Monday, 28 February 2011

Abah

Abah
Abah & Mak at Lake Toba (1995)
Childhood Memories


















28 February 2008, about 6:50pm I witnessed Abah drew his last breath. Three years have passed yet everything is still vivid in my mind. He lived his life to the age of 81 and though I spent more time with him compared to my siblings, I still quietly wished I could have him around for a few more years. There were still more that I would like to share with him. But alas, when he succumbed to his illnes, I still thank Allah for the times He has allowed me to have with Abah. Today, I keep him alive in my mind and there has never been a single day without remembering him in my own way since his passing. Al Fatihah...

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Nicknames

First there was Halimah Jongang. Despite criticism and disgruntlement by many in protest of the degrading nickname used in a TV series, the drama is continuing with its second season. And now, there is Dollah Hapak!!!
Comedy should be entertainingly educational. Slapsticks and laughing at the expense of others' shortcomings are rather outdated. Doesn't anyone care anymore about what should and should not be on national TV?

Instilling moral values can be done in numerous ways. Why choose to be ethically wrong to be morally right? Name-calling and giving others nicknames based on their physical blemish should never be encouraged. It degrades those labelled and brings a lot of shame and embarassment to those concerned. Although this habit is common among the Malaysian society, this practice has become less popular. But with those two new TV series, its popularity is picking up very quickly once again.

I have come across many nicknames and I always wonder who actually started them. According to my late grandfather, due to so many "Ahmad" in my Kampung, the Kampung folks have given them each a nickname so that they can be distinguished from one another. Subsequently, there is a Mat Lantui because of the way he speaks is convulsive; a Mat Letup because of his strong plosives when speaking; a Mat Labi because he resembles the Labi-labi; a Mat Batik because he wears batik shirt even on Sundays; a Mat Timun because he likes the cucumber a great deal; a Mat Kokak and Mat Kukuk - where no explanation was given apart from the reason they live next door to each other and therefore the kampung folks gave them a rhyming nicknames. What a creative society! Unfortunately, demeaning creativity.

My cousin who was born with a pair of big ears (actually just slightly bigger than the normal size) is nicknamed Gajah as long as I can remember. He is married with children and a few grandchildren now and no one in the family seems awkward whenever people address him as Gajah. Friends at times will impishly call him Gaj (short for Gajah) or Ele (short for Elephant) and he responds to all with a smile. Ah well...I guess he is just too used to it.

No matter what, I am still with the stand that giving people degrading nicknames are ethically wrong!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Parable Of The Pencil – The Pencil Story


To KPLI students (Group K1.1)…
Please give your personal response to the parable below in not more than 150 words.


The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box.

"There are 5 things you need to know," he told the pencil, "Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be."

"One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone's hand."

"Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to become a better pencil."

"Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make."

"Four: The most important part of you will always be what's inside."

"And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write."

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.

Now replace the pencil with you.  Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best person you can be.

One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God's hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess.

Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems in life, but you'll need it to become a stronger person.

Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.

Four: The most important part of you will always be what's on the inside.

And Five: On every surface you walk through, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to do your duties.

Allow this parable on the pencil to encourage you to know that you are a special person and only you can fulfill the purpose to which you were born to accomplish.

Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot make a change.

Friday, 4 February 2011

My CNY Break

This one week Chinese New Year  break was not quite beneficial to me as I have expected. I had so many things prearranged, of what to do and to be completed by today. The week started off reasonably well with a wedding attended at Taman Permata in Ulu Klang with family and friends. Beautiful wedding, tasty food and good company. That was quite a memorable event.

The whole Sunday was quality time with Mum. Took her out for lunch at the Sari Ratu Restaurant in Kelana Jaya. Regrettably, the food at the Pandan outlet was tastier. But since Mum has not had the opportunity to dine there, I reserved my comments since she was fine with the food she was having at Kelana Jaya.

On Monday Mum and I had lunch with Hameeda in Shah Alam. It was Hameeda's treat. We ended in a not so fancy restaurant because, as usual, Mum is very selective in her food consumption...all her life. She doesn't eat chicken, choosy of the types of fish and the list goes on. Interestingly though, she can simply enjoy her rice if there is a bowl of tomyam and a small plate of kailan ikan masin. Well...that's my Mum. But even so, she doesn't demand for anything; instead, she is always accomodating, making me more obliging to ensure she gets what she wishes.

By Tuesday I was back in my hometown where I intended to spend the rest of the holidays. I have a long list of work to be completed before the Institute resumes "business". Days passed without much of the office work done. One day was spent washing, cleaning and polishing my car and later watching tv. Another day doing banking chores, paying bills, marketing and later watching tv. The next day was organising my documents on the laptop, burning photos into DVDs, uploading photos and documents to my skydrive and later watching tv. The irony is, I'm not a tv addict. I can live without tv. So, why have I been watching too much tv this whole week? I wish I have an answer for that.

Today is Saturday. Has it been a productive week for me?Not where my office and lecturing work is concerned. Nevertheless, I still want to be optimistic about tonight and the whole of tomorrow. Who knows, the mood might swing to a potentially good disposition and my week might simply end auspiciously in conjuction with the Chinese New Year.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Great Expectations: Analysis of its Ending

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a manifestation of a man dominated by cash values. Pip believes that money will do the ultimate for him; make him a gentleman and bring Estella into his arms and life. Nevertheless, the "great expectations" which Pip has in life are slowly met with disappointments because along the sequence of events his "great expectations" begin to turn him into a collaborator in the crime of using people as means to personal ends. But, as in all Dickens' novels, an act of redemption is required and Pip realizes his mistakes. As Pip changes for the better, the events too, take turn for the better. Many problems are solved and the most significant change is in Estella herself. The novel's end is the true beginning for both Pip and Estella: "I took her hand in mine...I saw no shadow of another parting from her." (page 493, Chapter 59)

This much-disputed ending of Great Expectations is not a betrayal to the story that precedes it. Pip who seems to be a victim of circumstances cannot deal with his overwhelming love and devotion for Estella and his sudden rise to comparative affluence blinds him to real values. The coincidences in the events are used as connections of the unconnected. The events make a logically sequential pattern of discovery. The timid and sensitive youth develops into a snobbish gentleman and later goes through a process of redemption and eventually repents. He is not too late as he gets a chance to rectify his mistake with Magwitch. He stands by him until his trial and death. And, Joe: "What remained for me now but to follow him to the dear old forge, and there to have out any disclosure to him, and my pertinent remonstrance with him, and there to relieve my mind and heart of that reserved." (page 463, Chapter 57). Therefore, it can be said that Pip does not lose the essential goodness in him. Money is thus not the root of all evil. It's the love for money that is so. It is just fair and appropriate that after the sufferings and loss Pip experiences, he should gain something in return. The lessons he has learnt in life are crucial and valuable. His unity with Estella is the best way for this novel to end, which fits the saying, "in every cloud there is a silver lining." He deserves her after all that he has been through.

At the end of the novel, it is not only Pip who goes through a redemption period but Estella too. Similar to Pip, she is also a victim of circumstances which resulted in her being supercilious. She is used as a tool by Miss Havisham to take revenge on men but unfortunately suffered more pain than the old lady ever could, by her ill-fated marriage to Bently Drummle. Through this experience and the wretched years he has gone through, the pride and scornful spirit that she has in her is finally broken. She also happens to be the actual reason of Pip's soul searching and eventually finding his true level. Dickens has portrayed both Pip and Estella in a remarkable way and the purposeful events they encounter in pursuing happiness in life brings them back together as two reformed people. Both of them discover that there is nothing more humanly worthwhile about material gains and rich people than there is about humble folks.

The sequence of events presented are consistent with the ending as it completely integrates in the fable-like quality of the story. The complexity of the story with a few unpleasant surprises is finally sorted out by retaining Pip's quest for personal fulfilment. The plot of the novel has sustained the interest of the readers throughout and the ending rewards their interest. The ending is an ending in both significations: an end and the arrival of meaning.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Liberty to Speak

     There are many times we have conflicting views with others - acquantaince, friends, family members and even our bosses. What happens then? To avoid unpleasant situations arising, we choose, more often than not, to reserve our words. Nonetheless, that doesn't end there. Sometimes we turn to others to spit out our disputes. If "others" decide to add spice to what they hear, our dissatisfaction for not speaking up becomes worse than expected.
      We actually do have the right to an opinion. Why should there be a need to prevent ourself from stating our views if they differ from the rest around us? What we need to do is to mask our words in euphemism. Our viewpoints just need to be diplomatically packaged. We could agree to disagree and have a cup of coffee together afterwards.
     Sometimes some people strongly believe in freedom of speech that they forget they are dealing with others who are totally different, disagreeble or plainly do not share/ accept their opinions. When this happens, what others hear might be "different" then what is meant and that they might miss the point totally because it struck a nerve. Freedom of speech gives us the liberty to speak our minds without imposing our ideas on others. It is a privilege that comes with responsibility and possess the element of mutual respect of another's viewpoint regardless of age, race and creed.
     Therefore, in practising that freedom of speech we must not get carried away and become tactless to the feelings of others. And perhaps too, it should not be made a passport to verbal diarrhoea because people are likely to hate than to consider whatever points made, however much sense they do make.