Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Nothing Else Matters

Abu Hurairah (r.a) related that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said,
"Allah does not go after your bodies and appearances, but He scans your heart."
(Sahih Muslim, excerpted from Riyadh-us-Saleheen)

Allah scans our hearts for sincerity and purity of intentions, acts of worship and good deeds performed out of one's dutifulness and piety to Him and Him Alone.

So if I scanned my heart, what would I find? The need to please, the need to be validated, celebrated, liked, followed, and appraised. The need to be voted the best in this and that.

Actually, no. That phase of my online life is gone. I am more concerned about the tracks I leave behind, my breadcrumbs which would hopefully fossilize into something that can benefit me when I am long gone.

I never thought that I would be so much like my paternal grandmother with whom I had spent most of my formative years, short of having a tepak sireh (betel nut palette) and tobacco ready for anyone wanting a morning chat when the house got quiet.

I am now wanting a tepak sireh, not literally, but something common that can bring good friends together at a drop of a hat. And a few ladies to come by and have a chat with me while we wait for Pakcik Seman, who manned the fish and vegetable truck. Or I could go to them. Then again, I am already blessed with communions with friends at least once a week. Anything more, I will risk neglecting my duties and responsibilities as the guardian of the fort.

What is it really that I want? *still scanning my heart*

A full life well-lived.

Does that mean I am going to have to tick box everything that I have not done before I kick the old bucket? No. There are a lot of ideas best executed 10-20 years ago. I have no regrets as my remorse has been offloaded to the best of listeners. And may I never revisit my dark days.

For the next 10-20 years to come, let there be purification and enrichment whilst I endeavor undertakings that befits what I allow myself to do without getting seriously hurt.

A full life of hiccups, glitches and that's-alrights, of small triumphs to the naked eye, but a mountain to Al Wasi', Al Aleemun Hakeem.

Living in the Now

Time, these days feels like a gush of wind, blanketing your being from your toes to the top of your head, lingers for a few second to give you whatever sensation you are meant to feel or experience and then disappears fleetingly without a proper goodbye, as if it is late for an important date. I have had little pockets of opportunity to pause and reflect but chose to let them pass me by, and to be honest, a lot of time lost, sleeping at night when there must be more productive things I could do instead of indulging in my beauty sleep (or whatever that is left of it, not doing much to preserve that either)

When I so choose to have a quiet thought though, it is almost always when I have my conversations with Him, after a few minutes, I am oftentimes distracted. Even then my introspection and contemplation are rushed by something I had forgotten to do, or distracted by something I would like to fill my vision, thoughts and feelings with. Always motivated by what I want to do next or an alternative to what I was meant to focus on.

My attention span is likened to that of a _______. I don't even know what.

What are my current preoccupations, I ask myself.

A nice piece of furniture or art on the resale market. Or an impromptu coffee time with someone I have not seen for a while. Or what to cook, what to eat. What to buy. What to do next week, which requires some planning, booking, payment and all the necessary. And when I throw in what I have to do or prepare for my charge, my household and all, I am spent. Or am I?

How much time do I have left?

How does one live in the now? By not looking back, by enjoying life to the minute, moment to moment? I can't afford that. We are meant to plan and prepare for tomorrow. What happens in the now is the outcome of what we have set out to do yesterday. Today just happens.  And you let it happen. Or do you?

When do we let go? The time I take to think about when and what to let go is the time I lose that I will never get back.

Like, right now.

My apologies for wasting your time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

PMS Relief

How to start the day right. Lol. I am incurably Bam-bam and he is a liar.


A 40 Year Old Child Speaks

"[46:15] We enjoined the human being to honour his parents. His mother bore him arduously, gave birth to him arduously, and took intimate care of him for thirty months. When he reaches maturity, and reaches the age of forty,* he should say, "My Lord, direct me to appreciate the blessings You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. Let my children be righteous as well. I have repented to You; I am a submitter."

I am turning 40 in less than a month. How does that make me feel?

Like a toddler still making baby steps, to be quite honest.  I still wish that I can run to Mak when I get a boo-boo. I still wish that someone will clean up my mess for my own recklessness. I still wish there were more things I am physically and mentally able to conquer as I don't feel like I have lost that sense of wonderment and adventure. As much as I work hard to make the effort to be orderly and more put together in my adult role-play, my slovenliness proves that I am as childish, maybe more so now than I was before.

I don't subscribe to the notion of life only beginning at 40 as I am literally experiencing the effects of gravity and years of neglect as I type this. I am inclined to embrace the idea that from here on in, I am accountable for the square peg in a round hole that I have been almost all of my being conscientious of who I was, where I am now and where I want to be tomorrow. I am secretly scared that who I am today will be the person I will continue to be, and that will be my downfall.

Did I just say that about myself?! In simple words, it basically means that I am a reluctant adult. With some life experience, I know now that the safest thing to do is to assume a responsible adult position in my daily life. It is tiring, it laborious, can I say it is so so hard to be a grown up?! Especially with GST and all *cough*

I know somehow, someday my children will read this, I will say and I think you can see for yourself, hunny bunnies, that being grown ups is hard, let me reiterate but it is nothing short of fun if you know what you are doing! The fun you have as children does not compare to the kind of F.U.N you will have when you hold the reigns to your own lives.

So there, done and dusted!

What I like about my assuming a responsible adult position is that I am empowering myself to overcome the negative energies that used to hold me back from doing what I should or could be doing because it was not age-appropriate (what is that??) or because it was not proper for a girl/wife/daughter or a Malay or a Muslim to be doing this and that. Breaking away from my passive dependence orientation of submissiveness, or my preoccupation with tick-boxing my entitlements, and defiance to what is proper, adult and responsible were my Kilimanjaro.

My friends and family keep telling me that the litmus test to prove that you are an adult is when you do what you do because you want to, because you know how, because you can and dare if someone snubs you, you bite back! Or have the power to say,  "OK, Next!"

Is that true though?  Obviously, I do not have enough life experience to vouch for that...

My life goals are still superficial and materialistic to a degree. The battle of the Nafs is constantly distracting me from more transcendental objectives. The latter give me the will and the hope that Allah will forgive me and will purify me sufficiently to allow me the blessings of seeing His Face in a place where I can be the eternal child that I want to be, running to Mak as we rest where we truly belong or wish to belong. There will be no pain, no aging, no negativity...

Everyone will be in their perfect beautiful existence. I will rest upon her bosom for all of eternity.

Pray for me as I approach the realm of ripeness, that I will be guided to righteousness and that I will keep my responsible adult position according to the Deen.


"[35:37] They will scream therein, "Our Lord, if you get us out of here, we will work righteousness, instead of the works we used to do." Did we not give you a life-long chance, with continuous reminders for those who would take heed? Did you not receive the warner? Therefore, taste (the consequences). The transgressors will have no one to help them."

Aiming To Please

That man is a creature who needs order yet yearns for change is the creative contradiction at the heart of the laws which structure his conformity and define his deviancy.

For as long as I remember, going against the grain has been the point of contention between my parents and I. Just because the wisdom of your parents made little sense then (when most of their recommendations were perceived as stumbling blocks, too conservative, boring). Not cool. Some of them did not make sense. Most of them were just noise I wanted to block out.

Conformity has always been my struggle from the moment I figured out that it was okay to have my own voice because it felt better to have power over what you want to do with your life. My subconscious voice is not always right though. Especially when I make mistakes, I often feel like I have failed my parents, or worse, myself. But when I do get it right, I felt like my existence is validated, I have made my mark. I mattered.

To people. It had meant a lot to me impress people. I do go the extra mile to do exactly that.

My dad used to say, make sure you get it right the first time. Although in hindsight, it meant that I have to take pride in what I set my mind to do, be responsible and accountable for it, do my best, be sincere and there rest will fall into place. No half-cooked endeavours was the real message.

I took it the wrong way, as if there was no room for mistakes. That used to be why I did not try a lot of things, did not go places I wanted to, gave up too early the things I did try. Failed miserably.

I tried everything else that weren't productive, some of them damaging, a few of them down-right dangerous. Look at where it got me? No, I do not have a rap sheet, thank Allah! Things that I was really good at, it did not make it into my parents' good books. Even if they were proud of me, it was a big secret. For a long time while I was growing up, the Malay folks that I knew then were really quiet when it came to their real feelings. I, on the other hand, was American-ized by television. My expectations and sense of entitlements were bizarre.

I struggled with people's judgment despite my recklessness in deviant indulgences as half the time I thought, what-the-hey, what people don't know won't hurt them. The awkward period when you lack foresight, your principles and education get muddled with what is fun for the moment, and most of the time the feeling of invincibility get the better of you. I know now, I have made lots of mistakes, hurt a lot of people and sadly in the process I hurt myself coming to terms with disappointing people and worst of all, disappointing myself.  I wanted. No, I needed to be a star to feel important. But I did it for the wrong reasons, with the wrong people. It landed me in a series of unfortunate events that were necessary to educate me, for the kind of person I was then.

Fortunately though,  people are kind, people are forgiving, some people have let things slide, but most people don't forget. That hurts me everyday. But I am here. Present and accountable. I hope that makes a little difference. I acknowledge that people have given me second, third, fourth chances and maybe more. Some have even forgiven me even before I could muster the courage to ask for forgiveness.

I remember Dad telling me that if your relationship with Allah is good and meaningful to you, you will be inclined to do what is pleasing to Him. Keep your prayers in check, that's what he kept telling me when I came crawling back home, each time a wounded teenage puppy. It made little sense to me then. It made me hate going home, even when I did not have anywhere else to go.

Counting down to the somewhat dreaded big 4-Ohs, I can safely say I am happy that I am being primed into assuming a different path, not any less exciting, in life. Every time I feel the tendency to keep up appearances before people, I am fortunate to always be reminded ( by way of the glitches that happen) that things will be great the first time I do it, when I keep doing what is pleasing to Allah. With the awareness that it will be great because Allah wills it. And that what matters most is when He is pleased with me. If things don't turn out, then, cest la vie! What will be will be...

Maybe now I am more aware of Allah's little mercies and blessings. I am blessed that I have long left what used to be perceived as juvenile fun, i.e. living a dangerous life on the wild side. I am still a newbie in a lot of things, and some of the things I am doing now are pretty wild but the thought processes that I go through before I take a step veers me away from going over the edge. Have I got this grown-up thing down pat? I ask myself.

I have been taught not to think and dwell on my past for my repentance to be meaningful. I am still in the process of training and learning to be a submitter and a prayerful servant. The beauty of this endeavour is that I am dealing with only Allah. He knows my struggles and I know in my heart, He listens and He understands. And He will gladly Forgive me when I ask.

That is my motivation. I am resolved to do good. And die whilst doing something pleasing by Allah. Insha Allah.

P.S: Two consequent posts are sounding somewhat morbid and still very self-indulgent. I don't wish it to be a vanity project. Maybe this coming of age thing is making me a little bit reflective.  And that is a positive. Let's just see how this blogging thing pan out for me this time around...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Makcik Melopong Reinstated

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh

Records show that I started "Everyday is A New Day" in 2004. Which only means the now defunct and no where to be found,"Psychosomatic Confrontations was last published probably a couple of years before that. Last I checked, someone else has adopted my pseudonym, documenting similar things.

I don't remember exactly why I weaned away from blogging. Thanks to instantaneous click-to-share social media, I got too distracted (to keep a cohesive diary) yet even more exhibitionistic in copy-pasting and displaying snippets of my everyday life, sometimes in its raw emotive nature, sometimes cryptic and somewhat academic in others, spiritual at times, nutty and most of the time, self-indulgent in ONE measly sentence, sometimes just 140 words. Meh.

Social media gave me a bigger window to voices and faces, access to news, trends and trivia spreading like wildfire.

Facebook and Instagram have not only connected me with childhood friends and far flung kith and kin, it has now given a little nudge to old bloggers who have continued to keep in touch.

Sentraal Station was never closed. Just slowly abandoned but the bond and camaraderie between those hyperlinked on there was like family. It was a congregation of religious diary keepers consisting of mostly Malaysians and Singaporeans, predominantly living away from home and very many prolific typewriters, soapbox speakers, young and old.

Not many years ago, people kept blogs to document their lives, sometimes incognito to reflect and share experiences in carefully written words, peppered with comedic flair, literary virtuoso, reflective of one's  home and upbringing, a window into lives, hearts and minds. Blogs gave people voices and license to publish freely (before the times of the Orcs *cough* cybertroopers). It felt as if people really took the time to write their pieces. They were not merely an outlet for angry citizens or a means to defame a political figure, although political and intellectual discourse maintained some acidic candour yet almost always done with a degree of civility. At least the ones I frequented, a pedigree of writers not very common on FB and Instagram.

The quality of friends I have made through blogging is astonishing. I had first started writing anonymously before I was noticed by a certain Pok Ku and a much beloved Kak Teh. My first blog was laboriously written with a huge dependence on ye olde thesaurus and medical books to illustrate my battle with IBS and migraine. It was a form of pain management for me. Someone thought I was a man.

My second and third blogs were basically a pictorial journal of my life in Singapore, a new mother at that time, playing house (albeit overzealous in keeping things clean) and always experimenting with new recipes. My friends will remember my daily tango with my mopping sticks and how I loved Clorox bleach (and Lysol). I still do love the smell of antibacterial solutions but you know, I made friends with Bath and Body Works (of course having Josie and Becca lifted the pressure to keep clean because they are pretty good at what they do. Not! I became bossier. LOL).  I met CK (and the rest of the Gebang Gang) and Najah online and we were bosom buddies (or rather foodie anonymous and gungho *cough* kiasu moms) as soon as we met in person.

I kept at least four more incognito blogs and 4 collaborative writing projects with friends in different industries for the motivation to keep writing. An impromptu pantun session in chatrooms gave birth to Puisi-Relay, which I am immensely proud of. My chronicles as a mom and interactions with moms and dads at UmmikuSayang ( some of who blogged via Modblog before crossing over to Blogger/Wordpress) gave birth to two books on breastfeeding and mothering.

The song "Kembaliku PadaMu Ilahi" is for me probably the most meaningful project motivated by the network of bloggers at Sentraal Station. It was indeed a labor of love, a testament of the bond that we have nurtured over the years, over land, skies and seas. With donations collected from loyal followers of Allahyarhamah Dalilah Tamrin, a demo was produced and recorded in Dubai, ready to be marketed to a Malaysian superstar Anuar Zain. It was a very emotional project for me personally and for many of my blog-sisters and brothers. We remember our brothers and sisters who have return home to Allah for the exemplary work they have done in this corporeal world. May Allah elevate their stations amongst the pious. Ameen.

The move to Dubai following the passing of my mother was a major turning point. I had my Makcik Blogger gang to thank for helping me get through the darkest moments of my life. When half of who I am was taken away from me, the first person I called was Kakteh.  When I was bedridden after a difficult pregnancy and birth,  Kakteh came with my Munshi, Awang Goneng, who then lovingly performed Tahnik upon my son and serenaded him with Salawat. Kakteh gave Aishah her first Barbie doll. How can I ever repay such love and kindness? What kind of madness is this to be so connected with someone you hardly know from Adam?

My blog became dormant after Arzachel was born. It became quicker to post pictures and update FB statuses as I juggled being an expatriate weekend wife and  school run Mom.

The very same friends I found in blogosphere are my advocates(and occasional adversaries but usually out of necessity) on Facebook today.  I have met most of them in person. There are still quite a number who are like godmothers, godfathers, soul sisters...twins to me till this very moment. Very many of them I have never met but connected as if we have been kindreds for years.

A handful of them whom I love to death because our stories have been written in a way that whether we like it or not, we would always be important to each other. You know who you are. And I love you for the sake of Allah.

So this May 6th, I will attempt to emancipate what little brain matter I have left to join the bandwagon of bloggers to rekindle the energies that used to be reason why I woke up in the morning.

The force that has encouraged me to choose joy instead of darkness.

Ahsan Allahu alaikum my friends and family for being part of my story.

See you ONLINE! Let's make history!