Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Legacy of Positivity

Hey, today’s the last day of 2014! 

Depending on how your year went, you would either read that with relief, dismay or even fear. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it though.

When I wrote down those words, it was mainly because I needed to write something and didn’t quite have any idea what to type, so I just typed what everyone else was talking about on twitter. Wow Anwar. Much original.

Earlier today I watched a video: Jin Hackman 2014 Malaysian Rap Up. It’s basically a video of him rapping about everything that has happened in Malaysia throughout the year. He’s been doing it for several years, so it wasn’t really a surprise when the track dropped. Have a listen here:

Being reminded of all the things that happened throughout the year, I start to think about how much I’ve done throughout the year. It’s always of question, whether I did enough in the 365 days I was given. Honestly speaking, I don’t think so.

I started the year as a social media consultant for a think tank organisation. I spent four good months there before being posted to school in Penang, and now I’ve been teaching in school for about eight months now.

I’ve had my ups and downs. Made some new friends, which is good. I undertook a project or two, only to leave them unattended after a couple of months. Bad bad not good.

Lots of things happened. Malaysia as a country went through its fair share of challenges, and they certainly affected me. Left me wishing I could do more than just pray.

Read some books. That was good. I think I was able to get through a good amount of books throughout the year. I wish I had read more, for sure, but I definitely did more reading than I’ve done in previous years.

2015 promises to be a year full of potential. I already have a few things lined up for it. I need to remember that life is about making choices, and I need to choose to put those plans into motion and work towards making them happen, and happen good.

But of course, the future is never promised to us. I can’t say for certain that I’ll even wake up tomorrow to greet 2015. None of us can. Let us never forget just how fragile life is, so that we may let go of the little things that get in the way of us enjoying and cherishing the things that we do have and that make it good.

We’re here today, and we need to make that count. Contribute something positive to the world. In the words of the poet Walt Whitman, quoted ever so elegantly by the late Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society, “The question, O me! so sad, recurring—what good amid these, O me, O life? / Answer. / That you are here—that life exists and identity, / That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be? What will my verse be? What will our verses be?

Choose to make them positive verses. Leave a legacy of positivity. That goes for you, Anwar. Jangan dok sedih sangat.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Book Club Idea

For full disclosure, I am part of a youth collective called Akademi Belia. We organise and run programmes catered towards youth development. Some examples of the programmes that we have conducted are futsal tournaments, talks with prominent leaders such as Tun Dr Mahathir, helping out with soup kitchen efforts as well as cultural exchange programmes with youths from different countries (such as China and Russia). Most (if not all) of the programmes are run within the Klang Valley area, so little old me in Penang here can’t attend all of them.

I like being part of this youth collective. They comprise of passionate, competent and fun-loving people, and a lot of times I feel like I have the least to contribute, which is good since with that feeling, I know that I’m around good company.

For the upcoming year, I have proposed a programme of my own. It’s still in its inception stage, so the idea’s unpolished and rough around the edges, but writing this down will hopefully make it clearer both to me, to Akademi Belia as well as to anyone who might be interested.

So it’s basically a book club. A bunch of people get together every couple of weeks and talk about a specific book (what it’s about, what they liked about it, what they didn’t like about it, why). And the fruits of that discussion shall be recorded and made into a youtube video, for everyone else to join in the discussion in the comments.

How it’s gonna work is like this:

Step 1: I shall post a poster on twitter/instagram/facebook declaring that a meet-up will happen in two weeks. In that poster shall contain the book that shall be discussed as well as the date, time, place of the meet-up. Anybody interested in joining shall have two weeks to read/re-read the book for the meet-up. It’ll be done on a weekend, in a public space.

Step 2: On the day of the get-together, we’ll talk about the book, what it’s about, what we liked about it, what we didn’t like about it, the reasons for our opinions. We’ll record some of the discussion to be put up on Youtube. And we’ll eat pizza. Or kuih bahulu. Or whatever anybody wants to bring. (I don’t expect more than 5 people to come, so we’ll have plenty of food to go around yay!) After about an hour of eating and talking, we’d have made some new friends and gained some fresh perspectives of the book we were reading! And food!

Step 3: About a week afterwards, the video of the book discussion shall be uploaded onto Youtube. And steps 1-3 shall be repeated again.

I like reading books. And I love talking about them too. And I know that there are people out there that share this interest. But I’ve found that the right place and time to talk about them are hard to come by. So hopefully, by doing this book club thing, we’ll all get to gather and do exactly that, at least once a month. It’ll be fun, and we’ll eat food! Okay now if it’s not abundantly obvious that I really like food, then taktau la.

And this activity shouldn’t be exclusive. Anybody who’s anybody can join. If you come having read the book, then that’s great. If you haven’t read the book but still want to come, then there’s nothing stopping you. We’ll hang out.

It’s simple stuff, but it is within my hopes that we’ll gain something positive from it.

Again, this is just a rough idea. Whether or not it’ll work out in real life, we’ll see.

I don’t have a name for it yet. Any suggestions?


I am a male person and I have emotions and I typed of the resulting thoughts and they are now on the internet. Nothing wrong with that. It’s my blog, after all, and can write and publish whatever I may on this free internet space. But I realise now that yesterday’s episode (the previous blogpost) was just me being whiny and mengada. It’s totally legit to feel those feelings, but they’re not an excuse to become a less decent human being.

I remember a thing my friend told me a couple of weeks ago. I was staying over at his house because he was ever so generous to let me spend some nights there. On the last morning of my stay, we had a conversation. I was talking about this person I knew and I was telling my friend about how I wanted to like this dude but I didn’t because I caught some vibe that said he did’t like me very much. 

In response to this, my friend said “kenapa tak just like him anyway jer?” which totally hit me in the head. I was like “ya jugak tu, why do I need him to like me for me to like him?” but only in my head ajalah. I verbally replied, after a pause, “betoi jugak.”

In that one response, my friend reminded me that other people shouldn’t affect my decision to be a decent human being and like anyone or everyone, even the ones that don’t like me back.

Another friend of mine brought this quote into my life: “Kehidupan ialah tenting membuat keputusan. Life is about making choices.” And everything we do is a decision. I can decide to be weak in the face of uncertainty, or I can choose to be strong. Either way, that uncertainty will still be there.

So when I doubted myself yesterday, I forgot that I was making a choice. I chose to take the view that the kind of person I am was something I couldn’t control. And that view shapes the way I behaved and influences the choices I make whilst in that state of mind.

I needed to remember that the opposing view, that I can control the kind of person I am, could equally be true. And when I hold that view, I can start to be more conscious about my choices in behaviour, and I can influence myself to do more positive things and view things in a more positive light, shaping me to become a wholly more positive person.

So instead of mengeluh and complain that I don’t know if I’ll be a douche in the future, I just need to remember to not do douchey things. As long as I refrain from doing douchey things, I won’t be a douchey person. And isn’t that the best type of person? The non-douchey type?

So be nice anyway, Anwar. Do good things, regardless. Smile, regardless.  Always look for the positives, regardless.

And you should be just fine, no?

Monday, December 29, 2014


I don’t know why, but I’m feeling ill at ease at the moment. Which is why I’m typing this out right now. Writing usually allows me to clear my head and let me focus for a bit, forcing me to sort out the never-ending clutter that is in my head.

It could be because of the news that another plane from our region has gone missing. God knows that can rattle just about anyone into dissonance. 

It could be because of the ongoing flood situations all around Malaysia. They’ve made me wishing I was doing more than just donating things and retweeting ways to get help to the flood victims. 

It could be because I just did a rant on twitter just now, expressing my views on how helicopters could be put to better use than flying ministers around places to get their pictures taken with the flood victims, and the backlash I got from that little rant was more than I could handle.

One person said that I was “pandai, tapi mengata kat orang bukan main lagi.” That made me feel guilty.

Firstly, I don’t feel that I am at all “pandai”. I actually think my intellect lags waaay behind that of my peers. I’m just a dude that is severely under-read and spends most of his free time taking naps, quite the antithesis of the habits of any “pandai” person. So to be called so by that total stranger whom I most probably will never meet throughout my life, made me feel sejenis guilty because I somehow was able to convey to that said person that I am worthy of such a label.

Secondly, part “mengata kat orang” was somewhat justified. My tweet was actually directed towards the parts of the general public that expect their elected “leaders” to be around the flood victims. Sure it may look good in the papers and on blogs, but let’s get real here. They’re really only doing it because they don’t want to taint public perception and be seen as “one with the people”. If they were really genuine (and some are), they wouldn’t take up valuable resources (such as helicopter rides) and bring a whole entourage of people whose sole purpose is to publicise their presence among “the people”. Because not being there would result in netizens screaming “WHERE ARE OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS?! ALL THEY KNOW IS TO RUN AWAY AND LAZE IN THEIR AIR CONDITIONED OFFICES!!” and that would affect valuable votes in the next elections, and they can’t risk that, can they? Why let actual workers do actual work in helping to get the flood victims sorted out when their reputations are on the line, right? The public need to see their elected officials feeling the people’s suffering, barula puas.

So yeah, I was “mengata”-ing, and that doesn’t really reflect the type of human I want to be. What type of human do you want to be Anwar? I guess the type that only has love for his fellow human beings. The type that is able to see the good, even in the horrible. They type that doesn’t complain, but tries his best to make things better by being a better person and doing better things.

But I’m not that type of person, am I? I’d rather laze around in my comfortable bed, retweeting a whole bunch tweets and feel content with all the “work” I’ve put in to alleviate the victims of their suffering than to go out and actually help.

And that makes me a horrible person.

So that’s where the dissonance is coming from.


There’s this one story that’s been spreading around twitter about the Sultan of Kelantan driving out to a flood shelter on his own and helping out with stuff and things. When asked by some guy “where’re you from?” he simply replied “I’m from around here.” and just chuckled when people suggested that he looked like the Sultan. Whether that story be true or not, THAT is an example of a genuine person helping out. Going over unannounced, helping out without fanfare and plays down his role in the bigger scheme of things.

I’d like to think that if I were in a position of power, I’d be something like that, you know? Genuine. Chill. 

But the truth is, I don’t know that. For all I know, I’d value my position too much and, blinded by my status, be all full of myself. I’d use people’s tragedies for political mileage and basically just sell my soul to the devil just to be viewed as a saint in the eyes of my fellow man. I’d stop caring about people as soon as they can give me nothing in return. 

Can I ever be such an asshole? The answer is yes. Yes I can.

And that scares me shitless.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Favourite Videos of 2014 (so far)

"Cotton candy, majin bu," Pink Matter feat. Andre 3000 by Frank Ocean.

So I was procrastinating as I usual on Youtube and decided to revisit some of my favourite videos that were released this year. Thrn I thought, "hey, why not share them on the blog too while I'm at it?" And here we are. The first two are hilarious, whilethe third one makes me crei evrytiem, so open them in new tabs and enjoy, if you have the time:

The NFL: A Bad Lip Reading

Sisters Episode 1: Strawberries {The Kloons}:

MMOTV: Are Malaysians racist?

And I think it's worth noting that this post is being made solely using Samsung Tab 4.

Here's a screen shot for your unbelieving eyes:

Aw yiss

Having this multi-window feature on the tab has made me consciously think about how I can be priductive all the time, even at times like these when I'm just lounging around in the living room with a tablet in hand.

Just chillin' upside down on the sofa.

Nak bersila pun boleh~

Because of the tab's size, I am encouraged to bring it with me wherever I need to go without it being a bother to me. It's pretty comfy having it in my hands while I type this out.

Its battery lasts quite a while, so I don't have to worry about charging it every five minutes, unlike another hand-held device I have.

But hey look at me singing the Tab's praises. I should wrap this up now then.

I hope you enjoyed the videos I shared above. Do let me know what you think about them in them comments section below.

Lastly, if you guy wanna learn more about it, check it out at  . I’ve been using it, no complains for me, maybe it’s time for you to try it for yourself.

May peace be upon you.

Yours truly, 

(sponsored by Samsung)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My first tablet: Samsung Tab 4

"Mengapa kanta ini masih berkaca?" Bonda by M. Nasir. 

So the other day I decided to get a Samsung Tab 4, since I thought it'd be handy to have something a little bit bigger but fit just to do work on (y'know, video stuff, teaching, stuff like that) so after browsing around, I settled on this baby because I felt it gave me the best value for money among the tablets that were on the market. 

Uuu, shiny~

"But why a tablet?" you might ask. Well, to put it simply, I needed something lightweight and easy to carry. The Tab 4 accomplishes that with its 7-inch display, really not too big and not too small. It even fits in my pocket when I don't feel like carrying it. It's 
not too heavy, as it really feels just oh so slightly lighter than your average smartphone. Plus, its good looks doesn't really hurt either. Hehe.

Fits in my hand just right, you know? 

I actually have small hands (for a guy).

It can even for in my pocket.

It's bringing sexy back, just like Justin.

Okay, back to work purposes, it comes with an 8Gb internal memory, and I also have the option of adding my own microSD card into it, which makes so much sense because really, when is 8Gb ever really enough right? I have the option of putting in so many things that I need in here without worrying too much about running out of space. Pictures, videos, documents? You name it.

Some of my stored files after using it for a little while.

Multi-windows, because twitter has to be on 24/7.

Plus this really cool multi-window feature makes it really easy for me to keep track of my emails. Replying emails on a tab is so convenient and easy. With this, not only does it make replying emails seem more formal-looking, it also adds to the cool-factor, so I'm happy with that. It also makes it super easy for me to multi-task. If you know me, you know it's tough for me to multi-task. But with this multi-window feature, I think I'll get the hang of it really quickly.

May this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

May peace be upon you.


Find out more here   

(Sponsored by Samsung)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Brick In The Wall

A smile appeared on Mahmud’s face as he looked down on the bag of big letter blocks he’d been collecting from various government building signs for almost three months now. He finally had all the letters he needed to set his plan of four months in motion.

He checked his watch, confirming that it was already half past one in the morning. He zipped up the bag, got in his red Kancil and went off to his destination: Sekolah Kebangsaan Maluri Perdana. The closer he got to it, the faster his heart beat. It had been a while since he’s conducted a project of this magnitude, so he understood why he was a little more nervous than usual. This actually made him smile even more. The more the adrenaline, the better.

He parked a fair distance away from the school. He didn’t want his getaway vehicle to be spotted now, did he? He walked with his hoodie on and his bag in tow the rest of the way to the gate at the side of the school. He was sure that the guard was just sitting at his post near the front gate, probably sleeping. He had staked out the place for a whole week straight to know that the singular guard’s nightly routine never varied.

He put the bag through the hole in the fence that he made the previous night and squeezed into the school himself, making sure to make as little noise as possible. It was a good thing that they put the only street lights on the road near the school gate. Mahmud didn’t need to much light to maneuver himself. The light of the full moon that night was more than enough to show him the way.

He quickly made his way to the Living Skills workshop, unlocked the door and took out the tallest ladder the school had to offer. There was only one, and Mahmud estimated that it could reach about ten meters high. He put the bag full of letters down and carried the ladder to the side of the main building of the school and positioned it against the wall which he had been observing for quite some time. He then went back to the workshop, took his bag as well as three tins of Dunlop general purpose contact adhesive, or as it was known to the general public, gam kasut, and made his way back to the wall.

He took a look around the wall to make sure that the guard was still where he was supposed to be before starting. He laid out the letters of various official-looking fonts in the order in which he wanted them before brushing on the glue to the backs of each of them. After re-checking the guard house - you can never be too careful - he climbed up the ladder and applied glue at the positions in which the letters needed to be. This needed a lot of climbing, going back down again, moving the ladder and climbing back up. 

After close to half an hour of being in the school compounds, Mahmud finally placed the letters on the wall, being careful not to stick the letters onto himself in the process. After placing the final letter, E, he put the tins of glue back into the workshop and locked the door. He then took the ladder and, after one final look at the guard house, carried it all the way to his improvised entrance at the side of the school compound and hid the ladder in the bushes. He then squeezed out of the gate and made a clean getaway. That went even better than expected, thought Mahmud as he crawled into his bed to get a good night’s sleep.

The next morning, the school was in a furor, as it was found that in the background of the students’ assembly ground, and in full view of everyone, especially the teachers as they were facing that way, was the phrase “HEY TEACHER LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE”, using shiny block letters. Those Ss even looked like the ones that were taken from the school sign two weeks ago, remarked one of the teachers.

The headmaster told the workers to immediately take the piece of vandalism down, but the workers couldn’t do so because they didn’t have a ladder that was tall enough to allow them to do that. When asked who would do such a thing, one of the school’s Living Skills teacher, Encik Mahmud just shrugged and shook his head in disbelief.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


“I have something to confess.” Borhan looked straight into his wife’s eyes while preparing to say what has been weighing on his mind even before they got married twenty-five years ago, but never had the guts to tell, until now.

“What is it Abah?” Aziah had to admit, this was the first time her husband has ever uttered that word, confess.

Borhan took a big gulp. At that moment, their whole relationship flashed before his eyes. How they met as young first-year degree students. How they’d have study-dates up until the small hours of the morning at 24-hour restaurants. How he asked her to marry her after their third year of going out together. The struggles they went through before getting married. The moments he had wanted to tell her this very thing before this. Their wedding day. How they were worried they would get any children after three years of marriage. The moment a miracle in the form of their son came after five years of trying. All the fights they’d had. All the making up they did. Everything they’ve gone through. The thick as well as the thin. They’ve been through it all.

Except this.

“Well come on then, what is it?” Aziah’s heart started to beat faster.

Borhan took a deep breathe. “Before we got married, I slept with someone else.”

The world seemed to drop beneath Aziah’s feet. She immediately felt as if she had entered a dream world, where she could see herself and her husband in their living room, where they had made so many memories. She was floating outside of herself. “What?” she heard herself say.

“It was after the first year of us going out together. I went to a prostitution center and hired one. It was-” Borhan was interrupted by a hard slap across his face.

Aziah’s eyes were flooding and her hand was throbbing. She just wanted to throw something, anything hard towards this person that had the audacity to call himself her husband.

Borhan knew that at this point, anything he said would sound like an excuse, so he kept mouth shut and his head down. He couldn’t bear to look at her wife - was he still qualified to call her that? - in the eye.

Aziah had so many words, most of them cuss words, spiraling in her head like a tornado that she couldn’t get even one word out. She opened her mouth and only sobbing came, after which she dropped down on her backside, not even feeling the thud and cried as hysterically as she has ever cried.

Borhan started to worry about what the neighbours might think, Aziah crying and screaming the way she did. He knew that there was no way he could explain himself in any of them decided to check up on them to see what was going on.

For several minutes, Borhan didn’t know what to do. He was thankful that their son, Alif wasn’t there to see this. He would never forgive himself if he let Alif see this, Borhan knew.

After what seemed like an eternity of crying and when she finally brought herself down to a sob, Aziah noticed that Borhan was still there. She broke out in another fit of crying and just about got the words “Get out!” out of her mouth while pointing towards the door.

Borhan didn’t need to be told twice. He made his way to the door and right before going out, muttered “I’m sorry” to Aziah, although he actually doubted that she heard him.

Aziah laid there throughout the night, not bothering to move from the pool of tears she had made for herself. She didn’t know what to do, so she decided to do the next best thing, which was nothing.

Milk and Cat Food

The rain pattered down on what was just a few moments ago, just another cloudy day in the tropical island of Langkawi. Fortunately, Faiz brought with him an umbrella, since he foresaw that there was a possibility of rain from the cloudy weather they’ve been having as of late. “Prepare an umbrella before it rains” says the Malay adage. It’s always astounded Faiz how few Malay people take heed of this original Malay saying. To bring an umbrella while walking around was certainly not the Malaysian way of life. Faiz always prided himself in being somehow more than Malay, even though he’s never confided this to anyone, since he knew for certain that it would be met by unkind remarks from the people around him.

He liked the sound of rain droplets gently and distinctly falling upon his umbrella. He had gone out to purchase some prepaid for his phone. He needed to call his mother to update her on what had happened throughout the week. It’ll be the same old story, he knows, but her mother insists on her only son who has been posted in a whole different state to call her every weekend, and so he obliges. He didn’t like that he had to walk almost a whole kilometer from his residential flat area to get the prepaid though. The residential grocery store ran out of prepaid that day, and so he had to make the trek to the second nearest grocer in the town area. He hadn’t gotten enough money to invest in a motorcycle yet, and he hadn’t made too many friends to borrow anyone else’s motorcycle. Sure he didn’t have a license to drive motorbikes, but that’s hardly ever a factor here in Malaysia.

As he treaded along home on the side of the road, his chain of thought was broken by some tiny meowing. He looked around to find where it was coming from, and sure enough, he found a couple of small black and white kittens in a cardboard box near an electrical post. They were starting to get wet, which is why they sounded so distressed, surmised Faiz. He looked up and down the road to see if the person who left the kittens there were still around, but all he saw was the occasional car and motorcycle passing through. 

He bended down to take a closer look at the kittens. They were really small, couldn’t be more than a month old, he thought, although he didn’t have that much experience with felines before. The kittens continued meowing as if they were crying for help, looking as if they could barely support their own weight. Faiz stuck out a finger to the kittens, and to his surprise, the kittens responded by licking it. Faiz could feel the coarseness of their tongues and reveled at how cute they were, breaking out in an audible “aww”.

Faiz decided to take the cats with him, since they looked like they needed the shelter. He didn’t need to worry about his housemates’ acceptance of the kittens just yet, since they were both out of the house, as they usually were on the weekends.

Faiz wasn’t able to keep the kittens’ meows down throughout the trip up to his rented apartment, but that didn’t seem to bother anyone he passed by, all of them oblivious to his existence, as they always had been. 

As soon as Faiz entered his apartment, he went to his room to dry off the kittens with a rag and wondered if they might be hungry. He never really saw any cats eating in front of him. His only experience was watching cartoons of cats, and they always seemed to love drinking milk. He went to the fridge in the apartment and grabbed some milk to put in a bowl. Milk was a rare item in the average Malaysian household, but since it’s been a habit of his to always eat cereal for breakfast, milk was one of the must-have items for him.

As soon as he had finished pouring the milk into a bowl and picked it up to give to the kittens, he felt a tingling sensation on his toes. He looked down and was surprised to see that the kittens were licking his toenails. He heaved a sigh of relief that he hadn’t spilled the milk in his shock and placed the bowl down on the floor by the kittens. 

The kittens didn’t seem to notice the bowl of milk and continued licking his toenails. Faiz picked the kittens up one by one and put them right beside the bowl, but the kittens stumbled their way to Faiz’s feet again and licked him. Faiz was scratching his head in confusion, wondering why they won’t drink the milk when one of the kittens bit his little toe. Faiz jumped up in shock and took a step back from the kittens. “Damn, you guys sure are feisty little fellas, aren’t you?” Faiz said aloud.

He decided to put them both back in their box in his room and locked the door so that he could go downstairs and buy some cat food from the the grocery store downstairs. He was relieved that they sold cat food, as he had no idea before that. It wasn’t too expensive too, thought Faiz as he went back upstairs.

When he opened the door, he was again surprised to see the two kittens waiting for him inside in the living room. He looked over to his room and saw that the door was open, although he could have sworn that he closed and locked it before going out. He went to the kitchen with the kittens following him, and with both of them licking his toes, he put some of the cat food into a bowl. This should do it, he thought to himself.

He placed the bowl of cat food on the floor beside the bowl of milk, and put the kittens right beside it, but as before, they walked nimbly back to Faiz’s feet. “Really? What do you guys want??” Faiz exclaimed. He put his hands to his head and thought about what to do with the kittens.

As he did this, one of the kittens bit down on Faiz’s toe, only this time, it was harder and caused Faiz’s little toe to bleed. Again Faiz jumped and felt like kicking the two kittens straight away. This was getting a bit much for him to handle. This was probably why they were left beside the road in the first place. Stupid cats biting me and whatnot.

He looked at the kittens again, and his jaw slowly dropped when he saw that the two kittens were licking up the blood that was on the floor because of the bite. He watched in horror as the two kittens finished what was on the floor and walked over to get more from his toe.

“What do we want?” Faiz heard a voice coming from behind. He turned around and saw nothing but the kitchen sink. “I’ll tell you what we want!” He turned back to look at the tiny black and white kittens. Were the kittens talking to him? “We just want to eat. That’s all!” He was now certain that the voice was coming from the back of his head, somehow. “Let us eat, just a little more?”

“I gave you food! There! Over there!” Faiz pointed towards the two bowls on the floor on the far side of the kitchen while backing up until his back was against the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink. He suddenly felt an enormous weight coming upon him and was unable to get up or even move.

“We don’t eat that, silly.” The voice in his head sounded as if it was smiling. The kittens were still staggering along their way to Faiz.

“Then, then what do you eat? I can get you some.” Faiz was already dreading the answer.

“You’ll find out soon enough.” 


Rosli came into the house as late as he usually did and was a little taken aback that the door was unlocked. That good for nothing Faiz punya kerja la ni. Azman was spending the night at his parents’ house. He called for Faiz but got no reply. His door was open but Rosli could see no one inside. He stepped into Faiz’s room and wondered what two sound asleep kittens were doing in a box on the floor. Rosli went to the kitchen to get himself a glass of water and accidentally stepped on what seemed to be milk and cat food. “Bodo Faiz hang pi mana!?” Rosli exclaimed more to himself than anyone else, since Faiz was nowhere to be found inside the apartment.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dark Chocolate Cake

Flour? Check. Cocoa powder? Check. Coffee? Check. Eggs, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract? All check. Time to shake and bake.

Amira knew how awfully wrong it must seem to use Will Ferrell and John Reilly’s Talladega Nights catchphrase in the actual baking context, but she used it nonetheless since it always made her smile, and starting her annual baking project with a smile helped her get into a good mood, and she needed the extra endorphins. So, time to shake and bake.

She started, as always, by preheating the oven. She then quickly greased and floured her 9x13 inch pan which she only ever took out once a year, for this specific occasion. She then took out a large bowl from the cabinet under the sink, rinsed in a little to clear the dust that must have gathered there for sitting down there for so long, and started putting the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder into the bowl and mixed all those dry ingredients together. She preferred doing this step by hand. It helped her feel connected to the cake, like she was contributing a little bit of herself into the cake as well, like an integral extra ingredient.

She then made a hole in the middle of the dry mix with her fingers. She knew just how big to make it, since she’s done it more than ten times already. She then put in the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract into the well she has dug. Lastly, she picks up the last remaining ingredient on the counter, the cup of coffee and takes a sip. She closes her eyes and carves a smile on her face, savouring the strong, rich taste before pouring the whole glass in with the rest of the ingredients in the bowl.

She then mixed the batter with a wooden spoon for a minute before putting it on the electric mixer at medium speed for two minutes. She would beat the batter herself, but it was a hard day at work, as usual. All of her body just wanted crash on the bed and wake up late tomorrow in the middle of Saturday. But she had to make this cake first.

 Amira stared at the little machine doing its work and thought back to the first time she did this. She didn’t have this electric mixer. Heck, she didn’t even know these little things existed, so she happily mixed the batter by hand, wearing her arm out in mere minutes. She remember she had to put the batter aside several times just to let her arm recover. Only after the phone call to her mother was she informed of the existence of the mini-miracle that is the electric mixer. Then there was of course the other phone call.

The two minutes were up. She took the bowl out and and deftly spread the batter into the pan. She made sure that it was nice and even before popping it into the oven to cook for 40 minutes at 175 degrees Celcius. Done. Now to clean up.

She collected all the bowls and gave them a thorough wash, wiped down the counter and took out the wire rack to cool the cake on when it was finished baking.

Amira wiped her forehead with her wrist and puffed out a breathe. She stared at the cake baking in the oven and caught her own reflection in the oven door. She chuckled at how old she had grown. Her hair was starting to turn gray. Not that many, but she noticed them anyway. More and more wrinkles have etched their way onto Amira’s face. She wondered if Jeff would still find her attractive in the state that she was in. 

He had always said that she was the most beautiful person in the world. She knew he was lying, but it was sweet of him, nevertheless. Those words never failed to make her smile. He would even bring it up in the fights they used to have. 
“Wait a minute, may I just have one little minute for something very very important!?” 

“WHAT IS IT!?” She would snap at him. 

“I just want to take a moment to take in the fact that I am right now quarreling with THE most beautiful person in the world.”

At which point she would throw anything her hands could reach as hard as she could at him, a smile on her face always betraying her.

The ding of the oven snapped her back into reality. She casually swiped away the tear running down her cheek and put on her oven mitt and took out the cake. She put it down gently on the cooling tray and took in the smell. Delicious, as always.

And now, it was time for her to wait. She will wait for Jeff. It didn’t matter that she knew Jeff wasn’t coming. It didn’t matter that five years ago Sergeant Rowley called to tell her that her husband, Jeffrey Nesbit was “missing in action”, as he put it, while on active service in Afghanistan. It didn’t matter that Jeff was most probably dead. All of that didn’t matter to her. What mattered was that it was his birthday today, and they always had dark chocolate cake on his birthday. And she’ll wait for her husband to come home and eat the dark chocolate birthday cake his wife made for him. She’ll wait.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


As his roommate gives the salaam signalling the end of the prayer, Farid dwells on the last words he utters. It’s in Arabic, so he doesn’t know what they mean. How could he choose to be ignorant of such a huge thing as what he is saying when praying? He gulps down his self-disgust before giving the salaam as well.

He’s never been a good Muslim, Farid. He knew that. Sure, he prayed five times a day, fasted when Ramadan came and everything, but he knew deep inside how worthless he must be in the sight of his God. How could he be? He barely even knew what he was saying while praying. He never really felt any closer to The Almighty when he fasted. It was all just to get it over and done with. So he can have a good record for the afterlife, so that he wouldn’t be thrown in Hell. And that’s it.

He wasn’t Azri. Azri, his roommate for three semesters now. Azri was an exemplary Muslim. Coming from one of the most prestigious religious schools in the country, he knew so much more than Farid did. Farid viewed his roommate in awe and envy. He was jealous at Azri for how much knowledge of the religion he had under his belt. He was jealous at how good a Muslim Azri was. Azri, the one always prayed supplementary prayers after maghrib and ‘isya. Azri, the one who recited long and elaborate doas at the end of each prayers. Azri, the one who most probably understood every single Arabic word he said while praying. Azri is definitely a guy who’ll be going straight to heaven when his life ends. 

And now that he’s done with the post-prayer zikir, Azri was reciting one of his elaborate doas. Azri’s deeds will definitely be counted by God. He knows exactly what he’s saying right now. Farid hasn’t even heard half of the supplications Azri was reciting, let alone understand them. Farid sighs.

But at least he’s done some good deeds in his life, right? Those must outweigh the bad deeds he’s done all this while. Farid wasn’t a very good Muslim, sure, but he wasn’t all that bad either. He never got into any trouble that he knew might have been too deep for him to climb out of. At least he’s got that going for him.

But what if Allah doesn’t accept his good deeds? What happens if all his good deeds were for nothing, because he didn’t even have the courtesy to find out what he meant when he prayed? What if all that counted were the bad deeds? What if God decided to toss out the good ones because Farid wasn’t a good enough Muslim to have them count? What did he do all his life when he couldn’t even understand a goddamn word of what Azri was saying in his doa right now? How could he have the gall to say that any of his good deeds counted, being as ignorant and as arrogant as he was? Who does he think he is in the sight of God? He wasn’t even as big as a spec of dust to God, and he has the nerve to think he deserved to go to heaven? Who was he kidding?


Noticing that his roommate, Farid suddenly sobbing and crying, Azri prolonged his supplication. He didn’t even know what he was praying for. He just said random Arabic phrases he picked up from his days in religious school. He didn’t want to take away this moment from Farid by ending the supplication, for he feared that once he stopped, Farid would stop crying too. Azri knew that Farid was being truly close to God, so close that tears streamed down his face, realising just how small he was in the sight of God. And Azri was jealous, because it’s something Azri hasn’t felt in a long, long time.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two Hijab-Clad Women

Two hijab-clad women are in a restaurant bustling full of people, awaiting the call to prayer via the television on the wall on the far side of the restaurant, enabling them to break their day-long fast.

“So how’s work been?” Wani raises her voice just enough to penetrate the din around them.

“Oh, you know, same old same old. Clients always giving me headaches. I thought I’d have gotten used to it after three months. How wrong was I?” Suraya ended with a flourish and got back to typing on her phone. She was still as energetic as always, even after fasting for a whole day. Wani, on the other hand couldn’t quite bring herself to match her level of energy.

“Hehe, yeah. If it makes you feel any better, life as a teacher isn’t all that great either.” Wani said, forcing a smile on her face. It was not that she didn’t want to be there. She was just so tired.

“Yeah, you told me about that the last time we met. Which was, what? A month ago?” Suraya replied promptly while finally putting her phone down on the table.

“I think so. I remember you posted that meet on instagram. You tagged me in it.” Wani said while stirring her orange juice.

“Oh yeah. Let me look for it.” Suraya unlocked her phone and started scrolling until she found the picture and showed it to Wani, proof that she was indeed looking for that picture.

Wani and Suraya had been friends in secondary school. They wouldn’t call themselves BFFs by any measure, but they had their occasional late-night pillow talks. And when they found out that they worked quite close-by each other through facebook after five years of studying apart, they decided for a get-together around a month ago. They didn’t talk about much, just regular catching up kind of things. And now, after a text conversation initiated by Suraya, they were breaking fast with each other.

“Oh hey, you went to Rashid’s wedding!” Wani said after scrolling down a few pictures since Suraya didn’t seem to mind. Although she followed close to four hundred people on instagram, Wani never really did any scrolling through her feed. She mostly just checked the pictures she was tagged in from time to time. And she wasn’t tagged in any of her old classmate’s recent wedding.

“Yeah, it was great! His wife is soo pretty! Why didn’t you go?” Suraya said with enthusiasm and curiosity.

“Em, if I’m not mistaken, I had school that Saturday, so I couldn’t make the drive. Jauh la.” Wani exhaled with furrowed brows.

“Oh yeah, cuti ganti’s still a thing in schools huh? Haha. I took several pictures at the wedding. Isn’t his wife just lovely?” Suraya smiling widely as she talked.

“Yeah, she is pretty. Would be prettier if she wore a tudung though.” Wani commented as-a-matter-of-fact-ly. She looked up when she didn’t hear any response from Suraya. “What’s the matter?”

“Erm, I think her tudung has nothing to do with whether or not she’s pretty. After all, she’s the person I’m complimenting. What she chooses to wear has nothing to do with it.” Suraya was speaking with a lowered voice now, but she still made sure that she was heard.

“No, I didn’t mean it that way. I meant, it would be better for her if she wore a tudung.” Wani said wanting to dissolve what she felt was tension.

“And how would it be better for her if she wore a tudung?” Suraya didn’t seem to be soothed by Wani’s change in choice of words.

“You know, she wouldn’t be sinning if she wore a tudung. You know this, right?” Wani couldn’t understand why this was getting Suraya so upset.

Suraya took a long breathe before responding. “Even if she chooses to not wear a tudung, she is still not committing any sins. Did you know that not anywhere in the Quran is stated that women need to wear a tudung?” Suraya tried her best not to seem too angry, but she wasn’t doing the best of jobs.

“Ya la it’s not wajib for us to wear tudung. It is, though, wajib for us to cover our aurah. And our hair is part of our aurah.” Wani was starting to get irritated by Suraya’s lack of respect for their religion.

“Says who? Your ustaz? Ustazah? Where did they hear that from? Their ustaz and ustazah? We have to go straight to the source, Wani. Look at what the Quran says. It states specifically, in the verse I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with as well, Surah anNur verse 31: and drape a cover over their bosoms. Nowhere in the Quran says anything about covering your hair.” Suraya was getting furious, Wani could tell. But she wasn’t backing down.

“Again, the issue isn’t the hair. It’s the aurah. It’s our aurah! Our whole bodies are our aurah, except for our faces and our hands!” Wani didn’t expect to raise her voice, but there was no backing down now.

“I beg to differ! The women in the Prophet’s time couldn’t have regarded their hair as part of their aurah. Most of them couldn’t afford to, since they had to work the fields to fend for themselves in a society whose misogyny was exactly what the Prophet was trying to get rid of. You think wearing a hijab in Malaysia is hot? Try wearing it in the deserts of Arabia your whole life without the help of air-conditioners or even electric fans!” Suraya was really starting to get fired up.

“If you hate the tudung so much, why are you wearing it then?” Wani was definitely baffled by this. Suraya was a hijabi. Why did she hold such a grudge against the hijab and still choose to wear it?

“Because I am emulating the wives of the Prophet, may peace be upon him! They were the only ones who were specifically told by God to hijab themselves from men. They didn’t work the fields. They were protected. And since I have the luxury of being able to emulate them without persecution or other worries, I choose to do so. It doesn’t mean that people who choose otherwise are worse Muslims! They deserve the same amount of respect as any other Muslim woman! And if you can’t see that, then,” the sound of the azan, the call to prayer broke Suraya’s speech. She noticed that she was at the edge of her seat, so she adjusted her sitting and took a bite from a date that was provided for them by the restaurant. She felt that the air around her suddenly became thicker.

Wani ate her date without making any eye contact with Suraya. She just concentrated on the plate of rice in front of her.

The two hijab-clad women ate their meals in silence.