Kampung girl at heart

Location: Alor Star, Kedah, Malaysia

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

my slice of heaven

when i was young, my idea of heaven in being 'stucked' in a library filled with tons and tons of books. just give me enough food and drinks and i'll be happy.

i don't wish for that anymore for my wish lists have grown to movies, songs, internet, get plenty of massages and spa treatment as i can, beautiful crystal jewellery, tandoori chicken and nan bread, capatis, tosai, and having good hearted people as friends and lovers.

i also don't want to be alone. i had been a loner long enough and now i want to have people to talk with, to share ideas, to learn from.

and i want FREEDOM to think, to have my own opinion and views and to be able to express em anytime and anywhere. i want to roam around the world and meet new people, learn new things and be amazed and awed by new sights and sounds.

then i came here and i realise that i may not have all that but i do have some of that. i have several spots here which have beautiful scenery and travelling past em always make me feel happy.
there are people here whom i adore and being with them make me feel happy and light hearted.

i didn;t realise i found my slice of heaven here.

my slice of heaven

when i was young, my idea of heaven in being 'stucked' in a library filled with tons and tons of books. just give me enough food and drinks and i'll be happy.

i don't wish for that anymore for my wish lists have grown to movies, songs, internet, get plenty of massages and spa treatment as i can, beautiful crystal jewellery, tandoori chicken and nan bread, capatis, tosai, and having good hearted people as friends and lovers.

i also don't want to be alone. i had been a loner long enough and now i want to have people to talk with, to share ideas, to learn from.

and i want FREEDOM to think, to have my own opinion and views and to be able to express em anytime and anywhere. i want to roam around the world and meet new people, learn new things and be amazed and awed by new sights and sounds.

then i came here and i realise that i may not have all that but i do have some of that. i have several spots here which have beautiful scenery and travelling past em always make me feel happy.
there are people here whom i adore and being with them make me feel happy and light hearted.

i didn;t realise i found my slice of heaven here.

my own female hall of fame

I must have done something good before this for i now feel like a millionaire, wait, make it a zillionaire.

I feel so so rich and happy. i must be the luckiest woman on earth.

What brough this unholy feelings, you might say. or did this woman accidentally swallowed some 'happy' pills?

i am not rich in terms of money and material possession (although judging by the things i now own, I do) but oh...in terms of love and friendship, i have it now in abundance.

Let me explain..love was in short supply when i was young. expressions or public display of love were hardly shown but harsh words and criticisms were endless.plus the ill-health and later the death of my mom when i was so so young made me feel alone, unsure, wary of my world. i feel that at any given time, the world will get off kilter and i will lost my balance and fall.i could not trust anyone.

from a happy and sunny child, i turn inward. i became sullen, withdrawn and i escaped into my fantasy world where everything was fine and beautiful. i find it difficult to connect with people and the world.
that sense of detachment grew as i matured.

other women saved me from myself from my first best friend to this latest in the long line of women who helped me find myself.

These names will forever be engraved in my heart..

"fadhillah, normala, liz haliza, kelly, parween, radziah, mimi, efi, selvi, muna and the latest addition is mak haji salmah."

i now pay my tribute to them for they helped me in healing my heart and my soul. some may not even realise how much they've played a part in making me what i am today and i may never get a chance to tell them that for they have moved out of my life but i will always pray for their well being and hope they find contentment and happiness.

as for the latest 'woman' in my life, mak haji salmah is the mother of my adulthood.

i lost my mother at the age of nine. she died when i was 12 but i felt i've lost her much much earlier for she fell very sick and could not take care of even herself. she became an invalid and i was left to fend for myself. although i am the youngest of ten, i was never pampered by my siblings. only my mother showed me love and even then, i remembered how she would sigh, cry and wonder who would love me after she was gone.

i was torn between loving her and hating her for being sick and leaving me to fend for myself and feeling guilty for even thinking this way.

i remember being pulled aside by my sister and told that from now on, with our mother being sick, i would have to look after myself, wash clean my own clothes, take care of my own belongings and do my chores. i was essentially alone despite being surrounded by siblings.

When she died, my world which was wobbling badly, came to a complete stop. i am alone. although my father did his best, he was a man who had no clue what a girl want or need. he was a traditional father, a product of his time and although he tried to unbent his strict disciplinarian soul, it was a poor substitute. we became close and spent a lot of hours together but it was mostly him talking bout his life, philosopies while i listened.

I didn't know i was hungry for love for i didn't even know what love is. i yearned for love but i didn't know how to find it or how to keep it. i discard friends easily for i never really took em into my heart. i was selfish, self-centred, callous and arrogant for it was the only i knew how to behave. i didn't know i was protecting myself, my heart from being hurt again.

i looked at my friends when they were with their mothers and i yearned for that 'moment'. they complained of their moms but oh if they only knew how bloody lucky they are to still have a mom.i was forced to fend for myself at a young age because she died. she would have stayed if she could but her time was up and though i hated her for that, i could not do that for she was my mom. i begged god to take me instead, he didnt listen and i hated him for that but i couldn't because i was taught that i could not hate god. he is the most merciful and kind yet why wasnt he kind and merciful to me?

who can i blame?

in the end, i blamed myself for not being worthy enough to have my mother around. i felt i didn't deserve for i didnt do enough to take care of her while she was sick and helpless. i blot out the sounds of her cries and the sights of her defecating on the floor for it shamed me.
i blamed myself for not being the filial daughter who was patient, kind, helpful, loving. instead i felt angry, mean, selfish..and i hated myself.
i hid all these bad memories away for i could not deal with my shame and my anger.

i yearn for my mother but my turn was gone. she is gone and i'll never have anyone who will love me for just me.

yet recently, i found myself being accepted as a 'daughter' by this kind elderly woman who already had four children of her own. i who have always been wary of such offers in the past, suddenly found myself opening up my heart to her. i am beginning to trust her.

her kindness and generosity humble me for she is a woman who have little possession yet is so generous with her affection and time.

i do have my moments of doubts but i am tired of being suspicious and wary all the time. this time, i am just gonna let it be, let things be and to trust god and his wisdom. no more self doubts, no more inner monologues and second guessing others' intention.

i am now guided by my instinct and my inner heart tells me she is for real. i am listening to me more often nowadays and you know what?

i am really content and happy...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

mending a dysfunctional family

I am a pretty tough woman, nothing much fazed or scared me...well..maybe the visit to the dentist or dealing with my taxes...but nothing and i mean absolutely nothing exhaust or upset me more than when i have to deal with my own family, sisters and brothers.

growing up, i knew that my family wasn't perfect but i thought our ties were quite strong to withstand anything. we loved each other, don't we? i was very confident that we would never never ever be be divided and end up like some of the families i knew of who remain hostile til their dying day.

I was naive and i was wrong. my parents died and my siblings quarreled amongst them. small argument over petty things escalated into big ones and one by one, they took sides and ended up being divided into two main camps while a few of us became the non-aligned.our nephews and nieces grew up without knowing their uncles and aunties and i felt alone. i looked at happy families and i wondered why mine wasn't. i see sisters and brothers hugging and kissing each other, visiting each other and having family gatherings during festivals and holidays while i opted to spend these days alone.

it was stalemate and i got so so tired of them, i stayed away and led my own life. being sent here is a blessing too for i didn't have to deal with them on daily basis.

But for how long? maturity have taught me a lot and i've learnt to be rational and detached when dealing with so many issues and aspects of my life but ah man..my own siblings? i get so very very mad with some of my sisters and brothers i just want to shake em so hard their teeth rattle.

but i can't run away anymore. the news of my brother's kidney problem last month shook me. we're all getting older and soon, we will die one by one. I don't want to wait until its too late before we make amends.

it wasn't easy. i had cold feet many many times but i decided to put my faith in allah that he would help heal my family. took two weeks leave and met my siblings one by one during a two weeks vacation recently.

some of the encounters were very fruitful and easy while others were fraught with undercurrents. a lot were said but with few sisters, these past hurt were still left unsaid.

i wish they would just let bygones be bygones, accept and understand that we might not be capable of changing and move on instead of continually harping on the past.

perhaps it was easier for them to cling to the past, to old hurt rather than looking inward, assessing the damage it had done to our family and understanding that maybe they were to be blamed for the quarrels and hurts.

I wish i have a magic wand that i can just wave and they will turn around, forgive each other and have a big 'bollywood' style reunion with music dancing and all. i hated bollywood movies with a passion but i am willing to let that pass if it means my family will become united again.

i tried..oh god..i did try. i am just hoping that given time, we will be a family again.

Monday, December 26, 2005

crazy december

It takes a calamity or a natural disaster to make me view my life and realise i had a lot to be thankful about. and at the same time, how bogged i am with so many rubbish and garbage in my life.

God, i feel so tired....... i've had a long long long stresful week.
Someone once said that a week is long in politic. in real life too. I and thousands others in Kedah recently had a very long and stressfull week, thanks to the flood which suddenly hit the northern part and Perlis. It was described to be the worst in 30 years, not that the information helped sooth our emotional turmoil at having to fled our home and seek refuge elsewhere.

to top it off, our menteri besar or chief minister had to choose this week of all time, to resign. so on top of chasing for flood stories, we were forced to chase after him to confirm the news and to get an interview.

There i was outside his home in my shorts and rain jacket, fresh (?) from covering the flood to try my luck at getting him to talk. no such luck though as he refused to let us in and even asked one of his men to shoo us politely away. i was worried though as my competitor was inside with him and though the officer said the conversation was off the record, i was worried initially. my attempt at calling the MB on his handphone was somewhat successful as he answered only to say that he had resigned so he had nothing to say. it was still worth a try and worth a story though. after trying all avenues, i gave up and persuaded my gang to return to office. if we did get scooped, it wasn't because i didnt make effort. Luckily though, the competitor called that night to say that there would be no article as it was off record. phew!! luck.

Still, in all my years as a journalist, i've covered almost all sorts of situation but always as an observer. this flood is different as i was almost a victim and it was hellish. not only was i worried about making the best coverage possible, i was worried about my home, my life. while working, i was also thinking and worrying about my belongings.

seeing and interviewing the flood victims help put things in perspective. If it is fated to happen, it will happen.Once i decided to put my faith and fate in Allah, i felt free and light, and i was able to concentrate on work. and i and my colleague worked like hell, day and night and we even stayed in the office for two nights as we feared that we would be stucked at our home if the water level rose.

admist all this, while packing my things to put at a friend's home, i realise what is important in life is food, shelter and clothes.
It felt surreal too to visit the flooded areas and witness the damage to people and property in various areas in jitra and kota star, yet a few kilometres away in town itself, life went on as normal. in anak bukit and even in kampung pisang near my office, people were being evacuated from their homes yet many others in nearby areas were going about their business, eating, shopping and having a good time. i felt so weird.

While in the thick of the flood, it brought memories of my working during the tsunami last december. It was scary, seeing the devastation it brought to kota kuala muda in sungai petani and kampung sungai keriang in langkawi. homes swept away leaving the shell or even just the outdoor toilet. the whole place covered in the gred mud and slime. and us thinking initially that it was just a normal small scale event and discovering that it was awesome. from dec 26, it stretched to mid january and i remember wondering when it would ever end because the days just turned into one long blur haze.

that was what i felt recently while covering the flood. it was worst still in terms of coverage for we had to look for transport for many of the places were unaccessible by normal vehicles.

I fled my home on monday for fear the water would rise as it is too near the river. never had i see the river swollen with water. it was scary. the best news was when the water started receeding and i could return home.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


I've heard about HIV and Aids so much, read about it, watch about it on tv and films but i've never met an HIV patient until a few months ago. He is a transexual whom i met through the course of my work. we got along fine and exchange number with promises to call each other but as usual, it remained a promise.

recently, her friend call up out of the blue to tell me she was hospitalised. I visited her at alor star hospital and she was unconscious. she was in a big ward but she was given a small corner room which offer a bit of privacy. her brother in law was there to keep her company. he was kind and tried to make her be more comfortable for she was running a high temperature.

And i nearly made a blunder when the brother in law pulled me to one side to ask whether i knew if she was a drug addict. The whole family didnt know that she was a HIV patient. they thought she had high fever. i think they were in denial for her skin was full of old rash marks and she was very very thin. i find it hard to believe as they knew of her lifestyle and yet they wanted to believe that she only had high fever.

he kept persuading me to tell him what i know or try to get the full story from her friends. it is so hard to lie when it involves a person and her family.

i dont blame her for wanting to keep it a secret but I wish i could do more than just look. when i first got to know her, i was very forthright by telling her that i didn't know how to act or behave around an HIV patient. i was scared of making or saying the wrong thing. She didn't tell me that she had it. instead her friend told me the truth.

looking at her made me realised the danger of the killer disease. it made me worry about my own health and the health of my friends. i plan to grow old with them around me. i never want to die a lonely old woman whose siblings and friends have all left her. that would be so so sad.


It happened to me recently. After a week of agonising over the proposed transfer, my boss suddenly called out of the blue on saturday morning at 10am to tell me that I could stay in kedah after all.

What boggled me was that I didn't even fought hard against the transfer. I just asked nicely and when i was told on thursday that my choice was either JB or KT, I decided to choose the latter. Only thing was that I was asked to think it over and I did.

And boy, was I glad that i took my time because I would not be given the reprieve if i had called on Friday or even on early saturday morning. I wanted to but my heart felt so heavy i decided to do it saturday noon.

would i have gone to KT? yes i would and i would be happy there but it is nice to know that i have a choice and i choose to stay in kedah.

What can i say, my time in kedah has been a blessing from God and if God decides to give me more time here, i will fill it up with all the joy and laughter, sadness and happiness, every little bit of experience and memories i can experience here.

Initially though, i was in a dilemma when i found out i can stay after all. I've set my mind on going and looking forward to experiencing all the new things there, and changing my mindset proved to be hard. even thought of calling my boss and tell him that i do want to go to KT. Luckily i took my time and after a few hours of weighing the pros and cons, Kedah won hands down.

i am now looking at my surrounding with a new perspective. Being so close to losing it made me appreciate the little things that made it so appealing and charming to me. like the fact that people here are so friendly, total strangers would stop and offer me a ride back when i didn't have a car. They just stop and ask where i was going and ask if i would like a ride. at one time, a policeman on a bike did that and i was so bowled over by their friendliness.

or that the chinese and the indians conversed fluently in kedahan malays. One time i was behind two men, an indian and a chinese in a queue and they were conversing in kedahan malay...i find that so so charming. and they are friendly too unlike the ones i met back in KL. here they are nice , humble, down to earth even though they are rich. oh i know there are the arrogants ones around but so far, i've been spared of their "charm".

and the staff at this particular mamak shop considered my their favourite customer they even gave me discounts without my knowledge. i only found out recently when the guy told the gal who was manning the counter to discount my bill. WOW!

i would be happy in KT for I know i will adapt well to the local surrounding and making friends is not a problem for me. However, I will miss these nice people here. i am just glad to be given a chance to stay and explore kedah all over again, and a second chance at falling in love with her, rediscovering the things that made me fall in the first place. I do sound daft, huh!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pack up your troubles in yr old kit bag and smile, smile, smile!

I am moving, again. Got the news three days ago that i am was being offered to go to Johor Baru. I leapt at the thought of going to a new place but the mention of JB deflated my spirit. The high cost of living will seriously put a dent in my wallet and the congestion and superficial lifestyle there will affect my health.

luckily, my boss today gave me the option of going to Kuala Terengganu. I didnt jump at the idea at first cos I really wanted to stay in Kedah but after about half an hour in deep thought, I decided to go for it.

Its funny how my life just seem to fall into place nowadays. I've been praying for a change since early this year for I am kinda bored being here. I still love Kedah but the challenge in work is not there anymore. I've become jaded and stale, even complaisant. I've lost my edge and hunger for news.

I've been praying and praying for God to give me a new opportunity,. telling myself and others that I would go anywhere but Kota Baru and Johor Baru. Yet when JB was offered, I felt like banging my head on the wall. Why oh why JB of all places?

KT on the other hand, is still undeveloped and that means beautiful scenery, the forest, the islands, the beaches, the friendly folk, the cheap food, low cost of living, no congestion, all the things that I love and cherish.

No doubt the dialect will be a problem - all the 'jang' and 'kang' that the locals like to add at the end of practically every words, will no doubt drive me mad. I will have to start all over again, making new contacts but I am optimistic. Being moved here and there has taught me a lot of tricks to adapting myself to new surrounding.

Yet, while i am looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life, i'll be leaving part of my heart here. saying goodbye to my friends and my life here will be hard. my life are made richer with their presence.

I wanted to stay but I know I have to leave in order to grow. still, saying goodbyes to the people i love and the various nooks and cranny of kedah that I adore will be hard.

Monday, October 10, 2005

hellos and goodbyes, friends and lovers

Absence makes the heart grow fonder or wander?

Eversince a little girl, I've always love making new friends and saying goodbyes to them never used to be a problem for I kept the relationship light and casual.

I never knew how hard it was to say goodbye until my best friend moved away back in the mid 90's. God, it felt as if there was a big hole in my heart and in my life where she used to occupy.

While she prepared for the move, I pretended everything was okay and helped her whenever I could but my heart was hurting for I thought our friendship would end or at least, we would drift apart. When she left, I moped about but still pretended that everything was alright.

It was not alright but it helped that she was the type who talked about her feelings. she brought up the subject of her leaving and the impact it would have on our friendship for discussion. Her frankness touched my heart and in turn, i revealed to her, my fears and worries. It helped and we remain the best of friends until today.

The same goes with my few other best friends. we were separated by geography but in our hearts, we are still close.

How I wish it could be the same with lovers. My move to Alor Star in Nov 2001 forced me to be away from the love of my life at the time. we've been together almost a year and I thought our relationship was strong to endure the distance.

I was wrong. by early 2002, he was already seeing other women behind my back while outrightly lying to me about it. It took a best friend to tell me the home truth sometime in Oct that year and it must have been harder for her than it was for me. nobody liked the bearer of good news but i loved her more for it. the news hit me hard. i've had inklings and suspicions but to have it confirmed was terrible. for a moment, the world stopped turning for me and i thought i was dying. how funny to look back at that moment now and not feel a thing. yet, back then, i thought my world had fallen apart.

I try to be rational about the whole thing as I know the breakup was not due to the distance but him. I was the only one committed to the relationship while he was just there for the fun of it while waiting for something better to come along.

But deep down inside, i still fear saying goodbyes to lovers. I fear a repeat of that sad experience. They will move away, find someone new, keep me holding on until I found out the truth and suffer a broken heart.

Yet, i am forced to face another goodbye from a 'beloved one'. I like him a lot for he is intelligent, funny and kind in his way. He is moving away soon and though it is not that far, i still feel the panic building up inside me. oh no, not again, please.

My rational side feels that departure is for my best as the relationship will not lead to anything or anywhere. Best we part now while we are still friends. and we can still meet up though not as often as we are now.

yet the foolish silly romantic part of me, the part that hates changes of any kind, wants the impossible, the unattainable, the unacceptable. Stupid, stupid, stupid to wish for the moon, i tell myself. too many odds against us.

yes, we'll meet but it wont be the same. I'll be different, he'll be different. it's like history repeating itself. we are moving on two separate paths and i tell myself that it is better this way while my heart is still my own.

how will it turn out? i don't know but i am praying that i will come out alright from this. One thing for sure, I never want to be hurt like i was with my former lover. I am optimistic about the future and it will only hold happiness, laughter and enjoyment for me.
i don't want to cry and when i do, it will only be tears of happiness.

so, whatever happens after this, it is for the best for me. I've been tested and i know i can take whatever life throws at me.

Still, I hate goodbyes!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

health is wealth!

I've been well and i've been sick, and the former is better than the latter. However, i should consider myself lucky that i've not been struck with any terminal diseases and i hope i never will as it will seriously dampen my fervent hope of being healthy and well until my old age where i will die peacefully and quietly in my bed, surrounded by loved ones.

Yet, every cloud has a silver lining and being sick has taught me a lot about appreciating my health and not taking it for granted. This is the only body I will have and I have to take care of it if I want to live healthy and hale into my old age.

unfortunately, i wasn't that careful in my youth. I was not fond of sports and i started drinking carbonated drinks from the age of 13 and ate a lot, which resulted in me turning plump and in turn, made me shy and apprehensive about my appearance. see the vicous circle? I made my teenage years hell..of course there were other factors but i don't want to go into that now.

I was given a second chance when i entered ITM in shah alam back in dec 1986. during the two weeks of the induction course, we were made to walk up and down the many hills in the campus, climb up the itm tower to get to our school at the 13th floor and i lost a lot of weight. from a plump 60kg to 48kg, i think. i didn't even realise it until i went home to my sister's place in cheras. She was so shocked when she saw this thin spindly girl in my baju kurung, she cried out "oh god, what have they done to you?" and cried.

come to think of it, i think it was the sight of me wearing baju kurung that shocked her and me being thin was just an afterthought! still i cant complain for she was forever trying to fed me up with good food for years later..

I think I should consider myself lucky that i was rarely sick but the downside of it is that when i get sick, i really get sick. Like the time I got not just one but two mumps when i just started my upper sixth form. i couldnt eat anything and at that time, i didn't know about painkillers so i had to endure the pain. the nights were the worst and my sister had to pick that time to make all my favourite food like stir-fried kampung mushroom (ah..it was heavenly) and fried chicken.

Then there was the dengue in mid 1990's and that was the worst two weeks of my life. my body ached horribly that i felt like taking a knife, cut open my back, take out my skeleton and gave it a hard good shake. I was at home for the first night and the next, i was at a private hospital. I was as weak as a kitten.

The first week, I could not keep think of drinking anything without feeling nauseaus and yet i was severely dehydrated that i was on drip for days. my family was worried as it became a challenge to find me a drink that i could take. Imagine drinking coffee in the morning and disliking it at lunch that even the mere thought of it gave me the shudder. took me another two weeks to recover my strength.

and then, there was my back and continuous back aches which started in mid 90's. i think i've spent thousands of ringgit trying to get well but it comes and goes. at least, i am luck that the price of a good traditional massage in alor star is still cheap. in KL, it would cost me between RM50 and RM100 and that's not including the cost of taxi fare but here, i pay between RM15 and RM20 and i can decide whether to have it at home or go to a friend's home where her Indonesian maid can give me a massage lasting between one to two hours.

now i try to go for regular massage so it used to cost several hundreds of ringgit a month. of course, there are expensive places here which charges KL rates but i don't go to them anymore.

And when it comes to massage, I think i am a semi expert. the best is the traditional malay or Indonesian massage. go for it if you want to get really well for the masseurs will knead your flesh to get to the veins. all the knots and aches will be ironed out.

reiki massage is next on my list as it uses inner energy and you'll feel well rested and at peace at the end of the session. alas, i can only get it in KL. another good method is food reflexology but be prepared to endure a lot of pain unless you are really damm well healthy.

as for the thai massage at the border town of dannok near bukit kayu hitam, much has been talked about it and my take is ..all hype but not value for money unless you are a guy and wanna have fun in between the sheets. try to get the really traditional thai massage but they are hard to find as majority of the masseurs there are really looking to make extra money off the men. so if you are a woman, they wont really bother unless you promised big tips.

now i've tried shiatsu and indian traditional massage. my verdict..too soft, too gentle that it did nothing to soothe my aching body. it touched only the surface while my body is too tough..

now all my rambling is actually leading to something and that is, take care of our health.