Sleepless in Setiawangsa – 15

Brain refuses to budge. Creative flow, or whatever that’s left of it, halts for no apparent reason. My soul screams in frustration; my heart kicks in anger. Hassan’s stories lay neglected on my absolutely-to-die-for writing desk. I could hear Hassan “tsking” away at my lack of progress. The fact that he is sailing thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean does not stop him from frowning at me in disgust. I couldn’t quite apportion the blame to this misery. I suspect it must have been the recent change of address for my family. Like a true Taurean, I weather changes with unfriendly attitude. The move to this new abode must be the cause of me not writing anything from the heart.

I miss my pathetic less-than-a-thousand-square-feet apartment. I long for the balcony where I penned down thousands of my incoherent thoughts on my aging moleskin (badly wrinkled and stains of coffee visible from every corner). That balcony had been a Camelot of my life for the past four years. Here I am at the fringe of the new house staring into nothingness. The smell of jasmine permeates the air; the smell grandma loves so much. The drunken sailor struggles to embrace the pillar in its stunted growth. And the frangipani, its young branch soaring up, hoisting a new bloom of white and pink: it smells like heaven. But even the tender touch of nature fails to uplift my spirit as I yearn for my old library in Setiawangsa home.

I remember the day my husband shelved up the old library many years ago. Disgusted by the sight of books strewn around the house, he stormed into Ikea and bought 5 shelves, measuring 8 feet in width. He paid the handyman handsomely to mount the shelves against the wall in the second bedroom. He named the place – with old books haphazardly arranged – “my wife’s library”. I used to sit in that library for hours on end. Once during my pregnancy, I fell asleep on the floor trying to finish the baby journal I started. I was obsessed with Dr. Stoppard’s books and I e-mailed my obstetrician on monthly weekly basis. I wrote notes after notes for Luqman.

A day before Luqman was born, he did not stop kicking the wall of my stomach. I wreathed in utter pain. Hopeless, I sat on the chair in the library and put “Besame Mucho” on air. Miraculously, the child stopped kicking. The song soothed him. I slept a dreamless sleep after that. Lost and forgotten in that space, I found the deepest of solace and comfort I can’t quite explain in so many words. Prior to the move, Mama stripped the shelves bare of books; my heart sank looking at the bereft library.

As I wait for Encik Mukhlas to set up my new library at this still-foreign-home to me, I understand that life evolves and I must make peace with it. Jefree, like a good husband he sometimes is, forsook his other plan for the house to finish up my new library. He must have sensed my restlessness of not having that space to call my own. For that, my love for him knows no bound.

Goodnight sleepless wherever you are…


8 thoughts on “Sleepless in Setiawangsa – 15

  1. Guess what? I do my writing from my balcony, too. No jasmine, frangipani or any kind of flowers; we’re on the 5th floor. But I do have an unobstructed view of the construction site adjacent to my apartment complex, if its any consolation.

    Is that your handwriting? Its a shame the pic is too small. Otherwise, I’d be able to do a handwriting analysis for you, whether you liked it or not [evil grin]

    Have fun with your new abode. Now get with your writing – Hassan is waiting 🙂

    Dear Mat,

    You have an uncanny ability to uplift my spirit passed the smell of frangipani I love so much. As I wrote before, whoever dreams to write (despite the limited talents like yours truly) needs a retreat to call her own. I can read and browse under the most extreme circumstances – construction background, buzzing Starbucks, glaring TV, moving train – but I must write in deafening silence. Funny huh?

    And Hassan, the last time I heard of him is that he is off kissing his lovely girlfriend in Singapore. Nak kena ceramah motivasi budak Hassan ni… 🙂

    Keep on writing Sir and meanwhile I’ll keep clicking your link.

  2. Elviza,

    I wanna see your “absolutely-to-die-for writing desk”! Hehe…

    Anyway, I’m not surprised Luqman was soothed by music…The cochlea develops when the fetus is between 18-27 weeks, after all…

    Dear Daph,

    Oh yeah, the writing desk is absolutely to die for – I kid you not. I’ll upload a picture once everything is sorted at that corner in my home.

    So I heard that babies can listen at pretty early stage. And Besame Mucho of all songs that he is comforted by? Strange child that boy is…

  3. Kak El,
    That shows how much of a ‘bookaholic’ you are 🙂
    Have fun with the new space.

    Dear Akmal,

    Not so much of a bookaholic… lets call it compulsive obsession to be around smelly dusty books 🙂

  4. Aah, I loved this.

    This is what I should do now: I think the ‘trick’ you use to grip your reader’s attention is to put real pen to real paper. Not clackity-clacking away on a keyboard. It’s honest and certainly from the heart since the slow movement of the nib enslaves and forces you to compose your prose properly. You and my alter ego Mat Bangkai write such attention-grabbing prose by doing it the old school way; with the keyboard for the final transfer only. If not we’re just pseudo-journalists banging away against a self-imposed deadline. And that’s what mine sounds like. Mechanical. As opposed to fluid and wonderful descriptive prose that sounds human.

    I think you’re getting there, Mish. You have put me on that balcony with you. That’s great writing: to transport the reader where you want him/her to. I know you’re pining for that ol’ familiar – a bit stressful for a new joint. A bigger home isn’t always the answer, sis, but it fills a family’s needs. Don’t get too sentimental. I think you’ll get used to the new place and many happy hours awaits you to create –and to eventually share…

    I’m sleepless too, but in Melaka a the moment. Tahlil session and perhaps a tete-a-tete with Doc Z and the editor of Harakah (yes, he’s a classmate fo mine) later.

    Dear Brother,

    Its been a while since you last have a soiree in this blog. Now you are back much to my pleasure. I heard all about your gathering with the famous blogger from Malacca; he will never make me forget about it with her gloating sms telling me about what asam pedas you were all having. Chet!

    To me, its all about familiarity; and familiarity takes time. Novelty isn’t really my forte but I’ll take it like a woman! See ya soon…

  5. I fırst heard Besame Mucho when I was an undergraduate at UEA. We were
    watchıng a vıdeo recordıng of Harı Raya Specıal produced by Sıngapore
    Broadcastıng Corporatıon and ıt was sung ın Malay by Nona Asıah (or one
    of her contemporarıes). Very soothıng ındeed.

    I know what a mıssed opportunıty not to start bloggıng when ın
    beguılıng and exquisite Istanbul. What better way to do ıt than when at the
    Grand Bazaar/Sultanahmet tea gardens ın the company of wise ladies and
    gentlemen and swotty students from Istanbul University in deep thought sıppıng
    copıus amount of Turkısh tea ın daınty tulıp shaped glasses and inhaling and
    puffing for hours and hours the fruity favoured tobacco from the nargileh. The
    air is impregnated with apple and strawberry scented intoxicating breeze. I had
    my fair share of the odd puff, and surprised myself that I could do it non-stop
    and still felt insatiable. Is blogging and winding down in tea garden under the
    canopy of fruit bearing grape trees possible?

    Oh, and I haven’t told you the incomparable beauty of the 3-hour Bosphorous
    cruise which is better than the trips by Venice waterbus, Syney Harbour Ferry,
    or Victoria Harbour Star Ferry. Nothing can top the silhouette of Istanbul at
    sunset, viewed from the mighty Bosphorous Strait.

    One marvels at the minarets,
    Palaces, kiosk and yalis of the Sultans embroidering both the Europe and Asia
    shores in quiet relaxationare and contemplation. Followed by people watching
    the swotty types bopping the nite away on the large private boat to the accompaniment of lightning and thunder in the forms of the majestic firework diplay and the Turkish belly dancing music. What a heady mix and an unforgetabble memories …


    Dear aMir,

    You have just wrote a travelogue on my blog. How I long to be in faraway places to write and write and write about the sense of smells, sights and sounds foreign to my senses. Please, just start a travelogue on any portal of your choice. Turkey is home to magnificent history many still wonder about it and you have the privilege to be there. What takes you so long to start a blog is everyone’s wonder.
    Good day my friend.

  6. The above should be flavoured (not favoured )and relaxation and contemplation (not relaxationare ..). See, what bewitching Istanbul has done to a decent guy like me. But now back to familiar, albeit stale, surrounding. And I’m craving for nargileh at tea garden among the really really smart set BIG TIME. Thank God I didn’t try the hamam.

  7. i have been wandering in the web and found this site. i love reading too! i don’t have a library though. a cabinet will do… oh by the way, you didn’t like love in the time of cholera?

    Dear Gkae,

    You wrote a lovely poems in your blog. And no, the “library” I have isn’t a library in literal meaning. Its just rows of books I collected throughout the years. It isn’t catalogued or alphabetically registered (god I must be insane to do that!).

    Yep, I got lost in Marquez. All those long webs of sentences isn’t to my liking. I chucked the books after chapter 10 I think. To each her own yes?

    Hope to see you here again. Take care

  8. Elviza
    After hearing not-so-nice remarks regarding my odour and belly from dear wife as soon as she picked me up in Alor Star, now I regret I didn’t let someone with firm hands do a pommel horse on my bloated body and chisel and scrub it to perfection immediately before leaving Istanbul.

    I foresee the “trouble” with blogging is instead of limiting my post to travelogues, parenting, local history and ASTRO miserable service, I’m bound to get gatai tangan and straddle into corporate governance and higher education, and ruffle a few feathers along the way. We shall see …

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