathing. I have about twelve years on him, and God willing, I may see more years passing by. But he won't. In the time I'm writing this, his life force is barely a flicker, ready to be snuffed out. I wasn't the one who admitted him, nor was I the one who operated on him. I'm simply the doctor managing the ICU where he happens to be treated. I had the opportunity to explain to his father about his condition. I told him that his son, the one on the bed that looked much too big for his still form, with all the tubes and wires connected to him like a grotesque parody of a sci-fi novel, was in bad shape. But he's still young. There's hope. There's always hope. That was on Friday, before I went home after work. Fast forward to Sunday, 0200 hours. About eighteen hours into my call. The same patient deteriorated. Where was the hope? Out with whatever dreams he had before that freak twist of fate that landed him on the ICU bed, dying. What happened to him in the first place? No, he wasn't riding a motorcycle, doing whatever stunts teenagers these days are doing. He didn't play truant during school hours. He was playing soccer with his friends. Witnesses said a flag pole fell onto him. His family kept asking me whether there was a possibility someone hit him at the back of his head. I may never know what happened. But whatever happened definitely wasn't his fault. Life's unfair that way. I offered to inform the family. I knew it was going to be hard. I spoke with the father earlier. I saw some of the relatives. In a way, I had a fleeting glimpse into his life. His father was working night shift, so his elder brother came. I led him into a room and took a seat facing him. How do you tell close family members that the younger brother is already brain dead, that only his heart is pumping independently? How do you tell them that the sixteen-year-old will not live to see another day? I chose to tell the elder brother straight on, without pretense, without medical jargon. I spoke as softly as I could, as slowly as I could. I paused to let the words sink in, and saw the change in his face. I saw the hard set of his jaw, the tears welling in his eyes. I saw his denial, I saw his anger. After a minute of silence, I broached the subject of organ donation. I hate myself for doing it, but it had to be done. The patient was a suitable candidate for it. Naturally, from the look on his face, he was not going to listen to anything else from me. I laid it there. I told the brother to call his family members, to say their goodbyes, to be there with the patient as he fades away, with their prayers and their blessing. He asked me if there was anything else we could do. I told him the truth. There wasn't, other than to ease his passing. The patient's mother stopped me at the door on her way in. She asked me what was happening with her son. I told her he was dying. She turned and headed his direction. I stood by the door long enough to see her sit down by his bed, her head and shoulders slumped. I went into my room and lay on my own bed, trying to absorb the enormity of the words I just exchanged with the patient's family. I heard the elder brother talking on the phone, telling other family members one by one that his brother no longer was. Before I knew it, a few drops of warm tears rolled on the bridge of my nose and cheek. Maybe I was yawning at that time. If I was, I couldn't recall doing it. This morning, his blood pressure was unrecordable. His heart was still beating, but weak; it was a flutter compared to the stomping of mine. I did the only thing I could do: I whispered the syahadah into his ears before asking the nurses to call his family in. This time his father was around. I told him it would be anytime soon. I asked him to guide his son, to ease him, to be there in his final moments. He asked if his wife could come in. I nodded and asked the nurses to provide them with a few books of Yasin, and a couple of chairs. I asked for them to draw the curtains, to give the family the scant privacy we could afford them with. Life goes on for me. I reckon I'll be facing similar situations, like I did before this. But the same is not true for this particular patient. Nor will it ever be the same for the family he's leaving behind. I cannot even attempt to imagine how it is for his parents, to see him slipping away from their embrace. I sincerely hope, I sincerely pray, that my family and friends will never face this nightmare. May it never touch you and yours, whoever is reading this. This is dedicated to the patient. His family loves him, deeper than the roots of the earth, but Allah loves him more. Al-Fatihah.

Saturday, May 30

I'm not crazy, just a little unwell

It's been a hectic and tiring week...didn't have time to update my blog! Fine. I've received a copy of The Sims 3. And I'm hooked on telling my Sim what to do, where to go. He's now a Rock Star, by the way. I have another Sim whom I'm training to be a writer. His wife, a hot redhead with a pixie haircut (drool), is busy tinkering with tubs and stoves. Self-cleaning. Figure that. Yes. I'm an addict. But more on that later. I'm going to dedicate one long post -- with pictures -- on my addiction to games. And yes. I'm playing The Sims 3, which is only scheduled to be released June 2nd. All Malaysians are pirates (I'd prefer the term resourceful). Get over it. Doesn't mean I'm not tempted to buy the original game. I've read we get a complete downloadable town after purchasing the game. Another redhead to frolic around a new town. Yummy. But seriously. I'm not lying when I said the week's been hectic. The whole month, in fact. Not enough MOs, so more workload for those still around. Blah blah blah, same story everywhere. This month has been a transition period. A lot of people are taking leave before going for their Masters program, and a lot of Masters students sat for their exams. Next month we're supposed to get new people in. Yay! The tired body is not condusive for creative thinking, though. So I'm left with the almost-mindless job of ordering my Sims around. I still owe that tutorial, and I also owe Tita a short story where the female main character gets more spunk and character. One that resonates. That's a tall order, but I think I have a story in mind. Just. Need. To. Think. Straight. Looking forward to and dreading June at the same time. Results are coming out the end of the month. For those who know about the competition, you know we can't advertize our entering it online or whatever. Wish me luck! I'm actually waiting for a patient to get zonked out (getting sedated and prepped for operation) so I can drill a hole in his head and stick a tube into his brain. Gross, huh? In private hospitals, they actually charge people RM12k-RM16k for the procedure, with the surgeon's fee of around RM4k. Not so gross anymore, huh? I'm doing it with a payment of RM170 for 24 hours. And I have two more patients waiting to get drilled and stuck with a tube. Gross. K, I have to go. Cheers!

Saturday, May 23

Tender Moments

I thought I was over this, I was over her. I thought wrong. A single phone call was enough to send me racing toward the hospital. I couldn't even remember what I was doing before she called me. Maybe I was browsing through the channels. Maybe I was eating leftover pizza. Or maybe I was napping. It didn't seem to matter. "Amir," said a voice I didn't think I would ever hear again. "I don't know who else to call. My dad. Doctors are saying he's had a heart attack." "Where?" "General Hospital." I never thought five years could flash before my eyes within the span of ten minutes. Apparently it could. All my memories of her, the best ones as well as the worst, resurfaced even though I tried do drown them with the stereo. Hitz was playing I'm Yours. Switch. Mix was playing Truly Madly Deeply. Switch. Fly was playing Unfaithful. Off. The memories were louder with only the sounds of air-conditioning and the engine. Everything freakin reminded me of her. Back to Fly, full blast. I thought, after six months, the wounds had healed. But here I was, bleeding through every pore on my body. My heart hurt. My head throbbed. My knuckles were painful from gripping the steering wheel too hard. I could bleed myself dry for all I cared; I weaved through the traffic with a single minded purpose. She needed me. I needed to be there for her. I had to circle the hospital twice to find a parking spot. I wanted to do an illegal, but the guard flashed his light at me, yelling something I couldn't hear. When I reached the Emergency Zone, the staff there almost didn't let me in. "Kamarulzaman Idris. Heart attack." I tried my best impersonation of calm on the small, dark skinned man in white uniform. He certainly took his time typing the name on his keyboard. "Red Zone. Are you family?" I could have been. "I...ah --" "Amir!" I turned and saw her standing by the inner entrance. She was wearing a faded white T and dark sweats. Her long hair was sticking out in all direction. Her eyes were wide and wild, in fear, in distraught maybe. She was biting her lips. Even looking like this, she still took my breath away. I closed the gap between us in three wide steps. "Sorry I took so long. Parking was --" "I didn't think you would come. Not after what I --" "How's your dad?" "I don't know. They still wouldn't let us in. Mak is in the waiting room, with Pak Long." "You want to go back to them?" She gave the tiniest shake. "I need a breather." I walked beside her in silence, slowing my pace to match hers. My body was moving by reflex. We stopped across the road from the Emergency Zone. I took off my left shoe and she sat on it without saying a word. Just like she used to. I squatted next to her. For a few minutes we stayed there without saying a word. We listened to the sounds of siren, of cars whooshing by, of people crying in pain, of arguments. "We were having dinner," she finally said, barely audible above the noise. "He just collapsed, gasping, screaming. I've never seen him in so much pain." I looked straight ahead, even though what I wanted to do was put my arm around her, assuring her that her dad was going to be all right. It was no longer my place to do that. "Sorry I called you." "Don't be. I'm glad you called." At least I wasn't lying. "Where's whatshisname? Johan? Johar?" "Johar." a few moments of silence. "He didn't pick up the phone. He usually wakes up after midnight." I could only guess the amount of calls left unanswered before she had to resort to calling me. "I'm really sorry, Amir." "It's OK. No trouble." "For leaving you." "Oh." That stopped our conversation as surely as a red light, with a policeman by the side. We sat in awkward silence for I couldn't remember how long. Then I saw a familiar figure standing by the entrance. "Yana. Your mom." She bolted up and rushed across the road. I put on my flattened shoe and followed her at a slower pace. They were clasping each other's hands when I reached Yana's side. Aunty Zarah raised her eyebrows when she saw me. But she was smiling. "Amir." "Aunty." I took her hand and bowed down to kiss it. I felt her other hand brushing by hair back. "The doctor said we can go in to see Abah," said Aunty Zarah, looking at Yana. "Is he OK?" "He didn't say. I came out here to get you." Yana turned and touched my forearm. Lightning crackled where her skin met mine. "Amir, will you --" "I'll wait here for you. Go. See your dad. He needs both of you right now." "Thanks." I watched as they disappeared behind the swinging doors. Not knowing what else to do, I sat at the back row of the waiting area. I played with my phone, deleting old SMSes, changing my ringtone, then changing it back. I couldn't remember how long I was sitting there sweating when Yana came out. From the way she walked, from the look on her face, I knew what she would say. "He's gonna be OK," I said before she opened her mouth. I stood up to greet her. She nodded. Her eyes were wet. Before I could react, she wrapped her arms around me, burying her face in my chest. I responded the only way I could. I hugged her back, resting my chin on her head. The peach scent of her shampoo filled my senses, triggering memories of when we were still together. "He's going to be all right, Amir," she said between sobs. "He's going to be all right." I was the first to let go. We had our history, but I was no longer hers. "Hey. Go back to your dad. Tell him I wish he gets well soon. And no golfing for, I dunno, a year or so." She wiped her tears with her sleeves. She nodded again. "Amir. I'm sorry. Truly." She looked up to meet my eyes. The clarity in hers made me want to forget everything and take her in my arms again. "Letting you go was the worst mistake I ever did," she added in a whisper. "Shh. What's done is done. We moved on. Now go back to your parents. Update me, OK?" "All right. Thank you, Amir." I gave her a wide grin and ruffled her hair. I turned and walked away. Just outside the entrance, I turned back to face her. "For what it's worth, I've never stopped loving you." The doors slid closed between us.

Thursday, May 21

Tender Moments

We walked side by side, not saying anything to each other for long minutes. I loved the silence between us; it was comfortable. As comfortable as her fingers intertwined with mine. The silver rings on her thumb and forefinger felt cool on my skin, enhancing her warmth in contrast. I loved how she swayed her arms when walking. Front, back. Front, back. Front, back. My right arm swung along with her left one. There was no awkwardness in the movement, despite the tip of her curly head not quite reaching my nose. All around us, their figures reflected on the polished marble floor of Pavilion, were people milling about with their own shopping trips. Most of them moved at a fast pace, their mannerisms reflecting the pace of Kuala Lumpur. But the two of us were in our own timeline. Our movements were deliberately slow, our arms going front, back, front, back, as our feet moved forward. Despite the surrounding noise, I could almost hear her heartbeat as I felt the pulse on her wrist. My own heart, usually beating fast, must have slowed down to match hers. Not intentionally; she had this effect on me without her realizing it. The music greeted us even before we came across the string quartet playing on a platform in front of Tangs. The tune was light, but the acoustics of the complex amplified the sounds. Without releasing my hand, she turned to face me and lay her free hand on my chest. I stopped walking with my right foot in midair. If her hand on my chest was causing my heart to flutter, the look on her slightly cocked head almost made it burst. "I know this song," she said behind her wide smile. Even with the slightly crooked canines, no one else could compare to that perfect smile. "I know this." "Endless love." She swatted my chest. I barely felt it, but my heart did a stumble. "Ouch." I winced, crinkling my nose for added dramatic effect. "Not fair. I wanted to say it first." Her voice was soft, a feather floating in the wind. I loved the silence between us, but more than that, I loved hearing her voice. "Sorry." From the smile on her face mirroring mine, I could tell she wasn't buying my apology. "Make it up to me." I groaned. My reaction this time was genuine. "'re not gonna make me try on women's hats again, are you?" "Tempting, but no." "Then?" "Dance with me." My jaw must have dropped, because she suddenly burst out laughing. I looked around us. The hallway was almost packed. A small crowd had gathered around the musicians, listening to their rendition of the beautiful song. "Dance? Here? Now?" "Why not? We're not breaking any laws." "Yeah right." "Come on. Dance with me." "You know I can't dance." "I can't dance too but that's not stopping me." Her smile was fading fast. I could see disappointment forming on her face from her furrowing eyebrows. "I mean..." I started, not knowing exactly how to react. "I'm not so sure it's a good idea." She sighed. She didn't pout; this light of my life never pouted, and only rarely allowed her anger or disappointment to surface. "You're right. It's a bad idea." She turned and started walking. I saw her shoulders slumping a fraction. My eyes trailed down to her left hand, which was still holding mine. With a sigh of my own, I jerked my hand back, pulling hers in the process. She turned with a high-pitched yelp. I caught her before she could straighten her legs, and encircled my left forearm around the small of her back. My feet started moving with the beat of the music. I was moving at the same spot, one foot lifting after the other. Before I knew it, she was resting her face on my shoulder, moving in perfect rhythm with me. I didn't have to look at her to feel her smiling. People were looking at us, some even pointing their fingers. Maybe there was approval in some faces. Maybe there was disapproval too. I drowned it all by closing my eyes. In that moment, there was only me, her, and the music. In that moment, our hearts were beating as one.

Tuesday, May 19

Fallen From Grace

He stands where he fell battered and bloodied his wings torn apart. He is condemned denied his place yet malice dwells not in his heart. He is alone looking to the heavens above for the place he once called home. Yet his place no longer is among the stars but here on Earth where he is forever to roam. Once he was light so pure his wings the envy of all but one almost perfection was his face. He is now a shadow of that mem'ry for he is an angel fallen from grace.

Monday, May 18

On Greatness

We are none of us great writers. Not until we are beyond hunger, beyond pain, beyond warmth, beyond joy, beyond cold, as we lie silent in the grave. Not until prose or poem, song or sonnet, that we claim our own, is read by children grown up. Not until our name is spoken throughout the Ages. Fadz J Rosli
Writing, just like anything else in this gloriously complex world, can be learned. It is not the providence of the select few. All of us have stories to spin, tales to tell. We are storytellers, in varying degrees. But writing, be it fiction or non-fiction, is a form of Art. To some, writing comes naturally. Words flow seamlessly from the mind, to the hand, to the small muscles of the fingers. To others, written expression needs to be teased, coaxed, or even threatened out. Be wary of those who claim they have written perfection. In a world much flawed, perfection is only a utopian dream. But when in our heart we know our creation is perfect in its imperfection, we have done it justice. We have given our best. We should be proud. Writing is never sacrosanct, other than the Words of God. It may be personal, but there is always room to grow. If you find, along the way, a reader who whispers the truth instead of singing praises, consider yourself blessed. It is better to be bruised knowing you need to improve your piece, rather than to be blisfully ignorant of mediocrity. We who aspire to be writers, we who explore, who push, who expand the faculties of this particular Art, we who strive for greatness, must never stop reading. Read to enrich the mind. Read to find new forms of expression. Read to learn what is wrong, to make it right. The first command God gave our Prophet was to read. The best advice a writer can give another is to read. I wish you Greatness.

Sunday, May 17


I am supposed to be going through a very thick book for my PTK (Penilaian Tahap Kecekapan) exam on Tuesday. It's something that'll give me a pay rise if I passed. But, as I said, the book's friggin THICK! And I only had this weekend to study it. Yesterday I was flat asleep most of the time, and today...well...I spent half the day tweaking html coding for this blogspace. Tomorrow I'm gonna be oncall again. Bloody Friggin Hell! I still owe my readers another tutorial. I still can't believe I have even one reader, let a lone a few. Oh well. I'm going to continue living in denial.

Friday, May 15

Knowledge sharing

I'm currently reading The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition), by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. These are some things that have always stumped me, and have been brought to light. Just thought it'd be nice to share. Directly quoted from the book, page 11: Wrong: Virgil Soames is the candidate whom we think will win. Correct: Virgil Soames is the candidate who we think will win. [We think he will win.] Wrong: Virgil Soames is the candidate who we hope to elect. Correct: Virgil Soames is the candidate whom we hope to elect [We hope to elect him.] Directly quoted from page 13: The difference between a verbal participate and a gerund (a verb form, which functions as a noun -- ending in -ing) is not always obvious, but note what is really said in each of the following: - Do you mind me asking a question? (May I, instead of others here, ask a question?) - Do you mind my asking a question? (Is it okay to ask a question?) In the first sentence, the queried objection is to me, as opposed to other members of the group, asking a question. In the second example, the issue is whether a question may be asked at all. *I added the sentences in ( ), to make things clear(er). Next up: tackling expositions, narrative summaries, and dialog in Cal and Emily.

Tuesday, April 28

Back in KL

I just got home from a five-day trip to Kuala Lipis late last night. Luckily I wasn't out of communication there, but as I could only receive Edge connection, the turtle-speed deterred me from posting anything. Oh well. I want to share my experience there, but since I keep on falling asleep the whole day, I gotta clear my head before writing anything sensible. Anyway, after dropping off my friends, I decided to stop by KLCC to get books for me to read during my 3-day leave. Imagine my relief at seeing the interior of the building. Home at last! Of course, I headed straight for Kinokuniya and ended up buying five books just so that I could get another Daruma card. By the way, if you're into buying books at a monthly basis, I suggest you head there before the end of the month and buy RM160 worth of books/magazines. Why waste so much money, you ask? Well, if you think it's a waste to spend money on books, then read no further. The daruma card entitles you to 28% discount on one book per month till this November. And now I have two of them. Happy. Of course, I simply had to stop by Starbucks to get my fix of a Venti Caramel Signature Hot Chocolate, with cream (RM14.20). Ah...the simple pleasures in life. This morning, my friend from work called and told me that one of the specialists commented, "He's on leave? He's always takes leave. Last time he said it was for writing novel or story or something. This time apa pulak? Buat movie?" Well I took leave for a week last month to write 2 short stories for a competition, as well as to free myself to go see Jason Mraz in concert, then an MC somewhen early this month. I applied to take leave these three days to rest and maybe write some stories for a Commonwealth competition, but volunteered to be on-call this Sunday. I got a message from another friend yesterday that I had to be oncall this Friday, which is the day my cousin is getting engaged. I didn't complain, knowing we're having a shortage of MOs. Not to brag, but whenever I'm at work I do more than my share. I help at other wards as well. Some people take leave every month, sometimes for extended periods. Most of the time to go on a vacation or something. No one said a thing. They didn't get ridiculed. I did. WTF?! Just venting out. Right now I'm in between watching Fringe and reading The First Five Pages. And falling asleep while doing those. Will post more later.

Monday, April 20

What I'm doing right now

I'm reading Self Editing For Fiction Writers (2nd edition) by Renni
Browne & Dave King while listening to Chronicles of Narnia: the
Magician's Nephew, audiobook, on my iPhone.

When i should be fast asleep.

Talk about juggling.


Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, April 19

I Completely Love My Sister But...

You Know There's Sibling Love When...


Without sight I could still see Your gentle eyes caressing me Your warm smile lighting my soul Your timeless beauty making me whole Without sound I could still hear Your presence, it is so very near Your voice woven from the finest silk Your lilting laughter, banishing the dark Without scent I could still sense Honey and cinnamon, your unique fragrance Dew and sunshine breezing from your hair Cleansing the stench of ugly despair Without touch I could still feel Your skin, your body, all surreal Your every curve, your every line Your perfect imperfections sublime Without sight, sound, scent and even touch Without the senses I rely upon so much Your presence will forever hold true That is how much I truly love you.

A Lonely Valentine's


Best. Day. Ever. (posted on March 5th, 2009)

Arwen's Lullaby (posted on March 2nd, 2009)

*I came up with a song for my lil' niece Arwen while randomly strumming my guitar. Sleep, my angel sleep Well into the night Worry not, my dear For I am by your side Ooh... A lullaby just for you Ooh... A lullaby just for you Sleep, my darling sleep Lay down all your sorrow Close your eyes tight We'll meet again in the morrow Ooh... A lullaby just for you Ooh... A lullaby just for you Sleep, my baby sleep Precious you are indeed Know that I love you I pray your dreams be sweet Ooh... A lullaby just for you

Most Doctors are Assholes! (posted on Feb 17th, 2009)

Happy Valentine's! (Adrian and Rina sneak preview) (posted on Feb 14th, 2009)

A girl named Lalitha (posted on Feb 10th, 2009)

25 Randomness (posted on Feb 7th, 2009)

People who promote racial unity are mostly racists themselves (posted on Feb 7th, 2009)

Compassion (posted on Feb 4th, 2009)

Love Letter to my Soulmate (posted on Feb 2nd, 2009)

My dearest heart, All my life I have been adrift, a lonesome boat lost at sea, without anchor, without oar, without direction or purpose. Then you appeared into my life. My northern star that guides me true, my gentle breeze that leads my way, my silken waves that bring me serenity. You did not know then, and I do not suspect you know now, but you are my salvation. You reached into the darkest depth that was my soul, and found the broken pieces that were me. You mended me with your healing touch, and you held me together with your encompassing love. I would not be the man I am today if it were not for you. I would not be whole without you as my greatest half. I would not have embraced the light without your gentle warmth. I do not, nor will I ever be, deserving of you, and it is true. Yet here you are, my strength, my faith, my hope, my dreams. For you are, My love, My light, My life. I love you.

The Human Spirit (posted on Feb 1st, 2009)


This page will be seeing a major overhaul if I'm seriously contemplating on blogging. Sigh.

Thursday, April 15

Last night was freaky hot. Damn uncomfortable. It hasn't rained here for ages! almost a month now, I think. Damn. Trapped in limbo. Damn right. Been feeling hollow and empty for about 2 weeks now. Even playing games don't seem to help. And that says A LOT. Writing this is making me depressed right now.

Wednesday, April 14

On second thought... Have u ever been so alone and so scared? Every day, all the time...wonder when I'll finally crack for real. So far I can only hope for all the people I want around me when that day comes...but most likely no one will be there. Ahah...
And so it begins... diary huh? Damn contradicting concept, but what the hell.... Still unsure and a bit stiff bout this whole blogging thingy, so I don't think I'll write that much. For now. As it is, I miss the closeness of my family and I miss my cat Keeno (screw Chicqa...she only comes to me when she wants to eat). From the beginning I knew my family was not exactly the all-Malaysian type (tell me one family who's normal. Eheh). You can actually feel all sorts of emotions emanating from our house. Compare that to the typical Malaysian with suppressed gets lonely when I'm away from home. Miss catching all those late night shows. Think I'm gonna watch Super Sapiens with my siblings when I get home. Ahahah. Sounds mighty boring. That's why I don't keep a journal. My life is, in essence, boring. Well...think that's it for now. This lab is too crowded to write something so personal. Ahahah. Excuses.