Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Well, if you are teachers, then you are well-aware of the tactics in major examination. And yes, I’m referring to the arranged seating in the exam hall. If you are students, you’ll probably meet teachers who ask you to be ‘kind’ and share your answers with the friends next to you.

And all the students who are deemed the hope of the school, those who are straight A’s students, those who are in Malay ‘ditatang bagai minyak yang penuh’ (I cannot think of an idiom that matches the famous Malay saying) since they are viewed as the ones most likely to succeed will be seated next to those from the last classes, those who are deemed as the trash of society and will most likely to be drug dealers or good for nothing type of brothers or sisters.

And then in the school meeting, the problem would be these delinquents would disturb the good students. Badgering the good students even before they started answering their own papers. And when the powers that be asked how can we curb this problem, my sarcastic remark (which I keep in my mind) was “Stop arranging the kids according to your evil plot a.k.a putting the good students among the bad students so the bad students can take the advantage to copy from the good students”.

I know we are so cooped up with percentage and the good name for the school but come on, are you kidding me? Teaching kids at an early age that they should depend on dirty tactics to survive? So that they could be successful at the expense of others? So that they can take other people’s place that others deserved just because they get extra help to cheat in the exam?

I don’t know how the schools have downgraded from the past decade that I was out of it. I thought the school was supposed to be a place for kids to know the right from wrong, to discern good from evil and to maintain their veils of innocence for as long as we can.

But I guess others have the wrong means to get to their designated destination. No matter what the means are. Even when the means put other kids at a disadvantage just because we want to save a few students who are meant to doom anyway by their own admission?

Maybe I am still green and naive at the real truth behind the success of a school. But if I am right about the wrong means to get the percentage that we wanted, that I’d rather be naive than condoning the dirty tricks that teach the students to lie and cheat.

But again, I’m just a subservient servant serving selflessly for the sake of a higher power above me.

Friday, August 23, 2013


The classroom was empty except for a couple of cats at the back of the room. Nik knew that she was destined to be the earliest person to arrive and the last person to leave. This was because her mother worked at the school that she enrolled to, hence they have to arrive early at school and be among the last ones to leave, well after 5 p.m. when the office hours ended.

Nik took the broom and started sweeping the class for that was her routine everyday. The duty roaster was just an illusion. Another tapestry put on the notice board to decorate it. She did not mind although her friends who were supposed to be on duty never even say a simple “thank you” for her deeds.

And look at the state of the class! Food wrappers strewn all over the place. Water bottles everywhere. Why was it so hard to throw all the unwanted items in the dustbin? The dustbin was like just a few steps away, but being typical Malaysians, they were all too lazy to get their big, fat asses and walked there.

While mumbling away a few incomprehensible sentences, Nik swept the classroom clean. Then, she wiped the whiteboard from markings from yesterday’s lesson. She felt sweaty and the uniform stuck to her body. Her hands felt rough due to the dust. So she made her way to the toilet.

The ladies was like a scene from a horror movie. It felt creepy just by standing outside the entrance. The aura was nothing like, say, a toilet in SOGO. It was poorly lighted, and the smell emanating from the toilet was unbearable. But being a student, she had to suck it up since it was the only toilet available. Nik knew nobody was in the toilet since the light was not even switched on. Nik flicked the switch open and tip-toed to the nearest stall to the entrance. While she was doing her business, she heard the water dribbling from the pipe in the sink. She also thought about the new boy who just moved in from Penang in her class. What’s with his thick eyelashes and well-structured nose since the boy was of mixed parentage, Nik felt like he was watching Shah Rukh Khan in real life. Oh, how wonderful if the boy made a move and asked her out on a date.

The door to the stall next door suddenly creaked. Nik’s heart thumped as she was pretty sure that nobody was around when she came in just now. She braved herself to unlock the door to her stall and peeked through the slit in the door.

She saw a cleaner mopping the floor. It was strange that she did not recognize the cleaner since other workers at the school was a friends of her mother, so she was familiar with all of them. She couldn’t take a good look at the face of the cleaner since she had her back to Nik.

Nik decided not to say anything and proceeded to go to the sinks to wash her hands. She noticed something strange about the cleaner. She kept mopping at the same place for quite some time. And the white pail that she had with her looked very old indeed. Nik braced herself to look inside the pail.

It was filled with red substance that looked like blood, thick and creamy.

Nik was startled but she kept her composure and walked out of the toilet.

The day began and Nik soon forgot about the incident in the toilet once her classes started. Soon, during recess, there was a commotion at the same toilet Nik went earlier this morning. There was a crowd gathering there and they were whispering to each other. Nik was puzzled and tried to asked somebody what was happening inside the toilet but evberybody was minding their own business and nobody answered her. Suddenly, the police emerged from the toilet, and what scared the crowd the most was the fact that they were carrying a body, wrapped in a tell-tale black plastic that they always used to cover the corpses. Everybody gasped and took a step back but they were also curious as to who was under that black cover.

Suddenly, the crowd let out a cry when one of the hands jutted out from the cover. The tip of the fingers were blue and Nik was shocked to find out that on the ring finger, the body underneath the cover was wearing the same emerald ring that Nik inherited from her mother who got it from her mother who was Nik’s grandmother.

Nik felt her heart stopped and blood from all over her body rushed up to her head. She felt her body became lighter and when she took her hand to her face to see if the emerald ring was still there, she felt ice cold even though she was standing under the sun.

She thought to herself, “Oh shit, am I dead?”

And her question was answered when she saw her mother broke down and cried her name when one of the policemen open the cover to the corpse before they took it away in the police van.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Azmi knew he would be dead when he got home today. He had promised her mother that he would be back early today since there are not extra classes since his school had a sports day today. He knew he should’ve called his mother at school as he knew his mother would be worried sick if he came back home late. And just like a loser, again he forgot to call his mother as was instructed by his mother countless time if he was running late.

He held his bated breath once he reached the gate of the terrace house that he shared with his mother when his father decided that married and family life was not a life he would enjoy. So, Azmi was left with his mother, an icon he held as a martyr in defending him every time the kids at school bothered him for having no father.

Azmi rustled his backpack to find his house key to open the lock at the gate. Luckily, his mother’s car was nowhere to be seen, signifying the fact that either his mom was still at work or stuck in a traffic jam. Whatever it is, he held a sigh of relief, knowing that he would not be getting an earful for being late again.

He opened the door to the house and was surprised to find his mother carrying plates of delicacies to the dining table. His mother looked up to him upon him entering the house. He was puzzled. His mother’s car was not in the garage and yet there was his mother, serving lunch plus dinner (since it was already 5 in the afternoon) to him. When he inquired his mom, she said that somebody sent her home and the car was still at the office since it couldn’t be started when she tried to get home earlier.

Azmi just shrugged and proceeded to sit down at the table and eat with his mother. The lunch plus dinner was a feast, ikan siakap stim, daging goreng berempah and tom yam, his favourite. He wondered when his mother had the time to do all these. Yet again, he just brushed aside his feeling of uneasiness as his stomach did the thinking for him, grumbling and begging to be filled.

After dining, Azmi excused himself to his room. He bathed and took out all of his books from his backpack. Although other boys in his class taunted him as a teachers’ pet for finishing all of the homeworks given and be the first to submit them, still he was also the main source of reference when they did not finish their tasks on time and had to submit the homeworks given by their teachers.

Deep in concentration over a difficult Add-Maths problem, suddenly the phone rang. Usually, his mother picked it up when she knew that he was busy completing his homeworks. But alas, the phone kept ringing and Azmi decided to pick it up after the fourth ring. He went to the telephone and said hello and asked who was on the other line. It said it was from the city morgue and the person calling introduced herself as Inspector Aleeza. Azmi’s heart leapt out of his chest when he heard the voice. Something was wrong. I knew it. He kept saying in his mind.

Inspector Aleeza explained that a black Waja collided in an accident off the route where his mom usually took to go to work. A charred lady trapped inside the car was extricated after the car was involved in an accident and hit a barricade and blew up. The car was registered to a Puan Normala, Azmi’s mother. The inspector was making a routine check to connect the dots from the accident to the victim.

Azmi’s hand loosened from the telephone. The news froze him right at the spot. He held the receiver in his hand and thought about the events before he spoke to Inspector Aleeza. If his mom was indeed dead from the accident, who was there earlier, serving plates after plates of food? He was dizzy from the all the questions but nothing beats the sensation he was feeling when he sensed a presence behind him.

He felt the hair at the back of his neck stood on edge. He was scared to turn around. Inspector Aleeza’s voice was distantly calling him. He didn’t dare to turn around. Suddenly, the presence spoke.

“Azmi, who is calling?”

His mother’s voice rang in his ears. He mustered all the courage left inside his scrawny body and finally turned around, facing his mother or should he said, the presence?

“Hmmmm....Ummmmm...Aaaaaa,” Azmi’s voice was stuck in his throat.

“Who is it, Azmi?”

“It’s a....it’s....,” Azmi stuttered and his tongue seemed to be twisted in his mouth.

“Come on, dear. Who is it? What is wrong with you? Why are you shaking all over?”

“It’s an inspector from the morgue, mom......”

Azmi finally uttered those words and at the same time close his eyes shut, willing the presence to disappear or run, whatever it is presence was supposed to do at times like these.

When nothing happened, Azmi opened his eyes again.

There was a tombstone with his mother’s name there.


She quickly halted her steps when she heard the thud, thud of footsteps right behind her. She was scared, scared to look back and scared to ignore the footsteps altogether. She clutched her handbag close to her chest in attempt to hide her beating heart. She was afraid she would die out of sheer fright.

She finally took a deep breath and dared to look behind. She turned around swiftly but there was nothing there. She exhaled a sigh. Of relief? Or suspense? She finally told herself to calm down before she fainted from being a nervous wreck.

She continued to walk. Her RM25 stiletto bought at Kedai Hari-Hari protested under her will to sprint to the KTM station. She got a job right after graduating. She had to dumb down her resume to get that job although she graduated the top of her class for Arts. Her desire to open up her own gallery was mudded by the fact that she could only survive on Maggie Cup and tap water to be a struggling artist.

She finally reached the station after much struggling with her shoes. Her calves were on fire from constant badgering to move her feet faster to get away from the uncertainty lurking in the dark. Once she was enveloped by the bright lights of the KTM station, she felt slightly safe although her heart was still beating furiously.

As she waited for her train to come, she smiled at the counter lady who looked like Jabba The Hut in a cage. The Jabba, or the lady kept a tight puckered face instead of returning the smile. Urbanites, smiles are indeed very precious commodity in this concrete jungle where only one things make people talk, money. Other things do not matter.

She sat down on one of the dilapidated seats there. Suddenly, she felt something furry bristled against her foot. She was about to shriek when she noticed a kitten, its white fur had turned gray from dirt and lack of care. She shooed the kitty away, thinking that she had to get a grip on herself before she lost her mind and made a fool out of herself.

The train screeched and finally stopped in front of her. Again, she was cautious of her surrounding when she entered the train, surveying other passengers on the train. There was an elderly lady with her plastic bags, a homeless man (or he dressed like he’s homeless or maybe that’s the ‘in’ thing nowadays) and a dirty-looking kid, probably 8 or 9 years old, a girl who looked like she should have been 10 to 20 pounds heavier. And then there was her. A petite, docile looking lady, wearing her uniform – a three piece suit bearing the jewellery shop logo stitched onto her coat. The pantyhose she was wearing did nothing to conceal her shivering body as the night was extra cold and even in the commuter, the temperature dropped a couple of degrees.

Once again, she held her handbag close to her chest in order to calm her nerves. She was thinking of her nice and cosy bed. She was also thinking of a bath since she felt like a lollipop being left under the sun. All sticky and uncomfortable. And at the same time, she was thinking of her boyfriend and her hands lingered with his while they were watching a movie last weekend at their favourite supermarket cum dating headquarters where couples, young pubescent couples, all the way to wrinkly and matured couples, took their time to spare to meet each other at the designated supermarket.

She brushed aside indecent thoughts of her and her boyfriend as she began to feel her cheeks turning red. The automated voice in the train announced that her stop was coming. She stood up, trying to balance herself and looked around once again. The lady had dozed off. The homeless (or not) man too. While the kid was looking knowingly out of the window. When she try to stable herself in the front of the entrance, she looked again at the kid and the kid gave an eerie smile for despite her dishevelled condition, her teeth was perfectly maintained like the ones in a toothbrush of toothpaste commercial, or she religiously went to a dentist to get a white, pearly and dazzling smile like that. Even though she was a friendly person (she had to be because of her work, customers are less likely to buy jewellery if the salesperson was a snob), she didn’t feel compelled to return the smile. She just stared at the kid and gripped her handbag even tighter, willing the door to the train to pop open. When it did, she quickly willed her feet to move out of the train. When it closed again, she bravely but timidly looked inside the train to find the girl again.

To her horror, there was nobody in the train.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


So as Eid Mubarak came to a stop, or more accurately, the holiday for Eid Mubarak ended yesterday, so did all the joy and happiness that accompanied the festival.

What I learned during the holiday was, if you needed to get things done before Eid, especially if you are living in a city where most of its natives are working outside and would flock around during the holidays, please get it done before the throngs of people flooded the city during the holiday. I had a hard time getting to the nearest 7-Eleven to buy stuff due to the heavy jam surrounding the city.

It just showed that there are many people, either natives of married to one from the city in which I’m living in and the evident is clear every time the holiday comes. The streets are jam packed with cars, all with foreign plate numbers.

One more thing that one can commonly observe during Eid Mubarak is the look on the faces of parents, awaiting their children to come back home. For those whose children did come home, their faces are a give-away of how relieved and proud they are of their children who still care and love them more than anything to endure gruelling traffic jams along the way just to sneak a few days off to meet their family and relatives during Eid Mubarak. And in contrast, the children who did not come back home, either intentionally (due to hard ass spouse who refused to turn the steering wheel back to their in-laws’ house) or unintentionally (due to work commitment and any other unforeseeable circumstances), the parents’ faces are a deep shadow of sadness and hopelessness.

I experienced this first hand in my own household. My foster grandma, who only had two children (my mom who is staying with her and another son) always awaits the return of the prodigal son who came back once a year, always less than 24 hours in the house since his wife thinks that she’s the only one with a family to visit during Eid Mubarak. This has become one the major deterrents in my decision to get married. These horror stories of intolerance and inability to put yourself in your significant other’s shoes. My neighbour’s daughter had the same problem with her husband. Although their families live like 5 minutes away, still the husband insisted that the first Eid Mubarak must be spent at his house, despite the fact that he has 10 other siblings that could keep his mom company while the wife’s mother is a widow and this year, her first Eid Mubarak was spent alone when her three children had to follow their spouse back to their family homes and her youngest who is still unmarried had to spent the first Eid Mubarak working.

I wished that when the time comes for me to get married (although my chances are slim), my significant other and I can come to an agreement on which house we should go to first during Eid Mubarak. Other people I know have this rotation which enables them to spend the first Eid Mubarak alternately. Or should I just find someone near my house whose mom is not as stringent as my neighbour’s daughter’s mother in law? Whatever it is, Eid Mubarak, a season of forgiving and forgetting could turn ugly when neither one in a partnership refuse to back down and reach to a compromise.

Another ugly thing about Eid Mubarak is that utter feeling of laziness to get back to work once the holiday ended. We are not yet contemplated basking in the feeling of merriness and joyfulness and then suddenly, we are jolted back to reality when we have to reset our alarm and get back to our daily routine before the holiday starts. What a suck ass thing it is realizing that you have to go back into being your usual grumpy self once the holiday is off and the work is on.

As for students who are studying far away from home, the moment when the realization hits you that the holiday is over and you have to lug your bag all the way back to where you are studying really sucks even greater asses. The comfort offered by your mommy cooking all your favourite dishes back home really hit home when you are back, alone and depressed in your hostel room or your rented house. I remembered when I studied in JB, when I had to board the bus/train and go back to that god forsaken place called hostel, my tears ran free, as free as Niagara Falls. Knowing I had to be alone and eat foods that are made for garbage, suffering in silence and had to console myself with cheap DVDs and study notes, those were the darkest moments of my life. I am not afraid to admit that sometimes I’d still get nightmares where I had to go back to the hostel. Reminiscing the times when I almost took my own life, out of sheer desperation and hopelessness when everybody around me seemed to have failed me.

And now I had to witness it all over again every time we had to send my brother back to his rented house. The heart ache, the tears streaming down our cheeks faster than mat rempits supermanning their motorcycles illegally on the road and the hope that the weekend will come soon so that our family can be whole and beautiful again when everybody is present at home.

The truth hurts and so does goodbye.

P/S: Nothing like Sunday morning blues (for those living outside of Kelantan, the politically correct term would be Monday morning blues) to keep the creative juice flowing.