Out

It’s April and I’m out of work.

Or at least that’s how it seems right now as I was more or less dismissed with an “I’ll get back to you later, I’m working on something” response from the client.

My guess is nobody would want to pay a freelancer like me at this time since finances may be tightening and the prospects for future business income may seem pretty bleak at this point.

Ah well. It’s not the first time that I have been without work since I began this full time freelance venture. It’s just that I can’t recall when this last happened, or how long it lasted (usually not long).

Anyway, it’s not good to leave my writing muscles unflexed throughout this period of work inactivity, so I guess the best way to stay in shape (mentally, I mean, mostly) is to find outlets where I can continue to write in some form or another.

I’ve been contemplating starting a social media mini series. I haven’t completely decided what it will be about yet, but I’m thinking something with positive vibes or a theme of hope would be good since there is so much fear and rumour mongering and depressing news going around lately with Covid-19 still in circulation.

Another thing I’ve sort of halfheartedly done (because in the past I usually fail at it) is sign up for the April Camp Nano. I couldn’t decide what to write about there, so tentatively I’m designating it as a collection of short stories, which I will write at random. Unless of course, some sort of direction or theme emerges along the way.

Meanwhile, life at home carries on in its usual fashion.

Today is just slightly out of the norm only in the sense that both hubs and I are already awake at 6+ in the morning (it’s usually only me) and there is activity in the kitchen already. Oh, and the Eldest One was awake out of the blue too (but hopefully, drifting back to sleep soon).

A grocery run may be imminent, and I do not look forward to finding out what is left or what dire straits we may actually be in soon. Sigh.

I’ve told myself I should write something here other than always journalling about real life. But I can’t seem to grasp any useful topic at the moment. I shall try next round, my dear Reader.

May your day today be brighter than the former, and may rays of hope shine amidst the darkness of your little corner.

Glimmer

Grey
Monotonous melodies
Permeating tepid atmospheres
Of meaning and mistakes
Big breaks, gargantuan falls
Grace, soft and tender
Lining clouds of thunderous tempest
Unheard, unseen
Angels aplenty
Unsteady, hoping
For better things
Brighter rays to illuminate faded portraits
Of perfection, perplexity
Animosity, confusion
Dissolution
Dilution of truth
If not for a tiny glimmer;
Undying truth
Amidst constant love
Faith to last
Emergent and extraordinary
Just faint reflections
Where, when, how yet unknown
Mysteries whisper
Eternal, unchanging realities
Enough to light skies ominous
Reach into hearts of stone
Just when you thought it’s an end of itself —
Hope reaches in
And breathes life once again.

*Dedicated to all who wait in hope and those who’ve lost the plot, but not the faith.

Terrified

If what most people say is to be believed, you’d think that the worse thing about parenthood is that you lose your freedom, your sense of individuality and your ability to sleep soundly without a care in the world.

But honestly, I think they are utterly wrong.

The most terrible part of parenting is really this: Constant feelings of guilt, inadequacy and worry.

Guilt because you almost always feel like you aren’t doing enough for your children. A regretful sentiment that convinces you that, time and again, you fail them in multiple ways that you cannot even recount yet cannot simply forget.

Inadequacy because you can’t shake off a nagging thought that perhaps you aren’t really suited for this virtually lifelong responsibility. Hence, you are perpetually messing things up.

And worry because you know your children are still vulnerable, and yet you can’t protect them enough from every single danger there is that lurks out there.

To top it all, the terrifying truth about all this is that there is no quick fix to dissolve all these tumultuous emotions for you. You have to live with them, and they inescapably change you.

But perhaps you can attempt to determine what kind of impact you will allow it to have on you. At the very least it’s something you can control.

The end looms far into the future, but you have today. And maybe, if you remained focussed on the right stuff, it just might be enough to get you through.

This ought to be your hope. It is certainly mine.

Worthy words

I remember the absurdity of the words once uttered to my husband and I when we were just on the brink of entering parenthood. I was eager to listen, hoping for a precious nugget of wisdom from these more experienced hands, but all I got was this:

Better go and watch as much movies as you like. Once the child is here, you won’t be able to do that for awhile.

And that was all.

I must say, I was rather disappointed. In hindsight, of course, I can understand why this person said what they had, but honestly, missing out on being at the cinema these past few years hasn’t really been that big a deal for me. I know for some it might be, and my husband is one of them, but it isn’t that important to me.

I wonder now what I would or should say to new parents. Would I have something useful to proffer or would it be something they would just brush off as trivial the way I did? What is worth saying?

I probably will have to rethink this many more times, but for now, this is what I can think of:

Congratulations on being brave enough to embark on this long term journey we know as parenthood. It is not without its challenges, but it also has an equally generous servings of joy and fulfillment. Sacrifices will be made. Things will be undoubtedly different. But you will find that mostly the good will outweigh the bad.

God will give you the grace to face each season that comes your way with this child. The world around you will confuse you with its endless streams of opinions and advice. Take what you need, ignore what is unnecessary. You have all it takes to parent your child. Only you know them best.

Let your home henceforth be filled with kindness:

Gentleness and patience to instruct and guide the little one;

Tolerance towards your spouse for all shortcomings, present and future;

And most importantly, forgiveness towards yourself, that on the days you are not proud of what you did in the heat of a moment, you can rest assured that a lifetime of love covers a multitude of mistakes.

Hope and the outcome: Post GE14 reaction

Image source: The Coverage

I am just an ordinary Malaysian, but I am certainly proud to be one at this particular point in history.

Just days ago, our entire nation went to the polls to determine who will govern our country for the next 5 years. It had been such a highly anticipated event that it feels so surreal that it is now all over.

I am not one to write about anything even remotely related to politics, but this election season was truly an emotional and exciting one. So I am not going to pass up a chance to pen down something about it, although this is more of a personal tale and nothing more.

To be honest, having grown up in Malaysia, I had kind of reached a point of disillusionment and cynicism about the ways things are in my homeland. In recent years, things have really gotten from bad to worse on so many fronts. To me, it felt like it had reached a point where it would only just continue to go downhill from here onwards.

Over the years, I saw so many people I know migrating overseas or at least attempting to do so. Not many are proud of the country nor do they see any sort of great future to be savoured by staying here. Government policies and incentives seem to favour luring Malaysians who were overseas back home to contribute to the economy. Nobody seemed to think of rewarding those who continued to stay here. To someone like me who had never left, it felt like we were being unappreciated.

Racial and religion based politics were everywhere. Although my own friends and family were never judgmental or prejudiced in their dealings with me, there was an overarching feeling of disunity that seemed to always linger in the background. Back when I was a child, it felt a whole lot more harmonious living in a multi-racial society, and it was something that we were brought up to be proud of, for the reason that it set us apart from other nations and made us diverse and adaptable as a world citizen. But the older I got as an adult, it seemed like the very foundations we had been taught as children was being undone.

Scandal after scandal was reported in the news, and it felt like the instances of corruption would never end. This not just being within government related transactions, but across all economic sectors too. So many stories, too many unhappy endings.

There was very little faith in the public education system , and most families who could afford it would rather send their children off to study in private institutions, particularly for higher education. I am among those who graduated from a private foreign university. It was insanely expensive, but my parents believed it would be better for me to study there than at a local university.

Public safety has been a growing concern, and the general perception these days is that our streets are not safe at all. You’re not safe in your car. You’re not safe outside of your car. Even when it was a reasonable distance that you could get to by walking, I’d discourage my loved ones from doing so because so much can happen while you are out on foot. We witness robberies and burglaries in the middle of the night. A neighbour of ours was once held at knife point just outside her house while I was at home next door, unaware. I recall a conversation I had with a complete stranger on a flight back to Malaysia. He was a foreigner and was surprised to hear that in Malaysia, it’s not safe to leave your bags on the front passenger seat of the car while you are driving (robbers would smash your window to grab your belongings when your vehicle is stationary at a traffic light).

Back in the days when I was a reporter, I also had to write several news features on very grim issues such as deaths in police custody, reform of the electoral process and urban poverty. It would have likely driven me to depression if it had continued long term (the publication I worked for at that time eventually closed down).

I recall a conversation I had with a senior colleague once, on the issue of gifts and bribery. Although I was never really in the line of fire (I never did newsdesk duty except on tech stories, which were mostly not as controversial or high profile as other kinds of breaking news), I was made to understand that it was such a commonplace practice and done very openly. Money would be slipped in as part of the press kit. People would often ask to vet through drafts of a story before it got published (for which I personally had several bad experiences with regards to). Impartiality was almost virtually impossible, especially in the mainstream media.

On matters closer to home, our household income is barely enough to get by every month, especially since we had a child and I quit full time employment. We are a middle income family, but yet we are not even able to have surplus to set aside for savings. The outlook for future household expenditure did not look like it would get any better in the future.

Being a Christian also, things also felt rather bleak because Christians were often the target of divisive arguments and political agenda. We are taught as believers to expect persecution in the world because of our faith, but there are days that it felt really unfair and sad to see other fellow Christians targeted for no good reason.

These are just some of the issues I had faced as a Malaysian in recent times. And the sentiments they brought about stayed with me as I braced myself to cast my vote in our country’s 14th General Elections.

In fact, just thinking of polling day itself brought anxieties of its own. So much precautionary information was being circulated online. It was helpful, of course, but it was worrying nonetheless. We were told time and again that certain parties would be up to dirty tricks, hence we had to be careful about the way events unfolded as we cast our votes.

Make sure certain polling clerks don’t have writing instruments and voice it out if they do and are seen writing things down. Pay attention to your ballot papers. Do they have smudges, marks that shouldn’t be there? Is there a stamp at the corner of the paper? Ensure that the candidate names and parties are correct. Do everything you can so yours will not become a spoiled vote. There are cheaters out there.

As my husband aptly pointed out on that day, these are not things we should have to worry about as voters. But in Malaysia, it is of concern.

So I went to vote on 9th May feeling extremely sombre and devoid of all hope. I didn’t really believe what I did would make a difference. I dared not dream of change or anything promising coming out of the elections. To be honest, I felt defeated. Like it didn’t matter what we did, because it would not alter the outcome.

But somehow, between the time that I had dropped my ballot papers into their respective boxes and the moment the final results were announced, I got caught up in the excitement of the moment and the promising turn of events that followed one after another.

It was breathtaking and nothing short of a miracle. It was hilarious and strangely comforting too, seeing the Prime Minister we grew up with back at the helm. And satisfying to have that glimmer of hope again, that chance that justice will finally be served and past wrongs might actually be made right at last.

I am glad I stayed in Malaysia and grateful that I could witness this momentous occasion that will certainly be a highlight in the history books that are to be written about our beloved nation. I am also thankful for all our local warriors, who in one arena or another paved the way for the change we experienced in GE14.

Life hasn’t always been kind to us over here. But there is hope. As I once used to profess, while we live, there is yet hope.

I look forward to a better Malaysia moving forward.