We heard about this word a lot, mostly in sports, but do we fully understand and utilise it? Heh, so, this entry is not an entry to define a word. If i want to do that, i will have millions of entries waiting to be uploaded since there are millions of words out there to be translated.
This entry is about a book by hlovate with versus as the title. My Bangkok friend, k herie, or i now can affectionately call angah (as according to her) is an hlovate’s books fan as much as i am, so since she’s all the way in Bangkok, and can’t read the book yet, here i am making a synopsis of it for her. And u too, whoever u r reading this now. Warning. This synopsis contains spoiler, so if u’re a fan of hlovate and haven’t read versus yet, and don’t want to know how it is before u read it, u better just step out from this entry, thank u. So, ready?
So, hlovate describes the word ‘versus’ in the most descriptive way which we haven’t even thought before. The book is not about sport, it’s not about a game or a telematch with one side opposing the other (or, the simple saying, a versus b). The book is about changing for good. The book is about finding your way. The book is about ur past life versus ur present. Which can be changed into something better or something worse. It’s really ur choice.
The book’s main characters are minn and ao. Both of them are skaters, living life the way happy teen lives their life. They met @ college, and were not such a chum to begin with. :) yeah, typical hero meets heroine, there’s always an argument in the corner. At this point of time, minn is no longer a skater, while ao still is. because of her late grandfather’s will (for her to change, and leave the carefree life). To make the story short, heh, minn’s sempoi but guarded personality attracted ao, and he vowed to change for good. For her and for them, so he said. And he did. With one hell of a price. The point hlovate tried to make here is that it’s not easy to change. Especially to change for something better. To quote her own words, ‘bukan mudah nak berubah dari tanpa arah ke sejadah, dari tepi jalan ke sujud menghadap Tuhan’. And it’s very, very, very true.
So, back to ao and minn. Ao got to further his study in Sydney and left minn in Malaysia. With a kinda pending status of their actual relationship. They were close, and at that time, minn already could sense that ao is changing. Dah tak kerek sangat macam dulu la kiranya. Heh. Then, when ao came back for a holiday, he asked a girl, jasmin to ask minn’s parents’ permission to go to this one programme at cerakah. Turned out it was an Islamic programme which lasted for two days with men hardly see the ladies. Very properly guarded programme. And minn realized that ao had changed and she felt inferior to him. Dia balik dr program tu terus demam n dah x contact langsung dgn ao. Ao x tau apa2 n balik Sydney, brokenhearted, when he heard from minn’s sis that minn had gone out with her exbf. Padahal x pun sbnrnye. And then, minn further study to mcquarie, as fated, jumpa balik ao yg sambung master kat situ. Minn pun, kesan berkawan dgn jasmin, dah slowly jadi baik jugak, but she mistakenly thought that jasmin is ao’s girl. Turned out they are staying at the same floor, and ao felt responsible to take care of minn. And then one day minn got spiked and ao saved her. Lagi la rasa bertanggungjawab sampai dia propose jugak nak kawin dgn minn, guna family. Turned out jasmin is only ao’s second cousin. It was hard work trying to persuade minn, but she agreed in the end. It might sound like a cliché, but knowing hlovate, her story is not just merely happy ending story. It’s filled with quotes and Islamic lessons, and Qur’an verses as guidance along the way. U have to read it to learn something. One quote that sruck a chord in my heart from the book is this: 'everything is fated. Only interchanged by God’s will, efforts and doa'. So true.
And something else brought some sense to me too. There was this part when ao mentioned after they got married that he thought of building their family there in Australia. And he has a sound reason for that. He said that it’s hard to raise a kid in Malaysia, where Islamic culture has been taken for granted. To quote his words: banyak sangat grey areas. apa nanti kita nak jawab bila anak tanya, orang tu muslim jugak, kenapa dia tak pakai tudung pun? Dua orang tu muslim jugak tapi boleh je pegang2 tangan lelaki perempuan sebelum kawin? Which is true, because we can see that everywhere in Malaysia. Melayu islam yang hanya pada nama, tapi tak pada amalannya. It will seem easier in oversea, in this case, Australia, since the difference between muslim and non-muslim is clear, sebab mostly yg buat benda2 tu hanyalah non-muslim.
Which reminds me of what i personally experienced back in Melbourne. I was sitting at this one mall, waiting for my sis in one of the shops, and there was this one young muslim girl, i suspected from middle-east smiled to me and said ‘assalamualaikum’. And i smiled to her and replied back, ‘wa’alaikumsalam’. She nodded and walked away. Now, how many of you can say you say salam to another muslim stranger you just pass on the street in Malaysia? Heh. Yeah, i don’t, either. Not even makcik2. And to me this came from a girl i suspected only in her teens.
That exchange may seem simple to you, but it brought something else to me. Because at that time, i felt myself really meaning that one word i said to her. And it’s just salam. A word that just kinda flows through your lips, but when saying it to a stranger, who shared that muslim kindred with you, it felt different. And we were both at foreign land, at that time, and i felt it even more. That muslim kindred, bond, whatever the word, is much stronger when you’re at a foreign land and muslim is a minority. Because then, you won’t take it for granted.
And that is the reason why i miss Melbourne so much. Aside from it’s tranquil environment and superb public transports, it makes me appreciate muslim bond even more. Yeah, there are pros and cons. But, then back to basic, it really is ur choice. To choose good or bad. Hell or well. Some people may be carried away by the culture there, but some don’t. Some with stronger hold on faith. That girl is one good example i like to think. And i’d like to be that too. And it’s not easy to be like that in Malaysia when everything is taken for granted and sambil lewa. Heh, i guess its Malaysia versus Melbourne for me now, ey? Same belief but different practice. It’s a wonder how we call ourselves Islamic country?
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