Thursday, February 11, 2016

Easiest Way To Make Me Cry

So earlier today we went to listen to a talk about one of the daughters of the Prophet SAW, Saidatina Fatimah RA, and I won't relay here what was said because saya tak bertauliah, but I would like to share one thing.

Towards the end of the talk, the speaker shared how Saidatina Fatimah RA felt when her father SAW passed away. She was said to have said something to the effect of (and I'm paraphrasing, so please don't take my word for it) "If the darkness that descended upon me were to descend upon the daylight, surely there would no longer be any light during the day." She was also said to have asked the people who lowered Rasulullah SAW into his grave thus, "How was it? To be able to see my father's face for the last time before it got covered in dirt?"

I broke down and cried for a good five minutes. If there's anything that can get tears streaming out of my eyes in two seconds or less, it's a story about the Prophet's SAW death.

I remember reading about it in a book of Sirah written by Tariq Ramadhan. I read that book twice. I cried just as hard both times I reached the part where Rasulullah SAW passed away.

How odd it is to miss someone you've never met before this much.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Don't Like Repeating Myself

So I've noticed that some people are okay with talking about the same things over and over again. Not only that, the way in which it is discussed as well as the content of the discussion doesn't stray very far away from each other. It's almost as if they're repeating themselves again and again.

I don't feel comfortable with that. I think in a lot of my endeavours, I actively strive to write about different things, and even when I do end up talking about something I've already talked/written about before, I always have this urge to bring something new to the table, be it a new insight or a different perspective on the topic discussed. I get bored with repetition pretty easily, which becomes a huge weakness when I need to memorise my own songs, which requires lots and lots of repetition.

Besides that, this "cepat bosan" attitude makes it difficult for me to write consistently, since I don't always have new thoughts floating around in my head. More often than not, it's the same old thoughts, being thought about in the same old way. And because of this, I often feel like I have nothing to write about, when a more truthful statement would be that I have nothing new to write about.

One of the sayings that I try to stay true to is "make content you would watch/read/listen to yourself". And even though to this end, thus far I have been able to more or less toe that line, I feel like sooner rather than later, I'll make more and more boring stuff, since I'll eventually talk about something I've already talked about. Even though I'll strive to not let that happen, there's no guarantee that it won't, and I suppose that scares me a little (or even a lot).

I suppose in those instances, I'll have to remind myself even more that being creative is not about creating something out of thin air, but rather a compression of your own and other peoples' experiences put into writing/song/visuals. I'll have to try even harder to remember that my job isn't to create something out of nothing, because that is plainly beyond your power, but rather to put together a whole bunch of other things and turn all of that into a something.

So here's to not forgetting that we're mere mortals that aren't capable of creating something out of nothing, and that that's really just fine.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Just Three Words

So there's this one sentence that I say in the latest video I posted on Youtube (which you may watch here: ) which goes something like, "Do the smallest thing I can do to contribute towards achieving a set goal, even if it's just three words to post on the blog. No task is too small in working towards a goal."

And even though I do believe that, and in an ideal world, that's exactly what I do, we're not living in an ideal world, and more often than not I succumb to the parts of myself that just wants to not do stuff and waste time and sleep.

Some would describe these urges to be unproductive as "bisikan syaitan" so that there's something external that we can point towards and blame. But really, even if by that logic, the one that will be facing punishment for listening to said whispers will be ourselves, really. Them syaitans were just doing their job. And in listening and succumbing to their invitations, we put ourselves at fault.

Even with this blogpost that I'm writing right now, I almost didn't do it. I was telling myself "agh, aku nak tuleh tapi aku takdak topik apa pun nak tuleh. Otak takleh nak jalan malam ni. Tak payah tuleh la senang."

But then I was reminded of my own video, and told myself "just three words". And now I'm here, typing this out for anyone willing to read, and more importantly, for myself.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Living Alone In Prayer

So I’ve been going about my day to day life on my own for a while now. The wife has work over in the Klang Valley area and I have school here in Penang, so I’ve been by myself at the apartment for about a month now.

Living alone isn’t new to me. I’ve been living by myself for quite a while even before getting married, so I really am used to it. I was just reminded of how living alone can test your faith when you’re a self-proclaimed Muslim who tries to pray his five daily prayers.

It was when I went to study in Sydney when I first felt a sense of freedom when it came to the aspect of my faith and how I chose to practice it. Because there was no one to monitor my actions over there (as opposed to being at home with your parents or in a higher learning institute where Muslims were a huge majority), there was no one to tell me to pray my five daily prayers. Indeed, if I could have decided to skip all of them and invested all that extra time to watching more Youtube videos or something. There would be no one to question me, no one to pressure me into praying at all.

But I didn’t. I felt that my five daily prayers mattered too much to me for me to just leave like that. I guess it was a testament to how well my mother had raised me to have me feel like prayer was an essential part of my identity. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving prayer, since it made me feel like I had betrayed not only God or myself, but my mother too. I couldn’t do that to her.

Fast forward to today, and that thought hovered around my mind again as I sat alone in my rented apartment. I could just as easily not pray and literally no human being would ever know. But I don’t. I can’t. It’s become too important a thing for me. If I still want to call myself a Muslim, pray I must. And a Muslim I am.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Failing For The Greater Good

So here’s a story.

There was this one dude who is super into the arts and inspiring other people’s artistic side. He decided to take up architecture as his degree, since it seemed like it was a course that allowed people to explore their artsy side. He studied hard and got a scholarship to study just that in a university of his choosing.

He finished his four year degree at a local university no problem. Once he graduated, he was immediately offered a job as a lecturer at a public higher learning institute to teach architecture, since that was part of his scholarship programme. There was really no escaping that, since if he decided to say no, he’d have to pay back his bond to the government, which was priced at about half a million ringgit.

He checked into his job, as was his duty, and quickly found that his heart wasn’t there. He felt that what he was doing everyday was banal and did not inspire anything within him to be creative nor encourage his students to be let out there creative side. He really wanted to, but the place clamped down on all of his efforts to give room to the students to explore their creativity. The institute insisted that he limited his actions to what was asked of him, and nothing more. He could do less if he wanted, but certainly nothing more.

He got really frustrated. This wasn’t what he wanted at all. But he didn’t have the wherewithal to opt out of the job, since he didn’t come from an affluent background. His family keep encouraging him to stay put because of the stability the job offered. It was a steady stream of money coming in every month, so why shouldn’t he be happy with that?

The daily monotony ate away at his soul. He wanted to do more things, different things, but the place wouldn’t allow for such a thing to happen. all he needed to do was go to class, read the slides on the screen and go back. There were meetings that needed to be attended every now and again, but besides that, nothing really much. And to be paid for just that, well, all the other lecturers there are pretty happy with the deal. So why wasn't he?

He didn’t know a lot of things for certain, but he did know that if he stayed there for much longer, his soul would be crushed and he would be just like all the other people there, happy to get their salaries every month while doing the bare minimum to achieve mediocre goals. He needed an out.

As it turned out, after a year of service, all new government servants were to go for an induction programme called “The Mind Transformation Programme”. It sounded eery, as if the sole purpose of the programme was to brainwash the participants into a cult belief of some sort, but it was compulsory. A whole week had to be spent listening to older wiser better people talking about how a civil servant was to conduct him/herself while working and also while not working.

During the briefing of the programme on the first day, the person on the microphone said something interesting. She said that at the end of the programme, all the participants will be issued an exam paper to gauge how much they’ve learned throughout the course. If any participant scored less that 10%, they would be considered as having failed the programme, and any failure of the programme was no longer fit to be a civil servant, and thus would be laid off.

This interested the guy to no end. He kept thinking about that clause in the exam throughout the course, to the point where he rarely thought about anything else. The more he thought about it, the more sure he was of the decision that he was about to make.

On the final day of the course, the participants were given the exam papers, as promised. They were given an hour to finish answering the paper. The guy almost laughed at how easy the questions were. One of them asked what was the appropriate attire for a male civil servant to wear at work, A) baju kurung; B) skirt paras lutut; C) t-shirt v-neck; D) kemeja berkolar lengan panjang. It really seemed as if they really didn’t want to give anyone the chance to fail at all. But our guy had made his decision. He circled all the wrong answers to his knowledge. The ones he was not certain about, he just skipped. He didn’t want to risk accidentally answering something right.

A week after the course, the results of the exam came to the office where he worked and he had to be laid off. He even asked his Director whether there were any strings attached. The reply was in the negative. He almost jumped for joy in the Director’s office. Luckily he was able to delay it until he got to the parking lot.

Two weeks later, he opened a cafe in which art was the main focus. He was determined to make the cafe a place where creative people could gather and come up with and make stuff together. It’s a slow start, and he doesn’t think that they’ll break even for a long time coming, but he’s happy. He’s on the path that he wants to be on and will continue on this journey he set for himself, doing what he is passionate about and getting to see and meet people who are just as passionate about what they’re doing at his cafe. 

His family members have their doubts, but after explaining to them his plan for the next five years and showing them just how serious about what he was doing, they became okay with it. Still worried, as parents will be parents, but they couldn’t help but feel the joy beaming from their once dreary-eyed son, and that gave them a sense of happiness as well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review Script: Tuhan Bukan Manusia

So this is the script of the book review video that I made. You may watch it here:

Assalamualaikum wbt dan salam sejahtera

Video ni ialah review buku pertama di channel ni, and I want to start out by stating the obvious.

Saya bukanlah seorang yang mengaku pakar dalam bidang pembacaan atau pengkritikan sastera.

Saya cumalah budak bodo tepi jalan yang nak berkongsi pandangan dan pendapat tentang apa yang saya baca.

Ada benda yang kita boleh setuju, which is great, and ada benda yang kita tak setuju, which is even better.

Hampa boleh lah kongsi pandangan hampasama dalam ruang komen video ni

Video review ni akan dibahagikan kepada empat bahagian dimana saya cuba jawab empat soalan berikut:

What is this book about?
What did I like about this book?
What were my least favourite things about the book?
Who would I recommend this book to?

And now on to the review!

1. Buku ni bertajuk Tuhan Bukan Manusia, ditulis oleh Zharif Zainuddin dan diterbitkan oleh ilhambooks.

This 195-page book tells the story of a guy who finds himself in a foreign land and stays at the house of a much older person named Rumi.

He stays there for a little over a month.

Within that month, our hero falls in love with a prostitute/murderer, gets involved in a trial, witnesses how awesomely Rumi deals with people and situations, learns what he was born to do, and defends Rumi’s village from being attacked by the military forces of the government of the day.

It’s a story with quite a bit of philosophical bits, where the author explores at length the questions of justice, God, heaven, hell, love, the past, life, death, and so on and so forth.

It reminded me of the works of Paulo Coelho and some Kahlil Gibran, especially at the end there where the villagers asked Rumi a whole bunch of questions and Rumi answered them one by one, The Prophet style.

2. I like that this book strays from what one would expect from a Malay piece of work. 

It’ certainly isn’t another one of your Suamiku Suamimu Jua kind of book. 

It made me the reader think and question certain things about life and how I see the world. 

A part of the book that I particularly liked was when the author questions why we do good deeds. Penulis bagi kita soalan: kita buat benda baik ni untuk pahala ka untuk Tuhan? 

Ikhlas ka kita punya amalan kalau kita nak masuk syurga tu pasai disitu ada kemewahan, dan kita tak letak berjumpa dengan Tuhan sebagai sebab utama untuk kita nak masuk syurga? 

Interesting points to ponder like these are spread quite generously throughout the book.

3. There were a couple of things that I didn’t particularly love about the book.

Dia punya bahasa sangat skema dalam buku ni, sampai rasa macam tak natural cara penyampaian dia. Mungkin untuk orang yang suka tatabahasa yang sempurna akan lebih suka buku ni berbanding saya lah, pasai saya jenih tak kisah sangat bab tatabahasa.

Keduanya, ada satu scene cheesy gila dekat-dekat ngan belakang, antara hero dia ngan cinta hati dia. Ayat jiwang dia sirius disaluti keju yang amat tebal sekali, sampai aku skip teruih part tu. Aku tak boleh sangat dengan benda-benda cheesy ni.

4. Buku ni saya rekemen kat sesiapa yang fasih berbahasa Melayu, 

yang nak cari kelainan dalam novel bahasa melayu yang dibaca, 

kepada sesiapa yang tak takut untuk berfikir,

yang mahukan a quick but impactful read.

Bolehla try baca buku Tuhan Bukan Manusia, karangan Zharif Zainuddin.

And that’s about it, really.

What did you think of this book? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Leave a comment down below sharing your thoughts. Anwar Hadi. Tuhan Bukan Manusia. Selamanya!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Dream Featuring Kwang-Soo

So I had a dream earlier today. It’s not often that I remember my dreams, but this one turned out to be more vivid than most of my other dreams, so I thought I’d write it down, since I found it somewhat interesting. And may I just add that this was a post-subuh nap punya dream, so I wouldn’t read into it so much if I were you.

So in this dream, I found myself somehow hanging out with Kwang-Soo of the South Korean variety show “Running Man”. We were on a shoot location that was a farm somewhere in Australia if I had to guess, since it was a little chilly and we had jackets and gloves on. We were kicking a small rock to each other as if it were a football. 

He suddenly stopped kicking it and I could see that he was on the brink of tears. After some talking, I got him to let it out. I was a little worried that he wouldn’t understand my English all too well, but it turned out he understood what I was saying perfectly.

After he had cried out for a bit, he expressed what he was feeling. It turned out that he was having some self-esteem issues, saying things like “I’m useless,” and “I’m the most insignificant person in Running Man”. 

I was able to calm him down and pujuked him by saying that “if you’re so useless, then why is it that no one can have as positive an effect on other people as you have? Why is it that whenever you can’t make it to a shoot, it suddenly feels all empty on the set? Why is it that all the fans of the show always say that their least favourite episodes are the ones in which you’re not in? You’re good man. Everyone knows it. The fans know it, the crew knows it, the rest of the cast knows it. You need to know it as well. You’re good man.”

After hearing all that, he cheered up a little and went to wash his face. We went to the briefing session for that day’s shoot shortly afterwards. 

And then I woke up.