Friday, February 25, 2005

Round Hole Square Peg

There is a peg and a hole. The peg is square and the hole is round. It does not seem as if the peg can fit into the hole.

Or does it?

Just to make sure, you pick up the square peg and try to place it into the hole. You try, and you try. The more you try, the harder it gets, even though by now logic confirms it's not going to work.

Still, you want to make it work. So you try again. And again.

And then you stop. You wonder if another peg might fit the hole. Maybe a smaller peg. Perhaps even a round one.

Or maybe you need to change the hole. Maybe it should be bigger. Or maybe it should be square.

Maybe both. Maybe neither.

Maybe you just need to keep trying.

On the other hand, whoever said that you have to put peg in the hole?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Wait No More

The brittle air envelops him, the rain arrowing his skin. Blood dripped from his arm as he stumbled, crashing into the walls from side to side.

It was dark. Only the cold pavement ahead. He can see nothing more. In the distance, a cat howled, trash cans clattering after it.

Finally, he came to a rest. He dropped, knees-first, to the pavement, its wetness bringing relief to his feeble body.

His breaths grew shorter as he struggled up. Slowly. Slowly. Crawled and leaned against the wall, seeking comfort in its sturdiness.


The rain continue to splatter, relentless. The pain in his arms ached further, not helped by the gap in his shoulder. Crimson leaked there, patchy.

The rain gets there too.

He clutched himself, holding in his stomach, hoping the insides would remain so. Pain snaked its way through, the venom a drug he couldn't live without. The drug of life.

He had never felt more alive.

Most people don't get here, he thought. They don't get anywhere. They sit where they are comfortable in their zone, confident in their stride.

Afraid of living. Afraid of pain.

What is living without pain? The definition of life, the fuel of civilisation, the very catalyst of society itself.

Everyday, everywhere, everyone, one way or another, is hurting. But someday, somewhere, someone will be hurt enough to do something about it.

Pain cracks its whip, and all that lives will move.

Not him. Not this time. There he is, all of the pain in the world telling him to move. Telling him that he has been a stupid boy, to leave and drop everything just like that. Patience. Good things come to those who wait.

What if you have nothing to wait for?

Pain is telling him that he will die. Soon, if he does nothing about it. Pain is telling him to get up, to move, to go and seek help. To scream out and shatter the metaphorical silence.

He did none of it. He is no longer subject to pain.

It is no longer his master.

Not long now, he thought to himself, revelling in that rare, visceral pleasure that those before him felt when they realise that there is nothing left.

He looked down, chin resting against his chest.

Not long now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Uncommon Courtesy

The thing about common courtesy is that it is common.

That may sound head-smackingly obvious, but I think it's worth pointing out, as it is not done as often as it probably should be. There are, of course, different levels of courtesy, but there are times when it gets to the point where you just don't expect it.

"Hi everyone," said my friend to her other friends. She did a gathering at her house recently. It almost went without saying that I was late. "This is Fikri. He's my friend from uni."

I shook hands and listened out for names I will soon forget.

She led me to the food table, where she kept getting interrupted by people. Lots of people. She listened to them and acknowledged what they are saying, before introducing me. "Yeah, it's over there. By the way, this is my friend Fikri." She did this, over and over again.

For some reason, that makes me feel important (whether I am is probably another story). But what really impressed me was the way she did it. Casually, normally, relaxed. As if it is to be expected.

Like it's the common courtesy it is.

I realised why it felt nice. I didn't expect it. Such gestures had become uncommon to me.

It really shouldn't.

Thank you, Dina.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


I was sweeping the outside garden of dried leaves and dust when I realised I had swept along something else.

A flower. A single, red flower. The same crimson stalk that I had written in a previous post (Hope Springs Eternal), when I supposed the idea that the flower represents hope.

There it lies, lifeless amongst the dross.

Does this mean that hope is dead?

*Apologies for not writing much recently. I had that feeling where I couldn't be bothered. You probably know what it's like.

Monday, February 14, 2005

My Love My Valentine

"We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end."

Benjamin Disraeli

Sunday, February 13, 2005


A pair of headphones, a tattered old wallet, a Turkish bowl, a McLaren F1 model car, a blue teapot, DVDs borrowed from friends, and DVDs not borrowed from friends, amongst other things. I see a mess. But I like it. I know where everything is.

Pictures too. My eyes rest upon my little sister’s picture. In it, she couldn’t have been more than 10 years old (she’s now 12). She had given it to me as a birthday present. Unsmiling, seemingly shy, almost afraid. Incredibly smart and funny, she clams up whenever she is around people. I always tell her not to be so. I wish that others get to see a side of her that I see everyday.

I blinked, the humid air welling my eyes. The window is open, me wanting a breezy air would get lost and find its way into my room. Instead, its humid cousin is here, the days almost unbearably hot. I swiveled and shut the windows.

Turning back, a paper flower in a pen holder. A close friend gave it to me (I suppose you could say she gave me her flower). She made it during a debate training session during the semester break. I remember being surprised to see her that day, but it was of a pleasant kind. By that time, we had yet to know each other as well as we do now, but I’m glad I did.

I picked it up, having not touched it for a while. A thin layer of dust couldn’t disguise its beautiful construction. Sturdy, compact, its folds neatly lined. There were times in the past when I considered conducting reverse engineering on it, to know how she did it. I have meant to ask her, but I keep forgetting.

A set of unframed photos. I specifically printed them, for they are great reminders of some really good and fun times. I had never gotten round to getting a photo frame, but that’s because I like to change it every now and then.

Right now, it’s my sister’s birthday last year. My sister is holding aloft a CD player, with my parents and my little sister looks on almost in adulation. They are smiling. My parents are divorced now. Looking at the picture, I find myself wondering whether that was the last time we were all happy together. In the background of the picture hangs a family picture taken at Greenwich Park. It is one of my fondest ‘family moments’.

That picture is no longer there.

I picked up the photos, and flicked through them. Lunch at KL Tower on Mother’s Day last year, the day that my mother told me I have lost the “human touch”. Next, a picture of me and my classmates. After that, a frozen moment of my autistic brother, a reminder of how lucky I am. Eventually, I settled for my and my friend at the ball. I remembered that night well. It was a good night.

My Star Wars books, in chronological order, teaching me more about life than most teachers I know. My music collection, charting my rise from bubble gum pop to evergreen, via rock, techno and ballads. Empty boxes of computer components that I purchased after a month of hard working in a carpet shop, during which time my boss tried hard to not pay me. My Tamashi CD player that has served me well since 1999, comforting me through cold nights when I first lived overseas, away from my family.

Looking around my room, I don’t see inanimate objects. I see people, memories, pain, anger, love, happiness, joy, life.

My life. A mess.

I love it.

*Entry for a competition at The Particular Ordinary.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Starry Night Suprise

I walked along the river at the Esplanade, marvelling at how beautiful Singapore is at night. The breeze shaved my skin, teasing with its coolness.

They have a small stage along the riverfront. Tonight, a musician is performing her heart out to a small but noisy crowd, each one of them lapping up her melodic voice. It is actually rather good, and I had previously jostled with my friends to get some good seats (it was free), but left them and went for the walk instead.

I settled down on the benches along the riverfront. To my left, a bunch of kids were jostling excitedly, snapping moments for themselves that they will look back years later and laugh at how silly their hairstyle had been back then (that thought made me smile).

To my right, a couple adopted a more professional approach, complete with tripods and zoom lens. They were taking turns looking through the lens, seeing the other side of the river. I looked across, wondering what was it that had them smiling with silent contentness. Not seeing anything out of the usual, I leaned back, and necked my head upwards.

And was rewarded with a most beautiful sight.

The night was dark enough for the stars to come out and play, little twinkling spots, with non-twinkling blights (satellites) blotting the sky in its apparent randomness. The cloud formations moved, encouraged strongly by the wind. Big, small, in all shapes and sizes.

Sitting there, looking at it, it doesn't feel like the cloud itself is moving; it feels as if I am, like the whole world is, always in a constant motion. A reminder that no matter what happens, tomorrow is another day that the sun will rise and set upon, another night when the stars comes out to delight us, blinking almost mischieviously. A reminder that the worries of yesterday, like silly haircuts, will become nothing more than old news.

That life goes on.

In the background, the crowd broke into a rapturous applause.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Before Sunrise

It was a couple of weeks back when I spent the whole of Friday night (and early Saturday morning) doing anything but sleeping. I went to my friend's house for her birthday party. I played drinking games in which I didn't drink. I hung out at mamak's with people I don't know. I watched Chicago for the first time. In other words, things that I don't usually do.

Good fun, good people, good times.

What made is the best of times, however, is something that happens every single day.

It was around 7am, as I made my way back to my friend's place with another friend of mine. When we got there, the sun was just rising. We took the opportunity to sit down and look at it.

At first, the orangeness of the sun was quite fade. Then it brightens, so much so that the orange is no longer there. It was replaced by a yellowness that melts my heart. The view gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, one that I get when I am confronted with a thing of such beauty. It feels like no words can do it justice.

I took a deep breath, trying to take in as much of the scene as possible. Our position was prime to its slow arch as it greets the world for another day.

A couple of birds flew across that bright sphere. It seems that they are in a rush to be somewhere. I wonder why it is, what they might lose by stopping by and admiring. Then I realised.

To me, the sunrise carries with it a sense of beauty that inspires a million thoughts about a thousand things. It is something that makes me wish and hope, that allows me to feel melancholic and tells me no matter what happens, tomorrow is another day. Another day in which to love and to cherish.

To the birds, it is something that happens everyday.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Winter of Discontent

Winter of Discontent

The one photo from 2004 that made me think the most.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


"Are you OK?" asked my friend on the way to work one day.

I grunted an affirmative, not particularly in the mood to do anything more taxing.

"Really?" she asked, not entirely convinced.

The trouble with being me is me itself. Just like a story, there are different sides to people. I am no different, and there are times when I feel like showing a side of me that I may never have shown before.

I am sure you know what I am talking about. There are times when you just don't feel like doing or saying things. The point is not about what you're saying or doing, but what you're feeling.

You feel fine. There is nothing wrong.

And yet, because you are not saying much, because your body language may read otherwise, people ask of you things like how you are. Nothing wrong with that, of course. It shows concern, empathy, support.

So what do you do? You won't get people to stop asking you how you are, nor will you stop doing it yourself. I suppose it is enough to understand that there are many sides to a single person, and none dominates over the other. Just because it gets more 'airtime' doesn't make it any more real.

The sum may be greater than the parts, but it is still made up of the parts. And there are more than just a few.

"Yeah," I said, turning my head around. "Really."

Friday, February 04, 2005

Hope Springs Eternal

As with most days, I water the plants. The only difference now is that I was helping myself to some chocolates. So that's me watering the plants with my left hand, and several squares of Cadbury's finest in my right, its ends already marked with littles waves arond the edges.

Then, suddenly, as the chocolate slowly slithered its way down my oesophagus, I noticed. A flower. Not just a flower, but a flower that is blooming in the middle of a plant. In all that time it has done nothing more than to shine brightly a tonal shade of green.

Now it has one flower.

I couldn't believe it. I must have watered that plant for years, and nothing ever happens. And now there it is: a lonely, crimson stalk jutting out amongst a sea of lowly green.

And just to complete the picture, a small bird suddenly stopped, perching itself on the wooden gate of my house. It chirped shrilly, reminding me of Flitwick in Pocahontas.

I packed up and went inside.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Remembering What Is

What if.

One of the trickiest questions that is ever likely to be asked. And the trickiest part of that lies in its answer rather the question.

There is no answer. And there is one.

There is no answer because the question asks of us what would have happened. It asks us something that we, mere mortals, are not privy to.

What if...I had stayed in London?

What if...I never went to London?

What if...I never went to Monash?

Asking 'what if' conventionally will give us an answer that is limitlessly endless.

What would have happened? How do you answer that? Anything, everything and nothing all rolled into one.

I will never get an answer that will tell me what would have happened. I could spend years on end thinking about this.

But I don't ask the question conventionally. Which is why I think about it a lot.

I think about it a lot because I will never know what would have happened.

But I do know what wouldn't have happened.

I know that I would not have met all the wonderful people that have coloured my life in various ways.

I know that I would not have been through all the experiences that have made me into the person that I have become.

Thinking about what if...reminds me of what is.

The things and people who are important in my life.

And in remembering, it allowed me to cherish them. Which is why asking 'what if' gives me the greatest gift I could ask for.

The ability to remember.

To never forget.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Hero of the Day: Jamie Furniss

I went to the World Debating Championship recently. Siding with Monash Australia throughout, and watching their debates, one debater from Ottawa caught my eye...but for the wrong reasons. He debated very well, but didn't take any objections from the other debaters (considered a must in the debating world).

His name is Jamie Furniss.

By the end of the tournament, he wound up being the World Champion.

But that is not why I am writing about Jamie.

What do you think a debater would do when he has just been bestowed arguably the greatest honour of his debating career, the highest any debater can get? I don't know about the others, but I know what Jamie did. Instead of going home to his friends and family in Canada, he changed his flight plans and went to Phuket to help with the relief effort (check out his progress here: Some news and CUSID Donation).

What would I have done if I won the Worlds?

Probably not this. I probably don't have the guts for it.

Jamie does.

That's why he is my first ever Hero of the Day.

Jamie, I salute you.