A Writer’s Journey – A Coincidental Meeting

Days before I went to the book festival, I decided to visit the local library at UTC Johor. I had admin work to do there and just decided to check out the library scene here. Back in Singapore I loved the library and would go literally every evening just to look at the books. If I knew I didn’t have time to read them I would still at least just want to look at the books. Or sit in between them. Some kind of a disease I have or something I’m not sure. Now with no libraries nearby me, I just go to bookstores to just look at books. When I think I can buy them, I’ll buy them. Otherwise just looking at books sends me some sort of a blissful feeling. There are books on my computer table. There are books on my side table. Books on my dressing table. Books in my bag. I used to have books in my toilet too. I just prefer my company to be books.

The library at UTC didn’t give me a sense of awe libraries in Singapore did. But comparing them would be comparing two separate governments. I guess the Malaysian government thought less of libraries than Singapore did, but oh well! I let my fingers run through the spine of the rarely-opened books, as if telling them, “Hey, mommy’s here,”. The books there were not bad, but I didn’t know where to start. The sailing of my fingers through the bookshelves stopped when I saw the name “MATLUTFI” on the cover. I opened it, read a couple of pages, and put it back. Nah, not for me. I can’t relate to these types of chatterings.

However, the book nearby Matlutfi’s caught my eye. Her name was Gina Yap Lai Yoong.Continue reading

My Advice To Young People

Ha, ha ha, ha, ha, at the title.

I don’t believe in giving advice. I believe in anecdotes, though, to tell you a story about what happened to me when I was in a similar situation. Some might link that to advice, but to me I’m just sharing a story. It’s up to you how you want to take it.

But if there’s any “advice” I would give to “young” people, I do have one. It’s more of an encouragement than it is an advice, actually. And I shall begin with a story.

When I was 17, done with my secondary school, completely on my own, I was sent to a¬†hill in California to learn about spirituality. I do know that I come from a line of mystics and spiritual people, but you know these kinds of things aren’t inherited by blood. Spiritual conscience is something you have to wake yourself up to do. I can’t rely on my dead ancestors to help me.Continue reading

Please Breathe

This post was originally from my Facebook post, written on the bus on the way back home from Kuala Lumpur. I was there for my first Pesta Buku Antarabangsa (International Book Festival) as a writer with my own book. I haven’t written about that experience, maybe I should for documentation, but here’s a bit of it:

The second person in my life to get my book was a guy I had a teeny bit of crush on. I fall in love with everybody I meet, so it’s no big deal. I’m writing this because I wrote about the first and the third, and I guess seconds deserve a write-up about too. The first person had browsed my book and the third person came for me, but this second person had a face I couldn’t read when we saw each other’s face in the sea of strangers. I immediately guessed he had his guard up 100%, perhaps afraid of something I might do or say. I know a couple of guys who act this way around me, actually. I try to return their coolness with my own reservations, but try as I may I am me with anyone. I can’t act cool because I just am not cool.

So I felt bad when the book he wanted was out of stock and what he got instead was my book. Continue reading

Choose Peace

This post was originally from my Facebook post, written immediately at Dunkin Donuts, Pondok Indah Mall 1. I may have edited bits from the original post for this blog post.

I had to go to Pondok Indah Mall and my Grab fare was IDR 35000. I shouted around the house for small change because all I had were the hundreds. The owner of the house said, “My money is in the ATM,” and asked his maid. His maid said she had just bought clothes (true, a postman just came and she paid Rp 350 000 to him). Nobody had small change. I hoped that my Grab driver would have money to give me in return and said waited for my ride.

Gosh, Jakarta housing areas are confusing.Continue reading

Everybody Deserves Love

One of the things I noticed about me lately is that I seem to be attracting ustazs. Attract as in will-you-be-my-wife kind of attraction. It’s not exactly a bad thing, but it makes me wonder as in why me. My clothes aren’t exactly modest and I’m not the kind of girl who quotes the Quran or posts about how every soul has a pair et cetera. I said no to all of them.

Recently while I was in Jakarta an ustaz had taken a particular liking for me too. The first thing he told me was would I respond to being called “Habibi” (which is my love in Arabic, and I said that’s not my name), and moved on to saying I have eyes like Siti Nurhaliza, and later at night serenaded me with guitar and all to the song Just The Way You Are. If you know me in real life I’m not someone who blushes or gets shy. I just told him “I know,” when he dramatically pointed at my direction when he sang “You are amazing just the way you are.”

My friends were making fun of the situation and I saw it for myself how he would approach me to say something and then walk away without saying a thing. I shook my head and found faults with him: what a coward,Continue reading

My Aurat Kaki

A couple of times on my Facebook posts, out of humour, I had written about the things that happened to me when I don’t wear socks out. Once I kicked a small stone and didn’t even realise it until I went home and found my toe bleeding and I couldn’t sit for prayers comfortably for a week. Another time I came home with feet rash. I took it as a sign from the Divine, a gentle shake, a subtle reminder that my feet is part of aurat and I’m supposed to cover it. Aurat is modesty, parts of my body I’m supposed to cover. Well, that’s the basic meaning of aurat. It goes beyond than that but I’m not going to talk about it this time.

So I’ve made myself clear: I have to wear socks out or else something would happen to me or my feet. A few days ago I was like “Oh what the heck!” again, forgetting everything’s that happened to me, and I wore slippers out. Twice in a week. First it was just for dinner at a neighbourhood place for an hour. The second time was just for the 30 minutes drive before I changed into my socks and sandals. You know what dinner means, right? Evening. About 6ish PM. You know what driving means? It means nobody sees my feet.

I came home and noticed a horrifying difference in my feet.Continue reading

Hijab Brand Name Fever

BRAND NAMES, do I really need them?

I filmed this video over two weeks ago when the Naelofar new Yasmine Bawal came out and I immediately jumped to purchase two from her on the day of release itself. Hijab brand name fever, I think that’s what I have.

Most of the colours on the site were already sold out. They were released at 10 AM. I went to the site at 11.30 AM. Thinking they were never going to be restocked again (what an idiot), I bought whatever’s that’s left. That night Neelofa herself announced that they were going to restock the colours. I facepalmed and emuailed to ask if I could change my colour choices, to which they replied that they’ve already made the delivery. OH WELL.Continue reading