From My Heart


May 2010

This Is Your Alter Ego Speaking

Written on 28th April 2010, 1049hrs

Dear Maria,

Do chase your dreams. Because your dreams will become reality, if you work hard enough. Forget the shadows.

Sit still at home. Don’t disturb Hannah. You can do that later.

Appreciate your restful study leave.

Remember how much you gained yesterday. You will want to do the same today, or even more.

Be happy with what you have. Once you’re happy, positive vibes will surround you.

People like others who like them. But for the time being forget the shadows. Stand grounded on the earth. It will make you happy too.

Please forget where you put your Blackberry. Distrubing Tau at work doesn’t help too. You can do that later once you’re tired.

I will stop talking to you if you promise me to close the Facebook window. The only voice that should be talking into your head is your teachers’, whoever they are, reminding you on what you’ve learnt all along.

Bye, Maria/Meera/Maya. I’ll talk to you again if you can’t finish your planned syllabus today.

Lots of love and hugs and kisses,

Your alter ego.

Drama Larut Malam

Written on 30th April 2010, 0122hrs.

“Apa kau tidak mahu mendengar kata-kataku dahulu?” tanya Kencana.

“Bukan kau tidak tahu, aku tak pernah mendengar kata-katamu?” sindir Nian.

Kencana terdiam sejenak.

“Apa lagi yang kau mahu, Kencana? Dahulu kau tidak mahu langsung memandang wajahku. Kini apa pula hendakmu?” tanya Nian.

“Bagaimana harus aku melupakanmu, Nian. Setiap jejakmu dulu, aku berada di situ. Aku pandang ke kiri, aku pandang ke kanan, bayangmu menjelma di mata.”

Nian diam.

“Aku tidak sanggup memikirkan yang kau tiada lagi di sisiku…”

“Bukankah dahulu kau yang tidak sabar – sabar?” Suara Nian mula meninggi.

“Tapi itu bukan kehendakku, Nian…”

“Ah, bukankah dahulu kau yang katakan kehendaknya kehendakmu jua?”

Kencana pula tidak dapat berkata-kata.

“Benar, bukan?”

Kencana masih lagi membisu.

“Maka jika kau percaya dengan menuruti kehendaknya kau akan bahagia, kenapa kau cari aku lagi?”

“Nian, bukan setakat aku tidak sanggup memikirkan, aku juga tak sanggup berkata…”

“Apa dia?” celah Nian, hampir-hampir bertempik. “Kau tidak sanggup mengatakan bahawa aku tidak lagi bersamamu?”

“Kalau aku katakan, aku cuma akan menconteng arang…”

“Dahulu tidakkah kau fikirkan semua itu, Kencana? Sepurnama kau bersendiri, kau masih tidak sampai ke situ? Ke mana pantasnya akalmu, Kencana?” tanya Nian bertalu-talu.

“Aku sekadar mengikut…”

“Sebetulnya patut aku yang malu. Aku, Kencana. Bukan kau. Mengapa kau perlu berdusta?”

Kencana mungkam.

“Pergilah, engkau, Kencana. Pergilah engkau dengan bayang-bayangmu sekali. Aku sekarang mencari Graha, aku tak perlukan kau, Kencana.”

Kencana pun berlalu, tunduk sepertimana dia tunduk setahun lalu.

* * *

You wish!!!

* * *

Kalau nak gugur, gugurlah nangka,
Jangan ditimpa si daun pauh;
Kalau nak tidur, tidurlah mata,
Jangan dikenang orang yang jauh.

This is why Maria cannot stay up too late.


Written on 2nd May 2010, 0144hrs.

Maria’s up at 1am again.

Yes, I know. The title is so…blatant and bold and all..but I’ve been compelled to write this since this afternoon, morning, in fact.

I’ve noticed that lately it has been easy to think about leaving a relationship. A marriage, to be exact. So many couples fight around me and some even put it up on their Facebook status on how they can’t stand it anymore, how they think that quitting might just be the way to save their sanity. It’s alarming how, for many, easy it may seem to just get it over and done with and divorce their partners.

Divorce rates are up and climbing. We all know that. Hell, yeah, what’s another one? They all seemed to move on, don’t they? Someone quoted to me before, “You know, my masters program senior, this guy, is divorced. He was only married for a few months.” A few months later he himself left his wife.

Is it some kind of a trend?

“Yeah, why not? I’m not happy with you, and you’re not happy with me either. There’s obviously no other way for us.”

Wait a minute.

My dear friends, it’s not that simple. And I’m not even talking about the kids.

You know, I wish that these kinds of thoughts would never cross anyone’s minds. Even temporarily. It looks like a couple has had a few fights, hurt each other’s feelings, found it difficult to forgive, ended up thinking “whether or not I should leave”.

It seemed like there are certain traits of the significant other’s personality just do not fit with that other person, and there’s no way they can work around it.

It may have looked like one person wanted to change the other person so much.

Expectations may have run high. What do you expect from a couple who are pretty much nice people, very polite, responsible, smart, and maybe look good? Of course a perfect relationship. But things don’t often turn that way, do they?

It scares me to the core when a person says that he/she is “thinking of leaving this whole s***”.

There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship. These are times when we want everything perfect. These are times when our parents have managed to mold us into this ‘perfect person’ and we want things to be even more flawless for our own relationships.

Well, it doesn’t work that way.

We are all human beings. We have our own imperfections and shortcomings, no matter how impeccable we may seem. Insecurities, jealousy, just plain stranger anxiety, temper, and the list goes on and on. Some people find it difficult to get comfortable in a relationship, and it may take months to years for them to build a strong tie with another person.

Of course, being a human being is not an excuse to make mistakes. We learn, we adapt. We take time to learn and adapt. Being the person we have been for more than 25 years, one day we marry someone and that someone wants us to change some parts of us, the personality that made us who we are now, that person who’s loved by his/her partner, family and friends. Would that expected change be made in a couple of months time? Would it be fair to expect someone to be ANOTHER person, when the person you’ve fallen in love with was this person next to you?

Now when they keep irritating each other’s guts up for so many reasons, they want to call it quits. Or at least one of them would think of leaving.

Is that really all that can be done?

Have we tried this or that?

Is it really that simple?

I’m telling you, no it’s not. I know some might think that’s it’s going to be over the minute they say good bye, all the emotional burden and stress would be gone once the person is gone.

I’m sorry to say that it’s not that easy. Really, it’s such a short-sighted, narrow-minded thing to think like that.

“You and I can always find another love.”

Well, of course.

With strong support from loving family and friends, people can move on pretty well. I know that some may appear to have handled it very well, some appeared happier than when they were attached with that not-so-significant-anymore other, some ARE happier than they were in married life.

Happier? Maybe. But it’s a sad fact. Why did the couple so in love with each other ended up not being happy with each other? Somehow they ended up happier outside the marriage?

It still is not as it seems to be.

I know I can’t change anyone’s mind. I know that some of my friends, whoever they are, may still think of leaving, children or no children. But at least, this is what I know. And I’m telling you now, before it’s too late.

It’s not like you can leave your partner today and peacefully study for your exams tomorrow.
And it’s not like some of you can bring yourselves to tell your family and friends that you are divorced.
When you think of leaving, do you think you can be thick-skinned about stuff? A whole lot of stuff, that is.

The court visits. The properties, if any. The kids. Always the kids.

The anger, the sadness, the depression.

If you think that the anger will subside when you leave that person, well, think twice. Think many many times.

If you think that your friend/relative appears to have moved on pretty well, think again. Maybe they have, but then again, it’s not that simple. It is never easy.

And hey, this is Facebook generation. Wouldn’t a person want to appear happy no matter what has happened in their lives?

To be honest, I do get scared when my friends say that they are “thinking of leaving”.

Because, I’m telling you, it’s not as easy as it may appear to be.

* * *
Mama please stop crying, I can’t stand the sound
Your pain is painful and it’s tearing me down
I hear glasses breaking as I sit up in my bed
I told dad you didn’t mean those nasty things you said

You fight about money, about me and my brother
And this I come home to, this is my shelted

It ain’t easy, growing in a World War III
Never knowing what love could be
You’ll see
I don’t want love to destroy me like it has done my family

Can we work it out?
Can we be a family?
I promise I’ll be better
Mommy, I’ll do anything

Can we work it out?
Can we be a family?
I promise I’ll be better
Daddy, please don’t leave

Daddy please stop yelling, I can’t stand the sound
Make mama stop crying coz I need you around
My mama, she loves you, no matter what she says is true
I know that she hurts you but remember I love you too

I ran away today, ran from the noise, ran away
Don’t wanna go back to that place, but don’t have no choice, no way

In our family portrait, we look pretty happy
Let’s play pretend, let’s act like it comes naturally
I don’t wanna have to split the holidays
I don’t want two addresses
I don’t want a stepbrother anyways
And I don’t want my mommy to have to change her last name…

In our family portrait, we look pretty happy
We look pretty normal
Let’s go back to that

Mama will be nicer
I’ll be so much better
I’ll tell my brother, I won’t spill the milk at dinner

I’ll be so much better, I’ll do everything right
I’ll be your little girl forever, I’ll go to sleep at night

Moving Frenzy

Written on 5th May 2010 @ 0121hrs.

Now is the time to test my ability to generate a list. Hmm….damage to which lobe of the brain causes difficulty generating a list (Part I neurology….huhuuuuu!!)?

Right…moving frenzy:
1. You can’t wait to see your new place, and you want to see it everyday, even when you have not moved in.

2. You keep listing down the the things that you need (and more things that you don’t really need but you want it because it’s pretty) even though you’ve gone through the list and the catalogues and the shops.

3. You can stay up the whole night and then the whole day just to settle everything, because you want to make it look like a home the moment you set foot in it.

4. When you’ve finally bought the stuff on your list (and those not in the list but you added anyway), you can’t wait to put all of them in their rightful places, assemble those furnitures that are not assembled, even when it meant that you need to DIY in the middle of the night.

5. It’s a cycle of cleaning the new house – move things in – cleaning the house because it has become dusty – buy things – DIY – cleaning the house from the dust from the drilling and putting in screws – sleep – aircond man come and, well, put in aircond – cleaning the house – shopping – DIY – cleaning the house……

6. Opening up new packages of food and containers and plates etc, which caused a simple task of making an egg sandwich and a cup of tea to take as long as an hour!

7. The wood from meranti tree is sooooo NOT SUITABLE to be used as DIY furniture. Because the wood is EXTREMELY TOUGH!!! It should be sold as a complete furniture, NOT in flat packs to assemble at home. Plywood, wood from rubber tree, maybe pine wood, yes, you can do it at home. But NOT meranti or cengal.

8. If you want something unique, don’t buy stuff in Cavenzi. Search for specialty shops or in people’s home in Indonesia.

9. The way to tell whether it’s hard wood or not – look at the threads. Meranti threads are sooooo fine that they’re almost threadless. Oh, and it looks waaaaaay better than some other kinds of wood.

10. Counting and dividing the cost. Easier with Ikea receipt. A lot more difficult if you went shopping in Tesco. Well, how the h*** would you know what is SH TSU BSF or PRE C/B 28 or DRAGON FRA???

11. Sen Heng is good. No, they did not pay me any money for this, but they gave me great discounts. The service is good too!

12. Who said Ikea is expensive? I mean, where do you find a RM99 coffee table, or an RM89 TV shelf, of even a RM185 white and tall bookshelf? Oh, and they are soooo pretty!

I love a new house, because I’ve always moved houses when I was younger.

My advice:
Keep to your shopping list. That way, you will be just broke, not very broke.

Smile! :

Professionalism, eh?

Written on 8th May 2010, 1252hrs.

You are a ST1 doctor in General Medicine. During an on-call you are in A&E seeing a patient who has a pneumothorax. On arriving you find the A&E ST2 doctor attempting to perform an aspiration. He appears to about to insert the needle at the wrong landmark. What is the most appropriate action?

A – tell your colleagues about what happened in the mess to ensure they are aware of the doctor’s limitations
B – Say nothing, stay with the patient and take over when he asks for help
C – Go and get the A&E consultant
D – Say nothing at the time but fill in a clinical incident form
E – Immediately voice your concerns and ask him to stop

Part I question, that is.

Professionalism, eh?

How many of us have done A? Or even C (I’ve been the receiving end of this and it’s sooooo not funny!)? I know B have happened before – people standing around and watch someone make a mistake, and let the patient suffer later.

Maybe A shall be changed to “Tell people on facebook on how inadequate the other MO/surgeon/specialist is”.

B – Keep quiet and report to your consultant that this other person is inadequate, instead of admitting to yourself that you yourself don’t know the correct way.

E is the correct answer, and should be done discreetly as to not hurt anyone’s feelings, especially in a community “yang cepat terasa”….hehehe..

I Miss Dublin

Written on 10th of May 2010, 1352hrs, the day before my exams.

Aaaargh! I need a short break!

At times it’s nice to just sit and study and do nothing else. Don’t need to worry about patients, don’t need to worry about life, don’t need to worry much about other people, just need to worry a bit about tomorrow…haha!!

One thing exams remind me of is my life in Dublin. Go to class, take a walk in Grafton Street, go back to class, break, study, study, go back to Grafton Street, then go home, dinner, sleep, then wake up and study again.

Winter is even better. Sun sets at 4pm. By the time I break fast, solat and tarawih (it was Ramadhan), it was only 6.30pm. After nap, it’s only 9.30pm. Then I can study and read books and read online books and eat one tub of ice cream and dream and watch DVD.

Amazing how much activity I could do over there!

It was really nice. And exams like this (with proper study leave) makes me happy (in some ways) because of the sweet reminisce of my beautiful past.

Only that now it’s very hot.

I wonder now, what did I eat for lunch during study leave days in Dublin? I did not cook. If I prepared something it would’ve taken a short while. Hmmm….maybe some sausages or egg sandwiches. But Mak Ngah cooked dinner for us. Or maybe sometimes I eat what Mak Ngah eats for lunch. For free. Sometimes.

One or two days before exams I would take longer breaks. I would study up to 4pm, then take a walk to, again, Grafton Street, stopping at book shops and dreamt of buying this book and that book and this book, wondering when is the next Harry Potter book coming out, and what the storyline would be this time…

I would stop at Butler’s, enjoying sips of heavenly hot chocolate with cold air blowing on my cheeks, sometimes the Stephen’s Green Park, and then Stephen’s Green Shopping Center, where people take a break from the library next door. There’s an arts and craft shop in the first floor where I always admire and, emm, dream about glass paintings and home decorations and stuff…

Then I will go home in time for dinner. After dinner it’s study time again.

Oh, I miss Dublin. I miss studying there, and everything else, of course.

The Deep Ocean

Written on 15th May 2010, 0136hrs

Within the past four years, so many things has happened in my life. Things that changed my life entirely, turned my life upside down, and downside up, opened my mind, touched my heart, made me paranoid…so much joy and pain. Thing is, my attitude towards things is often to feel it, do what I have to do, then go on with my life. At times what I feel very deep inside my heart may no show on my face. Some even accused me for ‘not feeling our loss’ but they may not see it deeply..


I know some people close to me said it seemed easy for me. Well, I had a lot of support. But then agai, I’m wearing my heart on my sleeves half the time, and this is one of it: I just want to go on with my life.

You know, there are things that have happened to me, that I don’t want them to happen to anyone at all. Somehow when it they do happen, they really touch my heart.

It would really move that deepest part on my soul that I rarely visit, the deepest part that said “I’m sad and this cannot be happening”, this part of my being that said “why us???”.

Like when she’s pregnant and had no appetite to eat at all and cried because she’s worried that she might lose the baby too, for the fourth time..
Or when they actually lost their babies.
Or when his baby was born and I fell in love with the little child.
Or when I saw this photo of this kid hugging his newly born brother.
Or when they had a fight and thought they’ve had enough of each other.
Or when she had to leave for a few months to Japan, when she’s just gotten married.
When Uncle Ong died and I miss him till now.
Or when I see them sad because of what has happened to me…

And those are the moments when I know how I have been feeling for the past four years.

Happy Birthday, My Inspiration

Written on 28th of May 2010, 2359hrs.

Today is his birthday. Please allow me to give a little tribute for him.

I know I seldom meet him. Maybe two or three times a year. But I cherish those days anyway. I’d make a point to see him everytime I’m in Penang. Or actually I plan my visit when he’s around.

He diagnosed me with asthma. That’s how it all started.

Such a charming doctor. Along with other inspirations, I wanted to be like him.

He’d take us for teaching from the morning until afternoon.

He shared jokes even with us medical students when we follow him to the scope room.

He taught me to simplify everything I learnt. Yet I still have so much to learn.

He’s the person I see for my projects and assignments. He’d try to help as much as he can.

He’s the person I see before my exams. He’d say, “Don’t be too stressed. Go enjoy yourself. Go for dinner or a movie after your study group sessions.”

And he said, “Of course all of you will pass. I’d treat all of you like my children. Would I fail my children?”

He’s the one I’d go to after my exams. “Hey, you look happy! Anything good?” “Yeah, the Medicine paper was not so bad.” He even checked my answers.

We checked our results from his office in the hospital. We almost broke his computer table out of excitement.

He was the last person I met before I left Penang after graduation. The card I gave is still on his notice board up to now.

One day during housemanship, I went on leave and visited him in Penang. After roti canai in Rawther he said, “Have you found someone in your life?” At that time I did find someone. But I was so taken aback I did not say anything. “Well, if you’ve found someone, go ahead and get married. Don’t wait too long. There’s no such thing as waiting til you’re stable. You’ll never be stable. Look at me.” I laughed. Anyway, how did he KNOW?? Or maybe it’s just random advice.

I did not see him after two and a half years.

I came back alone. He asked me what happened. I told him.
He was so concerned, he said he’s sorry, many many times. Then we started talking, about independence, about parents (and in-laws), about life, about my futures plans. He said a few things that showed he’s on my side.

We went for lunch. His MOs talked to him and listened to him like he’s their father.

I came again a few months after that. He was busy so we couldn’t talk for long. He bought some pizzas and let me take home some.

He’s a father and a great one too. He’s a father and he sure is a proud one.
He’d talk about his children with pride and passion.
He smiles and he laughs so easily.
He’s a doctor and he’s a great one.

Thank you, Dato’, for all the time you spent for me.
Thank you for all your advices.
Thank you, Dato’, for being on my side when the worst happened.
Thank you for being a father to me. I’m so lucky to have you as my inspiration. I hope to make my patients happy the way you made me happy all those years ago.

Happy birthday. I wish for a lifetime of happiness for you.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Farah is coming back tonight. I think she’s arrived in KL by now. And I was driving down NKVE in the rain just now. It just triggered my memories. Of KLIA. And of my journey.

It has witnessed a lot of events in my life.

Like when I first flew to Dublin. Via Singapore and Paris. It was a day full of anticipation, excitement, jitters, butterflies in the stomach. Wondering how life would be after that day. The day I left my 4-year-old little sister behind.

The journey there was filled with a background of Sudirman’s songs.

“Sampaikan salam buat semua, salam terakhir, salam teristimewa. Kepada kau yang tersayang, pada teman yang ku kenang. Pemergian ku ini telah dirancang….salam akhir, salam yang teristimewa, bersamanya ku memohon keampunan, melaluinya kuberi kemaafan kepadamu…..andainya aku punya waktu, masih ku ingin mengulangi semula saat indah bersamamu, sayang tak berkesempatan, abadikan saja salamku di ingatan…”

It was really sad to leave everyone behind.

If it has watched me leave, it saw me coming back too. With bags laden with stuff. The first time I came back with Liza, Sarip and Erin, all tired from laughter the whole 13-hour flight. Back for Eid, after only a few months in Dublin.

Second time with Rathi. She wore a green leprechaun’s hat, to show that she’s got a great sense of humour. We laughed all the way out to the arrival hall.

All the good-byes and welcome-backs all those years to-and-fro Dublin. A lot of time with Liza. All with huge and heavy bags. Giving big hugs and carrying heavy hearts.

Once my dad was on the wheelchair – I thought he was joking. We had the wheelchair a long time back when my grandfather needed it. Apparently daddy needed it that time – he fell from the ladder when he was checking our home ceiling. It’s weird seeing someone so active sitting on wheelchair, being pushed by my brother, and Nadia sitting on his lap.

I remember the movie ‘Love Actually’, the opening scene which Hugh Grant talked about love, actually, being all around. The opening scene which showed people hugging and kissing each other in Heathrow Airport. The scene which made me cry right at the start of the movie.

Then I came back for good in 2004. Grandma came with my parents to fetch me there. I almost asked her, “What’s grandpa doing at home when you left?” Then I realised he’s gone for four years already….

The airport has seen a group of Red Crescent teenagers, welcoming their good friend Taufiq back from Korea. A group of them, cheering and laughing, I remember them doing the “tepuk bulan sabit”, such energy from young girls and boys.

It has seen a very sad day when Cik Mah saw her mother for the last time. We all went there to send her and her family off to New Zealand – the second journey there. I remember the journey there. I drove Cik Mah and embah in my car, and the song ‘Babe’ by KRU was played – somehow the music was really heartbreaking….

“Oh patutlah lagu dah tak semerdu, puputan bayu dah tak senyaman dulu, pasti kerana tiada pelengkapnya, ketiadaanmu dirasa….”

It witnessed the three of us, Tau, Adam and I, leaving to Kuching to our parents, as we were going for umrah a few days after that. The three of us, wondering why grandma’s wave was so sad this time.

It saw us arriving from Kuching, all teary eyed and hearts forlorn, as grandma passed away that afternoon. We waited for the taxi, driven by my cousin, to take us home. A shocking event, it happened so fast – the day before she was still well. I could still remember her words, “Are you going home already?” when I visited her two nights prior. She never said that before. We got into the taxi, again Tau, Adam and I. Tau sat in front, I was at the back with Adam. We hugged each other, crying.

We met with it again a few days after that, this time a little more excited – we were going for umrah. Another journey, although a little different from other journeys we’ve made thus far.

The airport watched us again when we went excitedly, happily, jovially, to New Zealand in 2005. An amazing holiday, amazing trip to an amazing country. It was totally unforgettable – a whole 10 days of freedom and wonders, of ooohs and aaahs looking at the wondrous nature and endless road trips. The 11 of us – in three cars at first, and then a car and a van. During summer time.

It was a spectator of my runs and jogs towards the departure gate – flying up to Penang after a weekend break back home. Often with Rathi waiting on the other end, driving my car for the weekend whilst I’m in Klang.

It was a testimony of love between two people – I came back in a hurry from Penang for Cik Mi’s wedding, had to be on call that day, and I was on the first flight into KL. It was a Sunday. “Excuse me I’m a doctor I need to run.” They all gave way. I ran off from that end-of-the-airport gate, straight to the taxi counter. “I’m going to Hospital Selayang.” Then he appeared, smiling, with food from Burger King in his hands. I wanted to hit him. “Let’s go,” he said. “I thought you were on call last night?” I said. “I was, I asked someone to cover me this morning.” He then drove me in his Volkswagen Golf.

Yes, he could be that sweet.

He drove me again to KLIA when we sent Cik Mah off to New Zealand after Cik Mi’s wedding. That was the first, and the last, time they met each other.

The airport witnessed my second journey to New Zealand. This time alone, with mixed feelings. Excited, grateful, sad, nervous, heartbroken….it was a journey that shouldn’t need to have happened, but I was glad I made that trip, anyway. It was as much as a spiritual journey as it was a much-needed holiday.

There was the day when we sent off Hafiz back to Dubai. We did not fetch him when he came back here because it was a surprise trip. My brother sent him to his home in Sekinchan, giving a pleasant surprise to his beloved mother and sisters. Anyway, the whole lot of us went along to send him there, while running after Zafri, all over the wide departure hall, with his green elephant pyjamas.

Also Cik Mi’s departure to New Zealand to visit his beloved sister. With Cik Ros and Zafri. Again, Zafri ran around all over the departure hall.

There was the day when the three of us, Tau, Nadia and I, anxiously waited for our mother from her Haj trip. How was she? How would she look like? Would she be a happier person now? I hoped that our being there would mean something for her…..

Cik Mah and her family came back, and then they left. It was a day full of laughter, hugs and cries. Well wishes and good byes. Zafri cried his heart out when he realised that his cousins were leaving. And we can’t hold our tears anymore. It was just so heartbreaking.

When KLIA was opened, I knew it was going to be a great one.

What I did not know was the memories it could hold – even to one person, that’s me

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