Sunday, May 11, 2008

Interlude: Happy Mother's Day

(Dedicated to all mothers, biological or otherwise)
Airmata Ibu
Artist: Siti Nurhaliza
Lirik Lagu
Apakah sebenarnya
Terbuku dikalbumu
Apakah erti linang airmata di pipimu
Ucapkanlah padaku
Tak bisa kurungkainya
Rahsia yang kau pendam itu
Aku hanya menduga
Tidak mampu merasa
Sebenar-benar perasaanmu
Pengorbanan yang kau lakukan
Untuk dewasakan ku
Pengorbanan yang kau lakukan
Untuk dewasakanku
Hanya bisa ditanggung oleh hati ibu
Namun kupercaya
Takkan terlerai kasih
Ikatan ini takkan putus
Telah kau telan lara
Dan terima segala
Dugaan dan badai yang melanda...
Duhai ibu
It's been four years since Mak left us and I hope she will find perpetual peace in His Garden, fragrant with her favourite jasmine (melur). Just like Yat who breathed her last when I was taking a break outside the room of the krankenhaus in Bonn 14 years ago, Mak passed away in UH when I went home to refresh myself. I read somewhere that most people don't want the person they love most to see them die.
I hope that's how special I was to Mak and Yat coz I remembered how the nurses (both in KL, and Bonn) would tell me that how Mak, and Yat, would look forward to my extended visits and care-giving. One of them said that Mak would refuse to open her eyes until I arrived at her ward. Mak, forgive me for being so stubborn, for making the wrong life choices, for buckling under pressure while we were under the same roof and for just about anything that caused you to shed a tear.
AL-MU'MIN Surah No. 40 Verse No. 39
"Wahai kaumku! Sesungguhnya kehidupan dunia ini hanyalah kesenangan (untuk sementara waktu sahaja), dan sesungguhnya hari akhirat itulah sahaja negeri yang kekal."
Translations by Abdullah Yusuf Ali
"O my people! This life of the present is nothing but (temporary) convenience: It is the Hereafter that is the Home that will last."

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Waiting For Godot* (Part 1)

Picking up the thread from my former colleague ("Everyone's a fan" blogger Sheih,, I too felt like indulging in some stream of consciousness ramblings.
For one, I need to clear my head after checking the nth exam script that spewed back what I had delivered in my lectures.
And for another, I'm looking forward to 'find my inner success nature' from this Masters of Success session that I'll be attending tomorrow (refer to flyer).
So, here goes ...
It was one of those evenings when TF was in the mood for 'readings'. She shuffled and laid the tarot cards on the table, turned them and looked straight into her eyes: "There's a king on a horse and ... a 'hang' man". A 'hang' man or a 'hung' man, as in a 'hung' jury? "A hang man - his hands and feet are tied, he's hung upside down from a tree, unable to move."
That was must have been more than five years ago. And yet, rewind to ten, 15, 20 years ..... "the-beginning-of-the-end", the liberation, the rennaissance, the renewal, a 'new dawn'?
It felt so great to be free from the sham and the shackle that for the next years that she was away, she relished the freedom and the solitude, even on winter mornings when the void and the loneliness just gnawed deep at her gut. Then she would just put on her coat, get out and let the cold wind brush against her cheeks. Tears were so rare - like rain in the desert - they hardly ever flowed.
It was flattering to have admirers (at a safe distant, not too close, and certainly not intimate). "Ah! They're attached anyway". Even after they had 'unattached' themselves, she hardly ever thaw. "It's just too complicated, with me at grad school, the kids at grade school, the cultural differences, yadda, yadda ..."
And so began the pull between desire and resistance, the need for companionship and the fear of intimacy, the risk of being hurt and betrayed, the never ending circumnavigating but never stopping, never braking, no making of decision, no taking of action. Just looking from a distance, from outside looking in at other people's lives, at the attempts, the gestures ... immobilised, paralysed, in a limbo, a perpetual liminal state.
Four years, and it was time to say goodbye. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, to have caused so much pain, even if it was from a distance." She was sad, and glad, to leave. She wished she had accepted all the help, the favors, the protection, the love offered to her. How different her life story, her narrative, her script, would be. Yet, she was glad she hadn't, or "could you imagine how difficult it would be to leave, or to stay for that matter"?
Would she still be who she is if she had been the subservient assistant, the docile companion, the disempowered damsel in distress?
She was proud that she made it on her own all those years, and yet her pride and stubbornness had ruined her chances at success. Never mind the sabotages (and self-sabotage). She crinched at the thought of failure; she had wished that the earth would just open up and swallowed her and she never had to face the whispers, the talks behind her back, the snide remarks.
Back home, and it was like walking back into the prison that she had tried to escape by taking the plunge, when she knew she shouldn't ("But he had begged me, and said he couldn't live without me; how could I ever leave someone who is so needy of me?"). Everyday, she was reminded: "What will people think? What will people say? Pray, earn your living (the honest way), take care of your kids, your siblings' kids, so people won't talk." Forget my own needs, put others' needs before mine, be the 'Madonna' on the rock, be the Rock!
And so the years went by, and she told herself (at the slightest sign of complication) that it was simpler and more efficient to be alone - she could read that book, she could attend that conference, she could write that manuscript.
And watching some of her friends and family members getting hitched again, and 'unhitched' again (with more responsibilities in tow), made her glad that she made the decision, or in her case, NOT make ANY decision to change her status. "Well, if they want me bad enough, they can woo, propose, get-down-on-their-knees". But time or circumstances have changed since AI wooed her, and the few attempts she made at taking initiatives at forging relationships were awkward and embarassing. So, it's better safe than sorry!
"Why give my heart and feelings away, be vulnerable, risk rejection and expose myself to possible manipulation, humiliation and even exploitation?"
But having your life suspended, hanging (albeit metaphorically) from a tree with your hands and feet bound for such a long time can cause severe paralysis!
So, will she be able to cut the invisible ropes that wound around her and set herself free from this self-imposed 'isolation' that had held her back and kept her from taking positive action all these years?