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.
I’m someone that hates changes. Okay, maybe the word ‘hate’ is a little too strong. Let’s rephrase that.
I’m someone who doesn’t fancy changes.
Hence, I live a pretty boring and monotonous life.
Personally, routine activities are a convenience for me. I feel somewhat ‘safe’ and comfortable doing the same thing and I can stay in particular places for a long and maybe unhealthy amount of time, I suppose. Getting to know people consumes a lot of time on my part due to my socially-awkward character, so I guess it’s okay after all to stay longer while making friends and acquaintances.
But deep in my heart, I wish to live a nomadic life. A life that requires me to travel a lot, from one place to another, which is contradictory to my nature of being. The idea of being able to live at multiple places throughout my life, excites me for just thinking about it. However, it also scares me a little.
I suppose people who live a nomadic life, survive through freelance jobs. Living requires money and without a job it might be hard to survive in the real world. For me, if I were to live a nomadic life, I’d be a writer or an artist (once I’ve perfected my portrait-drawing skills) or a translator (once I’ve perfected my language skills). Or any profession that does not require permanent residency.
Where I’m gonna live? I’ve written in one of my posts before, about how I yearn to live in a loft/anywhere with magnificent views of sunsets and sunrises. Tiny apartments in big cities, small cottages in the countryside, you name it. I’m up. I love the idea of me being that adventurous.
Living life without a ‘home base’ sounds pretty intimidating, but that’s what being a nomad means. Where would I call ‘home’? Am I ever gonna be ‘homesick’ if I have no home? What would I miss more, the food, the faces or the smell of the air I breathe? I guess, home will be wherever my heart is. And that means everywhere I’ve been to.
Experiences are one of the things that I value most in life. Like respect, it is to be gained. It is up to our choices for each and every experience that we go through. We seek it like we seek truth. Because somehow the truth reveals with experience. And life is a supreme platform for gaining experiences.
Maybe I’ll never get to live a nomadic life, maybe I will. Whatever happens, I’m here. Living life, breathing, eating, overthinking and stepping forward. I’ll take it all in, rolling or not rolling.
Here’s to better adaptability in the future. Here’s to more change.
In case you’re a Muslim and reading this, Eid Mubarak to you! 🙂
Like usual, I ain’t posting my Raya selfie here, only took one and used it for my Whatsapp profile picture. But in case you’re wondering, here’s a peek of my baju raya.
It’s a jubah dress, which I supposedly wore during my sister’s wedding but unfortunately did not get to do so (due to an unfortunate circumstance). Ended up being altered into my baju raya this year, which looks kind of great.
Growing up and growing old, Eid have been decreasingly fun year by year. Especially since my sister and brother got married and they started taking turns balik kampung. Eid just does not feel the same anymore. Well, Eid is still Eid, but every year the good times with le fam just gets lesser and lesser. Some of them just decided to stop balik kampung, due to many reasons.
Flashback to all of us cousins being kids, playing around meddling with our Mom’s preparation of ketupats and rendangs, watching Raya TV shows (which was awesome back then) together at night, playing bunga api and just the simple act of eatingtogether at the same table during pagi raya.
Nowadays, things just surprisingly and ridiculously gets awkward. Making jokes seems a little harder than usual and the way we catch up reflects how rigid we’ve all turned to be to each other as years passed by. Things just get so different and yet some of our habits stay similar. Funny.
Nevertheless, to be able to celebrate Eid with the family (even if it’s just 50% of them) is still considered something to be thankful for.
So this is to all of you readers, those who knew me and those who dont. Also to those who’ll never know who I really am. Salam Aidilfitri & Salam Kemenangan, maaf zahir & batin, taqaballahu minna wa minkum. Have a blessed raya with your loved ones and stay safe and sound wherever you are!