Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Firstly, I apologise. I'm sorry that this letter is a few days late. Been busy. I am also sorry for dropping spaghetti sauce onto your dress during your birthday meal. Really didn't mean to do it. Since I'm at it, I might as well apologise for the rest of the annoying things I've done to you in life. (Beating your head with a badminton racket as a child comes to mind). Sorry.
I have a lot to apologise for. If there was a report card for one's performance as an Eldest Sibling, I probably have a 'Distinction' for the section on "Being Annoying". If anything, that 'Distinction' is probably underlined, in italic and bolded gold; that's just how annoying I've been.
This letter is an attempt to make up for all that. It is a sincere piece of advice – more sincere than any typical RM50 note I normally give you for your birthday.
So, here it is:
You know very well that I am annoyed whenever I see you smiling at the mirror. Whenever you ask me "am I pretty?" I never fail to answer with a sincerely disgusted/dismissive grunt. So it will most probably surprise you that I'm saying this:
You are beautiful.
I just hate it that you have to rely on a camera to convince yourself that you are.
A mirror doesn't tell you how much you mean to your family and friends. Mama, Papa and I know your true beauty – and it's more than skin deep. You are a bright, intelligent and fun young woman. Your personality is more precious than any piece of jewelry or make-up you have. Unfortunately, you lose that beauty sometimes.
You lose your beauty when you smile more genuinely for the mirror, the camera or your friends than to your family. And you are plain ugly when you raise your voice to your parents.
Danny is one person who looks up to your beauty. All he does today seems (to me, at least) to be a reflection of you. He is like you, smart, funny and annoyingly hyperactive. However, like a mirror, he also reflects the worst of you. Don't you hate it when he raises his voice with you? Don't you know you are exactly like that against Mama and Papa sometimes?
One look in the mirror will confirm that you are a fashionable lady. But ask yourself: are you classy? Do you see one who relies on the strength of her own principles or the power of the 'current trend'? I just hate it that you can be so superficial. The comments I hear all too often from you are along the lines of: "She's so pretty", or "I wonder what make-up she uses", or "Ma, can we go to the saloon so I can have her hairstyle?"
The best look for you is YOURS, not Selena Gomez's. You are most beautiful when you are yourself. And to be yourself you must have your own principles.
Keep this in mind: fashion is temporary, but class is forever.
I'm going to sound like Nenek on this next one:
You are beautiful. But there is something else more beautiful: your religion. Unlike Nenek, though, I'm not gonna tell you (melodramatically) to wear a tudung or anything. It's something you have to decide for yourself. I think the answer will be clear after you know you religion. You just have to try.
I feel guilty for saying all this. I know I've not been the best eldest child. Two years ago, I left for PLKN, and a year later, to KMB. I have been cold, distant and rude to Mama and Papa. I've made Mama cry. Lately, I haven't even been around. You have done very well filling in for me as the eldest child of this house, Dik. I am both grateful and proud of you for that.
I guess I'm telling you all this because I need you to keep up the good work. If all goes according to plan, and if God is willing, I will go overseas and barely be around for the next 5 years. I need your score as an Eldest Sibling to be a 'Distinction', and not just beside the "Most Annoying" section like me.
I will never admit face to face that you are beautiful. Perhaps that is why I have to write this letter to tell you all this. But you are beautiful. I just hope that you don't need a mirror or camera to tell you that.
Happy Birthday, Dik.
Hehe...I know I promised you i won't post this pictures. Sorry, I have to. The 'Distinction' I have for "Being Annoying" requires me to do this :p
-work of non-fiction-
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Assalamualaikum dan selamat sejahtera,
Perhatian kepada semua pelajar KMB,
The other day, I met Baki (not his actual name), who told me something which brought me down:
"Mike", he said, "why did you have to make that announcement just now?"
To understand the gravity of his statement, let me tell you a little bit about my job in my college. I am the head of the Public Relations Bureau, which is actually a fancied-up name for a very tedious job – making announcements over the college's PA system. I have been on the job for about 6 months now, and my voice has pretty much become synonymous with announcements.
"Do you know?" Baki continued, "people have become sad at the sound of your voice?"
"Why?" I asked unpretentiously.
"Well, it's just that your voice is always telling us what to do and where to go…imagine how it makes us feel"
Imagine how that made me feel.
Let me get this clear: I am not in love with my job. Yes, I do feel a sense of contentment that my voice is heard, that I have the honour of disseminating info across the college. But the contentment weighs little when compared to the drawbacks of this job.
This job forces me to be "on-call" for approximately 16 hours per day. It is not uncommon for me to be asked to make an announcement just as I am settling in to relax for the day (usually around 6p.m.). Baki himself has asked me to make an announcement calling semi-finalists to his Petanque Club's tournament. That was at 5.45p.m., and I was just settling in for a nap. Instead of resting my eyes, I had to get out of bed, walk all the way to the Warden's Office and make the announcement. At the same time the very next day, Baki asked me to make another announcement - this time for the finals of the tournament.
I would often get messages from people asking me to make an announcement in minutes. No drafts. No rehearsals. Just the announcement. I get such messages all the time. In fact, I would say that 25% of all my messages in the past 6 months starts with the word "Mike, can u pls make an announcement bout…".
But the people who ask me to make those announcements are good people (yes, even Baki). They would thank me, and with a smile, I would tell them: "Don't worry, its my job". As indeed it is. It just saddens me that I am becoming defined by my job. That people look for my face merely because they have something to tell everyone. That, like my namesake, my function is merely to amplify someone's voice, and nothing more.
Today I made a grand total of 6 announcements – which is a record in this college. Maybe that is why I feel the need to unload all my stress here. I am sorry. I realize this job is my responsibility, and I plan to do it well.
But I just want you to remember one thing: that when you hear me making an announcement in the (near) future, you will not gripe at the sound of my voice. Realize that I may not be enjoying making the announcement either.
Try to hear past my voice, and try hearing my heart too.
Sekian, harap maklum.
-work of non-fiction-
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
The examination hall was pin-drop silent, as an examination hall was supposed to be. There was, however, a hushed discomfort thick in the air; an unspoken anguish. But the teacher in charge of the hall was content. All was well.
The quiet was interrupted by the sound of a pencil being put down. Then a chair being pushed back. The noise was repulsing in its abruptness, but the uneasy silence engulfed the sound as quickly as it had emerged.
Silence once again.
The teacher's bespectacled eyes followed the boy ambling ever so slowly toward her. She sighed as the boy mumbled an inaudible excuse to leave the hall. The teacher never really like that boy. Too noisy. Too animated. A typical class clown.
Silence once again.
Then a strange thud from the outside – though not exactly a thud. It was more like a sickening cracking sound, with the undertone of a sodden impact. The teacher's eyes widened behind her thick glasses. The silence once again broken as her shoes click-clacked swiftly towards the door. A piercing shriek escaped her lips as her eyes met the revolting sight three storeys below.
Silence once again.
As people gathered, stunned. The boy's body lay disfigured by the great fall onto solid concrete. A halo of blood spread from his crushed head.
Later they would find that the boy's exam paper, under a pencil, an eraser, and his ruler; arranged neatly as if he would come back anytime to continue his Biology essay. But the paper did not contain any diagrams of liver cells, or explanations on energy flows in an ecosystem.
Instead, after his name and his class, the 3-page note, in his scrawly writing, began with the words:
"The mask I wear is that of a clown, and I wear it well. But it only serves to hide my tears, for no one cares about the tears of a clown…"