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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Merchant (PART 2)


***

Veena reached a hand into her bag and looked for her doodle book that she always carried with her. As she was looking for it, it suddenly went dark.

For a small moment, she thought that she had somehow gone blind, as she could suddenly hear screams from where seemed to be the inside of her head, but then she heard Amar’s voice saying “Alah, blackout ke?” and she heaved a sigh of relief.

It seemed as though the whole campus’ electricity had been cut off. Even the street lights were dark. Being a campus that was a considerable distance away from the nearest main road, they couldn’t see just how badly the area had been affected. All they knew was that the cafeteria and all the buildings around it was out of electricity.

“Haiz, at time like this got blackout also ha?” She asked almost to herself.

“Okay lah, we postpone meeting lah kan?” Amar suggested while standing up, bag in hand right after the ruckus of the group died down a little. He probably wouldn’t be able to continue watching his Running Man episodes, so he figured he’d probably go out for shisha with the boys.

“Hey, cannot! We need to prepare the performance! Don’t got time already!” Shirley rejected the motion, looking to what looked like the silhouette of Amar.

“Yeah, we should probably find somewhere else to continue the discussion,” said Hani into the darkness of the cafeteria. Their eyes were adjusting to the darkness and they could make out each others’ faces in the dark now.

“Okay, so where should we go?” Jasmin inquired.

“Hey, is it just me, or has this cafe gotten really quiet?” Rafiq suddenly asked.

The group fell silent and tried to listen for all the other people that filled half of the cafeteria with them just moments earlier. 

Pin-drop silence.

“La, phone ada torchlight, guna ajalah!” Amar said while taking his phone out of his pocket. To his horror, his phone was dead. “Alamak, takdak bateri plak, Fiq, suluh tengok!”

Rafiq took out his phone and pressed on the home button several times. Nothing. His phone had died on him too. “Phone aku pun habeh bateri!”

Everyone else at the table quickly took out their phones and checked too, only to find out that all their phones would not turn on for them.

“Okay, this getting really creepy now! Let’s go out of the cafeteria first,” Shirley was trying her best to keep calm, but she knew that she was failing.

“Yeah, let’s just go outside,” Hani said while putting her bag strap over her shoulder.


They left the table and headed for the door.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Merchant (PART 1)

"Merchant was suggested by Muzakir Xynll. Thank you.

***

“So who’s going to be the merchant? Shylock? Shylock kan?” Amar’s voice rose above the commotion that was wont in the campus cafeteria as he addressed the rest of his group members. He intended to get the meeting done as quickly as humanly possible so that he could go back to watching Running Man. He just jumped on the bandwagon three days ago in order to impress his Facebook crush who was a big Running Man fan, he found out, and he was still on season 2. He had a lot of catching up to do.

“Yes, Shylock,” Veena chimed in as she fanned herself with her floral-motif hand-fan. The warmth and humidity of the cafeteria had always bothered her, which made her want to get out of there as soon as she could as well.

“Wait,” said Shirley, raising her hand so that she was noticed, “shouldn’t we pick which scene we want to do first before we assign the characters? What if we lastly pick a scene that Shylock never have, then how?” 

“Yeah, betul. So which scene we want to do?” Jasmin had to raise her voice to levels higher than usual for her to be heard by the whole group.

At this point, Rafiq, Hani and Wida flipped through their Merchant Of Venice textbook, seeming to look for a suitable scene.

“Alah, pilih ja whichever scene pun, the easiest one to do, kita buat kerja senang!” Amar put his hand on the table since he didn’t bring his textbook.

“Cannoooot like thaaaaat!” Shirley turned to face Amar. “This is 30% of our marks okay? You think what?” Her grip on her textbook tightened as she was saying this.

Amar sighed. He forgot that he was in the same group with Shirley, of all people. “Okay la, faster choose which scene want to do!”

“I think we should do the scene in the, apa tu? Courtroom? When the trial is happening, where the pound of flesh thing is said,” Hani put forth her suggestion.

“Ha, Madam Ros suggest that one too, right? We can try that one,” Shirley opened her textbook and looked for the scene.

“Tengok, pilih scene yang ada Shylock gak. Aku dah tanya dah awal-awal tadi kan?” Amar said silently to Rafiq while rolling his eyes, to which Rafiq shook his head to show his agreement with Amar.

“Okay, so in this scene got quite a few characters, so we can choose. We want to choose on our own or draw lots or how?” Shirley said while examining the script in the textbook.

The group went quite for a little while before Shirley said, “We draw lots la ha? Easier like that. Veena, you bring book or not? Can do cut the paper to draw lots?” as she gestured to Veena sitting right beside her.

***

Looks like I'll need to spend a little more of my time on this one. To be continued.

Click here for PART 2


Sunday, March 27, 2016

I Need Your Help

So I've noticed that I've not been writing as often as I want to, apatah lagi as often as I need to in order to hone the craft. And the things that I do write nowadays are mostly non-fiction, when in my heart, I want to write more fiction. I'm giving myself a lot of excuses as to why I can't do it, and being the weak person that I am, I give in to these excuses and it keeps me from doing things I tell myself that I want to do.

One of the main excuses that I give myself, however, is that I don't have anything to write about. Which is sort of a ridiculously weak excuse because we're surrounded by so many amazing things around us that to be uninspired should be almost unthinkable.

So here's where I need you, dear reader of this post, to help me out. I would like to ask any of you who are willing to drop into the comment section of this blogpost a one-word suggestion for me to write a piece of fiction about, very much in the way of a writing-prompt. Some examples would be: iron, power, camera, idea, etc. I am going to base my next blogpost on any one of your suggestions, and I'll make the suggestion the title of the story and remember to credit the person who suggested it. If it's from an anonymous user, I'll credit it to "anonymous".

The blogpost after that one will be based on one of the comments on that post pulak, and we'll go on like that until the end of the year (this is my hope, at least). By the end of the year we should have quite a number of stories on our hands, and I'd love to have the knowledge that you helped a big deal in making that happen.

I come to the blog to ask you this because, I think it's no secret now that I hold my blog readers most dearly to me. I tell you guys the things that hit closest to home. Here is where I go to become vulnerable, and to know that some people appreciate that and keep coming to read is very heart-warming on my part.

But of course, I'm not forcing anyone to do this. There is no compulsion here, I am just asking for your help is all. Help me become a better writer, and I shall be entirely grateful for it.

May peace be upon you.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Walked Out Of Cinema

So earlier I went to watch a movie (I won't name the movie because I don't want to influence your decision in whether or not you want to watch the movie), and it turned out to be the first time I'd ever deliberately walked out of a cinema hall in the middle of a movie purely because of how much the movie made me suffer. It started out terrible already, but I stayed seated in hopes of it getting better, but it never did. Just when I thought it couldn't have gotten any worse, it did. And for that, I needed to get myself out of there and put myself out of my own misery.

Everything about the movie was insufferable, but I'd like to highlight the audio aspect of it. All of the dialogue up until the half hour mark (which was when I exited) was dubbed, and dubbed so obviously and so badly. One would think a film-maker would opt for dubbinh because the audio on set was unusable, mainly that the noise in the background was too much to allow for an enjoyable movie-watching experience, but the amount of noise in even the dubbed audio was as if they deliberately put the microphone they used to record the audio right next to a table fan. I don't know what they were trying to achieve in doing this, but the word "annoying" keeps coming to mind.

Plus the music scoring. Oh my goodness the scoring. It was the straw that broke the camel's back, on top of the terrible-ness of everything else. It was as if the person in charge of the music was trying extra hard to ensure the movie turned out intolerable. They did a wonderful job at demonstrating what not to do when you're supposed to do the music for a movie. Kudos to them.

Notes to self if I ever find myself in a position to make movies:
- Audio is super super super important. Never take it lightly. Remember that less is more.
- Respect the audience. Always.
- Never shoot your first draft. Or even your second. Or even your third (you get the idea).

If watching the movie has helped me in anything, it has helped me in seeing that you don't need to be good to get on the silver screen. You can be downright terrible and some people would still pay to put you in the cinemas. That has to change. For my own sake, as a person who occasionally watches movies.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

If Only

So if you're a regular reader of this blog, you probably would have noticed that lately I've been a little down in the dumps. Or maybe you haven't, I don't really know for sure.

I feel like one of my biggest sources of discontentment right now is that I feel like I am not on a road that will take me closer to my ambitions. I feel like my reality and my ambitions are such disparate things that it becomes tough to cope with. I'm not saying I haven't been trying, but golly has it not been easy.

And I've been thinking this whole day about why I have these ambitions. Why I can't be content with the life I lead right now. Why I can't realise that a life of no ambitions and aspirations also means a life of no disappointments. Why I can't just stick to the road I'm currently on and if I absolutely have to, then make a difference on the path I am already on.

This path is comfortable. It's safe. There is little to no chance of me losing my job (if I think I have it within me to hold myself back from punching a Ministry officer in the face, I think I'll do alright). All I have to do is go to school when I'm supposed to, go to class when I'm supposed to, go back home when I'm supposed to, and I'm golden.

I'll make enough money to live an OK life. Sure I won't be rich, but being rich is for people who take risks, and why would I want to do that when I can take little to no risks in life and be safe financially, right? Lagipun, dunia ja semua tu. Duit bukan boleh bawak pi kuboq. Kerja cikgu ni kerja mulia. Stay on this path and you'll be rewarded in the hereafter.

Life would be so much easier if I simply gave up on my ambitions. If only I had it within me to say to myself "you don't need to pursue these bizarre dreams of yours! You already have a job that provides stability and safety for you and your family! That's all you need, really! Stay put and you'll be happy, someday! One day you'll realise that this life ain't too bad! You get to hang around children! You love that! You get to feed your family consistently! You love that too! You get a whole lot of holidays! I know you love that!" And so on and so forth.

If only I could be content with these circumstances, I'd be a much happier guy. If only these ambitions would just go away, I'd have peace of mind. If only I were more bersyukur a human being, I wouldn't be as stressed out. If only I wasn't such a selfish prick. If only.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Why I Like Questions

So as I've said in my previous post, I've been trying to get through answering my emails lately, and even though they take up a lot of time (more than I thought answering emails would), I enjoy trying to answer people's questions. I like them all the more when they get real specific.

I like it because firstly, I feel like I'm doing something with a clear purpose, which is writing something to someone who genuinely wants to know a certain something. Secondly, it gets me thinking a lot. It makes me think about what I'd do in certain situations, sometimes situations that are new to me. 

As I've said before, I don't like talking about the same thing over and over again (oh, the irony). These questions help me think about new things to think about, new ways of saying things, new situations to put myself in, while still compelling me to stick to my principles. And I guess that's why I appreciate the questions I get. They allow me to think about things that I wouldn't normally think about.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Giving Life Advice

So I've been getting emails asking me questions about life and stuff, specifically about decisions that they will have to make in the near future that will affect their future. On the one hand, I feel honoured to be on the receiving end of such questions because it makes me feel like they trust me enough to seek out my input on important things that are affecting or will be affecting their lives (assuming that these questions are truthful in some capacity, of course).

But on the other hand, it also puts me in a spot where I am seeked out for life advice, when I myself am not all that experienced a person. Sure I have gone through some ups and downs in life, but I certainly am in no position to be telling anyone what they should or should not do.

I have gone through what I have and it has equipped me with a certain worldview that I have no problem sharing with anyone who is willing to listen or read. And in response to these emails, that is all I try to do. I give them my input on the matter, being quick to admit that I do not know the full story as my knowledge of the situation is only limited to the information supplied in the email. In most cases, I do not know the sender of the email personally nor do I know their surroundings, people they care about, people they have to take into consideration as well when making a decision, circumstances that are beyond their control, etc.

So in answering any question directed towards me, I just admit to the sender what I would do if I were in their situation (or at least what I think I would do, because a lot of these situations I've never found myself in before). I'd just list down the questions that I'd ask myself before making a decision, what different answers would entail me doing, what I consider important in my life and why I would choose one thing over the next.

I try my best to not tell anyone what they should or should not do, because in doing that I feel like I place myself in an imaginary higher ground, as if I knew more than other people, as if I were wiser and less prone to making mistakes than other people, when in reality, that isn't the case at all. 

There's always a huge possibility that I am absolutely worse than the sender in making life decisions, and I always admire these people that send me these emails because they took the time and had the guts to reach out for help when they need it, and that's more than I can even ask of myself most of the times.

And so I try to help, in the capacity that I can, and give input the only way I know how, which is to put myself in their position and speak for myself. If they follow what I have to say, that's great, and it would be even better if they disagreed with what I said because they found an even better way to deal with their situation, and I'd be happy to have been able to spark that thought within their mind, the thought that was better than mine.