From My Heart


November 2009

Eid Mubarak 2

Eid started off a bit rocky this time around. By maghrib 26/11/09 I was still in the ward, alone, having a lot to do still. One patient just came from another hospital, a lot of necessary information missing from the referral (I wonder how many times must I post the same reminder), two patients passed away within30 minutes, poor boy just arrived from the other hospital and saw these two patients dying in front of him. One patient had severe generalised body pain. I had another referral yet to see, apparently she’s in severe pain.

Called up boss, it was 7pm and he’s still in HKL, needing to see 15 patients….he said “just see briefly and I’ll have a look at her tomorrow.” Ok boss.

By the time all was done, it was 8.45pm. I wondered whether to try the Federal Highway, but I chose NKVE instead. Wrong choice. There was an accident in Rawang, and the traffic extended to Jalan Duta toll plaza.

Reached home at 10.30pm. Went to Cik Yam’s for (a very late) dinner. Declined an offer for a Magnum. Daddy said he wanted to make some ketupat, but I can’t see any coconut leaves lying around the house….well, I didn’t really looked for it. I was so tired I just went straight to bed.

This morning I woke up quite recovered from the lethargy yesterday. Went to the kitchen and found that daddy woke up at 3am to make some ketupat!! It was after 7am and the ketupat was almost done. “Another hour,” he said.

It was a peaceful morning. The sun was shining bright, the skies were clear and blue, the birds chirping away, soft breezes coming in and out of the house, the many windows and doors open, the takbir playing in the background…such serenity has rarely occurred these days….

So I took some breakfast, and shot off to start cooking for our breakfast and lunch.

They came back from the mosque as I was still bustling around the kitchen with the beef curry and masak lemak. Apparently the qurban is only going to be done tomorrow as there would be more time. This afternoon they’d need to take a break for Friday prayers.

Brother helped out with the coconut milk and the vegetables and washing of the dishes. I put the dishes together. Daddy took the ketupat out of the pot and went off to take a bit of a rest.

After three hours rushing around in the kitchen, the meals were prepared. Hot beef curry and vegetables cooked in coconut milk. I heated up the sambal kacang. And we had a filling breakfast at 11am.

By this time, I have forgotten that the whole last week has happened.

Next is my first attempt to nasi biryani…

Denial. Loss. Sadness.

It’s going to be a very sad night for some….very very sad…

I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never experienced a loss. This year I’ve been on multiple roller coaster rides, and although it’s no fun, but it’s enlightening….in some ways, it is.

Knowing that one is going away, and may never come back.
Coming back to an empty space one used to call home.
That feeling of falling into a dark hole and climbing back out, just to be pulled in again.

The denial. Telling yourself that it’s not happening. Telling yourself that something else will come along and everything will come back to normal.

The hope – looking for signs of it, and holding on to it too. Even though it’s just a glimmer. It may have just been a mirage.

The anger. Or the temper. The palpitations when one tiny thing goes wrong. The emotions when something gets out of ordinary. Because you just want to stick to the normal ordinary routine, because life has to go on.

The fight.
It’s always the fight.
Fighting for life. Fighting for love. Any difference? There may not be any.
At times one is so busy fighting that one does not know what he/she’s fighting for.
Maybe it’s life. Survival. Maybe it’s love. Maybe just nothing.

One wonders….
If you know that someone is going, maybe forever…would you want to spend the last moments together, in peace and quiet, so that the memory lingers on as a good memory….?
Or would you want to keep fighting, keep pushing, even though that person is just slipping away without you being able to say goodbye…..?

The worry. The anxiety.
I was so scared to loose someone. I was just scared. I looked at life fading away around me. I was not able to imagine what my life would be like to loose that someone. I was scared, and without knowing it, the emotions pushed me further away from the people I love.

Now that they have gone I realised that life DOES go on. People move on. And so do I.
They say “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
I may appear to be strong right now.
But I wouldn’t know….if I have to face another loss again….I wouldn’t know…
Then again, we all would have suffered many losses before we move on to the next life, wouldn’t we?

Scary, is it not?

It’s all borrowed to us.
Our loved ones, our health, our money….it’s all borrowed.
They will be taken away, one by one, for sure.

Maybe my losses are not as big as other’s. When I look around me, I know that I’m still one of the luckiest person alive.
But it won’t stop me from mourning. Like tonight. Because someone I love told me, “Maybe their losses are bigger than yours, but that doesn’t mean it’s not significant.

Nasi banyak lemak dan minyak

1 kg beras basmathi, rendam 1/2 jam dan sejatkan
1 tin kecil minyak sapi (ghee)
1 tin susu sejat (susu cair pun ok)
3 biji bawang besar, dihiris halus
5 ulas bawang merah*
5 ulas bawang putih*
2 inci halia*(*dikisar halus)
1 batang kayu manis
1 kuntum bunga lawang
5 kuntum bunga cengkih
4 biji buah pelaga
2-3 helai daun pandan, siat dan simpulkan
Segenggam daun ketumbar
Segenggam bawang goreng
1/2 cawan gajus
1/2 cawan kismis
Secubit koma-koma, direndam dalam sedikit air panas
1 kiub ayam maggi
Garan secukup rasa
Air mengikut sukatan beras (boleh dilebihkan 1/2 tin susu air jika perlu)


Panaskan minyak sapi dalam periuk atau kuali.

Masukkan kayu manis, bunga cengkih, bunga lawang dan buah pelaga diikuti daun pandan dan bahan2 kisar tadi. Tumis hingga wangi. Masukkan gajus dan masak hingga gajus perang.

Masukkan kismis. Kacau rata. Tuang air dan susu cair. Masukkan kiub ayam dan garam (secukup rasa). Biarkan medidih.

Tuang no.02 ke dalam rice cooker dan masukkan beras yang telah disejat tadi, tekan ‘cook’. Masak hingga nasi kering.

Dengan mengunakan sudu (atau chop stick) buat beberapa lubang pada nasi tadi dan tuangkan koma2. Masukkan juga daun ketumbar dan bawang goreng. Tutup tudung periuk dan biar nasi batul2 masak.

Bila nasi betul2 masak, gaul nasi perlahan2 sekadar meratakan  bahan2 tabur tadi dan juga jus koma2. Jgn terlebih gaul nanti nasi akan patah2. Seelok2nya gunakan chop stick.

Bolehlah dihidangkan bersama lauk2 sampingan seperti dalca, ayam masak merah, paceri nanas, pencuk nanas, acar timun atau acar buah dan kurma ayam/daging mengikut selera masing2.


Good Bye, My Hero

I hope it’s not too early to say goodbye. Because she’s still here.

She’s there with me all the time I was in Penang. We went to Batu Feringghi together. When Amin threw up because he’s nauseous. The road was windy.

We went to college everyday. And the hospital too. I know the hospital is so close to home but she’d be with me still. At times we’d go with Rathi.

She’s with me up and down Penang to KL. Ever faithful. Never bothered me in any way. Through heavy rain, sunshine, deepest nights….

All those times in Gurney Plaza, Batu Feringghi, Batu Uban, Sungai Dua, Bukit Mertajam, Seberang Jaya….

Down to Tanjung Rambutan, where you got hit by a crazy man.
To Manjung and Lumut…

Up to Sungai Petani, Kuala Perlis and Alor Setar…with my darling sister and cousins singing away.

She was with Adam too, when he got lost on the way to Penang (and went to Genting instead).

Or that fateful day when Adam went to the waterfalls. His friends….

She sent me for my exams….and I’ve passed…

She was with me when I started working. Carried all those stuff I needed in my hostel room.

She was parked, for one year, outside the house, under the bunga kertas plant. Rain or shine. Not fading. Still faithful.

And she was with me on the worst day of my life.

You’ve seen us go. You’ve seen us grow. You’ve been with me when I grew the most.

Although you’re still here with us, today it’s time to say my first goodbye to you.

My hero.

My Wira……

Because there’s a new Saga.

What Is A Real Man?

What a question….I was watching The Duke on Astro late last night with my brother (for lack of better things to watch) and the issue was ‘What Is A Real Man?’ and I was tempted to give my ten-cents worth.

For me a real man is someone who’s confident enough that he IS a real man. Get what I mean? How do I go about this…I’m laughing away as I write. Ahaks!

Well, in my twenty-over years of life, I’ve faced this problem..well..actually it’s THEIR problem, not mine, that men are just soooo insecure. They just have to do something to prove that they are actually real men. And they won’t approach a girl unless there are CLEAR signals. Sigh…

Basic manly characteristics that God has given to men as an answer to testosterone – build, muscles, energy, deep voice (oooohh…), tough exterior, hair (or the lack of it), height etc etc – it’s on the eyes of the beholder. Tough luck if you have a voice like David Beckham’s, but he’s macho enough to admit that he wears Victoria’s undies, and you can’t say that he’s not good in the football pitch. Though some ladies don’t mind the voice. So is he a real man?

Then there are other things. Their behaviour. Some men think smoking makes them appear more macho. Some just refuse to carry their children (although these days there’s a lot of changes – I guess it’s peer pressure). Some try not to dress up well, because ‘dressing up’ and grooming is sort of a ‘girly’ thing.

And of course, there are some (backwards) men who thinks that if they give way too much to their wives, they’d be less of a man because they have let the wives control their lives.


Oh, there’s always this big issue of crying. Haha…

My personal point of view – if one is confident that he’s a real man, he won’t mind doing seemingly girly things. He wouldn’t mind changing his baby’s diapers, cooking for his tired wife, to groom a bit (my brother had more hair products than I do), to listen to his wife’s opinion on how things might work around the house, wear PINK…

I knew (or I thought I knew) people who are afraid that their wives would take control over the household. Well, I guess in this day and age, the more ‘macho’ the man is, the easier for the wife to follow him. I think this is called LEADERSHIP. Of course, who would follow a leader who lacks of confidence himself?

Hence, confidence = ‘macho’ = leadership = real man. Hohooo…

Well, that’s my definition.

And I have not stopped laughing. Hahaha

Just Leave Us Alone

Disclaimer: I would so love to tag a few people in this note but for privacy reasons, I guess I should not. This is dedicated to mothers with little sons – I hope you’ll remember this in the future.


I have learnt and recited this lesson a few times now, but today it actually feels so real – NEVER MEDDLE INTO ANY COUPLE’S RELATIONSHIP – EVER!!!

I recently knew and observed a couple, they-who-must-not-be-named, how their relationship is like, and how they are affecting others around them. The man, of course, from my point of view, thinks that he’s always right and keeps blaming every little mishap around him as his wife’s fault. His wife, on the other hand, nags frequently and at times complains a lot.

Typical kind of couple, isn’t it?

As a concerned outsider I was tempted to ‘save the girl from emotional pressure’ – well, before considering what she actually is like. I thought their style is fair and square – he’s like this and she’s like that. They have been like that for quite some time and their relationship doesn’t seem to get worse, probably stronger. I then realised I have been a bit of a ‘kaki sibuk’ in this sense, and, no matter how much I care, I should not meddle in their minor daily squabbles.

I know a lot of people feel the same. Especially parents. And siblings too.

They think that they care. That’s why they love to give other couples their two-cents worth of opinion on relationship and how it should work. Thinking that they might save someone’s life.But it’s never right at the first place. Maybe they have never heard that sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing.

You see, couples, esp newly-weds, are sensitive about relationship issues. They’d always want to think that they are the best couple ever, that they complete each other, the best of friends, that they are match-made in heaven because they are both pretty and handsome and smart and rich, and they are nice people with many friends….

So when an outsider (be it their own family member or their friend) comes and say, “Hey, your partner did this,” or “Your partner was like that,” to them, they’d jump. Either to the concerned stranger, or damagingly worse, to each other. It made them realise that they’re not in fantasy land anymore. They have become the far-from-perfect couple because they embarrass each other, not compromising, irresponsible and rude. Just because someone said they were. When truth is, they are better than that.

There’s a trend these days that families delve too much into a couple’s relationship and way of life. They are too opinionated and keen to offer their observation findings, and worse, wonderful solutions to normal couple issues.

Some parents even think that no woman will ever be good enough for their sons. It seems like this is the current trend too. Well, you’ve raised these men, haven’t you? (Aha…some don’t…that’s why they felt guilty…evil laugh). Why don’t you trust your sons to find their own perfect little wife, handle  their own ‘problems’ at the first place? You’ve taught them diplomacy and common sense, haven’t you?

Anyway, no marriage is a perfect marriage. Dear mothers, just remember that time when you have just gotten married and felt inadequate and that you know nothing – all you wanted was to be accepted and loved. You had to learn from scratch too, remember? Why is it different now for your son and his wife?

So today I promise myself that I wouldn’t dare try to be involved in other’s personal lives, no matter how much I care. I plead to mothers, please have faith in your sons. After all you were the ones who has guided their lives before. Now let them use the light they’ve gotten from you.

And young couples, try not to listen too much to outside voices talking about your partner, no matter how much they may appear to care about you. Whatever it is, listen to their opinions objectively and with fairness. After all, the most important thing is you’re happy with the current relationship arrangements.

Oh, oh….and try to live in your own little place. It’s a lot more peaceful. Because two’s company, three’s a crowd, four’s a mess and five is havoc! Don’t even get me started with six, seven and eight…



The Climb 2

We woke up in Kaitaia to a cool, bright day. The sky was blue, and the sun was shining. My idea of a perfect day. Seems that the weather forecast was wrong. If only we have ignored it, we would have been able to enjoy sunrise in Hauhora Harbor. Ah, well….

After stopping by in the Harbor (Cik Jamal and Hanif fishing; me, Cik Mah and Hanisah posed for photos), we proceeded to another hour’s journey along the Northern tip of New Zealand to the Giant Sand Dunes.  Nature is a great healer. The beauty of the gravel road and grass-covered hills and huge green trees was so mesmerising that all your troubles are left behind. Maybe the kids were quarreling. Maybe the roads weren’t smooth. It doesn’t matter, really. The air was so fresh that nothing else counts.

After all the greeneries, suddenly a humongous pile of sand appeared in front of us. Hundreds of acres and tens-of-meters-high of golden sandhills. Just sand. With the Te Paki stream separating between the green and the gold. We were amazed.

The place was empty. There were no one around. Cik Jamal parked the car and we excitedly walked (the children ran) towards the hills.

The first two meters climbed. Soft sands, really soft. It was like a desert up there. A few hundred steps away there’s another hill to be climbed. The kids ran over. They can’t wait to sand-surf. Cik Jamal, Cik Mah and I walked at our own pace. Took photos. We were so relaxed. It’s so safe up here.

Hanif and Hanisah were half-way up when we came to the foot of the the 30-meter sandhill. I looked up. “Wow. I can do this. If the kids could do it, why can’t I?”

So we started climbing. My feet sank into the sand.  “Right. This is not going to be that easy.”

I was not even one-third the way up. The kids were almost there. Hanisah cried because she was already tired and she’s not on the top yet. Cik Jamal hurried up to help her.

I stopped. I looked at Cik Mah next to me. We were both panting. I laughed. She laughed. We laughed. We climbed further.

I stopped again. Not even half-way there. My legs were aching. The climb was taking more time and energy than I thought it would be. “It’s the sand,” I told myself. “It’s the sand. Just go on. It’s worth the pain.” Cik Mah laughed. “Maya, you can! We can! Let’s move on!!”

So we climbed. We puffed away. We screamed. We laughed. We stopped. We climbed again.

At one point near the top I looked down. I was so tired. I don’t know how I could go on. My legs ached. They felt so heavy. I looked down. “Hey, I’ve gone so far! I can do this! Just another few steps….come on!!!”

I did it. Finally. I was speechless. Wow. Another wide area of just sands.

“Maya, if you walk further, you’ll be able to see the Tasman Sea,” said Cik Jamal.

I can’t possibly walk anymore. The sandhill was enough. But then again…’Hey, I’ve come this far, I’ve climbed this high. What’s another few hundred meters? It’s worth the pain.’

So I did. I walked and walked and walked. Cik Mah and Hanif followed. I walked and walked. Then I saw it.

The sea. The deep greenish-blue Tasman Sea. The waves hitting on the beach. Wow. Wow. Wooooowww…..

I was speechless. Not because of me being breathless. I was just speechless. Words failed me. I took in deep breaths. Wow. This was what I came here for. This overwhelming sense of peace and calm and wonder.

Then another feeling overpowered me. I wanted to run and cry, and run, and cry, and scream. I wanted to let loose. I wanted to cry til all the tears are dried.

And at that moment, without even looking at my face, at my expressions, Cik Mah asked, “Maya, are you ok?”

How did she know?

How did she know?


Grandma and grandpa had always been strict about breakfast.
“You must take your breakfast before you get out of the house.”

Their house is about 20 meters next to ours. One day my dad and I went over to their place to eat our breakfast – grandma made some nasi lemak. It was around 10am. Midway we met grandpa, refilling the reban with chicken. He said, “Have you had your breakfast?” Dad said, “We’ve had a drink just now. We’re going to have nasi lemak at yours.” “Why did you not have your breakfast before coming over?” grandpa asked again.

Hmm…so we literally have to take breakfast before getting out of the house.

It’s a family tradition, because they were so strict about it. When my dad and his siblings were young, grandma would make sure that they have taken something before going to school or work. As difficult as it was then, grandpa would make sure that there’s at least milk in the house.

Up to now, I can’t survive well without breakfast. I could go on without lunch or tea, and could sleep without dinner. But without the most important meal of the day, I’d loose focus by 9am. Which happened a lot last year.

I realised lately that the sooner I have my breakfast, and the bigger (and healthier) the breakfast is, the more energetic I get. Eg, in the house vs in the car. Toast and butter vs toast and scrambled eggs and cereals. Nasi lemak vs breakfast cereals. And I must have milk.

Weekend breakfast is a different story altogether……

It could be fried bihun or crispy-outside-soft-inside cucur udang. With keropok and some chilli sauce. Hot tea. All windows and doors open. Breezy and bright.

Or roti telur in the mamak’s before going for shopping. Or just out for a good morning meal. Or before going for rounds in the morning. After an 80 minutes of swimming in the pool. With all three or eight or ten siblings. Aunties and mummies and daddies. And uncles. All the single ladies. Sitting as exposed to the sun as we can. Laughing about last night’s activities. Or last month’s. Or last year’s. Two half-boiled eggs. Laughing at the politicians. Passing around the ‘gossip column’.

Never eat roti canai with apple juice. No matter how thirsty you are.

Dadar with sambal tumis, or last week’s curry, or kurma, or just condensed milk. Yummmmmmeeeeee….. This meal does not only bring fullness to the tummy, it would bring joy to the heart.

Dadar is the Javanese style of a pancake – the batter is made of flour and coconut milk and a bit of sugar. Spread like a lempeng and then rolled. My grandma made this for grandpa everyday for breakfast. After years, I have yet to master the art of making dadar that doesn’t stick to the pan.

For me, breakfast is the highlight of a weekend. If I do nothing else in those two days, it would mean a lot if I could just have a huge breakfast with my loved ones.

Right….now I miss Rawther’s crispy roti canai and soft roti benggali and his famous dhall…….


Someone once told me to be honest to myself.
But have I ever told you what happened when I was being honest?

I’ve never been a good liar. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in lies. Honesty is always the best policy. It pays to be honest. And to lie is to start a cycle of lies and guilt that may never end.

A friend of mine asked one day, why is it that it’s difficult for people to tell the truth?

Again, have I ever told you what happened when I was being honest?
Let me tell you what my heart said.

“When I was being myself, you wanted to change me.
You can’t accept me for who I am, because I’m too quiet and too independent and too smart and have common sense (which is actually not so common) and I don’t complain about small things often enough.
Because apparently I have a temper.
Because apparently when I speak it meant I was defiant.”

“When I was being honest nobody liked me.
Because as myself, I would’ve let my brothers and sisters find their own way out and back home.
I wouldn’t drive them to and from school because they must try and do it themselves.
I hide some things from my parents because I don’t want them to worry. And sometimes I think it’s too personal.
I was independent because I don’t want to bother anyone, unless necessary. Darling, if I’m paralysed of course I would call for help. Because I’m thankful that I have two legs and a brain.
When I was being honest I would say I’m sorry I’m already full to the brim. I can’t eat anymore.”

“So does being courteous mean being a good liar then?
Of course I refused to be that person.
Because that person is not me.”

“When I was being honest you didn’t like my answers.
You assumed that I was a liar and had something to hide.
So I told you what you wanted to hear. But THAT is a lie.
Oh, and you can’t handle the truth too.”

“When I told you I was in pain, all you have in mind was I am sinful. So I have to pay for my sins.
When I told you someone got into an accident, you said that person bought the car with unlawful money.
When I told you someone got hit and robbed and injured, you said that person must have done wrong to someone else, that’s why they are in grave danger.
When I talked about people getting epidural during child birth, you said that person is no good because she’s afraid of pain.”

How am I supposed to talk, then?
How am I supposed to be honest?
When you can’t handle the truth?
When you are being so judgemental that it hurts even to think?

Appalling, isn’t it?

Should I lie to please?
I might as well shut up and go away.

M Nasir once said years and years ago.
Why try to be courteous when it means you have to be a hypocrite?
Part of me agreed with him.

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