Tuesday, July 28, 2009


“Our lives are shaped by opportunities, even the ones that we missed”

This quote strikes a chord in the deep recesses of my heart. I heard it only once in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” but it left me pondering for its poignancy and raw truth.

I have a friend, who lives quite near my house. He is a good friend of mine. A likeable warm, normal human being. The thing that sets him apart though is that he has a condition called seizure or more commonly known in Malaysia as “sawan”.

Due to this health condition, at times he had to forego education opportunities. His dream, he told me was to become a food scientist working with the Islamic Department. He is quite religious, a devout Muslim. And his interest lies in the sciences. And so, he applied to study food sciences in “Politeknik”.

He received an offer but there was a problem. The only polytechnic that offers the course is situated in Pahang, hundreds of kilometres from where he is staying.

Initially, he went to the new place with vigour. His family, though slightly cautious, supports him nonetheless. A couple of weeks went by without much drama. Then, he had a seizure attack. He was forced to transfer his studies to a polytechnic nearer to his house in Shah Alam.

However, due to its policy, Shah Alam does not offer the course that he has always wanted.

After the SPM result was announced, I admit I was on cloud 9 and my head was inflated. I received a very good result, straight A1’s. given the circumstances, I felt confident that I would get anything and everything that I wanted. The world is within my grasp, and quite frankly, given my huge ego at that time, I felt I could have squashed it as well.

And so, I made the decision that would change the course of my life. I decided to apply for JPA Medicine scholarship. I know full well that applying to JPA means that I have to compete with non-Bumis as well as Bumis. But, I felt confident (cocky is probably a better suited word) that I would surely get the offer. I had the best results that one can have. I was very active in co-curricular activities. I was beyond-confident of my interview capabilities. Ujub dan takabbur menguasai diri.

Obviously, I did not get the scholarship.

A more interesting story is in order though. Enough talking about future careers and life. I have a love story to tell you.

My aunt studied in the US, at Northwestern University. Evidently, she was one of the hottest girl in campus. At the end of her tenure there, she received two proposals. She had to choose only one obviously.

And she decided to choose Mr. Zulqarnain.

Do you see where I am getting at? At crossroads, we are forced to choose which path to take. There is no “right” path. You just have to judge it with your own intuition, experience, knowledge and advice from your loved ones.

Sometimes, you have to make decisions that would affect not only your life but also others around you. You may make mistakes, some of them bigger than others. You may be hated, loved or others may not even realise the impact of your decisions. But believe me, one decision in your life will affect others. My aunt when she chose to marry my uncle, inevitably altered not only my uncle’s life but also the other guy’s life.

“When one door closes, we are so intent to look at the closed door that we did not realise, another door is open.”

Some decisions may even bring intense regret later in life. But as the quote suggests, other crossroads will come our way.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The First Love

This is a real story, as real as the revolver that I am holding in my hands. As real as the bullets that are inside the cylinder thing in this gun. As real as the stupid, evil man standing in front of me. As real as this moment when he must die.


My story started 2 years ago. When I first came to Harvard, I was naive, young and idealistic. I wanted to study, explore the infinite possibilities of my abilities. I still remember the day I arrived at Massachusetts like I remember my first kiss: vividly and passionately. Even though the sun was not as cheerful as it was back in Malaysia but my mood was at an all time high. The rustle of the leaves sounded like music to a person who has never witnessed autumn in America. The golden colours of the leaves reminded me of Klimt’s paintings. Playing with the mist as I exhaled was the single most exciting activity for me. Seeing the Harvard School of Divinity for the first time in real life is a breathtaking experience. My childhood was coloured with dreams of going to Harvard instead of Disneyland. Now, in front of my naked eyes, the beautiful gothic structure of the building can only be liken to heaven for me.

As I was walking towards the registration table, I noticed a small commotion happening under a huge ancient beech tree. A man was standing on a stool shouting at the top of his lungs, obviously trying his best to get everyone’s attention.

“Sign up for Philosophy Club!” that sounds interesting.

“Hi! I’d like to join.”

“Oh! Hello there! All newbies must give their cell number to the president before they can officially become members.”

“Urm ok. As weird as the policy sounds, sure. Who’s the President?”

“I am.” And he gave me a weird-looking crooked smile.

Minutes later, I noticed how he did not ask cell numbers of other members.


Cell phone text messages.

Guy: Hey! It was fun talking you. Hope we can hang out some time? … =)

Me: Yeah! Totally.

Guy: Let’s do dinner. Friday. 8pm. I’ll pick you up. We’ll go to this bar just outside town.

Me: Coolie.

The night was magical, as magical as the occasion. He looked like a Greek God in his black shirt, accentuating his muscular body. His hair was sleek, very much like a 50’s movie star. His cologne was amazing. I may have hyperventilated once or twice when I was too close to him. But the most magical thing about him is his eyes. His sparkling, hazel eyes. It looked like some sort of ancient jewel which is yet to be found by mankind. But regardless, he was always very courteous towards me. But if falling madly in love with his physical being is not enough, if it was possible I fell even more in love with his mind and spirit. We clicked. We have chemistry. We fit each other perfectly. It was….perfect. But of course, I have to play hard to get.

“Hey this bar is pretty cool. I didn’t even know it existed.”

“Yeah, it is isn’t it? What would you like to have?”

“Anything … “ as long as I’m having it with you. Of course, I would commit suicide first before I say the second part of the sentence.

We talked for hours at the bar, discussing everything from politics, economics, arts, sports.

Dreams last so long

Even after you’re gone

I know, you love me

And soon you will see

That you were meant for me

And I was meant for you.


“I love this song”

The silent music of the night seemed to be complementing this song. The half moon is hidden by wisps of dark cloud. It was a cold autumn night. The blaring of the engine of his ’87 Chevy can be heard a mile away. But we were in our own universe, where only he and I existed. Living in our own star.

“Why do you like such a sad song? It makes me feel depressed…(laughs)” my heart did a summersault, hearing his laugh.

“I don’t know. I think, listening to a sad song, when you’re happy can only make you feel happier. It’s like you should enjoy life as it comes your way.”

“Interesting philosophy. You have a beautiful mind.”

And I just lost my breath.

I bet you still remember your first kiss? I certainly did.

“Thanks for dropping me off”

“You’re welcome.”

Then his face neared mine. We looked at each other for what seemed to be hours, contemplating. In the end we kissed. And it felt like eternal summer. To this very day, the “dream lasts”.

“I love you”

“I love you too”

Our two years together were amazing.

Then he changed. It started after the 2 weeks holiday when he went back to his home country.

The Massachusetts fall wind blew through my hair. The sound of the rustling of the wind provided an avenue for me to calm myself down. My old, smelly boot seemed to be made of lead as I dragged my feet to walk on, to get away, escape. The wisp of smoke that came out of my mouth as I exhaled danced in front of my face, mocking my predicament. The grey sky mourned with me. Why must it be me? I love him. I gave him my all. His cell phone message was clear and cold.

“ We can’t meet up anymore. I’m sorry. Leave me alone.”

My insistent pleas in messages and calls were ignored, seeking explanation. Some sort of retribution. When I come up to him during classes he would, in such cruel fashion, walk away. The Jewel song seemed befitting now.

“Please tell me what is wrong. I want an explanation. I thought you said you love me. Why are you doing this to me?” I shrieked at the top of my lungs as I cornered him near the beech tree, where I first saw him.

“It really is nothing I just want you to please leave me alone” he said, avoiding any eye contact with me. I found that my heart hurts when he does that.

“I want an explanation and I want the truth. Don’t I deserve the truth Tawfiq?” said I, screaming in anger.

“Ok. Sure. Fine. I can’t see you anymore because I have realised that homosexuality is wrong. I knew that all along Hariz but I ignored it. When I went back to Malaysia, my mom died in a car crash. Then, it struck me how fragile life is and how you will never know when God will take your life away. Hariz, we are both men and we are both muslims and you know that this is wrong. We have to stop this.”

He exclaimed with such force it was as if his soul was full of vindication.

I was silenced, for a moment.

“How dare you! You pursued me. And now you’re leaving me and acting all holier-than-thou on me. I can’t believe you!” I took the revolver out and pointed it straight at his face.


“Hariz, please don’t do this. Think rationally.” He pleaded.

“How could you, Tawfiq. Do you know how much it hurts when the person you love the most in your life ignores you? I may not know much about Islam Tawfiq but I know that God hates heartbreakers.” Hatred is brimming inside of me.

“Please Hariz. You don’t want to kill me. Put the gun down please.”

“You’re right, Tawfiq. I don’t want to kill you. No…. I can’t kill you. I thought that it would have been easy to shoot you in the face, Tawfiq to make you pay for the hurt that you have caused. Then I realise I can never hurt you. Can’t you see? I love you too much; I can’t let anything bad happen to you. As cruel and inconsiderate as you are, Tawfiq, I still love you. Maybe that makes me a foolish and idiotic hopeless romantic but I still do love you. Which is why, I am lodging this bullet in my brain. I can’t live without you Tawfiq. And since you can’t accept me for who I am, I have no other reason to live.” a single bullet was fired.

And Tawfiq screamed until he could scream no more. He saved my lifeless body from falling to the ground, embracing it. Regret comes seconds too late.

Tawfiq then went to the bar where the first date happened.

Below is the note that Tawfiq wrote minutes after Hariz committed suicide. It was addressed to Hariz:

“I, Tawfiq bin Ahmad love Hariz bin Muhammad. Even though I’ve told him that our relationship is wrong but I can’t lie to myself.

I still love you, Hariz. I would rather die than live in a world without you. I realise this now. My only regret is that the realisation came after your death.”

Before Tawfiq committed suicide, he tipped the bar man to play a Jewel song. A gunshot was heard throughout the bar the moment the song ended.

Dreams last so long

Even after you’re gone

I know, you love me

And soon you will see

That you were meant for me

And I was meant for you.


Of times past and unchartered waters

Those tears that I shed. What are they for? I found myself reflecting more upon the reason for the tears rather than merely getting emotional over the experience, especially now after the emotions have subsided and logic and reason swoon in.

I admit. I cried like Narcissus would have cried if someone carved his face with a knife. I thought that leaving KYUEM would inevitably lead to the same scenario that I braved through after I left ASiS: unfamiliar waters looming ahead and an insatiable craving for times past. It reminds me of the notion of a person is now out of his comfort zone (his familiar surroundings like school, college, old friends) and is forced by the incessant movement of time, into the scary, badass, real world (unfamiliar surroundings i.e. change). Maybe that is the real reason why I cried. I am scared of the notion of unfamiliar, unchartered waters. Fear is always a solid logical reason for tears. I fear loneliness in the face of an enemy not yet known. I fear of losing my friends, the ones that I have always relied on for support and sometimes survival. We always fear losing the things that we already have, hence the general dislike against change (I’m speaking very generally of course). This is the logic/ philosopher in me speaking.

What about the romantic in me? I cried because I love my friends and leaving college would mean missing their company and eccentricities.

Now however, after emotions is replaced by logic and reason, I feel nothing more than a vague and peculiar sense of numbness. The kind of numbness that would have come after a particularly sharp jab of pain, or utter euphoria or maybe melancholy. Probably the body’s response after it had had excreted a notch too high a level for hormones, or in laymen’s term it had experienced an emotion that is too strong.

To say “moving on is the only way to go” is a hated cliché and everyone is aware of that. But if you could entertain me for a paragraph or two, if for once I was given powers by the grace of God to halt time. After all, the only reason why I would want to go to university and torture myself studying for yet another 3years is societal pressure. The pressure to be the best amongst the best, lest survival is an impossibility. In a globalised world the primal instinct (whether or not it is an innate human nature is of course a debate but I will not go into that matter) is similar : you snooze you lose, even though the stakes is much higher : your personal survival.

What then should I do if the prospect of leaving is too hard to contemplate? Continue studying in that college? For how long? Till the day I die? As futile and gormless as this possibility has been, it is nonetheless quite pleasant a thought (especially when you are going through an emotional roller coaster ride).

There I go again, mulling over the possibility of the “Peter Pan dream”.

So this pain and tears, are they worth it? After all, you are crying for something that will inevitably happen. But then again, why do people cry and mourn in funerals?

To honour times past or for fear of the unfamiliar waters? Human beings are complex creatures with surprisingly simple habits. As with all explanations of basic habits of complex creatures, there are more than one answer. And the answers are not necessarily definitive i.e. I don’t fucking know.