Friday, October 27, 2006

The Sad Man

The man moves in circles
his sadness peeling from him
like leprosy.

He says:
"I still feel kinda
about myself."

And we say:
"Don't worry,
we'll love you better."

but under the scabs
there's sand,
irritating, exacerbating,
to a fine point of

We need to rip the scabs
pour salt and methylated spirits
into his wounds
a sting
and then peace.

"Lo, sleep is good, better is death; in sooth,
The best of all were never to be born."


It is subtle I guess, all the ways in which the world has devised to let you know that you are unwanted. No, there is no welcome mat out, you have to create it, stake your claim on a bit of space, hang out the shingle to say, hey I'm here. This is mine. My own. My precioussssssss.

No one is going to rock up and say, hey, you, I'm glad you're here, feel free to share my space, feel free to be part of my life.

That's not how in works in the world I have imagined.

You have to justify the space you take up. Or else quit it. No one asks you to. It's just expected. Subtle. But in your face, all the same.

A friend once talked about a premier news organisation. She said if you don't make the grade there they will not tell you to leave. You will do so on your own account.

Deadwood, driftwood? There are ways, without bringing lawyers into it, of getting rid of these. All you need to do is show them they're unwanted. Withdraw your attention. And they wither and die. And more importantly, leave.

We all need attention. We cry out for it. We scream into cupboards and then, the can only write in so many cafes and nurse so many coffee of the days before the whole thing starts to get real old.

Look to the future? What future? There is only tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

I hate it when I ramble.


Friday, October 20, 2006

What does this sound like to you?

Words are free in the sense that we do not pay money to use them. We each may use as many or as few as we desire, no lifetime limits, deciding how much of our inner selves we wish to reveal to others in our frail efforts to communicate; slivers of the demons and angels residing inside shoved out into the light, seeking understanding, salvation, absolution, to salve our wounds, to assuage loneliness.

In person, I don't often speak. Conversations flow past me faster than I can process, too much time spent lost in eddies of words; the quiet one in the corner trying to peel the strata of what was said from what was meant from what is thought from what is felt. It often appears I'm not paying attention but I am, a depth of interest my body language is unable to convey while words wash over me, drowning in another's thoughts at the expense of my own.

Much of what is written here I would never say aloud, couldn't say aloud as there wouldn't be enough breath in my body to get it all out, only my fingers on keys able to keep pace.

I feel like I've used a lot of words, here in this place, maybe too many. They are free but they still took a toll, written and read. All I know now is I feel like I've used enough words and there's nothing left for me to say.

Thank you for listening. Please take care.


I've often wondered how you survived and what strength there was in you, to make it from day to day, with little or no hope, or light at the end of the tunnel. No I didn't read the back issues, so I don't know what brought you to this pass, but I did see the incredibly depth and sensitivity that characterised each post and signalled you felt everything more deeply than most.

Everything you wrote read like it should have come from a novel. And not a trashy Mills and Boons, but one of those up for the Booker. You know the kind that people buy in hardcover, put on their shelves, re-read fondly, getting something different every time.

Dear Fury, if you're still around, if you're reading this... I'd like to say so many things. I'd like to say goodbye, if a goodbye is in order. I'd like to say thank you, for your incredibly generous blog. I'd like to say good luck, if you're not going to do, what I think you're going to do.

I know words eventually wear themselves out and you get lost in the silence.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Scenes of Malaysian Life

Morning: Me asleep. Fast asleep. Haze still going strong. Can hardly breathe outside. Dogs not too happy.

11am: Persistent knocking on door. Mom arrives. Sits on Jackie's bed and starts to talk. And talk. And talk. Then electricity goes off.


In the news: The haze. Forest fires. More horrific road accidents. It always happens during the festive season. A motorcyclist was hit by a car. As he lay groaning on the road, an SUV came up and swept him off in its undercarriage. Villagers pursued trying to get SUV to stop. The driver was afraid of being subjected to mob justice. So he went on for 2km till he got to the police station. Motorcyclist was dead by then. Festive fare, this. Turn the pages, more of the same, more of the same.

"Oh to be on the PLUS highway, now that Deepavali and Hari Raya's here....lalalala"

noon: Mom calls LLN. Cannot get through. Gets sick of being on hold, so she calls her friend Halimah and they both gossip about Symbiosis, this Malay drama (yes Jack, she has stooped to that and what's more she enjoys it as much as Days Of Our Lives).

"Aiya electricity went offlar Halimah, so I may miss today's episode. So anyway, what happens ah?"

No, Halimah is not clairvoyant. She's simply watched it before.

"You mean he has AIDS? Oh my God! But, but, but he was a model, right? A kept man? Who was keeping him? And that Datuk is the bad guy right? I had a feeling. So quiet but you can see he's not a good character..."

After this intense discussion, Mom tries for the LLN again. This time she gets through. They obviously have a sophisticated caller ID system which enables the girl on the other end to not only tell Mom her name, but her address as well.

Elliot (the dog) is barking all this while. The air is punctuated with "Shut up Elliot!" and then Mom goes out to see what the matter is. Oh, the LLN guys were here all along. They are fixing the problem. Ahh the sweet scent of smoke in the air.

The haze, always the haze, you can't get away from the haze.

Me: "Why don't they cloud seed over here? They cloud seed in KL and see, we get rain there and it clears the air..."

Mom: (Silence)

Me: MOM! Why don't they cloud seed! The idiots! (I am grumpy cos it's hot and I can't turn on the fan and I can't watch tv and I can't play on the computer).

Mom starts to fan me with her Japanese fan. I giggle. I suggested that she fan me as a joke, but she obviously thinks it will cool me down.

She tells me that the squirrels living outside are bold pieces. It's bad enough they rifle the cempedak (jackfruit) and ciku trees so she doesn't get any fruit, but they stole into the house yesterday and attacked the dogs' food as well.

"But at least they don't pelt me with rambutans, haha."

"Who did they throw rambutans at?"


Mom laughs hysterically. I laugh hysterically.

"Hey Mom...oh never mind."


"I was going to ask you to give those poor LLN guys some water...but they are fasting right? No water..."

And then the fan comes on. The LLN have triumphed. Oh happy day calloo callay. I can now go on the computer while Mom watches her show.'s the little things in life.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ay, there's the rub!

I blame it on the dream catcher. Of course, this one is an actual dream catcher. Not the touristy travesties of feathers and string that masquerade dream catchers at every kitschy stall on the ground floor of the KLCC. I got it from Sedona at the Ala Moana Centre in Oahu. A present for Jackie, I think. Or it may have been Julie. It was supposed to have been made by honest to goodness native Americans. Navajo, I think.

Anyway, ever since I laid my head neath its lambent influence, this time around, I have dreamed that;

1. I died and went to hell. Ron Howard was there. Also Meryl Streep. And a priest I used to know in Australia and kinda liked. I was given a chance to come back. Yes, from hell. Which was sort of not that bad a place. The priest came back with me, but refused to listen to my confession. He said, if he was to "confess me" it would cause a scandal. It was already in the news, how we had come back from hell together. We came back to earth in some sort of cathedral.

2. I watched Jackie's car go into a pond. Then, I sat by the side and waited to see if she would swim up or if I would have to tell Mom that she drowned. The real nightmarish bit here was that it didn't even occur to me to dive into the pond to try and help her. Hours later, she emerged, pale and shadowed and fixed me with a haunted look. "Why didn't you come help me?"

3. I was on a dark road somewhere in America riding a bike (I hate bikes, the motor type anyway). Twilight was falling and I couldn't see properly and was very tired (but I couldn't dismount, I don't know why). I was in a tree encrusted place (sort of like an eco-resort) with houses dotted on the ground and in the trees (kind of like Solace in Dragonlance). Quilly lived somewhere here and she had put her address up on the net. But I had forgotten the number. So I drove along, wishing she would come out, so I would know. I was so tired that I knew I would shortly fall off my bike.

4. Ron Howard was there (this was before we went off to hell). He looked about 30. He had two siblings (a pretty boy and girl) who were teenagers and another two (also a boy and girl) who were little kiddies. We were discussing the Andy Griffith Show. It was all very confusing. Shortly after this we took off for hell.

5. I had a final ad maths (additional mathematics) exam. To read the questions, I had to climb a curtain in the hall (you know those long curtains that come all the way to the floor). It was precarious, to say the least, trying to balance on the curtain and read the question. I only got past the first question and then decided to take a walk. After that I naturally couldn't go back to take the rest of the exam. So I failed.(Mom came into the room at this point and I told her I failed my ad maths. She said kereka di? as in are you mad, girl?)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

Hallo! Sorry about the silence. I have been sleeping. Actually at night I stay up because I cannot sleep (the haze, the heat, the incessant noise of KL) and then in the mornings I drop off until evening. At least, I drop off when my phone is off and Mom cannot call:

"Jenny-ah, what you doing? Have you had your breakfast? Aiya, your stomach is empty, you'll get gastric."

"MOM! Just get off the phone and let me sleep!"

"Why so grumpy? Miss Grumps....what time you went to sleep last night?"

"4, maybe, 5, no wait, it was 7."

"Why you sleep so late? Not healthy you know. Anyway, what did Jackie send for me? And when are you coming back to JB?"

Which is the reason for the call. I refuse to tell. It's supposed to be a surprise. But Mom has decided that by attacking me unawares in my half somnolent state, she can pry the secret out of me.

So here I am, back in JB. Mom is satisfied because she got to examine all her presents. As expected the frog playing the banjo chimes was her favourite. I think she likes the skirt (although she did not react to it). She was very pleased with the nougat. She was also pleased with the shortbread. And she wants me to make sticky toffee pudding.

"Why? You're not supposed to eat that."

Pouts: "I want to give my friends a treat."

"Yeah, that's a likely story."

Pouts some more.

She is a naughty Mommy.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I want to get off

Ever since I've been back, I've found it difficult to reconnect to this place. Every time I go away, it's like an escape. I wish I didn't hate it quite as much when clearly there are plenty things to love about it. But it's as if there is a great sadness, an oppression in spirits, laboured breathing, a quiet weeping, a loss, an absence.

My mind is stuck somewhere else. Where that is, don't ask, because I don't know.

A friend called. We haven't caught up in a while and she tells me she is depressed. Despite this, she has started work on another novella and I am moved with admiration. The people who produce, while the world around them goes to hell in a henbasket...

She asked if I was working on anything. I said no. Nothing. She said, that's a pity. You should write. And I agreed. I should. But what?

What indeed.

I went for my first early morning walk today, hoping to get back into some sort of routine. It didn't help. My thoughts circled like ravens. Or vultures. Picking at carcasses and wondering why they tasted of dead meat.

Stop this train.

I want to get off.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A birthday message to be lost in the stratosphere

Another year rolls by and we are still not talking. Another birthday passes, unacknowledged.

Sometimes, I wonder how you are. Most times, you don't cross my mind.

I remember how we celebrated your birthday in times past. It was an important occassion. To be marked. Remember that year we brought the cake to the office? Also flowers. I gave you Illusions. Richard Bach. (You lent it out without reading it and never got it back) Your cake was from, where else, Kokomo. The chocolate special. And your flowers, large red, velvety roses, your favourite. We sang loudly in the pantry. You made a wish and blew out the candles.

For that one man, that one man, that one man, that one man, who would see you as you are and not as you appear, for that one man, that one man, that one man, that one man, who would love you as you are, love you as you are, love you anyway, as you are.

All those birthdays, all those cards, all those good wishes, all that love, all that good cheer...spent.

But not completely. I still have enough left inside me for a wish you will never read.

Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Impossible Art of Biography

I have been OD-ing on biographies. And autobiographies. And have come to the conclusion that they are in both cases, exercises in futility.

With autobiography, you're writing your own story. And for the most part, memory is fallible. Also, for the most part (if you're the decent sort) you leave out all the "inneresting" bits. (Unless of course, you're Liz Wurtzel, in which case, "that's just too personal" has no meaning).

Also if you're not a writer to begin with (in some cases, even if you are), your autobiography can come out jagged, unflowing, and run out of steam. It doesn't "end" in the conventional way. You simply run out of things to say. And the reader, (that's me) closes the book with a feeling of disappointment.

I think this is why I love reading books by acknowledgedly mad (or rather not quite sane) people. They romp merrily on the page, cheerfully chronicling their excesses (if not of action, at least of thought), never bothering to pander to conventionality.

Does this stem from some latent (OK, not quite so latent) voyeuristic tendency in me or is that, the carefully edited, "appropriate" memoirs are just too pale, too grey, too uncommitted?

If you're not going to tell it like it is, why bother to tell it at all?

And then there's biographies. Especially literary biographies. And if there is not much material to go on, if letters have been burned and notes destroyed by familial "protectors of privacy" then all the biographer has to go on is conjecture.

Here, most of all, you can see the chronicler, seeking to impose his/her point of view on the biographed. Sometimes these come across as an exercise in wishful thinking. Sometimes I want to slap said biographer silly. Which is why I feel the most that biographies of people long dead, are highly arrogant.

How dare you think you can know what they thought? Or felt? How dare you think you are smart enough to get into their minds? How dare you shrink fit them to your own?

OK, have had my rant. Now I think I will switch to fiction for a bit.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Quoth the Raven, Nevermore!

I could a tale unfold...

But I wont.

Because blogs are not for tale unfolding.

They are for vomiting.

I didn't want to tell you this.

But since I have not slept in quite a few hours and since I've watched Shakespeare in Love twice (not back to back, I watched Stage Beauty in between) I am in the mood to confess.

No more.