A mother’s last responsibility and her lifelong dream

It’s never easy to talk about this but my mother makes me face reality every single day anyway. There is no way for me to escape reality because she is always there to remind me. I don’t mind it all that much when it’s true. Most of the time, she’s got a point and her points are always sharp.

Let’s face it. Everyone who knows me knows that I am the only daughter of the family. I am also the youngest child. What do you think the parents’ last responsibility towards a daughter would be? It shouldn’t be that hard to guess, should it? Of course it would be to see that their daughter is happily married to a good man. The ceremony and the reception (or just the kenduri) is also the responsibility of the parents. Why do you think their names are listed as the host and hostess in the invitation card? Sheesh.

Now. My mother has a dream. A lifelong dream of seeing a properly planned wedding of her daughter. This, she told me ever since I was young – ever since I had no intention of marrying anyone (obviously before my fiance found the key to my heart, lol). She is the type of person who likes to plan early. She likes to plan meticulously, as do I. We aren’t perfectionists. We just like to see everything go as smoothly as it can. That’s not a bad trait, right?

She did not get to plan my brothers’ weddings, nope. That was not her responsibility, obviously (duh!). She planned the majlis bertandang or majlis sambut menantu or simply the groom’s reception, which by our norm here (at that time) is normal if it’s just held in a simpler manner. Just a doa selamat would suffice. Well, that was over five years ago, though. I suppose things have changed.

Back to the topic at hand. SO, my mom has a lifelong dream of seeing my wedding reception held at our house, obviously with her daughter and her son-in-law all dolled up beautifully, with pretty deco around us and good food that cost no greater than what we can afford. My parents remind me all the time that the reception is THEIR responsibility, so it will be THEIR money. What I can do is help out as much as I can and provide monetary support only when it’s appropriate. It sounds weird but that’s my parents for you. When it’s their job, it’s their job. I offer my help all the time, of course, because I like to plan too. Buying new furnitures, house improvements, you name it. Sometimes, they approve. Sometimes, they say “don’t, we’ll do that later. Keep your money”. Most of the time, they tell me:

Just let us carry out our last responsibility in peace.

It makes me smile a bitter smile all the time. Always. It makes me happy. It makes me sad. It’s a reminder that we’re all getting older. It’s a reminder that I am no longer a child. At the same time, it’s also a reminder that they acknowledge me as a full-fledge adult now. I thank her for that.

Dear Allah, please bless my parents with health, longevity and happiness. They’ve brought me up as a responsible human being who can now contribute to society. They built comfortable home for their children to grow up in. They provided me with all the necessities I need while growing up and more. Please let my mother carry out her last responsibility and realise her lifelong dream in peace too.

Amin ya rabbal alamin.

Everyone’s mother is different but I would like to believe that every mother loves her children. Every mother is willing to make sacrifices for her children without asking the children to make sacrifices for them first. My mother, I believe, is also like that and I hope I can become like that too one day if I’m blessed with children.

This Eid al-Adha, I also think of my parents’ sacrifices among all others. Happy Eid al-Adha everyone. May Allah’s blessings be with us always 🙂

p.s/ I’ve stopped counting my tears because with every count, my heart aches.

A Race for Time Management and Financial Planning

Aunt’s House @ Bachok. Sending off my cousin to UiTM Chendering.

Good time management and financial planning is essential for when you have big events coming up in your life. You can’t do with just one because financial planning alone is not enough and vice versa. When you plan your money, you plan your time as well. It’s almost the same as making investments with banks. You choose a certain period of time, you keep your money there and reap the benefits.

People who have never been to Kelantan may say all the bad things they’ve heard about this state – dirty, poor, etc etc but there has been much development around since the past few years. I could barely recognise my own place anymore after spending much time someplace else. New highways, new flyovers, new buildings, new towns, high-rise condos, shopping malls and many others keep sprouting one after another that the GPS data needs to be updated all the time.

This state is chock full of people. During school holidays, traffic defeats those of big cities. Driving from Federal Highway into Bangsar after office hours is more bearable than driving into Pasir Mas from my house on a normal weekday during school holidays. This is why it is very important to plan things ahead of time. If you’re slow, you lose out on so many good deals.

The Race Against Time: Since Kelantanese return to their hometown during long holidays, tourists need to book accommodations way ahead of time if they plan to visit the state for shopping at Rantau Panjang, Wakaf Che Yeh or even Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah. If you’re coming here for big events such as weddings, you will have to book at least one month before your projected day of arrival. I am currently facing this problem of finding accommodation for visiting relatives. We made a big mistake of not forming a solid plan until a little over two weeks before the date of the event. I called at least 10 guest houses and got the same response over and over: “Fully booked from 28 May to 8 June, sorry.” I drove along the Salor-KB highway into Jalan Pintu Geng until Wakaf Che Yeh to look for decent accommodation open for booking. Tune Hotel next to KB Mall is nice, but the rooms are very small :/ In the end, I chose a fairly new inn around Wakaf Che Yeh. The rooms and beds were okay when I looked, so yeah. Before booking, I asked two nearby inns and found them to be fully booked as well. See how busy this state is?

If you’re planning to get married or engaged in this state, you also have to be VERY quick with your bookings. Bridal boutiques and bakeries are fully booked everywhere. For weddings, it is essential to book AT LEAST FOUR MONTHS BEFORE the big day. Note the ‘at least’ in capital letters. If you try to make bookings around 3 to 2 months before your chosen date, the shop owner would give you a look that says ‘are you kidding?’ -_-”

Finance is the Key: It is most crucial to plan your money. The price of everything seems to move with time. Well, same rules as the peak and off seasons for accommodation apply. Financial planning for the big day must involve two parties. It’s a two-way communication. One way communication just doesn’t work no matter what people say. At my age, I have to draft a solid money and spending chart every month to determine how much I could save and how much I must spend to survive the month (pay bills, car instalment, credit card debt repayment, essentials…). This year and next year will be different, I hope. After confirmation, I’d be around RM430 richer than this year. I just have to make sure my confirmation goes smoothly 😀

Saving money towards a certain goal is recommended, right? Same goes to saving for the big day. I don’t know about other people but I’m the type who don’t want to trouble my future husband much. I won’t force my spouse to give me an additional RM1,000 just because we’re married and just because he must give me money for maintenance (nafkah). I won’t be an unemployed housewife, so I could at least help out where necessary. I believe that finance is not the sole responsibility of only the husband – the understanding wife must also play a part ^_^

If there are people who claim that I am too young to tie the knot at this age, I want them to ask themselves; “How old were your parents when they had their first child?” This whole process used to be so simple. I have no idea who came around and made things complicated in our current society :/

Until later. Lots of work to finish still.

In which I may be the only one who cares

Warning: If you’re (a) Someone whose site is laden with google ads or whatever other type of sponsorships, (b) someone whose online presence is only (read that again: ONLY) for business and making money, (c) someone who obsesses over SEO, pagerank and all the publicity-related stuff, and/or (c) work for webhosting/SEO companies or similar sites, then please do skip this entry. Well, not that anyone reads my rambling. I just feel the need to put a warning there first.

Writing For People vs Writing For Oneself

People are hard to please. When you write for an audience, you lose your freedom of speech. What started out as ‘I write because I like this topic’ becomes ‘I write this because many people like it’. It’s horrible. It’s like you’re doing a 3000-word assignment and hoping to get A+, but in the end managing to scrap only a B+ at most (Oh my, why am I comparing this to assignments? I really need to get mine done ASAP.)

My biggest pet peeve when it comes to writing: People who literally begs for comments and reviews.

Let’s take good ol’ dumpster Fanfiction.Net. You find people begging for reviews everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Worse still, there are noobs who write comments like ‘I won’t update the story/add a new chapter until I get at least [insert number here] reviews, so READ AND REVIEW PEEPS. Kthnxbai!’. Seriously, what the effing hell is wrong with those people? That’s even worse than begging. Ordering readers you don’t even know to review your story, especially when you’re new and still struggling with grammar building readership, is a big no no. Ugh.

Right. I’m rambling. My point is that when we write for the purpose of meeting someone else’s expectations, our tone of writing is noticeably different.

The Web Hosting Scene

Why can’t we have subdomain hosting that rocks on the English speaking side of the world too? I don’t need more domain name. I want something nice and cool and isn’t long like thisismydomainlolz.TLD

I’m kind of dismayed that we don’t have services like the ones offered by Japanese companies like Lolipop, Chicappa (and all other services under GMO), Stepserver, Sakura Internet and some other hosts. They provide pretty list of domain names to choose from for your subdomain. It’s paid service, I know that. I also know that many people frown at having to pay for a subdomain hosting. Random reader who accidentally stumble upon this entry might think I’m crazy, huh.

Yes, we have many free hosting services. You can have subdomains if you don’t have a domain name but your host would have lame names that don’t mean anything to you. I wouldn’t want my site to be hosted on a subdomain with the word ‘host’ in it. It’s just so uncool. So not unique. If there’s a company offering paid subdomain hosting with great support, with choices of domain names that actually have wonderful meanings, I’d be glad to pay. What we have over here is domain name squatting. I fucking hate that lame ass strategy of buying domain names and keeping it, looking to sell it for 1 million bucks (excuse the exaggeration, please). At least develop the damn domain OR design a better looking ‘parking lot’ for the ‘oh so beautiful’ domain names. The closest I could find is the cute free hosting at Bubble.Nu. Some pretty awesome domain names available there.

The practice of holding back expired domains for years and years and years is another infuriating thing. After estdomains went poof, and the registrar of one of my domain names disappeared along with it, keeping me from renewing the domain (That guy I was dealing with was Malaysian!), I’ve been waiting for that domain name to be released. But nooooo, it just had to be kept. Fuckers.

Okay. Signing off now before I get more too aggressive offensive.

Of English, Math and Science: A Student’s Perspective

Blooms

- Winter in Full Bloom a.k.a Spring is Coming -

The picture has nothing to do with the post; it’s just my habit of posting pictures I took. So… Disregarding the fact that I’m a teacher trainee, I was a student taking SPM five years ago and I am still a student today. I’m simply sick and tired of random speculations and whatnot regarding the Malaysian government’s decision of reverting back to using Bahasa Malaysia in the teaching of Mathematics and Science. As a student, I don’t favour this change mainly because of the implementation.

Even if this change is inevitable, I think it is a lot better to take it slow. If it’s 2012, then make it so only Year 1 students of primary schools (or whatever year they start learning Science in full force) learn Mathematics and Science (MT) in English. Let them be the pioneers of the change. Why bother confusing the students who have studied MS in English for six years in primary schools so soon as they enter secondary schools? Let them study MS in English as they had for the past six years all the way to the university. I talked about this with my Mom (a retired English teacher) on the phone and she said, ‘Nah, they won’t feel the heat much. You know how in our place they don’t even teach Science, Maths and even English language in full English.

Guess what I think about this MS in English thingie? It’s somewhat of a non-issue in various places in the country, mostly the less developed parts where you often get remarks like ‘Berlagak la kau!’ or ‘Macam bagus je cakap orang putih. Tui’. Ironically, strong protests usually come from the same area. Before you go throwing bricks and attempt to kill me for calling it a non-issue, I’ll just share with you the outcome of my observations. I’ve been to a few schools (in Malaysia, including the short school-based experience in my first year), stopping by to observe how classes are taught. My observations were of course done discreetly.

Outcome of Observation: Most of the classes I’ve observed were bilingual in nature, meaning that the teachers and students used both English and BM.

It’s rare to see MS classes being taught in full English. Heck, even the standalone English subject isn’t taught fully in English. If you’ve been trained as a teacher, surely you remember the teaching approaches? I’m not exactly an A student, but I can refresh your memory if you’ve forgotten. So what are the principles of second language learning?

  1. Grammar-Translation Approach
  2. Direct Approach
  3. Reading Approach
  4. Audiolingual Method
  5. Community Language Learning
  6. The Silent Way
  7. Communicative Approach–Functional-Notional
  8. Total Physical Response

Look at the first approach on the list. When I learned about this, I immediately thought, ‘that kind of sums up the teaching of English in whatever subject I’ve learnt’. Maybe it produces minimal and slow effects, but it’s still the best way to deal with students who lack the commands (and vocabularies) of English.

In a way, teaching English in Malaysia couldn’t be worse than teaching English to second language learners (ESOL students) in native English countries. Take New Zealand for example. The English teacher in the classroom does not share the same mother tongue as his/her students who might be native speakers of Thai, Japanese, Chinese or Korean. Grammar-Translation is absolutely out in this case, so he/she must find other approaches to teach English effectively to ESOL students. Taxing, no?

People keep saying ‘few teachers are competent in English to teach the subject in that language’, but I call that opinion a total bullcrap. Teachers are not perfect, and so they seek to get better and better most of the time. With time and practice, teachers improve for the better.

I’m talking about teachers whose souls are into teaching the minds of the young here. I’m not talking about people who chose teaching as a profession because they couldn’t get anything better, or because it guarantees them a job. In plain Malay, ‘Habis dah tak ada pilihan, nak buat macam mana lagi?‘ or ‘Aku jadi cikgu ni sampai habis kontrak je. Lepas tu aku blah la‘ or even ‘Jadi cikgu la best. Banyak cuti‘ and so on so forth. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but if you’re offended, I’m not sorry. It’s just that to find a truly dedicated teacher is a bit of a task. The word ‘dedicated’ is not simply an English adjective for ‘berdedikasi’. Oh wait, wasn’t ‘dedikasi’ derived from English as well? What happened to the glorious term ‘berhemah’? In use in frozen documents, mostly.

Now back to the point I was making. It says something about our educators if teachers aren’t competent in English. They are in no way not competent. That’s like saying they don’t know how to use English in basic conversation. Some of them only lack the command of English. LACK is the proper word to use here. I wonder though… I always thought you learn those critical subjects mostly in English in universities (now where are my brother’s old notes, hm?). Defensive, am I not? It’s my thoughts and it’s my profession in about less than two years, so suck it up 😛

To those who protest or rejoice, or whatever, I hope you have at least attempted to read the curriculum specifications and the syllabi of English, Mathematics and Science before actually stating your claims. A little bit more research on how the subjects are actually taught and learnt would help your debate points. Trust me.

This post may or may not have a second part. Chances are… there will be a second part as I’m still inspired.

p.s/ Bahasa Inggeris tak boleh, tapi bahasa pinjaman yang makin berlambak (dan agak merepek, juga tak sedap mulut menyebut) tu boleh lah pula ya? Ironi, ironi.
p.p.s/ Oh my, what a long entry. I refuse to put it under ‘read more’ tag, though XD

Because I Can’t Not Categorise Love

oveachance

Or it could be that I think too much. Lately, my mother has been pestering me about the matters of love to no ends. Always reminding me that Allah created us to love and be loved. Always reminding me that I need someone in my life other than immediate family – to love. Always reminding me that I can’t survive on her love alone forever. Always reminding me that I need to learn to love, and to learn to accept love.

I may be able to learn to love, but I honestly think it would be hard for me to learn to accept love. I’m the type who thinks too much at times, and doesn’t want to think sometimes. I wish I could be as outgoing and joyful as some of my friends. I tried. I failed. It’s not about confidence or even the classic “I’m overweight and not pretty and a geek and cannot mix well with people” either. No. I don’t care about that. I’m not pressured either. Heck, what do you think? My beloved best friend is underweight and fair and pretty and cute (I hope she’s not reading this) and of mixed blood (not that I’m not one myself, but still) and more, you’d think I’d be feeling so low just to stand by her if I shoot myself down based on looks.

Based on the paragraph above, you can see how I think too much even when I only meant to say ‘I don’t care much’. You get the picture. That’s the kind of person I am. I describe things to much. Think about them too much. When it comes to emotional matters, it only gets worse.

For me, love comes in types. I categorise people in my live into different love types. There you go. It’s because I categorise people that I’m this way. I hate crowds. I prefer doing tasks on my own, so I’m worried about myself because my profession clearly states me to be more social. When Mom tells me to ‘try accepting xxx feelings’, I told her that I’d feel weird that way. It’s like trying to allow someone into my small circle of love. My brain has this weird schema where I put myself at the center of a circle, surrounded by layers much similar to our earth itself. The innermost layers are my family, and then my best friends, and then my friends. Where in that layer would,say, a boyfriend fit into? It’s like trying to destroy an established equilibrium. Now let’s look at my types of love:

  1. Filial
    It’s the special kind of love I have for my parents. The way I feel about them cannot be compared, or even described. It’s the greatest kind of love you can have for another human being. That’s why I can never understand or comprehend people who tell their lovers “You’re the one I love most in the whole world”. That mentality alone disgusts me. Filial love cannot be replaced. Never. I was rebellious, I know I sometimes still am. Really. This love I have for them is the type that always instantly gets me into ‘guilty, suicidal mode’ when I defy them or think of defying them.
  2. Familial
    The love I feel for my brothers, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces. And probably my close extended family members as well, like my aunts and uncles and cousins. It’s almost like loyalty. No matter how much they annoy me, I can never come close to hating them. True, I could say “Dammit, I fucking hate you” to my brothers, but we all know I don’t mean it. My brothers are both hot headed. They were almost always at each others throat up until they grew into working adults and got married. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy sometimes, when they’d e-mail me or text me or just called me all the way from Malaysia just to see what I’m doing. Not that I’d ever tell them. My niece and nephews, though we seldom see each other, they have this cute attachment to me. Always calling me name and asking me stuff when we have the chance to see each other on Skype. Hmm.
  3. Platonic
    The love I feel for my best friends (and possibly, crushes). Close, intimate, affectionate – but never romantic. We tolerate all those jokes. We take less than an hour to get back on good terms when we offend each other. We care when one of us gets sick. We relate some things to each other when we go shopping, something like “Hey, this shirt will suit [insert name here] really well!” or “Doesn’t that remind you of [name here]? That’s so her/his style!” It’s the same as familial – just that we’re not related by blood. I can name a few, like Mira, Hanin, Khairiyyah, Keith… yes, yes, you guys are my light. And a few others. Even this one guy
  4. Romantic
    The kind of love I think people feel towards their boyfriends/ girlfriends/ spouses. This is in a different teritory all together. I’ve never sit in this zone. I’ve never felt like wanting to build a warm, loving family with someone. Truthfully, I am scared of this type of love. Romantic love, to me, have its branches. I’m afraid of possessive love the most – the one where you have an unhealthy feeling of wanting someone only for yourself and vice versa. There’s just a lot of things about romantic love that I’m scared of. I… can’t help it.
  5. Respect
    The kind of love I feel for friends, and sometimes, some guys I had a crush on. Respect is a lot like love, and maybe even loyalty too. I don’t take sides. If friend A and friend B are at each other’s throats, I don’t take sides. If they should choose me as someone to confide in, I’ll listen to both sides of the story and keep what I know to myself. I respect them that way. I’ll feel concerned if something happens to any of them. I don’t pry more than I’m allowed to know. I just try to be a good friend. I may not answer their texts sometimes, but that’s mainly because I have no credit left to reply with. Sad, I know…

Categorising people are bad, my Mom said. But I don’t categorise people per se. She misunderstood me. I just categorise love. And she said she couldn’t understand my types of love. I thought I was being clear enough. Frank enough. Apparently, she didn’t think so. She still doesn’t think so.

She insists that normal people are born to feel love. Normal people are born to love. It’s natural to feel love and to be loved. But what I would like to say is: It is also common to not be born normal.

Guh. All these are hurting my braincells. I still need to finish my travel logs. I’ll probably backdate them anyway.