Kalam Aidil Fitri

28 Ramadhan 1429
12:33 p.m.

Malam ini hujan. Kata Nenek, hujan di penghujung ramadhan besar berkatnya. Kemungkinan pintu syurga terbuka luas tatkala lailatul qadar diturunkan. Segala doa yang dipanjatkan di malam seperti ini akan termakbul.

Aku rindu Nenek, rindu bau bunga melur di sanggul rambutnya. Aku rindu melihat nenek mengacip pinang, mengapur daun sirih and menggulung tembakau selepas berbuka puasa. Terbayang kekalutan Nenek bersiap mengejar isyak dan teraweh di surau.

Teringat arwah Atok bertakbir raya pada setiap subuh aidil fitri. Sudah tujuh tahun aku tidak mendengar suara atok.

Jauh benar anak seluang ini melaut, kadang-kadang aku lupa kampung halaman. Alpa mengejar duniawi, tertinggal sesuatu yang fana bernama keluarga. Terkesima melihat dunia lalu tangkas melupakan asal usul.

Masa untuk pulang ke kampung halaman. Salam Aidil Fitri.

Note to self: never read books on Hari Raya, Mama hates it when you do that. Kata adek, “jangan nak anti-sosial, pegi beraya!


Writer’s Writuals

Last night, alone in my secret tree-house, I chanced upon a quote by Virginia Woolf, “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” With all due respect to Ms. Woolf, the latter I have a plenty but the former I seriously lack! I would venture to conclude that Ms. Woolf did know what she was talking about since literary authors are poorly paid unless you write like J.K. Rowling. And Ms. Woolf also lends me an excuse never to finish the manuscript since I have no money. 🙄

In my wildest dream, I attend the Ubud Writers Festival in Bali, preferably as a published author not just as a reader. Literary giants gather every once in a year in Bali – the Island of the Gods. Since that picture remains a dream in my head, let’s talk about where and how you write your piece.

I know, I know that I am untaggable and yet I have the audacity to start this tag. Oh, judge me all you want!

I found the tag at Writer’s Retreat and I hereby tag Mat Salo, Mat Bangkai, Jac, Puteri Kamaliah, Pak Zawi, Ahmad Cendana, Thetha, Kak Teh and Tunku Halim – only if he’s not too busy writing the new book. You don’t have to do it, but you will do it anyway because you love me. 😆

1. Where are you?

At home, I am always at the 2nd living room which has been converted into a mini library – thank you is long overdue  to Sir Zain, master of the house – where I keep all my books and writing materials. Here’s a little peep at my treasured antique writing desk:

Outside, I write at Starbucks, exclusively Starbucks since I am addicted to that devil of a latte drink.

In my dream, I write in my little retirement home by the fringe of  the South China Sea or alternatively, at some forgotten motel down the less-travelled path in Wales. Machynlleth, perhaps?

2. What are you writing with?

Pencil on a moleskine. Lately with this awesome ballpoint I found at CZip Lee stationery shop. On an afterthought, Mat Bangkai was absolutely right, fountain pens do make my moleskine bleeds – no to fountain pens then.

3. What is the oddest object in front of you?

I am a boring person, I don’t keep odd stuff.

4. What are you listening to?

The sound of silence. I like it quiet. But sometimes, the sound of Julio Iglesias signing La Carraterra could be darn soothing.

5. Is there anyone else in the room?

No. Absolutely no. What kind of question is this? I thought all aspiring writers like to be left alone, no?

6. What time of the day is it?

The coherent piece usually comes after 2 in the morning. The crappy stuff, oh well, anytime of the day.

7. What do you look at when you are looking for inspiration?

Preferably an ocean but I make do with the skyline at night. The frangipani, the jasmine and the drunken sailor at the garden patch next to the car porch. Above all, the love of my life: Luqman. But right now, given his bouts of screaming and kicking, he’s not much of an inspiration, an intimidation more like it.

8. What is guaranteed to remove your concentration?

Blackberry not on silence mode and the husband asking, “can I use your laptop?”

I open this tag to everyone who feels like doing it, at the very least, your hour will move faster towards 7 p.m. today.

RPK under seige

Malaysiakini reports at 1:30 p.m. today, that Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK) will be sent off to Kamunting Detention Centre, to serve a two-year detention period under Internal Security Act 1960. The sentence warrants the authority to detain RPK  without first being tried in an open court of law: a serious infringment of one’s human rights.

Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar, signed the detention order pursuant to Section 8(1) of the same draconian Act.

If you asked me, the ruling government has gone completely out of its wits to seal such order on RPK  during watershed moment such as right now. Barisan Nasional (BN) gives another reason for Pakatan Rakyat to trumpet on the former’s obvious inability to lead the country.

Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,  must bear in mind that invoking the ISA would not be a mere faux pass which can easily be forgotten by the people.

As I said to Anwar and I am now repeating the same to Pak Lah: “you have a distinct – but tiny – window of opportunity to do the right thing”. Please repeal the ISA.

Harris Ibrahim published in his blog, The People’s Parliament, a message from the famous blogger. RPK – just like thousands of PRK supporters – placed his bet on Anwar in the country’s most-watched power struggle. In the event Anwar fails to deliver his promise, I bet with all my money  (which is not much, thank God!) that RPK will lounge in Kamunting for a mighty long time. Worse, if Najib get to be Prime Minister in BN’s power reshuffle which looms near.

(Poster stolen from Mob without his permission)

Quo vadis, Anwar?

(Published in the Star on September 24, 2008. Click here for the online version)

You don’t have to be one of the three witches in the tragedy of Macbeth, to accurately predict the political debacle, post 2008 general election. As the dust settles after the election, Pakatan Rakyat has been relentless in criticising the ruling government. The opposition coalition launches attack after attack on economic policies, soaring inflation rates notwithstanding the esteemed growth predicted by the government’s economist and the most controversial use of the infamous Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) on bloggers and politician – to name a few.

Anwar Ibrahim – who recently resurrected from political incarceration by the previous administration under Tun Dr. Mahathir – declared in no uncertain terms that Pakatan Rakyat will take over the government on the symbolic September 16. Anwar’s confidence was fueled to the inflammatory point after he won the “mother” of all by-elections at Permatang Pauh – a seat of which was vacated by his wife to pave way for him in Parliament.

He held countless press-conferences to that effect sending a shiver down the spine of the ruling Barisan Nasional and its hard-core supporters. Anwar confidently stated that he has enough “defectors” from the ruling coalition to form a simple majority in Parliament thus lending him the ticket to the premiership.

Anwar – an orator by birth – promised, inter-alia, a government for all notwithstanding one’s race, to revamp the New Economic Policy which thus far only benefited the elite Malays. In his bid to sweeten the deal further, Anwar pledged to reduce fuel price at 50 cents lower if Pakatan Rakyat took over the government.

The promises are all music to the people’s ears.

Unfortunately, the much-anticipated September 16 dawned and set as eventless as other ordinary day – to say the least. Anwar fails to publicise the name of the “defectors” as anticipated by many. Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, publicly called Anwar’s bluff by challenging him to publish the name of the defectors, leaving Anwar tethering at the end of his rope.

September 16 goes down in history as a very bad day for Anwar.

My political stand, however, will never be the same again. To me, Pakatan Rakyat’s larger than life figure, Anwar Ibrahim, is just another consummate political animal who would have given his proverbial right arm to be Prime Minister. His ardent desire to head the country leaves a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. In his rush en route Putrajaya, Anwar betrayed the trust of fence-sitters and some of his supporters as the widely -criticized Barisan Nasional remains in power on September 16.

Post September 16, Anwar’s claim of having more than 30 “defectors” to crossover to his side of the battle sounds rhetoric.

But one must bear in mind that Anwar is just another product of Barisan Nasional’s system. Anwar’s political path is largely formed on Barisan Nasional’s platform. The blue-eyed boy turned nemesis of Tun Dr. Mahathir has a lot to do before Pakatan Rakyat crowns him Prime Minister. He undoubtedly won the affection of the watchful – sometimes down right nosy – international media but Anwar has rooms for improvement at his home soil.

As Anwar’s clock ticks loudly and the patience of the people grows thinner vis-a-vis the current standoff between Anwar and Abdullah, the former has a distinct, but tiny window of opportunity to do the right thing: either walk the talk or shut up.

To sum it up clearly, time is a luxury which Anwar cannot afford. His expensive dream in becoming Prime Minister could render the loosely formed Pakatan Rakyat asunder if he placed a wrong bet on this high stakes power struggle.

As at September 16, 2008 Anwar remains a Prime Minister-in-waiting.

Sleepless in Setiawangsa – 18

I swear I am not trying to plagiarise Ms. Bradshaw in writing the swanky ‘Sex and the City’. Neither am I trying to assuage the fault of men as blatantly displayed in that preposterous ‘Desperate Housewives’. And no, I will never change the aloofness against men as deeply felt by Meridith Grey in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. But, the follies of men never cease to amuse me and this is what we shall talk about tonight.

On a completely off-topic note, I drool all the same, every time Patrick Dempsey who plays Dr. Derek Shepherd appears on the screen. He just oozes sex, don’t you think? ( I sincerely hope children are not reading this blog).

Men – and, for the life of me, this subject is still rocket-science to my brain – have been guilty of drawing inspiration from women only to swiftly return home to their wives without an iota of guilt. Hemingway sat at at Place St-Michel in Paris, saw a beautiful woman walked into the cafe, immediately possessed her in his mind and began writing furiously.

Since he was Earnest Hemingway, whatever he wrote that day turned out to be a masterpiece, which was subsequently published in his collection of essay ‘A Moveable Feast’. What I find rather intriguing,  is that the fact that he then headed home, cordially asked his amiable wife to pack her bag, to go to a chalet below Les Averant – to appease his desire to write elsewhere. Why can’t the wife be his inspiration instead of other woman?

Beats me.

I am no relationship connoisseur, but what Hemingway did is hardly an exception to the general rule. Both, men and women, take the persons closest to them for granted. I shudder thinking about those stories when familiarity breeds contempt, if not, outright callousness – be it in in a marriage or relationship.

A dear friend (a publisher to a local magazine, nonetheless) uttered something in jest to me, ‘… but she is happily married’. To which I unthinkingly replied, ‘My dear, no one is. Those are magazine stuff, you of all people should know that!’ And the publisher laughed out loud.

Of course, marriage has its lion share of advantage but to be deliriously, happily married or to be in a relationship without trials and turbulence are just  fairy tale materials. After the novelty wears out and one’s idiosyncrasy becomes more pronounced: reality reigns supreme. And reality – true to its form – is hard to swallow. This, would be a real test in your relationship.

On a more contemporary note, my blogging sister, The Witch, recently wrote a profound post on fidelity or lack thereof. Do read her, she is so real; she sends a shiver down my spine.

But I remain an incurable romantic. No matter how real it gets, I still believe in love. I end this post with a phrase from Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It: ‘If thou rememberest not the slightest folly, that ever love did make thee run into, thou hast not loved’.

A thousand times good night.

They took Sheih away

I have written so much on oppressive laws and statues, I begin to sound rhetoric. But, as event unfolds, the Police arrested my blogger brother, Syed Azidi of Kickdefella, at his home in Kota Bharu this evening. He is detained pursuant to Sedition Act.

Blogger Amin Iskandar plans a Candle Light Vigil at Bukit Aman tomorrow night around 8:30 p.m. See you there in solidarity.

Much Ado About Nothing

I am going to bed before the Husband comes home from his UMNO meeting and laugh on my face about the make believe crossover. BN is still the ruling government; Abdullah is still Prime Minister; the ISA detainees stay jailed at Kamunting Detention Centre.

Everything else is just rhetoric.

What I find disturbing is when Anwar confidently stated to the  whole world – in no uncertain terms – that Sept 16 takeover is a done deal. The joke is on me.

Politicians are all the same.

p/s: I should have sticked to the creative writing stuff, it’s easier on the blood pressure.