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Maria-Syamsi

From My Heart

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La La La

It’s about what my family is up to, eg our outings and recent activities.

Yes, We Will

Feeling overwhelmingly emotional tonight.

I don’t know how many times I would put this photo up in my blog, but I guess at least until I finally pass this exam.

I know it symbolises something. A few things, in fact. One of those things is that we share one common goal.

* * *

“Adakala ku terasa ketabahan tak setegar
Tetapi apakah andainya berhenti di separuh jalan
Percayalah padaku, aku yakin kita mampu.”

* * *

We came from these places.
We have to go somewhere.
And we WILL.

* * *

“Aku sedar bukan mudah untuk mengecap mimpi indah
Pernah suatu ketika dulu ku punya harapan besar
Kini aku tak pasti
Dapatkah ku miliki?”

* * *

Thank you, my dear, for indirectly reminding me that I have a goal that I need to focus on.
Yes, I’d rather be emotional about this, than about other things that I could not control, things that has long gone from this life.
Rather than things that pulls me deeper and deeper into despair.

Despair. Such a strong word. But it is, a danger.

Without you knowing, of course.

But somehow. Somehow. You could always make me smile, no matter what I felt.

* * *

Can we make each other smile forever?
Please, God?

Yes, I get it. Exams first. Other things later.
Okay.

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The Birds

It is nice to wake up to the singing of the birds.
They chirp away so happily, you can’t help feeling the joy.
The songs they sing are so cheerful, your steps would skip with them.

They hop around cheerfully on the backyard, looking for their sustenance.
They would sometimes just walk around, more like waddling of the ducks.

When my father or uncle mows the lawn, they would trail behind them.
As there would be grasshoppers or bugs jumping up, so they could catch those insects with their beaks.

It is so amazing, living amongst nature, I don’t want to leave.
Just so that I could wake up, sip coffee slowly, and immerse myself in the wonders of nature.

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A Picture Says A Thousand Words

They said a picture says a thousand words.
I don’t plan to write a thousand words on this picture, but I certainly have a lot to talk about it.

* * *
I left work early yesterday, so I stopped by Masjid Wilayah for ‘Asr. When I stepped out of the masjid, school kids were running around the corridors. I thought, “It must be nice to be school children. Simple life, simple views about life. Uncomplicated. Happy.”

I asked myself, “Do I want to go back to being a child, though?”

I decided, perhaps not. Well, at least now I could earn money and I could spend my own money without needing to ask anyone’s permission. I could go anywhere I wanted to, whenever I wanted to (or rather, a safe place at a safe time and when I’m relatively free). I could contribute my own ideas to the world, although not all is appreciated and I could be wrong. I know better about right and wrong and I am more secure about it than before.

So no, I don’t want to go back to being a child.
Although a less than complicated life would be welcomed.

Then I saw two men selling ice cream, on two separate motorcycles. There wasn’t any line, the tens of children did not crowd the ice cream men. Maybe they have bought and finished their ice creams, or maybe the kids have finished their money earlier. Maybe they were busy playing they did not notice the ice cream men.

Impossible.

I could taste corn-flavoured ice cream in my mouth, so I thought about buying. “But the kids will stare at you because you’re a grown up buying ice cream,” my head gave me a ridiculous idea. The better part of me said, “Don’t be ridiculous!” by which time I have reached the ice cream man.

“Do you have corn flavour?” I asked.
“No. I only have chocolate, yam and durian flavors,” he said, while opening his tin of ice cream.
“Oh.” My face fell, but I saw yellow ice cream in there.
“Oh, actually I do have it,” he smiled, reached for the cone and scooped the ice cream. “RM1 please.”

I sat in my car, happy for the ice cream. I snapped this photo quickly (as the ice cream was melting) and sent to my family.

* * *

I must have looked like a mother waiting for her kids to come out of their religious class. Well, the age is right, and when I think of it now, one of them would have been seven by now. I doubt he/she would have stayed with me…oh well, that’s another story. But they are most likely in paradise waiting for me.

‘Mommy will see you, insyaaAllah. For now just play in those beautiful gardens, ok?’

After finishing the ice cream, I drove off, without a kid in tow.

* * *

Why corn flavour?

When I was seven, we stayed in Kemaman. While waiting for the van to drive us home, I’d buy ice cream from a man on a motorcycle. I don’t remember asking for any other flavours. I think this is the only flavour he had.

Enjoying this flavour brought me back to childhood. A happy and uncomplicated time.

I guess I don’t need to BE a child again, I just need to enjoy one of these things once in a while, then I will be transported back to childhood. A short moment is enough to carry me through, I suppose.

* * *

While waiting for my ice cream earlier on, I saw a bag of buns hung outside the ice cream container. I was then reminded of another time in my childhood, when my brother and I used to buy ice cream sandwiches while waiting for our driver to fetch us.

Those sandwiches are nice too. The ice cream man would slice the long bun (the ones they normally use for hot dogs), and put ice cream in between.
I never bought corn flavour though. Those times it was either chocolate or strawberry flavour.

* * *

Did I reach a thousand words?

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Umbrella

July 2007.

It was supposed to be one of the happiest days in my life. Indeed I was happy. There were so many loved ones around, all feeling festive and excited. Cik Fuah was doing what she has always done, and will always do. You were annoying us all by singing this song. All the time.

Twenty months passed. Things did not go the way we wanted it to be.

You, like the rest of them, were there for me. Like the song you sang all those months before.

You were there as the shoulder to cry on.
No, I did not tell you stories, but you were there.

You drove me to work, and back.
You joined me for dinner.
You slept in my house when I was alone.

We went for movies, theatres, and sometimes trips.

We did not have much.
Times were difficult.

With all the troubles in our lives, we had each other.

You were my umbrella.

* * *

I know you must be apprehensive of the changes that are going to happen.

There are so many things that you will experience; unexpected, surprising.
You will say things you never thought you would say.
You will feel what you never thought you would ever feel.

You know it has been rocky from the word go.
We are worried that all hell will break lose.

But I hope we are stronger than that.

Perhaps only broken people would understand the broken.
It is only when we have felt our worst, that we could understand the worst of scenarios.

Maybe only broken people could pick up the pieces together, and build an even more beautiful creation, lasting to the paradise.

Therefore I do believe we are stronger than that.

* * *

Whatever you feel, please know that we will be there for you.

Do know that we trust you, and will pray for the best for you.

Believe that you are strong, the way we have all tried to be all this while.

All that have happened to us, did not happen without a reason, because I believe, only then could we hold hands with those who had it as bad as we have.

We are all here to climb up together, to be happy together.
Those hardships were never meant to tear us apart.

Life will not be easier.
But we should strive to be stronger.

Hugs, love.

Kakak.

* * *
Umbrella by Rihanna
You had my heart, and we’ll never be worlds apart
Maybe in magazines, but you’ll still be my star
Baby ’cause in the dark, you can’t see shiny cars
And that’s when you need me there
With you, I’ll always share

Because when the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever
Said I’ll always be your friend
Took an oath, I’ma stick it out to the end
Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella

These fancy things will never come in between
You’re part of my entity, here for infinity
When the war has took its part
When the world has dealt its cards
If the hand is hard, together we’ll mend your heart

You can run into my arms
It’s okay, don’t be alarmed, come in to me
There’s no distance in between our love
So go on and let the rain pour
I’ll be all you need and more

Because when the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever
Said I’ll always be your friend
Took an oath, I’ma stick it out to the end

Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrellaIMG_1749.JPG

Almost There

I don’t know why, this image of a college in London has become one of the motivating factors in my struggle to pass this exam.

Let me recall…

I decided to pay that college a visit, since a close friend of mine was a student there many years ago. We have been walking the whole day, starting from the hotel to visit The Gherkin, and then Lloyd which is actually right around the corner, then another long walk looking for the right train station. We were lucky, because although the day was a little icy, the skies were bright and blue.

We stopped by outside Tower of London for my little sister to play ice skating. I did not join her as I have aged a bit, hence my coordination was not as good as it was 15 years ago. So I watched her and took a few photographs.

We walked again to the Tower Bridge, where we (somehow) spent a considerable amount of time on the top floor itself, in the museum. When we finally crossed the Thames, we walked about to look for a place to pray, before walking again to look for this college which seemed to be quite far from the City Hall.

Well, it was not! We walked through the train station just to find out that Guy’s Hospital was right across the road!

As the building I was looking for gets nearer, I became more excited.

Like I said, it was a beautiful day, with bright blue skies with a few patches of cloud, but no rain. The day was almost dark, it was probably around 3pm at that time. We’d better hurry before the sun sets, and that was not a part of London I was familiar with.

Then we saw it. The red bricked building with the roots of some creeping plants up its facade, which would be replaced with green leaves in summer. The sun shone on our faces. The winds blowing and the brown leaves falling.

It was beautiful.

I stood there reminiscing how it felt to be a medical student, wondering how stressed the students might be in those libraries, and then took a few photos, and then we left to get to Architecture Association near Oxford Street.

While walking through the open halls of the college, I looked around and thought, there must be loads of researches going on in this college at the moment. The people here must have gone all over the world to give lectures and speeches about medicine, from the basics to the advanced sciences, the latest findings and the best manners to deal with patients.

Where did that place me? The humble doctor who’s still struggling to remember, which one of the inotropes would cause more tachycardia, and which one would cause peripheral vasodilation. The girl who’s still asking around what cortical blindness actually means.

I had to do something. I had to take this short contemplation as a motivation. I must also take those Muslims in their golden era when modern science were developing, when new inventions were produced so that the world would be an easier place to live, for the good of mankind.

I left with a renewed sense of purpose.

* * *

The other day I had the chance to sit with the makcik again.

This time around, she told me about her son, whom she did not need to force to study. He has his own conscience, she said. He would study when he needed to, and he is very disciplined.

I wondered in my mind, how did he make room for everything, seeing how busy he is with his extracurricular activities.

As if knowing my questions, she said, “He’s the kind of person who would get up and do something immediately when it needs to get done. He doesn’t wait, and he moves very fast.” She continued, “He could go up a flight of stairs with just three steps!” Then she laughed.

* * *

I can’t believe the exam is so near.

Actually I can’t believe that I have reached this final stage. It has been a long and arduous journey, challenging me mentally and at times financially.

I am forever thankful for the strong support and prayers from my family, and those who truly love me. So many of them have been with me since the start, and some just recently, but I guess in the end the outcome will have to come from within me, and of course, His Grace and Mercy.

I don’t know why I’m making such a big deal out of this. Perhaps it’s just the drama queen in me.

Or perhaps it really IS a big deal.

Wish me luck.
More importantly, please pray for me.

* * *

Hampir Ke Situ by Mendua
Aku sadar bukan mudah untuk mengejar mimpi indah
Pernah suatu ketika dulu ku punya harapan besar
Kini aku tak pasti
Dapatkah ku miliki

Sudah jauh kita tempuh, kekalkanlah impian lalu
Mungkin ada hikmah yg akan menunggu di penghujung jalan
Biar nanti kecewa
Setidak-tidaknya cuba

Jika halangan menduga perjalanan kita
Janganlah kau putus asa
Kerna ku ada di sisi, setia menemani
Andai semangat mu gugur, genggamlan tanganku
Kita hampir ke situ

Adakala ku terasa
Ketabahan tak setegah
Tetapi apakan andainya
Berhenti separuh jalan
Percayalah padaku
Aku yakin kita mampu

Biar orang katakan rapuhnya harapan
Bukan mereka tentukan tapi kau ada aku, dan aku punya kamu
Dapatlah akhirnya tetap bersama

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Gym

Today in the afternoon I sat in the library, as usual, trying to study. Monday was a productive day, Tuesday was alright, but today…today I lost all focus. Maybe it was the mediocre scrambled egg set I had in the cafe, maybe it’s the lack of caffeine (I’m not a coffee addict, though), or maybe it’s just one of those days.

I already planned to work out in the gym after work, but with the poor progress with my studying, I considered cancelling that plan. After all, they said we need to leave everything else and get focused for this (super expensive) final part of exams.

Late afternoon we had a teaching session with a dear friend of ours. I had so many flaws and obviously am not ready for the exams, but I felt good because I could scrutinise myself positively. Now I could see where I’m lacking and how I could improve myself.

Then I decided, as the studying progress had improved a little, I could spend some time in the gym.

The traffic was super good, I got my favourite parking spot, but the gym is (as Dato always complained) warm and crowded. That’s fine with me. At least people are moving towards healthier lifestyle.

I put on my Sony walkman (I don’t carry my smartphone around, a habit since endocrine rotation days), then I started my routine on the treadmill.

As I walked faster, my heart pumped more quickly, a smile begin to appear on my face.

I put on more upbeat songs (it seems that I have more slow ballads in my playlist…erk!); one of those is Shanti and Marcel’s Hanya Memuji.

By the time I reached 15 minutes, I had Lady Gaga’s Born This Way on. My steps faster, I put the inclination higher, I was so happy that I thought I could dance and jump on the treadmill itself.

I was also pretty sure that I could work hard enough to pass this exam.

“Believe capital H.I.M….I’m beautiful in my way, coz God makes no mistakes….I’m on the right track, baby, I was born to SURVIVE!!!”

Of course, I can!

I came down from the treadmill after my targeted time finished. I had a bit of a drink, and continued my workout on another machine for another 15 minutes.

As I came down, Michael Buble’s Haven’t Met You Yet was on.

“I might have to wait, I’ll never give up,
I guess it’s half timing, and the other half’s luck.”

I felt so cheerful like I could start dancing on the gym floors itself.

Obviously I did NOT do that.

“I’m in the room, it’s a typical Tuesday night, listening to the kind of music she doesn’t like. She’ll never know your mommy like I do..you’ve got a smile that could light up this whole town..”

Evil. Heheh..THE big joke of the year is on me.

Anyway..

I’ve worked in medicine for almost 8 years now. I’ve seen people suffering from diabetes-related complications, obesity complications, and I have to say, personally, I think they suffer more than cancer patients. Their quality of life is worse, and it gets worse when they are admitted to the hospital.

I looked around the gym and I won’t be surprised if any one of them suffered a heart attack, or end up with diabetes anyway. Even for myself, in fact.

But at least we tried. It’s that part in us that whispered to us to be thankful of the health we’re rewarded, to take good care of it while we can. It’s that survival instinct, and perhaps, in some of us, belief that it will all be taken away especially when we take it for granted.

In Islam, it’s the effort that matters, Allah will decide on the endpoint. Whatever He decided for us, is His will. Everything is good, as long as He’s happy.

* * *

I have to say, the euphoria that I experience during workout (be it in the gym, or playing squasy with my dear friend, or swimming with my little sister and cousins), I’ve never felt anything like it elsewhere, doing some other things. It’s that endorphin surge while we exercise, and focus on it, that makes us cheerful.

And studies showed that the feeling lasts long after exercise.

Multi-level marketing people might sell their health supplements claiming that they could get healthy without exercise. They could slim down and get that wanted muscle bulk without having to work it out. “Avoid all those injuries,” they say.

They could all drink and eat whatever vitamins they want, but I’m pretty sure they have never appreciated the mood and motivational surge that we feel during and after exercise, to be saying all that.

For a person like me, I definitely need all that motivation and mood lifts I could get.
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The Sacrifice

Today my father made me cry.

The day started early. We sent our (little) sister Nadia to the airport as she’s flying back to wherever she’s studying. That was quite early in the morning. Then we went for roti canai, I went to the gym after that, then come back for a big lunch in Cik Fuah’s place next door.

That’s where it happened.

We were talking about little kids flying. My uncle Wak Halim has five very young grandchildren (age 4 years old and below), four of them needed to travel on the airplane for this festive season. Some cried the whole journey and some would not cry if the flight is on daytime. Then my mother said, one of my brothers would cry for the whole journey (when he was a baby, of course), and would only be pacified by playing in the sink at the back of the airplane.

I said, “Well, Nadia used to cry only during take-off and landing.”

Then my father said, “She used to cry when YOUR plane took off.”

My eyes started to well up.

He explained to the rest, “She’d cry whenever we sent Maya to the airport all those years ago when she was studying. Then embah used to try to pacify her. She’d say, softly, ‘your sister went there to study…'”

I cried.

Not the sobbing kind of cry but my tears flowed rather steadily.

* * *
She used to count down to the day I get home. She would circle the date, and cross the calendar everyday up to the day I come back.

Now I would do the same for her.

Apple Pies and I

First let me put down the recipe.

I made a few apple pies before and this one is unlike the ones I made. Apparently this recipe has won the cooks many awards, so. Decided to give it a try. I tweaked it according to the reviews, and my brother’s suggestions.

Ingredients:
Pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie (I bought them ready-made, my brother disapproved, so I rolled my eyes at him).
1/2 cup (120g) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons wheat flour with 1 tablespoon corn starch.
1/4 cup water – you may put in less if you want it thicker
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch of nutmeg
3 cloves
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
8 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and sliced

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees C. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, spices, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
2. Mix the apples with 3/4 of the sauce.
2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the remaining sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Tips:
To avoid the apple mixture from soaking the bottom crust, glaze the bottom crust with egg whites and bake the crust for a few minutes before putting in your apples.
You could also cook the apples first before putting in the pie crust, so it will shorten the contact time between the apples and pie crust, and the apple sauce will be thicker. When in the oven, all you need to do is bake the crust until it’s nice and golden.
Put your apple pie on the lower rack in the oven so that the top crust wouldn’t brown up before the apples are cooked.
For directions on how to do a lattice work crust, refer to youtube.

Cook with love. 🙂

* * *

I have a history with apple pies.

He was the one who taught me to just search in the internet for whatever recipes I wanted, and that many are reliable. My friends told me about it when we were students but I didn’t check them out; I did not know that many people who really love food until I met him.

He used to bring his laptop to the kitchen and start cooking. We’d go to Jaya Grocer and shop for ingredients, then come back and cook up some nice things for the family. He introduced me to ready-made pie crust which is so useful as I’m not good with breads and crusts yet.

My family love good food too, and my dad introduced us to a variety of food, but our standards are probably a little high, and our appetites smaller, so we ended up loving the all-natural home made stuff rather than out eating.

I’d suggest a combination of banana cake and mango lassi. They are match made in the kitchen.

I did learn a considerable amount of cooking tricks while I stayed with them in PJ, I have to admit that. They loved food so they cooked a lot, everyday. I learnt how to spice up meals, and that there are so many things that I have yet to explore.

Nowadays I miss cooking with my (little) sister. It’s nice to have her chattering around and helping out with things, especially the artsy stuff. Yesterday evening I was pretty sure that she would have wanted to do the lattice work for the top crust.
She’s a good cook herself; she cooks from her heart.

Mirrors

Written on 26th August 2013 @ 2229hrs. 

* * *

Raining. Cats and dogs.

Wet shoes. Clarks.

Broken umbrellas. Red umbrellas.

Gloomy hillside.

Sunshine after the rain. Bright. Yellow.

Green hills.

Rolling green hills.

Beautiful. Perfectly beautiful.

Peaceful.

Dusky skies.

Darkness.

Blue scrubs.

Smile.

Instant coffee. Expensive coffee.

Hazelnut chocolate.

Red paperbag.

Dizzy.

Sunrise.

Beautiful. Perfectly beautiful.

Thank you. Cheery.

Smile.

* * *

That last day.

Tears of goodbye. The first goodbye.

On the staircase.

* * *

No more.

No more.

* * *

Mirrors

Aren’t you somethin’ to admire, coz your shine is somethin’ like a mirror

And I can’t help but notice, you reflecting this heart of mine

If you ever feel alone and the glare makes me hard to find

Just know that I’m always parallell on the other side

Cause with your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul

I can tell you there’s no place we couldn’t go

Just put your hand on the glass, I’ll be tryin’ to pull you through

You just gotta be strong

I don’t wanna lose you now, I’m lookin’ right at the other half of me

The vacancy that sat in my hear iIs a space that now you hold

Show me how to fight for now, and I’ll tell you baby, it was easy comin’ back into you once I figured it out

You were right here all along

It’s like you’re my mirror, my mirror staring back at me

I couldn’t get any bigger with anyone else beside of me

And now it’s clear as this promise that we’re making two reflections into one

Coz it’s like you’re my mirror, my mirror staring back at me

Aren’t you somethin’, an original, coz it doesn’t seem merely assembled

And I can’t help but stare cause I see truth somewhere in your eyes

I can’t ever change without you

You reflect me, I love that about you

And if I could, I would look at us all the time

Yesterday is history

Tomorrow’s a mystery

I can see you lookin’ back at me

Keep your eyes on me

Baby, keep your eyes on me

Baby you’re the inspiration for this precious song

And I just wanna see your face light up since you put me on

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congratulations for your success.

 

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