In every Individual, there is a force more powerful, more mysterious than the inner workings of the Universe. Shaped by thought, fuelled by emotions, forged by life, touched by spirit and loved by love itself, it is the everlasting gift called Imagination...

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Location: Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Suvon is the name of a World that I am currently working on in hopes of sharing with other fiction writers. It's a project that has taken me quite a while. Right now, I am on a slow process at the first book, a King's Heir.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Guess da piccie!

Location: Stuffed inside a bowling ball bag
Mood-of-the-day: For a small, quickie post.

Recently I posted a cropped part of my sis’s baby scan screenshot in an Xfresh forum. I let it run for a week or so, and man, the results were so funny! I knew non had seen anything like this! And I though I just keep their comments, just for old funtime’s sake. This was the pic I cropped up.

Tiny, it’s it?
Now see if you can find... whatever it is that ‘they’ found...

phenomenal_strike: daun kering (my mom nearly fell laughing), apum balik

Jediparadox: human skin cell (close!), kuih raya

Goredo: Onion skin (*giggle*)

LordRahl: 1 cent coin, pre-historic scribble(?)

Jenifuraliciaooi: Gold (kinna looks like it, doesn't it?)

Fusi0n-X: Doom 3 screenshot (acckk!)

Frogal: Ring/Earring (too cute!)

elberal: Feather (if you screw your eyes a bit), headgear

albnok: E-bay’s Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese (heeheehee...! Didn't see that one coming, LOL)

July~: Dried flower (really too cute!^_^)

Albnok’s answer nearly got me in trouble (I’m typing this at a crowded workstation full of project-paper-people!). I’ve just posted the full pic today. I’ve yet to see what’s their reaction to having a baby on the thread (am I an aunt or am I an Aunt? :D!).

Signed: *Ophie, whose sis’s baby’s gender is still not defined...

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Barbeque Weekend

Location: Being at school just because she had to since extra classes were being made.
Mood-of-the-day: Damn lecturers!

A few days after Hari Raya, parents organized a big barbeque party for the neighbours. Dad’s got the best barbeque machine around and we use it at least once every 3 months. I supposed I should have taken some pictures but really, I had no patience for being the paparazzi in my own house. Besides, most of the people that turned up were old farts anyway (hehehe!).

That’s right. Semi-D people in my area are mostly couples with grown kids, manicured gardens and a spare tyre around their waist (and this wasn’t just my family I’m talking). They come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Personally, I think my dad pulled this off just to show off the new and completed koi n’ guppy pond. I know for a fact that he didn’t feed them lunch so that neighbours can watch them jump savagely later that night. More story on that later.

Mom cooked up a feast all right. She skinned some quarter chickens and marinated them for a few hours in her soy sauce recipe. She got me working on the coleslaw and potato salad. We had planned to invite a relative who lived nearby but the family had other plans. Dang, we made extra coleslaw just for that lil’ cousin (she likes to hoard her veggies. I still say it’s weird for a toddler).

Back to the kitchen, mom also made some Laksa Johor, tribute to her upbringing (and for east-type hungry people). I remember homemade fish stock, fish paste, shrimp paste, coconut milk, ‘cili boh’, usual garlic, salt and pepper, etc, etc... Well, I’ve never quite acquired a taste for any laksa but it’s a family recipe after all (as an apt-observant neighbour pointed that out). Any way, all served with spaghetti.

My bros (all 3 of them) minded the barbeque. They’re men after all. Make fire. Cook meat. Okay that joke is old. Which also explains why some of the chickens had pretty dark features. The keyword here is pretty, not dark. Overcooked food is too often a specialty of big Bro (you should have seen his fried nuggets!). But nobody noticed because they were fascinated with mom’s secret gravy recipe.

Sis’s excuse for not being around to help out is the spending time she had with her other family. And everybody thought that she was only going for a medical check-up. So she took upon the task of washing up a few dishes. Anyway, any sour face (including mine) were quickly sweetened as she presented with a lil’ CD from her check-up. Here’s a screenshot and I urge you to knock yourself out in guessing.

The keyword here was ‘medical’ checkup :P
It’s gonna take some time to grow though...

Signed: *Ophie, more stories on this, that and many other of those later. Soon, I promise ;)

Monday, November 22, 2004

In His Story...

Location: In this time period? Umm... November 22nd.
Mood-of-the-day: It’s more real to remember a person’s life.

It was in the 1920s when a male infant of Javanese parents was born in Pontian Kechil, Johor. He grew up to be a good man but under the old British rule of Malaya, he could only reach the education level of Standard Six. But he never gave up his love for learning. Between being a teacher and tapping rubber trees, he often lend his voice for those who demanded rights for higher learning from the British.

Eventually he was chosen to go for a new learning institute in Perak, part secondary school, part university, all proof of a better chance at living. It was a great honour, for after the imam, teachers were the most respected job in any community at that time. But soon came the Japanese and he had to leave his friends and his last year of school behind. But even his home wasn’t as safe as all the British had left.

Other than behind sent working in the fields, the Japanese gave many teachers an intensive 3-month course for them to teach the new occupier’s culture to students. Even in his old days, the man could still speak the language. But it was when the Japanese had all gone when he returned to his old school to continue his studies, saddened by the very many of his year who did not return.

Eventually, he did return home to his family and continued teaching school kids up to being a headmaster. In the account of his eldest daughter, headmasters also taught in classes and having one with a reputation for strictness was daunting. If you didn’t understand it while at school, get ready to go face it again at home. But he was mostly kind and patient and all who grew up in the community knew him well.

He also taught working folks to read and write and so he was a highly respected even long after he retired. He remained fit and healthy, with a mischievous streak. Bicycles and bull-carts filled the streets when he first drove so he never had patience for those who were slower than him. His manual Perodua Kancil had the window sticker "Cili Padi" and a "P" for inexperienced drivers, though he had been driving for over 50 years.

He was never a man of inactivity, so a time after his wife had passed away, he remarried and continued his work with the local mosque and public communities. Even after he moved to be more accessible to his families, he spent his time growing vegetables, reading the holy book and writing the words to paper and memory. He had very few health problems until tuberculosis struck on October 2004. He passed away and was buried on the day before Aidilfitri.

This is as much as I knew about my grandfather’s history and that I can honestly say that he is a great old man and that he left peacefully, surrounded by his family. He was the pinnacle of the extended family, often telling us jokes about our parents, such as how he would chase my uncles out of the neighbours’ rambutan trees or their making of bamboo cannons so it produced the loudest noise in the village.

He always looked as my earliest memory of him, a skinny but amazingly strong guy in shirt and belted pants with a skullcap and a shovel in hand or full baju Melayu with white turban and Al-Quran in hand. He had lived forever. As I remembered how I watched my second nephew tear across the living room in a tricycle without regard for people whom he expertly nearly collided and they were calling out for him to slow down.

The kid would never knew his great-grandfather, yet he seemed to have inherited Yayi’s driving skills. I guess that’s why despite the hole I had, I kept feeling like Yayi’s still around. I just have to find it in everybody he loved. Then maybe I can find him in me.

Signed: *Ophie, who’s making no bid for the excellently maintained Kancil because she can’t drive a stick.

Al-Fatihah for Yayi

Location: Neither here nor there, just... trying to get some work done
Mood-of-the-day: Death in the family

It’s just after Hari Raya Aidilfitri and so it’s a bit overdue for a blog entry. I should write about how my blue-grey kebaya was perfect and the food was great (though I had not the tongue for lontong) and that even at my age, I still get Raya money and would soon be eyeing a set of comic books from Singapore that I hadn’t been able to afford since 2002. But that was not I’m writing about.

My Yayi was ill. Very, very ill. I can hardly imagine that it was less than a week when his kids, grandkids and great-grandkids gathering overwhelmingly around the Damansara Specialist room (to the point when the nurses had to be concern) and him sitting up and enjoying some of the shepherd pie I’ve made. And still referring me as anak Yam intead of my first name.

All too quickly he was transferred into intensive care of Universiti Hospital. I was not always so close to Yayi (being he had to divide his attention to over 30 grandkids or so, I lost count again!) but I’ve always admired him. There he was, the Johorian guy covered in breathing aid with an eerily familiar black screen that on TV it gose beep-beep-beep of his heartbeat.

The news came to me on the night before Aidilfitri’s Eve, sitting in front of the Astro on local TV1, waiting for the announcement of Raya’s moon sighting. I surprised myself that my first thought was denial. Yayi was a dude, a healthy, gardening his chillies, driving-his-Kancil dude. He’ll be in nazak and then he’ll get out of it and it won’t be so very much a miracle when it happens. It’ll be just so... Yayi.

I hated the Floor 12 where he was warded. There’s too many old people in the non-ICU rooms, with Deepavali treats. Yayi’s not old, just covered in 80 years worth of wrinkles. And now he’s covered in plastic tubes. Nobody’s allowed to go into that room unless they’re clean and wearing a face mask.

And even so, they least they can do is read the Surah Yassin or try to keep talking to him. That room was too small so I read mine outside. I was never very good at reading Al-Quran so I was way behind while relatives were finished and starting again. I guess a small of piece in me was still in denial, even after seeing him looking so... sleepy.

I was still reciting when Cik Faridah stood at my side and I looked up. Everybody had been ushered out of Yayi’s room by the night-shift nurses and there was that loud, one, lone, continuous beep. No television sound effects could had given me any more sickening feeling. By then the family entourage were filling up the corridor outside Yayi’s room.

A wall, a curtain cover and a team of nurses and one doctor separated Yayi and his bloodlines. How long did that one beep lasted? Ten minutes? Half-an-hour? I keep looking through the tiny slit of a door window and watching that black screen until someone covered it with the curtain. I was just outside the door and nurses kept coming in and going out, bring in mostly oxygen tanks.

I keep a better part of my attention to that big red trolley cabinet parked outside the room. On it was one of those balloon-type breathing tools that you squeeze repeatedly, adrenaline shots, drug cases and everything with child-proof and warning labels on it. No hospital staff touched the cabinet, and all completely ignored it. But it was right there, the only trolley outside an ICU of the whole Floor 12 corridor. If I were to give it a name, I say it’s the Last Aid Kit.

The beep did stopped and one of my aunts stopped crying. Everybody huddled to the doctor who got outside. There was no heart attack, just a dangerous drop in blood pressure and slow breathing. My grandfather was still okay then, but they still can’t do a dialysis to clean his blood until the pressure gets higher. So Yayi’s was only sleeping too deep. That sounds okay... a bit.

The later it got, the family split into those going home and those staying (my mom was staying definitely). It was either 11.35pm or 12.30am. As dad drove home, I dunno why I was feeling almost angry. Maybe because Aidilfitri was in two days and Yayi should have been at Batu Arang, just like last year. And the year before, and all the years back in Pontian.

He should be the guy walking out under the morning sun and welcoming everybody with that toothy smile of his and make everybody try to catch up with him in his Kancil through the pineapple infested country-side. He would lead the maaf-maafan and slip an RM5 in the hand as he tried to remember who’s who and "anak siapa?". After all the prayers and the food feast, he’ll go through the kitchen and reminded my second grandmother (married for a handful of years) to divide the food evenly for everybody to take home. He’ll wave until we couldn’t see each other anymore.

I didn’t sleep that night. And just as well because then I got the news as dad was ready to go back to the hospital again. His cell phone rang. Yayi had a another blood pressure drop. It was 2.35am on 13 November, last day of Ramadan.

Signed: *Ophie, Al-Fatihah for her Yayi...

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Private Peace

Location: On her way to somewhere and trying not to steer too far from the main roads
Mood-of-the-day: Cloudy, with a hint of sudden and quick drizzles.

I did very little writing this week and I fear the same under-the-weather phase is going to continue for a while. Not just blog writing or assignments (which two are overdue btw) but any writing; s’matter of fact, I hardly feel like picking up a pen yesterday (I prefer traditional methods over digital in fiction digest). Unlike when I feel very sad, I don’t let all the moodiness run overdrive for an hour just to get it over with and then go downstairs to set the dinner plates. Rather, I feel tired of feeling tired.

I suppose these are something like a sad moment, not a sudden downpour of depression like I had at secondary school but more like a weeklong overcast that gave only cold drizzle or humidity to the point of head aches. Here I sit before a PC that’s not mine yet I wholly depends on and just watching letters of the alphabet appear in structures on a white sheet of softcopy paper, wondering if words such as these are truly my own, instead of a collection I’ve complied from others’ lethargy.

But would I be offended to the emotions of others who felt similar weariness? That there are others of such introvert nature as to compare with mine? I don’t know. An age such as now scarcely needs more others like me. As the world sped along to the rhythm of production, I was the person who sits in idle, narrowly in between the highways of Time that has no speed limit, lost in her own inner traffic. Surely the barrier is too small to accommodate so many dreamy recluses. Eventually one of us will fall to be crushed road kill, or worse, become the bane of innocents. Would I be the one to fall?

It is not a crime, in my heart, to sit and listen only to your own breathing. Not snatches of available time scattered in a day or one to spend with your workload on your head or an instructed meditation from a self-help video. Only pure, idle, selfish peace. Selfish indeed, more so for one such as I who would have spent such time drugging herself in the addiction of playing games or reading legends. But I did it, for myself to add, a bit of time only to breathe and not even counting the breaths.

And that’s when these moments gave me a sense of new air. An illusion I’ve made for myself to make the dread less dreadful? A time wasted in an hour where time is limited? A simplified form of prayer? An excuse for sluggishness? A private soul healing method? A forced silence after cycles enduring drudgery in the mind? An unexpected thundershower of all these questions at once? There is little reason for me to use metaphors or descriptive language to the something what outsiders would term as ‘being lazy’.

Inhale. Exhale. I was not trapped in on the barrier in between the highways of Time. I was one who had stopped on the side of the road to turn away from the suffocating busyness. I had stopped to see the simple sunlight beyond that wearisome overcast and not judge it for anything. There is a feeling, only good. Yet my place is not here, and while there is still gas in my car, I must follow the rhythm or else splutter and fail to be stuck into the highway barrier. But I do dream sometimes, after those private peaces. I dream of a life after my destination, where I could see the whole world on a bright sunny ending.

Signed: *Ophie, having little to say or do and yet still not feel guilty about it.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Return of the Blogger

Location: Back to school (AAARRRGGGHHH!!!)
Mood-of-the-day: AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

Wow it’s been the longest ever since I’ve last blogged. A lot of things had passed through while I was away and so I’m just going to run them along. For starters, I think I did okay in my mid-terms. The pity is that I dare not to confide as much as I really wanted since one reader of Suvon Reality hadn’t the sense that an open journal maybe open, it’s still a journal.

Well, I’m back at school. I’ve finished reading Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Quest. The story’s cool, something I half-felt like passing it on to my dad, but he had a stereotype against fantasy stories like everyone else in my family (save bro-in-law). There’s a mysterious dark plot into it alright, one that generated from the moment of Fitz’s bastard birth and continues on as he reluctantly attempt to do his fatal servitude against a foreign prince.

Another thing that readers’ might have missed is the grand opening of Dad’s koi pond. Well, the opening isn’t really that grand (more or less, a bit greenish IMHO), but they’re fishes swimming alright. I’ll get a before and after pic ready. It’s not as glamorous as other custom-made landscaping hired geniuses though, but it’s my dad’s small effort at a DIY.

On an unrelated note, my grandfather’s got admitted to the hospital. The old due with a proud Johorian history got a tuberculosis problem (aka batuk kering). This 80-year-old hardly had a sick day in his life (still drives his Kancil like Schumacher, I last remember his good days) so it’s no surprise that the extended family dotted on him to the point were his hospital table looked like a Ramadan buffet. Oh, and he still hadn’t remembered my name :P.

Speaking of Ramadan, I was happy to discover that I had a visible waist as I wore my new kebaya (it’s the one were I got the cloth from my Redang trip). Kak Liza de Tailor showed me only one other kebaya she had sewn that resembles mine (a green one, looked uncannily like the one I’ve first wanted) but I hoped this style would make it okay. Though since the style was uncommon, it took my mom and me a good Nuzul Quran shopping to hunt for a matching headscarf.

Still, I see in the near future that I’ll be making a solo trip back to KL soon. I planned to go back to Low Yat Plaza for a warranty claim on my poor old thumb drive. I suppose the 5-minute panic experience had greatly shorted it’s life-span as now it can’t be formatted. I remember plugging it into Dad’s Compaq to do some blog tinkering (and gaming, I would hide that) before exiting the hardware. But at the same hour I tried to redo the tinkering, a lil’ window popped with a format-your-disk request. I’ll extend that story later.

So I had to redo some 5 blog entries, replay Laxius Power 1 and do that project proposal all over again. A real cautious geek should have made back-ups of those files, but then a real cautious geek shouldn’t have screwed her own PC in the first place. Sis already fixed that problem though, but now the Windows got back to freezing every alternate time I tried to run an MS-DOS based program. It sucks damn bad.

Overall, this is a less than enthusiastic re-entry, I apologize as I was trying to fit in everything that I’ve loss (as you can see that I’m still in thumb drive mourning, almost to the point of pathetic :P). But do look out for more up-lifting ones tomorrow maybe, once I got some snapshots working. But for the record, it looks like I won’t be putting up printed Scenes in my bedroom in time for Hari Raya, but I can still try.

Signed: *Ophie, Getting back into the blogging stream

Friday, October 15, 2004

T'was the day before Ramadan...

Location: Unitar workstation, pc-with-the-damn-fast-typing-gal
Mood-of-the-day: Hurry, hurry, workstation close early on Fridays!

This was how I spent my last free-eating day before Ramadan. I woke up after a bout of cat snapping at my toes. I dunno how he got into the room last night but I was pushing lil’ guy off when the phone alarm rang echoes in my head. Oh man. It’s a Free Day Thursday (which means that there’s no class to listen lectures to) but laundry ain’t going to wash by themselves.

Okay, I revise that statement. Laundry of people living in this semi-D that aren’t mine or lil’ bro’s or sis’ & bro-in-law’s do wash by themselves. Unfortunately, the laundry doesn’t seem to have a sense of hang out to dry on the clothesline by themselves though. And there was a second clean set too. So what could I do before breakfast. Hang them dry, but I had to be extra careful. The owner of these football shorts and jerseys and pants and shirts have an unhappy face toward mishandling. Heck, no wonder bro’s clothes wash by themselves.

I spent the rest of the morning hunting for limited hangers, thinking thoughtfully about the extra more hangers needed for parents’ laundry. Yup, that’s it. My parents are coming home Thursday night, just in time before fasting month. They’ve SMS-ed me while waiting for their flight in Istanbul airport. Apparently, they’ve SMS-ed each of their offspring with a cell phone because soon after, my bro called on me for two favours.

One was to place the Compaq laptop back in its old place and the other was to put one of dad’s good shirts back into his cupboard. It turns out that my bro had gone for an interview and used one of dad’s super executive shirts to look, well... executive-like! Problem was that he couldn’t remember which good shirt, but that was easy.

Dad’s retired but he still kept his shirts in creepy-clean condition. I say creepy because when I was careful to make it look as if the purple-blue had never left. Dad colour-coordinated all his business shirts from light to dark and all had neat turned collars and front must face to the left. The only mistake I did was hanger head-hook position, but dad didn’t seemed to have noticed that. Phew! Wow, listen to me talking about my dad’s shirts :P...

Parents got home by taxi. Most of what they’re brought were airplane food like buns and butter-jam packets and the After-Eight chocolates. Lil’ bro was in fits for After Eight chocolates ;). Dad also got this small branch cutting of some flower plant native to Turkey and was excited on potting it (have I mentioned he had a green thumb?). He had it wrapped in blue plastic and was going on about plant care and shelter. What went through my mind was that he smuggled a plant in his suitcase. Still, if it grew, we’ll have the only real Turkey flower in the neighbourhood.

Signed: *Ophie, who thanks her sis and her bro-in-law for the KFC dinner thay brought which made Ophie bloated at the last minute before Ramadan :D