Tuesday, 4 November 2014

where heaven is a state of mind

when i was younger, i never really understood why heaven was described the way it was, or why people would want to strive to be in it. judaism paints a picture of lush, green expanses, with flowing waters and streams of honey and ambrosia. those familiar with renaissance paintings will have a good idea of what the descriptions are like. similarly, the christians have a timely portrayal of clouds and angels, harps and cherubs, and your obligatory God the Father, alongside Jesus, shepherding the people into a life of ease and prosperity. The muslims, have a similar depiction, though, that of grand and expansive castles, made of gold and jewels, which coincidentally house not only the persons themselves, but also their families and friends (?), who also have palaces of their own, in which prayers are held and merriment is had. oh, and let's not forget to toss into all the abrahamic interpretations a handful of beautiful (virgin) maidens (though i want to assume for the female counterparts, there will be lustful and glistening men of bronze, ivory or whatever it is flavour that catches your eye); perhaps more riches like mountains of gold and foods that will make connoisseur seem lacking and tasteless. (this is my favourite ice cream. recognise).

of course, the more practical or etymological amongst us will be quick to argue that these depictions are catered for the times and people they are preached to - and this makes a lot of sense to me. but for religions that should transcend time and place, age and bearings, i find it hard to fathom that a heaven or any semblance thereof can be so limited to those descriptions.

i believe that, the essence of heaven is that of an idyllic or utopian place. people. things and ideas. a perfect everything. and this is something that boggles me the most - is this a unified utopia, for each and all, to be made such that everyone can lounge and languish in the perfection that is God's ultimate reward (and arguably, test, as well). or is it catered to the individual? can there be a heaven of gourmet foods and tasteful wines, of extreme relaxation and pampered devotion, which accommodates for the hedonistic amongst us; but at the same time a heaven of culture and knowledge and exploration for the inquisitive? can there be one of merriment and company and inclusiveness for the socially apt, just as there would be one of solitude and peace for the introverted? do these have to be mutually exclusive?

the expanse of considerations are limitless, but the gist is that 'how defined is heaven, at least for the human mind?', and furthermore, 'how well does the translation and representation of heaven become for humanity?'. i cannot think that, if God, in his all encompassing powers, is able to create an infinity of idealisms (or ideals), he is not capable of creating them all at once and in the same existence. surely there must be a(n unfathomed yet) heaven that accommodates and speaks to all. and if not, just how well can there be cross compatibility between the different visions (or hopes) of heaven?

i do not think that religions (and we have not even discussed the alternatives outside abrahamic ones!) have yet portrayed sufficiently what haven is (to be). and i hope that there is such a thing, only that it is ill defined in holy scriptures with purpose of being enticing to the reader, but not exclusive to those with... different (deviant?) wants.

perhaps, if i hope for a heaven where all is not idyllic, i can be granted such? maybe, au contraire, i can hope for something like an easymode videogame, or a leisurely but intriguing book, or perhaps a mind blowing movie. the cruces of which are that they are all amazing, but different. or perhaps, i should just hope that there will be pegacorns and ninja zombies alongside death rays and time travel. i definitely would like that (as opposed to attending mass or jumaah or sermons, which are apparently all part of the utopian heavens). or perhaps God will have made me love for those things where i do not as yet.

oh, that's right, i didn't consider that i'd probably never set foot in any such heaven in the first place, huh? time to go pray or something.

Friday, 3 October 2014

things i’ve learned from microbiology (of life, loss and love)

retrospect imparts insight in the most interesting and unexpected ways. when i was younger, i had thought that individuals grow with a linear and expectant outlook - that with maturity, we would only learn from the current, and use it to predict, anticipate, and prepare for the future. of course, what is to be gained from the past is not so easily deciphered, and what we garner from our experiences is not so easily interpreted. in fact, it was only in my late teens that i came to realise that even a single experience can teach us many times, as we can easily find different interpretations, meanings, and importances, weighted differently as we age. however, this preface has little to do with my subject beyond that something i learned early on in an academic setting would prove to have an extended educational value in everyday life. it is, however, something i wish to say, nonetheless, because the revisiting of prior experiences has brought me to many new outlooks on life, and is something that implore upon the reader (if there is any one), though i would stop myself short of sounding preachy or derogatory; the rest is up to the reader.

in any case, i have learned a great deal from and about microbiology and infectious diseases. this particular lesson, i had forgotten since my introduction to basic pathology in my first year, and would only encounter it again in my final year of my masters course (and again during a recent conference, which is what prompted this post). i believe, though, that simple as the message is, it is an indispensable and generalisable truth whose importance cannot be further underrated and whose use should be made more practical. when you or i become infected with an infectious disease, we are quick to jump to the thought that “clearly there must be something causing the disease, and to get better, i should rid myself of it”. there is no flaw to this logic, and indeed, many, if not most, clinical treatments do centre around this mode of action. however, at least of academic value, are two other contributors to the development and progression of disease, which are the host itself, as well as the environment.

1. life

as we’ve established, the most obvious, and perhaps the most influential contributor to disease is the infective agent itself; one does not miraculously contract malaria without contracting the plasmodium parasite (note that plasmodium sp. is a protozoa, which may be unfamiliar to the reader, but this is besides the point, except for being an interesting observation), just as much as one does not come down with a fever without contracting a disease of any, non-specific sort (the more informed reader will now be quick to point out that not all infections cause pyrexia, just as not all pyrexiae are caused by infections. this is true, but again, not the point being made). the point that is that a foreign being is cause to the disease / symptoms, and the correlation between the two is a direct one. i’m sure i don’t need to point out to the reader more than she already knows that life is indeed a culmination of external factors causing influence upon herself - or more accurately, living life is the experiencing of these external factors. there is the argument that we are merely products of our experiences - a construct begotten from a series of domino-like events set in motion upon our birth into the world, and is little more than an automaton that is refractory or reflective. i do agree that this is part of the experiencing of life, but this cannot be the whole of it. quite recently, i have questioned my ‘success’ in life more than i usually do; i used to believe heavily in effort-reward, and that there is little more that determines our progress in life. but there must be something to be said about fate, or destiny, or qadha and qadar. though i cannot say that it is something so metaphysical that influences our outcomes in life, but perhaps there is merit in being humble enough to think that the vast majority of our successes aren’t ours to claim at all - my entry to a prestigious university or being awarded a competitive scholarship are perhaps a statement more about the stringencies (or lack thereof) from the awarding entities than they are about me. and perhaps the saving grace of such belief is that the antagonistic countenance of success also obeys the law. our failures are not purely our own, either.

2. loss

my grandfather passed away earlier this year. in the parallel i make, this is where i would say that the ‘environment’ plays a role in that, and is severely underestimated for doing so. in the infection analogy, putting an infective agent with a(n in)competent host does not cause disease progression in 100% of the cases. doctors, for example, who are in constant contact with patients with tuberculosis, do not all go on to have tb themselves. is it because the doctors are immunologically healthy, or that the mycobacterium is sufficiently weak to only infect a specific cohort (of the elderly, young, or already sick)? yes, to all and more of these. but often overlooked is that the environment may be conducive, or insufficiently so, for the doctors to contract the disease. was the aeration in the ward negatively pressured such that the infective agent could not find a suitable host? was air conditioning set too low for the establishment of an initial colony? were antibiotics used, reducing the chances of bacterial spreading disease (or too lavishly so, such that they developed a nasty immunity to common antibiotics, causing infection to be more severe)? the environmental potential is limitless, but because of that, perhaps, is why we overlook them, and do not try to treat from this angle even once considered.

but, regarding old grandpa, i do not know to what extent the environment can be blamed for his passing. i was not even here for the event, the funeral, or the subsequent mourning (which i, quite unfortunately, did not proceed to partake in during my absence for unknown reasons). would i to blame him for his death? perhaps not. were i to blame those who cared for him during the time leading up to it? definitely not, as i observed my own family take care of him better than i could hope to have myself taken care of in my twilight. but to blame circumstance, or conditions, or unassignable variables - perhaps the beauty or solace in such lies in the indispensable comfort of ambiguity. that knowing that the ‘environment’ was all-encompassing and ready enough to embrace fault (for it is a conglomerate of factors, enough to distribute the blame thinly as to not bear enough conscience upon a singular being), or that it is so diffuse as to become inanimate and impersonal. who knows? and i do not pretend to want to, definitely not beyond the ignorance that loss, and gain; beauty and bewitchingness; poignance and insanity; can all be explained in terms of self, and others. and that which cannot be reconciled? well, for that, there is the environment.

3. love

i am fond of the expression that ‘we all makes decisions, but as importantly, our decisions make us (who we are)’ (or something to that extent). to a large extent, we are not only products of how the environment has shaped us, how others have influenced us, but also how we have acted and reacted against everything external - and this is the counterweight, the balance, the yin and/or yang to the fatalist; and is not something for the lighthearted or the careless to succumb to. and perhaps, it is hardest to acknowledge that we are, though not masters of our fate, captains of our own vessels, generals of our own armies, and most importantly masterminds of our own demises. the same way that a large cohort of persons who come down with a disease are not because the disease is so virulent, but because they are more susceptible to disease (in general) than your average, healthy person; the immunocompromised, those with genetic predispositions, co-infected hosts, etc. and this is what i’ve learned of love:

sometimes, you could do all the right things, like wait for her in drenching rain,
and other times you’ll comfort her through times of unrelenting pain;
get her chocolates for her birthday, even when you’re out of cash,
let her scream (it’s not your fault) when she just needs a time to lash.
and when it comes time for romance, you’ll dance with her upon the beach,
at her wedding you might even stand, deliver a whole-hearted speech;
but most important isn’t the things you’ll do, i think you know of this by now,
it’s all the things you refrained from, especially when you don’t know how.

the apex of all you could give, perhaps is what she’ll never know,
that when it came for time to love, you reluctantly let her go.

so perhaps, as with all young men who think they know all there is to know about love, and just as well, think they could offer all that other men could not, it can be said that, yes, we are not only responsible for the things we do right, but also that which we do wrongly. though it is easy to blame another for our own shortcomings (and it is all too easy to justify that we’ve taken the righteous road, the best of decisions, the most amiable of assumptions), maybe what love taught me is that it’s not another’s fault if you cannot love they way you idealised (and, you are free to substitute the word ‘love’ for any other). it is not only expected upon you to own up to your mistakes, but more pertinently, to let the fault be your own, and move on, instead of trying to fix that which cannot be fixed, not only in the eyes of others, but inherently to yourself. such things are easier to say when one believes that there is an objective thing, such as love, waiting as an eventuality, but i cannot say that this is the lesson that i’ve come to appreciate thus far.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

thank you

i shalt not want for other things,
that were not destined for mine own;
like love and lost, of queens and kings,
and hope for sitting 'pon thine throne.

or perhaps to loft on spread wings,
with strength of sinew, blood and bone;
i could not want for other things,
how fair to reap what i've not sown?

Monday, 29 September 2014

things i wish i had been taught

i am now young as i am old,
so many things i should've been told;
that weren't taught by books on a shelf,
like how to laugh at one's own self.

with all the riches in the world,
of gold, and diamond, and of pearl;
that could not buy one lesson true,
that money won't live life for you.

through all the persons that i've met,
i wish i'd learned one thing as yet;
to see in others what is best.
and life will take care of the rest.

still, oh, so weary, do i grow,
for more pure things, i wish to know;
that is another - the crave - the yearn,
to always hope, and wish to learn.

but, most of all, i should've known, before i am from grace to fall,
"be happy with what we already have, that happiness may bless us all".

Sunday, 14 September 2014

every damn book

perhaps, the one thing that i am proud of when people stereotype me of is that i read. i may not read the most books in a year compared to those who are deservedly called bookworms, and i definitely do not write enough to pretend to call myself an author of books, myself; but, i do read every so often, and of varied enough material that i can happily call myself a reader, and perhaps even a somewhat-learned person.

i cannot say the same for many other things that warrant stereotyping - that of race or religion, of gender or predisposition, of political inclination or awareness (neither of which i have even the slightest inkling), and a hundred thousand other things. but definitely, mostly regarding the first couple of things that i’ve listed. in fact, i am ashamed to say that with regards to race and religion, i have found myself so far lacking that i am impeded and sometimes distraught because of them (and, of course, their stereotypes).

in any case, i read. for those who share a similar interest, or are sometimes forced to do so, i hope you can empathise with empathy. that when i read any book, it often times does not matter what themes and questions are raised by the author. instead, i find myself honing in, or at least accentuating themes that are pertinent or relevant to my current (ongoing) situation(s) in life. in fact, i can even emboss and embellish the themes beyond the writing of the book, which mayhap is the reason that i find solace and escape in living vicariously through works of fiction. and when i can relate, even in the slightest, to a character - well, this is where ink and paper become the lifeblood of not just those persons, but perhaps even myself.

of course, this all is very fanciful in writing, and has an alluring mystique fit for rogues and despondent lovers. but what tangible is come from all of it, and more importantly what can i relay to you, the reader here, regarding such superfluous endeavours?

i read 'the brothers karamazov' not too long ago. alyosha, or alexei is a protagonist that captures my empathy to no end, of which i choose not to elaborate, if only so that a loose coalescence of ideas may be formed of the abstract i wish to convey, by reading through the next few example characters i wish to mention. which brings me to another alexei, with whom i share the reticence and stoic-ness of love (where i have given it away, but to no reprecussion), yet cannot swear to have even a portion of whose nobility and honour - that who is so misunderstood (and beautifully so portrayed) in anna karenina.

of course, i have listed before a few others, such as the loveless for fermina daza, and the fulfilled of elizabeth bennet. but for today, a nearly-unnamed and perhaps unsung hero:

the chaplain from catch-22. now, i would implore that, if the reader is to read only one book for the entirety of this year, it should be catch-22. and if there should be one character that does not attract attention, but should be given more than is warranted, it should be the chaplain. for he, as i should want to see so much in myself, is guilty of all charges made against him, because the crimes are his. i feel, that if it is inappropriate to say, then at least i have said it in privacy, that this is particularly so of the uncharged faults that the chaplain is also guilty of pertaining to all his relationships - barring perhaps the one irony that does not serve my situation at all, his relationship with his wife. however, if anything can be learned from the chaplain's torment future of being guilty of all accusations not yet made against him, i should relinquish all responsibility, authority, and (un)fortunately all joy that can be made from such future things before they can come to pass - absolving me from all that could be made against me (and with this, wishfully, all that is worse than nail clippings in a box, though i can imagine no greater sin).

before the detritus that already is this paragraph unhinges into something slightly more than mindless dribble and aloof proclamations of love and lust, let us all take a moment to remember that all of this future sin could be avoided easily by remembering ones place. my place. because in any decent outfit, no chaplain can be a major, much less a colonel or general. and even those who aren't chaplains, they may (quickly rise to the ranks and) become someone, but never become more than; especially if the appearance of that person is so easily pigeonholed: of grotesque physique, or infidelity in faith, or laughable accent in speech, or a slouch of gait and posture. but, especially so, if the name is any indication or leader. a name of great import, of high esteem but low amiability, that of major major.

Monday, 1 September 2014

if only i had known

'do not grow up, it's but a trap!' i wish i had been told,
when i was young, while growing up, before i'd become old;
they'll laden you with chores and jobs, and dinners, stale and cold,
with adult responsibilities, and bills of the untold!

a hundred thousand and two score more of duties to be done,
then add about fifty-two more for each accomplished one;
while toiled away with worries including all under the sun,
and trying to convince yourself 'at least i'm having fun'.

'don't get a job, it's just a farce!' i wish they'd told me so,
while i was young, like bamboo shoots, while i had yet to grow;
what is it for? just money's sake? i've heard worse, i suppose,
a vital evil for a house, a car, and to propose.

and on that note, i wish they'd warned me, 'never fall in love!'
for what the heart has deigned for is from hell and high above;
that best you can do for the one is stop short of enough,
much like a fleeting, despondent, and skulking caged white dove.

but most of all, i wish that they'd told me just this one thing -
i wish they'd told me that we're all but mere and mortal beings;
'do not grow old, for with it comes all ailments, sickness, death,
and torments filled with dread regrets you'll hold with your last breath'.

not all is lost, however dreary made but all these naughts, there's hope yet still for all your children, brazen by the bunch:
'if all with growing is but fright, and sign of your demise, know that you're still an adult and can have ice cream for lunch'.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

where the heat is soothing

it's been a while (again) since the last post. however, it's been a bittersweet, and somewhat serendipitous few months, all of which has culminated in my return to my hometown. the grass never seemed greener, and there was never much homesickness; i never envied my colleagues who took root, and i don't think i would ever trade in the burgeoning wanderlust (this has now become a hashtag trend, which i somewhat despise :s ) that besets my heart. but, home is home. i am welcome and welcomed.

there's very little that i can write to surmise the past few months, if only because it's been such a whirlwind adventure (or at least set of experiences). i'm hoping i'll be able to pick blogging back up while i'm around, and perhaps get back into the swing of drawling into poetry when i can. perhaps, even write that great american novel that eludes all writers, if only due to complacency and laziness.

i'll ease myself in with a brief recount of the things that made the trip home particularly interesting;

children crying throughout a 6 hour flight. only god can judge them the same way only he can forgive their parents for bringing them unto the fight. i'm pretty sure that a few of these parents had conspired to find out when i would be boarding and go out of their ways to all be on the same flight. there is no other explanation for having at least 15 children bawling in a choir of despair and hope belligerence. if their voices could have powered the aircraft, i'm sure that we'd have reached our destination in slightly less than an hour.

the combination of a passenger in front of me (who was the father of one of the said perpetually crying-babies) who decided that it was his religious duty to extend his seat as far back as possible (even before take-off, much to my irk, as well as the stewardess who would calmly explain that the seats are to be in their upright positions for take-off and landing - which had little to no effect, anyway), and the passenger behind me who must have thighs the length of a small elephant's trunk, because for some reason, his ability to prod me with his knees were borderline uncanny. i suppose that i should be thankful that about halfway through the flight, he decided to give in to the urge to retract his legs and leave them to their own natural resting state (lodged somewhere between my lower thoracic vertebrae). once my body began to take it as normal, i could pretty much just ignore the persistent invasion. kind of.

the chinese woman sitting next to mr. long-legs, behind me, who, i can only assume, has a megaphone dislodged in her windpipe. don't get me wrong, i have nothing against chinese persons (if anything i would not have mentioned this fact), but the ringing of whatever dialect she was speaking in remained with me all the way after the flight, into immigrations, and only left when i had hurried to the baggage reclaim area, where the soothing sound of bags plopping unto the conveyer belt would drown out the kife-like piercing it had had on my ear drums. i seriously don't think the language she was speaking in would have made any difference in its effect on me, but that vapid and somewhat venomous dribble she launched into (which started only slightly after i had managed to white-noise out the babies' screams and begun to fall asleep in the most awkward position imaginable) was only accentuated by the fact that it was a chinese dialect. i suppose, i shouldn't have made a point of this, but i think i should be forgiven for the subconscious judgements i had fallen victim to while i tried to doze off. oh, and i should also mention that it wasn't like she was trying to hold a conversation with someone in a different isle - it was with mr. long-legs. who i assume was her husband. because all he said were monosyllables and the odd interjection to reaffirm that he was, indeed, listening. on one hand, i am tempted to say that i would like to know what the conversation (one-wayed as it was) was about. on the other, eff that.

some kid who decided to listen to music the whole flight, and though having his headphones on, had decided to blare them at maximum volume so that the whole cabin could enjoy his tragic, and tasteless choice of music. let me add that he had turned on his music, cranked it up to get it all lizzle in the hizzle, then retracted his serving tray, popped his head upon it, and slept. the whole. damn. flight. i can only imagine that this is some reiterated theory of listening to classical music while you sleep to stimulate some sort of mental growth. because, if this is not the case, then i think i would have lost all faith in humanity right there. but, don't be deceived. i hate this bugger the least. because he was originally sitting next to me, and a few minutes before take-off, he'd realised that the seat beside a friend / colleague / lover would be empty throughout the flight and had relocated there. which, of course, subdued the effects of his music, somewhat, as well as allowed me to extend my legs once in a while into his original leg-room. you may ask, then, why i had not just moved into his spot and avoided the blunt-but-vengeful kneecaps of mr. long-legs? to which i answer, any spinal injury i may have acquired from the event is well worth the few centimetres i had gained farther away from his wife.

i suppose i am harping along the same point in that these (perhaps unnecessary) annoying noises in a confined space have made the experience of flying much more inconvenient than i remember it ever being. but i will raise you the fact that it was of minor consequence. i don't generally care much for it - it was only a 6 hour flight - and the social contract (which i am sure none of the above persons had signed) dictates that live and let live. perhaps one day i will have inconsolable children, or develop a need to violate others' personal spaces to affirm my own, or speak in a pitch nigh hearable only to dogs and dolphins (which wouldn't be too unimaginable if i had already lost most of my hearing capacity due to said noises in the first place). upon which, i can only hope that others will take a genial 'husnuzon' which i have tried to have (this saying nothing about my personality, which is vile and presumptuous and unforgiving, anyway).

i'm sure there were positive points to be made that made the trip memorable, too. such as. uh. pretty clouds, and stuff.

Monday, 2 June 2014

in which there is no less than dreams

i was speaking with a friend and colleague a few weeks ago, and he brought up that there is a musician, to his knowledge, who used to sit in his chair and hold a rock, or some sort of paperweight in his hand. as the musician drifted steadily into sleep, his grasp upon the rock, much as his on wakefulness and reality, would slip. the feeling of the rock being let go, or perhaps the rock hitting the floor, would wake said musician, and he would frantically write his thoughts down, quite often composing in part what music laid to linger in his head. i have yet to find out who this famous musician is, but apparently it is not mozart.

regardless, the concept of a dream journal or keeping a notepad by one's bedside is not entirely alien to me, and i decided to do it a few days ago. if one can remember to the days of my dreams regarding aliens, 'shit-rugs' and nonsensical meetings, then it is no surprise to find that whatever i penned down was only worth a facepalm in the morning, followed by a quick toss of what could have been useful paper into the dustbin.

i only pray that with time i can refine this interesting concept, but for now, let it be known that i had two 'great' ideas (they felt great when i was having my wakeful sleep); one regarding how i could harness infinite energy from a single electron by abusing entropy, and the other which was a novel way of analysing my phd data which i have been stuck with for weeks. needless to say, in the latter case, i swiftly knew that it was rubbish and dismissed it, but who knows, maybe one day i'll actually come up with boundless energy. here's to hoping.

in the mean while, let's not have me quit my day job.

also, eff that musician. he clearly has sleep underrated.

and whatever he composed was probably never as good as 'dance of the flowers'. that's tchaikovsky, and it's my favourite piece. along with blue danube, by strauss ii. any waltz, to be honest, usually gets me in good spirits.

Sunday, 6 April 2014


a boy meets his heart, his joy, his life, in another. to him, all cannot be possibly beyond the grasp of logic and physics, philosophy and art. all cannot be beyond that which has been set in motion by the singularity that created us all, from stardust and lifeless energy. yet here, before him, sits the evidence of miracles and anomalies, of perfection and fierce disregard for order or equilibrium. all that is beauty and ecstasy and can be pure and divine - it is here, in his heart, his joy, his life. it is beyond him.

this story is told many times. and in the past, there has always been disappointment when fondness leads to courtesy, when patience gives way to fervour, when composure is forgotten with reckless abandon... but for what? what, indeed, can substitute for the calculative and serene, that was and is this child of a man? perhaps being told often and invariably changes the outcome of this story - but that is highly unlikely.

asks, the boy that, 'i would know that your stature is beyond mine, that it is folly to ask for an eagle to walk when it can soar, or a star to dim, when its nature is to shine so intensely. and how could anyone contend that a mother of pearl, even beached by tumultuous waves upon a scarred beach, is anything less than iridescent and beauteous - that it is almost sacred and perfect?' 
'may it not that even mountains succumb to wind, to sleet, to rain and to snow; that even the moon may take precedence to the sun; that flowers of every colour and texture may still wither and die to give way to the longest winter, if only to bud and bloom again; that even stars may give eternal heat, only, in one final, blazing glory, to pass into the darkest that not only is void thereof, but takes from all light?' 
'would it not that perhaps you could find what you need before what you seek, and it is nowhere lacking?'

but, to this, the ephemeral would reply, 'mayhap you should take some time to yourself, and when aeons have passed, and even time has begun to die, come again that your beseeched be addressed.'

so went he. and thought he. and pondered he. and doubted he. and consolidated he. and refuted and considered and debated and introspected, until finally, all that the boy was left with was one, unyielding, unequivocal, unquestionable devotion - that this path of fulfilment was one of virtue, of fullness and of purity: something that is not easily said for any matter.

but asks, 'how answer you now? that i have been and come to be?'

then, riposte with silence.

'perhaps now, if i were to bear with symbolism? or write with words that shame my own?'


'which wonder, what maybe...'

'do you not see, that my not having answered is the answer you seek?'

'forgive me, then,' says this humble boy. 'do not mistake that i am foolish or naive or incompetent, that i do not understand your silence for what it is.'

'then why ask you persistently, when you claim to know of what i mean to say?'
'i ask not because i do not heed your rejection.
'i ask not because i demand an answer.
'i ask not because i am thick and blunt and coarse and stupid.
'i ask not to be bothersome or uncourteous or ungentlemanly.' 
'i ask because if i do not, then there is no chance for reconciliation. and even knowing that when i do ask, that chance is made from nil to infinitesimally small and irrelevant; yet still i ask, for this chance is all i have. all i hope for. all i deserve. which is more than i can say for you.'

dear reader, worry not for the fate of this boy. if there is any justice in destiny, in preordination, in luck, or in chance, then it will come to be that one day, there need be no asking, and answers will neither be warranted, nor necessary.

Monday, 24 March 2014

thoughts on (ideals of) love

i am watching a movie, ‘Anna Karenina’ (which i highly recommend that you watch, because not only is the storytelling rich and immersive, but the cinematography is unique in a very theatre-esque way that i cannot describe), and it dawns upon me that what you said the other day is entirely true - that love and adoration is subject to a person’s current wants and needs, susceptible to change at the slightest perturbation, and victim of our whims and malleability of being human. and though this is not something new to me - that any emotion be fluctuant with the mood of the day - it disturbs me to think that an ideal so entrenched in society as listed above is so subjective, so precarious, so sensitive, that our own perceptions of that ideal between individuals is nigh incompatible. to others, the idealisation of love is different things - a comprehensive and almost unintelligible letter written in Victorian nuance and delivered in hand, a subtlety of unspoken words like between the protagonists of a Korean drama, an accent alleviated by a favourite language, the first glimpse through a proverbial veil that Egyptian princesses hold as dear as Japanese country-folk, and in the case of Anna Karenina as i am learning to appreciate, the empathic projection of a strong but sorrowful Russian tragedy. please, do not mistake my blatantness and lack of examples as a sign of ignorance or naivety. i have always known that if i were to base my utopian postulations of love on the writings of Austen, or Dostoyevsky, or Rumi, or Marcia, or Poe; i would, but for a sliver of a chance be disappointed time and again in the search for realisation - or at least for reciprocation. and to this, i submit, that the sacrifice of perfection is a necessary (but small) price to pay for the attaining of that which i idealise itself - love. but this is a far cry from acknowledging that it does not exist. if anything, i am a person of compromise, and should any hint of such concession be available, i would embrace it whole-heartedly.

this being said, i do not think i empathise with your feeling that love is not absolute (and you must pardon the use of the term ‘absolute love’, as you have aptly pointed out, there is no such thing, and my use of it bears only from the necessity of distinguishing an absolute form of adoration from a relative one). what you have said that love will change with time and place, is true - and though my lack of personal experience dictates i cannot say with any amount of authority, i find it dreary and distraught to believe that any change in such a strong emotion can warrant disengaging from a love. i feel that it is ironic that relationships are built on a wider base than once before (no longer do we extrapolate from dainty eyes meeting from across a room, or flitting fingers from a series of waltzes through the night, or shied smiles behind a curtain when elders come in stead of a wanting and proposing young man, or curved that writing that letters delivered in person in the shroud of starless nights), the imperative to propagate it is left with so much to desire. is it not designed that the opposite should be? that if there is anything to hold with unyielding devotion, beyond religion and family and friends, it should be the preservation of (a) love? i am not sure i am convinced, but i hope it is not wrong for me to want (and hope). regardless of peoples’ motives and how they go about realising such things (or abandoning, as i would distastefully warrant), i feel that, if only by semantics and definition for my own sake, love should be held at a post higher than something that is so mercurial and fleeting, and that once it is attained, there should be no questioning what it is.

parallel to this train of though, it would be pertinent to point out that i do not pretend to comprehend any of this. wherefore i should continually ask you for opinions and advice is because of this lack of understanding; do not belittle that i should want to understand something complex, far beyond me. if anything, i hope it is admirable that i try, for even in failure, i can only hope to think of myself as having searched, if never having to find. perhaps love really is purely utopian, and any manifestation of it in this world is a meek shadow of what it should be, and not having gazed upon its splendour is only befitting for those who worship it far too much. mayhap it is in vilifying love and bringing it down from a pedestal that we can truly begin to bask in its exaltation - and as such, it is better that any semblance of love that i may have in my mind stay there, lest it be defiled by something more ‘real’ and flawed.

p/s: do watch Anna Karenina if you get the chance. i have yet to complete it myself due to other commitments, but from what i have watched, it reminds me fondly of ‘the brothers Karamazof’, and i think you will like it very much.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

paradise reprieve

little land ‘pon which i stand, is barely ‘nough for one,
yet bountiful and blessed like no place under the sun;
my little isle, of humble stead, whose limits reach beyond my head,
for all i see is governed but by that which i have read.

with golden shores of sun streaked sands upon the white that is this land,
how could lush green not grow like thoughts that wished for by all God’s good men?
hark! come the mores, with ill intent, the pirates, ruffians, thieves;
who knows what have their ill intents, and what they’ve up their sleeves,
but come, too, do the merchants, politicians, priests abound,
for where there’s gold, there’s glory too, and fortune to be found;
but with a sigh, i beg their leave, despite their fore or fun,
this little land, ‘pon which i stand, is made for only one.

so take the mores, by shiploads of the gleaming gems and stone,
i bid them well, as do farewell, that they leave me alone;
here with my peace, in company of all that i deserve,
to preach, to play, to lie and lay, with fatigue or with verve.

but once upon a crescent moon, that yellow, blue or red,
a special someone comes along in lieu of a mores’ stead;
to envy some who have their isles embanked for something - someone - bold,
indeed, it is for them to choose, to wisp, to wade, to hold;
but can’t i see, beyond the bend, that straight which light should curve?
we all accept the love we think we ought, and do deserve.

from shore to shore, and back again, i’ve lived and loved this land,
even when no envy comes for whom and who could stand;
upon this island, quite contrite, like webs of fiction spun,
oh, little land ‘pon which i stand, ’tis only meant for one.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

it's caturday!

today, as i was walking home from the university, i chanced upon a domestic cat. not an uncommon sight, around the residential areas of nedlands, and definitely unremarkable a cat as ever there could be one. if my recollection does not fail me, she was brown with black stripes; and she had fierce, piercing amber eyes. of what breed she could have been, ask me not - i cannot tell a tabby from a siamese (well, i probably could, but i am not versed even in the slightest of cat breeds). as i normally would, with all cats that i should meet, i becked upon this cat (let us call her latifah, after the queen of sorts).

i think, it is relevant, if not also of some import, that i point out here that i am generally quite amiable with and towards cats. that i should normally be able to approach, if not befriend, and even play with a cat at the first instance of meeting is a fair given, and one that i am severely proud of, too! however, latifah, like all good cats, and all good queens, would not have any of this.

indeed, what happened is a definition of 'cat-and-mouse', which unfortunately, makes me the mouse of sorts (also bringing new meaning to the phrase, 'of mice and men'). i would squat a fair distance from latifah, say approximately 50 meters, and beckon her with mews and by the extension of my hand, only to have her crouch in a most apprehensive stance, and shy away from me. were i to close the gap, she would, for a while remain, only to skitter off to a more comfortable distance after a dozen seconds or so. and so i would feign giving up, and walk my way home, upon which latifah would begin to follow me - eventually meowing as if asking for my attention.

this cycle of pretense, disdain and inquisitiveness would repeat for a spell. maybe lasting half an hour, and having gone through seven revolutions, as i realise that i was running late. not to be outdone, however, i did manage to sneak in a final attempt at courting latifah - with the obvious and expected result of her running away quite swiftly (only to stop when she was safely behind a house's fence [which is uncommon here, as most houses are not fenced]). of course, in this particular case, it is easy to dismiss latifah, and any loss would be on her behalf (think of all the purring that could have been had! the neck scratches and the nose twiddles!). and, of course, it is made easier that there are many cats around the neighbourhood who would happily want for a little scratch-lovin'!

later in the day, it made me think: girls are like cats.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

the longest reprieve

that which we have come to know as sleep.

i have wondered for a long time: why is it that we need to sleep? though neurophysiology has taught me little of an answer, and psychology has addressed the question from many vantages, i cannot say that i truly understand why we need sleep. in fact, i do not think i can even graze at an answer. but, i have also come to realise that it is not nearly as important as to why we sleep, as whenceforth. now, bear with me, and indulge a silly fan of shakesperean nuance - these are not the same. i do not know a reason for sleep, biologically; however, i do know that without it, there is a supefluence of disasters that beck upon my soul without sleep.

when i was a person of content and substance, i did not wander far from complacency. and sleep? it was only a convenience, a gift, a wonder. nothing more than an accessory to a livelihood littered with unnecessary wants.

now that i have become a person of self, that i am of less import than what i gave myself credit for, that i sometimes am in deject and loathe - now i see sleep for what it is. and it is indeed a requirement, a necessity, a craving and a bestowment without which, i could not wake from lethargy and (hopefully) death. which is ironic, because without sleep, how can there be waking? indeed, sometimes we slumber in our wake, more than we realise. at least i know i do.

as yet, i have not answered that pivotal question - whenceforth is this need for sleep? in words, i cannot explain. ineffable and indescribable - a feeling rivalled by desire, by love, by hatred, and even complacency itself. but i know this, that if you have ever felt that after a long day, you cannot wait to dream, or sleep an ennui-less eternity, even as your body does not tire, or especially so. then you know this answer in your heart.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

play the game (queen music in the background)

what is this game i see you play? it looks so weird but fun,
oh, now one hides, and then one jumps, and why does that one run?
it feels a match where one gives chase and prances, dances, spurns,
but then like a non-sequitur, the other does in turn!

i toss a ball against the wall, it's returned with due force,
then to and for, and back again, with nary a brief pause;
when suddenly, we drop our all, and whereforth the ball goes?
is no concur, you've missed the point, it's of who next now throws!

but wait, there's more, with sleight of hand, what false is now made true,
with magic words and mirrored glass, we've deceived, misconstrued;
so why do what? that chase, that dance, what essence did it pass?
its purpose was, to win, of course, and make it such that thus:
that when one's won, the other's, too, but play the game for fun,
when no longer can you tell start from end, then both are one.

oh, yet again, i've missed the point, i still don't get this game,
who keeps the score? am i ahead? or is the tally same?
oh, my, you say, i've always lost? how's that, we've but begun!
(for anything that gives you points is all under the sun).

so tell me not, the rules of play, derived from calvinball,
for if it were that one could win, without speaking in drawl -
if we hit that bullseye, all the dominoes will fall
like a house of cards - checkmate! (hooray, we've won nothing at all).

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

the promise of god

nobody really asks me if i believe in god - the assumption, based on background, social standing, cultural influences and religious environment is that i do. i think this extends to myself, as well. so, i never really stopped to ask myself, up till i entered university (which now seems like such a long time ago!) whether i believe in god, or not. i think, a large part of it had to do with that god never really was this being you could opt not to believe in - just that you could choose to believe in through many different means, or religions. and even in those ways, i never thought that there could be different interpretations of god (or godliness). when i first started questioning this about myself, i was very hasty to divert my attention elsewhere. it was, and still is, quite a taboo thing to question the presence of god, and blasphemy was more than just a label, with familial, social and even economic repercussions in the environment i was brought up in. it is bittersweet that in going to university, i had found a place where none of this applied any more, and through continually questioning, and allowing myself to question (myself!) i soon lost this jaded perception that god was too ultimate, too transcendent, too ideal to question. and i found myself wanting by so much.

this is not to say that education has made me a non-believer (though i would have a hard time denying it). this is not to say maturity has made me lose some part of me that before could believe. but, i think somewhere along and between the comparative religion, the interreligious discourses, the self-doubt, the (repeated) failure to appreciate the fatalism that is intrinsic in so many religions, and the illogicalness of so many aspects of (religion and) how religion deems to work out a multitude, if not all cases (but does not); the leeway i used to have for dismissing 'evidence' against god has worn so thin that i am not sure that it exists anymore. if i were to analogously put myself in a court of justifications, even inherently and purposefully biased towards justifying the existence of god, i find that judge, jury and audience (for lack of executioner) all find the defence laughable (though they are all myself. i think of it as a judge dredd-esque proceeding, where there is no other find but guilt). 

in any case, recently (more or so 8 years now, if that can be called recent), i do not feel the urge, responsibility, obligation, or want to hold out for god. i do not wish to suffer his trials, and i do not want for a paradise that is all but promised - not because i am impatient, but because i do not feel that, if i were to be on course, that i should be eligible (and by far unworthy) of such, and if i were not on course, then the purposefulness of such belief is apparent. as much as i would like to analyse the recentmost developments that have encouraged my devotion in such a blasphemous claim, heresy is not what i wish to advocate (as much as i do not wish to sway any liberalist otherwise). indeed, let's not burden ourselves with the semantics and nuances of a single individual's life (of which and whose fallacies and caveats are more likely his or her own, than can be attributable to god), but for simplicity, i would like to touch on the outcome of (any similar) belief:

as any simple statistician (or simple-minded geneticist) will assure you, a 2x2, two-variable square to display results (which, for the geneticist would be a punnett square) is probably the easiest way to do so. and so, let us consider the two variables that:
1) do you believe in god?
2) does god exist?

the dilemma here becomes moral, if god does not exist - would you live an 'ethical' life if you did not believe in god? personal experience, and the way that i would live mine dictates that this is independent of one's beliefs. many non-believers i know live lives more admirable than many pious people i know. just the same way, there are those who don't. and what unsavoury traits or display thereof, i cannot say that i can attribute to any (dis)belief in god. but, for argument's sake, let us say that believing in god makes you a better person, regardless of the existence of god. and what if one does not believe? then not all is lost, for as equal as there will be persons who are good, regardless of motif, there will be good that comes from people in general. i have to say, though, that my inclination is to believe that people will be people: what you believe does not necessarily dictate how this manifests. 

and what, perhaps, if god does exist? that if you do not believe, you are on the wrong team to begin with (and let us not forget, that even in the 'believe' camp, there will be many factions, of which only one is supposedly 'right'). then non-belief does not only condemn you to a life of unpalatable decisions, but also to an afterlife of suffering and languish! and, of course, the converse is that being a believer guarantees you a place in eternal paradise (apparently regardless of worldly action, which i have claimed is not reflective of one's belief in the first place! if only because of this, i think, i will choose to believe. for, any authority has long past left me, and cannot convince me otherwise, any empirical evidence i have had to bear by actually makes  me disbelieve, and any other knowledge i may purportedly harbour is of no significance, because i cannot deduce the existence of god, as much as can i claim to even possess the knowledge to fathom him. indeed, it may be that the true meaning of faith is seeing past such misgivings, regardless and against the light of otherwise. if such is the case, then i am ashamed to say that i do not have enough faith to secure a place by god's side, and if i even tried, i would find myself ever more so lacking. it would be nice, though, to be able to learn from someone with untamed faith; blind and relentless. such as myself in my youth. but then, times were simpler and tribulations were justifiable. what i feel life has manifest now is unbecoming - unsightly and revolting, such that if i were not to believe, the default is only an abyss of wanting. one that does not sate, and does not sleep, and is scarier than the thought of what comes when god ceases to exist.

perhaps, this, actually is such a terrifying thought, that it is hell manifest. and in not believing, i have condemned myself to such fate, even before death! one can only hope, i suppose. 

when tragedy was written, that upon hell's gate is seen 'ye who passes, abandon all hope', it was not said whether such gate would be present for mortal eyes to see, and i can only hope that i am too blind, rather than be blinded in the presence of god.

if he does exist.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

The slowest way to kill a man

whose sullen frame now weary lies,
that hopes in vain that 'fore he dies;
a visit 'pon what former light,
that now betrays his very eyes?

troubled beats erratic hear,
with tempo; flitting fluttered flailed,
what made that your all life depart,
a shell so empty, cracked and frail?

in silence since this gentleman,
his eyes as dead as his black pen,
his suit is rugged, elbows torn,
his faded jeans of ten years worn;
of years are thirty, young and bold,
his heart, however, is much more old.

as next door flits his maiden fair,
who dances dervished with young flair;
from man to man she flits anew,
their lusts run through her ebon hair.

allegro music to the beat,
with lyrics; sickly sorrow sweet,
between which exchanged lustful quips,
her body tastes more than her lips.

yet none to blame, not of her souls,
how could one who such beauty holds?
with infinite sapphire wishes,
and right to break all promises.

perfection is the young girl's world,
her eyes shine bronzed like tarnished pearls,
her skin, soft as a languished wave,
her mind like lenses made concave,
of sweet ambrosia, honey, milk,
her words, her heart, softer than silk,
a velveteen rich garment worn,
as is her rose that to his thorn.

so begs the question, to be asked,
that set upon said maiden's task,
what knavish, shadowed, sleight of hand,
is slowest way to kill a man?

a silent blade between his ribs, precisely she'd have stung?
or coffee laced with curare, to whet his parched white tongue?
a silver bullet for his heart? against his temple's vein?
perhaps a tragic accident, a car crash in the rain?
a jolt, a scare, designer drugs to make his heart palpate?
what heart infarct or from a stroke, to seal his undeserved fate?
a hired hand, one of her men, her lover as her will,
to garrotte at his troubled neck, to hurt, to maim, to kill?

maybe something more subtle, to throw off all the cops?
or serve his body to her hounds in little bits and chops?
for evidence is meaningless when you can have your way,
but none of these will take too long, so tell me this, i pray:
what would you think a best way for the maiden's heartless whim
to slowly kill her gentleman, while barely touching him?

the answer - one that she has known,
that gives him life and takes his own,
is not to harm his corporeal;
by not to brandish or to wield,
in arms , with strike - these aren't the means;
so's not the cancer in his genes;
'tis not to kick him in his low -
here's how to kill a man so slow:

give him promise, give your heart, your love to which he'll throb and ache,
then take it back, with all his, too, and of himself his own will break;

within ten years, or better still, between thirty and who-knows-when,
what better way to break a soul, the slowest way to kill a man.