web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: December 2004
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Friday, December 31, 2004
I will be with You, Again

new years day

All is quiet on New Year's Day,
A world in white gets underway,
And I want to be with you,
Be with you night and day.
Nothing changes on New Year's Day.
I will be with you again.
I will be with you again.
Under a blood-red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white.
Arms entwined, the chosen few,
Newspapers say, it says it's true.
And we can break through,
though torn in two we can be one.
I will begin again, I will begin again.
Oh and maybe the time is right,
Oh maybe tonight.
I will be with you again.
I will be with you again.
And so we are told this is the golden age
And gold is the reason for the wars we wage.
Though I want to be with you,
To be with you night and day.

Nothing changes on New Year's day.

Randoms things I have learnt in the past year :

  1. Blogging is bloody addictive
  2. Blogging is addictive because it is self-indulgent and oh, people get to like me (yay)
  3. I am notorious for self-censorship
  4. I can actually survive without shopping sprees
  5. If you don't go on shopping sprees, a substantial amount of your income can actually pay for your children's education, fuel, water and electricity. You know, other stuff.
  6. You can force your dreams to come true, so long as it doesn't involve Brad Pitt.
  7. When you deal with clients adopt the "Bob the Builder philosophy". Anything they ask, say "Yes, We Can!"
  8. Even if your husband wears his hair long, he will not resemble Anuar Zain. He will look like your husband with long hair.
  9. My children do not have a future in comedy. Ilham does.
  10. I do have courage.

And courage will see me though the next year. Welcome to 2005, everyone!


Thursday, December 30, 2004
Thank You!!

You guys are wonderful! I am so sorry I haven't been able to respond to all the comments on haloscan, because I am trying to get a sense of what needs to be done as well. At the moment, I'm just helping out MRCS with their PR, just the legwork, mind you, since they do have The Datuk Ahmad Talib as Chairman of Publicity.

I get the feeling that with so much to do, the Red Crescent is just happy with any help they can get. Don't expect to receive instructions -- at the HQ they're usually talking to at least three people at the same time. The simplest task is to man the phones. People call with enquiries about donations every single minute, and most of the callers can't speak either Bahasa or English. MRCS is also starting a tracing service for missing persons during this disaster, so I think they'd be overwhelmed.

Simplest task : answer phones. Qualifications : patience and a sense of humor. Extra skill urgently needed : ability to speak in various Chinese dialects.

If there are enough people, we can organise a roster among ourselves.

I know a lot of people are organising a clothes drive; this is very noble. However, I'm sure many have read the headlines on Malay Mail today -- the desperate need is for body bags. Therefore, if you have second hand clothes, may I suggest setting up a jumble sale, and then using the money to buy as much plastic sheets as you can. You can make an affair out of it, have a bakesale etc., get your kids involved. Or you can just go round with a hat or botol or tin Milo and collect small cash from colleagues, friends and relatives.

So second task : Donate money or donate plastic sheets. Of course, they still need tents, blankets, jerry cans, cooking utensils, torch lights and medicines, if you can give lor.

Anyone wishing to do more, like Mack, Amir, Red, Yeen and Noli, you can e-mail me at mokciknab@yahoo.com or tengku.elida@suhaimisulaiman.net

Again, thank you! Bloggers are not the cakap tak serupa bikin kind, apparently :)


Wednesday, December 29, 2004
MRCS needs You

The Malaysian Red Crescent Society will be emphasising on its international relief efforts, apart from helping tsunami victims at home. In particular, they will be providing aid in Acheh, which is bearing the brunt of this horrific disaster.

They have already sent a team to Acheh, and is expected to send another soon. This is where your help is most needed. Our heart goes out to those affected in Perlis, Penang and Kedah, but their welfare is pretty much well taken of by government agencies and relief operations here. But Acheh -- I trust you've seen the pictures on TV. I have no words to describe the sheer magnitude of the tragedy.

MRCS needs volunteers, especially doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, midwives, and engineers. If you can't offer services, send donations in kind. They need plastic sheets, tents, blankets, jerry cans, cooking utensils, medicines and if you can, water filtration systems. They also need medicines for water-borne diseases, which I don't have the list for right now. If you have means or contacts for transport in Sumatra, or to the island (cargo ships, planes whatever!!), please lend a helping hand. Malaysia Airlines have offered free flights for relief workers, but any other large scale transport would definitely be a help.

There would be a press conference tomorrow, and there should be more details then. This has been called the "greatest humanitarian crisis in history". You, the living and the able, should be a part of it.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004
"...melaporkan untuk Buletin Utama"

There's a small storm of sorts in my comments box, as wry wit awakens wrath. Hansac, I get what you meant : I shouldn't be surprised that TV stations sometimes put profit before pity. You're not entirely wrong, I'm afraid, but money is not the only motivation. A media organization in Malaysia is also moved by political purpose and patronage, and in this case, I am even more surprised that these considerations didn't come into play.

Perhaps not enough mokciks are complaining. Perhaps people really want to party, and here you may insert the teenage battle cry for freedom : it's a democracy.

Hansac, however, also included a reference to journalists in his comment, thereby equating these overworked souls with their evil employers. ( I meant this tongue in cheek. All employers are evil, whether in media or not) It's tempting to paint them with the same brush and confuse a station or a newspaper's stance with that of an individual journalist. It's a misconception that is hard to refute. You assume everyone who works at Utusan votes for the ruling party, yes? And journos for Malaysiakini must be bleeding heart liberals. And every one assumes in disaster or tragedy, a reporter is only interested in the story, because it'll sell.

Despite the shield of objectivity, I know of few journalists who can be totally stoic in the face of calamity. Nobody goes out there with a tape recorder and thinks of making money for the company. Nobody can sit in a morgue with wailing mothers, wives, sisters, brothers and not think of their own mothers, wives, sisters, brothers. Nobody ever forgets the face on a dead body. For every terrible story that comes out on TV or the papers, there is so much more that remains untold, so much more that was seen and heard first-hand by journalists that could not go to print. Reporters are people who know too much. That's why they numb themselves with cigarettes, or worse.

To some extent, cold-bloodedness does occur in a newsroom. On a slow day, I have seen editors pouncing upon accident reports with the question : Berapa orang mati? (How many dead?) An editor's main concern is his news bulletin, that he has enough stories to fill up the minutes, and that the stories has the right measure of correctness and spin so as not to put his boss or patron in political jeopardy. He has few hours to conjure this up, during which time he is a highly-strung, results-only-please kind a guy. Perhaps some editors weep over dead children at the end of the day, I don't know. At the end of the day, most are just happy it's over.

Reporters, editors and producers are cogs in a wheel, but they don't will the wheel to turn this way and that. They are not blameless, to be sure, but what they feel about a story matters little to the politico-media machine. I am dissapointed at the people who made the decision to continue celebrating at all costs. The cost of fireworks alone can repair so many houses in Kuala Muda. Isn't politics the art of the possible? Sadly, we can't even get past the do-able.

Here's something very do-able : donate to the MRCS fund. Thanks Mack Zulkifli for taking the trouble of setting this up. If you wish to donate directly to MRCS, you may send the money in person or send crossed cheques or money orders in favour of the MRCS Relief Fund, with "Tidal Wave Appeal" written at the back, to the following address:

The Secretary General
Malaysian Red Crescent Society
National Headquarters
JKR 32 Jalan Nipah,
Off Jalan Ampang,
55000 Kuala Lumpur

Donations in kind may also be sent direct to the above address. Victims in the northern states need food, warm clothing and blankets. You may also volunteer, and tasks could be as simple as sorting out clothes to be sent over. For further inquiries, call (603) 42578122. If you want to make a major, major donation and want to contact the PR Shuhana, email me and I'll put you in touch.


Monday, December 27, 2004

My deepest condolences to the casualties of the tsunami which swept through Penang, Kedah and Perlis. Our friend, Kamarul, who is from Perlis, lost one family member. He said some others are still lost at sea.

Maybe this is just me, but I think it would be extremely callous for anyone to even think of partying at this point. I was watching the news last night, and it was disconcerting to see pictures of the limp, soaked bodies of dead children, carried by rescue workers to shore; and then the next instant be bombarded with TV promos for the concert on New Years' Eve.

If I were running the TV station (and that would happen, oh say, in a hundred years) I would quietly advise my sponsor to cancel the show, and channel the budget to the grief stricken victims in the northern states. The TV station can still make a big do out of it, send reporters on site, broadcast live cross-overs. The sponsor gets maximum coverage, it's money well spent, and best of all, both TV station and sponsor extend their branding as sensitive, responsible corporate citizens.

But you know what? I think they won't want a little water to spoil the party. I do hope this is one time a persnickety mokcik is proven wrong.


Thursday, December 23, 2004
Last Weekend

Last weekend, I was in Ipoh. For some people, that’s information enough to elicit a knowing look. I wasn’t going to blog about it, but because nothing exciting has happened to me all week and also because Elisa requested it, here you go.

You see, also in Ipoh last weekend was Anwar Ibrahim. Yes, the the. It was the first time the iconoclast appeared before a crowd in his official capacity as Advisor to Parti Keadilan Rakyat, and many saw it as a barometer of his support for the Opposition. Every little word, gesture, wink, turn of head will be interpreted and analysed to second-guess what the man will do next. Will he back the people who stood for him during his incarceration or will he turn his back and take the easiest road to Premier league? Do you suppose his options would be so limited? We’d probably be surprised by the choice he will take.

At any rate, this is not a political piece, this is a fly-on-the-wall, I’ll-tell-you-‘cos-you weren’t-there piece. The last thing I want to do is tell people what they should believe in.

My job in Ipoh was to emcee three events for the National Congress of Parti Keadilan Rakyat. This was to be their first grand meeting after the marriage of the two parties, Keadilan and PRM. The venue of the Congress was Dewan Tow Boo Keong, on Jalan Tokong, essentially a pair of halls built around a Buddhist temple. Apparently, no other venue had the guts to host Anwar Ibrahim. Given the aims of the party, perhaps a Buddhist temple is indeed, apt. It was heartening to see temple workers in the flurry of activity, working hard to ensure everything turns out right for a party that is still largely dominated by Malays.

Despite the “Malay-ness” of the event (same crowd, posh surroundings; and you would be forgiven to think this was the UMNO General Assembly) I could see the seeds of the Malaysiana that PKR wants so much to sow. Particularly impressive is the Angkatan Muda, the youth wing which I think reflects the road ahead for PKR. Breaking away from the men-only membership of the “Pemuda” template, Angkatan Muda is slowly being populated by the idealistic twenty somethings, who I have to admit, are cleverer and more well read than my generation. These people, young men and women of various ethnic backgrounds, are the antithesis of those too caught up in the quest for a quick buck to think about principles and philosophy; those still toiling on the lower rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Admittedly, the old guards are still there, and some still hold sway in party elections, while these young turks, they look more comfortable in the KLUE office than political office. But at the Congress, they were the ones doing the work, and soon enough I’m sure their spirit and enthusiasm would just steam-roll the hitherto aimless Angkatan Muda into the right direction. I just hope politicking won’t kill them before then.

But enough boring stuff, what of Anwar? On Saturday morning, the Congress held its Officiating Ceremony, and guest of honour was the President, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah. The place was packed to the brim; every one expected Anwar to make an appearance, even though that wasn’t part of the proceedings. After a needless “pemeriksaan perbarisan” ,which I thought was a silly relic from an UMNO past, Kak Wan and the rest of the party officials took their places on stage. The crowd was invited to sing Negaraku, and the party song. The lights were then dimmed, and a screen drifted down as the crowd heard an aural reminder of the evening of September 20th, 1998, the commotion of police and pleadings. Then the pictures : his arrest, the black eye, people on the streets. In the dark I quickly made my way to Datuk Salleh, the major domo for the event. He was on the far right of the stage, next to huge speakers.

“What now?”, I whispered.

“Tengku”, Datuk Salleh said, “have you met Anwar Ibrahim?”

He gestured towards a man in the shadows. It was Pak Sheikh, indeed. We greeted, but Anwar Ibrahim was understandably, more interested in the visuals on show. He was looking at the fire he started, with furrowed brows.

“This is the first time he is seeing this”, explained Adlin, his aide. “He never knew the extent of what was happening outside”.

Without announcement, Anwar made his way on stage, and a small light illuminated his presence. The crowd went mad. He held up his right hand. Old women wept, dabbing their tears with the edge of their tudungs. If the purpose of this drama was to remind Anwar of the sacrifice of these people, and to make him feel guilty about any plans of abandoning them, I would think they hit the mark.

Anwar spoke a few lines and then sat down among the delegates to hear his wife speak. I saw that they were making googly eyes at each other at some points.

The Advisor to PKR was however, scheduled to speak at a dinner later that night. They roped me in as emcee for that event, too. “It’s going to be a casual affair, but build up the momentum”, said Datuk Salleh. .”People would be eating beginning 6.30, but Anwar would be here only at nine”.

Thinking that we had time, my husband and I decided we’d buy a meal somewhere else. When we arrived at the temple at 8 pm, Anwar Ibrahim was already working the crowd, shaking hands with delegates on the floor. My head was screaming panic, and it got worse because there was a launching of a website that I had no idea about, which I only knew about as Kak Wan was about to climb onstage. Anwar was calm about it : “you don’t know anything about it? Then we relax.” Egads, it’s hard to relax when I still saw him as the No 2 and Minister of Finance, smugly testing reporters on economic theories.

Things were eventually sorted out, and after speeches by Dr Wan Azizah and Dr Syed Hussin Ali, the Deputy President, it was time to introduce the man himself. I made it short, and he literally took over. There was no doubt, 6 years in captivity has not doused the blaze that is Anwar Ibrahim. His speech was peppered with snatches of old songs and quotes from French philosophers and Chinese wisemen, and a good dose of charisma. The cynic in me would call it political posturing, but I do believe he was genuinely trying to bring his audience to another level, this time. And his audience never diminished. The function was held in an open-air site, and apart from PKR members who packed underneath huge tents to listen to their equivalent of Che Guevera, others stopped in the streets and stood on road dividers to catch a glimpse, reeled in by his words. You can read the estimation of an objective journalist here, and read the comments, too, if you want a reality check. You can download his speech somewhere on the same website.

I really don’t know if the appearance marked the Return of Anwar Ibrahim, because really, nobody knows where he wishes to return to. (When reporters asked if he would go back into government, he reportedly replied “Sure, which government?) In my introduction that night, I read a fatuous pantun which goes :

Manis sungguh gadis Permatang
Pipinya halus pauh dilayang
Gembira kami Kak Wan nak datang
Datang membawa Abang tersayang.

The assembly roared its approval, and he turned towards me with a genial, conspirational smile. Ah, that’s Anwar Ibrahim all right, just as I remembered him as Deputy Prime Minister.


Thursday, December 16, 2004
Thanks for the Comments!

It is so heartening to see so many responses to the tudung post. I am humbled by the support. A special thanks (and bravo!) to all the women who related their similar experiences and stood up for what they believed in.

Afiq asked why women in hijab are sometimes regarded unfavourably. There's a lot of reasons why this is happening -- and I admit it is also partly our own fault. Maybe I'll write what I think in another post, when I am not swamped with work and obligations *long sigh*. In the meantime, please don't think I'm demonising anyone, muslims, non muslims, hijab or no hijab. We all need to understand each other and why we do certain things. Ignorance is the devil itself. Darkness, after all, is the absence of light.

Again, thanks for sharing!


Shameless Plugging or You Want to Makan Nasi Dagang or Not?

Okay, since we got it wrong the first time. here's a gentle reminder that voting for Best Malaysian Blog has officially begun. Go here to vote for Pok Ku! Vote once a day! There's a nasi dagang party at stake here.

Encik Mack Zulkifli, yes, you can be campaign manager. :) We'll campaign for you next year because your blog is excellente!

I was also looking out for Dina's GongKapas but she must have declined nomination. (Haiyah, what a shame!) I was planning to split my votes. At any rate, the process has highlighted some plum sites - I'm already reading the usual (and highly deserving) suspects : Macvaysia, Nik Nazmi, TV Smith and but of course, Jeff Ooi. But I was delighted to also discover Rajan. Go to the voting site, and read them all.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004
What's So Funny 'bout Peace, Love and Understanding

My last post must have hit a raw nerve somewhere because so many have had similar experiences. Thanks for sharing. However, I particularly liked what Ray said, that it does work both ways, too. Bottom line : we tend to judge people by their appearances; and that we desperately need to move beyond circles of our own kind.

Has anyone been reading Malaysia Today? After all the free publicity in Harian Metro, I'm sure many have logged on to the site. Apart from the "offending" editorial, it was interesting to read the current debate on whether Malays are more religious today than 30 years ago. Some comments, in some way, reflect the flip side of my story.

No, I won't talk about Raja Petra's article. There's already enough argument concerning that on the website itself, and God knows, among the hallowed halls of Minister's offices and media houses.

Okay lah, I can't help myself. I'll say a little bit : some parts I agree with (yes, there is a 'one rule for you, one rule for me' thing going on) while others are ridiculous (no, Friday khutbahs generally do not decry non-Muslims as dirty kafirs) Nevertheless, to threaten Pet with the Sedition Act is reactionary. The man is immensely enjoying all the fuss.

Can't we just all get along? I'm not saying we should just gloss over the differences and ignore the debate. Debate is good as long as it leads to understanding. Unfortunately some use the comments box as a pulpit for loathing.

Let's hear Elvis :

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I wanna know:
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

And as I walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

’cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me wanna cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

’cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me wanna cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?


Monday, December 13, 2004
Yes, We Really Are Mokciks

Oh, the hazards of meeting young bloggers. Read about it here, and here. Just goes to show that when we free ourselves from preconceived notions of physical perceptions, we'll get along much better. Anyhow, we'll have you know, Miss Nadia, that we looked like you once, right down to the messy hair -- now imagine the horror of looking like us, in twenty years time, muahahaha!

(Nadia has a sense of humour. She'll understand. Hey I get the PMS joke, see?)

Last Friday, some other people passed judgment on who I am, what I stand for, and the extent of my ability, based purely on how I choose to dress. That experience was definitely less benign than going to an 18 year old's open house.

A couple of years ago, I decided it was high time I wore the hijab. It was not easy, for there were many instincts to suppress - the greatest of which is the instinct to use your looks as a shorthand for gaining attention. If I followed the voices in my id, I'd be in a short skirt forever. I have been asked numerous times, by friends and strangers alike, why I decided to wrap my hair in a scarf. The answers are manifold. I'm still trying to figure it out myself.

What I didn't appreciate though, is how differently others treat you once you are in tudung. Many assume I don't speak English. Some shops assume I'm not a customer. The place I used to work at assumed a woman in hijab won't be credible as a host for business shows, or as a newscaster. She'll be limited to women's programs or the rancangan agama belt. I have come to accept that many people assume a woman in veil is the physical embodiment of what is not funky, innovative or contemporary.

So last Friday, I had the full blast of that prejudice. A young lady from an events management company called me up for emceeing services. Fully cognizant of my mokcik in tudung status, I asked her the nature of the event, and the kind of audience I would have. She said it was a dinner for agents of a direct selling company, mostly older Malay couples. Well, that's definitely mokcik-land, so I said, okay I can do that. "The client requires a video sample", she explained, "so could you please come over and do the shoot?". No problem, I said.

The recording was set at 9 am the next day. In the elevator to their floor, was a sweet young thing who took one look at me, and then turned away, unsmiling. (It turned out she was the one I spoke to)

The girl went in first and I had to knock on the glass door for someone to let me in. Another woman saw me, and she went, "Who is that?". I swore I heard her say "cleaner". I smiled, nevertheless. Hesitantly, she unlocked the door. "Yes?", she asked, with more than a hint of condescension. She seemed reluctant to let me in and was repeating my every sentence with a question mark. (Like so : I'm here to see A/Here to see A? It's for a video shoot/A video shoot?)

Thankfully, Ms A heard me and came to the door, for I was quite ready to head downstairs and forget the whole thing. She asked me to wait while she "sort out a few things". She returned later with a sample script and some trepidation.

A spoke in soft monotones and prescribed to me what her client wanted of an emcee. And then this exchange :

"Will you be wearing your scarf during the dinner?", she asked.
"Yes, as a matter of fact". Up to that point, I was telling myself that my scarf was not going to be a deciding factor.
"Would you be willing to take off your scarf for the event?".

I considered that question. It's like asking if I could do the dinner topless, which was what it would be like. I have to admit, I am not as disciplined as my sister Elisa when it comes to covering up. On a few errant occasions, I have been known to gallivant with my long hair out, although that is happening less and less nowadays. If it's an outing with Peanut and Ray, I usually don't bother because we'll be behaving so badly I'd be tarnishing the good name of tudung wearing girls every where. But, if someone asks me to take it off, take it aaaaall off, my immediate reaction is to say :

"Absolutely not".

I glanced at her client's name. Chairman was some Tuan Haji so and so. I asked if her client specified that the Master of Ceremonies be one that is not so incongruously Islamic.

"Well, we don't know if the client would mind an emcee with a tudung. But just to be sure, could you do the shoot in two versions, one with tudung and one without?"

She must have seen me cringe, because she did not ask me twice. I was wearing a denim jacket and a denim long skirt, with a pink pashmina as headcover, so that's what they got. I'm not sure if they'll be calling me anytime, soon. All I know is, I won't be worrying my tudung-ed head over it.


Thursday, December 09, 2004
Quick Update : Adam The Pengantin

On behalf of Adam, thank you so much for all the well-wishes. You might be glad to know Adam is recovering very nicely, despite his protracted, umm, experience at the doctor's.

Typically, Adam's mum and dad were late for the doctor's appointment. Woe betide, when we got home to pick him up, my mother was already there, all dressed up, like for a kenduri. My younger sister Che Su, and her husband were there, too, grinning madly and armed with a camera. Obviously, you can't get the excitement of attending someone's circumcision in Seattle. (Ha ha if you're Micro and Soft, circumcision is probably not going to be an easy procedure)

Adam's gung-ho, so he thinks everyone's arrived for support. (My sister and her husband were there to make fun of him; and to tell him how painful it would be -- unhelpful people :P) My mother taught him some doa to recite. After a rather long wait (because Anwar got to go first) it's Adam's turn. The nurse shooed me out, I didn't want to see anyway. Only his father was left holding his hand, although I doubt that Saiffuddin did, since he has this idea that Adam has to take it like a man.

In the waiting room, the rest of the family fidgeted while flipping through magazines. And then we heard : "Aaaaaaaagh!", brief and guttural. We were all wide-eyed, and my mother pushed me into the doctor's room to find out.

When I gingerly pushed the operating room's door, I saw my husband, all calm. "It's done, he's OK"

I tooka peek at Adam, who smiled weakly as Dr Idris attended to sutures. Guess he did take it like a man.

POST SCRIPT : As a medal for bravery, Che' Su and Uncle Nizam gave Adam a Lego Puzzle : some Attack Super Droid thing with a thousand parts to keep him occupied. Naturally, it's a robot from Star Wars, an allusion, perhaps to the light sabre.


Happy Birthday Mimi!

My youngest sister, Tengku Sheril Amirah turns 13 today. We owe her a big time shopping trip. Come and collect soon.


Monday, December 06, 2004
The Long, Goodbye

Before you read further, please go here to vote for my dad's blog. Thank you so much to Leen's other half for being the first to plug Ikang Kering in his blog and to Mack Zulkifli for starting the ball rolling! My sisters and I will endeavour to vote for our father once a day until we get disqualified. I hope all his fans will, too. We'll have a big nasi dagang party if he wins, okay?

My sister Mimi, s-m-s'ed me news about Ikang Kering's nomination when I was at my ObGyn's. Nope, I'm not with child again. I had brought my nine year old Adam, and his friend Anwar, for a consultation. You see, they're getting circumcised at 4 pm tomorrow. Here's an account of what transpired at the clinic :

Nurse : Tengku Adam!
(lots of shuffling and you go first, no you go, no you etc, until I shove both of them in)
Me : Assalamu alaikum Dr Idris. This is Adam, and this is Anwar, Makcik Ishah's grandson. (Anwar's mum is stuck in traffic)
Dr Idris : Wa alaikummu salam. (Turns to fidgety boys) How old are you, Adam?
Adam : Ha? (Mummy gives him a stern look) Eh, I beg your pardon? I'm nine years old
Dr Idris : Do you have any sickness or allergies?
Adam : Ha?
Me : No, he doesn't. (Except terminal rudeness)

Dr Idris directed the same questions to Anwar, who answered politely, I might add. Then he told the boys he has to inspect the goods, so to speak. Anwar went first, and then Adam, who was extremely ticklish.

Dr Idris : Hmm, Anwar's okay but Adam's a little overweight so his penis a bit tenggelam (This means that it's sorrounded by a layer of fat and the member is gasping for air)
Adam : Jadi kena buat dia tegak dulu lah? (Do you have to make it erect first, then?)
Dr Idris : Errr, no need. I'll manage. Don't worry, it won't be painful.
(Anwar and Adam confers.)
Adam : Umm, can I ask a question?
Dr Idris : Yes?
Adam : Will you be using laser?
Dr Idris : Oh no, no ( chuckles) It'll be a normal scalpel.
(Adam and Anwar confers again)
Adam : Umm, my friend Anwar said Haziq had his done with a light saber. Can you use a laser light saber on us, as well?

Please God, let me survive this.


The Unbearably Short Memories of Husbands

Somewhere in the middle of Milan Kundera's book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the main character, Tomas, bumps into one of the numerous women he had sex with. She reminded him of one particularly poetic encounter, when they made love during a storm. She thought it profound, for it touched her deeply (for want of a better expression). Tomas was bewildered, he on the other hand, could not remember it, or at least he could not remember it as the idyll she had enshrined it to be. They had shared a physical communion, and yet both had utterly different experiences.

One of the many reasons I love The Unbearable Lightness of Being is because Kundera was so knowing of how men and women navigate through relationships. I read it nearly fifteen years ago, and today I can recognize Tomas' emotional amnesia in my own husband. Incidents I had cherished as markers in our relationship, were but water through the sieve of his mind. For example, he couldn't remember going to Malaysia Hall the evening that I first saw him, neither did he remember owning the jacket that I painstakingly described ( I even told him the colour of the lining)

"You must have seen a different person", Saiffuddin insisted (I did not, because the person who told me his name had a clear view of his face; and so did I)
"You mean to tell me for all these years I have endured you, I had married the wrong man?", I wailed. He grinned, just moments before I kicked him in the shin.

When I was an overworked, underpaid journalist, I toiled for days at a stretch, and a weekend off was as valuable as parole. Once, when I had just returned from an assignment abroad, my Editor asked if I could hop on another flight to Sabah, to report on the total eclipse of the sun. It was a once in a lifetime thing, the celestial phenomenon wasn't about to happen in these parts for hundreds of years. But Saiffuddin hadn't seen me for a fortnight; so I said no. I called him up to whine about the missed opportunity, and he sent flowers to my desk, with a note : "thank you for giving up the sun and the moon for me".

Recently, when Adam was discussing total eclipses, I told him that I almost got to see one. My husband was like : "Haiyoh, why didn't you go? I certainly would". He had no recollection of sending me lilies. I have witnesses, if he thinks I'm delusional, witnesses who, from thenceforth, thought every husband ought to be imprinted in Saiffuddin's image. Like ISO certificates, such accolades should be revised yearly.

For some reason, women place so much importance in the history of their romance, and I for one, need exact dates. The seminal turn in my affair with Saiffuddin, when we crossed the line between having a fling and a life-time commitment, was during a massive argument. I had gone out with a male friend, and I was surprised when he reacted with possesiveness. We started fighting on Friday night, and he was still stewing in anger Saturday morning when he drove me to Malaysia Hall, where I was to attend a gathering. He parked his miserable yellow car in the backlot and turned to me, silent, petulant.

"He was just a friend, for God's sakes!" I said in exasperation,"And why should it matter to you anyway?"
"Because I love you", he gritted his teeth.

He left me at the steps of Malaysia Hall to ponder that outburst. That evening, I had to take the bus home, home to my own flat, and all the way I mulled over what he said and what I was going to do about it (remember, I was supossed to have that boyfriend in the UK). The bus, stopping at Richmond, picked up the din of footy fans, as it was the day of the Grand Finals, and Hawthorn had just been whipped by the Blues, Carlton. Young men in navy scarves and knitted hats cheered and sang songs, in anticipation of more celebration at the pubs. I sat among the revellers and thought of him, looked out the window at the fading light.There was no sound except his words, spat out in fury and admission. In the morning, I called him up and listened as he hoarsely apologised, and asked if he could still see me. I said yes, he came over and I was his.

A few weeks ago, I googled "AFL Grand Finals 1987" , because I wanted to know the date, driven no doubt by the strange genomes women have, that make them devise ways to drive their husbands crazy. Saiffuddin was reading the papers, I came up to him, smiling - which should have been ample warning.

"Do you remember the day we had that huge argument, and you said you loved me for the first time?", I asked, as sweetly as I could.

Saiffuddin gave me the same look as he would if Adam came up to him and said he crashed the car.

"We had lots of arguments, sayang", he explained, "so which one is this?"
I patiently went through the whole three days of dramatic events -dramatic to me at least- but he still had no idea what I was talking about.

"It was the day of the Grand Finals!", I cried.

"Ah yeah", a lightbulb went on, "Carlton won the game. I saw it at Jendul's place."

"You're not really my husband, are you?"

I have an explanation for this loss of memory. You see, early in his career, Saiffuddin had to work on oil rigs, and this man, this impostor, must have bumped him off there. My beloved Saiffuddin, the gentleman who gave me flowers, is now perhaps a bag of bones, bubbling beneath the South China Sea.

This theory, unfortunately, comes to nought because he remembers other stuff. It's an interesting look at how men and women perceive things because Saiffuddin can recall every single dress I have ever worn in the 17 years we were together. Even the ones I want to forget. Especially the ones I want to forget.

"Backless black Susann dress, first time we went to a proper restaurant. Short white halter neck, zip at the side, ballroom dancing at Blue Moon. Vinyl micro mini, hemline just below your bum. Red lace long dress, split on both sides, MCOBA dinner", he can just roll out all these cringe-inducing outfits right on top of his head. He can tell me in minute detail what the dress would do, when I cross my legs or walk or bend down. My closet and the upstairs landing is filled with boxes of his perverse mementoes, because I am absolutely forbidden from offloading them at a jumble sale. And it's not like I would ever, ever wear them again.

Saiffuddin who has been hovering around as I write this, is trying to distract me from telling you more. He has sms-ed me to please make him coffee. Coffee? I guess he forgot I'm not his secretary.


Thursday, December 02, 2004
The Last Meow

My deepest condolences to Peanut, whose cat, Toi has now joined others in feline heaven. Ray, who has yet to recover from the shock of losing her own cat four years ago, sent me this e-mail*.

Rakan-rakan wartawan, susahawan, rupawan dan jutawan (Did I miss out

on anyone here?), semalam saya dimaklumkan tentang berita sedih
kematian kucing kawan baik saya. Toi, the cat telah 'pulang ke
rahmatullah' disebabkan kanser perut. Bagi sesiapa yang tidak prihatin
tentang penyakit kucing, kucing pun boleh dapat kanser tau, bukan
manusia sahaja.

Bagi rakan-rakan yang beragama Islam, sebagai seorang Muslim, anda
tidak dianjurkan untuk membaca Al-Fatihah utk kucing, so jangan lebih-
lebih pulak okay.

Sebelum e-mel ini dihantar, satu keinsafan meresapi di dalam minda -
setiap yang hidup pasti merasai mati. Sesiapa pun yang mungkin
dahulunya gagah perkasa, lambat laun akan longlai juga akhirnya.
Itulah hakikat kehidupan, yang diperlihatkan bagi mereka yang berfikir.

Itu sahaja pesanan penaja anda. Penat membebel, saya telah menulis
satu pantun, khas untuk tatapan anda semua. Ini copyright okay, so
jangan jual pantun ini pada sesiapa. Kalau nak print dan bawa balik
untuk dibaca bersama kucing anda, takpe.

Toi Kucingku

Matamu bersinar bila merayu
Meminta makanan kegemaranmu
Di dalam mangkuk di atas lantai
Di tempatmu selalu bersantai

Kini kau tiada lagi
Meninggalkan aku sepi sendiri
10 tahun kita bersama
Kini berpisah jua akhirnya

Kucing-kucing di jalanan
Di tepi longkang, di bawah jambatan
Semua turut tumpang simpati
Pemergian mu ini amat dirasai

Damailah diri mu di sana
Aman dari sengsara dunia
Kenangan bersama mu akan ku simpan
Di dalam catatan sebuah kehidupan
Someone please send Ray another cat, (or even better, some money) before she writes any more poems.

In the meantime, the both of us (since another, ehem, famous cat mourner has other interesting plans) will try to console Peanut with food and cigarettes, or at least one of these things. If this doesn't work, we might just have to play badminton, which does no one any good, except Ray, since she's the only one who knows how to play a decent game.

*I am assuming most of my readers can understand Bahasa Malaysia. If you can't, let me tell you that it's a half-way silly e-mail anyway. However, if you're really curious, e-mail me and I will ask Ray (hahaha) to translate it into English for you.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004
No, You're Not Getting Your MTV

My nine year old, Adam watching MTV : first Linkin Park and Jay-Z comes on, then Nelly. Nelly's video, as usual features lots of women in skimpy clothes. It cuts to a brief shot of Nelly singing, then lingering visuals of the women again. Adam gets irritated.

"Why can't they just show the guy singing?", he complained." You know like Linkin Park, when Chester sings, the camera stays on Chester. This one keeps going back to the girls".

Well, I explained, people who listen to Linkin Park don't care very much for sexy girls on video, but people who listen to Nelly want some eye-candy. (I'm generalizing, ok?)

"Even if the people watching are already married?", asked Mr. Incredulous. Uhuh, I said.

"Then, what's the point?", said he, "They've already missed their chance".

Maybe they just want to look, I said. Tell me, you're a guy, I added, why do guys want to look at perempuan tak pakai baju?

" I don't know", Adam insisted, "Go ask Dadda. I guess that's why he watches MTV when you're not around".