Saturday, November 21, 2015

We Are All Actors

“Actors – actors Pok Deng, do you think they see those people at the benches?” questioned Al. It was raining heavily that evening.
“What?” I replied, bewildered.
“God, Pok Deng! A theater stage, there are actors acting,” Al grunted, “Do you think they see people watching?”
“They don’t, I suppose.”
“You shouldn’t be one,” said Al before sipping his tea. “Be the one who watches instead. The problem with you, Pok Deng, is that you see them but never observe.”
“I am observant,” I defended myself.
“But you never learn anything from them,” Al reprimanded. He continued, "You can't be anywhere better than at a bus station for crowd watching. Lots of weird people over there showing different characters, idiosyncrasies, awkward social interaction. One day I saw one man wearing a ring with big gemstone on his every finger..."
"Long time haven't been at bus station, mate," I said.
"You never learn," Al replied, took another sip of his tea. He seemed uninterested to tell me more about people at the bus station.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Devil Within

People are so drifted with fear of hypocrisy. I embrace hypocrisy for crying out loud, if you define hypocrisy as ‘false profession of desirable publicly approved qualities’. Had I obeyed the devil within, I would have been so vulgar, pervert and harsh at my workplace.
My creed was shaken to its core a month after I signed my tenure agreement. Forgive me; I did not spank any young lady’s bottom. I had a quarrel with my former lab superior over a dispute about whether I should be her shadows, trailing her every step in the organization as a lad manipulated to do all the jobs while she can take care of her personal business or commit treason by choosing someone else with better skills and profound knowledge as my rightful superior. She had unpleasant views of a man I was about to work with. Dirty workplace politics. Then we had a fight through email. It was a nitpicking and rebuttal game in which I wished not to prolong as before my very eyes was a woman who possessed a very weak reasoning (quality of a bad scientist), so weak that I thought I might have gotten better comebacks if I had an argument with a dud coconut. My ambition, career path, and future were matters which she selfishly chose to overlook. She has finally known my true colours – sarcastic, outspoken, a formidable wordsmith forging letters for destruction. That was the last time I spoke to her, and then silently clad myself again under the veil of hypocrisy.
Men really are a minority at my department. I find it difficult to find an apprentice among them who are willing to inherit a responsibility which I am slowly developing distaste for. It would be the same person carrying out duty as an imam of any congregation, leader of khatam Quran ceremony, sometimes source of general Islamic jurisprudence. It is pretty straight forward to be one – you must be fluent pronouncing Arab words, possess excellent clarity in speech, confidence that moves a mountain. I have all those qualities perfectly covering my fallible spiritual virtue. I understand very clearly that they cared not the meaning of the prayers. So do I. They would amin in unison whenever the prayers reach a comma. Food matters the most. Roasted lamb & cheese cakes. May they know the man reciting prayers out loud at my workplace’s every social event also has the devil within.
In jest, a few of elderly ladies at my workplace proposed me to be their son-in-law. You know, it is heartwarming looking at a lad donning perfectly matched turquoise baju melayu paired with navy sampin wrapped around his loin, sitting cross-legged politely, body rocking to the sine wave rhythm of mass zikir. Pretentiously, giggled a little in embarrassment, I said I am nowhere near a fine gentleman for their dear daughters. I learnt how to say that from watching movies. If they hear my inner voice or see images in my mind, they must have warned their daughters to stay away from this creep.
After dissing my former lab superior until she hurt so bad that she took few days leave to lick her wound, I lead my life as a quiet man at my workplace – too quiet that every day I wished I come and go unnoticed like a cat out of its nightly prowls. I was told by my colleague that she badmouthed me in front of my boss. My subconscious saw disappointment in his eyes, a hint of regret for letting me in permanent position. Regaining his trust took me three years. Bootlicking I must not.
Hypocrisy saves me from more troubles over here. I wonder whether I define hypocrisy well herein. There is indeed a gap between feeling and action. Hard to accept it is already written somewhere in the divine realm that I must walk through this path. Perhaps it is just a way of cleansing bad vibes hovering my skin every now and then. Perhaps one day you will see me as a soft-spoken man wearing enormous serban, large white beard, white robe, talking about Sufi stuff like Hakikat Insan and shit.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Lady In Gown & The Man With Big Smile

From the very beginning, I knew you would not make it. I wanted to tell you I was walking alone in between shelves, rows of shelves displaying canned foods, potato chips, cereals in colourful boxes, things of different shapes and colours. People milled around pushing trolleys filled with their goods, adults reading small labels, children chatters in every corner, air smelled of a hint of floor detergent, and there was a lady in oversize gown covering her bulging belly standing somewhere nearby. While I was placing the can of sardine back on the shelf... back... on... the... wait, what?! Something caught my eyes, my mind. Something had come out from memories long dormant. The lady in gown, the lady in gown! Where is she?! I had to look at her again. I must look at her again. Just to be sure. Where is she?
Bewildered, I paced about the surrounding area, carefully searching for the apparition. I couldn't find the lady so heart told me that I should go away immediately by then, and I did, hurriedly.
Big steps forward, bigger steps, faster, breathing heavily. I felt cold in my chest as breeze of the air conditioned hall seeped through in between threads of the sweat blotted front flap of my cotton t-shirt. My palms too, quivering at the same time. Suddenly, the lady loomed from somewhere in front of me, facing, startling me. A big man with a big smile trailed her seconds later then curled his arm around the lady's hip.
"Pok Deng?" a voice so low saying my name. It was you.
 Your recognizable features – mole above your lip caught my attention, your cheek bone, the thick nasal bone, small skull wreckable by a hammer swing.
"So now is this what I put the point where our paths crossed many years ago?" I thought to myself.
"H-h-how are you?" you asked me, stuttering.
People near us screamed suddenly. A thud sound. Another thud and a groan. More thuds. Some goods fell from the shelf. There, the moment I had waited so long. Some men threw themselves in, attempting to stop the commotion. After some resistance, I heard the sound of broken stitches behind my back then a split second later I saw myself flown backwards as a man pulled my shirt from the back. An abrupt silence. Onlookers grown numbers. The man with big smile was helping himself to stand up, brushing his nosebleed with the back of his palm, coughing.
"You!" I roared with bloodshot eyes, finger pointing at you. "FUCK YOU! You expect me that I had forgotten everything you had done to me?! Happy now, huh?! You got your happiness from ruining someone's life!"

"You piece of...," I lost my word in my quivering voice, hesitated, then fled the scene feeling contented, embarrassed at the same time.
That is the scene from my imagination. I think too much. Of course it did not happen. It never will as the man with the big smile whom you boasted The Right One many years ago is married to someone else now, not you. It was an pleasurable moment after knowing all your hope has turned to crumbling dust. Please accept defeat.
Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha.  Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Loser. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha. Ha.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hakikat Insan

The road I never chose.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Lemon tarts. Valencia orange tarts. Oregano bread. Cinnamon roll. Apple crostata. Pear crostata. Aglio olio spaghetti. Pesto spaghetti. Chicken curry. Fish head curry. Fried rice. Tom yam. Beef soup. Lemon tart again, but a little less tangy. Orange tart. Baking and cooking are my current obsession. I think I will be a good husband with these self taught skills.
You don't want to invite me to any football match. I don't know jack about football. But I'll invite you to my place where you yes yes yes please chop the cilantro for me while I saute the shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Pass me the salt, please. Thank you. We will wait for the spaghetti cooked al dente (I don't know what that means, anyway). I will pretentiously plate the pesto spaghetti on a big round white plate like Jamie Oliver does. We will sit facing each at a small table with dried flower stalks placed in an empty glass jar in the middle. We will see each other's face showered with incandescent light that colours everything warm. We will let the television back there blare whatever appears on screen so that we could sense extra company. We will talk about almost anything in particular except football. We'll go deep into our nation's politics and their clowns. We will exchange stale jokes. We'll wash the dishes together then close the night with a cup of my watered down version of affogato and a slice of lemon tart. Bitter and sweet, just like our future will be.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

He Is Alive

Mat Jeng with a baby stroller. Photo source.
He is still alive and kickin'. I wrote about him some time ago. A reader had probably mistaken my Mat Jeng and the one from his memories. He is surely not dead as I found a Facebook page dedicated to bringing news related with Dungun published a photo of Mat Jeng seen pushing a baby stroller yesterday. The caption under the photo says, in a thick Terengganuspeak:

"legend dungun...dari admin skoloh lg mmg takut ke mat jeng kdang2 sakit ati tgk budok2 brahi sangat khianat ke dia..padahal dia dok cara ke orang pun..mat jeng mat jeng..aku eluk mu kang aku iyum mungg..hehe ayat femes dia"

"This is Dungun's legendary figure. Ever since my (the page admin) school days I was very afraid of Mat Jeng but sometimes my heartstrings were torn by children who loved making fool out of him whenever he never brings problem to anybody. 

O Mat Jeng.

'Aku eluk mu kang aku iyum mung (I'll hug you, I'll kiss you)'.

Hehe that is his words known by everybody."

The comment section was swarmed with colourful remarks and childhood memories about Mat Jeng from Dungun netizens. Someone says the bicuk (swollen flesh) on this forehead has gone. Another observant Mat Jeng's researcher said Mat Jeng should have been given Innovation Award for his creativity in adding accessories to his stroller. It seems like everybody loves him.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Mother's Hunch

Mother was very fond of her that she couldn't wait any longer to tell me about it the very same day she coincidentally met her at a nearby car service centre they visited to recently. I said I didn't want to get to know this young woman I barely know but she said "who knows someday it might work out." I hold my ground that I would never dream about mustering up courage to date this some random girl Mother found somewhere down the street.
Mother pictured her as a petite, fair, polite, demure lass coming from a state up north of Terengganu. She shuffled daily between a rental house and her white-collar profession at a nearby general hospital in Dungun. Her genuine smile has stolen Mother's soul by the time Mother walked over to the entrance. From then on, she seeped through Mother's heart with her impeccable manners as she spoke.
Their encounter had sparked quite a merry conversation leading to some awkward interrogation. She blushingly said "no man has ever shown interest to me" as henna painted ornaments on her hand beckoned Mother's curiosity. She got that from her role as clamp bride at her cousin's wedding recently.
"You can befriend my son!" Mother spouted the unthinkable. Well, that was what Mother told me.
"Jange lah gitu, malu lah sayo..." she said, demurely in her thick Kelantanese accent. I feel embarrased of myself.
"He too has no special friend," Mother told her about my life. Almost true. "Just like you, he's just got himself a job." Nope, not true. I have been sitting behind desk for two years now whereas she was just six months. Mother told me that she told her later that I just got a job after graduating from a local university and she responded, "malu lah sayo..." and "sayo blaja setakak STP jah..." A self esteem-issue probably: I am an university graduate and she was a village damsel who had just finished high-school. Mother said it's alright with that. Neither of us in the family sees oneself from such worldly perspectives.
Mother told me that the girl's mother is a widow. Mother also is but Father died whereas hers found separation a better way to true happiness. It happened when she was still small. Mother also didn't forget to mention that the girl's car registration number was very similar to mine. Such an interesting coincidence. She admitted no young woman has ever attracted her but this one named Intan is probably one of a kind. Mother thought she might be the one. It was a mother's hunch.
Intan said "mitok maaf lah mok cik (I'm sorry, aunty)." 
It was a body roll effect of Intan's Perodua Viva as she was taking a sharp corner. Mother was slightly pushed left against the door panel. Mother said it's okay. A few minutes later, Intan dropped Mother by the entrance gate of our house. Mother's car was left at the service centre.
Mother told me about this hours later. She gave me Intan's phone number. She told me to let the heart do the decision. I cannot give my word because I was already drawn to someone else before Mother met Intan.