Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Turning Points...

note the plural.
to be honest, i thought i was good enough. i thought by keeping true to myself, not following anyone's trend, i was good enough. by performing solat 5 times a day, and wearing tudung when i went out and when there were male guests or my bros-in-law in the house, i was good enough. but then, somehow, God sees me fit to improve myself. become better than 'good enough'. it requires certain events, and it's a slow process. it's still ongoing, in fact. i don't even know where or when it started. some begun simultaneously, some way later, but they were all significant.
i read books. you know how crazy i am with them. but, i used to like only english novels. i patronized malay ones, which speak too much of love and less of life. and none whatsoever of life lessons. yeah, yeah, we have a lot of malay motivational books, but most of the time, i dozed off after reading two sentences, so there goes.
then, a colleague introduced to me novels by hlovate. typical love stories, but there are life lessons and there are verses from Qur'an. educating verses. honestly, i never thought of reading tafsir before (although i already have one) until i read from her (i'm assuming it's her, not his, here) books how tafsir helps. so much. one book touched me more than the others. rooftop rant. even the writer admitted that it's one of the best books she wrote, and without having to cringe from all those mushiness she (and i) never like. heh. her books kinda inspire me to try to be what i've stopped believing i can be. i want to be a writer. there, i've said it out loud. i'm trying to be one, anyway. seeing the length of what i wrote here, i might have a chance, huh? her books kinda make me realize that there are malay writers out there who do not stereotype themselves into writing lovey-dovey, emotional, empty shells of stories. there are writers who can touch people, and can educate them, subconsciously maybe, towards becoming a better person. her books make me want to be that kind of writer too. and i can't go on educating people to be better when i don't improve myself first, right?
and i realize it now, God helps me to do it. to improve myself. there's a beauty in everything He does for His creation, but somehow for so many time, we overlooked that fact. take the moment when i was first introduced to hlovate, for example. i went to a course, something my ex-colleague so very cleverly maneuvered out of. A course i had no idea what it was about, and i remember i cried that night i found out i have to go. and i asked for His help. turned out i discovered the books which pretty much turned my life on another direction. a better direction. from going to that course which i fairly hated at first. beauty, isn't it?
another turning point to me was when i got trasferred. to be honest, hah, i'm all about honesty here, i was not much a fan of, shall i say, female dressing. i'm pretty much a simple girl who likes long-sleeved t-shirts and a pair of good jeans. to work, i sobered up with a blouse and a pair of slacks. skirts were a no-no for a reason that they obstructed my movements (which was to fast-walk like i'm participating in a marathon), and baju kurung once held kinda bad memory to me. you see, back in school i had this friend, a boy, from tuition, whom i kinda had a crush on. one night during class, he asked me why i didn't like to wear baju kurung. why i didn't try to be more like the other, shall i say, feminine girls. i was hurt and insulted by those comparing words, subconsciously, but because i foolishly liked him, i went on to wear baju kurung the next week. which he complimented on smilingly. but then, that was just not me, so i went back on with shirts and jeans. so... back to present day when i got transferred. the big boss here has certain rule. she said to my department boss that what i wore to work everyday, which was blouse and slacks were not professional. she insisted on baju kurung. of course i relented, however reluctantly at first. i mean, she's the boss. through out the days, though, i came to realize that it's not so bad to wear baju kurung. i mean, they don't obstruct my fast movements that much, i still could run chasing a patient who left a medicine behind, heh. and i realized too, that if we, as malays, do not appreciate our own national dressing, dresses, whatever, who else will?
and so, baju kurung becomes my daily attire. following that, i started to review my whole wardrobe too. which had been criticised by my siblings way before that. heh. i have this bro-in-law, whom, God bless him, had been, shall i say, berbuih mulut beliau menegur his wife, my eldest sister, about the way i was dressed. yeah, so i wore t-shirts and jeans, but most t-shirts i wore at that time did not cover so much as what should be covered, if you know what i mean. kinda senteng la, adui. even when i was wearing tudung. so, as i started to wear baju kurung daily to work, i came to realize that maybe the rest of my wardrobe should be like that too. like baju kurung. sopan, not form-fitting and tutup aurat to the best meaning of the words. so, i did a wardrobe makeover. thanks again to the eldest sister who happened to do some small muslimah t-shirt sales.
next turning point. this came from something my close friend said. about a guy. heh, sooner or later, it will always come to this, eh? to some understanding i still don't understand, my friends got the hunch that i like boys who are handsome (rolling eyes) and smart. that's it. i seriously don't understand where they got the idea, considering the fact that the boys i did like from school up till matrix were not that handsome in the first place. smart, yes, certainly. handsome? not really. so, i knew this guy from a course i attended. street-smart, can draw and can quote The Godfather. to be perfectly honest, i was pretty impressed. until when we asked him to recite a prayer for a morning ceremony, he balked. for a reason, as he said, he didn't know how. so, that close friend of mine gave me the advice i think i'm going to remember for the rest of my life. find a man who has strong foundation of faith. that's the main point. the rest will come. and she's right. i mean, how come you can quote Don Vito Corleone, but you can't say a simple doa? i pray he finds his turning points, though, Allah willing.
and so, helped by that particular advice and hlovate's bad/not so bad-turned-good/better heroes, i readjusted my classification. whoa, talking like a snob. to be perfectly honest, again, i was. a snob, i mean. before, i didn't ask for someone with a strong foundation of faith. only someone beriman. i see now, that i need a stronger reason than that. because the iman level of a person has its ups and downs. i need someone who'll constantly upgrade his iman level. i need someone like my other bro-in-law, who without shame laid out his sejadah on a street so he could perform solat when it's due. because, you see, it's not that easy to find a mosque or a place to pray in melbourne. you'll make do with what you have. but, you must make it. and here we are in malaysia, where we can find mosques or surau every half-an-hour journey, we took it for granted. we postponed (and sometimes neglected) the daily connection we have with God. i did that too. i admitted it and i regretted it. trying not to do it anymore. because however i try to readjust my classification, whatever the term, the main point here is to improve myself first. before, the reason i tried to improve myself was so that i could deserve someone with that classification, someone with a strong hold on faith, who can guide me along. through out the process, however, with Allah's help i came to realize that i need to improve myself for me. not for anyone else. For Me. and to bring me closer to Him, insya Allah.
as i said, it's a slow process. it's still ongoing, in fact. i learn from books, learn from friends, learn from what i observe around me. friends i see who changed to be better, friends who help me to wake up from bad dreams, friends who give the best of advice in the least expected time. and maybe those around me notice a change in me, too. i have this guy who came to my office and we had a fairly serious discussion on today's Islam. i told him i'm trying to be better. he told me to go listen to lectures by ustaz at a mosque near his home, which is also near mine. i smiled and said, me being a woman, is not that easy to go out at night, even to a mosque. a woman's place to pray is still best at her home. a few days after that he came back with 5 cds containing the lectures. i was suprised and pleased and grateful. and skeptical too. heh. i mean, i don't want to listen to political lectures masked with the pretense of them being ceramah agama. but, i've heard the first cd. so far so good. no political discussion. yet. can't listen to all five at once, though. ilmu itu nak kena diabsorb slowly, repeatedly kena dengar. so far, he hasn't come back to retrieve the cds, so i think, i'm good. :)
so, here i am. telling you about my turning points. i suspect there are more in the future. i hope there are more in the future. so i can upgrade, insya Allah. :)
you have yours too. you surely do. ask for them from Him. ask for goodness, get rid of the bad. He'll listen. He always does. and He always keeps His promise to be close to us. so, we have to keep Him close to us too.
there is beauty in everything Allah does for His creation, it took me ages to realize that. but it's true. it's a famous cliche, but here goes: memang semua ketentuan-Nya ada hikmah yang tersendiri. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


a few weeks ago marked the end of The Pacific series on hbo... i don't know why, but i've wanted to write about this since i watched the series. well, the series were mainly about those american marines enlisted in a war against japan during ww2... watching the series and a few more war movies like them make me want to write about these people. soldiers. marines. navy. army. whatever the term you use, they're still the same. they are soldiers. drilled and profesionally trained to kill one part of people while trying to guard and save the other.
and how do they justify what part of people to kill and what part to save? that, of course, comes from orders from the goverment they serve. they are, of course, first and foremost, goverment servants... like i am. heh...
back to soldiers. a few entries ago, i posted a lyric from greenday, 21 guns. that song was about soldiers too, i think. and put a whole new perspective on this specific line of work... because it is one hell of a job. because it comes with one hell of a price. i mean, killing people. what kind of a sick person would be proud of a job like that? jack the Ripper, maybe. but, yeah, he was a very, very sick person. i wouldn't, and i suspect not many of the soldiers would be proud either. and that's how the song described the guilt these people might have felt. still, why do they do it? patriotism? maybe. forced? maybe. family tradition? some, yeah. peer pressure? hahaha, that is a standard cause for anything bad, eh?
but then, watching the series, i came to realize at the end of the day, none of the above matters so much. at the end of the day, it is all about having your friends' back, covering them, watching over for them. at the end of day, it is all about friendship. i mean, how do you justify having to watch your friends, the one who stick with you through the mud and the dirt and the bullets, being shot in front of you? do you think you can ever imagine the grief? how do you get over that? you don't. because you just simply can't forget the friends who stick with you through thick and thin, through river and jungle. you can't simply forget friends who share their last supply of food through out the week, having a single bite and giving you the rest. you can't simply forget that.
at the end of the day, it is all about friendship. it is all about saving the life of the person besides you, or behind you, or in front of you, without even actually knowing them for long. without even knowing them at all. but they are there with you, with the same cause as you have, whatever it is, and suddenly, their lives matter more than yours.
we could really learn a lot from these stories. ignore the noises of shotguns, bazookas, cannons, machine guns, whatever. grab the messages they are trying to give. we can see the value of friendship, the deeper meaning of it in stories like these. we can see the fight is no longer about saving your own neck, but also the one belonged to those around you. soldiers, in a way, might be the most unselfish people in the world, when they go through it enough. when they have had enough. because then, their own lives don't matter as much anymore.
aside from that, we as Muslims, could learn a lot too. even in the middle of a battlefield, a few of these soldiers still bring their bible, their book with them. that's how deep their faith goes. what about us? in the middle of a fight, they still believe, they still have faith (some do, anyway). what about us? we might not see the battlefield in front of us. it's invisible, but it's there. most definitely. it's the fight against breaching of our rights as muslims, a fight against those who dare to insult our leader, a fight, much more difficult, against those who slowly but effectively maneuver their way into our community and try to lead us, subconsciously, to defy our own book, our sole guidance and our faith. it's invisible, but it's there. have been there for so long, in fact.
are we brave enough to be the real soldiers and fight these invisible evils looming so suffocatingly close around us?