Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Death Eater

Why are we afraid of death?

We know that it's coming, sooner or later. In some cases, sooner rather than later. Mortality is one of the few certainties of life. Ironic, I think, that the only thing you can be certain about in life is that it will itself end.

But why are we afraid of it?

I feel that death in itself is a mirror, for mortality forces us to confront both ourselves and those around us. The unfulfilled dreams, the wanting relationships, the lack of connectivity and life that probably should have been done years and years before. Death not only tells us, but shows us in the worst ways possible that we, as human beings, as friends, brother, son...

...have failed. Whether we actually have or not is probably another story, but the feeling of being able to do more hits hard.

I don't know whether that's why you are probably afraid of it. I don't know it at all. But I know this much.

Until my dying day, when I myself will pass on, and my soul will depart from this realm of mortals, of the certainty of life and its own end...

...I will always feel that I should have done more.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dreaming of Me

Late Friday afternoon, I received a call from a friend. I talked to her a few weeks ago about meeting up, but nothing came of it until now. After exchanging the usual pleasantries (“I knew it, you can't live two weeks without me...”), she surprised me with something.

“I had a dream about you.”

“EH?!” was all my educated mind could think of in response.

“I had a dream about you. It was just the two of us, and we were dressed in white.”

“In white?”

“Yeah. You were wearing a white tuxedo. And you look good. I mean, really good.”

“Wow. Hmm...that's interesting. Can I put this on my blog?”

“Of course! By all means!”

“Cool,” I said, actually allowing the thought of someone thinking that I'm good looking sink in (even if it's in their dreams). “Is there anything else? Am I a good dancer? Didn't step on your toes or anything, did I?”

“Yes, I mean, no...Yes, you're a good dancer, and no, you didn't step on my toes. And I remember you didn't wear your glasses.”

“Ah. Was that why I was good looking? Are you trying to say that I'm not good looking in real life?”

“NO! Fikri..." she exasperated, probably shaking her head at the other end of the phone.

“OK, OK.”

“But yeah, you didn't wear your glasses. And you looked really...passionate.”

This is too much. “Passionate?! How so?”

“I don't know, you just had this look about you. And we were dancing to a slow song. Every time I hear a slow song I think of you.”

“Really?” Pause. “Is that a good thing?”

“Yes, of course it is.”

Then the conversation moved on to other stuff which I am not prepared to divulge here. But at least we've learnt a few things today.

I am good looking, passionate, and a really good dancer.

Might have been the tuxedo, though.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

M for Munich

I had waited, and waited, and waited. It happened...and then I waited again.

The wait was, at times, sheer agony. Since I got wind of it, in fact. Since one year ago, when what seemed like a brilliant idea wrapped inside a ludicrous timeline infected me with enthusiasm.

There were moments when temptation certainly hits me, pulling at the strings of my heart. Go on, said the voice inside. It's not going to hurt.

But I had refused. I had resisted. I nearly fell, but I stood tall.

In case you guys were wondering, I'm talking about a movie called Munich. Made by Steven Spielberg, and starring Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush and Daniel Craig, it centres on the revenge assassinations arranged by the Mossad after the 1972 Olympic massacre of Israeli atheletes. It was nominated for several major awards at the recent Oscar ceremony.

For the longest time, I myself had wanted to do a movie about Munich - subject of interest for me. When I heard that Steven Spielberg got himself on the case, I was split. A part of me couldn't wait. A powerful true event that impacted the world, in the hands of an equally powerful filmmaker – no, make that storyteller – dictates an equally powerful movie that could change the world.

The other part of me thought, “Fuck, he stole my idea.”

So the movie was made. Against a stacked timeline (Spielberg was also doing War of the Worlds and producing Memoirs of a Geisha at the same time), it was released in time to be considered for the Oscar awards. It was released in the cinemas, and in Malaysia, on the streets. It was calling out to me, the pulling at my heart's strings, the apple to my Eve.

But I had refused. I vowed to catch it in the cinemas, on the big screen, if it's the second to last thing I did.

This I did. And it was good. Very good. Even if I never live to tell the tale of Munich in my own way, I don't have to. Three hours later, I walked out the cinema that early Wednesday morning, feeling that it was worth the wait.

I felt vindicated.

And it was a very good feeling.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Taking Grants

“I was talking to my friend the other day about you,” said a friend of mine recently.

We're in her room. I hadn't seen her for a while, and thus time is made up with plenty of heart to heart sessions.

“Really?” I asked her, always intrigue when something like this comes up. “What did you say?”

She looked away for a moment, searching for the right words to say. “I said that you're a really nice guy, and that when I went through difficult times, you were always there for me. But sometimes I wonder...” her voice trailed off, not really sure whether to go on. “...whether he knows that people take him for granted.”

“Yeah,” I answered the unasked question. Her face lightened slightly, apprehension giving way to relief. “I do.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Morning Glory

The point of reference for new day is tricky, for it merges ambiguously rather than split definitely. A slow movement from the night before to the morning after. The line between old and new is something more translucent, difficult to see rather than feel.

And so it proved as I walked out that early morning. The cool air descended, suggesting that it might rain sooner rather than later as it seeps through my skin. Past experience moulded with new insight suggested that it won't be happening any time soon, but that doesn't mean that it won't happen.

The way something is isn't the way something always will be.

“Take care of yourself in Singapore, OK?” My grandmother stood at the door. She looks at me, almost desolate, her heart probably yearning to grab me and make me stay. This trip follows on the heel of a number of other trips, and perhaps she had missed me.

No, make that definitely. Though, like I said, the line between perhaps, maybe, definitely and absolutes are less than that.

“I will,” for my heart yearns for the same thing. But the time comes when we do the things we do, make the choices that we choose...and live with it. We don't always get what we want.

For that same reason, we don't always choose what we want.

The morning sun peeked before the clouds, a friendly presence providing light and guidance, before becoming angry in its glare as morning becomes noon. But we're not there yet, so for now...friendly.

The birds chirped, singing songs that thrills my heart. I don't understand them, nor will I ever will, but that's not important. Understanding, with the head and the heart, is not required here. You let go, cutting the ropes, and falling back into what simply is.

A lone jogger came from the other direction, stepping lightly. Surprising, for an old man. I looked at him, as we get closer. He turned his head up, and his eyes gave it away. An old man whose age defies the spirit that lies at his heart. A young, happy one. I smiled at him, and nodded. He smiled back.

“Assalamualaikum,” he greeted me, wishing peace upon me. “Waalaikumsalam,” I responded in kind. Without stopping, in an instant, he was gone, but that moment stayed with me. A moment of happiness, in contrast of the deep hurt the night before. I am reminded that last night, last week, last month and the years before...is not my time. Not yet.

My time will come.

In the mean time, I took a deep breath, and walked on, facing new challenges and posers. New questions and answers. New days and nights.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Mirror on the Wall

The man looks back at me, mirroring my every movement. He eventually stops, eyes resting upon mine. There are bags underneath, reflecting a sense of desperation, restlessness even. The two day stubble adds to the weathered look.

I look old, I thought to myself. And then smiled.

I feel old.

The eyes searches themselves. Dark brown. Black? Maybe that's just me. Or perhaps it's the new frames, my first new pair in almost seven years. Longetivity has always been a feature of mine, for better or for worse.

For better or for worse. Sounds like a wedding vow.

A vow with myself.

I kinda hate that.

I trail my fingers along my jaw, feeling the small stubs of my beard standing firm. I feel even older.

I smile to myself again. I do that a lot these days, a daily indulgence that masks over the rawness that I feel overwhelmed with. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind. Don't get the wrong idea.

A lot of people get that these days. The wrong idea. But at the same time, perhaps they're digging at something deeper, something far more substantial than dark brown eyes, new pairs of glasses or two-day old stubbles.

Maybe they're getting the right idea.

Just in the wrong way.

I smile.