Monday, August 30, 2010

OAP


“Just go in first, I'll come in after you.”

We were on the way to paying for the electricity bills. Power had inexplicably been cut at home, and time is of the essence; paying for it right about now would entail a penalty of only a few hours without the life-giving currents. It says something that human beings have become so dependent on electricity merely to continue living (you won't necessarily die just yet), and perhaps that in itself is worthy of a longer musing in the future. For now, however, time is of the essence.

The place? Taman Melawati's Tenaga Nasional Berhad's branch office. It's not a new building, and it has been there for as long as I can remember, but for some strange reason, I could not quite recall it on the way back as I quizzed my father which branch we were supposed to go to. There's quite a number of them around, but going to the right one would make things quicker, apparently. The right one would be the closest to the house, but I couldn't recall there ever being a branch in Taman Melawati. He insisted that there is, and so it was. It's right there, but I didn't see it. Or rather, I did see it, but it didn't play well with the accepted values lodged within my head.

I grabbed the ticket from the machine, and groaned internally as I saw that there's a fair number of people in front of me still. Perhaps numbering close to ten. I wished I had brought in my 'Stanley Kubrick Directs', a book I loaned from the library. Given the length of such proceedings, I reckon I could have breezed through at least ten pages. Time is not necessarily money, but it is expensive.

I sat down. After a few moments of boredom, I got up and walked around the place. Just as my mind began to form a half-thought of where my father is, he walked straight at me almost out of thin air. In his grip, between his finger and thumb is a small piece of paper. It's similar to the waiting ticket I had at that moment. “Look, this one is quicker,” he said, smiling widely. I looked at the number, and lo and behold, it is the next number up. “I'm a senior citizen,” he said proudly, almost revealingly too.

I smiled. Sometimes I forget just how young my father really is. If you do meet him, you wouldn't know it, for he works with the vigour of a man half his age. His mind is still sharp, his networks strong, his train(s) of thought unstoppable at times.

I forget. I suppose we all do at times. Or rather, it was right there. He has been right here all the while, and I did see it, but it didn't play well in my head.

Happy birthday, Bapak.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Parking


I was waiting in front of the Maybank. The time was 4.30pm. It is not quite the end of office hours, but during the month of Ramadhan, most offices finish around 4 instead of 5. The logic being that since people don't actually take lunch breaks, they are entitled to leave an hour earlier, the hour that would have been spent on lunch.

Nevertheless, not all companies adhere to this. Or rather, not all companies with Muslim-majority employees do this. My father is still held up at UiTM, attending a meeting; it was only minutes prior that he informed me of his departure from Shah Alam.

I sat there reading an issue of FourFourTwo. In some ways, it is an interesting magazine, and I bought it partly to pass the time. I can't not read something, and so FourFourTwo was the choice I made, even if it was only for half an hour or so. I find it ironic that it is one of the better football magazines in the market (doesn't beat World Soccer for breadth and depth), and yet its name is based on a formation that is fast becoming obsolete amongst the award-winning, trophy-collecting megaclubs and countries of the world. This thought crossed my mind as the waft of durian floated over from the a van nearby; the owner had set up a mini mobile stall of sorts.

And so I sat there, minding my own business while I try to enjoy an article about how the fixtures for the season is thought up (not a very good article, mind you). A lady driver parked in front of me, right along the curb. There's some space on the other side for cars to pass, so even though it's somewhat illegal, the risk of public obstruction is rather low. I believe it is this risk that is assessed by many in deciding whether a law is actually broken or otherwise. The woman's husband stepped out, and stepped into the bank for a moment.

Along came a blue Suzuki Swift, with a rather elderly lady. I don't know whether that's actually her car, for its image doesn't match the driver's reality. Nevertheless, it doesn't douse her feistiness, for she was honking like it was nobody's business. This time, it did catch my attention, and probably everyone else within the whole kampung. Looking at it from my vantage position, it seems as if the car couldn't pass through, forcing me to reassess my initial observation that the public wasn't obstructed.

She honked again. The lady in the first car got into the driver's seat, started the engine, and moved away, parking her car slightly further away up the road. Now, at least, nobody can complain about the obstruction of public movement.

Or can they? As soon as the first car moved away, the Swift moved in swiftly into the spot that was just vacated by the first car. I realised that it wasn't a matter of her car being unable to move through, she had wanted the parking spot, and only pretended that she couldn't go through. Funnily enough, she got out of her car, and her parking was so bad that there was a mini-queue of other cars forming behind her. As it turns out, she had stopped there to buy from a durian van parked nearby. Even the van's owner had to encourage her to park better, somewhat admonishing her to move her car. This she did.

I laughed, and wondered what my father would have to say about this if he knew of the races of the people involved.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Galaxy: Goodbye, Darling


The scenery flashed past them. It's not much of one, to be honest: merely white stars flashing past against the blackness of space. Space was once the most romantic of frontiers, its unknown quantity and quality enthralling generations. Just like everything else, though, once it is attainable, it is no longer appreciated as much, if at all.

Airus Kelic never lost his sense of wonder for space, though. He made sure never to lose that, because it represented to him the freedom which he had yearned so long for. It's not easy to be a pilot in the Confederate Flight Wings; it's even more difficult to stay alive and remain one.

Next to him, Myrawani slept soundly. Her eyes fluttered, almost as if she's having a dream. Airus wasn't sure if it was a dream. Myrawani is not well. She suffered previously from lung cancer, and thought she had fought back at that time, it appears as if some of the symptoms are back. They went to check it out together, and the doctor didn't have good news. The kamala extracts can only do so much, repressing and inhibiting as much of the symptoms as possible. It wasn't something that was legal, but the doctor understood. The Hippocratic oath swore him to maintain all life and all costs, legally or otherwise.

That's why they are where they they are now. Airus knew of someone who had modified the extracts, making them more potent. The journey to the planet of Arahas, however, is not one that can easily be navigated on autopilot. The Malsi system is a rocky one, and Airus had to navigate the Nari shuttle as deftly as possible, plotting minor jumps here and there. It's as much to do with keeping them alive as it is to not disturb Myrawani too much.

Airus cast a glance over to her. A strand of hair had fallen across her face, freed from her neatly coiffed hair. It's beautiful how natural it all seemed. That was one of the reasons why Airus fell in love with her. It was her simplicity, sincerity and naturalness that attracted him to her. In a galaxy filled with ever more complex peoples, it was something that appealed to him: to have something real to hold on to.

To have someone real to be with.

He reached over with his left hand, gently pushing the hair back into position. He tried not to actually touch her, but the tip of his finger grazed ever so softly against her forehead, her pale white skin....

...feeling deathly cold.

Airus frowned involuntarily. He touched her face more deliberately this time, but still in a delicate manner. He then spread his area of contact, reaching across all her forehead. He reached down to her neck, feeling for a pulse.

Nothing.

He felt his own body go cold, almost as if the lack of heat from Myrawani was being transferred through his touch. She herself seemed peaceful enough, but though Airus remained cool on the outside, his insides were boiling. He fought hard to retain his control; his lips quivered, but beyond that, his mind raced to think things through. Rational, not emotional. The physiological reactions, however, were not absent; every fiber of his being was on its own end. That phrase has been used so many times, but here, it seems like every nerve he has were straining and standing on its own end.

He pulled his hand away, forcing himself to look straight ahead. Ahead of him, there is nothing but the blackness of space with streaks of white light on either side. There's nothing there but the empty vacuum of space, an endless space that is not as wonderful as it was.

How apt.

*Read Galaxy: Love Letter.
*Read Galaxy: The Last Stand.
*Read Galaxy: The Sixth Sense.
*Read Galaxy: Homecoming.
*Read Galaxy: Vs.
*Read Galaxy: The Journey.
*Read Galaxy: Tears of the Son.
*Read Galaxy: Across The Stars.
*Read Galaxy: The Prodigal's Return.