Unintended by Muse : An Interpretation

I haven’t written poetries in a long time.

Nor have I had the time nor the inclincation to ponder on songs (and their lyrics interpretation). I have missed writing literature analysis (not the scientific journal kind). I haven’t had the mood to do book reviews in ages. (I am not that functional in the BookClub Whatsapp, I am afraid). I continue to read books without having the energy to write and rave about it as I used to during my teenage years, pre-med school.

I guess, it must be because I don’t get to hang out with the same crowd as I used to, growing up. My adult crowd consists of doctors, mostly. Some of them don’t read anything else other than scientific journals. They appreciate good songs too but I don’t think they are the sort who would like to discuss the song the way I liked to do with my then best friend/roommate in MRSM Langkawi. (I miss her whenever I came across good books and great songs.) My teenage crowd consists of dreamy, easy-going artsy type but who is also intense and serious about books (non-academic ones), history, philosophy and culture.

Those were the days….

But today, my writer’s block seems to vanish simply because I came across this particular song in my newly bought Asus Zenfone 2 smartphone (a worthy budget phone to buy when you are desperate and broke)

Some background story: I lost my Note 3 a few weeks ago. And when I bought the new phone, the guy at the counter had kindly transferred many stupid rock/hip-hop songs that I detested upon the first note. Most of the songs he gave me sounded more like noise than music. I could not differentiate one from the other. So, I was merrily going through all of them and deleting one by one of the songs he put in, all the while regretting my decision of allowing him to put those songs in the first place. Judging from his hip dressing and flirtatious overfamiliarity, I should have known that my taste in music and arts cannot possibly have the slightest resemblance to his.

I was about to delete the song ‘Unintended” by Muse when the melody of the song caused me to pause.

And I paused long. To the end of the song.

And my finger hit ‘repeat’.

Again and again. 

I see. So, this is how it feels to have stumbled upon a diamond among worthless rocks and rubbles. Now I know.

Screenshot 2015-06-27 15.49.28

Oh dear readers, the song is beautiful. It reverberates in my soul deep within. I couldn’t get over how such simple words in the lyrics can have so many layers of meanings. And the singer’s falsetto voice at the chorus communicates the kind of poignant, eerie pain that can make you weep. The pain haunts the person. I could sense that the person is struggling with his past, wants to move on but he is stuck, wrapped in a long chain that is so powerful even as it is invisible.


I feel terrible for him. I want him to break away from the chain. But I have a feeling that he will feel naked and vulnerable without the chain. The chain is bad for him. But it is also the comfort zone he has always known. It is also his armour against the world.

The saddest part is, I know by the end of the song that he will NEVER want to leave the chain. If I were to come and rescue him, and unwind the chain layer by layer from around his body, he will only gather the chain in his arms and lump the whole lot by his side and sleep with it throughout the night and never wants to wake up.

*heavy sigh*

But some people may have a different interpretation altogether. Some would probably interpret this song as a story about a guy who is asking his current lover to wait patiently until he sorts out how he feels about his dead girlfriend who he used to love deeply. They think he will succeed in throwing away the chain and move on. They think that when he says “I’ll be there as soon as I can” it really was a promise rather than a mere hopeful wish that will never come true. They think that when he says “she could never be as good as you”, he was praising her current lover sincerely rather than it was him being in a state of denial. He intellectually knows that the current lover is better in many ways than his previous past, but his feeling is stuck. Maybe forever. 

Oh well…

Talk about simple words with deep layers, huh?

Judging by the music, the tone, the falsetto voice at the chorus…he is not ready to give up his past. Not anytime soon. And the current girl should leave him and move on. That would be my advice as a therapist. Hahah.

But that’s what fun about arts/literature/songs, you see. It doesn’t matter whether your interpretation is right or wrong. The only way you can solve the mystery is by asking the writer himself.

But then if I were the writer, I will never tell.

Because I know that when you lose the mystery, you also lose what makes the whole piece beautiful and poignant in the first place.

Just be content that you are not the person in the song.


The song also tells me the same thing I have always known.

That it is kinder to everyone involved if you just win someone’s mind than someone’s heart. It is much easier to get over. It is fairer, less complicated, and more honourable in the long run that you engage someone’s mind than someone’s heart. 

The writer of the song knows intellectually what he should do. Who he could love and should love. But knowing something is not enough for him to act on it and to do what is best for him. He will choose his emotion over his intellect.

Knowing is just not enough.

That’s the dilemma of life.

That’s the dilemma in PSY too. That my patients knew what’s right to do. I knew they knew. But most of them will never do it. (and I become frustrated)

I like to think that if I were ever in the songwriter’s place, I will choose what I SHOULD and COULD do. However, judging by how I feel about the song, I am not 100% confident that I will succeed.

Readers, you should know that feelings are messy. They can make you get stuck. They can make you stupid. But at the same time, not stupid too, because you actually know, but you just can’t choose. You are not stupid, but your action is stupid.

So, you should protect your heart and guard it well.

Your heart should have several outer and inner layers and filters. Logic, reasoning, facts, truths, moral and ethical principles….These are all the filters that anyone or anything should pass through before you allow them the key into your heart. Examine a person, an idea, a principle, a worldview…examine them carefully through the filters, before deciding to let them into the sanctum sanctorum of your heart and soul.

Because once they get there, you will be stuck with them. For almost forever.  


I am not going to say whether it is better to choose the mind over the heart. I think it takes courage to choose either one. To ignore one and choose the other.

I think you can be happy just as well if you choose to go with your mind rather than your heart. But deep inside, you will always feel a certain unspeakable, indescribable lost, that only you will know. So you learn to suppress that lost and walk on, only occasionally looking back.

I had chosen my mind when I took medicine instead of law. I had chosen my mind when I decided to be formally educated in science rather than arts. And it still turned out not too bad. I like my life the way it is. It’s meant to be. But I have always wondered about the other option. My heart crave for something else all the time.

And you learn to live with your choice. And you can live happy choosing your mind.

That’s something the person in the song may not know yet. I hope, he will make the leap of faith soon.


I also searched for the cover version of the song and here’s are the two I love best.  Enjoy!

The Tone…

Do you know what makes up a huge part of someone’s personality as they stand before you, talking to you?

Let’s say you’ve never come across this person…like maybe you’ve just met her at a party or at your mom’s friend’s sibling’s house… and all of a sudden this person turns to you and then you guys start making small talk.

What would first strike you about the person once she/he opens her/his mouth?

There is beauty and… there is beauty.  

There is beauty that blinds you from the very moment you lay your eyes on the person…and you then claim yourself to be in love at the first sight. This person’s beauty is not a matter of opinion but is a fact. And to argue about it is ridiculous.

There is beauty that is not a fact…but a matter of opinion and personal tastes.  

There is beauty that  at first, does not blind you, does not move you… but binds you only with time and shared moments…and then you claim to the person “You are beautiful in my eyes.” This is the kind of beauty that would only manifest itself to exclusive family members and close friends. This kind of beauty is private, precious. Too personal.  [I always think that everybody is beautiful…you just need to look closely. And you will only bother to look closely enough (or have the opportunity to do so) if you are their friends. There will be moments when you realize, “oh, she is quite pretty!”]

But let’s get back to the person you met at your mom’s friend’s sibling’s house. And this person’s beauty is not something you notice right away because her sort of beauty is the personal kind, the kind only a small number of people would notice. What else would you notice about her? I mean, as she speaks. (let’s assume we’re talking about a female here)

It’s her tone of voice.

Its the way she speaks, the way she spaces her words and sentences, the way her face moves as she emphasizes her words, the way her eyes light up or dull depending on the subject under discussion.

That’s why sometimes, you can only notice some people’s beauty as they open their mouth and speak.

Tone In A Novel:

Style 1:

I don’t know what should I do now that matters have come to such an abrupt, unceremonious end. Should I call her? Should I go to her house and …do what? Or I could just do nothing. I am good at doing nothing.  Yes, I could do nothing, couldn’t I?

Style 2:

I don’t know what should I do.. now that matters have come to such an abrupt, unceremonious end. Should I call her? Should I go to her house and …do what?

Or I could just do nothing.

I am good at doing nothing. 

Yes, I could do nothing…

Couldn’t I?

The exact same words in both styles. But the tone is different…it’s in the way the words are italized/emphasized, and also in the way the sentences are paragraphed.

I could not say which style is superior than the other because both of them would serve different function depending on the writer’s intention.

Tone In A Person:

Some people are serious. When these people tell jokes, you only realize it as they arrive to their punch line. And when you FINALLY got the joke, you are first surprised, and then it finally occurs to you that “oh, she’s joking”, and then you realize that yes, the joke is so damn funny, but it’s just so unexpected because it comes from the serious people. You could not believe it, you were unprepared for it. Then it finally dawns on you… And ONLY THEN, you laugh. No, you don’t just laugh. You really, really laugh because it’s so DAMN funny! Funny AND unexpected…a potent combination.  In fact, you not only laugh but you guffaw and you just may roll on the floor at the sheer hilarity of it all.

But there are other people who are always cracking jokes. Whenever they open their mouth (even when they are not trying to make a joke) you will find yourselves smiling anyway. Because these people have such effect on you that you are just quite certain that whatever it is that spills out from these people’s mouth would be funny. You keep expecting … waiting… anticipating…  for the punch line. And three seconds before the punch line arrives, you are already smiling. And two seconds before the punch line arrives, you are grinning. And one second before the punch line arrives, you are still grinning, but this time, really broadly. Even when you are not yet sure what the joke is really about, you still smile. And when the punch line finally comes, you laugh out loud.

Both type of people are pleasant. It depends on your personal taste who you like to hang around with the most. I like both…but personally, I prefer the latter.

But there is also another type of people….whose tone is always subdued, always too restraint, and too serious. That even when they are talking about something funny, it turns out to be…less funny than it would have been. Oh, it’s still funny, but the merriment is stunted, the joy is minimal and the laughter lasts for mere seconds. You get the feeling that, this person is not lively enough to carry the joke off the way it is supposed to be.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

I am the sort of person who likes books that have a lively tone. I like to read a book that causes my heart to smile even as I read about the scenery…the scenery is not funny, it’s just that the whole tone is lively that I would just smile anyway. (that should explain the smiling lines on my face. I have been smiling too much)

I like a book that makes me anticipate happiness, even when I know that there will be (of course, there must be) conflicts, difficulties, hardships and trials. A book that, as it describes the pain, it gives me hope anyway.

You know, a cheerful tone.

Or, at least, like Khaled Hosseini’s natural way of description…not melancholy, not lively…it’s just one hell of a description. So that when you get to the funny part, you REALLY laugh and when you get to the sad part, your eyes tear up. And when you get to the moment in between (when it’s neither sad nor funny) you are just able to enjoy the description as it is. You are neither feeling melancholic nor happy at those moment in between.

But with The Time Traveler’s Wife…it has a sad tone. Even when it is  describing some great, happy moments…I could feel a sort of despair, a moment of dread that this happiness would not last. You know, a melancholic tone.

Oh, there are funny parts, there are happy parts, just as there are sad parts. But the constant background tone is that of sadness.

So as I read The Time Traveler’s Wife, I was always preparing myself to be sad. That I became sad…but I just could not cry. And when the happy parts arrive, I knew I was happy, but I could not laugh because I was still prepared to cry. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about the author of this superbly done novel. In fact, I have nothing else but praises to heap on this novel. The plot was original, it was cleverly done. I mean, not many people can write a story about time-travel and not muddle up the whole process with unnecessary confusions. In terms of plot and clarity, this novel deserves an A plus plus.  In terms of language, it is moderately poetic, and greatly enjoyable.

It’s just the tone….

Just that.

But then, that tone is suitable for that theme…because it is supposed to be sad. I am just saying that it does not agree with my taste…but that does not mean it is a bad novel.

What I am saying is, in terms of plot, it is fantasstic (it’s a fact, and not a matter of opinion). But in terms of tone, it is suitable for the plot but it would be more enjoyable if it is done in a much happier tone (and this is just a matter of opinion).

But this book is still enjoyable. I would definitely keep it on my bookshelf. The fact that I bother to write a review at all (despite the fact that the tone does not agree with me) is testimonial enough of how good the plot is. 

And I also learn something from this book…which is always reason enough to like a book. 

Would I recommend this book? Oh yes! It’s a must read. 

I enjoyed it while I read it. And that is surely a lot more than we can say about heaps other novels.  

And to Kak Long…I was prepared to praise your good sense for recommending this book to me. But I guess, I have to praise Abg Faiz, instead. Hahahha. Next time, don’t try to cut your losses a little too soon. Because you might have gained, instead. (really clever parting words from me, n’est ce-pas?) 

Different Ways of Saying The Same Thing!

“It’s not what you say, Angah. It’s how you say it. You should be more diplomatic.”

Hahhaha. Sounds familiar, kak long? How about you, Alida? Izati? Don’t you guys just lourvveee those clever sentences?  

If I got a shilling for every time I got that sentence flung at me, I would be a millionaire by now (the writer exaggerates, of course. But the writer believes that exaggeration is allowed in a literary piece, so she should be forgiven. hihihi. Not that she thought this entry deserves to be labelled a literary piece. But then, it can’t be labelled trashy either since she is going to impart some sort of knowledge after all.)

And you guys would be happy to know that I totally agree with you guys. And that should perhaps account for MUCH of my (mild? less aggressive?) manners over the last few years. I have, of course, been tamed and mellowed by wisdom and can only apologize for my abhorrent manner growing up.

But, I don’t want to talk about me. (much as I like blowing my own trumpet as well as the next person)

In fact “different ways of saying the same thing” is going to be about literature. Again.

 Sorry, if some find this boring but I am in love with the world of creative writing and literature. And since uni would start in less than 2 weeks (after which I only have time for my medical books) I should be allowed to over-indulge in my lifetime passion for awhile, n’est-ce pas?

I talked with my Kak Long and we both came to the same conclusion that Khaled Hosseini’s two bestsellers were actually made up of quite an ordinary plot. But his command of the language is excellent. And that, made all the difference.  

It’s really quite logical. Think about it! How many different love stories would there be in this world? We all know that one love story cannot be so very different from another love story! In terms of plot, there aren’t going to be any great varieties.

1) Cinta terhalang:

-Romeo and Juliet, Laila and Majnun, Heer and Ranja,

2)Cinta selepas kahwin

-plot macam ni dah byk di pasaran. No examples needed.

3) cinta antara budaya

4) bercinta-berpisah-bertemu-bercinta lagi.

All right…basically, there aren’t many varieties. You know, pi mai pi mai tang tu!

But WHY do writers keep on writing love stories and WHY people still read them? Because….the difference is in the writer’s unique ability to elaborate and use certain style of language to enhance the story. Two persons would write the same plot differently and that’s why people never tire of love stories. Because we, human beings are not just intellectual creatures but also social creatures. Therefore,  LOVE forms a very integral part of our life. And we will never be tired of reading it!

Senang fikir macam ni lah. Time exam, semua orang dapat soalan esei yang sama. So isi2 karangan pun mesti lebih kurang jer. Tapi ada student yang dapat A dan ada student yang dapat B. So bezanya mestilah ‘style of writing’. Writing style is what makes the writer a great storyteller.

Maybe in the previous post, I seemed like a cynical person. But I am actually not that cynical. In fact, myheart is filled with hope. It might sound as though I had ridiculed romance writers, but trust me, if anyone tries to condemn them too much, you will find me backing them up.

Let’s be fair to romance writers. At least, in terms of plot, we have to admit that ALL genre have their own stereotypes. Not just the romance fiction.

 For example, think about crime fiction…their plots are stereotypical too. Dalam crime fiction, pasti akan ada protagonist yang tertindas, orang jahat pasti seorang yang berkuasa dan berpengaruh, orang baik akan struggle menentang orang jahat dengan pelbagai usaha yang kelihatan mustahil pada awalnya, namun akhirnya berjaya.

Still, I never tire of reading crime fiction! WHY? Again, it’s because of the style of writing!

So, back to the earlier quote; it’s how you say it. (and of course, also about how you elaborate the plot, but I am only going to focus on language command here)


Jangan marah lah kalau aku cakap sesetengah writers macam tak pernah belajar buat karangan.

Waktu kita baru bertatih membuat karangan kat sekolah rendah, mungkin kita boleh dimaafkan kalau kita describe kesedihan sebegini:

-Aminah rasa sangat sedih sekali. (darjah satu)

-Aminah tidak pernah rasa sebegini terluka seumur hidupnya (darjah dua, and some novelist actually still employ this childish sentence)

-Kesedihannya yang telah cuba dibendung sekian lama tidak dapat ditahan lagi dan perlahan-lahan air mata Aminah jatuh membasahi lekuk pipinya yang pucat. (darjah enam)

But as you grow up, as you enter your secondary school and have had lots of experience with doing essays, melampaulah kalau nak describe kesedihan dengan cara yang bosan dan straighforward macam tu lagi.

Tapi, itulah yang masih ramai orang buat dalam novel. Tak der seni langsung! There are sooo many ways to describe the same thing. And they each gives different effects to the readers. So, as a professional novelist, they should think about that sort of thing. 

Maybe they can try:

-Walaupun hatinya bagai disiat-siat belati tajam, Aminah tidak sekali-kali akan menangis meratap kehibaan. Dia memandang mereka dengan sorotan matanya yang mencengkam. Bibirnya digetap kuat menahan getaran. Pada zahirnya, mungkin dia kelihatan tenang. Namun di sebalik sebaris senyuman, ada rasa duka yang tidak terucapkan. Lalu dia mengalih pandangan, biar air matanya berguguran tidak terlihat orang.

ALL of the styles above give the same message; Aminah is sad. Tapi, setiap style ada effect yang berbeza. It’s all in how you elaborate your point.

2) How to say “I love you for your kindness.” in many different ways.

– You are very kind and that’s why I love you. (darjah satu)

– Your kindness has beckoned my soul to surrender completely to the mercy of your love. (tingkatan tiga maybe)

-I care nothing for the poverty of your purse so long as your heart overflows with affluence, and that, my dear, is why I love you like no other. (university, sastera writers)  

But you see, sesetengah novelis masih menggunakan ayat darjah satu untuk buat description. Tu pasal orang semua pandang rendah pada novelis dan mengatakan “Aghh, aku pun boleh tulis cerita macam ni!” Kalau pun diorang tak mahu menggunakan ayat2 berbunga macam sastera, tapi sekurang-kurangnya elaborate dengan mantap.

3)Describing beauty.

-She was the most beautiful girl he had ever met in his entire 30 years of living. (ordinary, boring, should be improved)

-I took one look at her…and then I forgot to blink. What was it about her that I forgot to breathe? Was she pretty? When she smiled, she certainly captured the interests of many. Was she attractive? When she laughed, everybody could not help but sigh in the wonder of her beauty. But was she for me? Alas, I took one look at the twinkle in her eyes, and the niggling doubt overwhelmed me.

This second way of describing beauty is a much better elaboration. Because it describes the heroine’s beauty and also his feelings about her beauty. His feelings of wonder in one moment and inadequacy in the next. And tu bukan ayat sastera pun! Itu cuma a better elaboration.

Bukannya aku cakap: “Ah, my vision is blurred by the golden, shimmering beauty of her person. The twinkles of her eyes remind me of a diamond in the first water. One look at her, and my heart is lost forever in the maze of love.”  INI baru ayat sastera.

Dan aku faham penulis2 romance fiction selalu defend themselves by saying, “Kenapa? Tak boleh ke kami mendidik dengan ayat yang santai dan mudah dibaca?”

Yes, I understand that sastera memang ayatnya berbelit and not straight to the point. Bukannya aku nak suruh semua orang pakai ayat sastera tu. Sastera tu sasateralah. Fiction adalah kategori yg berbeza. But like I said, kita kena ada standard lah sikit. Tak payah guna ayat sastera pun tak apa, tapi takkanlah nak guna ayat buat karangan time sekolah rendah pula. Kalau macam tu, apa bezanya ‘a published novelist’ compared to budak2 sekolah?

That should be enough demonstration that I am not against love stories or romance. I am against the childish way people still construct their sentences. I am against the ‘ too simple’ way people elaborate their points….hinggakan langsung tak berbekas di hati.

Memang tak adil to romance novelist kalau orang cakap ‘semua cerita diorang sama saja. tak original langsung!’. Sedangkan dalam setiap genre pun, sangat jarang ada plot yang bombastic. In fact, many good writers settle with very ordinary plots. 

It’s the elaboration that counts! And that should be every writer’s aspiration.

Nilai bahasa dan ilmu dalam novel…

Kenapa sesetengah karya diangkat sebagai sastera (literature) manakala sesetengah karya dianggap picisan/pop/trashy atau hanya sekadar fiction? What are the criterias used to categorize whether one particular work could be categorized as literary or non-literary?

Yang lebih menyedihkan, penulis2 sastera seolah2 sudah sinonim dengan fenomena ‘karyanya tidak laku’…tapi yang menulis novel2 cinta picisan/pop/trashy, karyanya laris di pasaran hingga diulang-cetak berkali2.

This tells us about our society’s taste in their reading choice. 

Ini menyebabkan penulis2 tanahair kena fikir apakah priority masing-masing? Nak duit atau nak kualiti?

Namun begitu, dilema ‘duit vs kualiti’ ini hanya dihadapi oleh penulis2 MALAYSIA. Kerana karya2 fiction barat ada kedua2nya…nilai komersial pun ada (and therefore money values) dan kualiti pun ada. Di Barat, perbezaan antara fiction/pop/trashy dengan sastere/literature hanyalah dari segi gaya bahasa semata2. Malah kalau dilihat dari nilai ilmu, adakalanya karya fiction barat jauh lebih hebat daripada karya sastera mereka. Lebih hebat lagi, adakalanya gaya bahasa genre fiction mereka pun boleh menandingi gaya bahasa genre sastera.

Jadi di Barat, telah terdapat satu fenomena ‘blur’ ….di mana dari segi kualiti, pembaca2 ‘blur’ macam mana nak membezakan samada buku yang mereka sedang pegang ini adalah sastera atau tidak. Look at novels like “The Kite Runner” or “One thousand splendid suns”….sesetengah kedai buku cakap itu fiction. If you go to another bookshop, buku2 tersebut diletak di bawah ketegori modern literature. Bukan niat nak mengagungkan karya Barat, tapi betapa hebatnya industri penulisan mereka sehinggakan pekedai buku pun tak tahu nak letak novel tu kat bahagian mana.  

Tapi kalau di Malaysia, sudah macam ada ‘stigma’ bahawa penulis2 yang menulis kisah cinta, pasti ianya picisan (and most of the time the ‘stigma’ has its basis and sometimes even true). Manakala hanya Faisal Tehrani, A.Samad Said, Adibah Amin, Shahnon Ahmad etc etc yang menulis karya2 yang bermutu yang boleh diangkat sebagai sastera. However, in my humble opinion, sebagaimana penulis2 alaf 21 dicop sebagai penulis picisan, begitu juga penulis2 sastera Melayu dicop bahawa karyanya membosankan. 

Jadi, di Malaysia, tak payahlah penulis picisan dengan penulis sastera bergaduh siapa yang lebih bagus. Sebab masing2 boleh jadi juara dalam kategori yang berbeza. When it comes to fun and popularity, penulis picisan akan menang hands down! When it comes to gaya bahasa dan nilai ilmu (yang kadang2 taklah jauh berbeza sangat dengan novel picisan), maka penulis sastera akan menang, no doubt about it! 

Gaya Bahasa

Kadang2 aku rasa frust sgt dengan gaya bahasa novelis Melayu. Sebagai pembeli buku, aku patut tahu apa yang aku akan dapat apabila aku membeli buku2 fiction. Kenapa aku patut frust? Dah tahu begitu, kenapa masih nak beli? Seorang yang sinis akan mengatakan “you should know what you are getting when you choose to buy books from that publisher.” (perkataan ‘that’ diberi penekanan bernada sinis sesuai untuk golongan yang merasakan diri mereka intelektual).

Tapi, aku rasa bahawa sebabnya ada rasa frust tu adalah sebab “I care too damn much!” Aku sentiasa mengharapkan agar apabila aku beli satu2 buku aku dapat cakap, “Wow! Hebatnya penulis MELAYU. Kalah Khaled Hosseini.” Jadi setiap kali aku pick up Malay books, di sebalik rasa sinis tu, aku sebenarnya menaruh harapan. Maybe I could be proven wrong this time,that maybe this time it would be worth the time.

Sebenarnya samada kita nak tahu bahawa kita akan enjoy satu2 novel atau tak, ada di bahagian permulaan lagi. Tengok sahaja gaya bahasa di awal paragraph bab satu. Kadang2 seseorang novelis itu ada byk sgt idea, plotnya hebat, tapi cara olahan dan gaya bahasa menjadikan segala-galanya hancur dan tak menarik minat sampaikan kadang2 aku rasa mcm, “Ko ni tak belajar buat karangan ke time sekolah menengah dulu?”

Di bawah, aku bagi contoh2 perbezaan paragraph pertama bab satu di antara fiction dan sastera:

Fiction :

Assyida leka dengan jarum dan benang kaitnya sejak lewat tengah hari tadi. Cuaca petang yang agak tenang dan kurang berbahang membuatkan dia berasa selesa duduk di tepi tingkap itu sejak tadi tanpa mempedulikan sesiapa pun.

My ulasan: Come on, man! Ni paragraph pertama bab satu! This is your chance to capture your readers, to interest them to keep on reading. You should be able to do better than talking about benang kait and the weather!! Even dalam society kita pun, kita cuma cakap pasal cuaca bila kita memang dah tak der benda sgt nak cakap. So, tolong jgn describe pasal susasana dan cuaca di awal buku…pls give ur reader the feeling that you would have something MORE to offer. Jgn biar awal2 lagi pembaca anggap ko ni tak der idea!


Tatkala aku masih muda dan mudah digoda, bapaku pernah memberi sepatah dua nasihat yang sejak itu sentiasa sahaja bermain-main di dalam hati sanubariku.

“Anakku” Bapaku berkata, “setiap kali kau nak mengutuk orang, ingatlah bahawa mereka tidak bergitu bernasib baik seperti kau.”

My ulasan: This is MUCH better than the previous one. Awal2 lagi penulis ni dah berjaya buat aku tertanya2, apakah kaitan antara kata2 ayah dia tu dengan keseluruhan cerita? Awal2 lagi penulis tersebut dah berjaya ‘capture my interest’. Awal2 lagi, penulis ni dah bagi satu ‘word of wisdom’ in the form of the protagonist’s father. Awal2 lagi, kita dah dapat satu nilai ilmu. Hati pembaca akan melonjak suka. Hati pembaca akan berkata ” wah, hebatnya penulis ni! Ini baru paragraph pertama, dah ada satu benda yang menarik, dah ada satu benda yang aku belajar.” Dan pembaca tu akan meneruskan pembacaan tanpa rasa terpaksa untuk mengabiskan buku tersebut hanya semata2 dia sudah pakai duit membeli buku ini.

Itulah maksud aku dengan frust! Aku rasa macam geraaammmm! Kadang2 tu, tak ada beza sangat nilai ilmu antara karya picisan dan karya sastera. Ambil saja contoh novel ‘Badai Semalam’. Aku tak rasa novel tu ‘berilmu’ sangat pun! Tapi bagaimana boleh jadi sastera? Dahlah boring, plotnya ordinary, gaya bahasa jer kot yang boleh diharap. Tu pun, taklah sehebat mana.

Haih, kalau di Barat pembaca2 blur samada satu2 buku fiction patut diangkat sebagai sastera moden. Tapi di Malaysia, pembaca blur samada satu2 karya sastera patut dilabel sebagai karya picisan sahaja.


Nilai Ilmu

Aku yakin ramai yang pernah mendengar tentang novel “Ayat-ayat cinta”. Aku sendiri tak pernah baca novel tu (sebab aku serik nak beli novel melayu!).

Apa yang aku nak katakan kat sini, novel2 berunsur cinta Islamik ni makin banyak di pasaran sejak wujudnya novel ‘Ayat-ayat cinta’. Hari ni dalam akhbar UTUSAN, ada satu artikel mengulas tentang fenomena ini (selepas membaca arttikel itulah maka aku terpanggil untuk menulis kat sini. Artikel tu sgt bagus dan aku sgt bersetuju dengan penulis artikel tersebut).

Pada awal2 kemunculan novel pop Islamik ini, memang novel2 tersebut boleh dikatakan berkualiti. Aku tak pernah baca sendiri, tapi aku bayangkan mestilah apabila dikatakan novel pop Islamik, maka  ada diselitkan unsur pengajaran, maybe ada disebut dalil2 sikit.

Namun makin lama, makin byk pula novel2 yang dilabel Islamik hanya kerana hero dan heroin namanya mcm arab sikit, dan heroin dia pakai tudung, dan mungkin hero dan heroin dulu bersekolah agama untuk jadi ustaz dan ustazah. And that’s it!

Kalau nak tunggu heroin pakai tudung baru nak label karya tu Islamik, dah byk sgt dah heroin2 pakai tudung sekrang ni! Apa yang nak heran sgt!

Sehinggakan dah tak ada beza pun samada novel ini dikatakan novel pop Islamik atau non-Islamic. Perbezaan hanya dari segi benda2 kecil seperti nama watak dan penampilan dan mungkin dialog2 yang lebih tersusun. Namun ‘the core’ of the novel, tak ada bezanya dengan novel2 lain. Malah, untuk membuat satu sub-kategori ‘novel pop Islamik’ macam tak payah pun tak per. Buat redundant sahaja!

Macam yang aku pernah cakap dulu. Kadang2 tu tak ada bezanya dia buat hero tu jadi lawyer ke, doctor ke, petani ke or whatever kerana tempat kerja lelaki tu hanyalah setting untuk dia berjumpa dengan heroin. Pekerjaan lelaki itu tidak memberi apa2 makna kepada perjalanan cerita. Perkerjaan lelaki itu hanya sekadar ‘nama’. Namun empty! Seperti mana karya2 pop Islamik hanya berbeza sekadar nama….

Mungkin golongan yang membaca kisah cinta Islamik ini akan rasa konon dia baiklah sikit. Sekurang2nya dia tak baca novel cinta yang lagha! yeah, rite! Hakikatnya, pembaca mcm tu hanya menipu diri sendiri.

Pada pendapat aku, daripada baca kisah cinta yang konon Islamik tu, tak ada bezanya kalau dia baca kisah cinta English fiction. 

Ini contoh permulaan bab satu kisah cinta English fiction:

There were four principles governing Gareth St. Clair’s relationship with his father that he relied upon to maintain his good humor and general sanity:
One: They did not converse unless absolutely necessary.
Two: All absolutely necessary conversations were to be kept as brief as possible.
Three: In the event that more than the salutations was to be spoken, it was always best to have a third party present.
And finally, four: For the purpose of achieving points one, two and three, Gareth was to conduct himself in a manner so as to garner as many invitations as possible to spend school holidays with friends. 
In other words, not at home.
In more precise words, away from his father. 

Bagi aku, ini antara permulaan novel cinta yang hebat. Baru paragraph pertama, aku dah wonder, apa kena dia dengan ayah dia? Apa kaitan dengan keseluruhan cerita. And if you truly read the whole paragraph, you have a sense that ‘penulis ni mesti seorang yang kelakar’. 

Apa yang aku nampak kebanyakan novelis Melayu buat adalah diorang memang ada idea. Tapi sewaktu menulis tu….diorang tak fikir ‘how I could have presented it better.’ Ayat apa yang aku patut guna untuk ganti agar kedengaran lebih sedap dan exciting.

I am not a good writer. But I am an avid reader. I am a good reader. I have read too much literary and non-literary fiction. I actually sit down and reflect ‘kenapa aku tak suka novel Melayu? Apa yang kurang?’. I have compared and read again and again. And here’s the answer…

Aku rasa kebanyakan novelis sendiri kurang membaca. And if we don’t read, we will never know how do we compare. And don’t just read novel Melayu, and don’t just read fiction. You have to read literature…and keep on improving sampai pembaca sendiri tak boleh beza adakah fiction Melayu patut dijadikan sastera. When that happens, I will salute the Malay novelists and would fill up all my bookshleves with Malay novels.

Until that happens, I am not wasting my money.     

War Of Emotions

My very first entry for this new blog…tapi tak tahu nak tulis apa. It’s a bit like writing an essay…the introduction is the hardest to crack. Once I have done that, the rest would come as easy as a stroll in the park because I have always been good at words…at least, written words. 

But verbal words…now that’s a different story. I am different in writing than I am in person. That’s the reason I don’t trust chatting (YM, mIRC) and abhorred doing it very often…what you can type may be something you would not say out loud.

I can be romantic in writing but I would not dream of being so in person. I can be eloquent in my letters, but a timid bumbling idiot in person. I can be an outrageous flirt in text, but would wear a severe, forbidding frown on my forehead when you see me next.

But I don’t think that is unique to me. I believe, it is everyone’s failing. Just ask yourself… if that is not true for you too?

But also ask yourself, why is that so?

If you don’t have the answer, don’t worry…because I will give it to you without anyone having to rack their brain thinking up a question that almost amount to phylosophical.

It’s because we are much less vulnerable and much more comfortable hiding our emotions behind written words, and thus causing us to become much bolder than we would ever be in person.

So it’s not that I am a different person in writing than I am in reality. It’s just that I am much bolder in writing because I am comfortable writing. I can give words to my emotions to strangers, I would not mind strangers reading my writing, not caring if any strangers find my writing offensive.

 Meanwhile, in person, what is true to doing an essay, is true to dealing with me…meaning introduction is the key, and the hardest part too.

Make an introduction, crack the ice, and I will be your friends forever. And you will find I am exactly as I am in writing once you have gotten to know me and I have gotten comfortable with you.  

So the take-home-message is: Don’t be surprised if I seem different in person. That must mean I am not comfortable with you. So it’s not my fault. hahahahha.

Ok, enough of being cheeky…let’s get to the heart of the matter.

Welcome to My New Blog…

It’s called Life’s Poetries That May Not Rhyme.

But sometimes they may, and here is one;

The War of Emotion

If all feelings and sentiments,
In this world could gather,
And disccuss about Passion
And Passion could hear them discuss her,
I can’t help but wonder,
Which of them shall triumph?


Love stands and proudly says,
“Passion is enthusiams,
Without which life is colourless.
But passion, too short a life-span,
Shall never outshine I, the Love”


Affection then smiles and says,
“Passion is determination,
Without which life lost its purpose,
But Passion too fierce a love,
Making I, an enjoyable lightness” 


Courage stands to take his turn,
“Passion gives one a sense of strength,
With resilience and fresh emotions,
But Passion so impulsive hence,
So, I, the Courage at the end won.”


Passion fumes with burn indignation,
She stares down at Love, Courage and Affection,
“Love is all very well, but ridled with confusion,
Lead to petty emotion, often blind and easily broken.”


Love gasps in pride and anger,
Passion turns to Affection and ignores her.


“Affection, you are fickle, ever-changing,
Your lightness is your undoing.
You, are only Love’s inferior version,
Your existence, is almost redundant.”


Affection cries in pride and anger,
Passion turns to Courage and ignores her.


“It is I, the core being of Courage,
Without me, oh Courage, you are meaningless,
I give you beliefs causing you to pledge,
I will fight and bring back my winnings.”


Courage fumes in pride and anger,
Passion smiles, oh the sweet avenger.


Wisdom passes by the heated conference,
Feeling left out, she is wounded,
“I may have no feelings, nor sentiments,
And I am proud not to be included,
Among those lacking in guidance,
In excessive emotion their bickerings pounded,
Without faith, devoid of knowledge,
All feelings become heathens,
Unrest, unfulfilled, like souls haunted.”


So Courage, Love and Affection,
And Passion as well as Wisdom,
left the meeting in indignation,
Alas, why don’t they think just for a moment,
How strong they would be, if all of them,
Stay together and agree to the same notion
To only be  guided by religion and revelation.


-Afiza Azmee-