web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: January 2006
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
The Lost Years

is a term commonly used to refer to the years between a turtle's hatching and its return to coastal waters as a juvenile. Although there have been sightings of hatchling-sized turtles adrift in sargassum and other sea grasses, no one has yet discovered where the majority of newly hatched turtles spend their childhood. It is not even known how long this period lasts, although estimates range from three to seven years. --- excerpt from www.turtles.org

A fledgling business is often like a tiny turtle, I think. Left out there, floating in the wide open sea, nibbling at any passing seaweed, it hopes to survive the elements long enough to build its strength, and one day return to its natal beach. Of course, many turtles never make it, because they simply die, or worse, they get eaten by sharks. Oh, there are lots of sharks in the wide open sea -- sharks that look friendly and helpful enough in the beginning and then, just at the right moment, when the tiny little baby turtle thinks its safe and sound and protected, the shark turns around, a Nosferatu who bares its row of sharp teeth, and -- oops, no more turtle.

But if they can outwit the sharks, turtles last a long time, don't they? For hundreds of years, no? We're hoping to be resilient that way. Even if it means the three of us, in this business, in this family of friends, have to take different lonely paths for a while. Only for a while. It makes me sad to think about it, all the same.

I think Saiffuddin's right. Its time for me to muster the courage to sit down and write : critics, rejection, and grammar be damned. It's time to stop running away from that.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Call Me

Over the weekend, I had a Small Medical Emergency, prompted perhaps by stress or too much walking around. Like all Small Medical Emergencies, it was an unexpected Small Medical Emergency, because I didn't know I had a medical condition in the first place. Things worked out in the end, that is to say, I took care of the emergency, averted a hospital stay, and the doctor prescribed me little more than advice to lie down and rest. That I didn't do, but I guess I'll only pay for that later, bila dah tua-tua.

The Small Medical Emergency is not what I want to tell you about; because as you may notice, I'd like to keep its details rather private. What I'm happy about is the upshot of the Small Medical Emergency. Two good things came out of it : one, my husband had a dramatic excuse to come home earlier than scheduled, and two, I bought myself a new phone, which the guilt-ridden husband has said he will pay for.

The phone was chosen more for looks than practicality : it's a black RAZR V3 : sexy but fiddly, although I hear in a woman those are not exactly bad things. I actually prefer my old and fat A 760, to be honest. The RAZR, of course is not top of the line anymore, since it has been supplanted by the SLVR as the Motorola of Choice (Personally, I want the ROKR, but since in Malaysia, you can't buy songs from iTunes anyway, it's rather superflous. Might as well just get a Nano and a phone) Still, in certain circles, it may yet have some mileage in eksyen factor -- like, you can confidently whip it out in the LRT, and imagine some jealous side-stares. Of course, you can't get the same effect in classier places, like Pasar Besar Taman Tun, for example, where the shopping ladies will just take one look at your RAZR, sniff, and continue sms-ing the grandchildren on their Vertu's. I don't know of any classier place, because, well, I ride the LRT.

Having bought a nice new phone, I then proceeded to fill it up with downloads. Even though I am perhaps not the demographic my service provider was aiming for, I nevertheless, spent a small wad of money on caller tunes (and worse, did this on GPRS). Here's the list on my jukebox (and here you can guess my age) :

Close to Me -- The Cure
Friday I'm in Love -- The Cure
Stay (Faraway, so Close) -- U2
Desafinado - Stan Getz
All These Things That I Have Done - The Killers

I am so happy about having caller tunes that I pathetically, call myself up just to hear the changing songs. Or I send provocative messages to people so that they'll call me up and then the first thing I ask them when they do is : tadi lagu apa you dengar? My mother noticed it, although sadly, she incorrectly identified Joao Gilberto as an Italian man singing an Italian song, which is a marvel, really, considering that in the first ten years of her marriage, my father must have played every single record with the name Stan Getz, Gilberto (Joao and Astrud) or Charlie Byrd on it, and she ought to know every bossanova number just by the first bar.

But I ramble on. What I'm really, really ecstatic about is that my husband's coming home; and he has a watertight excuse to do so. I'm blogging now to while away the time, before I take the trip to KLIA, and meet my baby.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

My dearest Sayang,
How are you today? It seems pointless, doesn't it, to send you an email when we call each other, like twenty times a day. It's pointless, really, since none of these -- neither words nor phone conversations - can remedy your absence. Nothing is a balm. I think I am officially sad and miserable.

Has it only been 14 days? Each day seems to add to my anguish. My resolve to cope well this time, is quickly dissolving. By next week, I'll be reduced to a sobbing mess.

Has it been easier for you? You seem cheerful enough on the phone,which you know, is exasperating. Why can't you sound as wretched as me? All right, I concede - calling twenty times a day may be proof that you do miss me, too -- but I'm not very good with identifying action with meaning. Tell me, for God's sakes. It will be worth the courage, I promise.

I've been sleeping with the radio on, and the other night, awoke to what I thought was the sound of your voice singing to Phil Collins' mawkish song, and you sang badly, as usual. Of course, you weren't here, the warmth that I thought was you was only Aiysha's posterior. I fell asleep with big, fat tears rolling down into my ears. It doesn't matter. I can't really sleep anyway. The four poster is strewn with children, books and magazines, and I let them amuse me, even if only half-heartedly.

Can't wait till next Friday, I'll be counting every hour. I know it'll be brief, but I'd rather see you for a short while than not see you at all. We'll do something nice that weekend, yes? Apart from that.

People reading this post : do accept my apologies. What's a blog if not indulgent, self-centred dirge? It's the only space where I'm allowed to wallow in cheesy, Light n' Easy sadness. To be honest, I'm not all that miserable, all the time. It's just nice to pile-on the drama for Saiffuddin, to elicit guilt, and hopefully gifts. I need a new handphone, anyway.

I have found that when my husband's away, I am able to better enjoy the other people in my life, particularly my children and my small coterie of friends. I can spend time listening to my children's stories and their numerous opinions; adjudicate their squabbles, and engage in general silliness like singing into the laptop and playing it back at twice the speed. I genuinely like Adam, Aiysha and Aliya, I'd like them even if they were not my own children, and even though they think I'm hopeless at parenting.

With Saiffuddin away, I have time to go on an all day eat-fest with Suhaimi and Papa Khalid : yesterday we had three (three!) plates of mussels baked in butter, nachos, chocolate dipped bananas, marshmallow s'mores, salmon in lemon sauce, basboussa, satay, rojak ayam and mutton curry. By all means, the fun wasn't limited to food : accounts of leather-shoes fetishists, prosthetic legs and a Confessional fantasy -- all of which shall not be repeated even under extreme duress -- ensured I had a belly ache from too much eating and laughing.

But don't tell my husband I'm even remotely enjoying myself, because I'm only remotely enjoying myself. At the back of my mind, there's always the knowledge that he's not home. My playlist at work is getting annoyingly sappy -- all songs of longing and heartbreak : Dear Friends by Queen, Cigarettes by Smithereens, Cannonball by Damien Rice, Les Coeurs Jumeaux by Concrete Blonde, In the Wee Small Hours by Sting and Chris Botti, good old fashioned Nat King Cole singing about cigarettes with lipstick traces and a tinkling piano in the next apartment, and plenty of Rufus Wainwright. I can feel gray matter slowly turning into gooey matter. I need Rancid and the Clash to set things right. I'm watching chick-flicks, for God's sakes! Last night I saw The Wedding Date -- the one where Debra Messing hires a male escort, to survive her sister's wedding. It's not very good escapism -- it just makes me miss Saiffuddin acutely, but you know, the sight of Dermot Mulroney's bare butt does alleviate the pain somewhat.

Perhaps I should rent Troy, next. Surely a naked Brad Pitt would be an excellent palliative.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006
A Comparative Study of Early 19th Century English Literature vis-a-vis Contemporary Cultural Arts in India.

Oh, who am I kidding. You won't find any such treatise in my blog. It was never meant to be clever. Rightly, I should be mulling the ammendment to Article 121A of the Constitution or the un-Islamic Islamic Family Law or the sorry state of government, but then it won't be much fun, would it? I'd have to do research and invoke names like Suffian Hashim and Ahmad Ibrahim and Hickling; and that sounds too much like tutorial to be enjoyable writing. I certainly can tell you, at length, my strong opinion on these issues, but it'd be best over a cup of coffee (or Chinese tea and dim sum, depending on your budget)

What of the deceptive title, then? Now that I'm left to my own devices in order to amuse myself (that sentence may seem like euphemism for "buying a vibrator", but it is not), I have since used the time I would have otherwise spent gazing up my husband's chin, to read. I've been reading, like seven books at one go : Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins, The Roaring 90's by Stiglitz, a Jane Austen Omnibus (Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Northanger Abbey), Adam's Lemony Snickets about some saw-mill adventure, that famous book about geishas I borrowed from my sister, Elfriede Jelinek's The Piano Teacher and Muhammad by Karen Armstrong. Sadly, it is an abortive attempt at appearing intellectual, for the only books I actually finished were the EHM guilt-trip, Memoirs of a Geisha and the exploits of them Baudelaire orphans; and by far the orphans' story had been the most enjoyable. Of the rest, the only book I'm likely to read in entirety, is the one by Miss Armstrong.

I didn't finish the Omnibus because I have never been a big fan of Jane Austen as literature. But as work on celluloid I probably would have watched everything the British Film Commission could throw at me. So as compensation for not finishing the book, last Sunday, for the first time ever, I went to watch a movie on my own. Nobody else wanted to see Pride and Prejudice; or was too embarrased to admit it to their husbands. I bought a single ticket, and sat in the last row, next to a couple who must have thought it was a funny date movie. They were insanely annoying. The boyfriend kept making comments, like "haaa, tu lah, tadi dia tak nak" or " hahahaha, kelakar aaa", as though they were watching Gila-Gila Pengantin or films of that ilk.

If I weren't too busy being snobbish, I would have realised that wouldn't be too far off the mark. Storylines in the romance genre hasn't really changed that much since Austen or Bronte. In fact, I thought, Pride and Prejudice could have very well been set in present day Bollywood. I felt I was qualified to make that comparison because just the previous morning, in a bid to delay bathtime, I had sat through Barsaat (Bobby Deol, Priyanka Chopra, Bipasha Basu, now on Channel 21) for an entire 3 hours. Not taking a shower until noon must have accounted for something.

Let's see the similarities between a typical Austen protagonist and the circumstances befalling a glamorous Hindi heroine. Both would be temporarily prevented from realising true love because (a) they konon-kononnya hate the man in question, tapi sebenarnya nak (you see me lapsing into the Malay boyfriend mode here) (b) their families are of different rank and the union is dihalang oleh keluarga and (c) various misunderstandings and social situations would prevent them from confessing their desires. Of course everything will be revealed in the end, and the heroine will be swept off by the man, who is inevitably, always rich and good looking, if not a little moody. The whole story would usually be supported by these characters : the doting father, the responsible sister, the helpful but gossipy aunt/neighbour/orang gaji, the aloof martriarch, and of course, the prettier, richer, more urbane girlfriend that the hero would otherwise have to marry. In between there will be lots of sumptous dresses in yards and yards of muslin (or organza as the case may be), plenty of song and dance, sweeping cinematic shots of landscape, getting caught in bad weather and crying at trees.

Now tell me that Austen was not the original Hindustani screenplay. I can definitely imagine Keira Knightley in a saree, doing the Banghra instead of a Quadrille.

Post Script : Thanks, Dusyum for pointing out Bride and Prejudice, the Austen meets Bollywood film by Gurinder Chadha, who incidentally, also directed Bend it Like Beckham, the film in which we first meet Miss Knightley. (Unless you count Star Wars) . One reviewer actually preferred this film over Pride and Prejudice, suggesting that he would have enjoyed it more if Elizabeth Bennet had actually worn a purple saree.


Friday, January 06, 2006
Good Moaning

How does it feel like, one week into the new year? I have been nursing a cold and a headache ever since I turned blonde in a public display. You people who weren't there at the Curve when I told you to go; and are now trawling the net for a picture of that occasion, lupakanlah, you won't find any. I made sure nobody brought a camera. It wasn't something worth wasting digital space over.

But becoming a blonde, even for 3 hours, must have been such a traumatic experience that my body hasn't forgiven me until today. No, I did not attend any New Year's Eve party, unless you count watching fireworks from a small window in the hotel hallway, in your pyjamas, as something of a celebration. My kids had more fun than me -- together with Kamarul's daughter and my maid,Ti, they joined the partying crowd in front of Ikano, as everyone ooh-ed and aah-ed over the pyrotechnics, and then danced to Reshmonu after. Mummy the party pooper popped a couple of flu pills and was fast asleep by half past twelve.

So now I'm sick, and grumpy, and wishing Saiffuddin wasn't so far away. Yesterday, I confess, I visited airasia.com. Return tickets to Jakarta cost less than 500 ringgit. Oh, the temptation.