Thursday, July 21, 2016

Remnant of Yesterdays

Parts of Dungun coastal line are slowly pushed inland by ferocious sea as days gone by. They took them away, leaving a little behind. We hardly see spinifex grass nowadays, the thorny vegetation that steals the look of sea urchin, which once detached, would roll along the sandy dunes for children to chase after. That alarms nearby crabs to scurry themselves sideways into their holes until they hear footsteps' pitter-patter fade away behind the rough note of roaring waves surging towards the sodden footprints. In December, the sea gets its full power from the moon, and becomes so short tempered that it always wants to go against the land in full force, destroying everything within its reach. The severely destroyed seaside road along Teluk Lipat beach once became the shameful evidence of land's (and the human's too) defeat in the worst war of nature in modern Dungun history, now that children can no more chasing after spinifex grass and annoy crabs' daily business. Local authority has placed concrete structures that supposedly fix the destroyed area. We cannot foresee the future of our beach as the sea has a mind of its own. Many Decembers past, it has probably become better at adapting to the changes, and the concrete waves breaker are only shooing the waves away to other area instead. What left now as the remnant of yesterdays are short beach line of Sura Tengah and its next door neighbour, Sura Hujung that holds the door to the realm of elves and jungle spirit of eerie Bukit Bauk. Recently in July, I stopped by Sura Tengah beach in one Dungun afternoon, only to look at the calm sea and speak with it and the mind wondered when this beauty will last, before I could bring along my beautiful missus in her sheer cotton t-shirt and kain batik jawa.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Less Strings Attached

One year more and I will be reaching thirty but I still ditch people from my life every now and then. Popular wisdom tells someone near this age, when dealing with confrontation, should be docile, calm, and gentle. I embrace the idea and put it into practice all right, letting the bear with the sore head growl. Unbeknownst to them, as I walk away, I have ended all connections with them. From then on, they are no longer exist, unimportant, insignificant like a speck of dust in the universe. In social media, that would be a single click that removes the victim's account from my friends list. Pathetic it may sound, I cut the connection in real world as well. It has crossed my mind that my puny body on the deathbed would not be accompanied by many people because of that. Malaysia population is approximately thirty million. Thirty million antics to deal with. Sorting them into several groups with whom I am comfortable to deal, taking accounts differences of skin colour, culture and faiths, sexual orientation, age, nature of profession, political views, hobbies, etc.; that would leave me only a handful. A handful of people making a fragile network like criss-crossing cotton strings tied to pins pricked at random points on a softboard like seen in movies; one pin holds a photo of one man and the string connects to another. The strings sketch possible interaction between people; glimpses, silent judgment, small talk, casual conversation, pretentious laugh, argument now that the string is outstretched then broken making them become strangers once again. I am the gray pin over there positioned somewhere at the corner, separated from others by huge gaps at all sides, silently observing in solitude and peace. That huge ball of cotton strings down there is not important to me anymore.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

We Are All Actors

“Actors – actors Pok Deng, do you think they see those people at the benches?” questioned Al. It was raining heavily that evening.

“What?” I replied, bewildered.

“God, Pok Deng! A theater stage, there are actors acting,” Al grunted, “Do you think they see people watching?”

"They don’t, I suppose.”

“You shouldn’t be one,” said Al before sipping his tea. “Be the one who watches instead. The problem with you, Pok Deng, is that you see them but never observe.”

“I am observant,” in my defense.

“But you never learn anything from them,” Al reprimanded. He continued, "You can't be anywhere better than at a bus station for crowd watching. Lots of weird people over there showing different characters, idiosyncrasies, awkward social interaction. One day I saw one man wearing a ring with big gemstone on his every finger..."

"Long time haven't been at bus station, mate," I said.

"You never learn," Al replied, took another sip of his tea. He seemed uninterested to tell me more about people at the bus station.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Devil Within

People are so drifted with fear of hypocrisy. I embrace hypocrisy for crying out loud, if you define hypocrisy as ‘false profession of desirable publicly approved qualities’. Had I obeyed the devil within, I would have been so vulgar, pervert and harsh at my workplace.

My creed was shaken to its core a month after I signed my tenure agreement. Forgive me; I did not spank any young lady’s bottom. I had a quarrel with my former lab superior over a dispute about whether I should be her shadows, trailing her every step in the organization as a lad manipulated to do all the jobs while she can take care of her personal business or commit treason by choosing someone else with better skills and profound knowledge as my rightful superior. She had unpleasant views of a man I was about to work with. Dirty workplace politics. Then we had a fight through email. It was a nitpicking and rebuttal game in which I wished not to prolong as before my very eyes was a woman who possessed a very weak reasoning (quality of a bad scientist), so weak that I thought I might have gotten better comebacks if I had an argument with a dud coconut. My ambition, career path, and future were matters which she selfishly chose to overlook. She has finally known my true colours – sarcastic, outspoken, a formidable wordsmith forging letters for destruction. That was the last time I spoke to her, and then silently clad myself again under the veil of hypocrisy.

Men really are a minority at my department. I find it difficult to find an apprentice among them who are willing to inherit a responsibility which I am slowly developing distaste for. It would be the same person carrying out duty as an imam of any congregation, leader of khatam Quran ceremony, sometimes source of general Islamic jurisprudence. It is pretty straight forward to be one – you must be fluent pronouncing Arab words, possess excellent clarity in speech, confidence that moves a mountain. I have all those qualities perfectly covering my fallible spiritual virtue. I understand very clearly that they cared not the meaning of the prayers. So do I. They would amin in unison whenever the prayers reach a comma. Food matters the most. Roasted lamb & cheese cakes. May they know the man reciting prayers out loud at my workplace’s every social event also has the devil within.

In jest, a few of elderly ladies at my workplace proposed me to be their son-in-law. You know, it is heartwarming looking at a lad donning perfectly matched turquoise baju melayu paired with navy sampin wrapped around his loin, sitting cross-legged politely, body rocking to the sine wave rhythm of mass zikir. Pretentiously, giggled a little in embarrassment, I said I am nowhere near a fine gentleman for their dear daughters. I learnt how to say that from watching movies. If they hear my inner voice or see images in my mind, they must have warned their daughters to stay away from this creep.

After dissing my former lab superior until she hurt so bad that she took few days leave to lick her wound, I lead my life as a quiet man at my workplace – too quiet that every day I wished I come and go unnoticed like a cat out of its nightly prowls. I was told by my colleague that she badmouthed me in front of my boss. My subconscious saw disappointment in his eyes, a hint of regret for letting me in permanent position. Regaining his trust took me three years. Bootlicking I must not.

Hypocrisy saves me from more troubles over here. I wonder whether I define hypocrisy well herein. There is indeed a gap between feeling and action. Hard to accept it is already written somewhere in the divine realm that I must walk through this path. Perhaps it is just a way of cleansing bad vibes hovering my skin every now and then. Perhaps one day you will see me as a soft-spoken man wearing enormous serban, large white beard, white robe, talking about Sufi stuff like Hakikat Insan and shit.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Lemon tarts. Valencia orange tarts. Oregano bread. Cinnamon roll. Apple crostata. Pear crostata. Aglio olio spaghetti. Pesto spaghetti. Chicken curry. Fish head curry. Fried rice. Tom yam. Beef soup. Lemon tart again, but a little less tangy. Orange tart. Baking and cooking are my current obsession. I think I will be a good husband with these self taught skills.

You don't want to invite me to any football match. I don't know jack about football. But I'll invite you to my place where you yes yes yes please chop the cilantro for me while I saute the shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Pass me the salt, please. Thank you. We will wait for the spaghetti cooked al dente (I don't know what that means, anyway). I will pretentiously plate the pesto spaghetti on a big round white plate like Jamie Oliver does. We will sit facing each at a small table with dried flower stalks placed in an empty glass jar in the middle. We will see each other's face showered with incandescent light that colours everything warm. We will let the television back there blare whatever appears on screen so that we could sense extra company. We will talk about almost anything in particular except football. We'll go deep into our nation's politics and their clowns. We will exchange stale jokes. We'll wash the dishes together then close the night with a cup of my watered down version of affogato and a slice of lemon tart. Bitter and sweet, just like our future will be.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

He Is Alive

Mat Jeng with a baby stroller. Photo source.
He is still alive and kickin'. I wrote about him some time ago. A reader had probably mistaken my Mat Jeng and the one from his memories. He is surely not dead as I found a Facebook page dedicated to bringing news related with Dungun published a photo of Mat Jeng seen pushing a baby stroller yesterday. The caption under the photo says, in a thick Terengganuspeak:

"legend dungun...dari admin skoloh lg mmg takut ke mat jeng kdang2 sakit ati tgk budok2 brahi sangat khianat ke dia..padahal dia dok cara ke orang pun..mat jeng mat jeng..aku eluk mu kang aku iyum mungg..hehe ayat femes dia"

... which translates;

"This is Dungun's legendary figure. Ever since my (the page admin) school days I was very afraid of Mat Jeng but sometimes my heartstrings were torn by children who loved making fool out of him whenever he never brings problem to anybody.

O Mat Jeng.

'Aku eluk mu kang aku iyum mung (I'll hug you, I'll kiss you)'.

Hehe that is his words known by everybody."

The comment section was swarmed with colourful remarks and childhood memories about Mat Jeng from Dungun netizens. Someone says the bicuk (swollen flesh) on this forehead has gone. Another observant Mat Jeng's researcher said Mat Jeng should have been given Innovation Award for his creativity in adding accessories to his stroller. It seems like everybody loves him.