Monday, 17 April 2017

Personal do you explain it?

Think I finally reached a stage of equilibrium. Having spent almost 2/3rd of my life rebelling against every possible thing in my life, my childhood, my parents, the state, the system. Now, I am chilled out. I think it is more like, okay been there and done that;

It is like I have a different mission in life now and one that does not focus on me anymore, but the four souls that I have by the Grace of God, brought into this world; and I have to honor that responsibility.

I spent my childhood dreaming, my teenage years rebelling, my 20s and 30s focusing on my career and struggling against the system that I felt was unjust. Now in my 40s I just feel okay, I'm chilled, like classical music. Andante.

What do I mean by a state of equilibrium? Well, it is like this feeling of steadiness, no more turmoil, turbulence, instability. It is just calm waters. I think I feel I have achieved those things I set out to achieve for myself.

I believe success is measured not by your achievements against others but it is measured according to the goals and standards that you set for yourself. Of course Muslims are meant to say that success is when you obtain Jannah but, none of us know whether we will or not hence, how do we measure our success for something that we struggle to do everyday without knowing the result until we are like...gone into the next life. Like it or not, we have to measure success according to what is available for us in this world.

I think people often measure success in reference to other people. They look at 'bad' people that have done 'bad' things and decide, "well, I am not bad after all" but why? Why should we measure ourselves in reference to others. Why can't we measure ourselves in reference to certain concepts or principles or goals that we set for ourselves. Why should we think I am successful because I have achieved more than person A, B or C?

I mean when I won that one award for best oral presentation, that was enough for me. Perhaps it wasn't enough for some others who might want to keep winning and winning but for me, hey! I have always wanted to win an award since I was 10 years old. I never manage to go on stage to get any sort of award before, and God gave it to me some what 20+ years later and I was satisfied with it. I think that is one of the characteristics that is similar between me and my other half; he always tells me that he has achieved more than what he ever set out to achieve. Perhaps most people might say, "what! well...why did he stop playing music? he could have become an artist or a successful band or whatever blah blah..." but he never wanted all that.

I can understand, I can relate to it. Like him, I too am satisfied with achieving whatever goal I set myself for. I have published in the BMJ, I have published in the Lancet; and perhaps people might say "well, you should publish another 10 more in Lancet" and I know...people might say that is ambition and I am not saying that I don't want to (if given the opportunity) but would it give me more satisfaction than what I have? Perhaps not. I am satisfied and that is all that matters; personal satisfaction.

How do you convey or impart that kind of feeling of 'personal satisfaction' especially to the new generation. For them to do something out of that wanting to achieve it for themselves, not for glory, not for others, not for praise but for something inside of us that just feels 'hah....I've achieved what I wanted to achieve and it feels good inside."

Monday, 30 January 2017

so when did it all went pear shaped?

Just been wondering about a few things.

We all complain about what's happening to this country, if indeed the world for that matter but let's just concentrate on this country for one moment. Where did it all went wrong?

I was born in the early 1970s and my childhood was in the 1980s. I was the Star wars generation, those whose childhood was still not tainted by laptops, iPads, PS3, X-box. After SPM, I learned touch typing using the old typewriter that looks like this ---

I was also working at McDonalds and at the time, I remembered customers used to clean after their own tables. That's the whole point of having a fast food restaurant that is fast, cheap and convenient. customers have a tray, they eat and they throw their own rubbish away.

At school, there was no issue of race. We had Malay, Chinese, Indian and Sikh. I used to sit next to my best friend Shailini for two years and it never crossed my mind what race she was or that even mattered. At school, we spoke English and Malay; those who could speak the various dialect of Chinese language would do so and those who could speak Tamil would do so.

Me and my friends were used to conversing in English. We were not embarrassed to do so or self-conscious. It was natural. At home, mom would speak to us in Malay and dad would speak to us in English. It was just a means of communication, different languages to express ourselves. I get terribly annoyed when people make comments like my English is good because I studied abroad. Truth is, I have been speaking English and Malay my whole life. I am bilingual from birth. I would have preferred to know more languages though.

These days, no one bothers to clean after their mess anymore at fast food restaurants, the level of written and spoken English has deteriorated significantly even among graduates and their formal Malay is no better. I thought things should get better. In fact, when I returned from abroad, I was surprised that the Sekolah Kebangsaan was mainly having pupils from only one ethnic background. That there were many ethnic schools. I would have thought there should be more integration, perhaps all Sekolah Kebangsaan should make Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Inggeris and ONE additional language either Mandarin or Tamil compulsory for every single student regardless of background. That should have been the way forward. Get rid of all the Sekolah jenis this and that. Instead, just have a National curriculum for all. We should be taking advantage of our multiracial culture, with all students knowing AT LEAST 3 different languages perhaps adding Arabic there somewhere as well. It will not harm anyone to know many different languages.

I see school kids throwing rubbish outside the school bus window and I wonder, why??? Small children in cars jumping around like monkeys, are we raising humans or are we raising monkeys? What is this? DEVOLUTION? Where are car seats? How can parents afford to buy luxurious cars with air bags and what not but are unable to spend some money on the safety of their kids?

What has happened to parenting recently? When I was in school, we were taught on how to cross the roads safely, to keep the school compound clean. We even had a session during primary school, we were taken outside and taught how to cross the road.

As we approach 2020, we should be progressing forwards to become a developed nation. Development should not be measured solely on GDP, economic prosperity (which by the way is also deteriorating) or how tall are buildings in KL. It should be measured by our mentality, our level of thinking, our ability to solve problems, our concern about the world and our environment, our morality, our thinking capacity. If we can't even clean up after our own mess, we can't even express ourselves coherently in whatever language we choose to speak, we can't even control our children to simply sit for a few hours inside the car, then what does that say about this supposedly great nation? If we still don't get it then, too bad. We're doomed! and so is the world it seems.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Political ranting

I think the difficulty in trusting politics is the fact that those involved in it will inevitably do things to gain vote, popularity or leadership. It really doesn't matter which party you are referring to and indeed which country. Fact remains politics is about getting support and one will do whatever it takes to gain that support.

If politics were really practiced in accordance to its intended definition of 'looking after the affairs of people' hence, by definition politicians were meant to be servants of the people, to serve the people, to protect their interest. This requires a certain type of people to be in politics, those who are strong, totally honest and sincere without any shroud of self-interest. Hence, we hear stories about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who went for days without food or would not offer a helper to his favorite daughter despite her life of hardship; because he of course understood the meaning of being a leader, a politician. This mentality and attitude continued among his companions such as Abu Bakar As Siddiq, Umar Al Khattab and so on.

This kind of politics is almost impossible to achieve via the current Capitalist mindset that makes profit, self-interest and self-benefit as the main priority of people. Those who engage in politics are hardly those who have the self-sacrificing qualities. Besides, they are often backed by Capitalist, large corporations and multinational companies who are the beacon of Capitalist itself.

Often, those who uphold the humanitarian agenda do not engage in the politics itself rather they are often those who would be involved in charity organizations, non-governmental organizations and the ilk.

It is the political nature that portrays a lack of sincerity and puts people off. It is that wonder if politicians come to visit, conducts an event, whether there is a hidden agenda. No one likes to be manipulated and even more so by an organization. I mean, ordinary people would visit one another due to the enjoyment of each other's company and even if there is a particular intention, it would be clearly stated such as, to ask for a favor or to learn a new recipe... you know but with politics, I mean it would be much easier if people do say, "I am coming to visit you because I want your vote, because I want to win that seat and have the power to do whatever I want."

Besides for those being a member of a political party, you have to 'toe that party line'. I think sometimes people forget that or is unaware of the consequences. You can't say anything without making sure, your views is in line with the party views. You can't make any public statements without making sure your statement will not be detrimental to the image of the party. This is for any party for that matter in any country or ideology. In a way, you become a collective member rather than an individual. Hence, total conviction to the party's objectives, cause and reasons for establishment is crucial. Otherwise, it just won't work.

So, the point is politics is a delicate matter and a real challenge because in the current climate where most people are self-centered and the driving force behind every action is wealth and personal gain, I doubt politics can really change the world.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Rumination of relationships

Sometimes when young people ask me what are my thoughts on relationships, I just don't know where to start. When I was young, I totally sucked at relationships. All I ever wanted was to get away from this country, to get my education and to find that inner peace. That was a personal quest. Relationship with a guy was not really my main agenda. It was just something that happened along the journey.

Looking back, the only relationships I ever valued were more of friendship rather than that mushy-mushy type like for example, my husband (now) and I were teenage friends. Friendship is that deep connection you have with someone which is built on acceptance, trust, understanding and often letting go in a corporeal sense but never in your heart. When someone knows the best and worse of you and vice versa, and still love you and believe in you, that is what makes friendship most valuable.

Most young relationships are superficial, just paddling on the surface, spear headed by emotions rather than real deep thought. Sometimes relationships are lopsided with one side as the giver without ever receiving anything in return. Friendship is different, it is mutual in respect and admiration. You wouldn't be friends with someone you do not like. You wouldn't want to spend time with someone you do not enjoy their company.

Most of us know what we do not want but it is harder to define what we want. Perhaps our parents didn't really prepare us for marriage and relationships. Often we see couples stay together because of responsibility, or because they have been together for too long, there is no point in separating. Nobody really talks to us about the aftermath of 'falling in love', those practicalities and actual building a life together, the routine, the mundane, and having to wade through all the crappy things that life throws at us. If we really knew then we would definitely choose someone whom (at least) "if life is going to be full of crap, then I only want to go through it with you."

Hence, these are some of the things that we definitely do not want:

To be with someone just because of peer pressure.

This tends to happen a lot in schools, in universities, in the work place or sometimes even among celebrities (like that Malay drama Surihati Mr Pilot or whatever it is called) where fans pressure the actor and actress to be together just because they look good together on screen. Oh for God's sake! get a life! Don't fall for peer pressure. You want to be with someone whom you want to be with. When you take away all your friends and fans and everyone else, it is going to be just you and him and if you don't particularly like each other, the relationship is going to suck!

To be with someone just because you do not want to hurt their feelings.

It is better to hurt their feelings now rather than later. If you think the relationship is not going anywhere then have a clean break. Do not prolong and waste anyone's precious time. If you feel that both of you are better off with someone else than just make it swift. People used to think that is cruel but in truth, it is more cruel to carry on and to have a build-up of resentfulness.

To be second best and be haunted by their past. 

I happen to know someone whom having embarked on a relationship with a man, he started to tell her about his ex-girlfriend. Be warned! when a guy or girl talks about his or her ex, even gets you to contact their ex, or introduce you to the music that the ex used to like. These are all WARNING signs that the person is still very much in love with their ex and you will forever be competing with a shadow of their past. If you choose to carry on with the relationship, then you have potentially accepted and consented to being second best and you will never win their hearts, no matter what you do. We are talking about 'the one'. That one person who has imprinted their existence onto someone else because of their strength, their acceptance, their principles. He admires her, respects her whilst she believes in him, because she sees good in him, in everyone, everything. She will always be the one, like Jane is to Wolverine or Buffy is to Angel or Arwen to Aragon. that's just how it is and everyone else becomes second best.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Thoughts on motherhood 31:14

It got me thinking about one of the verse in the Qur'an (surah 31: verse 14), you know the one that talks about the mother and her carrying of her child. I am no scholar but I just want to share the impact of this verse on me as it got me thinking

Perhaps more importantly my CRITICISM of the Malay culture in general which I believe has tainted and distorted the beautiful concept of motherhood into one of selfishness and arrogance. If you ever watch Malay drama (which I tend to avoid nowadays), sometimes you will hear conversations such as "Hoi! Engkau ni anak tak guna! Anak tak bersyukur! Anak Derhaka! Anak tak kenang budi! Aku dah lahirkan kau, mengandungkan kau sampai 9 bulan..." (translated as "You are worthless, Ungrateful, Cursed child) and then suddenly this particular Quránic verse is quoted, to justify this criticism, disdain and almost regret that a mother felt towards her child, whom perhaps has disappointed her in some way.

Perhaps rightfully for her to feel disappointed but why taint such a beautiful concept of motherhood in Islam and turn it into a 'You should be grateful to me...for giving birth to you'. To me, this verse is first and foremost a description of motherhood. A description of someone who is selfless, giving, sacrificing herself for the comfort and well being of her child. She is like Éllen Ripley in Alien or Sarah Connor in the Terminator. She carries her child in her womb for nine months, gives birth to him or her and dedicates herself and her life to this dependent being until the child is able to fend for him or herself. The child came from her, is a part of her, was created by God inside of her. She could never abandon the child and whatever good or bad about the child, is from her.

Let me talk about myself for a bit. I was probably a typical KL woman who was completely self absorbed and borderline selfish. I only ever cared about myself and my studies. Why not? I had no other responsibilities towards anyone and my parents told me the only thing they expected from me was to get a good education. They never told me to get a good husband, or to save the world. Hence, I believed as long as I didn't hurt anyone, as long as I minded my own business I was fine.

That all changed the moment I felt the symptoms, the nausea, the morning sickness, the period like pains, the frequent stops to the bathroom and then, the mood swings. Yes! the moment we saw that double blue line, it changed me as a person forever. I stopped smoking. I made sure I ate well, I made sure I had enough calcium in my diet. I read books after books on being pregnant, the do's and don'ts. Then, the first moment I felt that flicker, that twitch, it felt like there was a tiny butterfly in my stomach. I was told that was the first movement and you know what, you only ever get that feeling with your first child.

I guess that is what the verse in the Qurán refers to when it says 'travail upon travail did his mother bear him'. The Qur'anic verse was translated as travail...truth is I don't actually know what the real term in Arabic meant but I suppose travail is a good translation; I wouldn't want to call it burden because carrying a child is not a burden, nor is it a sacrifice. Sacrifice sounds like...a person is forced into something they do not want to be in, as if they would rather be doing something else but have to sacrifice instead.

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is me being totally selfish and feeling purely responsible for myself, having a child transformed me, I can't explain it but I did literally jumped in front of a car to save my child, and it is not a figure of speech. It actually happened and when it did, I never in my life thought I would do it, or could do it for anyone but when I saw my child running across that road and the car was reversing, something just kicked in and I jumped. It was instinctual. It was the most natural thing to do.

Being a mother transformed me, it made me committed to something, someone. I was never committed to a relationship. I would run as soon as things got tough because I just didn't feel it was worth-it. I guess I just felt like I didn't need to take any shit from anybody and if being with someone was shit then, I might as well just be alone but as soon as I held my baby in my arms, I felt that surge of commitment for life. For the first time in my life, I felt responsible towards someone other than myself. It was that responsibility that anchored me and stabilized me, when all of my life, I felt like I was similar to an atom of 'brown's movement'. I was like an unstable molecule ready to explode or transform the moment the environment was not conducive. Being a mother just naturally stabilized me, I became uranium-238.

I am a different person today and thanks to motherhood. I have no doubt that the verse 31: 14 is a command. It is a command to the man and woman to be good to his / her parents. It is a reminder of that "saintly" figure who struggles past everything to bring us out into the world,

"And we enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in travail upon travail, and his weaning is in two years - give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me is the final destination."