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.
As someone who works with the help of technology, I’m pretty sure that things are gonna get disarray at the office without the computer and keyboard etc. Heck, we cant even get our job done without the Internet for a day let alone the computer.
Anyways, in this scenario, let’s assume that the world is indeed tech-free.
Books, most definitely. I can now be absolutely free of all the social media stuff and actually sit myself down to read for long hours without end.
Learn to cook, with book recipes and not Youtube. Learn with real life people who cook amazingly, like my Mom.
Write. Jot things down instead of capturing moments through camera lenses.
Draw. Everytime I met someone new, I’ll offer to draw their portraits in my sketchbook and keep it as a memory.
Communicate with strangers. Now that I dont have my phone nearby, I can just chat away with anybody and get indulged in meaningful conversations.
Go for a walk around the neighborhood.
Pat those stray cats I find while walking.
Have conversations with cats.
Meow to cats.
Do some volunteer work.
Offer to read books to children at the playground.
This is for a friend that I met and befriend with for a short period of time in primary school.
I can still remember competing with you academically. You were so damn smart back then, all the way till now.
Today, I read in the news that you went missing. I guess it’s a big deal, since your parents faces, holding a photo of you on your graduation day, were there too.
We’ve all had some bizarre childhood. We’ve all grown up to be whoever we had to be, although some of us were pretty fortunate to be what we wanna be. In all these years, in the process of ‘being’, we might have hurt the people we love most. And they might have hurt us. In the choices we made, in the choices we are bound to make, we’re hurting people as well as getting ourselves hurt. I wish that we dont have to go through all this hurting.
But life just does not work that way.
We are somehow, bound to hurt and be hurt. We’re all fragile. And I guess that’s how life is. Fragile.
I know we’re strong enough to fight for life, a life we’ve always wanted despite it’s fragility. How do I know that? Well, we’re still alive and breathing, we’re still running towards all those dreams, we’re still looking forward to those days that we’ll actually be incandescently happy.
That’s exactly how we go through all these bullshit and drudgery in life, with hope. And we work our asses off for our days to be rainbows and unicorns and all those happy stuff.
I have no idea where you are or what you’re doing. I highly doubt you’ll read this. But no matter, I wish you’re doing well with all the choices that you’ve made. I also wish that you find it in your heart and your being, to speak to your devastated parents and tell them that you’re alright.
I basically just rely on myself, like 80% of the time.
Another 20%, I’d seek help from my family and closest friends.
That being said, if I seek help from you, you must be pretty damn special.
Growing up whilst having only a teeny-tiny number of closest friends (whom I met with only once in a blue moon), I’m used to being alone. Always by myself, with the comfort of my own company, I’d have my daily meals and walk to class while having an argument about a thought in my head. Or I’d just plug in my earphones and blast the music away. I only join in for meals with, let’s say, classmates, every once in a while or whenever we had a short break in between classes. As for shopping, I’d enjoy my time alone at the bookstore, or with my family when I’m in need of new clothes or a fresh pair of shoes. I almost always went to the movies, alone.
Hence, I’m used to depend on myself in terms of completing assignments or studying for examinations. Whenever it’s a group assignment, I’d give my 100% and when opportunity revealed itself, I’d try to as close as perfect my teammates’ works so that the end product can at least be almost exemplary. I hardly joined in the study group at the library back then, not that I didnt like to share knowledge, but more to saving up the time I might have loss for gossiping and actually spending it to study. Yeah, what a nerd.
I dont like to be judged. Nobody does. Hence, I shop only with my family because I can accept the judgement of the people who have actually known me for years as opposed to the people who judged me as if they’ve known me for forever. As for book-shopping, no one can stand the hours I spend at the bookstore. No one. I’d rather watch movies alone, just to take it all in easily, without anyone interfering to guess whats gonna happen next or how hot the actors are. However if it’s a movie I’m watching for the 2nd time, I’d have no problem watching it with others.
Back when I was still studying, whenever I felt like I did badly in exams, the first person I’d call was my parents. This is due to my belief that a parent’s prayers are unbeatable and well, ‘makbul‘. I’ve had this habit that whenever I find myself in trouble or in dire need of something, I’d ask for my parents’ blessings and prayers. Try it, inshaaAllah, everything will be eased.
To say that I’m independent would be exaggerating and a little bit of an overstatement. That’s because, everything that I’ve achieved so far, I owe them to my parents and family. I’m literally zero without their support and guidance. It’s their upbringing that made me who I am today. It’s the habits and gestures that I bring with me everywhere I go.
So, I might rely on myself for an incomplete 80%.
But truthfully, without the 20%, there wont be any 80%, let alone 100%.
Yesterday marked our 60th Independence Day. With the SEA Games, Kuala Lumpur 2017 making its way to the end on the 30th, I’m most definitely sure that it gave us, Malaysians, a strong feeling of patriotism and national proud in our hearts, watching and cheering for all the athletes hard work and sweat till we successfully won a total of 145 gold medals. We surpassed our initial goal of gaining 111 gold medals, which was super duper awesome!
Watching both the opening and closing ceremony of the SEA Games from the TV at home, I’d say they were extremely mesmerizing and beautiful, with vibrant colors shining from the LED lights, the sound of Malaysians cheering and our people just being there, dancing and singing along proudly to our national anthem, Negaraku. Gosh, how I wished I could join in at the stadium for both occasions.
This is my congratulatory post to all of us Malaysians, be it the athletes and the people supporting and standing strong behind them. This is to everyone who make Malaysia proud. This is to us.
Happy Independence Day, Malaysia. Semoga kita semua kekal bebas dan merdeka dari segala limitasi, kesusahan, keburukan dan kemudaratan yang kita lakukan ke atas diri sendiri mahupun terhadap yang lain.
I’ve been keeping this film in my head for review for months now. It had to be pushed back due to my hectic schedule at work and also me suffering from writer’s block. In lieu of our dearly beloved, the late Chester Bennington’s death, I suppose there’s no better time than now to write a review of one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever watched and that has ever been made. A film that exposes and highlights the relation of mental illness and an utterly amazing friendship between two innocent souls.
Mary and Max is an Australian one stop animated comedy-drama film, inspired by the Director’s (Adam Elliot) 20-year old friendship with his pen-friend from New York. The film lasts for around 1.35 hours, was told in third-person narration, depicting the life of an 8-year old Australian girl named Mary Daisy Dinkle as well as the life of a 44-year old New Yorker who is also a Jewish-turned-Atheist man named Max Jerry Horowitz.
Let’s look a wee bit further into the disturbing yet interesting life of both Mary and Max.
Mary is a spectacled child, born with a ‘poodle-coloured’ birthmark on her forehead and were often called names and bullied by her friends for it. Her small family consists of herself and her parents (Vera Dinkle & Norman Dinkle). Vera Dinkle is an alcoholic while Norman Dinkle is obsessed with dead birds. Basically, Mary is a lonely child with complicated parents who just don’t give a damn about her. Her only apparent companions were her agoraphobic neighbour, Len Hislop and a pet rooster she named Ethel.
Max was born a Jewish, but decided to turn himself into an Atheist after researching about God from countless of books. He is diabetic, loves eating chocolate hotdogs, lives alone in his apartment, have a pet cat he named Hal due to the fact that it suffered from Halitosis, some pet snails he named after famous scientists and a pet fish he named Henry IV (started from Henry I until the latest one, whoever lasts longest). He also has a blind neighbour called Ivy who cooks soup for him. Max attends his weekly ‘Overeaters Anonymous’ meetings and also regularly sees his psychiatrist, Dr Bernard Hazelhof.
The only interests that they both share are their love for The Noblets (a TV show) and chocolates. And both of them have no friends but each other.
The Significance of Mary & Max.
The film highlights 3 sorts of mental illnesses, suffered by 3 of the characters.
-Max: As the film progresses, Max is exposed to suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome (or an illness he prefers to call Aspies). According to autismspeaks.org, affected children and adults have difficulty with social interactions and exhibit a restricted range of interests and/or repetitive behaviors. Compared with those affected by other forms of ASD, however, those with Asperger syndrome do not have significant delays or difficulties in language or cognitive development. Some even demonstrate precocious vocabulary – often in a highly specialized field of interest. Actually, from the start of the film itself, the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome can be clearly observed from Max’s behaviour and actions towards particular situations.
For instance, Max’s inability to understand the intent behind another person’s actions, words and behaviors. Max’s expresses his puzzlement on why people cut trees when they need oxygen etc. Max also does not instinctually respond to such “universal” nonverbal cues such as a smile, frown or “come here” motion, which can be seen from his inconvenience on Marjorie Butterworth’s flirtings towards himself. He was also exposed to have had the exact same problem ever since he was a kid. Asperger Syndrome are very often accompanied by unique gifts. Usually, those who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome have a remarkable ability of intense focus. Max’s ability to read two pages of a book at once (an eye for a page) is an example.
Max was however, is only diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he had a major breakdown and had to be submitted to a mental instituition, where he has to stay for 8 months, which halted his letters to Mary.
-Len Hislop: Mary’s neighbour is apparently an ex-army who services during the World War II, a crippled who got both his legs chewed off by piranhas when he was captured by the Japanese. Len suffers from agoraphobia, which means he has unnatural fear of places. Agoraphobics may fear that accidents might happen when they’re at particular places, and they tend to stay away from these places. Hence, in Len case, he’s afraid of leaving his own home due to the illness, and pays Mary to fetch his mail for him. Agoraphobia may be due to genetics or environmental factors. Len might got it due to the trauma of his capture during his service as the US army.
-Mary: As the story starts, Mary is introduced as a girl with low self-esteem, mainly due to her birthmark. She wishes that she can ‘just peel off the birthmark like a band-aid’. She has no friends in school as everyone laughs at her birthmark and the fact that she does not smile, although she fancies her neighbour, a stuttering guy called Damien Popodopoulos. However, her lack of confidence prevented her from befriending him. Fast forward as the story progresses, Mary after saving a sufficient amount of money, undergoes cosmetic surgery to ‘dispose’ off her birthmark. However, even after her physical enhancement, she was still unhappy as she realized that she was wrong about not accepting herself as she is. Her depression becomes serious as she tries to commit suicide by hanging herself in her own home.
“God gave us our relatives: thank God we can choose our friends.”- Ethel Watts Mumford
The beautiful friendship between Mary and Max, started from being total strangers who lives thousands of miles away from each other. However, their friendship lasts for a very long time and it changes their lives and saves them from their own selves. They learn the good, bad and ugly about each other and accept each other for whoever they are. When nobody else wanted to be their companions, they were there for each other, in mutual understanding.
Quoting Max in his final letter,
‘When I received your book, the emotions inside my brain felt like they were in a trumble dryer, smashing into each other. The hurt felt like when i accidentally stapled my lips together, the reason I forgive you is because you are not perfect. You are imperfect, and so am I. All humans are imperfect, even the man outside my apartment who litters. When I was young, I wanted to be anybody but myself. Dr Bernard Hazelhof said I was on a desert island then I would have to get used to my own company, just me and the coconuts. He said I would have to accept myself, my warts and all, and that we don’t get to choose our warts. They are a part of us and we have to live with them, we can, however, choose our friends and I am glad I have chosen you. Dr Bernard also said, that everyone’s lives are like a very long sidewalk. Some are well paved, others, like mine, have cracks, banana skins and cigarette butts. Your sidewalk is like mine but probably not as many cracks. Hopefully, one day our sidewalks will meet and we can share a can of condensed milk. You are my best friend. You are my only friend.’
The Relationship between Mental Illness & Friendship
Having a strong support frame is crucial for those who suffers from mental illness. If it’s not your family, its your friends. If its not your friends, its your shrink.
Since Mary & Max focuses on the beauty of true friendship, it is safe to say that both Mary & Max has each other and they’re each other’s strength. The companionship and problems that they both share help them uplift their burdens. Max try to view Mary’s problems and solves them like he solves equations, and Mary just be herself, a friend.
When dealing with friends who suffers from mental illness, it is imperative to make them feel connected. Ignoring and belittling those who are in a depressed state might cause more harm than good. Be sure to make them feel happy and keep them in their most optimistic state to prevent them from inflicting further damage towards themselves. Encourage them to live and eat healthily, as Dr Bernard Hazelhof says, ‘A healthy body equals to a healthy mind.’ As mental illness is a disease of the mind, offers your friends to accompany them, to seek for professional help.
All in All
With the increasing number of suicide cases around the world, people should spread the awareness of mental illness. Everybody should know that depression does not necessarily means being sad, and being depressed is not equivalent to being weak.
Hence, it is crucial to treat everyone kindly as each and everyone of us is battling a demon within ourselves, a demon that we hide from the world. Listen to every possible cry for help, and help those who are in need to be saved. Don’t wait until it is too late. Countless of lives can be saved if only we choose to look and listen with our hearts. Society can make a difference.
We can make a difference.
This Is For You
If you’re reading this, and you have depression, I got you.
You are way stronger than you think you are. I believe in you and I love you. I’d have it written in the skies if I could.
Hold on. There are greater things in the world that you need to celebrate. Things get better, life gets better. Make sure you’re there to see it.
I hope this post reaches you in good health, or like Max would say it ‘gey gezunterheyt’.
If you ever read the ‘About’ section, you’ll notice that I also write for The Patriots. Well, occassionally (damn you writer’s block).
How did it happen?
I’ve always loved writing.
Back then, I wrote in my journal (still doing it). I wrote in my blog. I’ve slayed most of my essays in school. Although, lately my skills pretty much went down the drain, especially my Bahasa Melayu (facepalm).
I’ve personally never wrote any articles or long posts at my Facebook page. All my statuses are pretty bunk and junk stuff, like posting the songs I’m listening to or special events that had happened in my life (only the ones worth sharing). I dont really post my thoughts, like my real thoughts and opinion on certain matters, at my Facebook page. I rarely commented on likewise posts, even if I strongly disagreed with the writer. I just read through and try to entertain the thought in my mind.
That being said, on the verge of me turning 23 last year, I posted up something online, through a ‘confession’ page. I’ve wrote about this in one of my posts before. Anyways, I got overwhelming responses and it got me thinking that writing might be my greatest strength. Maybe.
And when the opportunity came up, that is when The Patriots advertised that they needed a writer, I grabbed it. Even though I knew damn well that my skills in writing Bahasa Melayu are pretty suckish. I sent an article about the film ‘Accepted’, fully written in English just to try out my luck. And, bam! I got accepted. See what I did there?
Anyways, despite the fact that most of the readers of The Patriots are history geeks, coz y’know articles on history have basically the highest viewers, likers and sharers, and I wrote on film reviews (LOL). And not even historic films at that too (LOL again). I guess I dont really care about people liking or actually reading what I wrote. I mean, look at this blog. The traffic is pretty bad, it’s only a wee bit better when I commented on Vivy Yusof’s posts (facepalm).
What has this got to do with fame?
Well, have you ever written anything and posted it up in public, and got amazing reactions (in a positive way)?
It’s somehow like when you write something, and a lot of people agree with you, you’ll want them to agree more. Just like how you want people to always like you. It’s the same thing with writing. Especially when you’re used to getting a lot of people read about your thoughts, opinions and rants.
Or to make it simple, the fame.
When you posts things up in public view, and got lot’s of shares and likes, you got fame. And it’s human nature to love being known, being loved, being in mutual understanding. When the fame hits you, you’ll write more, you’ll be braver to comment on bigger things, on more challenging issues. However, being in the limelight does not make you right. It does not make you agreeable either.
Why the sudden rant?
Do you know how dangerous fame is? It’s addictive. It’s a disease of the heart. I’ve never had one but this is merely from my observation of the people around me.
In this new era of social media, getting a lot of shares and likes are closely equivalent to getting wealth. When you got viralled for instance, it opens up to new and greater opportunities.
You might think that fame is actually a good thing. I mean, especially when it’s about helping people in need and that sort. Believe me, fame will never be a good thing. There will never be a ‘good’ kind of fame. It always ends up bad.
Like wealth, fame rots the heart. It makes you greedy for more. If you post up for instance, a perfect selfie of you and got like 10k likes, you’ll want to post more selfies. You just want more, it’ll never be enough. That’s how fame works. That’s how it rots you from within.
When you write on your opinions, thinking it’ll be forever agreeable, you’ll just end up being boastful, ignorant and a smart-ass who disregards other people’s feelings and sensitivities.
I’ve recently followed quite a number of people or what you’d call ‘public figures’ based on their amount of followers, on Facebook. As much as they’re right about certain things, I’ve realized they’re also just as wrong. Some of them were too boastful and rudely sarcastic when people disagree with what they wrote.
I mean, do you treasure the fame so much so that you’ll write anything, even if it means hurting another people’s feelings? You do know that you have hundred thousands of followers right? You do know that people will read what you write, right? So, why cant you just be kind and sensitive? Even if you disagree with what other people think, it’s always better to shut up and think about it carefully as opossed to wildly attacking back with your smart-ass remarks. Is that the kind of ‘writer’ you wanna be?
In a nutshell.
It’s a prayer that I’ve never forgotten to recite after each Sallah, meaning:
“Oh Allah, I seek refuge from you from from worry and grief, from helplessness and laziness, from cowardice and stinginess, and from overpowering of debt and from oppression of men.”
And with that, I add up ‘from overpowering of wealth and fame’.
As a budding ‘writer’, I pray that I’ll write with more responsibility and compassion of what I wrote. Not for the fame, but for the good of the people who reads them.
And if my greedy and wavering heart fails me, this post will be a reminder of what should really be.