Monday, July 23, 2007

In The Name Of The Father

A name. In the eyes of others, officially or otherwise, written or spoken, that is the one thing that people will know first of you.


It is the first impression, some say, but in truth, it is a judgement that they deliver. A snap decision made, one that will live until it is overturned on appeal. It's just that somehow, the word 'judge' and its variants have a negative connotation. “I don't judge people,” many would say.


Wrong, bitch. That's all you ever do. That's all every one can do. To look, and to judge.


The wise and the worldly will retain their judgement, but know that it is not final. That with further evidence presented, with more of the onion peeled, that judgement ultimately and usually changes by the layer. It is once you get to the core of the person, once you know every facet of their make up, that your judgement of them is totally and utterly final.


But then again...can one ever really know a person all the way to the core?


So, a name it is, then. The first layer of our protection. A good name can give a good impression. A meaningful one, the rise to interesting conversation pieces at a dinner party. A weird one prompts second takes, third takes, and so fourth and fifth, before the pronunciation of its intonation correctly matches the aimed cadences of each syllable. Or somewhere in that region, lest the victim gives up and gives in to the demand of the masses.


A plain impossible one merely changes his or hers, making it more Western, more Christian, more Muslim, more easy for the white folks to say it without spilling their Earl Grey's.


Dropping it? To go without a name? Impossible, an act so alien that reception of it borders amongst those meted to traitors.


Thus, a name it is, then. A heavy duty to have, to carry a name that would convey to the world in that instant of first judgement, an accurate portrayal of yourself.


Especially if its not your own.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Waiting On You

"90% of filmmaking is waiting."

Dr. Mahadi J. Murat, filmmaker and lecturer.

*Depends on who you are. If you're the photographer, I'd put it closer to 95%.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Untukmu

The soothing wind blows, and it carries me through,

And in a single flash, you come back into my mind,

Memories of yesterday seeps through the night,

The time we spent together, I'll remember for all time,


Even though we are now not standing here together,

My love still burns bright right here in my heart,

The certainty that we'll be together,

To bring back life to our words,

The promises of love,


We're both together going our own ways,

And we're apart just for these moments,

One day once upon a time, our love will

It will burn deeply inside, the gardens of out heart,


And even though you're far out of my sight,

You're never far from my mind,

And that is what love is, the trust that's deep within

And all my love is only...just for you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Winds of Change

Angin bayu, membawa diriku,

Sepintas lalu...ku terkenangkan mu...


I am sitting on the bus, enjoying a short but unfulfilled nap. Then again, I shouldn't be expecting one: the distance between the location and the crew accommodation is less than five minutes by car (and less than twenty on foot). Somewhere next to me, on the other side of the coach, the make up artist, Fifi, continued what he had started.


Memori silam meresap malam,

Kenangan bersama, ku simpan selamanya...


The strains of familiarity tugged at me. I open my eyes wider. It is an old song that is calling out to me, more than ten years deep into my consciousness.


Walaupun kau pergi jauh dari disini,

Cintaku masih bersemadi di hati,


And in the flash of a moment, I am back. Back to the end of 1994. The furore over the World Cup of that summer had long ended, and now is the time of great change. Twas the metaphorical winter of upheaval: we were to move to London. All of us, the whole family, a decision made by my mother's desire to continue her studies.


Back in the present, others heard the song just as I did, and started to sing along, lending the lyrics a greater.


Keyakinan kitakan kembali,

Menghidupkan semula,

Janji pada cinta


3rd January, 1995. I am in the Golden Club Class cabin of the MAS aircraft. The plane had started to taxi down the runway, and I look out the window, the blinking reds showing the way forward for the pilot, for me, for my family.


Showing where we're going.


In my hands, I am holding on to a farewell gift, a thick cartoon book of Calvin and Hobbes. It had been a present for my mother, but as she had correctly predicted, I was to get far more out of it than she ever would.


The plane took off, a deep feeling pushing my stomach downwards, and I would not sleep for the next 12 odd hours.


In the coach, the singing had risen to a crescendo, everyone hitting the chorus with much aplomb.


Kita bersama mengejar mimpi,

Terpisah sementara ku pasti,

Suatu hari nanti, cinta kita bersemi,

Kembali menerangi, mekar di taman hati,


Sometimes, it is somewhat interesting how I am able to recall almost every detail, every feeling, every emotion that was once there in me. A movie, a song, can trigger a river of memories. It is not always a good thing, however, but now, looking back for a moment and seeing the red lights behind, seeing how far I've come...


Walaupun jauh pandangan mata,

Ku yakin kau kan tetap setia,

Begitulah tujuan, keikhlasan di jiwa...

Dan cinta ku, hanyalah...untuk mu.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sleepy Hollow

The sound of footsteps come and go,

Tip tapping their way to and fro,

As they make their way through the sleepy hollow,

Searching evermore, for the perfect Milo.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Click!

Click!


The lens shutter made a silent sound, as I once again snapped a member of the crew in action. The sound, however, is audible only to me, an imaginary sound realised and timed to perfection in the trappings of my own mind.


I pressed for the review, and, satisfied with the result, headed over to the said crew member to show him the man of the minute.


That man might well be the man of the hour, judging by his smile. “Wow, when did you get that?” he smiled, his teeth slightly yellowed by the nicotine abuse. “Just a moment ago,” I said, showing him my own teeth in return.


He shook his head, and carried on with his work, a certain spring bouncing his step further.


I smiled to myself, happy that slowly, I am integrating into the way of things.


Things have been slightly slow in that regard, trying to weld myself into the group. Not quite helped by the relative weakness of my own mother tongue, a shame that I try to actively rectify, at the very least, I've been able to converse with them without truly making headway.


Until now, for the picture that paints thousands of words has saved me much of the effort.


I spent some time musing about this possibility, about how, with a simple snap, I am able to get further than my own words will. I came to realise that with the picture, what I am showing them is not just them in action, or at work.


No, the gift of photography allows me to show them how I viewed them. How people other than themselves viewed them, even in that split second of the surreal click.


People know what they think of themselves. Rightly or wrongly, that is a view that no one else will ever be able to give to them. By the same token, they won't be able to take the position of others, to view themselves from a completely different body. I read somewhere that in the old days, the Chinese used to fear those who took pictures of them, for, in looking back at the end product, they believed that the picture has captured their soul. I can't be in two places at once, must have been the thought that ran through their minds.


More pertinently, I can't be me looking at the someone else looking at me.


Though the modern generation won't give rise to the same effect, deep down, I suspect that similar feelings (negative or otherwise) are brewing. Fortunately, these has only been positive thus far, making it an experience that is positive for me as well.


Click!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Grey's Anatomy

As the sun sets on the breaking day,

The workers toil in the fields of hay,

Soon they'll make their to Danga's Bay,

In quiet anticipation of their Earl's Grey.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kuliah Cinta

I walked in, having been dropped off from the hotel to the location. We've been shooting for the past few days at a house somewhere near the forest. The local community has been supportive, and came out in force to watch the shooting in action.


Tonight, however, things have yet to get going. The cranes weren't moving, for the operators weren't around yet. Plenty went back to their accommodations, washing the day's sweat of their backs and recharging their mental and spiritual batteries for the slog that is the night shoot.


Anyways, I walked into the house, with the crew gathering around the assistant director, Kak Amy. Lest it is forgotten or ignored, the crew members are largely students of UiTM, and the senior production members, their lecturers. I settled down as Kak Amy, the first assistant director, continued lecturing to her flock.


“Love is a tricky thing,” she had said. This should be interesting, I thought to myself. “It is a tricky, yet important thing for us to go through. I've never discouraged people from falling in love, and getting together with someone.” She paused, perhaps for nothing more than the most dramatic of effects. “Especially at your age.”


The crowd giggled, yet their attention never wavered. “It is more difficult to fall in love at my age,” she continued, before glancing slightly to her left. “And at Mr. Syahrul's age.”


The giggled erupted into laughters, all eyes in Syahrul's direction. The second assistant director merely smiled widely that cheeky smile of his. I often imagine that smile to arrive on the scene of a kid who secretly took a cookie out of the jar. “Really?” mused the director, Prof Hatta, looking at Syahrul's smile on a later occasion. “I've never thought of that before.”


That smile stretched even wider, as Syahrul proclaimed his innocence. “I think I have a few levels to go before getting to the same stage as you, Amy,” he offered, doing nothing to calm the laughters around. Kak Amy, for her part, smiled back at him, before turning back towards the crowd.


“But you must also be ready to forgive, and to understand even when you're not in love,” she continued. “Sometimes, we feel that our friends, some of them may be close ones, abandoned us immediately after falling in love with someone. We must be willing to forgive precisely because that person is in love.”


I wanted to beg to differ, but for some reason, my tongue was held firmly in cheek.


“When we are in love,” she said, tilting her head sideways before looking momentarily distracted, “it is a wonderful thing. You have finally found someone you like, someone you care about and like to be around. It is easy to forget the other things that goes on in your life. Including,” she suddenly sterned her gaze to the masses before her, “your studies.”


Another roar of laughter erupts, but one which also carried the subtle message that says, yup, you got me there.


“But so long as your studies are OK, then it's OK to fall in love. And we must also be OK with our friends being in love. Now their time, their attention, their love, even, has been taken by someone else.” She leaned forward, clasping her hands together. “And we must be understanding in that respect. Understand that it doesn't reflect on us as friends. It doesn't mean that we're any less valued, or any less appreciated. It doesn't mean that we are no longer good friends.”


“It's just love, and we cannot take it personally.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

To Those Who Wait

8:20pm, Heathrow Airport, July 10th 2000. I scanned the rows and rows upon magazines stacked up on the shelves. Around me, numerous other travellers bustle their way in and around the newsagent, raking their way through the masses.

Suddenly, standing out like a beacon on the red shelves, amongst the throng of other magazines, is Total Sport. It wasn't a new magazine, but I never read it before. In this particular issue lies the up and down of Stan Collymore, an interview with Murray Walker, and a feature featuring the referees of different sports (which really was quite interesting).

But the reason I'm writing this post is not the magazine itself. Rather, the suplement that came with it: sneak previews of the best sports biographies of the year. Some of the main suspects were there, with Tony Adams grabbing the headliner even here. But the most intriguing of all is the story of Garry Nelson, who was struggling to break into the Charlton team at the back end of a journeyman career. He didn't win any medals, or made big money from the sport. That made it intriguing, however: that he didn't win any medals, or made big money from football. In light of the biographies of the heroes of the time, rising and falling, it made for a fresh read, written by a writer who wrote really well to boot (pun intended).

“Hakim,” called out Uncle Jusoh. He is dressed in his grey sport jacket, replete with the light brown patch on his elbow. He points to his watch, telling me that we should be in the plane sooner rather than later.

I grabbed the magazine, and paid for it.

*************************

June 3rd 2007. I walked through the selections available at Borders in Queensbay Mall, Penang. Having bought tickets to watch The Last Mimzy (Buddhist propaganda for kids), me and my cousins killed time inside the bookshop, flicking through the pages of wisdom at will. We had dispersed the moment our feet was set inside, and I found myself strolling the sports section.
I crouched, finding the football books on the lower shelves. There, my eyes passed over the usual suspects: biographies of John Terry, Robbie Fowler, another book on Ronaldo, a ghostwritten one about Rooney, and then, arresting my eye movement...Garry Nelson.

I froze, a feeling of deja vu washing over me again. At once, I am transported back to seven years ago in the airport. It's funny, how certain things are ably recalled at the moment's notice, though for the most part, not with the most intentional of intentions.

I pulled it out. It has been defined as a 'classic' by its publisher, which meant that it is reprinted in a new 'classic line'. Most importantly, the price tag was incredibly affordable (RM30). I've always thought that the book business shouldn't be a business to begin, a stance of principle that believes knowledge should be made available to all. It should be freely given, and not dispensed according to the weight of your wallets.

Nevertheless, this marks a moment of slight dilemma for me. The heart tells me to grab it, to finally put the ghost of that episode at rest and find out once and for all the intrigue that is Garry Nelson. The non superstar, skint footballer who spends half his time on the treatment table rather than on the pitch. The head tells me to save that money for the bus home.

No prizes for guessing which won that particular argument.

I bought the book, and finished it within two days.

Is it the best book that I have ever read? Perhaps not. It certainly didn't influence me the way that Matthew Stover's 'Traitor' did. But what it did do was to open my eyes wider to the world of football. Or rather, the world that is the relegation battling, financial shoe string surviving, wondering whether you're you'll be given another contract, and whether that contract would be enough to ensure that your family of four would be able to survive through the year, let alone for life.

In between, there are games of football. But in truth, Garry Nelson's Left Foot Forward is not about the tale of a footballer. It is the story of a man, just like any one of us, who lives his life in a surreal world (or vice versa).

Perhaps for once, they are right.

Good things do come to those who wait.