Senarai Impian

Sejak kebelakangan ini, dan dengan tercetusnya persahabatan dengan Cik Eskapisminda kita, tuan punya blog ini tersampuk hantu sastera.

Kepada suami tercinta, saudara kandung, sahabat-sahabat, ipai-duai dan ibu mertua yang selalu bertanya hadiah harijadi apa yang aku  mahu, berikut adalah karya sastera yang aku kepingin lihat di rak buku:

1. Salina – A. Samad Said (got it from Radz who bought it in JB)
2. Hujan Pagi – A. Samad Said
3. Tenggelamnya Kapal Van Der Wijck – Hamka
4. Badai Semalam – Khadijah Hashim
5. Langit Petang – A. Samad Said
6. Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan – Shahnon Ahmad
7. Seorang Tua di Kaki Gunung – Azizi Haji Abdullah
8. Laila Majnun – Hamka
9. Siti Nurbaya – Marah Rusli (the photocopy version I own is not counted, ok?) 

p/s: I know I have no shame asking for these books; but Mama, please don’t buy me another baju kurung would you?

The sleeping RM10 million in DBP’s coffer

(Click here for the online version)

LAST Monday, I received an invitation to attend a fellow blogger’s book launch at the Putra World Trade Centre, organised by her publisher Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka (DBP).

Kanser Payudaraku by Dalilah Tamrin was launched together with 200 other titles published by DBP, a statutory body set up in 1956 to propel the use of the Malay language as a language of knowledge, intellect and unity.

Naturally when an invitation is about a book, and nothing to do with anyone getting married, I am drawn to it like a moth all-a-flutter, fuelling my desire to buy books (which always supersedes this writer’s dire economic situation).

As I sat at the PWTC concourse listening to the opening speech by the DBP director-general (DG), Datuk Termuzi Abdul Aziz, I picked up on something: a 10-times-over millionaires’ fund had been set up to aid the national book industry since 2007.

Thus far, only RM3 million – 30 per cent of the allocation – had been appropriated and malangnya, owing to the lacklustre response from Malaysia’s writing fraternity.

To the DG’s disappointment, despite the DBP promoting the fund in its magazine and advertising it in local newspapers annually, the response from the publishing industry and local authors alike have been lukewarm at best.

Really?

What happened to the literary society of my country?

Are the writers-publishers sleeping?

Investigate this unhealthy behaviour I must – can’t let any potential Tash Aws or Tan Twan Engs of this nation’s claim to Booker fame stay in hiding forever, can I?

A quick browse of DBP’s website shone some light on the subject.

Ah, eligibility for funding: local publishers must publish non-fiction books and they must be in Malay.

DBP only publishes the following genres: Buku Mewah; Buku Biografi; Buku umum bukan fiksyen; Buku pengetahuan remaja; Buku bergambar kanak-kanak (informatif); Buku pengetahuan kanak-kanak. Okay, now we know one major reason why the fund has not been utilised.

No fiction.

But is it not true that to propel any language to its pinnacle, we must not discriminate against any particular genre?

Are we not supposed to read all kinds of everything for knowledge’s sake?

After all, English fiction authors in the likes of Hemmingway, Camus (translated) and Austen have, in their own ways, been instrumental in setting the benchmark for English literature.

If we dream of seeing Malay as a language of knowledge, we would certainly fare much better by nurturing more Usman Awangs (Tongkat Warrens) and Adibah Amins in our literary scene, no?

On a whim, I randomly clicked on the link titled Ingin Menulis? – which promptly led me to an “object not found” page.

What a letdown.

I say, Datuk, if you want to put the fund to good and full use, you ought to leverage on the new media – the Internet – more effectively.

Simply placing the advertisement in your magazine and in local newspapers alone is no longer sufficient these days.

You can emulate what local publishing house Silverfish does; it vigorously promotes the birth of new authors with its Silverfish New Writing Series and countless other publications – fiction and non. Lastly, Datuk, inviting Raja Lawak to perform at the end of your massive 200 non-fiction books launch?

Given the nature of the event, comedy is stranger than fiction.

● What Elviza Michele Kamal has just written is non-fiction. She blogs at http://www.elviza.wordpress.com

Dalilah’s Book Review (sort of)

The moment I finished writing the title of this post, I thought to myself: “You are an idiot, Elviza! You can’t write your friend’s book review objectively. You’ll be biased.”

Whatever it is, talk about it again I must. The Malay Mail has a write-up about the book launch in their Cyberspot’s section today. The feature is written by Gabey Goh. Click on the link here

At the book launch on Monday – and as it is customary when few bloggers gathered – we had tonnes of fun, and snapped countless photos with each other (syok sendiri kan?). 

One of my favourite shots is that of Datuk Seri Marina Mahathir (best known as ‘Kak Marina’ among us) and Dalilah smiling away at the lense. They both looked so relaxed and calm.

Must learn from them how to look like that in a photo instead of grinning like an opened oyster in front of the camera – like I always do. 

And Darling, you know how I feel: darn proud of you!

Go buy the book already, people.

One maid’s hell, another’s heaven

WHEN J.K. Rowling conjured the existence of house-elves in her famed Harry Potter series, she planted a vicious seed of hope in my head: wouldn’t it be nice to have those invisible, little creatures scurrying around to sweep, dust, clean, cook and make the beds in my home?

Oh, don’t lie; we ‘homemakers’ secretly yearn for a do-it-all Dobby in our house, minus the scary physique. In reality, however (sorry to have snapped you back from the heaven of Hogwarts), domestic help mostly comes in form of cheap (read: sometimes exploited) Indonesian labour.

Scores of Malaysians enjoy the bliss of an almost chore-free life. Some even have two or more helpers at home.

But honestly!

Whatever for?

Modern women are no longer like their mothers who seemed to have found fulfillment by just staying at home and raising kids.

We must have rewarding careers, be involved in decision-making processes, and some even try to altruistically squeeze doing charity work into the equation.

I do know a few women who have chucked their jobs aside and chosen to stay home.

They can’t bear to lose out on best years of their children’s lives – and theirs too.

I do have the greatest respect for these women; I, for the moment, banish any thought of summoning up the courage to… oh, forget it.

However, having the blanket coverage of a maid in your house – to borrow Shakespeare’s overused phrase – is not a bed of roses.

There can be a lion’s share of heartaches as well.

The biggest of these has to be your paradise of privacy lost; you are no longer able to do what you want to, when you want to.

When you have a somewhat stranger who has the role of longtime tenant (oh, please don’t run away with the family treasures, spouse included), there is no way you can lounge undressed in nothing uncomfortable in front your TV.

You are also expected, by life’s code of ethic, to accord them with plain decency, to relate to them as if they were ‘part of your family’ living under the same roof.

As if. Tragic incidents of abuse occur every once in a while; once should really be enough.

But remember the ones scalded (‘my porridge was not cooked right’), or burnt with the iron (‘creases still there, stupid’).

They must have suffered hell at the hands of their employer.

Bruises may heal but the scars of unkindness, cruelty and torture will remain forever.

Nothing beats the privilege of having someone 24/7 to run your household like a well-oiled machine the way a live-in helper can.

Even if you have a daily cleaner to ease your burden, a live-in one can easily achieve a mountain more.

But, like house elf Dobby, no one is invisible.

● Elviza Michele Kamal (www.elviza.wordpress.com) has just bid farewell to her house-help of five years and thinks she will do just fine without a replacement. Her friends visibly shudder at the thought.

Book Launch: Kanser Payudaraku

Who is Raden Galoh?

Ah, that’s her penname. Her real name is Dalilah Tamrin.

What does she do?

She works on a full time basis, like everybody else. She is raising two good looking boys who are growing at alarming speed. She cares for her husband, Mambang Hijau, at the same time. No, she has no maid. 

Is it true that she had cancer?

Yes, she had cancer. In fact she fought the huge cancer waves twice. 

And she wrote a book about it? 

Darn right she did! The book, ‘Kanser Payudara Ku’, will be be launch this Monday (April 20th, 2009) at PWTC. The launch will be held by the publisher, Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka. 

What time

2 p.m. See you there!

To ‘that’ person

Have you no heart at all? Yes, you. You know who you are. 

Then again, I know how much you hate my guts, my bluntness and my on-your-bloody-face directness. I want to let you know I forgive you. Instead, I have forgiven you a long time ago. I even think we should be friends – that’s okay, may be not. 

However, if you have a problem with me, don’t you think you should tell me personally, or on this blog, or on my blatantly obvious email addresses?

Don’t you think it’s such a chore to go half around the world to tell me how much you hate me? You need to get a life! Hire a lifestyle coach or something. 

This isn’t supposed to be therapy, Elviza.  This is a space for happy, shinny people who hold no ill-intention towards anyone. :-)

I am just going to be better so ‘that person’ will go insane hating my guts. Deal?

P/s: Don’t worry friends. I am okay. In fact, I am thriving. 

Technology’s eating away at courtesy

(Click here for the online version)

HAVE you ever taken the LRT from Kelana Jaya to KL Sentral in the heat of a morning rush, let’s say on Thursday?

Ladies and Gentleman: Welcome to Planet Weird, where Nobody-Utters-A-Word.

A while ago, a flock of young executives boarded the train at the Taman Bahagia stop – draped in their formal shirts and leather shoes. Hands firmly gripped on the briefcases.

Throughout the journey, their eyes never once left the screens of their handhelds. Some punched away email and short messages into their Blackberry; some were scrolling the state-of-the-art iPhone screens back and forth, back and forth. None appeared to give a damn about anything around them.

Seating right in front of me was a teenager – who should have been in school an hour ago – with iPod headphones plugged firmly into his ears. I lost his song selection after Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry. But the sound from his iPod was loud enough to fill up an entire shopping mall.

A six-year-old boy sat sandwiched between the iPod teenager and his mother, with the latest version of Game Boy clutched in his fingers. He was oblivious to his surroundings. Watching him, I recalled someone once telling me that he had made it a point to avoid two things in life: illegal substances and electronic game devices. I now know why.

An exception, perhaps, came in a form of an old pensioner in skullcap and walking stick. He sat quietly reading a copy of the Harakah. Reading is decidedly a dying culture in Malaysia.

My quick, nosy glance around me revealed that a pregnant lady badly needed a seat. The bulging varicose veins threatened to pop out of her feet anytime now. A makcik holding a basketful of keropok needed a seat, too, that basket must have weighed at least five kilograms.

Lo and behold, humanity was apparently a foreign concept in this train. Awaken them I must. Let’s disturb the iPod kid, shall we?

“Excuse me son, could you please give up your seat for the pregnant lady?” The eyes of the young executives, the six-year-old boy, his mother and the old pensioners were all on me.

The teenager looked up to my direction. He sniggered. Then he rolled his eyes while saying: “Mind your own business.”

His headphone never left his ears. As to how he could hear me talking is still beyond my comprehension. Fair enough. I should really mind my own business. Who was I to tell him to give up his seat?

The massive bloom of technology dissipates good old-fashioned inter-personal communication. Gone were the days where strangers could carry-on animated conversations in public transport.

Courtesy and respect for the elderly, or the helpless, diminishes into thin air as the younger generation hold on to their handhelds and computer games. Reading, while passing time, can only be seen in pensioners.

Often, for the sake of staying connected to the World Wide Web, we forget the simple pleasures of saying ‘hello’ to the person next to us. While we scour for information splashed on online news-portals, or keeping up virtually with friends on Facebook, we forget to take a break to smell the flowers.

Have we become a nation so infatuated with technology that we have chosen to forsake common courtesy and chivalry? I have to pen off now. KL Sentral was two stops ago.

● Elviza Michele Kamal is a reluctant lawyer who tries to train her runaway thoughts by jotting in her moleskine. She blogs at http://www.elviza.wordpress.com