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

Thursday, September 28, 2006
For Nord

Nord, I think you are really an Angel who has come to remind me to fulfill my promise of performing the solat duha on a regular basis. In case you're a real human being, though, you may learn about the solat here.

From islamawareness.net :
Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "In the morning, charity is due on every joint bone of the body of everyone of you. Every utterance of Allah's Glorification (i.e., saying Subhan Allah) is an act of charity, and every utterance of His Praise (i.e., saying Al-hamdu lillah) is an act of charity and every utterance of declaration of His Greatness (i.e., saying La ilaha illAllah) is an act of charity; and enjoining M`aruf (good) is an act of charity, and forbidding Munkar (evil) is an act of charity, and two Rak`ah Duha prayers which one performs in the forenoon is equal to all this (in reward).''[Muslim].

Commentary: "Charity is due from every joint bone" means that when a person gets up in the morning, it is obligatory for him to thank Allah for having every joint of his intact. Therefore, one must praise and glorify Allah. Since a single invocation of the words mentioned in this Hadith is equivalent to one Sadaqah, one must say these words for 360 times - a number which equals the number of joints in man's body. Moreover, to enjoin someone to do what is good and dissuade somebody from vice constitutes Sadaqah. However, if one performs two Rak`ah of Duha prayer, it will serve for Sadaqah for all the joints of the body. Thus, this Hadith highlights the merits and importance of Duha prayer. We also learn from this Hadith that Sadaqah is not restricted to spending money alone but also has a vast meaning and covers all forms of virtues mentioned here.

Hope it helps!


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

House Second Season, Episode #6, somewhere near the end :

Cameron: I fell in love with my husband's best friend. Near the end I was at the hospital every day, and Joe would come by after work*. We'd go for walks and try to talk each other through it. We kind of clung on to each other.

Wilson: My wife wasn't dying, she wasn't even sick. Everything was fine. I met someone who... made me feel... funny. Good. And I didn't want to let that feeling go.
[long silent pause] What happened to you, how can anyone go through that alone?
You can't control your emotions

Cameron: No. Just your actions

Wilson: You didn't do it, did you? You didn't sleep with him

Cameron: I couldn't have lived with myself

Wilson: [smiling] You'd be surprised what you can live with [walks out of the office]

Saiffuddin has been coming home late because of crucial pre-award meetings with a major client**. Last night, he missed iftar and tarawikh entirely. Adam got worried.

"Mum, is Daddy, you know, having an affair?", he asked.
"Hmmmm", I said, liking where this conversation is going, "what do you think?"
"I don't know. Why don't you ask him?", he offered
"If he is having an affair, he will never admit it, Adam", I explained, eyes twinkling.
"Well," Adam said sagely, holding up a finger to make his point," it depends on how he says No. If it's a short, quick No, then it means Yes. If it's a long No, with a screwed up face, then it's a No".

Oh, if it were only that simple.

I'm writing this because lately, infidelity seems to have been the flavour of the week. There is that on-going plot in House where he's trying to seduce Stacy to stray. Here in Jakarta, the raging question on everyone's mind seems to be if this rock-star has recently married his wife's band-mate (an incredible betrayal that I somehow believe is untrue). And last week, I saw Oprah speak to seven cheating husbands about their affairs. Selingkuh is a topic that has followed me all the way from Malaysia. And it's such a dark, fascinating subject, no?

Since I used to work at a TV station, you can bet your hiney that I had more than one friend who was involved in forbidden flings. Our presenters were so (in)famous for their extracurricular activities that one female dentist was moved to berate her newscaster patient :

"Pasal apa newscaster TV Teeeega ni, suka sangat curi laki orang?", she apparently asked.
"Doktor", said my pretty friend patiently,"Doktor tunjuk kat saya gambar laki Doktor, jadi senanglah next time, saya tahu yang mana satu laki Doktor dan saya takkan curi dia".

She was a bitchy dentist who overcharged and totally deserved it.

My point is, when it is your friend (or more cuttingly, if it is you) who is having the affair, things are never quite black and white, or demarcated into completely right or wrong. Affairs are wrong; and here you get a long pause, not a full stop. Because there is always a thousand buts after the word "wrong" to justify the illicit actions. And when you know enough "other women", and to a lesser degree, "other men", you tend to look at the problem from both sides. An affair is part weakness, and part very bad timing.

The Oprah episode was interesting because it totally obliterated the belief that husbands stray because they can't keep their dicks in check. You know the theory --the male basic instinct is to spread their seeds far and wide, ergo the propensity to do it with as many women as possible. I think it gives women comfort to presume this, mainly because mindless fornicating doesn't involve anything deeper than uh, fornicating parts. But the guys who were suicidal enough to appear on Oprah revealed that men are more complicated than previously thought. Those who blubberingly admittted to long, drawn out affairs said they were looking for happiness and a sense of place, that someone cared for them. Goodness, just like women? Now, if only we can get the algorithm right and ensure that all these men looking for joy and the all these women looking for bliss are the ones married to each other. Seriously now, what are the chances?

It's not to say some of those cheatin' hearts do not beat in the bodies of complete jerks. A considerable part of Jakarta's economy seem to depend on them. I have had long conversations with supirs and hotel waitresses here who tell me countless stories of perfidy. (Actually, Saiffuddin's a gossip too, but he can use the husband-wife privelege thing as a defence to his big mouth.) Almost every faithless husband alone in the city will end up unfaithful. (Faithless women apparently go shopping, unless Adjie Masaid is on the menu.) You know the annoying Malay saying about how no hungry cat will refuse fish? Well, apparently there's plenty to catch here. Every kind, any price. Sure, it's about mind-bending sex on the surface of it. But the sad truth is boys, you too, are doing it because you're deeply unhappy.

It could be anything that these men imagine they can't get at home, and they can get from prostitutes without the hassle of a relationship : understanding, respect, control, mommy. But it's a pathetic kind of happiness because like any drug, the esctacy is fleeting : brief and illusory. And in a country like this, it could also be very, very expensive. I have heard stories of blackmail and black magic.

To be fair, women are not innocents when it comes to selingkuh, either. But so far, Hollywood has convinced us that when a woman cheats on her husband it is a full-blown romantic affair with lush scenery, sweeping score, and usually Ralph Fiennes. (or Robert Redford) Somehow a cheating woman is not as despicable, and the poor cuckolded husband is often the one at fault. (For example, he could be gay.) Sensitive storyline aside, I'll have to agree that an adulteress is as blameworthy as that drunken guy shoving rupiahs down the panties of a gyrating dangdut stripper.

Why can't we be happy with what we have? I guess because marriage, too is sometimes part weakness and part very bad timing.

Last weekend, my dorm-mate from uni, Iza and her husband, Zaky, dropped by our house. I was so happy to find out they were here. They took so much trouble to look for Saiffuddin's number, to the extent of bothering the client conducting the pre-award meetings, and though it was embarrasing to my husband, I was so touched by the persistence. Iza and Zaky were college sweethearts, and I have always known one as being the pair for the other. They were obviously still besotted, I saw that Zaky couldn't help touching Iza's arm when he speaks, and I thought it was so sweet. Zaky and Iza were lucky -- they found their soulmate, and everything -- timing, family, etc etc, were in their favour. Simple boy meets girl story, lived happily ever after, had three children and so on and so forth.

But it occured to me, what happens when boy meets the wrong girl at the right time, and then the right girl at the wrong time? Some people have had their souls rent asunder. I've often wondered if Saiffuddin and I weren't married to each other, how frustrating it would be if we did eventually meet.

Gosh, I'd probably have an affair with him.

*Cameron is a janda. She was 21 when her husband of six months died of thyroid cancer. House is really a cleverly disguised soap and that's why I love it.
**For those of you hearing warning bells, rest assured that I know Saiffuddin is really at the meeting. Unless he is having an affair with five engineers, including a stocky guy predisposed to rugby shirts, and a middle aged man named Bosco (who is the nicest of the lot, I must say)


Thursday, September 21, 2006
Fun with Groceries

Went grocery shopping this morning, and found some desserts my friends may like. We're having these for iftar this Ramadhan.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This is our second week in Jakarta, my second week as a full time housewife. I've gotten into some sort of routine :

0540 : Solat subuh
0550 : Walk around the neighbourhood with Saiffuddin, gawk at the achingly beautiful houses full of old money
0650 : Buy Kompas from a midget (really, a midget! I'll take his picture later. He's a nice midget)
0655 : Buy bakwan goreng/tauhu sumedang/pisgor/sukun from a corner jajan guy.
0700 : Have breakfast with Saiffuddin and yell for the kids to have breakfast, too since they would invariably be slumped in front of the TV or computer.
0730 : Join the kids and slump in front of the TV, until Saiffuddin yells : "Mummy! What am I going to wear?", and then get up to pick out a nice shirt and tie for the man, who appears to have been able to dress himself just fine when I was not here.
0745 : Lie on bed with Saiffuddin while he smokes and listen to him complain about work, and the fact that they don't sell Salem cigarettes here.
0800 : Kiss Saiffuddin goodbye, and then stand on the kerb with the kids in pyjamas and shout "Bye-Bye Daddy!!!!" at the top of our voices. (Our house is in front of a main road)
0810 : Watch TV to catch up on Indon celebrity gossip, or read the papers, while the kids swim. Sometimes swim, too.
0900 : Take a nap
0945 : Take a warm shower, which includes hair treatment and avocado lulur (a jar of lulur is just 4,ooo rupiah -- less than 2 ringgit). This shower, however is optional. It may be delayed until 2 o'clock in the afternoon.
1030 : Go grocery shopping at ITC Kuningan. Gawk at gorgeous togs but do not buy because all money has gone into furniture, baked beans and cereal.
1200 : Reach home, and cook lunch (That is, if there is no demonstration that day. The trip home from Jalan Casablanca to Sultan Syahrir can take anywhere from 10 minutes to one and a half hours)
1300 : Shower and solat zuhur
1330 : Eat lunch with the kids, and help them with homework. Arbitrate arguments.
1430 : Check email and contemplate blogging, if I can wrestle the laptop away from small hands surfing through Barbie and Strawberry Shortcake and WinxClub, or big hands surfing through addictinggame.com and youtube (to watch wrestling highlights)
1530 : Solat Asar. Cook stuff for tea and dinner, while the kids sit through tuition.
1630 : Serve tea to tuition teachers and the kids. If there is no tuition that day, the kids and I take a walk to nearby Taman Suropati and gawk at the tanks in front of the Vice President's house.
1730 : Take a shower and solat maghrib. Set table for dinner.
1800 : Wait for Saiffuddin to come home. Have dinner.
1900 : The kids get daddy time.
2000 : Walk to Starbucks with Saiffuddin and over double shot espresso, triple shot Americano and cigarettes, listen to him complain about work some more
2100 : Solat Isya', and then the whole house goes to bed. Okay, so maybe Saiffuddin and I would sneak out to the pool and the front garden once in a while.

That's about it. My exciting day. I suppose I can get used to it.

I think.

Two things bother me though, and they are major. One, I don't get to earn my own money and not having money in Bargain Land is like being a eunuch at Playboy Mansion. Two, I am terribly bored. When Saiffuddin comes home in the evening, I cringe listening to the things I tell him about (Like, the girls get kentut breaks during tuition and I can see the both of them rushing out to the porch and tungging bontot.)At SSO I get my daily dose of drama, and I'm always working on exciting new projects, but here, all the way out here and far from Kelana Square, the most exciting endeavour is buying baskets from Pasar Cikini, and getting a discount from the bajaj man. My highlight of the day is waiting for the jamu woman to come by.

I suppose sooner or later, I'll get Elida back. I have a job writing for Anjung Seri and other publications, and that would give me some moolah, hopefully. But for me to be really, really at home, mak perlukan kawan-kawan pondan.

Masya Allah.


Thursday, September 14, 2006
Mokciknab Mahu Meubel

My house, which I think is the smallest house on Jalan Sutan Syahrir, has three and a half baths - one cavernous one in the room at the back, with aquamarine tiles and a large corner tub, a rather dreary one somewhere in the middle of a dark passage, a small cute one in the front bedroom, and a powder room just off the living area. For some reason, the powder room gets the most usage. My maid and the kids take showers in this miniscule space, using the spray thingy by the toilet, and in the process sending soapy water seeping into the living room.

The point must be, we are not used to having a lot of space. (The other point must be, we're peasants)

The house is modest, but still larger than our two-storey link in Damansara Kim. My youngest daughter Aliya has been amusing herself by walking around the outside of house - she'd exit through our bedroom's small porch, and then she'd walk in through the kitchen door, which is on the other side of the building, at all times of the day, even at night. Meanwhile, Adam and Aiysha live permanently in the water, climbing out of the pool only to eat and pee. Oh, and Saiffuddin and I have also tried the pool. Yes.

We're happy with the house -- it's just the right size and it has character. But, it doesn't have our character just yet. The only furniture we have right now are spring beds, a teak dining table with two long benches (which I love), and a blue folding chair we got from Carrefour, on which Adam placed the laptop. The TV sits on two polystyrene foam blocks which came with the packaging. The wicker furniture which we bought in Kemang months ago would only arrive next week. (The shop owner told us her factory was hit by earthquake, and though it is entirely possible she sold our set to another customer, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt). Just as I predicted, our clothes are still in boxes and in luggage, and it's impossible to find anything. I have been wearing the same bra since the day I arrived because I have no idea where all my undergarments are.

So it's obvious we need to buy stuff, like storage and places to sit. Yesterday, my dear friend Lindy became the first visitor to our house, and horrified by our lack of furniture, sent us two sets of her used sofa and chairs. Within an hour of her leaving, a small pickup rolled into our driveway, a feat considering Jakarta traffic. We put the upholstered three-seater and club chairs in the living room so that the kids don't have to lie on the cold floor while watching Spongebob, and the rattan set we put on the terrace, so that my husband has a place to sit in the evening, while he smokes and complains about work. It'll do for the moment, but soon, soon I'll need to visit Klender and Pondok Bambu and Ciputat for the stuff I'd want for keeps.

With a highly exhaustible bank account, admittedly it'll be a challenge. But shopping is a sport, and this is one event I intend to start very quickly. So if you don't hear from me in the next couple of days, you know I'd be in some small, dark shop, breathing in sawdust, sweating in the humid Jakarta weather, haggling over prices. Oh, and I'd be loving it.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006
And Let Your Arrow Fly

Not so long ago, when we were both safely ensconced in our marriage, and too fat to run away with someone else, I asked Saiffuddin why he loved me. Wives are typically neurotic and insecure, and this is the sort of question that would surface once every few months, one that the poor husband cannot escape, no matter how long he has been married.

I had rattled off the reasons why I loved him -- because he was a man of faith, because he's a great father to the kids, because he makes perfect three quarter boiled eggs, because he's funny, because he has a dimple in his right (left?) cheek, because he can do advanced calculus and can explain me the theory of thermodynamics, because I like him in a pair of bikes et cetera et cetera. The list was long, and at the end of it, I looked at him and asked what made him stay.

"So, why do you love me?"
"Because you're you", he said simply,"Because you're Elida".
"Nothing specific?", I asked, dissapointed he didn't say it's because I have nice hair or I smell good or I look delicious in the morning.
"No. I have absolutely no idea why I love you", he pleaded, "it won't be called madness if I were able to explain it."

And that, you have to agree, was a very, very good answer.

Over the past few weeks, though, we have ignored this wisdom and it has been our Great Attempt at the office to try and dissect and deconstruct this delirium called Love, and identify its many forms. The mistake is thinking that you can analyse something that defies logic, and then make plans around it.

Of course you'd want to make plans. If you're about to jump off a cliff you'd want to know that you won't break your neck. But listen, when it comes to this damnable love thing, there is no guarantee you won't get hurt. The only way to ensure you walk away unscathed is to walk away. Forget about the whole thing altogether and lose your self in whatever else you think is a good substitute - work, meanness, celibacy, food.

And the catch is, you will find out there is never a good substitute.

So it's a choice : be safe but lonely, or be madly in love despite the fear that you'd be badly bruised some time in the future. But it's the fear that quickens the heart, no?

And who knows, maybe in the end, you won't get badly bruised after all. I've never expected much from Saiffuddin and I was fully prepared for injury, but look, it's been almost twenty years.

So just let go, and we'll see where it goes.

Your resident psychoanalyst will be leaving the country Sunday 10th of September. I'll leave a number for emergencies (Emergencies is like when you're about to kill yourself. When you can't contain yourself because he bought you teh tarik ais and you simply must call me up at 11 pm to tell me, that does not qualify as an emergency).

But other than that, you're on your own, kids. You'll be missed, my insane friends.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Since We're Not There to Wish You In Person

Happy Birthday to my sister, Mrs Taufik hyphenate Vedder.

Honestly I can't remember how old you are, because it doesn't matter anyway. I wouldn't want others to remember my age. I think you're, letseeeeee, erm 28? Abang Ichai, the kids and I hope you continue to be who you are : the fun mom, and the one who does the right thing. Hope you had a fantabulous day celebrating with Taufik, Ilham, Ihsan, Anis and Izani!

Click here for our pengganti diri wish.


Saturday, September 02, 2006
Maaf, Gue Kangen

A few nights ago, as we were getting to sleep, Aiysha declared that my husband's eyelashes must be bald by now.
"Why is that, sayang?", I asked, as she slipped her legs underneath the covers.
"All of us miss him so much", she yawned, "he would have lost all of his eyelashes*"
Perhaps so, perhaps so.

The weather is getting to all of us, I think. Blazing days and sweltering nights will do you in, sooner or later, especially if you're not quite right in the first place. Suhaimi is in the throes of some fever he doesn't want us to cure, and he's been neglecting to shower again. Papa Khalid has his catatonic outbursts, often manifesting itself in gyrating hips and arms stretched skyward. Rizal, well, he's quietly enjoying his madness. I think he's the only one getting what he wants. Damn Rizal.

I'm getting used to not having Saiffuddin around, and this is a pretty terrifying thought. It's almost Ramadhan again, and that means he has been living in Jakarta for nearly a year now. A year since there was any real relationship subsisting -- just snatches of visits, long distance phone calls, emails and skype. And promises. It's a relationship subsisting on promises. I'm a man waiting for a train, long overdue.

I crave the normalcy. My life is boring, but I want it back, the things that I do every day. I crave waking up in my own house, with the familiar warm brown arm heavy across my belly. Watching my husband brush his teeth or take a shower (the man never bothers closing the door) Arguing over the headlines. Going for walks and arguing some more. Stealing kisses.

Being a ma'mum. Looking at the soles of his feet for that brief instance before I prostrate.

Ah well. The only way to get through this is to believe there will be a good ending. That train will come. By God, the kids and I will just camp out on the platform until it does.

PS. There is a soundtrack to this post. You can find it here, my shrine to sadness. Visit only if you're in a similar situation or if pre-menstrual. (There may be a problem playing the entire playlist from the site. Try downloading)

* There is a Malay belief that if you have an eyelash dropping off, it means someone is missing you. It could also mean you're using cheap mascara.