Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Lion's King

It's 2:43 am as I write this. I had been lying in bed earlier.

Tonight (last night, to be precise), I got home at midnight. Upon returning, I notice a lorry parked outside the street lamp near my house, with a group of people crowding its root. It turns out that the whole area was down with power, at least for that time being. And so I had spent the last couple of hours, lying in bed, looking at the ceiling, through it, into the skies beyond it.

Which is my way of saying that it's not the ceiling that I'm looking at.

So what was I looking at?

Nothing and everything both at the same time. Nothing, because it is somethings that I could not quite gesticulate in words. Nothing, because I wasn't thinking how to express that. I was merely feeling.

And nothing because I don't feel like sharing it here.

Not now, anyway.

So what am I doing at the computer, online, at 2:51 am? The easy answer to that is...I don't really know. The simple way out, the back door exit, the lifeline tossed to me by an invisible man (or woman).

The harder answer would be...kaleidescope.

I was looking at the ceiling, at nothing in particular, given its relative darkness, when the power came back on. Instantly, my eyes squinted at the sudden brightness (for my lights, apparently, had not been turned off before the power was cut). And as I slowly adjusted my vision, it focused on the source of the light.

The light bulb, and its surrounding dome, if I may use that word. Last week, at almost the same time, I had observed to a close friend of mine that the intricate pattern caused by the light on the dome reminds me of that within the dome of a mosque. She laid beside me, and we looked up at it. For once, my memory fails me now, and I can't remember what she said.

Now, however, as I look at the light, I do not think of domes or of mosques. I think...kaleidescope.

In Elton John's 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight?', there is a line with the word kaleidescope. The first time I heard it, I didn't know what it meant. I know of the invention, but did not know then what it meant.

Back in the now, my thoughts shifted to that song. It is one of my favourites of all time. And as I thought of the movie from whence it came, one scene jumped to mind and is not leaving me now as I sit here at my computer at 2:59 am.

In this scene, Simba was following Mufasa back from the Elephants' Graveyard. Mufasa barked an order to Zazu to lead Nala back home. This he did faithfully, but before he left, Zazu placed a wing on Simba, and sighed. "Simba..." he said, before flying off into the darkness.

Mufasa continued walking the plains, while Simba followed behind, with his ears folded downwards, crestfallen. Suddenly, his paw fell into a small pothole in the ground, and he paid closer attention to it.

But it's not a pothole.

It's Mufasa's foot print. He had stalked with such force that his paw left an imprint on the ground, and it's this that Simba's own paw fell into. We look from a close bird's eye view, and read all the symbolism that we want to read into that: of Simba wanting to follow in his father's footsteps, of Simba realising that he is not the lion his father is yet, and that he has a long way to go.

I had seen that scene at the first showing of the movie in the mid 90s. About a year ago, I saw it again as it aired on the Disney Channel. I saw it with my mother at the time. The moment the scene came on, it hit me. It really hit me. A feeling that I do not feel often when watching movies, any movies. But it hit me then.

I wanted to cry.

My eyes had started to well up, and I had to fight to hold back the tears. I didn't dare blink, for I fear of the tears falling down my cheek.

That feeling hit me just now, as the power came back on and as the word 'kaleidescope' hit me. The above that I explained, happened in milliseconds, striking me quicker before I could actually put up my shields.

The scene continued with Mufasa admonishing Simba: "You deliberately disobeyed. You could have gotten yourself killed. And worse, you put Nala in danger!"

"I'm sorry," Simba sobbed. "I just wanted to be brave like you. You are never afraid."

Mufasa looked down on Simba. "I was afraid just now."

Mufasa then forgave Simba, and they playfully chased each other, until Simba caught his father. Hans Zimmer's score for the scene stirred to life, rising to a crescendo as Simba and Mufasa rested, laughing with each other.

One year ago, I couldn't hold back. I took the easy way out, and cried my eyes out.

Now, one year later, at 3:16 am, I'm taking the easy way out once again.

Friday, August 26, 2005

40 Days and 40 Nights Ain't That Tough...

I had thought of entitling this piece ‘How To Remain A Virgin’ and just put a picture of my face here.

But Meng Yoe wants at least 300 words, and since he doesn’t buy the ‘picture-paints-a-thousand-words’ business, I have to come up with 300.

In fact, I think I’ll give him ‘40 Days and 40 Nights.’ Josh Hartnett plays a character who is not supposed to do the dirty during the forty days and nights of Lent. Of course, it is during this time that he meets ‘the love of his life’, and starts to have trouble keeping his dick in his pants. To think that a movie like that gets approved.

Now, I’ve got nothing against Josh Hartnett. He’s not that great an actor, but he makes a good fist out of it. Plus, there are others who are worse and still make a decent living out of it, so good luck to him. Nor is it about the movie itself. I know it is nothing more than a money-making machine ($17 million parlayed into $36-odd million at the box office. And that’s just in the US).

No, my gripe against the movie is the ridiculous plot defies belief.

For my part, I can’t see why it’s so difficult to stay celibate for that period of time. Granted, despite the fact that I have indeed been compared to Bliss’ 3rd Sexiest Male (some people need to get their eyes checked), I don’t really look like him. I’m not exactly the hottest guy around (I’m the second hottest. But that’s not the point), so it’s easier to understand why it’s easier for me to stay celibate from the superficial point of view.

But what also drives me to stay celibate is the thought of my first time being with someone special. That first time with them will be probably be rubbish, or it will probably be the best I’ll ever do. But it will be special. It will only ever happen once, so I choose to wait.

Doing it for the sake of doing it, wanting to be popular, wanting to fit in, in the heat of the moment, because ‘we need sex’ seems…easy. Cheap.

Utterly meaningless.

40 Days and 40 Nights? Try 20 years (and counting)…

But then again, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

*Published in the April edition of Siren.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Galaxy: Tears of the Son

He sat there, across from the man who had been his hero, who had been everything he wanted and more.

The man who had given him everything.

And now it’s time to make a decision that would change his life forever.

“Bill please, garcon,” said Airus as the waiter nearly whizzed his way past. He bowed slightly. “Oui monsieur,” he replied, before twisting on his heels and heading for the counter.

“What are you doing?”

Airus didn’t say anything; he merely pulled out his wallet and fished out a couple of credit bills. "Keep the change," he said as the waiter came back with the bill.

“Airus…”

“No. No more,” Airus got up, and pulled on his coat. “I’m going.”

“Airus, please…”

But Airus ignored him, walked out of the booth and stalked his way out of the restaurant, hoping to get out before the tears burst forth.

“Airus! You will regret this!”

Airus stopped. Over his shoulder, the man stood defiantly.

“You know what, maybe you’re right,” said Airus, turning back to face him. “Maybe there will come a point in my life, when I will look back, and I will find myself thinking, ‘I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have left you stranded, alone. I shouldn’t have turned my back on you the way you did me.’” He paused, trying hard to hold back the tears. He itched to turn away...

No. This must be done.

He took in a deep breath, composing himself as he exhaled, and continued. "But I think it’s far more likely that you will look back on what is left of your life and regret the day that you gave up on me.”

And with that, the weight on his shoulder was gone. He no longer felt like crying, the pain of yesteryears finally making its way out of his life, drifting away into the nothingness of the dark galaxy. He looked down momentarily, anywhere and nowhere at the same time, before looking up again, with a coolness in his eyes that chilled the man's heart. “Take care of yourself. Enjoy your new family. And pray that your son grows up to be a far more forgiving man that I will ever be.”

“Goodbye, father.”

And with that he walked out of the restaurant, and never once looking back.

They will never meet again.

*Read Galaxy: Across The Stars.
*Read Galaxy: The Prodigal's Return.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Bug’s Life

“Fikri! Over here!”

It was a cool summer’s night in Bangkok. After a long day, and having spent some time in the internet cafĂ© writing up my story for the day, I was walking back towards the hostel we were staying in, when Sze Mun, Li Yien and Suet Yeing called me over.

“What’s up girls?” I greeted them. Aaron and I seated ourselves.

“Would you be willing to eat something different?” said Suet Yeing.

“Well,” I mused that thought, my mind flashing back to the night before, when my lecturer Dr Yeoh described her as a mercenary. “That depends. If it’s halal, then I wouldn’t mind.”

“Alright!” she yelped. Then she turned to Yi Shu, who was sitting next to me. “You must close his eyes, and he mustn’t open them until we said so.”

That, I wasn’t worried about. I was willing to play along anyway, so there was little chance of me spoiling my surprise.

Yi Shu shut my eyes as I closed them and simultaneously opened my mouth. Within a second, I felt something stuffed in my mouth. “OK, chew.”

I chewed. It crisped with a nice, BBQ-like taste, as my teeth grinded it to bits, before swallowing it down. It wasn’t bad.

“OK, you can open your eyes now.”

I felt Yi Shu remove her hands from my eyes, and I opened them.

On the table before is a plate full of fried maggots and beetles.

And all I could say was, “Mmm.”