Sleepless in Janda Baik

(Originally written on 17 January 2009)

Have you ever had that perfect moment you cherish a lifetime?

I could name a few:  one evening at Weston Park in Sheffield where I laid my body flat on the lush field, the daffodils moved timidly along with the spring breeze, the smell of freshly-cut grass wafted through my nostrils; that sweltering hot day, back when I was a child, playing hide and seek with my friends down at grandma’s orchard, monitor lizards and leeches never bothered me at all; the sound of waves helplessly crashing itself along the shores of Batu Buruk, a melody of water so haunting I could never forget the intensity.

And tonight adds to that long list of perfect moments I have been so blessed to keep in the deepest corner of my heart. Few lines scribbled on the Moleskine, too, would help jog the brain whenever needed. Janda Baik has never been foreign to me but we are hardly best buddies either, until recently.

Here on the grass of Zaini’s Guesthouse, I lay on the matt we spread around us, not far from the barbeque pit. Low cloud eases itself to the east, paving way for the thousands of stars in the sky to shine on us. The faint sound of Chal’s voice, singing rhymes to little Amin and Ammar, punctures the still of the night. Midnight wind caresses my bare face; my nose twitches a little to fight the cold breeze.

When I close my eyes, I hear gushes of water running against the slippery stones and pebbles of the surrounding waterfalls, crickets holding a shouting match and the lone voice of seruling from the chalet atop the hill. 

Nights like this would inspire me until the birth of dawn in the sky. I wish I could hide in here forever, to romance the words away, to read until I turn blue in the face or to just lay still in the sweet embrace of nature.

Tell me, my friends, have you ever had moments like this? Goodnight wherever you are.

Postscript: I snapped the photo above from the spot where I wrote this, and I tragically lost the Moleskine. My heart bleeds until now. 


20 thoughts on “Sleepless in Janda Baik

  1. This is just my initial comment (had not finished writing my own post yet) – I’ll come back again. I had read it quickly in the hope that it won’t be at the back of my mind, so that I can concentrate on my own writing:-)

    THE PICTURE!…Only at the end is it known that it’s a photo. And taken by you. It looks so artistic and I had thought it was a painting! The darker tone of the leaves in the background, and the brighter ones at the front… and then the pitch-black nothingness beyond – it’s beautiful!

    Dear Mat,

    Only it wasn’t pitch black that night but my outdated camera does not have the ability to capture the image of the twinkling stars. My friend, Tajul, has one of those expensive camera but he was too busy goofing around than snap picture of stars.

    Read your post about your good friend, David R, and you were pretty excited, were you not?

  2. Dear Elviza,

    I’m so sorry for the lost of your precious Moleskine. I could understand how does it feel. When the most closest book in your heart gone missing, Fuhh! those feelings is so unbearable. No other Moleskine could ever replace it. Sometimes we lost something to gain other things more valuable.

    By the way, thank you so much beyond words could ever express for stopping by at my humble blog. You and Sir MB inspire and motivate me to read. Again grazie tantissimi e buon giornata.

    Dear Azah,

    Oh my, I have miles to learn before you can equate me with that famous MB. But I am happy to know that I could inspire others in writing.

    I lost the Moleskine, even if I have a few, it’s not the same with the one I lost. I had drawn ugly graffiti, aimless writing and mind mapping on it. Oh, I can’t bear to talk about this. Sob, sob, sob…

    Err, don’t get that last sentence in French. Tak tahu!

  3. Elviza,

    Reading this post reminds me of one of those perfect moments in my life.

    Nowadays work and family obligation often get in the way. Or may be I am just getting old. 🙂

    Dear Hashim,

    You are old, just not a spring chicken anymore 🙂

  4. “Have you ever had that perfect moment you cherish a lifetime?”

    This is an eye-opening question phrased in a very powerful way.

    I like! I very like!

    This from the legendary story teller in blogsphere? I have died and gone to heaven. Heh

  5. Perfect moments, yes I have a few. Here are brief outlines of the quite decent ones: In my teen, there were a few wow moments when we played galah panjang, in my early 20s – when English breakfast never tasted so good, in mid 40s – absorbing Planters’ Tales in hydrotheraphy pool. Alas, no time to elaborate right now, must get back to work. Thank you for sharing your inspired moments.


    You always tell half-story like this one! Alas, work is priority.

  6. I have my perfect moments, but she is now gone. Gone because I was an idiot she eventually found out about it.

    If I could turn back time, I want those perfect moment with her again. Doesn’t matter when. Now that I talk about this, I feel like a bigger idiot.

    How I wish my perfect moments can be as easily found as yours, Madam. But from your writings, I know that it wasn’t easy for you before too right? Apology for being presumptuous.

    May be I should just give this Zaini chalet a call and see if I could relive my perfect moments.

    Dear Jasmi,

    Oh, dear…did I just stir up an old scar in your heart?

  7. You write inspiringly blogger/writer. If you ever write that book, I will be the first to buy, that is a promise. It’s breezy in here and I often seek comfort with pleasant tone writing. Have you ever considered doing this on full-time basis? Just a thought.

    (Saw you on facebook of my friend but seganlah nak add 🙂 nanti you tak kenal!)

    Dear B Blues,

    Thank you so much, and if you introduce yourself, I would surely accept your request on facebook.

  8. My youngest daughter, 14 years old, thinks that music is the only form of art. Especially her weird funky music with foul language or raps? I don’t know!

    Last week, I found her reading this blog on the computer and I ask her what is she reading. She told me this woman is a form of art too.

    Enough said, I am a fan already. Congratulations Eliza.

    Oh dear…I know nothing about rap music. LOL

    And I live to believe that art comes in many, many forms…

  9. Sudah lah wehhhhh…

    Aku dah kata, tutup jer ofis tuh, tulis blog, tulis buku, tulis column. Kalau tak cukup duit jgn carik aku!! Dengan cara kau belanja tuh, memang confirm lah tak cukup. Hahahahaahhaha!

    Oh shut up, woman!

  10. My personal take,Elviza…you have that unique talent to be able to pick out the ordinary…items, episodes, places; then you go on to caress and massage them lovingly with simple, staightforward words such that the end product is a powerful piece of writing,emotionally provoking yet entirely soothing.The perfect nightcap, truly!Carry on ,that talent should ot go to waste(and never get phobic about petty things like grammar..only weirdos like my English Literature professors more than 3-decades ago mind these petty details!)

    Dear Sir Higashi-san,

    You say the nicest things, so much so that I actually look forward to read your comment here or at other blog. Thank you so much for the endless encouragement.

  11. Your mentioning about the “outdated camera”, and your friend Tajul having “an expensive camera” (like Mat Salo’s probably?) – I remember having read something about “equipment” just a couple of weeks ago. And this holds true with possibly everything, I think.

    One expert photographer gave this advice – Time and effort should be on “trying to get the best picture” instead of thinking about the camera and what it does not have. Your picture above is proof of this. To me, the viewer, it doesn’t matter at all what you had used – the result is GREAT, and that’s all there is to it.

    As for Tajul and the expensive camera – Well, if one doesn’t use it, what’s the use?:-) There’s also something `bad’ about expensive equipment – people tend to have very high expectations. And why shouldn’t they? Unfortunately, the owner wouldn’t have the option to blame his equipment when the results are mediocre:-)

    Anyway, expensive equipment also tends to be “better”. Given the choice, everyone would want to have the best tools at his disposal. But since that’s not always possible, improving one’s skills and utilising whatever is available to the maximum will always yield better results than “having the best”.

    BTW I’m starting to get interested in digital photography after seeing your pixs and by others at Facebook, and after having a tryout with Bang Zawi’s Sony during David’s visit. I hope one day I’ll be justified to have an expensive Digital Nikon or Canon SLR – “work-related” (trying to figure out *what* work).


    If you ask me, you must have one of those digital camera and post the photos on facebook!

  12. What a stroke of fortune – the comment from higashi-san has helped me to explain it. There’s another one – your strength with descriptions; plus in stringing simple words elegantly… these are among the reasons why so many people love your writings.

    With me, “Descriptions” are among my weak points. Maybe it’s because I don’t observe. Have to do something about it – reading a book about this might help.


    If your weakness is description, mine is the tenses, and the punctuation, and synthax, and the list goes on. It’s okay, we can all learn more from each other.

  13. Dear Elviza,
    Your words triggered my mind to think of a moment like that too. How I miss it. Beautifully written.

    – A fan 🙂

    Dear Eskapisminda,

    And I am a reader of eskapisminda.blogspot too…

  14. Yes, moments like these worth more than gold. 🙂 Reminds me of how a simple life can a wonderful one!

    Hi Chin Li,

    How are you doing and how’s the little baby? Glad you still have time to visit this site. True, isn’t it? Life’s greatest treasures are those simple moments…

  15. Dear Elviza,

    That title “Sir” is too pompous,methinks.I am just another ordinary person who posts comments(only to your blog and that “other” one) sometimes,when I can spare the time, and honestly,when the urge to do so overrides my inherent anxiety(all the time!) at how others may view my writing.At the risk of being considered presumptious, I guess my postings are pretty harmless and generally ok( I do hope so).And many thanks for the encouragement,as per your
    recent comment in the “other” blog.


  16. mmm… most of the time mate…most of the time…being alone is somewhat precious, i recalled that particular moment in Iranian desert during my backpacking trail years back

    i hv a chat with zaini few weeks ago and discover that the water from the stream crossing his guesthouse had been polluted, the lushy green area had been cut-off by neighbouring building project

    smthin’ need to be done to janda baik ‘ere mate


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