Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Death of an Astronaut

It is a dark, cold night
And from here I can see the stars
flapping their wings like vultures
looking for meat
I am here on the bed
The sheets are white
or yellow
I don't know
Much like my uncanny ability
to confuse the simplest of things.

I imagine before i go to sleep
that you would lie next to me
And that i would listen to the warmth of your hands
Like songs of ancient summer nights singing through the ages.
That our pulses would sing rock songs
Each out of tune but never missing a beat.

And you would whisper to my ear
softly like a mouse
Because you don't want my mother to know
And my eardrums would beat
Because of it
almost like a hum
Almost like a heartbeat
My ears are excited
but i contained the sounds
because i don't want my mother to know.

And yet the stars would see
that it was just me
Alone in my bed without anyone beside me.

But i wasn't on my bed.
We were off! Like a space shuttle hurtling into infinity and beyond.
We were off!
Oh it was fun! It was magical!
We opened the windows of the shuttle
And used fish nets to catch some stars
And store them in small, glass jars
so one day we will not lose our way.

The 7th star to your right
and straight on until the next night.
Underneath a young apple tree
I will clump the stars together
It will become big enough for both of us.

Then we would be on our own star
Of which i made for you,
jettisoned like astronauts
fumbling around for air
in a vacuum of space devoid of air
Just as the astronaut will die
We will die too.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Take on Seksualiti Merdeka

I watch with deigned interest, people who put a blanket ban on Seksualiti Merdeka; an automatic "No!" was uttered as if it was a subconscious response rather than a contemplative act.They accuse the event as a catalyst for the extreme sexualisation of society. Branding the organisers as those who do not fear God and trying to push societal norms to its limit.

I have to admit, I see such an act as illustrative of society's fear of discourse about anything which has the word sexual in it; the notion that it's better to just sweep problems under the rug and ignore its existence. The public, I am sure are very aware of the existence of homosexuals. For years, sub-par magazines such as Mastika etc. have published "exposes" of underground and secretive meeting spots for these "freaks of nature". But we never quite got round to asking ourselves their place in law and more importantly in the day-to-day life in our society. It is just so much easier to say that "Homosexuality is wrong and all homosexuals should go to jail".

Dehumanising your enemy betrays your conscience. As you attempt to dehumanise your enemy, what you are doing is to justify your action to attack them. Since they are not humans, my attack whether verbally, politically, morally, physically, psychologically etc. is justified. Which suggests that guilt is embedded deep within our hearts. And we do it all the time especially during wars. Each side will try to portray the enemy as killers, rapists, plunders, thieves and imperialists. When reality is, more often than not, a bit more complicated than that.


Have we asked ourselves how did it come about? Nature or nurture? And its implications. Countless of studies and who-knows-how-many gays have admitted that they've had this inclination ever since they were children. If such a notion is conceded, is it fair then for society to punish these individuals? But of course, hard questions such as these are never asked in TV3...

I am sure the naysayers, though will say that such a notion is a load of bull. But let's entertain the second possibility; nurture. If indeed homosexuality comes about because of nurture rather than nature, as a society we still have the responsibility to ask ourselves hard questions too. What do we do with sources of homosexuality? Surely solution must be given.


But I argue that regardless of its raison d'être, we cannot deny the existence of this portion of society. Here comes the hard question; what do we do with them? Under the Penal Code it is punishable by imprisonment. I concede that even in law and politics, there are certain acts which society deems to be so palpable that it becomes a crime. But the law is not, per se relevant to what I want us to think about.

What the law can restraint is limited to what it can measure and recognise. Practically speaking, the law can obviously imprison a gay couple after they were caught having sexual intercourse; which is an easy enough act to recognise. But it is impossible for the law to capture individuals who do not act on their "unnatural" (quote from the Penal Code) impulses but the feelings exist nonetheless. I would also argue that it is wrong for the law to even attempt to sanction the conscience of an individual, but that is for a different article.

The hardest question then becomes; what do we do with homosexuals who do not act on their impulses? What is their place in society?

Let's just take one perspective; religion.

For men who have homosexual tendencies but have never acted on it, can they become imam for other men? What is the religion's view on gay men who shake hands with women? Is it permissible for gay men to shake hands with other men? Where are they supposed to pray in a mosque?

Mind you; these are hard questions that can only be answered by the likes of Qaradhawi. It is worth nothing that these are merely questions under the umbrella of syariah. Our religion; Islam is a vast one.

Some of my closest friends are gay. It annoys me that these people who (judging from the reasons of their blanket ban on Seksualiti Merdeka) have probably never even read an article on homosexuality or even know anyone who was gay, are becoming judges and spokes person for the issue. One of my friend for example, is trying his very best to fight the urges. He is a muslim and very religious. He confided in me and said that there were times when he actually considered suicide as an option and the only thing that's stopping him from doing it is Islam. He feels pressured primarily by society's disgust towards the act. It seemed impossible for him to find someone with whom he can talk. But more importantly, he cannot find a solution with which he can lift this burden.

These "judges" have they considered empathy? To walk in someone else's shoe.

Without any suggestion of a solution.

Let's do it now;

Everyone else in the world can get married with the person that they love. I on the other hand, cannot. When all of my friends talk about girls and hot women, i can only pretend to be interested. Do you know how excluded I feel?I cannot tell anyone; not my parents, friends, girlfriends. This very heavy secret is mine to keep for all eternity except for really close friends who are rare. When people talk demeaningly of homosexuals in my presence, I only nod halfheartedly. It seemed distasteful to be insulting what I am (part of what I am). I cry all the time and contemplate suicide sometimes. Especially when I am reminded of how different I am. And I can't even do anything about it. There's no one to talk to, no solution that is provided.

Society seemed to have forgotten that I am not JUST gay. I am also a student. A son. A Malaysian.


I am not advocating for the sexual liberation of the Malaysian society. I am first and foremost a Muslim. And my belief system stems from Islam, insyaAllah. Unfortunately my knowledge of Islam is not as expansive as Qaradhawi but I am sure Islam has the best solutions to every problem. I have faith in Islam that it has more to offer than mere punishments and fatwas. Islam is so much more than that.

I think the point that I want to say in this article is i would rather like society as a whole to think of solutions and ways of helping rather than punishment. Everyone it seemed, is eager to become the police force; the dispenser of justice. No one wants to help.

Reason and discourse is the best lubricant for the wheels of society's progress. Catchy slogans and blanket bans can only take us so far.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


*italics are digressions from the main train of thought*

Living at home during summer holidays is torturous, not least because there is a limited amount of activities that I can do. Consequently, I found myself flicking through the offerings of TV programmes on ASTRO. Having found BBC, I was quickly transfixed by an interview that was being aired at the time. The interviewee was a BBC anchor/journalist by the name “Anwar Akhtar”, a name that is commonly muslim.

Not wanting to offend anyone who is rather sensitive when it comes to stereotyping and generalisation (yours truly included), I submit the notion that that is not necessarily true. But given the fact that the program was about Islamic extremism (I’m using this term in its western understanding, obviously), it was only logical or common that the BBC would interview a person who identifies himself as a Muslim or professes the muslim faith (the muslim faith? Why not Islam?)

I experienced actual offence and disappointment upon hearing his comments about radical (once again, western understanding) muslims, excuse the slightly dramatic reaction. He said that it escapes him how certain portions of the Muslim population, seemed to hold onto the idea that the Islamic system is still relevant today when it was produced for 6th century Arabia.

Such comments and snide remarks are symptomatic of the differences in the standard of understanding that Muslims have towards Islam, their own religion or to be more accurate, way of life (ideally, that is). To expect that every single individual muslims on earth to have deep understanding of Islam is, I suppose, a bit naïve.

But is it? Unbeknownst to us, we are all confused muslims. We are more appealed by marriages of different ideologies and philosophies than Islam (the pure Islam, the Islam that Allah and Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. want us to practice).

*The operative word in the last sentence is “unbeknownst”*

Allow me to demonstrate: A friend of mine once implied on his facebook status that men mimicking women are sinners, and vice versa. A lady then annoyingly commented that my friend should mind his own business and that he should “jaga kubur sendiri dulu”. What happened to plain ol’ dakwah @ amar makruf nahi mungkar? To be fair to my friend, his facebook status was very conciliatory and kind, very different from many of the religious zealots (I am using this term in its western understanding) who are more prone to be accusatory.

The world is an infinitely confusing place. Psychiatrists say that the first step to recovery is recognising that you actually do have a problem, as the logical consequence from the acceptance of that notion is the desire to recover. Some might disagree that we have a problem. They believe that there is nothing wrong with muslims having different convictions, even if these convictions run counter to Islam. We can’t even agree that we have a problem. How problematic is that?

Talking with those who agree that we do have a problem is not an easy task either. These people will disagree on ways to solve the problem, having agreed that the problem actually exists.

If you are scratching your head, confused, not too worry. It is perfectly understandable.

So let’s assume that there is a problem. And the problem is: Individual muslims seem to have convictions that are non-Islamic.

Now that we have recognised that we do have a problem, let’s come up with a solution.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Applying psycho-analysis shit on yourself can be a revealing practice. It sheds some light on why you do certain acts, making you feel slightly at ease because now you know that your eccentricities are reconcilable with the world at large.

Why is it that we are so intent at escaping reality?
Because the truth sucks? Because it hurts?

Some people indulge in liquor excessively. Others do drugs. A large majority of us turn on the computer and after a few clicks, open our profile (or maybe someone else’s ) on facebook.

I have an essay to write. A large part of it is still Greek to me. And yet here I am, typing away, burning my time as I do.

We escape to worlds, which can never harm us. We do this for reasons buried deep under the dark waters of our hearts, visible only through contemplation.
We escape because we are so scared to set into motion action (or a series of actions) in the fear that our decision might cause grave repercussions. So we retreat to a dark corner, where we think we are safe, and just not do anything that might have any worrying effect upon our future, or anyone around us, or maybe even ourselves.

I look forward to watching movies and television programs every day. They are a chance for me to look intently at someone else’s life and laugh at their mistakes. But most importantly, it is an escape for me from confronting what I know I have to confront; the assignments and the books and the understanding of complex words used to describe legislation.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not being ungrateful. But sometimes, real life can be so suffocating.
Why it suffocates, you ask? Well, have you ever get the feeling of emptiness, or just-not-being-there-at-that-moment whenever you’re walking to lectures or waiting for classes to begin. You know, when you feel like the wheels of life and time are moving non-stop and there’s nothing that you can do to stop it. The whole world is moving forward, and yet here you are (for some reason unfathomable in your mind) static and unmoving and stagnant.

And that is why you try your very best to escape. You want to stop time but you can’t. So the only option at hand is to escape from the moving wagon, that is life.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Liberal Humanism vs Islam

I am very much at a crossroad. Every day I am faced with the inevitable clash of ideologies and belief within me; Islam and liberal-humanism.
I admit that I feel sceptical sometimes about where Islam stands at certain issues.

It is stated very clearly in the Quran that Allah ( and I mean Allah, as in the One True God not the appellative noun “God) forbids homosexuality. But it is hard to accept this when some of your friends have the alternative sexual orientation. And when you are forced to confront the inevitable clash of ideas, you are reluctant to voice out your disapproval in intellectual terms because (in truth) personally, I do not see any danger to society at large if homosexuality is tolerated. And so the dilemma comes into play. In terms of my faith, it is clearly wrong. In part, I am bound by my faith to say this, nay to believe this. But personally, and this is where the dilemma happens, I think it is quite alright.

Next is an issue very close to Muslims around the world; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I just got back from an Islamic program that I attended. Some of the talk that they had was on the Muslim’s responsibility to defend the Palestinians at all costs. I understand this perfectly. But there were a continued flow of negative rhetoric against the Israelis. This is the danger when one generalises and simplifies complicated histories and political situations. I think that there are not enough efforts being put to understand the plight of the common Israeli person. I do admit and believe that the Palestinians suffer much more than the Israelis but usually talks and articles that I have read are grossly anti-Israeli. When history is generalised and complicated political information become propaganda for certain quarters, we (the common man no! The common person) lose sight of what is the reality. After continued barrage of anti-Israeli adverts, it is unsurprising that one might even go so far as to approve rocket retaliation by Hamas to public places in Israel because it is implanted in our subconscious mind that ALL Israelis are terrorists. (it is my opinion that all forms of violence and usage of weapons greatly stalls the hope for peace in the Middle East even if it is in retaliation. When will it stop then? One side must be the better side and stop first, retaliate NOT. Retaliation is merely veiled revenge. Revenge never leads to peace.)
And I am aware that on these two issues, there are a multitude of different opinion within Islam. It gets very confusing.
And countless many issues at hand. At the end of the Islamic program that I went to in Glasgow, many of my friends were adamant in that they will work hard for the da’wah of Islam. And i do want to do da’wah but deep down, I envy these people for their fervour and unwavering faith. I am not saying that I am losing my faith in Islam. You see, from the very beginning, my belief in Islam is purely based on faith, not much knowledge is involved. Now that I am faced with contradictions between Islam and what I think is right in my mind, I found that faith alone is not enough for me to hold onto my beloved Islam. I need to learn more.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stories From My Grandfather

Human beings tend to overlook things that are essential to them, minute details that colour their lives never seemed to register in their minds, so adept at ambition and greed. I have lived for 20 years on this earth and it is only recently that I sat down and talked, really talked with my grandfather. Don’t get me wrong, I am not as dysfunctional as the previous sentence suggests. My grandfather and I have talked before but we never really connected emotionally, spiritually in our conversations prior to this.

Up to that point, I always viewed my “Tok” with quiet love, almost indifference (as bad as this will make me look). I respected him, but I manifested that love and respect in a rather limited way, the way I was brought up with. I never say out loud that I love him and I am sure that if I did it would invite weird stares from other family members. And this I believe is the usual scenario in a household that still practices the traditional way of communicating with their family members especially. This is probably innate in our culture, hence our lives.

Phew!!! That was some nice bullshit.

On to the story at hand! I was back in my kampung in Ipoh, Perak for the Eid-ul-Fitri celebrations. The first night, was spent by having a two-way discussion between my grandfather and I, although he did most of the talking because I was constantly bombarding him with questions about his stories and past experiences.

Anyway, that night my Tok sat me down on the sofa and we started talking. Initially it was about him advising me to cling vociferously to Islam, now and always especially so when I am about to confront the Evil culture that is the Western culture (ok, over dramatisation over there...) head on. I nodded curtly; listening to the clichéd statement was starting to irritate me. But then the conversation moved to a more meaningful and interesting plane. He started telling me stories of him as a child and teenager.

1. And so that night, I learned that my Atok was born in 1938. I never knew how old he was before that.

2. In 1953, my grandfather commenced his studies at Sultan Idris Teaching College. He finished studying at the venerable institution in December 1957. He told me he was over the moon when he got the offer. For him, going to Tanjung Malim inspired happiness similar to studying in a foreign country.

3. His teaching experience as a teacher after SITC began when he was posted to a school that had bamboo walls, palm leaves as a roof and dirt as their floor. He laughed when he told me that the students, in those days had to ensure that the floor was constantly wet. If they fail to do that, dust from the dirt would start enveloping them during classes, by a mere minor movement of their feet.

4. Respect for teachers in those days was insurmountable. However, there was the oddball parent occasionally. An angered father with a parang once chased down his colleague just because my Atok’s friend made a minor disciplinary action against his son. He supposedly pinched the boy. I suppose he was the prelude to future parents.

5. He married my grand mother in 1961 because their parents arranged it for them. When I asked him whether he knew my grandmother prior to the marriage, he smiled and said no. He quite simply said that in those days dating and pre-marital lovey-dovey relationships between boys and girls simply never happened because no one dared to defy tradition.

6. In 1962, God blessed him with his first child, my dad.

I may be speaking for myself but correct me if I’m wrong, human beings tend to look at others as a linear, single faceted person. We like to put labels on others to simplify our view of the world around us.

ALL Jews are evil.

Those who religiously support the opposition, say that ALL Barisan Nasional members are stupid and corrupted.

This is my grandfather. Nothing more. I never viewed him as a PERSON.

That night the perception that I had towards my grandfather changed. I saw him, for the first time as a complex human being, full of funny stories, loves, hates and experiences and skills and knowledge of his own and not just as my grandfather.

I saw him as a very respected teacher, a devout muslim, a hardworking teenager, a man with child-like innocence whose eyes shine when he speaks of a time and place long forgotten.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to all! May the barokah of syawal and the holiday cheer open your eyes to things that are truly essential ; the ones that you love.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


(to Dai, i shall answer your tag in a couple of days' time ok? =)

I was reading an entry on a blog (I shall not disclose whose though) when the entry mentioned of midnight snacks of chocolate chip cookies. My sugar-deprived bloodstream curdled with hunger and I immediately remembered a box of “kuih batik” which I suspect my uncle brought back from kampung in the refrigerator downstairs. It was 3 in the morning, 2hours before sahur, and I was munching 2 slices of heaven seconds afterwards.

I forgot how this person’s face could really make my mind go awry. Smiles abundant even after a mundane and dull day.

Her infectious and booming laugh? It truly is a personal impossibility to forget that laugh. It never fails to carve a smile on my face.

Rudely awaken from a deep slumber by the annoying electronic sounds which my old hand phone emanates, only to be pleasantly surprised that it was an old friend calling to arrange an outing. It has been months since I last met or even corresponded in any way with him. It is very nice to know that your friends still remember you even though you yourself have not been a particularly good friend.

I love bugging my youngest sister. Guilty of being the cutest thing in the house, I incessantly pinch her in the cheeks or play with her long, straight hair, much to her futile protests and screams, of course.

Late night laughs courtesy of The Nanny.

The cancelled cartoon show “Arthur”. I used to wake up relatively early on Sunday mornings (9 in the morning) just so I can laugh out loud at the silly jokes made by Arthur, his family and friends. There is something enchantingly sweet, almost a nostalgic feeling, that sweeps in whenever I watch cartoon shows. I love to look at the colours of the characters and the make-believe world that the animators had made. It reminds me of times and innocence past.