The Ideal School

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I was horrified when I first read the above issue. I have been following the issue quite closely and pray that justice would be served for the sake of all parties involved.

What I couldn’t understand was why Ustaz Kazim then lodged a police report against Wardina and Syed Azmi?  Why had he accused them of ‘mencemar nama baik beliau’ when they never mentioned his name or his Maahad Tahfiz in their facebook posts? Granted, they did highlight the issue of sexual abuse in one Maahad Tahfiz in Malaysia, but the actual name of the Maahad Tahfiz was never mentioned. It was Astro Awani who had mentioned the specific Maahad Tahfiz in relation to the sexual abuse allegation.

Are we supposed to sweep issues like this under the carpet and allow sexual predators in our society to run amok despoiling our kids?

The reaction of Ustaz Kazim Elias disappoints me but I guess I should not be so surprised. As I have mentioned before, there are very few religious leaders in Malaysia that I actually trust and respect. Ustaz Kazim was not in the list, anyway.

It’s so typical that when ‘orang awam’ say the truth or question something against a religious figure, they would be labeled as ‘arrogant’, ‘angkuh’ etc etc. It makes my blood boil, sometimes. Anyone who questions your authority is angkuh, is it? Ugh!

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***  

“Kak Long, have you chosen a school for Eshan? Would it be an all-boys school or a co-ed?” I asked my elder sister one day.

My sister is a statistician and she teaches in UPSI in Tanjung Malim. (Her doctorate was in medical statistics and she always told me that I should write a paper and collaborate with her. We always fantasize that one fine day we would produce a paper “Azmee, Azmee, et al.” Hahah)

There really isn’t much choice of schools around Tanjung Malim, alas.

I did not ask whether she wanted to put my nephew in a Maahad Tahfiz or sekolah agama because I knew that would not be an option.

I don’t think my family is secular. I think we are religious in our own way. We have faith and we practice the basic tenets of Rukun Islam. However, we believed after we understood. We have problems accepting things just because it was spoken by someone without any proof or reasoning. (and some teachers can never get it). By the way, believing without really understanding, is not real faith, anyway right? So how worthy is that sort of belief in the eyes of God? God Himself had emphasized and reemphasized “afala tatafakkarun”. Tidakkah kamu berfikir? God did not ask you to have automatic faith and mindless obedience. He wanted your mind to be engaged as well. You have to wonder, and think, and find out. And only then you can be firm in your belief. You can’t just read the Quran in arabic without ever bothering to read the translation, and then suddenly think that ‘reading Quran everyday’ is good enough.  Granted, it is better than not reading the Quran at all. But God did not reveal the Quran to our prophet so that you can sing the words in rhythms without understanding the message that you are meant to internalize in your daily living.

When things don’t make sense, you have to find out! How can you justify how much research you have done for your thesis, painstakingly making sure that every sentence in your thesis has been checked out and properly referenced and all the evidence scientifically documented…. and yet for something as important as your religion and faith, you can simply believe just by hearing some ustaz/ustazah say something that doesn’t make sense.

Would Allah be proud with that sort of mindless belief, you think?

I don’t know how a religious school function. But I trust SMAP Labu and SMAP Kajang kind of religious school rather than private Maahad Tahfizs. (I might be biased out of my ignorance in how they function. But after the recent issue of Ustaz Kazim’s Maahad Tahfiz sexual abuse scandal, I get even more hypercritical towards these sorts of religious schools)

My sister and my brother-in-law trained their kids to be inquisitive. I cannot imagine any traditional religious teachers would be able to cope with Eshan and Aayra’s questions. Aayren is still an infant and thus I could not yet discern her temperament, but if she took after her elder brother and sister, she too would be a handful to handle. Between Eshan and Aayra, I worried about Aayra more because she is the rebel. At 3 years old, she could stand her ground like nobody’s business.The harsher you are with Aayra, the more stubborn she becomes. She is easily won over by praises and soft words, though. So I would always tell her how beautiful she is and what lovely hair she has, appealing to her vanity. Hahaha. It works every time.

With Aayra, I am worried that teachers would not understand her  and would construe her silent contemplation as quiet protest or her sincere inquisition as her loud mutiny.

With Eshan, I am worried that he would be bullied. He is so mild-mannered, and so easy-going. When one kid at his taska had slapped his cheek, he did not cry or hit back. Instead he asked “why did you hit me?”, as though it was something to be intellectually curious about. The same thing happened when Aayra hit Eshan. Eshan would frown and said “Why Aayra hit Eshan? Eshan tak buat Aayra pun. Aayra ni lahh….” Then he continued to play like nothing happened.

I had never asked my sisters why they hit me when we were children. I just retaliated straight away. We would hit each other until one of us cried or my parents broke up the fight. Usually, I wasn’t the one who cried. It would always be my younger sister who cried first, and then I would be the one who seemed guilty because I hadn’t cried. I had told my parents once, “I can cry too, then you have to scold her also.” Hahha. (I was quite sarcastic. But what I really meant was, if someone is right on the basis of who ends up crying, then everyone would compete to cry first so that she would appear to be the victim.) 

You see, I am afraid if Eshan goes to an all-boys school, he would turn every fight into an intellectual quest and would try to reason with his opponent instead of hitting back. I really like the fact that Eshan is a clever boy and is always so curious and such a wonderful, good-mannered sweetheart. I admire anyone who is intelligent and smart and inquisitive… but I would rather have that person survives to live another day so that he/ she can continue to be intelligent, smart and inquisitive. If you die, your intelligent-smart-and-inquisitive self would cease to exist anyway. 

So, I told my Kak Long one day, “I think Eshan and Aayra should learn martial arts; you know, Taekwondo or Judo. Not silat, though. Silat sometimes have nonsensical ritual with their tok guru asking them to oil their body with a special oil that has been ‘jampi-serapah-ed’. That’s just insane. But Taekwondo or Judo should be fine. They don’t have all these funny mystical rituals.” As always, I was giving her unsolicited free advice which my Kak Long listened quite patiently without really committing herself to it. She was simply humoring her opinionated little sister. Hahah.

You see, I believe in the value of being able to take care of yourselves, for both boys and girls. Once, it was a Prophetic tradition to teach every kid “memanah, berenang dan menunggang kuda”.

In a hadith narrated from Ibn Umar (R.A) in which our beloved Prophet said ”Teach your children swimming, archery and horse riding”. In Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (s) said,  “Practice archery and horseback riding.” The Prophet (s) said “Any action without the remembrance of Allah is either a diversion or heedlessness except four acts: walking from target to target (during archery practice), training a horse, . . . , and learning to swim.”

Archery, for self-defense and battle-skills. Swimming, for survival in water. Riding, for practical purpose of movement and also for survival.

Nowadays, not everyone can swim (including yours truly, alas!). And Archery is almost obsolete as people don’t go around carrying their bows and arrows anymore except during Sports Events. Once upon a time, the Malays carried Keris everywhere, slipping it in between the folds of their sampin at their waists. And it was considered a part of their normal attire when they went out of their house. I am sure at that time, being proficient in wielding a Keris is considered the norm in the Malay Society then. Now, guns have replaced bows and arrows when it comes to self-defense, but not everyone is trained or licensed to carry one. So we are left with only martial arts and perhaps a pocket knife for self-defense. (I always carry a pocket knife in my bag or in my pocket whenever I go out. So be warned. Hahaha)

Thank God that we still practice the modern equivalent of horse riding in this age, as most people are expected to be able to drive nowadays (Having said that, our poor sisters in Saudi Arabia are still legally prohibited to drive. In this age, that’s just crazy). But the norm that everyone should be able to swim and defend themselves are no longer taken that seriously.

You go to a driving school after SPM to learn to drive and that is like a culture in our society. All your friends do it and if you are the only one not going to driving school, you would feel seriously left out. 

But martial arts training and swimming classes are not the norm anymore and subject to affordability rather than being looked at as a necessity; which is different from the way we treat the matter of going to a driving school. That has to change.

One of my bucket list is to learn Taekwondo. I wanted to learn when I was a kid but at that time my father was at the early stage of his career where all the money must be poured back into the business. The Taekwondo attire itself cost a small fortune. And the monthly payment cost too much for my father at that time. If my father allowed me to learn Taekwondo, then he would have to allow my other sisters to learn as well because they would say “Tak aci, ayah bagi untuk kak ngah boleh. Awat kami tak boleh?” hahah. Our household is a fair household. My father couldn’t allow one child one thing and refuse another child the same thing. It just didn’t happen. In the rare times it did happen, we’d raised a ruckus! Hahaha.

Between all five of us my youngest sister was the only one trained in Taekwondo because she grew up when the household money was not that tight. But she did not continue the training when she got into her secondary school.

***

Choosing School

I have always thought that for boys, a co-ed school is advantageous to their emotional health and educational growth compared to an all-boys school.

But for girls, it would be the other way around. For girls, a single-sex school is much more beneficial than a co-ed school.

I have mentioned before that all five of us sisters spent a very large chunk of our schooling years in an all girls-school of Sultanah Asma.  From the age of 7 years old until 15 years old, my Kak Long, myself and my younger sister Izati went to Sekolah Rendah Sultanah Asma and Sekolah Menengah Sultanah Asma, before we finally continued our upper secondary school in MRSM.  Whereas, my two youngest sister spent all their schooling years in Sultanah Asma only. We are all a product of an all-girls school and we like how we turn out to be.

When I went to MRSM Langkawi, I had a serious culture shock. I felt that teachers paid more attention to boys. Of course male teachers could not (and should not) pay attention to girls (just imagine the sort of malicious gossips that would ensue). But even female teachers gave more attention to boys. I was not used to that, coming from Asma. I felt that girls could not shine in a co-ed environment even if they were much better. If girls were too loud or too brazen and too forthright, they would seem like a different species. In Asma, loud, forthright, brazen girls get to be on top. But that would not be the case in a co-ed school. That was tough adjustment, for awhile. But I got used to it.

I believe that a single-sex environment  confers the most benefits for girls because they get to be the best version of themselves there. It is not surprising why for non-residential schools, an all-girls school always emerge to be the best in the state compared to an all-boys school or a co-ed school. Sultanah Asma has always been the best in the state among non-residential schools, beating KSAH (an all boys school) and other co-ed schools in Kedah. Methodist Girls School is the best school in Penang. Tengku Khursiah College and STF are some other examples of good all-girls residential schools.

Of course during my SPM year, MRSM Langkawi was the best in the country even though it was a co-ed school. But remember, they had pooled best students all over the country into MRSM and that explained why residential co-ed school can do better than an all-girls school. All-girls non-residential schools don’t always get to choose their students in the same manner.

My younger sister Alida had taught English in both an all-girls school and a co-ed school and she noticed the difference in the attitude of girls between those schools. She taught at Sekolah Kebangsaan Infant Jesus Convent (a cluster school) in Johor Bharu once and she loved it there.

“I loved teaching girls in Convent. They were active. They answered question promptly. They participated freely. I miss my time teaching there.  Nowadays aku mengajar kat sekolah co-ed ni…aku sendiri notice yang aku lagi pay attention to boys. Aku bukan sengaja tak mau pay attention to girls. But boys respond to my question in class. Walaupun jawapan diorang kadang-kadang entah apa-apa, but something is better than nothing. Even their wrong answers can promote further discussion.”

“Tak ada budak perempuan yang pandai ke kat sekolah hang ni? Takkan semua soalan hang, budak lelaki ja yang jawab?” I just could not compute the situation where only boys answer questions and participate in class. I was so used to thinking that girls are much more intelligent than boys. It was so totally different from my own experience in Asma. I may sit at the back of the class, but I got my share of attention from teachers. I could not imagine a class where all the girls were just listening passively.

“Ada, tapi tak ramai girls yang bother nak participate. Girls in co-ed school is not as loud… bukan macam kita kat Asma dulu. Kita dulu, lagi funny than boys kot. Teachers were entertained by our antics when we were in Asma. Tapi, kalau in co-ed school memang boys dominate the fun department. Girls terlebih pemalu. Kadang-kadang aku suruh depa buat kerja berkumpulan saja pun, girls dok buat malu-malu. Aku pun naik geram. Aku suruh buat kerja, bukan suruh kahwin pun! Hang nak malu apa?! Adoiii!”

I laughed out loud! Oh My God, can you imagine! Kids at the age of 7-8 years old already feel ‘malu-malu’ with boys? I mean like….what the hell weh? Like my sister said, “orang suruh buat kerja, bukan suruh kahwin!” Hahah.

So that’s the problem for girls in a co-ed school! They become too self-conscious, too much and too soon! Which hinders their educational development. And they would learn different values… that it is normal for boys to get more attention than girls. That it is normal for boys to hoard all the praises in academic performance. Sometimes the performance of girls no matter how much better than boys, were not acknowledged because girls don’t brag about their successes. But boys do that nonchalantly and pass it off as a joke. Arrogant boys are considered macho. But if girls show even the slightest dominance, that girl is considered attention-seeking.

Girls in Asma never had to worry about all those things! We be ourselves. Tak ada malu-malu. If we fight, we really fight. Tak ada control ayu! And that’s why my best friend is an Asmarian too. And I usually can relate to girls who are assertive, frank and forthright and able to do a great job in doing her responsibilities (regardless of which school they went) and those are the ones I would be close with. I am not that good with women who are too soft-spoken and too weak-willed. I cannot understand them. Friendship is out of the question with women like this. I would end up feeling stressed because they don’t settle their problems and only cry ad nauseum, ad infinitum. I don’t like women who cry in public, and I resent anyone trying to gain sympathy after fighting with her colleague at the workplace, by crying in public (which I had witnessed a few times in my career as a doctor). Some women can be really manipulative with their tears and they are usually these soft-spoken, lady-like women; making ‘loud, frank, assertive’ women like us appear evil in contrast when we fight with them. Hahah. (True story. So I learn to not fight with soft-spoken women. I think of them the way  I think of childish toddlers. We don’t fight with toddlers because they are not up to our standard in verbal argument. When they lose, they will cry. So they become the victim, and we end up being the evil stepmother in contrast.)

The whole situation translates to me that a co-ed school is not at all beneficial to girls! I would never place any daughters I have in a co-ed school, especially not at the primary school level. I want them to learn to be free to express themselves without feeling self-conscious, first. I want them to learn that girls can be as brave, as intelligent, as funny and as interesting and engaging as boys, first. I want them to know that girls can do just as much of a good job as boys in being the head prefect, the class monitor, the club presidents and the public speakers as boys (and sometimes even better). Once they have grasped those values, only then I would allow them to go to a co-ed school, so that even when the teachers pay more attention to boys they would know that it isn’t something wrong with them, but it is the environment that makes it so. (The environment involving the social construct that places all top leadership roles to boys. The social construct that looks at assertive, tough females as ‘difficult’ whereas, assertive, tough males are considered ‘strong’. Etc, etc.)

But for Boys….

There are too many incidents of rape/sodomy among boys (especially in residential schools)  for me to feel comfortable for boys to go to an all-boys school. Who knows what sort of homosexual tendency he would develop?! I couldn’t bear thinking any of my sons or nephews would turn out that way.

Besides, there is no academic need for boys to be in an all-boys school (unlike the situation for girls). As my younger sister had told me in our numerous discussions, boys shine in a co-ed environment, anyway. Teachers naturally pay attention to boys than girls because they are more active and louder than girls. So why risk having boys in an all-boys school when there is no academic benefit to it, anyway? Other than MCKK (which was not that good compared to TKC), there were not many good all-boys school, anyway. See? There is no academic benefit in placing your boys in an all-boys school because most all-boys schools are not that good (unlike the situation in all-girls schools). 

So there is only left the risk of them being bullied or developing homosexual tendencies after a sexual encounter with their peers of the same gender. (I shudder in my boots, just thinking about it).

I am not saying that there is no incidence of lesbianism in Asma. There had been rumours to such incidence, even during my time. But most girls outgrow that sort of tendencies, eventually. Most tomboys that I knew back then, are more lady-like than me now. (not that it takes a lot to be more lady-like than me. But I have never been a tomboy, at least). Furthermore, girls don’t usually like just any type of girls. They actually like girls that look like boys…which really means that they actually really like boys. For example, the most populour girl in Asma during my time was a tomboyish, androgynous Police Cadet Sergeant (who gave commands during our marching practice). Head girls, prefects, best students, sportsperson, school singers and school debaters also got a lot of admirers during my time… but only if they also looked like boys. So ….really. I won’t be too worried about it.

Some ‘relationship’ between these girls do get intense. Tears, jealousies, break-ups, all those emotional turmoils… you name it, we have it! But, very rarely do they get physical or sexual. Unlike with boys! 

I used to be approached for ‘adik angkat-kakak angkat’ relationship when I was in Asma. But I never entertained those things because such relationship requires investment in time and money. Some of these adik-angkats expected gifts, for God’s sake! I might as well buy a novel for myself rather than spend some money on an ‘adik’ that I already have a lot at home (THREE younger sisters is a lot, hahha. Whenever I fought with my sisters, I would feel that my mother should have stopped at two, making me the last child). Those who have never been in an all-girls school will never understand these ‘female crushes’ girls usually have, but they were quite normal. Ask any TKCians, or STFians or Asmarians or anyone who used to attend an all-girls school. There was even an article talking about “11 things that only Malaysian Girls Who Went To An All Girls Schools Will Ever Understand”, and the number one item on that list is ‘female crushes’. Yup! Weird but true!  If you are interested to read the article, CLICK H.E.RE

The risk of developing homosexual tendency and being the victim of sexual abuse is even higher if these boys are put in a hostel (even the hostel of a co-ed school, because the hostel would still be single sex; only the school is co-ed). 

Putting your son in a hostel without your son knowing basic self-defense skill is very risky. I really think it is imperative to teach your sons martial arts. (I talked about this multiple times with my sisters, as I have mentioned) I would abandon music class, tennis class, riding class (now that we have cars, riding is no longer that important) or even swimming class in favour of martial arts class. If you don’t have that much money to spend for all these extra-curricular activities for your children and you can only choose one, choose martial arts. It does not only teach your kids fighting skill and survival, but also mental and physical discipline, concentration and self-control. It even boosts their self-esteem and therefore they are less likely to be bullied. (There is such a thing as a ‘bullied personality’. Some people are more picked on than others because they have that sort of personality that makes them a target). I would not send a boy to a residential school without making sure he can survive there. That would be irresponsible.

Regarding Residential School….

I don’t think it is a great idea to allow them to go to a residential school at the age of 13 years old.

My Kak Long and I was quite upset when my father refused to consider the idea of us applying for SBP/MRSM when we were 12 years old. We wanted to apply for SBP/MRSM because most of our friends had applied for them as well and we didn’t want to be left out. My Kak Long got an offer to MRSM after her UPSR result had come out. But my father said “13 tahun kecik lagi. Ayah tak mau anak-anak pisah dengan ayah awal sangat. Tunggu 16 tahun”. I remembered how my sister waited for my father to change his mind, but he never did.

So when my time came, I did not even bother applying because, having learned from my sister’s experience, I knew my father would never allow me to go into SBP/MRSM at the age of 13 years old (I knew my father would not change his mind for me, because then my sister would ‘ungkit’, “Tak Aci! Kenapa Kak Long dulu tak boleh?” I guess, sometimes, it is not always beneficial to be fair all the time. hahaha)  I was very jealous when I saw how some of my friends were offered various schools around the country such as Kolej Yayasan Saad, STF, TKC. I just swallowed and endured the envy.

But a few years later, I came to know the wisdom behind that decision.

I don’t think I could survive residential schools at 13. I was too immature (even though at that time, I thought I could handle it!). When I first went into MRSM Langkawi at the age of 16, I hated the hostel environment. How some students simply took your things in the room without asking your permission first. And how crowded the toilet became in the morning and in the Maghrib time. And how noisy some of them were at night. And the hostel rules drove me loco! (Suka hati aku lah aku tak mau riadah. Kenapa nak buat rule macam ni? Semua benda pun kau nak atur untuk aku, for what?)

I was also quite stressed with their habit of asking to share my bottled water. I just…haih…I could not stand sharing my bottled water. I did not even share like that with my siblings! I would never drink from the same bottle again afterwards, unless I have cleaned the bottle and refilled the water. But later, another friend would ask for my water again, just after I have cleaned and refilled the bottle. I wanted to cry because it was so frustrating! But at the same time, I did not have the heart to refuse them my water. I just felt really stressed because I couldn’t say  “Why don’t you have your own water!! Get your own bottle, come on! What if I don’t have water, then what are you going to do? Are you simply going to go thirsty throughout the night? Might as well have your own, isn’t it?”

I am usually pretty assertive… I am even quite garang. But only towards those who I think have crossed certain boundaries and certain principles or those who tried to bully me. To me, those people deserve my put-downs because they are the ones who behave badly, first…. I am only retaliating. But I am not at all capable of saying what I feel when a person hasn’t done anything really bad…in this case, she just needed water. How could I refuse? It was very stressful… this thing of sharing bottled water, you could not imagine. (It’s because I have this thing orang Kedah called ‘pancin’; macam geli share bekas orang, I guess. I was this way since I was a small child. My younger sister Izati, has the same ‘pancin’ tendency like me. But instead of suffering silently, she actually told her friend, “Okey, you can have my water. Tapi make sure hang minum jangan kena mulut. Tuang air dari jauh”. Hahha. So, if you think I am frank and forthright, my sister is even worse than me. But the good thing is her friend actually didn’t mind and just did as she asked, pouring the water without touching the mouthpiece. My ‘pancin’ tendency has become better over the years… but still….I prefer not to share my food and drinks. Makan ramai-ramai dalam talam….lagilah aku stress!)

But those were the experiences that forced me to learn how to interact with people socially. How to compromise and reach a middle ground.  How to survive in a communal environment when things are not ideal. I learned to sleep in the noise. I learned to be less possessive of my things and at the same time learned to hide things that I didn’t want to share. I learned to be less rigid with personal boundaries. In the case of the bottled water, I simply decided to have two bottles in the room. One for me and one for the rest who asked.

So, residential school can be a good learning experience….but perhaps, not too soon. Or else, your children might end up fighting with other kids because of their immaturity at that time and therefore would not enjoy the hostel experience at all. I only just able to restrain myself from fighting with my roommates because I was more patient at 16 and had understood certain social expectations. At 13, I wouldn’t be like that.

***

So choose your kids’ school wisely. A good educational environment helps your kids to grow into the sort of adults your can be proud of. In fact, when you are choosing schools for your kids, it is almost like choosing how their future would be shaped.

My father was very resourceful about choosing our schools. When we first came back from Kelantan, we did not live anywhere in Jalan Langgar or anywhere in the vicinity of Asma, initially. My father moved into Lorong Titi Siam so that he could register my Kak Long into Asma. Later, when we have moved to another area far away from Jalan Langgar, my father did not change his address in the IC and still used our previous address so that he could register me into Asma. Later, after he had to change the address in his IC, he still insisted that all my younger sisters be placed in Asma, regardless. He told the Guru Besar that “semua kakak dia duduk di Asma, saya nak adik pun duduk kat Asma. Senang saya nak hantar pergi sekolah” when actually we went to school by the school bus. Hahha. Most of the time, my father got what he wanted because he wouldn’t stop insisting and would throw his weight around until he got what he wanted.

And that was how it went that all five of us received our early education in an all-girls school and we loved it.

Even though I spent my last two years of schooling in MRSM Langkawi, Asma remained my most beloved school. 

So parents, have a deep thought before deciding on your kids’ school, where habits are formed, characters are shaped, values are internalized, self-esteems are nurtured and life-long friendships are made. Your kids will certainly be thankful to you.

Hail the new addiction MO!

God doesn’t give you what you ask for. What you want doesn’t simply materialise from the great blue sky.

Life doesn’t work that way, alas.  

Instead, He gives you the means and the tools and the experience that you can make use of to attain what you want.

As I have mentioned before, I asked God for patience as I am fully aware that I am  lacking in the quality of patience. I am easy-going in mundane, daily matters. Mundane routine don’t flap me, don’t faze me, or disturb my mood. I couldn’t care less about which restaurant serves what good dishes, I am not a hypercritical foodie. I eat anything and everything. (I am only particular about coffee. But not even the brands of coffee do I care. Just any good tasting coffee will do no matter what the brand is). I am not a fashionista. I am not brand-conscious. I wear whatever that is nice-looking and cheap. You don’t have to please me with expensive presents. When in doubt, just give me the latest book that has won an Orange Prize or a Pulitzer Prize or a Booker Prize. 

I don’t get offended easily. I don’t have an opinion about food, clothes, houses, cars, the best way to clean or cook. I am not a fanatic fan of football/celebrities/dramas/movies. I can never understand how fights ever get started at the stadium. Just doesn’t make any sense to me. I am, however, an ardent fan of books but it’s been a long time since I last got worked up about which book  is better than the other. 

But when I feel some people have crossed certain boundaries, certain concepts of truth/justice/fairness (my version of it, at least) or certain universal principles that I think everyone should have, I cannot calm myself down. In such situations, I am adamant that things should go my way. My way of thinking is better. And if you refuse to see it and put the blame on me, manipulate me in anyway (or try to)… if you don’t immediately see that I was right (that I don’t insist you to go my way because it is MY way, but because it is the right way and the most just, the most righteous for everyone), then I get immediately upset. 

You see, a beauty queen will be upset if people criticise her image.  A surgeon is defensive if people criticise how he approaches a certain surgery. A  designer is upset if people criticise her design. A singer would feel humiliated if people criticise her singing. A chef/a cook feels defensive if people suggest that there is a better way to cook rendang, for example. (Been to any gotong-royong memasak, recently? You will get what I mean about how sensitive and defensive a cook can be, it is so funny!) 

I consider myself as a self-developed thinker and ethicist (hence, this is my area of sensitivity). I don’t defend only myself, but I also defend others, especially my patients, against stigma, against their bosses, against their tormentors (read: husbands). I have called up employers, I have called up husbands, I have called up instructors (pretending to ask for collaborative history but actually really just want to SUBTLY let them know that ‘hey I know what you are doing to my patient. She confides in me. I am on to you, now. You better be careful in how you proceed with my patient from now on. She is no longer alone in this. You better watch out’ Hahah. Contrary to the belief of my family members, I can really be charmingly harmful and subtly dangerous when I put my mind to it, as opposed to stormily harmful and obviously dangerous. The storm and danger can come later, if required. There is an art to subtle threat that I have learned in the past. Sometimes, just doing the phone call is helpful…sometimes you need to follow-up on the phone call with a more assertive action. Once, I even offered to accompany my patient to lodge a police report against a particular member of her family… so that she won’t chicken out at the last minute and  things will actually progress SOMEWHERE! But she didn’t take up on my offer and I was left frustrated. Maybe I should be less over-involved to protect myself against this sort of frustration. Some people will never take the assertive action  that they should, it makes you want to pull your hair in distress on their behalf. Maybe I should really learn to accept that some people just deserve the problem that they have. Even Allah won’t change the condition of His slave without the slave himself putting in some effort. So who am I to try to do anything more? I couldn’t, even if I want to.)

There are risks I took without consulting my specialist because I know if I consult them, I might get a different management plan altogether that would not allow me to do what I want to do for my patients. It doesn’t happen always. Most of the time, management is pretty straightforward and we see eye to eye. But when it does happen, it makes me feel stressed. 

(I think most MOs feel the same way, anyway. Many MOs take risks of doing something behind the specialist back because that’s what they want for the patient. I am not the only one. Many MOs in other departments also, if they are senior enough and if they feel bothered enough, would have learned how to manipulate the system to get what they feel their patients deserve. I bet, many specialist when they were an MO would have done something like that as well. So they really shouldn’t be upset if their MOs now do the same thing. It’s part of our learning process and that particular action of taking-risk would enrich your clinical experience and eventually serves you well as a specialist. We are no longer HOs who just follow mindlessly. Sometime we make mistakes and commit errors in clinical judgment but those experience must be gone through.  Sometimes we need the freedom to determine what we want for our patients, right? So, there are minor things you do for  your patients that you won’t consult with your boss if you know he/she won’t agree with you. Or you will manipulate the system in your own way, present things in a different way. I know which specialist will sign OKU form easily so that my patients can get a much needed welfare money, before some politicians can swindle the money away. I know which specialist will allow me to admit patients into the ward. If my patient needs expert counselling that I cannot deliver due to time constraints and lack-of-expertise,  I know which specialist will willingly takeover a difficult case if I consult the case with her. I know which specialist will deliver a good scolding to a patient who needs that scolding. If I don’t want to give something that a rude demanding patient insists for, I know which specialist will have the same line of thinking as I do and I will consult with that specialist so that I can tell the patient “Sorry, even my own specialist say no. See?” Haha. All of my bosses are good in their own way and I have learned to choose and pick with whom I can discuss regarding which type of cases. That’s how MOs manipulate the system… and this is like an open secret. I am not saying anything new here.)

So, because I think of myself as a logician, a thinker and an ethicist, I get defensive if people criticise my logic and my ethical reasoning and how I want things to be done. (Well…everyone is allowed to be upset about SOMETHING, right? Like the beauty queens, the designers, the surgeons, the singers and the chefs of this world. Depending on how you define yourself, you get defensive about those things.)

I also pride myself of being an amateur linguist. I would probably be quite sensitive about anyone criticising my essay or my short stories. Once when I was in Form 5, I had argued with my English teacher when she criticised my English essay. (But I never, for example, argued with my Math teacher because heck, I knew I was bad in maths, so why would I get defensive about it, right?) My excuse for arguing with her was because she said the essay that I wrote for the monthly test was plagiarised from a novel. I asked her, “which novel?”. She couldn’t name it, of course. Just because my essay was good with a different plot twist, doesn’t mean it was plagiarised from a novel, for God’s sake. (she hated that plot twist because there was a controversial element to it that she opposed to, being conservatively religious as she is, compared to me at that time. In my defense, I was just being creative. If she didn’t like that plot twist, she could just tell me so; rather than accusing me of plagiarising!) My sister was a novelist! My father wrote poems and quotes at the first page of all his text books when he was younger! My younger sister is a TESL teacher. My inclination towards language and literary creativity runs in the family!  All my siblings are great readers! We talk about books all the time and we compete with each other in coming up with great phrases all the time. So can you imagine how upset I became when I was accused of plagiarising a non-existent novel?? (By the way, the essay was written in a test. How the heck was I supposed to plagiarise during an exam? Did she suppose I have an amazing photographic memory or something? Did she suppose I memorize a whole lot of paragraphs of that non-existent novel and had committed into my amazing photographic memory of every ‘and’ ‘or’, ‘if’ and ‘but’, every conjunction, every phrase, every colon and semicolon? Did she even know what plagiarism even mean? In any creative writing, having similar plot does not suffice to accuse a writer of plagiarism. If you read mysteries often enough, every novel feel similar and familiar after awhile. All ‘drama pukul 7’ on TV3 are more-or-less the same romantic stories… do we get to accuse the scriptwriters of plagiarising each other?? That’s why genre exist! Similarities in plots are related to genres, my dear readers! It doesn’t matter if the plot is similar, it is the style of writing that matters!  And in my case, I hadn’t read any such a novel that she accused me of plagiarising from! I wrote that essay in an exam, where I could not open any book for reference without anyone noticing! It wasn’t like the essay was written as a one-week-assignment where I would have the opportunity to ‘copy and paste’ some paragraphs out of some books. If that were the case, then her accusation would make some sense! As it was, her accusation only made me assume that she was not pleased that I had written something controversial that she could not accept as  a religious, tudung-labuh-wearing muslimah. Just because she had never read any amazing, grammatically-correct, controversial essay from students in her short duration as a newly-graduate TESL teacher before, doesn’t mean she would get to accuse me of plagiarism. I was instantly inflamed!) Such an unjust accusation, not supported by any evidence, directed towards my ability which I took most pride in…. My God, my 17-year-old self wanted to blow up at her! I called up my parents and told them what this teacher said to me. My father was very angry when he heard about it. I had no idea that he could be that upset over it, or else I wouldn’t have told  him.

For the record, my parents were never the sort who would fight my battle for me. Before this incident, they would always assume that I deserve whatever rare scolding I might get from teachers. If I got bad marks in any of my test, it must be because I did not study enough rather than because the teachers were bad at teaching. They have never confronted any of my teachers for anything…. until this! I was surprised when my mother and my elder sister came to MRSM Langkawi bringing a bag full of my previous essays and short stories that I had written in the past to show to the teacher that writing have always been my hobby and I have always written with the objective of being creative. That my essays have always been this amazing (hahah, my parents’ words, not mine!) That just because I introduced a plot twist that her conservative self may not like was not enough justification to accuse me of plagiarising. 

I tried to stop them from coming. But my father vehemently insisted that I should be defended. (My father has always been a fighter and would push us to do the same in anything!) I felt so stressed that they wanted to come. It was so ironic. All these times, they never wanted to side with me when I felt I was unfairly scolded by my teacher. But when I didn’t want them to come, (because heck, I was already 17 and I could fight for myself) they insisted in coming! I didn’t know whether to feel touched or irritated.

The teacher finally apologized to me after my mother and my sister went to see her. (I was not there when they confronted her because I had a Math test.) And I also apologized to my teacher because I knew how forceful my mother could be when she was feeling angry. I was thankful that it wasn’t my father who came. Or else, the situation would totally be out of control. And I learned from that experience that I should never tell my parents things that I could handle myself. Haha. (This sealed my fate as a very skeptical person towards authority, in general. I became even more skeptical after 2 years of housemanship. I swear I will never put myself in the position of needing any validation from an unjust authority ever again. I avoid authority because I never want to kiss their ass. I think of all authorities as having a tendency to abuse their power until proven otherwise. I don’t know how I am going to cure this overvalued idea of mine… just knowing that I might not be thinking fairly doesn’t cure my tendency to feel exactly like that! I have met many nice people in the position of power, and I think of them as the exception rather than the norm. I guess, even I can be illogical at times.)  

I also pride myself of being a good reader, so I was VERY DEFENSIVE when I first met the brilliant Miss A who interrogated me on my choice of reading which, I now admit, was not as sophisticated as her own choice of delicacies consisting of many notable classic literatures that I had never even heard of before our paths crossed. Compared to Miss A, I was a novice in reading. My defensive stance became meek when I realised I could actually learn from her.

Well, everyone has some stuff they get very sensitive about and thinking, reading and writing are mine. I am sensitive when I am criticized in those. 

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But whatever it is, no matter what I said to defend my temperament, it does not justify my lack of patience. Like Miss A had said, we should aspire to be the one with the bigger heart. Ignore minor annoyance, walk away from the source of your major irritation, and if you can’t ignore those things any longer, then educate people with kindness. Don’t snap! 

Or perhaps, I have attained the age of maturity to have learned not to respond to anything and everything. Just walk away. If they never see what you see, don’t force the issue. (I feel more wise and matured just writing about this! Haha. But even now, I cannot imagine how I could have dealt the situation with my English teacher any better. I mean… even maturity and wisdom have a limit somewhere.)

So, having an excellent insight about my severe lack of patience, I plead to God to bestow on me some measure of patience. Make me nice, lol.

And He answered my prayer by making me into an Addiction Medical Officer.

Hahaha. Yeah. He gives me the tools and the experience I need to acquire patience. He doesn’t just arrange for me to wake up one day and be Mother Teresa.

Addiction patients can be manipulative. Check.

They sometimes use religious concept out of context to justify their actions. Check

They don’t have baseline standard criteria that I demand in people around me. Check.

They tick all the boxes that would totally TRY my patience. And if patience is a sort of muscle that have remained atrophied all my life before, I am gonna get a lot of exercise these days, trust me! Haha.

So, wish me luck. Hopefully, I can become a nice person through this experience. Something good may come out of me having to deal with the population in which anti-social traits are prevalent. 

After all, who am I to judge people? We never know how we will end our lives. Just because some people are not up to snuff now, doesn’t mean they will never change. Maybe the ongoing never-ending struggle that they have to face to overcome their addiction (although at times they fail in their struggle again and again) gives them one massive pahala jihad people like us don’t get. 

You earn pahala through struggle, right? It is not the outcome/natijah that brings you the reward from Allah. It is your effort that counts. And with drug addicts, the effort is constant for the rest of their lives. And every time they fall from grace, fail in their struggle and then repent, they get pahala taubat each time.  Who knows, maybe some drug addicts are more beloved in the eyes of God, than us normal people who only go through life blindly and repetitively with no major struggle whatsoever.

A food for thought, huh?

So far, life as an addiction MO is nice. I get to stay in my own Addiction room at the back, that’s the best part. Even though anyone can use that room at anytime (it’s not like I am given an exclusive right to it by my HOD, unfortunately) but not many MOs go to that room anyway, because the room is quite isolated at the back of the clinic. So I have come to think of that room as mine. (I am quite possessive of that room, to be honest. Even though my name was not written on the door of that room, I really think of it as mine and would feel quite forlorn if some other MO sits in that room instead of me. Haha) The isolation space that the room provides is the best part…. a space for me to do my work and to think out loud while listening to my kind of music. It’s like a separate universe from the rest of the crowded chaos at the front.

Ah… peace and serenity! I could really get used to being an Addiction MO. Having my own room is sweet! Sweet, indeed! I love it. My patients love it. We can talk privately without background noises disturbing our conversation. No patients knocking on my door, asking “Lambat lagi ke, doctor?”, annoying me with their disturbance while I am talking to another patient.  I can focus on my patient in tranquility. They feel heard and satisfied. And I feel satisfied. That is the sort of environment conducive for proper consultation and disclosure. 

That room at the back is also very conducive to turn me into a Miss-Nice-Girl. LOL.

So, that’s how it comes about that this ‘being nice’ business is not so hard these days. In fact, it is rewarding in its own way. 

So, until next time, folks! I shall try to update once a month. Might be hard though with the exam looming near. 

Until then, I remain, your humble blogger. 

The Art Of Freaking Out A’la Afiza

I have to study.

Study, study, study. 

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With the emphasis on DYING!

I used to enjoy studying when that was all I did full time. I enjoyed being a student (especially when I was in Australia)

Now I am not just a student. I am a doctor AND a student. I find that I can easily lost the momentum when I have to stop studying in order to deal with life for awhile before I can return to my desk to resume my studies.

When I was a medical student, I was very particular about eliminating distractions. I even deactivated my Facebook account when the exam time was near (and I know this is THE favourite method for most medical students too. Most of us deactivated facebook when exam was near) Facebook is a major study-deterrent that ever was created! And so is You Tube! 

When I was a houseman, I stopped blogging regularly and only wrote a post every 3-4 months; mostly during my 8 days, end-of-posting leave. I was the type of houseman who saved all her leaves at the end of the posting. I could work continuously for months (and remember that when I was a HO, flexi hours were not yet implemented initially. We didn’t get weekend leaves at all. No leaves at all except the 8 days/posting leaves) When I am in my working mode, I am fully in that working mode only and don’t like to interrupt the rhythm suddenly. When I am in my holiday mode, I don’t want to think about work.

(I kind of understand the rational behind Interpersonal And Social Rhythm Therapy for Bipolar Disorder patients. I think I need that too. I mean, disruption in routine is really annoying!) 

Now that I am an adult, major distraction from studying is working! And the house-chores I have to do to keep a clean house. And my cats.

I cannot simply deactivate my work or my cats. (Yeah, OBVIOUSLY.) And I cannot tolerate a messy house so I still have to maintain my weekly cleaning (and I plan to do those maintenance stuff after Asar, when I am too tired to study anyway). And for the past one year I have taken up regular, almost-daily exercising and that has become a major distraction too. (I exercise in the late afternoon during weekdays and in the morning during weekends. I am going to have to reschedule exercising too; reduce its frequency and make it after Asar.)

So I have all these rescheduling activities planned that are yet to be done. I kept postponing them. I told myself  “It’s Ramadhan. Focus on ibadah, first.” (Alasan? Yeah! When I am hungry, I can’t focus. True!)

But now Ramadhan has been over for more than a week, and I am still procrastinating. (Alasan apa pula nak bagi ni? Just me being lazy!)

They say that women have brains that multitask.

I am not one of them.

“That’s because you are a man trapped in a woman’s body, kak ngah,” said my elder sister. She loves that silly joke. *roll my eyes*  

(The truth is, all five of us siblings are not good at multi-tasking. I think we are all men trapped in women’s bodies, then. My sister only got married after she was done with her Master. And she only produced my sweet nephew, Eshan, after she was done with her doctorate! And after Eshan, suddenly she is popping regularly every two years! See? She also planned her life in a way that would let her focus on one major thing at a time. Master first, then married with no kids, then doctorate, then kids every two years!  Systematic progression! Actually, she is the ultimate ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ poster girl, haha)

I get easily lost in a certain project, and get fully absorbed in it, and totally drowned in it and when I am like that, I will ignore everything else. Even a phone call will be a distraction and I would ignore it when I am in the middle of a book. I even ignored doorbells until the prospective guests simply left. My mother scolded me so badly once when no one else was in the house and I did not open the door to her friend who came by. She found out about it quite soon after she came home  (the friend probably called her and mentioned that no one was at home when she came) and my ears were blistered by her lectures of how Muslims should always honour their guests. (Okay. I understand. By the way, I was a teenager at that time, if that can excuse my conduct. I just prefer for guests to text me first if they want to come to my house. If I am not mentally prepared to accept guests, I will just pretend I am not at home. When people come to my house  unexpectedly, I have to scramble around for hijab, change my sleeveless shirt into proper shirt, my shorts into trousers…prepare food and drinks, shift my state of mind into socialising mode. Just too much effort all of a sudden that I am not mentally prepared for. I might even be in the middle of a good book and have to suddenly cease my reading at the good part. Just..ugh, not nice. If you want to come to my house, just give me a heads-up first. Prepare me.)

Because of my tendency to be fully absorbed in only one major thing at any given time, so I prefer not to multi-task. (of course when life put you in different situations and you have no choice but to adapt, then you will do it. But your default mode is not like that and you don’t prefer it.) I wish I could just study without going to work. Or just work without having to study. It is my weakness as an INTP that we resent the time away from our main focus at that particular time. That’s how we work. In short bursts of energy that wouldn’t last long unless we nurture it, and protect it, and prolong it by shutting out other distractions that have nothing to do with what we are currently working on. 

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And therefore, I salute women who work, study and have kids. You are a superwoman! My respect for you knows no bounds! You are the ideal that I can never attain. 

When I am studying, I wouldn’t even touch novels.(Unless I am exhausted and I think I deserve a break. Even then, I might only go through novels I have read so that I know which parts to skip to save time. Ni memang desperate just nak lepas gian. Haha. Kalau tak tahan sangat dan nak juga baca novel baru, I only start on the thin ones, around 300-400 pages or so, and not literature ones but simple light ones so that I can finish it ASAP and get back to my major task). I might even stop blogging and writing for a long time (or reduce the frequency of doing them). My state of mind when I am studying and enjoying myself is so different that adjusting requires too much effort.  My creative side and my analytical side do not appreciate the random back and forth that they have to do.

Work hard. Play hard. One thing at a time. 

So, if I don’t update my blog for the next few months, you know why.

I am in my ‘studying, do not disturb, do not interrupt, do not make me mad until I have to binge-read or binge-write’ mode. I am going to take care of my mood so that I won’t need my reading fix or my writing fix. I am going to learn to be calm and unfazed, and unperturbed no matter what insensible, illogical, annoying stuff assail my senses. 

Yeah. (Yeah, right)

Because the exam is near and I am freaking out!

And this is The Art of Freaking Out a’la Afiza : Hibernate, save energy from unnecessary distractions in mood and activities, and withdraw from unnecessary socializing. 

So, wish me luck and pray for me. Freaking out mode is fully ON and blasting! 

Until next time. (Probably until the end of this year. Damn, I am going to miss this. Sobs, sobs).

Set Standards Or Unconditional Love?

I have a female patient (Mrs. A)  who was diagnosed of major depressive disorder after her military officer husband was caught cheating on her with another woman. And the husband has even transgressed into zina.

She is depressed and she still doesn’t know what to do. On the one hand, her husband still provides for her financially (in the army, nafkah for the wife is assured through monthly salary deduction), but on the other, she just could not forget what has happened.

And this was already the second time Mrs A’s husband has committed zina. In Islam (and in other Abrahamic religions such Judaism and Christianity), this is a major sin.

So, I asked the obvious question to Mrs A. “Can you accept what he has done?” As a woman and as a Muslim, I wanted to add, but I refrained myself.

***

I have another female patient (Mrs. B) whose husband has no major moral issues. Not a drug addict, not a womanizer, not a wife-beater. He is not exactly a religious saint, either…. but overall, he is not a bad person in the moral sense.

But he is jobless, for years and years. Mrs. B has been the sole breadwinner for their big family. Her husband does help around the house, occasionally. But he doesn’t do it in a way that a housewife would. The wife still does the major share of the household chores despite being the sole breadwinner.

So I asked the obvious question to Mrs. B “How do you feel about your husband being jobless?”

***

I have a female patient (Mrs C) whose depression is resistant to treatment because the perpetuating factor of her depression is her useless drug-addict husband with whom she is in constant contact everyday. He sells things in the house to finance his heroine habit. He smokes the stuff in their bathroom, not caring what his small, impressionable kids think of him. He only works on and off as a security guard but my patient has not benefitted from his salary at all. Mrs C  works as a tailor tirelessly for the sake of the family without any help from the husband.

So, I asked the obvious question to Mrs C. “Why do you stay?”

***

In the case of Mrs.  A: the husband is morally corrupted, but financially providing.

In the case of Mrs. B: the husband is morally fine (not great, mind you! Just normal standard behaviour, only), but financially useless.

In the case of Mrs. C: the husband is morally corrupted AND financially useless.

I ask you now, dear reader, in which case would you be able to respect yourself if you choose to  stay with your husband? In which case would your kids be able to look at you as a great, smart, principled woman if you choose to stay? In which case would you be able to look at your husband, actually respect him and trust his decision in anything?

In which case, dear readers, can you say, I deserve such a husband? Or such a husband deserve me?

Because I personally, could NOT accept any of them! None of them will ever induce me to stay! I cannot accept any of it! Because I have set certain standards of how decent human being should behave and none of these husbands meet the basic criteria. I repeat, BASIC criteria (with the emphasis of the word BASIC. Bukannya aku suruh set standard kena beriman macam Saidina Abu Bakar, dan kaya raya macam Sultan Brunei dan kena handsome macam Nabi Yusuf ka… I mean, really! Most men cannot meet even basic standard!)

***

In the case of Mrs. A:

If Mrs A chooses to stay, maybe Mrs. A is the sort of person who does not feel strongly about zina. Otherwise the decision to leave would be very easy to make, I think.

“Tapi saya sayang kat dia. Dia memang ada perempuan lain. Tapi dia dah janji tak nak buat lagi. Yang lain-lain, dia bertanggungjawab.”

Okey, dah kau cakap macam tu. Apa aku boleh buat lagi?

In the case of Mrs A, the guy meets materialistic standard but does  not meet the moral standard. Mrs. A is like Asiyah (Firaun’s wife). Firaun is the worst human being on earth, but his wife still ends up in heaven. At least in this dunia, you get the comfort material that your husband can provide even though your husband is a bad person. You, yourself can still make it to heaven if you maintain your iman and good deeds. Let your husband do whatever he likes in this dunia. Tak payah nak sakit-sakit hati, since kau memang nak stay dengan dia dan tak nak tinggalkan dia. Kan??

If you can make yourself think like that, maybe you will be less depressed. It’s your choice! Just tell yourself, “Selagi dia bagi aku duit, aku stay ja dengan dia. Ada juga benefit aku dapat. Dia nak berdosa, suka hati dia. Yang penting, aku jaga amal ibadat aku sendiri.”

But heck, Mrs. A doesn’t think like that. (Kan senang kalau dia boleh fikir macam tu?) She is a bleeding heart romantic! So she wants her husband to love her and be loyal to her. But she couldn’t get those sentiments from her husband! So she will continue being depressed.

And I continue to increase the dosage of her anti-depressant in despair! And I continue to tell her to  do a check up for HIV/Hepatitis B/ Hepatitis C. You never know what kind of terrible disease your husband might infect you with.

***

In the case of Mrs B:

If Mrs. B chooses to stay, maybe Mrs. B does not really mind that the husband does not meet the basic criteria of being the provider.

“At least, dia tak pukul saya, bukan tahi dadah, bukan kaki perempuan. Tak palah, saya redha. Lagipun kita kahwin ni nak susah senang bersama. Kalau dia dah tak kerja, takkan saya nak tinggal dia.

Okey…if that is the standard you want for yourself and you are happy with it, there is nothing else I can say. At least, he meets the moral criteria. So you get your akhirat basic standard even though you don’t get the materialistic dunia standard. (even though to be really strict, being a responsible provider is also an akhirat KPI as a man, kan?)

For the record, I am not asking you to abandon your spouse when the going gets tough. I am a witness to how a woman’s loyalty to her husband is the greatest thing that can ever happen to a man. I was 12 years old when the economic downturns of 1997/1998 hit the country. My father (and most businessmen at that time, I suppose) had lost a lot of money. We had to sell the cars, we moved into a smaller house. Me and my sisters only got one new school uniform that year. It was unprecedented and acutely felt by all of us. We only got one baju raya that year. We all had to adapt. My mother was the main breadwinner while waiting for my father to establish a new business platform. We lived entirely on my mother’s salary as a staff nurse supplemented by her income from her inheritance (bendang rents). Alhamdulillah, we never had to go hungry during those years. But yes, we had to adapt a lot! I did not dare to ask my parents for things unless they were absolutely necessary. I could see the worries in my mother’s face and the devastation in my father’s face. But whatever difficulties we had, no one who looked at us then would ever know. My mom is a reliable, loyal woman in any adversities. Our lives went on as usual because she was a strong capable woman who can be depended on to hold the reins. 

But my mother’s loyalty was for a deserving man. My father was not complacent being in the house not doing anything. My mother told us that my father had trouble sleeping, anxious about the state of the family economy. He constantly sought new opportunities for business even if he had to do a lot of travelling back and forth. He was not a man who lied down on the couch, feeling comfortable letting his wife be the main provider. He still took a lot of interest in our education and would try to get whatever we need for studying. My sister received an offer to MRSM Taiping during the economic recession and there were plenty of money needed for her expenses to get into MRSM. But there was never any question that she was going there no matter what. My parents provided the money for it because it was for her education. We let go the maid, and I and my younger sisters helped with the housechores. Oh, how much we adapted until my father finally established his current business.  (Alhamdulillah, after a few years, things got better financially. My father returned to being the main breadwinner in the family. We no longer felt anxious about needing to ask for money from our parents. But I guess, it’s become a habit for us that we only spend on whatever is necessary. By the time I went to Australia, I never asked my parents to supplement my scholarship. I lived entirely on whatever MARA gave me. I have learned not to be extravagant in my spending habit. Those years of financial constraints taught us a lot of lessons.)

So, how stupid is it to be loyal to a man who doesn’t care that you as the woman has to shoulder the bulk of the financial responsibility? At least, your man should show that he is worried. At least, your man should find some odd jobs occasionally to help you. At least, you should be able to see some effort from your husband that he WANTS to be the main breadwinner even though at the moment, he couldn’t. That he has the wish and the desire to be the provider! That not being able to do it tears him apart! 

At least!!

That is my understanding of a man who deserves your “susah senang bersama!”With that sort of man, I wouldn’t be ‘berkira’.

Is that too high a standard? I don’t think so!

But if having that complacent, laid-back, lazy-arse kind of husband is what you are content for yourself, if that is enough of a standard for you, well, to each her own! 

Now, let me increase the dose of your anti-depressant.

***

Mrs. C’s case is the worst of all!

Not only does her husband does not meet the materialistic dunia criteria, he doesn’t even meet the criteria that would make for a good akhirat! Not a provider, and also a morally corrupted person.

Yet Mrs. C has been staying with him for decades.

In my mind, I went “Dahlah material comfort pun kau tak dapat, standard perangai elok untuk akhirat pun tak dak. Ke kau ni memang tak ada standard? Orang boleh buat apa saja kat kau, and you won’t care?”

I felt distressed on her behalf!

Maybe you do deserve to be depressed. If you are not willing to fight for yourself, you deserve your depression. (I know I am not nice for saying this, right? But what else am I supposed to feel? I am so frustrated that something so simple can be dragged for years and years and never settled! Maybe I am hard-hearted and cold-blooded. But this hard-hearted and cold-blooded person go back home thinking about how you cried your heart out in her clinic and felt helpless to help you because you refuse to help yourself!)

***

Dr. T and I love discussing women issues after seeing patients.

This is a fact that MOST weak women always get stranded with useless men. Again, maybe they actually deserve one another. They have similar traits;  weakness and uselessness are more or less the same thing, isn’t it? They are different sides of the same coin. If you are weak, how useful can you be? And if you are useless, it must be because you are inherently weak. So maybe weak women do deserve useless men. They fit each other perfectly and I should stop feeling sorry for them.

Until you change yourself and be strong enough to get rid of your biawak hidup, then maybe you deserve your biawak hidup!

Dr. T told me (lebih kurang macam ni), “God has promised that good men are for good women and good women are for good men. Sebenarnya kadang-kadang bila kita check balik, wife dia dulu pun mungkin macam tu juga. Sama-sama commit zina, and morally corrupted. Otherwise, how did they even meet and know each other in the first place (well, unless it was an arranged marriage where you didn’t investigate your prospective spouse properly) Cuma bila dah kahwin, wife dah nak berubah. Lelaki tu masih perangai sama macam dulu. Tapi Allah dah janji yang perempuan yang baik untuk lelaki yang baik. So kalau lepas kahwin wife dah berubah, mungkin dia tak tahan dan dia akan minta cerai and then dia akan dapat lelaki lain pula yang lebih baik. So you have to constantly berubah lah…then kau sendiri akan take actions untuk get rid of lelaki yang tak sama baik dengan kau walaupun in the beginning, perangai korang lebih kurang ja.”

That does make sense.

Because I believe, a good, religious God-fearing woman cannot bear being with someone so totally her opposite in moral and faith. Muslim women, if they really internalize the teachings of the religion, would not be able to respect this sort of husband and would take definitive actions to throw him out of her life. Muslims are proactive people! Not weak, passive people!

But let’t not forget that the divorce process is a whole new headache in itself. Most women are stuck! Stuck, trapped, stranded! Because a useless husband who depends on HER money would never voluntarily divorce her. That is the problem!!

Another friend of mine said, “Yes, memang women get stuck. Tapi mungkin salah perempuan tu juga! Cuba kalau perempuan tu perangai macam hang, Afiza? Aku tak rasa dia akan stuck lama sampai bertahun-tahun. Hang mesti akan ajar lelaki tu habis-habisan. Hang akan cari lawyer, hang akan balik to your own family, hang takkannya nak pasrah berserah kemudian nak buat drama martyrdom budget kesian maruah suami sampai tak mau cerita kat family hang. In fact, you will ask your family to help you get rid of this guy for you. Your father will threaten him and help you finance your legal fees.  Your whole family will descend down on that poor guy like a gathering clouds of storm. Because your whole family is like you, your husband will have to face several lions all at once. Last sekali lelaki tu yang lari daripada hangpa semua. Hahhaha.”

I laughed out loud. True, that!

My elder sister said, “Hang jangan risaulah, kak ngah. Ada ke lelaki berani nak pow duit hang macam kes-kes yang hang tengok tu? Come on! Aku rasa bila hang kahwin, lelaki tu yang kena beware dengan hang. Hahaha”

The problem is most women are not like me. Women like me will never get married before being 100% sure. So women like me make sure from the very beginning that we will never be in that kind of situation, in the first place.

The problem is most women are not like me! They are not equipped with the kind of willpower and strength to beat the crap out of a useless husband and they are the ones who got themselves stuck in the situation! Not women like me! Even if women like me ever get stuck, women like me also can get unstuck easily…so you won’t see women like me in a mood disorder clinic (accept for anger management clinic, maybe. Hahha) with continuous perpetuating factor that hasn’t settled for five bloody years!

The problem with these women is their attitude!! Their passivity!

I don’t ask you to be a woman-warrior or a shrewish virago or a she-man like me! In everyday situation, when you are surrounded by good people, go ahead and be your angelic perempuan-melayu-terakhir self! (In fact, I should be learning from you how to do that! I told you that I am learning to be nice and making it my personal jihad, kan? Hahah. God help me, because I am failing at it, already.)

But when you are in a conflict situation where you are the victim, you have to learn to be like me! Really! Stop being the victim, crying non-stop while waiting for people to save you. Take action!

Adjust yourself according to situations and contexts! Why is something so simple seems so hard for my patients to understand? Be gentle to nice people, but be a lion to morally corrupted and useless people of your life. It’s so simple, isn’t it? Such a simple thing…tapi aku dah tengok kau bertahun-tahun, kau punya masalah tak settle-settle lagi! 

***

Women are easily fooled by romantic words of a man. Most drug addicts are very manipulative and ‘pandai mengayat’.

My fellow MOs used to say, “Dengar depa cakap, perempuan pun boleh cair.”

I scrunched up my nose. Really???

I am not easily impressed by words. I read a lot! Whatever words you say, can never beat the words of many brilliant authors I have read. You can’t possibly beat Shakespeare or Kahlil Gibran, or Khaled Hosseini, or Bronte or Austen. For every heart-wrenching love poems you can compose, I could compose even better prose to rival yours. So, I am just not impressed.

In fact when I am given too much of flowery words that do not make logical sense to me, they would have the opposite effect than the one the person had intended. I would be instantly suspicious. I would find that as a weakness in you that I have no patience to entertain. Either you are too easily overcome by feelings until it moves you to say such a nonsensical craps (which is a weakness, in my opinion), or you are trying to manipulate me with your dishonesty (which would make me instantly avoid you like the plague).

Words are cheap. If all women read a lot, they would not so easily fall victim to the cheapness of such men.

Among the best thing you could ever inculcate into your daughters (and sons, too), is the habit of reading! Make them smart!

Please enjoy these words by Ibn Taimiyyah. Don’t be enslaved.

***

Before I pen off, I have something to say about the concept of ‘unconditional love’. I am going to sound overly simplistic and heartless, but God, I swear, this is the truth as I see it!

There is no such a thing as unconditional love! I repeat, unconditional love does NOT exist. Please, use your brain!

Just like I don’t expect people to love me unconditionally, people should not expect unconditional love from me. I am not your mother! Even a mother’s love can be exhausted by bad behaviour. Some mothers are more content to leave their troublesome son in the psychiatric ward after the son had repeatedly thrash the house due to his post-ictal psychosis or due to his schizophrenic symptoms.

See? Even a mother’s love is not always unconditional.

Imagine the most loving, the kindest, the most self-sacrificing human being on earth! Imagine him in your mind. Now compare this imaginary person to our Lord, Allah. Allah is even more loving than anyone you can ever imagine in this world. But even Allah’s mercy and love is conditioned upon you being a good servant to him. That’s why hell and heaven exist.

Are you still going to argue with me that love should be unconditional? Think logically! 

Get the romantic crap of “unconditional love” out of your mind because it doesn’t exist! That’s just bullshit that film producers use to sell their movies. To tell people that “you should love me no matter how bad I am because I am your husband/wife/children,” just doesn’t make any logical sense to me. In fact the person who says that is manipulating you with emotional BS, and if you fall for it, it speaks volume of your poor intellect.

We should at least meet the basic criteria of human decency. Once those are met, then people will love us with relative unconditionality  (as oppose to ‘absolute unconditionality’ which does NOT exist) depending on how your personality complements or clashes with theirs. 

As simple as that.

And you have no rights to expect anything more!

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The Most Meaningful Eid of My Life

Assalamualaikum everyone.

I hope this post finds everyone in the greatest of physical, mental and spiritual health. And hopefully, in the greatest of iman too, after one month long of intensive ibadah, Insha Allah.

May Allah accept all our good deeds that we have performed in the blessed month of Ramadhan. Taqabbal Allahu Minna Wa Minkum, folks.

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This particular Eid-ul-Fitr is very special to me. The most meaningful Eid I have ever had in my 31 years of living, I must say. This Eid is special because this Ramadhan has been very, very extraordinary for me.

Beyond description, beyond words.

There was one particular day in the month of Ramadhan, that made the whole of this Ramadhan very special for me. I received the most wonderful spiritual gift from God; an intense wake-up call I have not received for years (maybe since I left Australia).

On Friday, on the 11th day of Ramadhan 1437  (17/6/2016), was the day I learned the biggest, most profound lesson of my life.

That day was the reason the rest of my Ramadan passed by with me feeling slightly unhinged…. like I was free-falling in a world without gravity.  On that day I was swept in a spectrum of emotions I only experienced at tepid degrees in the past. 

 That was the day I felt like I have learned the secret of the universe; the reason behind existence.

It was the day I shall never forget for the rest of my life. The day that makes this year’s Eid more wonderful, more magical, more miraculous, more blessed (really!) than any other Eid I have experienced in the past.

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But the experience of that day is still too raw for me to write about in details. Other than my immediate family members, I have not told a single soul about it. Not any of my close friends. Not even my best friend. 

I went through my daily routine like nothing significant had ever befallen me. (La Belle Indifference? Or my fabulous coping mechanism?) I went to work as usual, going through the motions like a dream as though I was never slapped awake by what had happened. 

One day, I will write about it. When I have made sense of it. When I have fully grasped and fully processed the whole thing, I shall write about it.  

Now I am just basking in the happiness that God in His wisdom has chosen me to bestow a box of gift, containing insightful life lessons in it. At least, I was worthy of being woken up to the knowledge that I always intellectually knew, but never emotionally feel. He taught me to feel the myriad of emotions I feel unworthy to dip my soul into. My heart was hardened by life. I never thought it could ever soften.

Then, came this Ramadhan. And the impossible happens.🙂

I was thankful then and I am thankful now. Even though, when I received that gift, my world shifted, and I flipped backwards (quite literally). 

I shall not forget it. Insya Allah, God will not make me forget it.

Ever. 

***

Hafazah

Katakanlah nanti suatu hari
Kita bertemu sekali lagi
Jasad, jisim, jirim ukhrawi
Bukan di sini, di syurga abadi
Akankah kau aku kenali?
Akankah aku kau dekati?
Akankah kau aku hampiri?
Lantas berkata dengan lirih,
“It was you then, wasn’t it?
In the world once you’d saved me,”
Akankah kau menjawab kembali,
“No problem, dearie, you don’t owe me,
It was my job, so I did it.
The ink has dried, the pen is lifted.”  

Akankah aku berkata pula
“Sudah lama ingin berjumpa,
mengenali dia gerangan mana,
menjaga aku tika bahaya,
mengiringi ku dalam duka,”
Kemudian kau akan ketawa,
“No problem dearie, you don’t owe me,
It was my job, so I did it.
The ink has dried, the pen is lifted.”

Akankah aku melirik padamu,
Lalu dengan suara esak tersedu
Mengucapkan puisi dalam sendu
Yang kau balas dengan keliru.
“No problem dearie, you don’t owe me,
It was my job, prescribed by God
So I did it, not for you
I swear, nothing else is true,
It wasn’t your time, or it would be done”

Atau mungkin kita tidak akan berjumpa,
Kerna layakkah aku menapak ke syurga?
Mencarimu di sana adakah terdaya?
Mungkin madah ini takkan termakna
Hanya tinta beku coretan pena
Catatan kaku selama-lamanya.

-Afiza Azmee-

5/7/16, 30 Ramadhan 1437

5.30 pm

 

 

My Personal Jihad

Kezaliman yang dahsyat adalah kezaliman si pemutar alam lagi lidah bercabang, lalu dia menghukum dengan sandiwara agama, walaupun inti katanya penuh dusta. 

Yeah, I purposefully constructed a dramatic sentence as an introduction to this post. Read on.

***

It went viral.

The Facebook status of Imam Muda Ammar regarding vaccination in the midst of the horror of a diphtheria mortality case was so controversial, even our Director General commented on it.

When I wrote the post LOGIC & RELIGION two weeks ago, this is just the sort of thing that I mean. This is exactly what I mean when I wrote how religious figures discard knowledge and logic in their ceramah and use religion out of context to accuse you of being deviant when you question what they say.

If you have been following my blog since I was in medical school, you would probably notice that I have a deep-seated mistrust and well-cemented disdain towards religious figures and authorities who do not use logic in elaborating their points in matters of religious creed, jurisprudence, and principles (with the exception of Dr. MAZA, Dr. Zaharuddin, and some International speakers like Nouman Ali Khan, Yusha Evans, Omar Suleiman, Hamza Tzorzis, Sheikh Abu Eesa Niamatullah and a few others. They are the ones whose logic I respect).

To use a psychiatric term, I have the tendency for transference with these sort of people because of something I had to deal with since I was a child. (Questions I had to suppress so that I wouldn’t sound like a disbeliever. Things I wondered about that I kept quiet. Rebellious words I swallowed so that I didn’t sound like ‘orang Yahudi yang banyak bertanya macam dalam surah Al-Baqarah’. Hahah. Illogical stories that I struggled with my iman to accept them…and after all those struggles, only to find out that those stories were actually fake and israilliyat. When I went to Australia, that era of my life was a turning point that marked my age of Enlightenment. Religion was explained by religious figures who possessed scientific minds. Brilliant doctors and medical students who were active in dakwah explained religion to me the way it was supposed to be explained all along. For the first time, I was tremendously interested in my religion that I volunteered to guard our booth during Islamic Awareness Week in the uni. And then I became the treasurer for Newcastle Islamic Society, once. My parents were very surprised by my sudden involvement in religious matters. Hahaha. I myself was surprised. And finally in my fourth year, I decided to join usrah, when most of my batchmates had joined since we were in Year 1 already. I never thought I would ever join them but I finally did, 4 years too late. I was late because like I said, I had deep-seated mistrust against religious figures. It spoke volume of the sort of character and kindness that the seniors possessed that they were finally able to convince me to join their religious gathering at last. With them, I can pose questions without feeling like I was being judged….they may give a wrong answer, or they may not know the answer but at least I didn’t feel like an alien when I ask them stuff I wondered about. Pendakwah kena macam nilah! Dengar, dan jawab soalan tanpa bagi orang yang bertanya rasa macam dia ni kurang iman! Hahah.  I am just so thankful that Allah placed me there and released the knotted points I struggled to untie all my life when I was growing up in Malaysia. I will always be thankful to those people I meet in Newcastle. We keep in touch in Newcastle Whatsapp Group until now. And this means a lot because I am usually not very good at keeping in touch.)

Whenever I look back to the times when I got angry at people (my transference), it is always because they reminded me of illogical ustaz/ustazah in my life. Remember  the blog post ‘The Misogynist Relative’? I lost my temper towards this relative because he used religious term to put me down when I was trying to psychoeducate him regarding the need to be compliant to medication. (in my mind, I went “Kau tu dahlah silap. Lepas tu kau nak bagi ceramah agama kat aku pula macam aku yang salah? Kau ni sama saja dengan the previous religious figures who confused me about my own religion when I was growing up!”)

That relative tried my patience so tremendously, I just snapped! I even snapped at my Medical Assistant (who I know is a kind, religious person. I have nothing against him, usually) because he bowed to the pressure of the misogynist relative and nodded his head when that relative looked at him for support while arguing with me.

(Look,just because someone say something and look at you when they say it, doesn’t mean you have to nod your head at them! That is their tactic to pressure you into agreeing with them. They say something and look at you, hoping you will nod your head, implying your support. When I saw my MA did that, I became angry. “You are supposed to be on my side. Are you agreeing with him, or what?! Have a backbone, and be firm. Don’t you dare contradict me against this male bigots who thinks he is more religious than me just because he uses religious terms taken out of context!”  Yeah…that was what that went through my mind. Unconsciously, at that time. I was angry in a split second that I could not pause and analyse it at that time. And only recently am I able to sit back and analyze why I was so angry!)

I can deal with stupidity. But not when you give it a religious twist and then you were arrogant about it. I am sorry, I just can’t handle it. And this will continue to be my struggle, that I have to overcome in order to be a good therapist. It will be my personal jihad. It is a jihad because it will take all my effort, it will drain all my energy to be nice to people like the misogynist relative and Imam Muda Ammar. I just….haih…penat! It is personally, so exhausting dealing with people like them!

You can go through my blog posts since I had launched this blog in 2009. There were so many posts that I wrote regarding my disdain towards illogical religious figures or religious concept. (only now do I realize that I had written so much about this theme throughout the years…. and no wonder! This is my counter-transference all these times!)

The blog posts below are listed in the order of recent to older posts, extending to the times when I was just a medical student.

1)Logic and Religion

2)The Misogynist Relative

3)Bercerai ATAU Redha?

4)The Week For Spirituality

5)Awak Derma Kepada Saya….Saya Akan Baca Tahlil Untuk Ahli Keluarga Awak

6) Religious Delusion & Religious Snobbery

7)Sains Sosial Vs Sains Tulen

8)‘Kemusliman’ Barat

9)Generasi Muda dan Perubahan

10) Kezaliman yang dahsyat

11) Isu Penggunaan Nama Allah

12) Kaedahnya!

13) Sisters In Islam

And there were some posts in which I wrote about other things as the main topic, but I would squeeze in some rants about illogical pseudo-religious concept in it too.

I realize now that I just could not tolerate these pseudo-religious, quasi-holy type of  people because of my bad experience in the past. But I know that I am going to have to find ways to deal with them in my professional life or die trying! (And making sure I don’t accidentally include them in my personal life. Or else, I shall go insane. Khalas!)

***

The Intellectual Culture!

I have a major weakness. Aku tak pandai diplomasi (I am learning, so be patient with me). Aku tak sabar dengan benda yang aku rasa “hiys, obviously aku betul! Apsal hang lambat sangat nak faham ni?” Hahahha.

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Hahhaha. I am sorry. I am just being honest here.

My patience is kept on a short leash.

Mungkin aku suka persoalkan sesuatu.

Tapi kau pun tak pandai jawab apa yang aku persoalkan. Kan?

Dan aku tak kisah kalau kau tak tahu dan tak pandai jawab, lalu kau cakap “Okey, aku pun tak tau. Jom kita cari sama-sama. Let’s find out and explore this together. It will be fun.”

That is the intellectual culture that I need!

Tapi bila kau tak pandai jawab, lalu kau tak pun cuba menjawab, dan sebaliknya kau kalih persoalan menjadikan aku pula yang suka bangkang dan suka soal macam-macam, jadi aku memang akan bengang. 

Show to me that my question is irrelevant or not important, and then I will concede defeat. Show to me that my rebuttal is wrong.  Otherwise, you are just going to spark my disdain towards you if you not only do not know the answer, you don’t even GET the question. (which means, it never occurred to you to ask and thus it was never in your intellect to wonder about it. So, kalau kau tak pernah terfikir pun nak tanya, macam mana kau nak pandai jawab?)

My best friend, Dr. F is just like me (but the friendlier, extrovert version of me). We get each other so well! She likes to throw question into the air and we would volunteer one theory after another and laugh it out and discard it one by one (our own version of falsification process) Our small talk is big. Our light conversation weigh a ton!

With my set of friends, our catch-up talk is filled with wondering out loud “Kenapa diorang macam ni? Kenapa sistem dia macam tu? Kenapa kita tak boleh ubah macam ni? Kenapa begini dan begitu? Apa salahnya kalau kita buat macam ni? Tak pa…bila kita jadi specialist, kita jangan jadi macam tu.” Hahaha.

But sometimes, I do come across ‘feelers and empathizers’ who make me pause and think.

“Afiza, walaupun kau betul, you don’t have to shove it in their face. Kalau kau tau dia jenis lambat pick-up sikit, why don’t you be the noble person and teach? Be kind. Don’t just stop at showing off about how right you are and leave them hanging feeling stupid and unappreciated. What would it accomplish? Mungkin kau akan puas hati sebab akhirnya diorang mengaku kau betul. But then, what? What else after that? They will resent you. Bila depa rasa macam tu, of course diorang ada ego dan takkan terima punya. In an ideal world, no one has an ego and will acknowledge the truth no matter who says it. But we are not living in an ideal world. When you irk them with your disdainful know-it-all retort, they will not see the truth ever. Apa salahnya kau pun jadi pendakwah yang macam kau nak, yang macam kau jumpa kat Aussie tu? Sit them down, charm them with your smile and explain nicely, kill them with your kindness sampai depa terharu… then the truth will be easier to swallow by them. At least,  kau dapat pahala juga for making them see the truth and gain new knowledge through your act of patience. Daripada kau dok bising2 sebab depa lembap nak paham, kemudian kau just give up on them macam tu. Not so nice, kan? In any interaction, why don’t we set the goal to be the person with the bigger heart. Kalau depa tak faham, kau ulang sampai depa faham. Nabi Muhammad S.A.W berdakwah pun bukan cakap sekali saja. Mesej yang sama diberi banyak kali, dengan pelbagai cara, dalam occasion yang berbeza-beza. Kalau semua orang cepat tak sabar bila orang tak faham, then no one will see the truth.” said the nice Miss A.

Okay.

Once in a while, I come across ‘feelers’ who make sense. And touch my heart (because they make sense. Hahha. See? You only touch my heart by being logical and making sense, first. Then my heart is an open door. hahah) Not many feelers can do that. Some feelers only feel without thinking, so they cannot explain what they feel properly. (And thus, I will never see it.) Some feelers have the same understanding as Miss A but they don’t have the eloquence of speech to be able to explain it the way she did.

When Miss A said it that way, I got it. She was right. She made me reflect. What she was saying is:

What does it matter if people are a bit slow in understanding where you are coming from? When you lose patience and scold them, you have buried the opportunity to make them understand and educate them. They won’t listen to you anymore because they don’t like you being an arrogant Miss-know-it-all. (But I didn’t mean to be arrogant. I was just so angry because the truth is so obvious!) But if you just sabar kejap and take this as an intellectual challenge to entice them to hear the truth, you will gain something more than just the acknowledgement that you are right. You pass the knowledge on. You do something good. Take it as an intellectual puzzle… the puzzle of how to make them understand….then maybe it would be easier for you to be nice.

See? You wanna argue with me, make me SEE it like Miss A did. So that when I was wrong, I could see it! I need to SEE it. I cannot just agree with you just to be polite. I need to understand. (Blame my INTP trait!)

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Miss A made me understand that it was not about being right. The truth is the truth no matter who says it. Be the bigger-hearted person by making people see it too, even though you have to struggle with your frustration, first. And in order to do that, you have to be nice!

Now I can see that being nice has a purpose! It is not a weak, fluffy concept in the dreamy white cloud anymore. Miss A explained being nice as the thing that makes sense to be done! Now according to Miss A, being nice makes sense and has a higher purpose to it!  When she presented being nice in that way, everything clicks into place and I am no longer reluctant to do it! Hahha.

Now that Miss A has made me see it, I cannot stop seeing it. I have to admit, it’s time to launch my personal jihad. Being nice.

Just last week, while awaiting my turn at the post office, I actually prolonged my small talk with the lady stranger sitting next to me (which is something I would never have done before unless in desperate situations such as during kenduri when I have to be the host). She asked me where I lived. And I answered her. And I actually asked her back about where she lived. In the past, I would never bother asking! And when she asked me whether I have an online business (she thought I was mailing my products to customers like she was doing), I said no. Usually, I would just turn away and stop the conversation. Because why would a stranger want to know about my job? But on that day I prolonged the small talk even more by asking her about her online business that she was excited to tell me. And then, I switched on my psychiatry-listening-mode, nodding my head on and off. The lady seemed satisfied with that interaction. I think Miss A would be proud of me. hahah. At that moment, I was positive that I didn’t seem aloof, cold and unapproachable anymore.

After the experience at the post office, I thought to myself, “This being nice business is not so hard, actually. I can do this. I can fake it. I just did it!” Hahah.

I am going to have to be nice.

Oh God help me. I don’t think I can do it consistently without failing once or twice (or several times). But I will struggle on. If I die trying to be nice, hopefully, I will get pahala jihad. Hahah.

Pluviophile + Bibliophile + ‘Coffeephile’

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Imagine this. Post- terawih,  it’s raining at night in the blessed month of Ramadhan.  Imagine lying in bed with a book and an aromatic cup of steaming hot coffee by your bedside. Imagine that.  A bibliophile-pluviophile like me think that this kind of moment is perfection personified. 

 

 

Whenever it rains, I think of You.

Whenever it rains, missing You I do

Not that I don’t think of You often anyway,

Not that I won’t miss You on any other day,

But when it starts to rain,

When the breeze clears the pain.

At the first touch of the raindrop,

At the first caress of wind ruffling my top

My head swims with You in my thoughts

I want to shout; on top of my lungs

Of my love for You; fiercely sprung.

 

 

What is it about the rain,

That makes me think of You more,

More than ever before.

The pain so poignant, so raw,

The ugly memories previously in a shroud

You wash it away with the water from the cloud

You give me a fresh, clean, brand new start

That has nothing to do with putrid flesh and blood.

 

 

What is it about the rain,

The serene picture You paint

Of riches being dropped from the sky

To remind us that we can’t deny,

Of the blessing for all creations,

That You bestow without questions.

 

 

What is it about the rain,

The Majesty of You…

The Mercy of You…

Your Bounty…

Your Generosity…

The Splendor…

The Grandeur…

That energizes my soul

That makes me whole

So that I bow my head low

My gratitude for you in show

You are the Greatest of all,

Allah, Allah, Allah.

 

-Afiza Azmee-

P/S: This was composed a few years ago on a similar night like this.