web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: April 2005
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Saturday, April 30, 2005
How To be Lazy about Sending in your Taxes

Don't you wish we were in olden times when the tax-collector would just come to your house, knock down your door and demand for your gold, or else? I'd rather have that than fill up all these annoying forms. I think nowadays they make up all these procedures to make the robbery seem legal. (Oh, may my Revenue Law lecturer never find out about this blog)

My sister, Elisa could not send in her tax forms without drama, for it would not be her. As the head procastinator in the family, I sent in mine on the last day possible. I had my auditor sister in-law fax in a sample for me, which I then copied on my own BE form, and then Suhaimi and I got our sexiest staff, Shazwan, to drop them into the box at the Inland Revenue Board office. After that, we all had nasi goreng.

If you're going to be lazy about things, you might as well be really relaxed about it. But then, I didn't have to ride in Dolly's car,with Dolly driving. When you get to see your life flashing by, it's understandable to be a bundle of nerves.


Friday, April 29, 2005
Why it's OK to be Neurotic

If you have been reading my blog for some time, you'd realise that most of my posts revolve around my navigation of marriage and motherhood. So far, I think I've come across as horridly unreasonable, despite enthusiastic support from my female readers, who I suppose are equally unreasonable. :)

Happily, today I found that there is basis in my demand for husbands everywhere to treat their wives like queens and to lie through their teeth if it makes these precious ladies happy. Featured on IslamOnline this week, is one poor husband's plea :
I love my wife so much and she loves me, but she always accuses me of not expressing my love to her, and of being practical more than necessary while she is so romantic. She has been repeating such words so many times that I have grown to hate myself recently, though I do my best to ensure happiness for her and for my home. What shall I do?
If the man had expected the mufti to be on his side and agree that his wife is a neurotic banshee, then he would have been utterly dissapointed :
As a Muslim husband, you should know that women tend to be more romantic than men. They like to hear tender words, to be praised, to feel that they are being cared for, to be the main concern of their husbands and the one to whom he directs his ardent love. You love your wife and your heart is full of love for her, but she does not hear anything of it. You begrudge the tender words she needs and the praise she deserves.

She deserves that you listen to her, praise her, and sympathize with her when she is troubled. She really needs this. She cannot ask anyone else for such things; she is a good believer and a sincere wife who can never ask another man for such emotions. Do you like her to be miserable? Do you accept that she suffers thirst although water is near but you keep it from her? You should know that her need for compliments and tender words is as real as her need for sustenance, clothing, and other things that you believe to be the source of happiness. Read more
The answer included several hadith, including one in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) called upon men to "be lenient towards glass vessels, that is women". One was specific to the husband's question :
Once, the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) was sitting with one of his Companions when another man passed by them. The man who was sitting with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I love this man (for Allah’s sake).” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Have you told him?” The man replied in the negative. So the Prophet said, “Go and tell him.” Thereupon, the man stood up and said to the other man, “I love you for Allah’s sake.” The other replied, “May Allah, for Whose sake you love me, love you.” (Reported by Ahmad)
Based upon these, the muftis concluded their answer :
So what do you think of your most intimate companion, your permanent neighbor, your other half, your wife that you have chosen from among all other women? It does not take much effort on your part to learn to say “I love you” every day, to take her a small gift now and then, to phone her from work just to say “I love you,” to take her out alone now and then even if only for a walk, or in other ways to show your affection. Such small steps can go a long way to making her happy and strengthening your marriage.
I also found out something else. Say your wife has put on weight (in all probability this is a safe assumption), and you think her rear end needs its own hazard lights. One morning she asks you (in all probability this is a safe assumption) if the skirt she's wearing makes her look fat. Saying yes is not only suicidal and paves the way to celibacy, it is also not enjoined, according to hadith.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Lying can be permissible in three cases: war (for deceiving the enemy), reconciliation between disputing people, and the compliments between husband and wife.”
Ah, that puts a smile on my face. Don't you think it's wonderful what you can learn if you don't fear the wisdom?


Monday, April 25, 2005
Oh, the Delicious Dilemma

There is a point in a kinship, when you're unbearably attracted to the other, and you think the other feels the same way, but you're not so sure if you're not imagining it - that it is, so to speak, just a mirage.

What should you do? Should you risk it and confess? Or should you look out for more signs? Either way the wait is delicious; and you're giddy like a five year old anticipating a birthday party.

How would you know what's the right thing? I'd jump in, but then I've never been like this when I'm past forty *grin*


The Good Wife

When I was about four or five, all I wanted to be was a housewife. An uncle would ask me, "Bila besar nak jadi apa?", and I'd say, "surirumahtangga", without so much of a second thought. The adults would listen to my reply with dismay.

I figured that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom because my own mother wasn't the kind. Oh, she slaved over us, all right, and for that I shall be forever grateful, but she was also a teacher and I used to miss her in the afternoons. Besides, I get into fights with the maid when my mom isn't home, which in one instance, resulted in me attempting to run away. (I was five, I took all that I needed in a brown bag and got as far as the front gate)

I used to maintain my housewife ambitions until my mother told me it was the worst thing a woman could do (apart from selling yourself, but you know, at least you get cash).

"If you don't work", she pointed out, "then you'll be completely reliant on your husband".

Apparently, in pre-tai tai days, this is a Bad Thing, because women then have not yet discovered litigation. Seriously, though, this is sound advice. If there was one thing my mother taught me, apart from herring stitches, it was the need for a woman to be independent.

By the time I was a teenager, the idea of being a home-maker, or even somebody's wife, was totally unappealing. In the 80's, we didn't have Carrie Bradshaw, but we had Cosmopolitan magazine, and it fueled my visions of being a TV news producer (never a newscaster) and owning my own apartment, and being blissfully single. I thought I'd eventually marry at 32, and only because it would be necessary for procreation. I told my mother that I'll insist on a divorce as soon as I get enough children. I think she applauded.

But God had other plans, and they are always much better than what my puny mind could think of. After Form Five, I received a scholarship to read Law, and even though I still wanted to learn broadcast journalism, everyone said it was something I could do later. At 18, I met Saiffuddin, and with that, banished all thought of ever being footloose and fancy free.

We married when I was barely 22. We moved into a small apartment, which was lovingly decorated "country eclectic": moss green wooden floors we installed ourselves, second-hand armoires, huge re-upholstered sofas, junkyard cane armchairs painted white. We even had a cross-stitch picture of two bunnies over the bed, it was that pokey. There was so much lurve, that I was naturally inclined to revisit the surirumah idea again. For a brief period, I was one - I cleaned the house, did laundry, watered the plants, bought groceries, cooked dinner, made coffee. There was something calming about doing dishes on a quiet weekday morning. It was a feeling that all was right in the world, or at least, in this corner that you're in charge of.

Of course, it was bound not to last. I started working and the spic-and-span began to unravel. We only managed to keep the house clean long enough for Anjung Seri to photograph. Right now if you were to mention "Elida" and "housework" in one sentence, my husband would ask you to include the word "maid" in there, somewhere. I would love to do a Nigella and be a domestic goddess, but really, I don't have the patience nor the time. Besides, and here's the real 100% unadulterated truth : home-making is hard work and I'm terribly lazy. I've discovered that if you're good in bed, you can get away not being June Cleaver.

Goodness, don't gasp. It is that easy, ladies. Jerry Hall would never do windows, or ever wrap her long fingers around Toilet Duck. (Yes, yes, Mick Jagger eventually left her, but look, it was not for want of housekeeping skills)

My late grandmother, the Real Mokciknab, used to admonish me for not giving my husband the full "Pantai Timur Wife" treatment, which I think included after-dinner mints and a foot massage. She'd complain if I don't iron my husband's clothes, complain if I don't wait at my husband's elbow for his every need. I used to make a go for it, when she's around, but after a while, I got tired. I think she had a minor heart attack when she saw Saiffuddin making me breakfast.

Saiffuddin has been making my breakfast longer than we have been married. I get herbal tea at bedtime, my handphone charged without me lifting a finger, and fresh towels when I step out of the bath. Oh God, yes, I'm that lazy. Saiffuddin does everything, and he'll tell you I'm not exaggerating.

But you know, even if I abide by my grandmother, and I wait by his elbow to attend to his every need I can tell you right now, he won't be asking me for coffee.


Thursday, April 21, 2005
Save Our Saiffuddin


My husband, Saiffuddin is slowly being sucked into project management hell. The only way he can claw his way out is if he has his own concern, namely our own small restaurant.

This is a project Saiffuddin and I are working on with my sisters, Elisa and Dalia. It's called "Little Terengganu", an eatery that will serve mainly east coast food. We need to come up with a business plan in order to qualify for financing, and a cogent component of that business plan is research. This is where you come in. You can help me kan,kan,kan?

If you have about 5 minutes to spare, please take the time to complete this survey. Saiffuddin would be indebted to you, forevermore. And we'll have you on our guest list at the launch makan-makan party, but of course!

Click here to take our Online Survey



Main Entry: adoration
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: love
Synonyms: admiration, amore, ardor, attachment, crush, devotion, esteem, estimation, exaltation, glorification, hankering, honor, idolatry, idolization, infatuation, mash, pash, passion, puppy love, reverence, shine, veneration, weakness, worship, worshipping, yen

Isn't it lovely to be in the glow of a budding romance? Visit my friend's blog. You won't necessarily find romance there, but you'll see evidence of someone who's definitely in the throes of angau.


Friday, April 15, 2005
Other People's Words : Part I

I have a sister in Seattle, steeped in ennui. She may also be a little pissed at me for writing some flippant comment on her blog. I am terribly sorry, Miss Sister in Seattle, please don't cross off my childrens' names from your gift list. Although do note, many a truth has been spoken in jest.

Here is my offering in apology : the perfect pick-up song, to go with your gay Hanif Kureishi.
It could also point to where you are in the scheme of things : although I'm not saying you should go jai guru deva om, now.

Across the Universe

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy are drifting through my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world

Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

Nothing's gonna change my world

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They stumble blindly as they make their way across the universe

Nothing's gonna change my world

Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

Nothing's gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter shades of earth
Are ringing through my open mind
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Nothing's gonna change my world

Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

Nothing's gonna change my world


Thursday, April 14, 2005
Er, Not That One

If you're looking for the official website of the Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez thrill-mill, Sin City, you won't find it at www.sincity.com. What was I thinking? Anyway, the real deal is here.

I can't make up my mind if I want to see the movie, I loved the series so much that the dissapointment would probably be hard to bear. Roger Ebert loved it and I don't trust Roger Ebert. Rolling Stone said the best thing about the movie is that it's "probably too much for Bush America", and gave it 3 and a half stars. In the end I'm sure Saiffuddin would drag me to the cinema anyway, because I just know he wants to see how Jessica Alba measures up as Nancy Callahan.

I wanted to see what the Hartigan shower scene would look like on celluloid, but eeeyew, right now I know it'd be Bruce Willis naked.


First Day at Work : Comments

Dear People,
Those are such kind words you folks are saying about us, but listen, we had it easy. Boringly easy. Yes, we're nuts about each other, have been so since 1987. There has been very little drama, and certainly none that I know of, on his side. That we'd end up together is a no-brainer, and frankly, I know of no one who would stand up in objection. No one makes movies about marriages like ours, there are only sit-coms. We're like Jamie and Paul Buchman, or we're like Ray and Debra Barone. (In truth, we're probably like George and Louise Jefferson, except that we're not laundry kings and we're not movin' on up.)

How do you stay in love? I think a lot of people out there already know the answer to this, and the answer to this is different to each and every one. But it's raining and I'm feeling terribly cliched, so I shall reprint a poem, which probably has been quoted a thousand times at a thousand weddings (and which I myself read at one Wedding of the Year - in political terms)

Then Almitra spoke again and said, "And what of Marriage, master?"

And he answered saying:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.

Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

Specific answers :
Dudae : It's not as if he hates the work, he loves it and far from being unfamiliar, it is, I quote, "like being del Piero in del Piero's Spot". He's just afraid he'll be sucked into the vortex of oil and gas construction, never to come out alive. By the way, he did say he should have spoken to you before returning to his old place -- things are kinda messy in Sudan right now. Can he still give you a buzz, to help him sort out this unhappy business between client and EPCC contractor?

Mimi : Errr, thanks, but I'm not exactly crazy over Usher. But hey, glad you liked it. :)

Nik Nazmi : yes, I did. I'll reply soon, I promise! (Sorreeeee!)

Atiza : During the first day, most of the six calls were from him. I was in a meeting with another client and was interrupted every twenty minutes.

Farid : Be patient. She'll come around, soon. Love is about timing, and faith.

Egaaads, I should apply for work at Hallmark.


Monday, April 11, 2005
First Day at Work Blues

It's absolutely ridiculous.
It's 3.39 in the afternoon and I don't know what to do with myself.
Hur hur hur.
It's not as though he's out of the country.
He's just somewhere in the city
It's not as though we're a bunch of twenty year olds, still in the throes of infatuation.
We've called each other, like six times already.

"Are you having fun?"
"Nope", came the short reply.
"What do you have to do?"
"Oh, procedures, documents, contracts, same old, same old."
"Tak fun ke?"
"Well, you have to make yourself like it, I guess."
"Are you regretting it already?"
"Yes", he said (thankfully he laughed, to soften the blow)

At four thirty I shall be on a city bound train. I'm bad at waiting.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Getting to the Bottom of It

My children has a thing about posteriors. They think "Bontot" is the funniest word in the Malay vocabulary. One of them would go "Bontotbontotbontot" and the rest would be tripping all over themselves, laughing. SNL should just do away with scripts, they should get Chris Kattan to repeat "Bontot" ad nauseaum, and everyone will be in hysterics.

The usefulness of their behinds goes beyond verbal humour. My children employ their hineys in interesting, practical ways, each designed to bring about maximum embarrasment to their parents. For example, once, when we were in our poor man's MPV, the Toyota Unser, and my kids were all sitting far at the back, we could hear them giggling uncontrollably. We found that they were mooning every other car on the Federal Highway. Needless to say, people who drove past gave us dirty looks, as if to say we're bad parents with disgusting children.

My two girls, Aiysha and Aliya are particularly receptive to any practical joke involving the butt, especially if it belongs to their elder brother, Adam. You can't think of Adam without remembering his generous behind. At home, we pray in congregation, with Adam always in front, behind Saiffuddin the imam. Every time the boy bends to rukuk or sujud, you'd be distracted because you could see the crack of his ass peeking out above the waistband of his seluar londeh. His sisters, otherwise solemn in prayers, would be shaking with barely suppressed mirth.

Last night, at bedtime, Adam-- as usual-- was besieged by his sisters. They were fighting over the good comforter so Aiysha and Aliya were climbing over his head and back and pummeling him with pillows, generally overwhelming their brother. "Distraction!", Adam shouted, and pulled down his pants, revealing his round, black butt. The girls ran away, screaming.

The skunk may have its pungent protection, the hedgehog its thorny back. My son has a big, shiny butt, and he's good to go.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Syd Barrett Didn't Die for Nothing

At the bottom of all emails I send to people, is a piece of Pink Floyd, reasoning set to rhyme by Roger Waters. "And did you exchange", was the question, "a walk-on part in the war, for a lead role in a cage?"

The line is there mostly to remind me why I left the cold comfort of my old job, and why I chose to be hungry but free. In two years, I learnt more than I ever did in two careers, and I learnt the true meaning of potential, because potential is a secret no employer wants you to grasp.

If you ask me, oh yes, Elida bahagia sendiri, just like it says in the papers.

On closer inspection, though, you'd be able to see the cracks in my seemingly blissful facade. Freedom is all well and good, it's the hunger that's killing me and my children. After years in the wilderness, the family has made the heart-rending decision of sending Father out to Work.

We have come to a point where access to a monthly income is necessary. We don't have the luxury of choice, the luxury of freedom. I am tired of counting pennies when we shop for groceries, and I'm saying that in the literal sense. Month after month, we do our best to make ends meet, yet we're still left with our butts hanging out. The kids have been so understanding it brings me to tears; they've never asked for anything, knew not to expect presents, have even offered up their own savings. For Saiffuddin's birthday last month, I couldn't afford anything, so my children enlisted the help of our maid, baked a cake in lieu of a gift. They don't deserve to be shortchanged any longer.

But at the same time, I feel really bad, and really guilty for making Saiffuddin get regular employment. Regular employment is the bane of independence, and Saifuddin is nothing if not a sovereign beast. I can't see myself behind a desk again, and yet I expect him to do it. The poor man has been psyching himself up all week, getting used to the idea of going nine-to-five again. He's also apprehensive about the possibility of having to cut his hair.

Saiffuddin has decided to return to the company he used to work for, a recently listed entity currently flavour of the month in business papers. The managers are ecstatic. "Just come back", they tell him, "even if there's no post, we'll create one for you". I think the thought of being appreciated, for once, will ease the transition.

There are other thoughts that are troubling me, though. Projects are mostly out of the country, in places like Sudan and Oman and Burma. He'd be away for six months to a year. We've never been apart for more than two weeks. Sure, there were times when I wish he'd get out my hair, leave me alone, but this is one instance when there'll be too much independence for my liking.


Walk On By : Comments

It never ceases to amaze me, that no matter how horribly neurotic and unreasonable I think my actions are, you, my dear female readers, you know exactly what I'm talking about and you understand why I do it. Thank you, thank you, this is all very reassuring.

To my other visitors not priveleged enough to be born female : I hope my blog will help you along, as you navigate through this world of mothers, wives and daughters.

To one visitor in particular : if a cleavage woman comes to pick up Saiffuddin at 11.45 pm for teh tarik, I would assume she's a bill-collector. Are you kidding? Saiffuddin would not make it to the door, alive. There's only one woman in Subang Jaya who would stand this kind of nonsense, but that's because she's an angel. God sent her down to earth to guide the wayward.

The previous post was taken off because I thought it was a bit too revealing, and if the subjects found out, I wouldn't have an easy time explaining, even though it was meant to frame them in a very sympathethic light. Nanny Ogg's quote was, "if you don't have anything nice to say about someone, then you should say it to me". Until I meet Nanny Ogg, I'd better just keep all these private bits to myself.


Monday, April 04, 2005
Walk On By

Whenever my neurosis acts up, I love to throw Saiffuddin a curveball, one of those things that comes out of the blue and simply upsets the system. Well, his nervous system in particular. It's just me, I guess. When my domestic life is moving swimmingly well and my husband thinks that he can do no more beyond happily ever after, it's nice to shake things up a little by annoying him with one of these "Do You Really Love Me?" tests. By all means, you can try this yourself.

This is best done when his guards are down, (ya lor it's a curveball after, all) , like when he's driving you and the kids to McDonalds, which was exactly what happened last Saturday. We were happily chatting about nothing in particular, so I thought it was a good time to ask Saiffuddin this :

"If you didn't know me, and you saw me walking down the street, right now, would you think that I'd be someone you'd want to have sexual relations with*?"

* actually, I didn't use the term "have sexual relations with", I used a simple, four letter monosyllabic word that everyone could understand; but you see, my teenage sister sometimes reads this blog.

Unless you're a well maintained specimen who answers to the name Kimora Lee, you can expect most husbands of many years to stammer at the answer. Because the answer, in truth, is usually a No. Which is, if you think about it, very understandable. Most wives of many years don't wear a "have sexual relations with me" sign across their chests, lighted up in blinking neon. (I meant the sign, not the chest). I certainly don't put myself out as someone you can erm, "have sexual relations with", and I don't dress as such. If I were walking down the street I'd be so non-descript I might as well be pavement mix.

"Ooo-errr", said my husband after some time, "Well, it depends on what you're wearing". This is a polite way of saying he usually wouldn't bother with pavement mix. It's also my cue to sulk, for the whole point of this game is not to be understanding and reasonable.

We had a little tiff, which was enjoyable, just to clear my nostrils. My husband, on the other hand, hates being caught out. Gentlemen (and you just know I'm about to dispense some sage insight on women) here's a very effective come-back should your wife/girlfriend/paramour/mistress decide that today is a good day to see if you love her enough to tolerate her nonsense : turn the tables, and make her feel really guilty. Saiffuddin employs this trick to good effect, with all the hurt and drama of not being appreciated for all that he's done, and constantly whining how could you not know how much I worship you et cetera. In the end, we called a truce.

Later, as we lay in bed (all roads to armistice will lead to bed) he asked me why I would always doubt his allegiance, and why I would never believe it when he says he is still attracted to me.

"You're still the girl I married", he insisted. Therein lies the truth. If I weren't the "girl he married", I'd just be another 36 year old matron, walking down the street and blending in with the shrubbery. But husbands are delusional. They're in love with the 22 year old they proposed to, and they know that matron of 36 that their wives eventually become are mere vessels for that angel they married, guardians to the lovely vision who only comes alive when the lights go out.