Presenting to my fellow blogging peeps, my 2018 Read List (for now). I still have a long way to go to reach my goal of 24 books though. Nevertheless, I’m satisfied with what I’ve read so far, which includes 5 English novels and 5 Malay novels.
The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman (bought during The Popular booksale in Avenue K for RM5)
The Global War on Morris by Steve Israel (bought during The Popular booksale in Avenue K for RM5)
Fahrenheit-451 by Ray Bradbury (bought at Kinokuniya)
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (bought at Kinokuniya)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (bought at Kinokuniya)
Menggunung by Helmi Effendy (bought during PBAKL)
Kelabu by Nadia Khan (bought during PBAKL)
Dunia Tanpa Tembok by Ayman Rashdan Wong (bought during PBAKL)
Gantung by Nadia Khan (bought during PBAKL)
Gantung 2 by Nadia Khan (bought during PBAKL)
The longest book out of all 10 books would be The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy while the shortest time I spent on reading are within 24 hours for each Gantung and Gantung 2 by Nadia Khan. The easiest and least impactful read would be The Global War on Morris by Steve Israel.
Regardless, all 10 were worth the read.
My TBR (to be read) list includes Charles Dickens, Elif Shafak, Friedrich Nietzsche, A. Samad Said, Victor Hugo, Elizabeth Gilbert, Aina Wafi Abd. Kadir, Zamir Mohyedin, Deborah Moggach, Vladimir Nabokov, John Lanchaster, Azhar Ibrahim & Chuck Klosterman. All of which are a mixture of heavy and light reads.
My current read is Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk.
*This is my first travelog. All the pictures I took were either using my sister’s Nikon 1 series or my phone, Huawei P9 (in Panorama mode). Kindly excuse my poor photo-taking skills.
So, I’ve been aching to write this as soon as the plane landed in KLIA2 but yeah. I guess I’ve been postponing as my heart felt heavy somehow. Because I know I’ll be missing Japan. I knew it right away on my last day there. And I’m still missing Japan now.
Writing this while listening to Radwimps make it worse though. But I cant help it.
Basically, I joined the company trip to Japan, specifically Osaka & Kyoto, spanning for 5 days, starting on the 30th of November to 5th of December. Our flight was at 2.00am and we reached Kansai International Airport around 8.00am in the morning. From there on, we rode the bus, who was driven by a Japanese Ojii-san called Yoneda-san (or something that sounded similar, I really forget about his name though), who was apparently around 66-years old but looked 40. He was our dedicated bus driver for the whole 5 days we were there.
Anyways, from the airport we went straight to Nara Deer Park, which is one of the main attractions to tourists. I honestly thought that the deers would have antlers, but somehow they did not have any, at least not at the area I went to. Anyways, I did not buy any biscuits to feed them but I did get to pat them on the heads (I’m not sure if they were supposed to be patted on the heads like cats) and they were really really tame.
From Nara, we went to the Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple in Eastern Kyoto. We had to walk up a hilly street surrounded by shops on the sides. Apparently, the Kiyomizu-dera was undergoing some sort of a renovation so the view was quite ‘scarred’ there. Our guide bought us tickets so we could walk in, which was really nothing special as it was pretty dark we could barely see anything and like major parts of the temple was closed for renovation works.
After walking around and taking photos like nobody’s business, we walked back down. And it was around 5.00pm but it gets dark fast in Japan, so it felt like it was 7.00pm. As I walked down, I heard this Japanese promoter speaking in Malay, ‘mari mari, cuba cuba‘ (come and try) while holding a tray of Mochi. And I was quite shocked so I went to him and asked if I could try any, worrying that it might not be Halal and he was like ‘yes, yes, daijoubu’ which I knew meant ‘it’s okay’. So, I tried some but did not buy any lol.
Instead, at like 10 degrees celcius, I bought a Matcha Vanilla mixed sundae, which cost me 300 yen. My hands were almost frozen by then. Bad idea, but the taste was totally worth it.
We spent the night at Vessel Hotel Campana Kyoto Gojo.
We had to pack our things in the morning and went to Kinkaku-ji, another Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Got our tickets and took photos. The scenery was amazing and it would definitely be a great place for wedding photo shoots. Since we went there in the morning, it was super cold I had to wear my gloves but eventually took it off to take pictures.
Next, we went to Arashiyama, a bamboo forest. Another beautiful venue for wedding photo shoots. Anyways, we were pretty much scattered here, as some of us decided that it was boring and walked back to the restaurant we’ll have our lunch in and some of us was really into taking hundreds of photos. This is where I decided to walk by myself, back to the our supposedly meeting place at the restaurant. Bored of waiting on the others who were busy taking shots, I decided to walked ahead of them, thinking that they saw me (they did not and ended up wondering where the heck I went to). So I walked through the bustling street, amongst a group of Japanese school boys, which really put me out of place. As the directions to the restaurant were obvious enough, I reached there, bumping into my boss who were slightly angry that I walked alone, worrying that I might get lost.
We spent the night at Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel, which was located somewhere within the vicinity of the Kanazawa city. Hence, after checking in, we took a stroll along the streets clad in our jackets as it was 8 degrees celcius. It was here that I saw a man who looked like a street beggar, holding a guitar with a cardboard on the pavement and some coins scattered on it. He saw us and spoke in Japanese, of course in words we could not comprehend. And he raised his palm to me, like trying to get a ‘high-five’ or something but I ignored it. And I felt bad but oh well.
We were honestly pretty excited for this day as we were about to go to Shirakawa-go and from our research it was supposed to snow there.
Before travelling to Shirakawa-go, we went to to the Omicho market in Kanazawa in the morning. It was 4 degrees celcius, the coldest temperature we experienced from all 5 days we were in Japan. Basically, it was a seafood market, with lots of fishes and crabs and squids etc. We did not buy any of those, so we just strolled through in the cold.
From Omicho market, we went to Kenroku-en Garden. We did not get to fully explore the whole place as it was huge. We get to take pictures with breath-taking backgrounds though.
Next stop was Shirakawa-go. It took like 3 to 4 hours to reach there from Kanazawa. I used those hours to start reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and successfully reached half of the book.
Anyways, Shirakawa-go was super awesome. It did not snow like we had gleefully expected, which made it quite disappointing to most of us who wanted to enjoy the snow. Regardless, it was still cold. Somehow, the snow just decided to melt when we reached, and we could see like bunches of snow by the roads. Funny thing was, it began snowing again the day after we left, which made it far more disappointing. Well, luck was not really in our favor I guess.
We get to climb up the hill to get a better view of the village. It was tiring but the view was perfect. And looking at some couples who were taking pictures together up top, I could not help but to fell a tinge of loneliness in my heart. But you know what, someday in the future I might just be taking pictures at the same spot, with someone really special by my side.
From Shirakawa-go, we had a brief stop at Takayama and went for some speed shopping at the Old Town. A group of us Muslims was just enjoying the architecture and the view of the old shops as most of the shops were famous for sake.
We spent the night at Gifu Miyako hotel, overlooking the Nagaragawa River.
We travelled back to Osaka in the morning, that took us 3 hours plus.
We went to the Osaka Castle, which was full of people. Well, honestly, it was full of Santa Claus because all our eyes could see were probably hundreds of people in Santa Claus’s costume. They probably held a Santa Claus marathon thingy or something as they each wore their numbers on the costumes.
We went to Shinsaibashi and spent almost 4 hours there, just for shopping. Being in Shinsaibashi somehow reminded me of our Malaysia’s own Petaling Street and maybe Bukit Bintang. It was super hectic with foreigners and Japanese alike, we could barely walk without bumping into each other’s shoulders. Anyways, I could really say that 4 hours was super insufficient to thoroughly explore the shops. With the 4 hours, I only had time to explore one side of the two major shopping section. My leg was protesting like mad by the the time the 4 hour mark was up.
I bought some chocolates (Kit Kat, Meiji), a couple of collectible Takara Tomy toy cars to add to my mom’s collection of toy cars at home and some bookmark for myself as well as a book jacket for my sister. The paper store, where I bought the bookmarks sold a wide range of Japanese postcards and papers that I had a hard time controlling myself from spending a huge amount of yen on them. The bookmarks were so beautiful and exquisite as well. I did not jot down the name of the shop though. But it was very near to 3COINS.
We spent the night at Osaka Tokyu Rei hotel.
It was our last day in Japan. We get some free time before our departure to Kansai International Airport for our flight back to Malaysia.
We used the remaining time in the morning for last-minute shopping around the hotel area. We spent some time walking through the streets while waiting for the shops to open. Some of us went to Uniqlo to shop (apparently some items were cheaper than those sold in Malaysia), while others was scattered everywhere nearby. We had to find ourselves lunch before our departure so us Muslims ended up going into Lawson and munched on some Onigiri.
We depart to Kansai International Airport at 1.00pm. I had some luck finding some mochi at the duty free airport shop, with the help of Japanese promoter who could speak English. She helped me inspect the ingredients of the mochi before recommending them to me, which was really kind of her to do.
We boarded our flight at around 4.00pm and reached KLIA2 at 10.30pm.
All in all, it was an amazing trip. It was definitely my first time to Japan and it felt like home. I was very impressed with the politeness of the people with their never-ending greetings, the cleanliness of the streets, the fact that their toilets have water with deodorizer and warm toilet seats during winter, the small amount of traffic on roads, the efficiency of the traffic lights and availability of convenient pedestrian crossing AND cycling routes. The scenery on the other hand, was to die for, literally. Who would not love Japan, really?
I used to dream to travel to Japan. Back when I was consistently and religiously catching up on Naruto, Bleach, Detective Conan and all the other Japanese mangas, animes and J-dramas, my biggest wish was to go to Japan.
Flash forward 8 years later, dreams do come true.
I wish I could stay in Japan forever. Like leave everything behind and start fresh. But yeah, reality check. Maybe someday, I’ll have the courage to do so.
Or, I’ll just went back and enjoy my time once again, like I did the first time.
The very first time I was introduced to this tale was when I was still a young and naive kid, through the 1996 animated film of the same title by Disney. And like every other Disney films, The Hunchback of Notre-dame was a great ‘musical’, with a happy ending. The good surpassed the evil, always, without fail.
Flash forward years later, reading the novel by Victor Hugo made me realize that the tale is not as ‘happy’ as the film had depicted it to be. In fact, it is actually a tale of tragic romance, way more twisted than a kid could ever fathom.
The original tale from the book got readers latched on the characters and the story revolving around them, each in a different way. Of course, with the nature of books being more detailed even to the most intricate descriptions, reading is definitely more satisfying than watching the film adaptation. And yes, it’s definitely a great decision of mine to pick up the novel and reading it until the very last page, foreword and all.
Basically the whole tale was set in 1482, in medieval Paris under the reign of King Louis XI. The Hunchback of Notre-dame refers to, none other than the wretched and deaf bell-ringer named Quasimodo. The tale revolves around all the unique characters, from Quasimodo, Claude Frollo, Esmeralda, Phoebus, Pierre Gringoire, Jehan de Moulin, Clopin Troulilefou to King Louis XI. The original story line differs with that shown in the animated film, in terms of the character of Claude Frollo, the untold history of both Quasimodo and Esmeralda, the romance between Esmeralda and Phoebus and the most disturbing distinction of it all, the ending.
The 1996 animated film by Disney was considered to be the most ‘matured’ of all Disney films that have ever been made, and in reference to the book, I could not agree more.
Let’s delve deeper to some of the most direct themes of this classic French tale.
Love is most definitely the biggest theme and message behind The Hunchback of Notre-dame. Through the film, we can clearly see a romantic relationship between Esmeralda and Phoebus, not to mention an unrequited love on Quasimodo’s part.
However, the original tale offers a more complicated love story than that. It’s basically a tale of unrequited love between all of the characters. To put it simply, Claude Frollo loved Esmeralda but she despised him for his lecherous deeds. Quasimodo loved Esmeralda but she’s only emphatically nice to him to get to Phoebus. Esmeralda loved Phoebus but Phoebus was this good-looking asshole who just wanted to have what our modern society would call ‘one night stands’ with girls. So basically, everybody in this tragic tale was in love with Esmeralda, but she only had her eyes on the most undeserving and the only man who did not love her, Phoebus.
This actually proves the saying ‘We love the people we cant have’ and ‘Love is blind’ to be somewhat true.
Besides that, the novel exposed if not much, an adequate amount of humane characteristics to that of Claude Frollo, something that we cannot visibly see as it was altered on screen, which is love. Claude Frollo was initially introduced as a passionately loving man, who brought up his little brother, Jehan Frollo de Moulin all by himself, as they were sadly orphaned at a very young age. When Quasimodo was left at the doorsteps of Notre-dame, Claude Frollo was the only person who was emphatic enough to volunteer to ‘adopt’ and look after the poor wretched baby while everybody else shunned him.
“He threw himself, therefore, into the love for his little Jehan with the passion of a character already profound, ardent, concentrated; that poor frail creature, pretty, fair- haired, rosy, and curly,–that orphan with another orphan for his only support, touched him to the bottom of his heart; and grave thinker as he was, he set to meditating upon Jehan with an infinite compassion. He kept watch and ward over him as over something very fragile, and very worthy of care. He was more than a brother to the child; he became a mother to him.”
Unfortunately, as warmth and innocently beautiful love is, it could get menacingly lustful and ugly just as fast and just as much. It burns to the center of your heart and your whole being, and you get to choose to let it be a bright flame of respect, affection and tenderness or let the dark flame of lust, jealousy and desire burn it all to ashes. As for the archdeacon of Notre-dame, the love he had for Esmeralda, a mad and forbidden love he could not contain within his heart was, I believe, the main reason why the whole tale becomes a tragic one. Claude Frollo was the root cause of it all.
Besides the brotherly love between Claude Frollo and Jehan, readers can also spot a motherly love between Paquette la Chantefleurie and Esmeralda. Apparently, Esmeralda was not of Gypsy origin but a French one. She was however, brought up by some unknown Gypsy women, who had ‘kidnapped’ her from her French mother, Paquette, when she was only a baby, leaving Paquette in a devastated and near mad state, which eventually leads her to be a Gudule and lives inside the ‘rat hole’ accompanied by a symbol of both her consolation and despair, the only half of a pair of shoe, while the other half stored in the hands of her lost daughter, Esmeralda.
“But when the child is lost, these thousand images of joy, of charms, of tenderness, which throng around the little shoe, become so many horrible things. The pretty broidered shoe is no longer anything but an instrument of torture which eternally crushes the heart of the mother. It is always the same fibre which vibrates, the tenderest and most sensitive; but instead of an angel caressing it, it is a demon who is wrenching at it.”
Victor Hugo did a spectacular job in describing the heavily influenced Gothic architecture of medieval Paris. The novel contains a whole chapter with intricate and challenging descriptions of the architecture, from block to block, which we can somewhat view through the animated film.
However, besides the beautiful descriptions of the buildings, chapel, churches and all, readers are also offered a notion through the chapter ‘This Will Kill That’.
Our lady readers will pardon us if we pause for a moment to seek what could have been the thought concealed beneath those enigmatic words of the archdeacon: “This will kill that. The book will kill the edifice.”
In this particular chapter, Claude Frollo notioned the words ‘this will kill that’ by referring to a book and a church. Through this chapter, readers are exposed to two school of thoughts. The first one being pondered upon in a religious way while the second being much more artistic.
When pondered in a priestly thought, it can be easily put that while the archdeacon was motioning from the book towards the church, he was highlighting that the press will somehow kill the church. The printing press may bring upon the power of revolution and of science and alchemy, which during the middle ages, was considered a taboo towards the miracle work of God.
“The invention of printing is the greatest event in history. It is the mother of revolution. It is the mode of expression of humanity which is totally renewed; it is human thought stripping off one form and donning another; it is the complete and definitive change of skin of that symbolical serpent which since the days of Adam has represented intelligence.”
The second school of thought is very much artistic. In the Christian era, the architecture was a book itself, a book of stone. Before the press existed, buildings was considered to be the work of art, a defining symbol of things, of religion and of history. Hence, the words ‘this will kill that’ can also be defined as ‘the printing press will kill architecture.’
In its printed form, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, irresistible, indestructible. It is mingled with the air. In the days of architecture it made a mountain of itself, and took powerful possession of a century and a place. Now it converts itself into a flock of birds, scatters itself to the four winds, and occupies all points of air and space at once.
This chapter somehow proves the power of the printing press towards the late Middle Ages and is still applicable in the modern times as we watch written words reign supreme over everything else.
The book is seen as scattering birds while architecture, like a mountain. When the flood came, the mountain will be drowned as the birds will soar high and easily occupy the skies.
That is how powerful a book is.
Besides the power of love and books, the power of authority can be seen from the film as well as from the novel. Through the film, Claude Frollo was made to be the Minister of Justice in Paris, as opposed to being the archdeacon of Notre-dame in the novel. Despite being the Minister of Justice who should be withstanding justice, Claude Frollo was seen to be betraying his power to bring Esmeralda to the pillory to hang, while obliterating everyone in his way, including the innocents.
Another misuse of power of authority can be seen in the novel, through the character of King Louis XI. King Louis XI was portrayed to be an old and bitter monarch who desires gold and riches and spent them extravagantly for himself while ignoring the needs of others. He was also surrounded by ministers who are cunningly exploit his greediness for power and wealth.
“In truth! ‘Tis a paltry king in his ways with men of letters, and one who commits very barbarous cruelties. He is a sponge, to soak money raised from the people. His saving is like the spleen which swelleth with the leanness of all the other members. Hence complaints against the hardness of the times become murmurs against the prince. Under this gentle and pious sire, the gallows crack with the hung, the blocks rot with blood, the prisons burst like over full bellies. This king hath one hand which grasps, and one which hangs.”
From both the novel and the film, we are shown the power of sanctuaries. Basically, every city in France during the middle ages, up to the reign of Louis XII, had its place of asylum. These places can be in the form of palaces of kings, hotels of princes and churches. The criminals who seek refuge in these places are safe from punishments. However, once they step out of these sanctuaries, they will be immediately caught as the authority kept guard at the doors and watch intently for their preys to step out. Hence, as much as it is an asylum, sanctuaries were also considered a cage, a prison with no way out.
“His foot once within the asylum, the criminal was sacred; but he must beware of leaving it; one step outside the sanctuary, and he fell back into the flood. The wheel, the gibbet, the strappado, kept good guard around the place of refuge, and lay in watch incessantly for their prey, like sharks around a vessel. Hence, condemned men were to be seen whose hair had grown white in a cloister, on the steps of a palace, in the enclosure of an abbey, beneath the porch of a church; in this manner the asylum was a prison as much as any other.”
Notre-dame was one of the places of asylum, the place where Quasimodo brought Esmeralda to while yelling ‘Sanctuary!’, saving her from being hanged at the pillory.
Esmeralda was portrayed to be the beauty in this tale, whereas Quasimodo was the opposite. When Quasimodo decided to participate in the Feast of Fools, he was successfully crowned the Pope of Fools, fooling him into believing that the crowd actually liked him despite his ugliness and hunch-backed built.
“Or rather, his whole person was a grimace. A huge head, bristling with red hair; between his shoulders an enormous hump, a counterpart perceptible in front; a system of thighs and legs so strangely astray that they could touch each other only at the knees, and, viewed from the front, resembled the crescents of two scythes joined by the handles; large feet, monstrous hands; and, with all this deformity, an indescribable and redoubtable air of vigor, agility, and courage,–strange exception to the eternal rule which wills that force as well as beauty shall be the result of harmony. Such was the pope whom the fools had just chosen for themselves.”
However, being called a monster while watching things thrown at him by the same crowd who celebrated him betray his happiness and relief. Fortunately for him, Esmeralda came to his rescue by offering him some water and for that he fell in love with her and returned the favor when he saved her from the rope.
This tale highlights that beauty is nothing when you look at it appearance-wise. Beauty and ugliness radiates from within and the contains of one’s heart should be the basis of it all. Hence, being beautiful and good-looking does not render anyone a Saint, nor does being ugly render anyone a monster/Devil.
All in all, The Hunchback of Notre-dame spoke volumes about love and destiny, the power of written words and above all, the inevitability of fate. The tragic ending of the original tale may not be suitable to be adapted into an animated film by Disney but it was ‘real’ enough to be fathomed by grown-ups. In reality, honestly, life almost always never resembles a fairy-tale with a happy ending. Like The Hunchback of Notre-dame, life is somewhat similarly tragic and sad, where the powerful reigns supreme over the weak, beauty over ugliness, innocent love turns to jealousy and lust, unrequited love stories and yet somehow, fate surpasses them all and determines the ending.
As I got older, I’ve realized that a lot of things that used to matter to me 5 years ago, seems pretty much trifling now.
Like every time it’s my birthday I’d yearn for people to wish me, for my classmates to sing me a birthday song, for my friends to treat me to something nice to eat, you know, basically the usual happy stuff that equals to a birthday celebration.
But now that I turned 24, I do not really yearn for any of that. They all seems so trivial to me. I’m okay with not getting a wish, without any birthday song. I kept my birth date hidden on my Facebook page. Hence, those who wished me ‘Happy Birthday’ were people who actually remembered, and this year they were (they’re worth mentioning):
-my family (always),
-my best friend from primary school (we were both born on the same date but different months),
-my best friend for 10 years, and
-my classmate from Uni whom I’m not even that closed with.
Thank you to all of these people and a bunch of others who wished me well and many happy returns on the day I turned 24.
24 sounds quite young, but I honestly feel old. Old but not as wise.
I’ve achieved things that I’ve never imagined achieving today. One of them is writing on a more serious note, shared on a platform to thousands of readers. And I guess reaching the 1 year mark as a working adult is an achievement as well.
Here’s to being wiser in the future. Here’s to sharing and brightening the Universe with much kindness, sensitivity, inspiration and thoughtfulness. Here’s to always staying true to myself. Here’s to being me.
I’ve had several activities/things that I’m quite scared to do.
Riding a bicycle.
Back when I was a kid, I used to love riding my bicycle around my housing area. But I got into a minor accident that scarred me for life. Ever since that incident, I no longer ride. I guess a part of it was because I was growing up and got interested in some other fun stuff while another part of it was maybe I got pretty scared that I’ll get into another accident and possibly, scar myself again. Flash forward to my visit to Bali, when I tried to rent a bicycle to ride along the beach, I realized that I can no longer ride, at least not properly. I remembered bracing myself up, holding the handle bar and tried to pedal a few cycles, but could not actually find my balance. My mind kept on rewinding that fateful moment around 12 years ago, when I fell from my bicycle and I could picture the scar still there, quietly hidden under my sleeves. So, I stopped and ended up just strolling along the beach that day.
The funny thing is that, I passed and got my motorcycle license when I was 17. Which makes all of it ridiculous as I cant even make myself properly and confidently ride a bicycle today.
Another activity that I’m pretty scared to do is snorkeling. I guess I just have a mild Thalassophobia, which is a type of phobia of the sea. I always have this scary thrilling imagination that what if I’m stranded in the middle of the sea and there’re sharks/any weird deep sea creature ready to devour me whole, not to mention sea storm and sea chasms. I blame all the films that help visualize those nerve-ending scenes in my head. All my life I’ve only been snorkeling once. And it was last year when I joined a ‘team building’ trip to Perhentian Island. So, yeah I basically tried to overcome that so-called phobia and threw myself into the sea, with a life jacket that actually helped to calm me down for a little bit. I remembered when we reached the Turtle Stop there were like a hundred of us just floating in the sea and I almost refuse to climb down the boat but eventually did while telling one of the people there to go with me as I was scared. It was kind of a waste though as I could not see anything except for the deep greenish water. Apparently, the sea turtles got scared seeing a huge bunch of people and decided to not show themselves up. We almost got carried away by waves at the Shark Stop, which was another stop that I was skeptical of going to but since the guide told us that the sharks are all ‘baby sharks’ (doo doo dood doo doo doo), I ended up going anyways. And it was another waste as there were no sharks there, most probably hiding somewhere among the stones or whatever. The scary thing was that the waves at that area was bigger than the other areas. And we’ve been using our muscles quite a lot in other areas so we almost got carried away that the guide had to threw a rope from the boat while a number of us had to cling on that rope while he pulled us back to safety. That was one strong and well built guide there.
Anyhow, I’m pretty proud of myself for taking up the ‘challenge’ and succeeding. The thought of another future trip scares me a little, but I won’t mind trying again.
3. Falling in love.
I find it funny that ordinarily, most people are scared of being alone while I’m scared of the opposite. I do not mind being alone as I’ve been alone most of my life. In fact, I prefer being alone with myself and my thoughts. I do have friends that I speak to once in a while or when I really need minor consultations etc but they’re just a small number, like less than 5 people. And they’re the people I’m really comfortable being around with. They’re pretty damn special.
Honestly, I do not see myself ready to commit to any serious relationships and they say ‘Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely’ which I strongly agree with. And I most definitely don’t need a guy that’s going to waltz in my life with flowers and chocolates and unicorns whatever and tell me he does not love me anymore after 5 years, or two months or worse, a week.
And I’ve personally known people who after years of marriage, got divorced as the husband turned out to be an abusive cheating selfish asshole which in return left their kids in a horrible state. Whatever happened to forever after, in sickness and in health, through the good, bad and ugly?
I want forever yet all around love screams temporary.
So I promise myself to not fall in love before I find the love of forever. And I’m keeping my word. When the time comes, I hope I’ll love truly and incandescently.
One thing that I’ve always loved and looked forward to do whenever I went back to my hometown in Johor, was and will always be rummaging through all the old and nostalgic stuff that I’ve kept ever since primary school. The beautiful thing about keeping old stuff or what I would call ‘treasure’ is that, they’re nostalgic and they reminded me of those times when I was a kid, of happy and broken times, of all the shit I go through just to get here, just to be who I am today. And the somewhat ugly side behind these treasures is that each and every collection comes with extra dust, or those stickers you collected that wont stick anymore as it’s been years since you’ve bought them. Pretty much a waste, huh.
Anyways, around three weeks ago, we did some sort of a ‘spring cleaning’, whereby a huge pile of books from my parents bedroom was transferred to a new cupboard. The books, ranging from The Holy Quran, Muqaddam and a number of other religiously motivational and spiritual guidances were unpacked from an old antique cupboard that my Mom had delicately polished and repaired when she first brought it back from our kampung.
So, being the curious cat that I am, as I was rummaging through the pile of books, one of them caught my attention. And it was a book fully written in the Arabic alphabets (or what we Malays called Jawi) namely ‘Mustika Hadith Rasulullah S.A.W.’ which comprises of 2 volumes, and was apparently under the publication of The Division of Islamic Affairs by The Prime Minister Office (Bahagian Hal Ehwal Islam, Jabatan Perdana Menteri). Leafing through the cover, I was amazingly greeted by a bunch of what I would call a ‘legendary’ hand writing.
For those of you who can read the Jawi, I’ll leave it to you to comprehend (it may be a little bit challenging though considering the hand writing). For those of you who cannot read that, it states the name and address of the owner as well as the date the book was bought. However, the very last phrases, which I believed to be some sort of a Dua’ or Zikr, I could not be sure myself.
Basically, it was the hand writing of my late Grandfather, who I have never met in real life as he passed away a year after my eldest sister was born into this world. I was born four years after.
This moved me to a certain level, posing as a huge realization, proving my ever-standing belief that you are who your family is. Their habit and gestures cultivate who you are today, your attitude, your character and your mannerisms.
I’ve personally always thought that I get this involuntary habit of writing my name in each and every one of my novels, from my dad. This is due to the fact that my dad writes his name including the year he bought/read his books on the very first page. He must get that from his own dad. Finding this hidden treasure, belonging to my late Grandfather whom I never had the chance to look upon with my own two eyes, to initiate a conversation with, to salam him whenever Hari Raya comes or whenever we balik kampung and to listen to his stories, is very special to me. It’s like having a mutual connection that I’ve never fully knew how it starts in the first place. It’s a memory of a loved one whom I’ve never met, somehow never lost, quietly hidden and just there existing to be discovered.
This is one of the reasons to why I decided to keep my own treasures, all the journals, key chains and even the ridiculous demerit receipt/ticket I got from high school, regardless of their functions and back stories. I consider them my treasures because they are my memories. They are my life.
And someday, someone might just find them and reconnect the dots.
The human being is generally imperfect. It’s a fact that all of us have to accept.
People say that I’m talented literally. I can also draw and sketch, though obviously not the ‘Van-Gogh’y way. A little bit more practice and free time might do the job.
Despite that, I’m pretty bad at a lot of things. But one thing I’ve always been worst at, is sports. Hence, I wish that I can be athletically talented. It would be spectacular to be representing the country for the Olympics or something. It would be one of the greatest achievements in the world.
I used to suffer from asthma whereby I couldn’t do sports. I couldn’t run and heave heavy things, despite the fact that my school bag weighed tonnes back in school. Back then, I was a pretty smart student who’ve always excelled at studies and was always on top of the class. Unfortunately, I’m too weak to be at least good at sports.
Surprisingly and funnily, my crush back then was a school athlete. He was the school sprinter. He could smile and all of us girls would swoon. His eyes would sparkle like the lights from a thousand fireflies. He could just stand there, doing nothing in utter perfection while our hearts melt like how the ice-cream would under the hot, scorching sun. Oh, those boyish charm and our naive hearts.
I remembered sharpening my pencil together with him at the corridor, in silence. That was one of the happiest times all throughout my primary school years. We actually never had a conversation with each other, despite our class being just beside each others’.
In order to catch his attention, I thought that all I had to do was to be good at sports. We had this school annual marathon thingy or what we called ‘merentas desa‘ which spanned around 10++ km, starting from the school all the way back. The first 20 students who reached the school compound would get a medal. And my mind went ‘I gotta be among the 20 people and he might just see me, not as the nerdy girl but as someone on his level’.
In case you’re reading this now, and you’re as young as myself back then, here’s something you should remember. Kids, the Universe is never that kind. Yeah, they might fight for two beautiful souls to be together or you can insert whatever poetic phrases here about soulmates etc but true story, they almost always never happen. *glass shatters* *atomic bomb explodes*
So yeah, I never got to be among the 20. The worst part of the whole story was that I almost did. To be honest, it was one of the most life-shattering ‘almosts’ in my entire life. I ran like crazy, or you could say, with the power of love, surpassing most of the girls. However, my asthma decided to kick in and threw it all down the drain in the form of vomit, with a span of just a teeny-tiny couple of metres from the school compound. All I could do was watch as kids ran pass me and I’ve never felt as defeated as I was back then. Heck, those feelings were even worse than when I got myself kicked out of school at 15.
Yeah, I’ve been through some shit.
Anyways, I finished the marathon. And I had the biggest and brightest realization that, I wont ever be good at athletics. And it’s okay.
Because I’m not supposed to be perfect at everything. We all have our strength and weaknesses. Sports are just not my forte. And he’s just a boy.
P/s: Dear crush, thank you for being one of my many motivations. I have no idea where you are but I pray that you’re doing amazing now and always.