Heroine of the Day: Syarifah Anita Ibrahim

Inspiration, sometimes, comes from the most surprising of sources. It hits you when you know it not, it needles its way in when you thought about it the least, and it drives you to new heights that you never did think was possible.


At other times, it is as clear as the light of dawn breaking the silence of the night.

Not unlike that light itself, it doesn't really come to you like a runaway train. Rather, it grows on you. It permeates you, slowly, but surely, making you feel good and better about yourself. It's not a bad feeling, but it is not the 'not a bad feeling' that I want to write about. It is what comes after that interests me.

Upon further reflection, the first time I met Ani, I couldn't say I was spellbound, or starstruck, or anything of that sort. Not that I mean it in a negative way; in fact, from the off, I could safely say that she is one of the most beautiful girls I've ever seen in my life. That's a fair compliment, I think, since I sift through my fair share of God's greatest creations. Strangely enough, I wasn't attracted to her in that same instance, certainly not in the same way that I kinda went 'ga-ga' about my ex, who I also met in uni. On the outside, at least, it's safe to say that Anita wouldn't necessarily be short of suitors.

Nevertheless, it wasn't during the first moments of orientation that I came to realise (not merely know). It wasn't even during the months or years of university, of the crossed paths, spoken words, exchanged jokes, and “I've been trying to call you at this number!” “Oh, no, that's my old, old number! The number before my old number!” Truth be told, it was far, far closer towards the end, when I felt that I was beginning to truly understand and get her. It was a birthday dinner at TGI Friday. Small, cozy, intimate, with only four or five others. Perhaps the experience was of a similar sort for her, too, though I never did know.

I came to realise of the sincerity that lies in her heart, one that has, as is wont with the human condition, been hurt and broken time and again by events somewhat unimaginable to some and experienced only by the battle-hardened ones. Yet, she soldiers on, and I came to realise not only of her sincerity, but also of the strength that lies within her. Behind a strong man is an even stronger woman, and though I don't really have an idea of what her status is, the (would-be) man in front of her would have some way to go to match Ani's spirit, verve, and generosity. You feel as if you can talk to her miles and miles away, and yet be touched by the intimacy and her laughter.

Oh, her laughter. You know how some people laugh a big laugh? Sometimes, you feel that they're laughing because they're trying to be polite. They over-laugh to compensate for the under-funniness of your joke. You can hear it, and you can feel it. But with Ani, every time she laughs, she laughs a big one, one that almost sounds like a fake one, but doesn't feel like one. Who knows, maybe I really am that hilarious, and everything that comes out from my mouth really is golden (which is probably another reason why I like her). With Ani, she laughs and laughs until you wonder, “Oh, am I that funny?” And you smile a little smile, which grows into an even bigger one when you realise the joy and happiness that she really is getting from you. Even if she's not laughing, she'd be smiling a smile that will make you smile. It's all a big circle of happiness, one that may last a moment or more, but a precious one nonetheless.

Simply put, life feels better and happier with her around than without.

Oh, she's not perfect. She can be late as hell, a most dispunctual person, if dispunctual can be argued to be a word, that may well rival my own status on that front (I once turned up three hours late for a four-hour class...). And perhaps her openness and friendliness could work against her at times, since people (me included) are bound to disappoint, inadvertently or otherwise. Nevertheless, even in this context, the word 'sincere' is just too perfect; a strand of thought has it that its root word is 'sin cera', meaning 'without wax'. Sculptors of the old days would patch up the mistakes they made with wax, and a 'perfect' sculpture is said to be one that is without wax. Even if I would be given the wax to put on her, I wouldn't know where to begin, not because there are too many flaws to cover up, but because I'd have to think long and hard to look for them (just like I'm doing now).

With such praise lavished, then, some of you may wonder...why aren't I with her? Sounds like the perfect lady, right? I may contend that, in a personal joke, she is already my 'Queen' (and I her 'King') in the Kingdom of Middle Lame. Beyond this border, though, and into the real world...the simple answer would be I don't know. I do love her and miss her, but it's a very different kind of love, and a very different kind of miss. Certainly very, very different to the ones I feel/have felt before/will feel in the future. You know, that kind of love. With Ani, it's...different. How different? Very, very different. Maybe in the future, it will change...but as it stands, it is different. Probably because of that, ours is one that may well last longer and brighter into the future, long after the actual kinds of romantic love we felt/feel/will feel for others (may) have crashed and burn. I do not doubt that she feels the same way about others, so there's little risk of exclusivity here, but it merely means that other people's lives are just that little bit more blessed with Ani around.

I certainly hope so, because my life without Ani would certainly be less inspirational. Without a constant, unstinting source of support, friendship and laughter, my life would certainly be less happy. And with Ani, I also feel that I matter. Even if the stars may fall and hit me on my head, someone out there (outside of my family...hopefully!) will care. The knowledge...nay, the realisation that someone, somewhere, out there, on this planet, who is probably thinking about you right now at this very moment in time, cares about you, when they don't have to and aren't obliged to, that you matter to them in a very important way, because without you their life would be a duller place, so much so that it's a friendship worth making cross-continental direct calls to preserve...isn't that a form of inspiration in its own way?

That someone cares.

Sometimes, perhaps that's all we ever really need in the world.

To know that someone cares.

Thank you, Ani.