The Road Not Taken

I love open houses. (Who don’t? Duh)

I love the surrounding and the socializing and the talking. Sometimes, when you attended a particular event, you struggle to force yourself to stay there. But there are times when the passing of the clock feels so swift and you are reluctant to leave.

When I attended an event held by the Australians, all I felt is boredom that borders on the extreme. It doesn’t matter what great food they provide, it would fail to entice me to hang around. Maximum would be two hours…and then I would be fidgeting and getting restless and ready to leave.  I have attended two parties so far. The first time was an event called Jazz in the Park (when I was in first year) and the second one was a Welcoming Party for the first years.

I hated both! And stayed only for two hours. I was back home by 9.30 and was so relieved to escape the feeling of loss of direction and the state of mindless nothingness that filled my mind (no, my heart) when I stayed in such surroundings. The conversation was boring and stale…the struggle for small talk and the racking of the brain to come up with mindless topics to talk about got too much to handle after awhile. (yang geramnya…aku dah sembang lama dah..main course of food tak keluar2 lagi! Apa ni!! Sampai bila aku nak bercakap dan menadah telinga menahan boring? And don’t even get me started on menahan nafas menghalang kepeningan tajamnya bau alcohol.)

So, the Australians thought that the Malays (who they deemed conservative) do not like to integrate and like to exclude themselves from the society! Pfft!

Make yourself interesting to talk to, and I will hang around.

Bagi aku, I love socializing…but I won’t do it if it’s boring! So, aku suka pergi event yang ada purpose. For example, if they organize a talk, or a leadership seminar (there was one where I got to meet Mohamed Khadra, the surgeon who wrote the book ‘Making The Cut’) then I would go. Because it doesn’t require me to socialize with the mat salleh…I am actually there for a specific activity (to get the author’s signature on my book). Or if they organize GP club or birthing kit…I would love to go tapi kadang2 tak dak Malay friends nak pergi dgn aku, so aku kurang join aktiviti2 yang aku rasa budak2 Medik should get involved in.

I am like a baby! I need enough food and enough sleep and I get restless when I become bored. Maybe you can feed me enough to waylay my leaving, but when my tummy is full, no food no matter how yummy can entice me to stay. When I was a kid, I must be one of those annoying babies who always nag their mothers with their restlessness and crying of wanting to go home. And the mothers cannot bersembang properly because their kids are restless. Hahaha. I found that funny.

In my case, I would nag whoever had driven me to the party in the first place! Jom lah balik!

Now, I love Malaysian parties. The food are already on the table the moment you arrive. You are expected to eat as you sit at a table or on the floor and chatting….not just standing with a glass of Coke and making small talk while WAITING macam buah tak gugur for food that comes in courses with hours of mindless talking between the separate courses. Gosh!!! Buang masa! Alang2 nak buang masa, baik kita buat benda yang kita rasa best…so after awhile, I would start thinking about those novels on my bookshelf that I could reread. And that would make me long for home…and that makes me restless and then I start nagging the driver. Kesian!

Aku faham…party mat salleh ni lain purpose dia. Parties are organized for mingling, and social networking and fund-raising….so they purposefully make sure that the party would have a lot of chatting time before the main course arrive and then there would be torturous hours in between the courses so that they can continue chatting up, sucking up, flirting up….semua party diorang ada udang di sebalik batu. Bukan betul2 nak bagi orang makan. Hmmph!

Party orang Malaysia lain! Kita memang nak bagi orang makan! Bersosial dan bersembang tu hanyalah perkara sampingan, tak nak buat pun tak per. Kita letak semua courses siap2. Appetizer, main course , dessert and kuih raya, coffee…semua dah letak siap2 and you just choose and eat. Maybe pergi jumpa tuan rumah kejap and sembang2 but you don’t need to WAIT and perah otak ‘apa aku nak cakap lagi ni???’ Sebab kalau dah stuck tak tau nak cakap apa,kau boleh buat2 makan.  And kalau kita dah habis makan kita memang boleh balik jer….sebab ramai lagi orang lain yang nak datang. Nanti tak cukup space dalam rumah tu.

And the best thing is, you know with whom you want to hang around for great conversation. Macam aku…mestilah aku pergi cari orang2 yang aku tahu ada minat yang sama dengan aku. Yana, Kak Yani or Balqis….we talk about books lah. Orang lain yang kaki bergambar dan suka mengambil gambar, diorang pun ada clique masing2. Semua orang have fun. Sesekali aku pergi jugalah mencelah di depan camera. heheh.

 And I know with whom should I go and talk about the current issues in Malaysia because they have the same concerns and thinking that I have. And I will talk to them for hours and don’t feel the pressure. Hours passed by like minutes and I enjoyed every moment.

Last night,I attended Kak Alma’s open house party! Food was great…nasi kerabu,  soto, cheesecake. And I spent the majority of my time eating outside in the cold air with Yana, talking about the direction of our future as interns…the pros and cons of staying in OZ as opposed to going back to Malaysia, the abominable sometimes degrading treatment of the consultants towards those below them in Malaysia, and the lack of communication skills with patients.

Who is going to change all that if not us?

And in terms of our own personal growth as a doctor as well as a person…I think I would get more in Malaysia. Here, I am not at all motivated to go to AMSA (Australian Medical Student Association), or BREATHE or whatever advocacy organization…not because I am not interested or do not care, but there are various factors that hold me back all these while from getting involved:

1)Not enough interest and support within my own social circle

Not many of my Malay friends were interested to go to that sort of thing when we first arrived here. I mean, fine, it’s okay we don’t want to go to parties yang laghaaa jer dan tak ada faedah. Tapi even aktiviti2 yg berguna pun tak pergi juga….kadang2 aku pun tak salahkan mat salleh yang menyatakan orang melayu ni tak contribute sebab kita memang dalam dunia sendiri sahaja.  So aku awal2 dulu tak ada geng nak get involved dengan persatuan2 yang berguna. Keterlibatan aku dalam ko-kurikulum stop kat KMB. That’s it!  But gradually I tried recruiting friends who wanted to go to things like a seminar on leadership as well  as some ethical talk organized by Charles Douglas every month in RNC. Still tak ramai yg interested nak pergi, at least in my own batch. So, aku pun tak bersemangat juga nak pergi sebab aku sendiri tak reti nak mingle dengan mat salleh ni because we don’t have the same common ground that could enable me to talk freely without feeling pressured. I could talk to them for maybe 15 minutes but beyond that aku mula rasa nak lari. But if I am in a group of my Malay friends and tiba2 ada 2,3 orang mat salleh datang nak bersembang aku tak rasa pressure sangat…sebab aku tahu ada ramai boleh layan diorang kalau aku stuck.

Now, many of the first and second years are more pro-active and they got involved in these activities….but now that I am in my fourth year, I had to really pick and choose which one I want to go because by the time you finish your day in the hospital you are too tired!

I really think that it’s important to go to these activities. But you need to have your own gang yang memang ada interest dengan benda2 macam ni….because it motivates you as well. Kalau kau sorang2 jer….boleh, but it’s hard and susah nak istiqamah pergi benda2 macam ni kalau kau asyik2 end up sorang2…the only Malay and tak ada geng.   

Nak cuba geng dengan mat salleh? Well…cubalah. Bagi aku mat salleh ni boleh jadi acquaintance….boleh bersembang gitu2 jer. Tapi susah nak buat geng because we don’t have the same way of living. In order for you to form a close friendship  you have to do things together frequently enough! Macam mana nak buat geng kalau kau pergi mana2….nanti kau nak stop sembahyang…diorang nak kena tunggu kau. And kalau diorang nak pergi party2 pelik tu, kau tak nak pergi….so kau tak ada common ground to talk with them because they party all the time and that’s what they talk about! That’s what they gossip about! But you don’t know a thing about all that! Lama2 friendship will drift apart.

I have one Australian friend who I used to be close with….tu pun sebab kami sama2 minat Jane Austen books and literatures. And that’s all that hold us together. But we drifted apart in 3rd year because we have different rotations.

2)Lack of relevance

AMSA talk about issues that I don’t feel very relevant to me as a Muslim or as a Malaysian. Issues that I am not really passionate about. If I am in Malaysia, I would feel much more passion and interest. To me, if I want to do something, I have to be passionate about it so that it wouldn’t come across as a burden to me. Buat apa aku pergi benda2 yang aku tak rasa kisah langsung.

3)Too much ‘fun’ disguised as charity or work

All these organizations sometimes organize parties or charity ball…yang aku memang tak suka pergi. Benda2 yang kau kena berdiri sambil pegang gelas and make small talk while waiting for hours for the food to arrive. Baik aku study! I mean, I don’t mind having fun if I was actually having fun. But the thing is, I wasn’t! Like I said, conversation diorang tak masuk dengan aku. I need Malaysians around me in order to feel at ease.

Aku lagi suka kalau diorang buat benda2 macam organize birthing kit, muffin day where the proceed goes to a charity or something that I can actually work without having to socialize too much, or orgaznize a talk, a seminar where I attend in order to listen and gain some knowledge. But again, benda2 ni aku kena ajak kawan2 pergi…kadang2 diorang nak, kadang2 diorang tak nak…so aku pun end up tak pergi juga. Which frustrated me very much.

So I told Yana, that this is what I miss. This is what I want to get involved in if I go back to Malaysia, insya Allah. Benda2 ni budak2 medik kat Malaysia dah lama get involved in. Kalau aku tunggu lagi kat OZ ni, aku akan terlepas lagi banyak because I know I will continue being who I am now if I stay in OZ…pergi kerja, balik kerja with no other contribution in the society. Huaaargh bosan! I feel restless.

It’s hard to decide what’s important when you can’t choose both. There are things I want to do in Malaysia that I could never accomplish here. But there are also other things I would miss greatly if I don’t stay here. Priorities have to be weighed accurately, proportionately…

Sekarang hati tengah rindu Malaysia sebab Raya, mungkin sebab tu semangat berkobar2.  Tahu duduk di oversea ni pakai duit rakyat, so kenalah balik berkhidmat untuk rakyat. Tak kiralah macam mana dahsyat pun sistem kat Malaysia, memang lah jadi tanggungjawab kita untuk ubah.

Once we have chosen one path, the other path is forever out of our grasp. Like the road not taken that keeps you awake at night, wondering of things that might-have-been.

To all of us faced with the same decision-making dilemma, enjoy Robert Frost most famed poetries that we’ve all learned for exam purpose once, but now its meaning starts to grip our hearts and our minds.


THE ROAD NOT TAKEN – Robert Frost 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


“two roads diverged in a yellow wood…oh I kept the first for another day, yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.”

One thought on “The Road Not Taken

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