Abah's Retirement True Story



Abah has finally retired.

We had been listening to his yens some years ago, especially when he came home from work, lethargic, emotionally disturbed and felt very much like John Wick deadly seeking vengeance. We could not comfort him and his frustration. He used to tell us how blue his blood was, as blue as PDRM color. He loved his profession. He was proud wearing his uniform.

March this year, the day finally came. He sought for no one’s approval to enjoy the entitlement. It was a compulsory retirement. He could no longer proceed after his 60’s. Guess what was the first thing he did – leaving the office Whatsapp group. We had a great laugh that night and until today that moment is still fresh in my memory.

For good, in May, Abah and Mama had gone back to Kedah living those hours they couldn’t spend before. They held each other’s hands more often without any distraction, not even us. My siblings and I are still struggling to adapt with our new routines without my parents – mostly without Mama’s funny jokes and sudden rattling noises and Abah’s food request, his favourite TV shows and always the sarcasm as indication of his disapproval. You can never miss only the good things whereas the bad ones always leave the deepest spots.

Starting after raya, we try to commit going back to kampong at least once in a month. To be perfectly frank, it requires a lot of energy. Since my parents settled themselves in Changlun up-north, we spend at least 14 hours on road; back and forth. My Kelantenese friends can relate of course but such commitment does not only happen festively, but consecutively. Irregardless, seeing my parents waiting outside of the house, looking ever so wrapped, feeding us excessively – really you cannot complain much. And for this, I really have to thank whoever (I knew actually) had the craziest idea connecting Kuala Lumpur and Changlun on that long-winding road. Despite the crazy haul, all the peat swamps recognize us as their regular passer and that really is an achievement.

Abah’s vision of retirement as been repeated to us was pretty much simple – hanging around his wife’s waist, wherever she goes! Nine months now, Mama’s waist doesn’t seem to be any slimmer as both of them gained a lot of weight. Abah told us in great laugh how do they spend the day – it usually starts with sinful breakfast; sometimes Roti Canai, most of the times Nasi Lemak berlauk, some other times, just mouthful kuih. Then they will go to market (or merket) buying stuffs for lunch and this constantly takes up to 2-3 hours. Both husband and wife are famously lauded for their pleasant overfriendliness. Market is the place they denoting the skills, especially networking. Lunch then will be served quite late, close to Asar so they will pretend to skip the dinner because, supper will after 10pm be a compulsory nosh before they sleep. Yeah.

In between all the meals, we will receive video-call(s) from them, so cheerful wanting to see their grandkids. Mama typically enjoy ringing me up while I am at work with a very content prelim before the conversation, “Kerja ka tu?”. She will purposely insert her annoying titter in the most ingratiating manner.

I see the retirement vacay is going smooth at the moment, despite trivial complaints of quiet home without us monkeys. They got all the times for them and I want them to enjoy the whole more than yards.

<3

July


I am so clung to these days of July, especially these last few days when nothing much happening in my life. I appreciate when no one came closer to say a “Hi” nor anyone disrupted my midget heart with happy promises. I like July and its writing weather; some days of murky clouds and heavy rains, then the delusive sunbeam, quite magnificent but did not last long. There were cold nights; limping fingers, quaking lips, running eyes in a white wool blanket. I like that blanket a lot. It has been sharing with me secrets that only two of us know since I bought it last year. It has been eight months of special relationship and I will keep it longer. End of June gave me pitch of tension, series of flashbacks triggered by telephone calls, Whatsapp texts and all characters I wish never exist. I confronted June with the things and emblems I didn't want to tolerate. It was not easy but I got the cojones finally. I don’t like confrontation. Out of hurt and sickness, confrontation is always a mad brutal open confession. “I only want you to listen to me.” There was a terrible strength each time this came out from my mouth. I haven’t said it a long time now. I don’t have any particular person for such request. I did not say that to June. I was not bound to June with that irrevocable attachment. June did not leave me in sobs, though. God gave me guts to live through the end of June and to welcome July lively. I am convinced by July that I am worth and no one will desert me. I stretch wide smiles and dismiss wonders. Early July, I started drinking coffee again and caused me difficulties to sleep – which only me and the white wool blanker know. Ah, now you know. I have intelligent thoughts too and often felt one flash of intuited wisdom. I am a genius. July makes me feel so connected to myself. These two weeks, close to 2am each night, I was untransformed Cinderella forcing my eyes to sleep after scrub-jobs waiting. Gladly, each night nothing happened. So I told myself, it’s okay, “I have a good job, wonderful family and friends”. Keep up the good work, July.

With so much love


I received two sad news on the same day, last week. One was shared with mostly Malaysians and another one was shared with my Aikol colleagues. These two news dispense the mournfulness the same. I am still attached to them and feeling just like the rest. I don’t think this will tear along with days, and easily forgotten. I don’t think so. We are all recovering, hoping and praying for the better of everyone – some parents, some siblings, a lot of relatives, circles of friends and colleagues who are deeply affected.

To Fahmie Mustafa and Adam Rayqal, you both will see each other in the heaven I pray.

Aside from the hatred and anger thrown to the babysitter, one thing that I cannot comprehend, on how easy she made all this happened. When the phone call made to Adam’s father claiming that the baby was kidnapped, I think, she had before practiced the lines and didn’t think of the consequences at all. And the simplest consequence in my context, is the involvement of police when a missing baby is reported. How could she be so dumb?

I also tried to consider some people’s reasoning – setting up themselves to default and claimed all this happened due from an accident, which then triggered her to store the baby in freezer – eventually my mind couldn’t manage the overwhelming half-baked creed so I decided to stick with intentional homicide.

Intentional homicide on a 5-months old baby. How lunatic.

I for the first time, has officially upgraded my status in family to an auntie since three months ago after my eldest sister gave birth to Adam Al-Fateh. Since then, I’ve been living with the baby in the same house, taking care of him like his own mother, monitoring his milestones day by day, be extremely thrilled when he giggles and shows his dimples. I guess I am the typical sparky auntie who is never bored of a newborn. One Sunday, two weeks ago, we heard a loud scream from my sister’s bedroom. Adam fell from bed. Allah must be very generous to us and gave us all one great chance to take care of this precious better. Nothing happened to Adam but the guilt never yet escapes from our mind till now.

When my friends and I shared the news, the first question struck us was, “How could she… It’s a baby…” Erratic. When I first read it, I read the lines repetitively, wasn’t sure if I got the gist of it. Although the video and pictures must have had an inkling to tell me what it was all about, but I kept my brain in denial. I started to think the emotions of the parents, the miserable shaking the mom had to tote, the comforts the family wanted to listen, the suffer, sadness and just erratic receipt. Until now, they must have finding this difficult even to get from one minute to the next, then promptly burst into tears – possibly a crying jags whenever they look at his son’s photos, clothes, toys and anything that reminds  them of their son.

So, whenever anyone of you, woman especially, would like to make any silly remarks about this, please remember the sadness these people are going through. I would love to quote a phrase from a friend named Fairuz Ayuni, “During this testing time, women should empower each other, instead of being mean and judgemental.”

Because ladies, it is not easy.

I might not be in the position to suggest anything but to the families of Fahmie Mustafa and Adam Rayqal, I hope you can get a head down and grab a little shut-eye after all these tiring days. I pray that you all will be better.

Truthfully, with so much love,
Sheriel Aizan

A new window for us all


Last month, I had an important engagement meeting with officer from Disability Support Centre at Universiti Malaya, as our university would like to initiate a similar support hub in campus for potential disabled students. Besides myself and boss, we had an accompany of our mother-figure counsellor, Mrs. Phoong.

In car while heading there, we talked about so many things; of interesting cases our counsellors have been handling, support plan for disabled students and other recent hypes - coming election which later triggered into perspectives and attachments I had never heard before - the sense of belonging of Chinese after independence in Malaysia.

Mrs. Phoong started it so good when she said that Chineseness in Malaysian Chinese are no longer emphasized. They are a lot more Malaysian than Chinese now. I like that phrase a lot. She related it with her recent vacation in China which she struggled to converse in her-supposed original lingo but she failed. Listening to one complete sentence and having to translate to her kind of Chinese language, it was like deciphering a very ancient script. She sighed and complained to her husband to no successful way of bargaining better and both ended laughing. While language was the most troubling experience, she could not too enjoy those times dealing with the locals as she mentioned “They are all different from us.” At one point during her vacation, her family almost trapped into a scam which later engendered to several tiring escapes and finally, compelling leisure in hotel. 

“I couldn’t enjoy. Every bit in Malaysia, even tiny things were missed deeply.”

“What tiny things?”

“Nasi lemak.”

I laughed real hard. I totally could relate. When I went to Jakarta, despite being recognized as bangsa serumpun with common identifications we have with Indonesia, I felt unease quite a lot of times, especially touring around the bustling city, either by feet or car. Just like what Mrs. Phoong said, “They are all different from us.” I remember strolling through the night market for kuih-muih and somehow regretted terribly especially with fat rats and roaches welcoming me and friends at the market entrance and the smell – I am surprised till now that I did not say a word. However, during the four days, I enjoyed the food very much and dragooned my poor mind from thinking too much about cleanliness. The aftermath was great though – 4 days and countless foods despite giving me wonderful memories, nothing wished to stay in my tummy, so I spent an hour in airplane toilet on the way back to Malaysia – diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and fever all in one perfect combo. It was tragic, true. However, as I think back, my regrets partly not contributed by the cleanliness alone, but it was a lot more on the sense I failed to connect. What happened during my Japan trip was at least 90% enjoyable but some parts along the way, even the tiniest thing in Malaysia was missed deeply, that is the weather (and Nasi Lemak too).

I guess what Mrs. Phoong and I experience are both similar, that is the sense of belonging, but what really is the sense of belonging? If you ask me, my agreement would be the strong relationship with the concept of patriotism and patriotism as based on Lee and Hebert’s (2006:500) definition refers to “emotional and symbolic attachment to the national symbols, to the government and its structures, to a sense of civic responsibility and to the traditions and customs of a political community.” In simple words perhaps, the sense of belonging of Malaysians is believing and upholding the five tenets contained in our Rukun Negara, our national philosophy. Through each pillar, it widens to a lot more significant characteristics that every Malaysian should embrace and proudly apply.

Mrs. Phoong shared with us her stories and certain sentiments that all these while being kept to herself and family. Her ancestors who came to Malaysia long before independence struggled to adjust themselves in an alien land and progressively later played a fundamental role economically, socially, politically and other think tanks. Unfamiliar with famous dejecting stories written elsewhere, she fortunately never experienced any kind of mistreatment here as she was repetitively convinced of her identity as a Malaysian. Mrs. Phoong was a graduate from Universiti Malaya in teaching background and further pursued her Master studies in psychology. Engaging with students is her primary forte and she enjoys doing it every day – having to listen and learn from people at the same time.

Our Disability Support Center has yet to officially launch but the commencement of research and studies have been made since the first month of my employment. We from time to time visited available centers in Kuala Lumpur to understand the needs and support provided for disabled individuals. Mrs. Phoong made things a lot easier for me thanks to her enthusiasm and patriotism. Her observation as a counsellor cum Malaysian appears to be an encouragement to remain aware of her values and identity. She, at most times, conscious to practice the five tenets contained in Rukun Negara and diligently applies what is deemed appropriate as Malaysian behavior.

“What Malaysian behavior?”

“All Melayu behaviors as written by Usman Awang.”

I was awed. I smiled and nodded, gracefully.

“As years passed by, my Chineseness are no longer emphasized, Sheriel. I am a lot more Malaysian than Chinese. And this, not just me.”

I remember of what my parents told me a long time ago. It used to be like this – when a Chinese or Indian converted to Islam, people would not call that person a muallaf, saudara baru, neither masuk Islam. They were instead being named as masuk Melayu. It is not Malayisation but a solemn asseveration of ensuring unity and non-diversity in this country. Historically, that had been applied during the ruling of Malacca Sultanate, steadily occasioned the cultivation, growth and enforcement of Malay language and cultures in the regions. I used to smile wide listening to this as I thought of a very wonderful welcoming message to these converts. They were not exceptions from the Muslims and Malays, instead feted by all values and perks benefited to them as a part of the community, rather than these difficult times, people at the moment are fighting over the UiTM admission offer to non-Bumiputra.

Sigh.

As this anecdote is written now after the victory of Malaysia Baru, I hope to see more windows of values – equal treatment, a voice in societal decisions, a chance to start over and not just good policy ideas but the rights of ours to act as a human simply by upholding virtues and morals. We were given one great chance to prove why do we deserve this, let us make the most of it.


Speaking with a little guilt


Me and Abah my siblings always say; have a lot of things in common. We both can talk on so many perspectives in regard to certain issues - politically, socially, legally and others that seem less intriguing to the rest of our family members. We fancy Tan Sri P.Ramlee and not just that, he introduced to me my favourite songs of Rokiah Wandah, Oslan Hussein and Normadiah. As much as I love him and am proud to have similarities with this old man, however, I cannot agree with him with a lot of other things too especially those related to his choice of colors, arts, images, words, holiday plans and hobbies. I would easily get annoyed whenever he opened his mouth for the ‘wrong’ choice he made and I would ridicule, especially when those decisions took a hold of other people.

Take this for instance - my father loves fishing. I do not. I am actually not sure if ever anyone besides Abah in this family loves fishing. But each time this old man proposed for a fishing trip, everyone nodded immediately but later disagreed behind his back. The itinerary of the fishing trip will give Abah and fishing rods the brightest spotlight as no other things will be part of it. The trip, which bulldozed on everyone, was nonetheless enjoyed by Mama as everyone will have the best time spent with each other along with gossiping of course. Mama’s best approach is to agreeing with everything her husband puts her into and when the right time comes, she will calmly confront and express her thoughts. I am bad at it and I don’t like to wait for the right time to come. Being the most outspoken in the family, I blatantly will tell Abah why I don’t want to go fishing. I will fight for my rights. But, Abah is not only the proposer but also the decision-maker so the end-result is a no-surprise. I at least have expressed what I feel and that’s what matters to me.

Yesterday, when we were in car, Mama put her lipstick and babbled on the wrong color she bought. Abah later showed Adik’s red chili Myvi and said, “This color is nice. Next time buy this color.” I was beyond annoyed (I get annoyed over him easily) and said, “Abah definitely has the worst taste ever.” What my sister said after that left me in silence, “But Abah married Mama. Abah chose Mama. How could you say he has the worst taste?”

I was wrong. It’s not easy to admit this but this time, yeah, I lost to Abah. 

Last night he knocked on my door just to ask, “What is Pribumi in English? Is it ‘Native’?” It was 12:20AM and I was at that time half-awake. I frowned and replied, “Is that really urgent?” He just left and said nothing. Kecik hati. Immediately after that, I stood up, reached my phone that was charged a little distant. I sent to him one short and sweet message: 

Pribumi = Indigenous

Our relationship is unique. But really, what is a relationship without love, a little hatred and a lot of irritations?


Promises



“These days, lies and silence are two greatest sins in human society, you might say. In reality, we tell lots of lies, and we often break into silence.

However, if we were constantly talking year-round, and telling only the truth, truth would probably lose some of its value.” Hear The Wind Sing, Haruki Murakami

With the election’s hype coming back to stream, all manifestos presented to rakyat surely caught the brightest spotlight. Looking at my timeline, people my age have been discussing the contemporary interests in parallel with the equivocal promises shouted by all parties. Some talk about free education, some hope for better health subsidy, of financial security and properties too. Whatever that has been discussed on the social media, it emphasizes the significant values of election.

As everyone notices as well, there are same manifestos presented again just like during the previous election campaign. No doubts that the implementation has not initiated given the five years to rule, whether they needed some more time or they never intended to initiate, the high-yielding hopes broke people’s hearts. While having a chat with Abah on all these, Abah came up with his best horse sense – “Manifesto ni macam KPI. Kalau tak boleh buat, jangan letak.” I totally can relate.

Setting up my KPI for this term, I had to attend at least four discussions - first and second with Department Manager, third and forth with the Head of Department. There were reasons why four discussions before we could finalize it, but the most prominent justification was the subject of capability and persistence.

Seeing my first draft, they questioned dints of restricted resources that might challenge my ability to execute all the plans before I could come to fruition. When I first thought I could manage the impeccable agendas, I only realized later that I do not have the reputed capability; even though the MacGyver-style had already been installed in my mind. I cannot make the magic happen. This KPI finalization process solidifies the essence of plan execution; that is capability. I do not have succinct capability definition as it is true to different situations and objectives. However, I do notice some manifestos presented sound peculiar to my ears they should be sanctioned the same as MLM modus operandi – selling the ‘too good to be true’ as their law of attraction.

Some time last month, I attended a fire safety short course at workplace. The speaker, Mr. Kannan from Bukit Jalil Fire Station some parts along the way mentioned about the humongous expectation from public. That is understandable and nothing-strange in my mind which I could relate with my father’s profession as a police officer. However, he further convinced, from year 2012 to 2017, firemen were urged to come within 10 minutes after the emergency call with or without being affected by traffic jam in Kuala Lumpur. That was ridiculous but Mr. Kannan said they succeeded. But this year, due to whopping newspaper headers featuring fire tragedies, public tension caused these public servants to putting maximum of 8 minutes to reach accident location. Mr. Kannan brutally said, “It is insane but we do not have any other options.”

It occurs to me badly how ironic the situations are - one party drafts KPI based on what he thinks can be executed but fails, eventually. Another party has been given KPI without options, but succeeds. Capability varies; hence there is persistence to push you forward.

Persistence on the other hand is firm and obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. Just like how Muslims believe in istiqamah, persistence takes hold to the pursuit of istiqamah. But persistence is not trying things twice or three times or even four times. Persistence is continuing until you are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is time to move on and collect the lessons from the failure. Persistence is ninety thousand ninety nineteen nine steps to the counter until a school is built.

But sure thing is, without such capability and persistence those promises are just equivalent to lie. After such non-execution of promises, people will either look at other people’s weakness to cover their ugly face or they will keep their mouths shut. And truth, where does the truth stand?

I spent approximately 10-minutes watching the election campaign video featuring YB Khairy Jamaluddin and Vanidah Imran as husband and wife on Youtube. In the video, both happened to blab on the consequences of changing the government thanks to the nonsensical ideas BN has always playing to attract rakyat Malaysia. They do what they are best at – establishing fear, doubts and hesitation in rakyat’s minds without having cerebration to do better. However, one part of the video triggered my emotion when KJ mentioned indirectly that the ‘existing’ party has flaws and did terrible mistakes too. I spoke to Abah on the gist of the video which Abah later told me that after all, the UMNO members knew but they did nothing. They are responsible for contributing for the mistakes to happen and their silence is the greatest sin.

We are approaching to the mid of the year which my KPI review will be done in a month from now. Wish me luck.

The Wall Tapping



“They were as obdurate as rocks. I have always observed that the female, who seems to have been made for tenderness, and piety, and moral courage, when really depraved and fallen, is not only the wickedest, but the hardest and unmanageable of beings.” – James Bradley Finley

Object A.

Object A who has always been admired by people around her for her kindness, pretty face and independence burst out one day that she was ready to get married. She was known single-handedly for more than 7 years after a miserable breakup with someone cleped Babun. 15 years ago, when I was in school, Object A came to visit me at school with Babun. I hated Babun immediately after saw him for the first time. Babun proved to me and Object A’s family that he is a Babun indeed when he defrauded Object A’s father of money worth 10,000 Ringgit. Babun after that left Object A without any explanation. Just like Baboon, his razor-sharp canines left deep scar and it is not something easily forgiven by everyone. Object A suffered crestfallenly and dramatically later, left her family and moved to Seremban.

Fast forward to 7 years later, Object A revealed the happy news to everyone. We were more than contended, thinking that our beloved Object A has finally moved on from her past. The engagement was held in brisk and lively with attendance from hundreds of people – relatives from near and afar, neighbors and good friends. People came to greet her, took pictures with her and prayed for her because besides Object A, everybody who knew her, not just knowing herself but also her life and stories. Some months after, came the serious meeting between parents of future groom and bride to decide on the wedding date. Object A’s father was surprised to know that at that moment, the fiancé was not working, told blatantly by his parents. All these while, Object A and family were deceived. This time around, the father thought of applying mercy and compassion consideration. Object A’s father told the fiancé to find a decent job before the wedding and to show to him that the fiancé is capable of taking care his precious daughter. The father granted him a great value of chance, priced his own child.

From time to time, the fiancé received extremely absolute support from Object A’s family, considering that he will be part of the family soon and just like everybody else, he should not be forsaken. Coming to the biggest day of her life, Object A shook more like a maple leaf but she could not differentiate whether it was a good sign or a bad one. She begged to God, “Make this person a person I am worth to him and he is worth to me. Make this person to discover the best in me and I too to discover the best in him. Make this person a person I deserve to respect and I always respect him. But God, if this person is not someone worth to me, never has interest to explore the best me nor he respects me, show me the light.”

To this date, Object A and husband have been married for a year with one son. During more than twelve months, husband changed job twice. It is also obvious that Object A sighs around us often. Due to husband’s bad working attitude, husband frequently throws tantrum at home with deep vexation and annoyance. Such work problem contributes to poor household management, especially fulfilling to wife and son’s needs. Understanding husband’s difficulty, Object A’s family has been tolerating and letting them stay with the family until the husband can afford a better home. Object A has been keeping all the tensions to herself, worse blamed herself of such incapability to comfort husband's emotions and struggle. She told me that she is the biggest disappointment to her husband. Sadly, husband has no sense of appreciation nor he tries to fix this situation. With one child now, he simply neglects his responsibility as a father cum a husband, as he knows whatever happens Object A's family is here to provide the necessity. Object A starves for husband's affection, attention and approval yet receives nothing. Object A is deeply exhausted, depleted and worn.

Throughout my life to this date, I knew a lot of women who were mistreated badly in marriage, either by the husband, in-laws, environment, economic and politics. This rising rate of women’s incarceration in their marriage and the abuse make it imperative of this story to be told. Rarely, the understatement of this typical case has not been exceptionally focused, unless you are a celebrity and being featured in Melodi every Sunday. Object A is a living testimony to counteract what husbands in Malaysia have been thinking - of their supremacy and alpha male power. There are worse cases, sadly unheard, unusually clear interplayed between perception among society members and the doctrine of submission to husbands.

Reflecting people’s views on such mistreatments on social media, I feel strange to admit that these women are put under the concrete ground to be stepped and disrespected. With the constant perception and negative doctrine, these women now are recognized as objects of interest.

I hold no grudges to anyone’s husbands neither I wish bad things to happen to them, but the conscience in me prays for all women’s happiness and this suffer shall now stop.

And to Object A, remember your prayer to God? It is now the time to make justice, especially to your child.