Friday, June 14, 2013

Read Good

"The secrets of the government are keeping you dumb," The End Has No End by The Strokes.

So I was thinking about writing a story tonight, but since it's going to be a longer than usual one and my eyelids are giving up on me, I'll write about reading. Yes, you are about to read about reading. Compelling stuff, I know.

So I have been trying to read consistently throughout the year and I am proud to say that I have read quite extensively, given my lack of reading in the past years. The latest book that I've read is Tuhan, Aku Kembali by Sham Kamikaze and Ainuddin Kamaruddin. It was given to me as a gift, and I finished it in a day. It was a very readable book, not very thick, contains the life story of Mr Sham Kamikaze thus far and how he ditched his earrings for a spot in the da'wah scene.

Right before reading that one, I read the novel Paper Towns by John Green. I won't spoil too much of the story for you, but I will tell you that the hero of the story, Q really gets absorbed into reading a long poem by a poet named Whitman. His understanding of the poem is key in developing his character and the way I see it, shows us how literature, when read carefully and thoughtfully, can not only help us in appreciating the piece of work, but also everything around us. 

When we really think about what a piece of writing means, it can have a profound effect on us, and I believe that these effects are what one looks for in any piece of literature. A piece of writing can only be appreciated when we have a connection with its message or its beauty or its essence. And that piece of literature may live on inside the reader, breathing it life even after its demise from the bookshelves, because those effects in the heart of man will affect the way a person views the the things around him or her and alter, however significantly, their decisions in the future, having a real effect on the world.

And that, to me, is the power of literature. It doesn't have to be brilliant and written with bombastic words and too intricate wordplay. It just has to have that necessary message that it wants to carry and convey it effectively to have an effect in the real world. 

I am who I am today mostly because of what I have read, either from books, subtitles, song lyrics, articles on the internet, tweets, etc. Imam Hassan al-Banna was quoted for saying something along the lines of "To know a person, look at what he reads". I have definitely misquoted him, but you get the idea, right?

What you read defines you. But what happens when you don't read? Well that's a discussion I'll have to pick up some other time (if ever). Until then,

May peace be upon you.


p/s - I'm on a mobile app called GoodReads. If you have a tablet or a smartphone, try installing it. It's like a Facebook for book-readers where you update what you're reading at the moment, what you have already read and what you intend to read in the future. You can check out your friends' updates and get ideas on what to read next. You can rate and review books too. Super fun stuff. Em, I should probably clarify that this is not a paid post. None of my posts are, for that matter. So yeah.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fictional Character 1.2

"Lelaki, tak guuuuuuuna," Lelaki by Yuna.

He had a love interest. He knew that it was love, not just another crush. He's had hundreds of crushes. Crushes come and go. They're a fantasy, he says. An impossibly perfect version of what the person in question might be, without one ever getting to know the person. And by the simple logic of "if it's not this, then it must be that other thing," he has deduced it to be true, bona fide, pure love. 

She wasn't supermodel material, he knew that, but she was still the most beautiful person he has ever set eyes on. Many of his friends and even his family disagree, but he's pretty adamant on this. Ever since she came into his life, it's like girls the world over conspired against him to turn themselves ten times less attractive. But it's not just that she was beautiful to his eyes. She was one of the people whom he felt most in-sync with. She would complete his sentences and he hers, and he would think about a question and she would answer him without him ever asking out loud. They had similar (enough) interests. If they weren't already interested in the same thing, it would take very little effort for him to like what she liked and vice versa. They completed each other. He  hated waking up early, she loves it. She needs to get to bed early, he does whatever he can to avoid early bedtimes. Their existence in each others' lives helps them lead healthy lives. He had a feeling that they were made for each other. No other person could make him feel as miserable or as happy as her. She was the highlight of his day. Highlight of his life. It had to be love.

But (there's always a but, isn't there?) he couldn't help but feel that she's too good for him. There he was, as average and plain as a human being can be, with no particular talents, of average attractiveness, introverted and passive. And there she was, the most talented person he had ever met, beautiful, like, crazy beautiful, outspoken, intelligent, kind-hearted, lovable, all that good stuff. How could he ever hope to keep her to himself? How could someone ten times more attractive, smart, funny and talented not be able to spot a gem that was her and take her away from him? He knew that he was no contest to any actually worthy guys out there. He was a loser. Nothing. She was destined for greatness. Not nothing.

And so everyday he lives his life being miserably happy. Happy that he has the treasure that is her. Miserable that he knows, KNOWS that he won't be able to keep her. Not when there's a Joseph Gordon-Levitt or a Redza Minhat out there to pry her away from him with ease.  He's just too pathetic to compete. He is unworthy.