Thursday, December 09, 2004

Last Days


Hisham looked at the trail behind the school. He has no choice now. He has to go home using that shortcut. It’s too late. He had been waiting for the rain to stop and now that the once heavy rain had gone to a drizzle, the front gate has closed. He had been avoiding that trail for weeks now. Eversince that day when he saw that creepy man.

He was walking down that trail from school just like any other day. There were two other boys behind him. It’s the shortest way to his house anyway. If he were to take the front gate, he would have to walk past the mosque, around the houses by the playground and pass 4 junctions before reaching his house. This way, the path was rougher, the grasses taller and denser, it can only fit one person or one motorcycle at a time and sometimes the stench from the huge drain that he walked along would rise up a little too strongly, but it leads him straight to the back gate of his home.
Hisham saw the creepy man on the wooden bridge that the motorcyclists used to get to the other side of the drain. He was wearing a long black robe, his face hidden under the hood. He looked really creepy. Like something out of the movie he saw at Amin’s house. The one where they chased the little boy that had a ring. Hisham couldn’t see the man’s eyes, but somehow he knew the man was looking at him. He stopped in his tracks as he felt his heart beat faster, and he felt as if his legs had turned to stone.
He was awoken from that freezed state only when the boys behind him gave him a shove and a shout “Woih jalan lah!! Apa ni???” “Move it! What gives???”. Hisham pointed at the guy, but the boys just shook their head and pushed him to move on “Apalah engkau nih.. mimpi ke..? Jalan lah!” “what are you.. dreaming..? Just move!”. Hisham made a move, and when he looked back, they guy was still there, looking at him. He quickly ran home and stayed indoors.
In Math class the next day he started to feel his navel moving. At first he thought it was just gas because he had deep fried tapioca for tea break , and even though he didn’t have a stomach ache, he had asked permission to go to the toilet. He lifted up his shirt to tap his tummy to check for bloating and actually saw his navel moving. He didn’t know what to think. Was there something in his stomach? He didn’t feel any pain, and the movements were slight, though noticeable. Perhaps it’s that creepy man. Maybe he’s an aliean and maybe he had implanted something in his tummy. He almost vomitted in fear.
He decided to take the long way home starting that day. When he reached home that day, he headed to the kitchen, went out the back door and braved himself to crane his neck and look out to the bridge. The creepy man wasn’t there. Maybe he was just dreaming yesterday, he thought. Hisham turned to go back inside, decided to take one last look and nearly fell over when he saw the dark figure staring at him. Staring without even looking. Even from the bridge, his stare penetrated Hisham’s soul. Hisham ran inside and bumped into his mom.
“Ya Allah , Sham... hati-hati lah sikit..” “My God, Sham, do be careful!”, she chided.
“Sorry Mak”"Sorry Mom" was all Hisham managed to say.

He went to his room and thought. Why was this man stalking him? Why was the man watching him? What does the man want?? Has he done something wrong??
Hisham tried to think of anything bad that he has done for the past few months. He remembered he had borrowed Amin’s money during teabreak and have not returned it. He pried his money bank open and counted his money. He vowed to pay Amin back the next day. But when he got home, he looked hopefully at the bridge and still saw the man.
Perhaps this man was hired to look after him by his father? His father works outstation a lot, and his father doesn’t really like him walking and playing near the drain. He wanted to ask his father, but didn’t dare to.

So since that day, he avoided using the shortcut by the drain. No matter what he did, however, everytime after tea break, his navel would still move, sometimes so violently it’s almost vibrating. And lately, he was feeling like even his forehead is moving.
Everytime he got home from school, he would go straight to his room. He would drown himself in his homework and books. Even pleas from his younger sister to play with his ball with her in the backyard would be declined. He would rather play cards with her in his room. While helping his mom with the dishes, he would avoid the urge to look out the window towards the bridge, because Hisham knows, the creepy man is there. Standing and waiting. For what, he doesn’t know. He only prayed that the man would not come a-knocking on the back door. The man never did.

Hisham stared at the trail and took a deep breath. No choice. Have to get home by that way. It’s the only way now. And he better do it soon, because it will get dark and he can’t imagine encountering the creepy man in the dark. What if the man grabs him??
He needed a disguise. Maybe if he disguised himself, the man won’t recognize him. He opened his bag and took out his raincoat, spilling out his snackbox in the process.
His mother packs him a tuna sandwich in a tupperware everyday eversince he complained about feeling his navel moving in the afternoons. As he picked up the half-eaten sandwich, he recalled his conversation with his mom before he left for school.
”Kenapa Sham selalu tak habis makan roti yang mak bekal tu? Membazir aje tau””Why dont you finish any of the sandwiches I pack for you? It’s such a waste” she had said, as she stuffed the tupperware inside his bag while he puts on his shoes.
”Entahlah mak, macam tak lalu aje””I don’t know, mom, I guess I wasn’t that hungry” he offered as an explanation.
”Tu lah .. patutlah perut masuk angin..””That’s why you’ve got gas (it’s because you don’t eat)” she said , while poking his tummy in jest.
Hisham smiled at the gesture. They sat there in silence for a while.
”Mak, Hisham ada buat salah dengan mak tak?””Mom, have I ever wronged you in any way?” Hisham finally ventured.
”Eh, apa kejadah nya pulak..?” ”What in the world are you asking..?” his mom was suprised, ”Kenapa tanya macam ni?””Why do you ask?”
”Tanya aje ... manalah tahu..””I’m just asking, just in case” Hisham said.
His mom giggled , ”Tak ada ... Sham banyak tolong mak.. lebih-lebih lagi time-time gini masa abah engkau pegi outstation nih””Never .. you have helped out alot, especially these days when your father is working outstation” and she rubbed his shoulders in assurance.
”dah, dah, pukul berapa dah ni.. nanti lambat pulak.. dah lah kamu lalu ikut jalan jauh dah sekarang””Enough chat, look at the time, you’re going to be late, especially since you’re taking the long way nowadays” His mom gently pushed him off the porch steps.
”Pegi dulu ya mak. Maafkan salah silap Hisham, halalkan makan minum” “I’m going now. Forgive all my misgivings..” Hisham says as he hugged and kissed his mom.
His mom giggled some more ,”Macam beraya pulak.. ye lah.. mak maafkan, halalkan makan minum segala.. “This is just like Eid .. of course, I forgive you” she said .
She watched her only son walk out of their porch.
”Tolong ambikkan bola engkau kat tepi jalan tu..? adik engkau main semalam, dia tinggal aje kat situ.. dia nak main dengan engkau, kau taknak.. “”Can you please pick up your football ? Your sister left it outside after she played with it yesterday. She wanted to play it with you but you didn’t want to” his mom yelled from where she was, pointing at Hisham’s football that was outside their gate.
Hisham picked the ball up and handed it to his mom ”Mak kasilah bola ni kat Hanis. Suruh dia jaga baik-baik” “Give my ball to Hanis, tell her to take good care of it”. He walked out the front gate and headed to school.
Hisham heard his mom laughing and talking to herself ”Mimpi apa lah budak sorang nih?””What in the world have gotten into this boy?”

”Tak balik lagi?””Not going home yet?” the gardener asked Hisham, rattling his bunch of keys. “Pakcik dah nak kunci pagar ni””I’m going to lock the back gate soon” he said, waiting. Hisham put on the yellow raincoat and pulled the hood over his head. He was ready. He started walking , keeping his head down, his vision limited to the trail and nothing else. His bag rustled under the raincoat and the raincoat rustled against the tall grasses. The rain had stopped, but he could hear the sound of the water still rushing in the drain. He didn’t dare to look at how much water had collected in the drain, because he was nearing the bridge now.

“Abang!””Big Brother!” he heard a girl’s voice call out.
He looked up in front from the trail, peeked under his raincoat’s hood and saw his sister standing near their house’s back gate.
”Jom main bola?””Let’s play ball?” Hanis beamed, bounced the ball once and kicked it towards him.
Her foot kicked the ball at an angle and instead of going towards Hisham, it went towards the bridge instead.
”Alamak!!””Oh No!!” She hit her forehead in frustration. ”Sori abang.. Hanis ambik balik””I’m so sorry, big brother. I will get it back”
Before Hisham could run towards her, Hanis was already heading towards the bridge to look for the ball.
”Hanis, tunggu Abang!” “Hanis, wait for me!” Hisham shouted as he hurried towards her. He glanced at the bridge and saw that the man was there. Waiting. Watching. Hisham hopes to get to his sister before the man does.
Hisham saw his sister’s head stoop down and dissapear near the bridge. He called out for Hanis, hoping that his voice reaches her over the rumbling of the water.
”Kat sini, Abang!” “Over here, Big Brother!” Hanis’ voice cried out from under the bridge. As he reached the planks of the bridge, Hisham saw the man starting to move towards them. He took off his raincoat, dropped his bag and ran as fast as he could under the bridge. He reached the edge of the drain just in time to see Hanis reach her hand out towards the ball, which had fallen into the drain but was not carried off by the rushing waters because it was caught on some tangled weeds.
“Hanis! Biar ajelah!! Jom kita balik!””Hanis! Let it go! Let’s just go home!” he shouted above the rumble of the water. The man must be right above them now, he thought.
”Tapi ini bola abang””But this is your ball” Hanis said as she tried her best to reach out to the ball. She edged herself closer, slipped and in an instant, fell into the water. Being bigger and heavier than the ball, the tangle of weeds could not support her body and the current pulled her away.
“Hanissss!!!” Hisham shouted, and without thinking, he jumped into the water to save his sister.

Hisham had swum in rivers with his friends before, but none had ever had currents as strong as those in this drain. He was swimming with the current, which made him go faster, but the current were also inconsistent, sometime pulling him towards the middle, sometimes pushing him towards the edge. He struggled to keep his course steady and kept his eye on his sister. He saw Hanis’ hands waving and he could hear her screams of ”Tolong!!””Help!!” in between gurgles, the sounds of rushing water in his ears and his own arms and legs thrashing through the water.
His limbs start to ache as he swam and swam and he lost sight of Hanis. His head had gone underwater a few times and he had gulped some water but all he could think of was Hanis. He pushed his body upwards with all his might to try and find her and he saw her, holding on to a dead tree that had fallen into the drain. He felt relief, ... then panic. He was being carried off further and further away from his sister. Further and further away from his home. He tried to swim back, but the currents were too strong and he had no strength left.

That was when Hisham saw the man again. The man was standing waist deep in the water, floating along with Hisham. As the man got closer, he reached out his right hand to the boy. Hisham didn’t know what to do. Is he trying to help me? Hisham thought. He saw the man’s hands and noticed how smooth and shining it was, as if there was light coming out from his flesh. Hisham tried to look at the man’s face, and even though it was still hidden under the black hood, he could feel the stare, and somehow this time, he didn’t feel fear.
With whatever strength he had left, Hisham reached out his own right hand and grasped the man’s. Hisham felt the man pulling his body towards him. There was a chill that started from the tip of his toes, that slowly crept up his legs. As Hisham got closer to the man, he could feel the chill reach his navel, and he realized that his navel had stopped moving. He felt the chill reach his chest as soon as the man’s left arm wrapped around his waist. The man pulled Hisham close to him, but Hisham felt no warmth. The chill then stopped at his adam’s apple, as if waiting for something.
And Hisham finally saw the man’s face.

They found him caught in the wire mesh that prevents large debris from going into the main drain, still in his school uniform. His ball was found next to him, deflated.
Hanis cried as she told her mom how her brother tried to safe her. The mother was almost hysterical, the neighbours had to rummage the bedroom drawers to look for the number to contact her husband and break the news. A TV crew came to interview her as soon as she calmed down and had accepted the fact that her son is gone.
When asked about Hisham, all she could say was that he was a nice boy. He was boisterous and active like any other normal boys, but he had been particularly quiet during the last days of his life. She didn’t know why, then, but she knows now that he must’ve somehow known of his impending death.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Jelly & Fruit Salad

Mood: 25 days till quitting ! Playing: wish I was listening to pearl jam

Munch on this while I season my Fictional Jam:

This was concocted out of an emergency. My friends were having a potluck gathering and I had offered to make Konnyaku Jelly dessert. Went to Giant and to my horror, they didnt have them small jelly moulds anymore!!! (somebody bought off all of them during Raya no doubt *glares at zan*) . All that's left were them huge fish moulds. And I was planning to make bitesized jellies..
*thinks hard while looking at the baking contraptions they sold at the same section of the store*
*Sees cookie cutters in all shape and sizes. Sees them ice ball makers. Sees flat baking tray*
So i bought them ice ball makers and a set of cookie cutters and a flat tray.
I already had a can of peaches in syrup in my larder. Also bought Konnyaku jelly powder (the 250gm pack), pineapple flavoring and orange food coloring (coz that's the theme-color for the gathering).

Easy Peasy Jelly&Fruit Salad

In a 2L pot, boil 1250ml of water and dissolve the jelly powder (OR follow the instructions on your jelly pack on how to prepare it).
Add coloring and flavour (alternatively, u can add the syrup from the canned fruit, or fresh juices.. citrus fruits works best).
Pour some jelly into moulds (I used them ice ball makers so I got cute jelly balls)
OR Pour jelly into the flat baking tray, to an acceptable height. (Note: Accceptable height = not higher than your cookie cutter coz else your cookie cutter won't be able to cut through them *duh*)

Let them cool and harden (chill if you must)

Take out jelly from moulds.
For the jelly in the tray, cut out pieces using the cookie cutter. I used them flower shapes and the butterfly shapes.
Dump everything into a bowl.
Dump peach slices into the bowl.
Pour in a bit of the fruit syrup.
Mix them up a bit so that the distribution of each shape in each section of the bowl is roughly even.

To serve:
Ladel some into small bowls, squirt whipped cream.
Interesting texture and taste..

You can seperate the jellies into different colors in different trays. That way, it's prettier when mixed. (mine was orange all over, which was pretty boring).
You can also use mixed cocktail fruits, or any other canned or fresh fruits diced/sliced, this adds different colors, textures and tastes to the dessert.
Sprinkle chocolate or crushed nuts on top of your whipped cream for a crunchier dessert.

Happy trying!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

What a day

Mood: 27 days till quitting ! Playing: Sounds of Transformers

Today was pretty hectic.
Woke up and moved to another bed coz the kids were all over me on my bed and I discovered that Taufik had moved to another bed too. I sidled up beside him and then realized how hot he was. He has a fever!
Oh No.
And we had so many things planned for the day.
We had a lunch invitation from my dad, and an MRSM Kuantan Alumni Hari raya Gathering in the afternoon.
After Taufik got back from the clinic, we weighed our options. Since him going out is totally out of the question, it meant that if I were to go anywhere, I'd have to go alone.
Got a call from Didi who wanted a lift and I told her about my situation so we decided to call our 'designated driver in times of emergency' a.k.a Abang Icai (Elida's husband). So called Abang icai and he (well, actually kak long) said okay, but I would have to drive to her house to get the ride. No Problem. Also found out a horrifying detail: It was Mimi's birthday! (mimi is my half sister). I didnt know it was a birthday party! I thought it was just a Hari Raya gathering. I was planning to go empty handed, or with some cuklat nyunyuk for my dad.. (which in the end, I forgot to bring!)
So 10:45am, 45 minutes away from the time I was supposed to be at my sister's house for the ride, I had to rush out and get a present.
So what do you buy a teenager for her birthday?
I was aiming for something for her room (coz when I was that age, I stayed in my room a lot), but my favourite traditional decor store was closed (I was thinking of getting her a pretty decorated rattan basket or something), so off to Teddy Tales I went, with half an hour on the clock. I called Didi up, and she said she brought home a watch for Mimi, so i thought, okay, I'll get her something she could put the watch in.
I browsed Teddy Tales and most of their stuff are like very pengantin (fit for a bride), all frilly and lacy and rosy and ribbons.. till I saw this cute little jewellery box. Okay no time to think. That's what she's getting.
Looked for a gift box, but found one that was too small, found one that was too big, so I went with the bigger one. Went to another store to buy them tissue paper to stuff it with. Even did the wrapping myself. I must've done quite a good job coz the girl who worked there asked me if I wanted to replace her... heh heh.
Anyways, so paid for everything, rushed home, changed the kids, kissed the husband and went to pick up Didi then drove to kak long's place.

Have you ever been in a car with 6 kids? You don't want to.
What's worse is, on the way back, there were not 6, but 8, Yes, EIGHT kids in the car.
Ilham kept singing "it's the C.A.M.P fire S.O.N.G. song, it's the C.A.M.P fire S.O.N.G. song, it's the C.A.M.P fire S.O.N.G. song" (I think it's from SpongeBob), and kept taunting Aiysha by calling her "Eager McBeaver" (I don't know where he got this). Once in a while you'd hear Aliya say "Quiet please, Dada driving" but most of the time she's drowned out by Anis who keeps screaming "Abam!!" and "Adam!!" and "Anis Suhaila!"
Luckily I was in the front passenger seat.
I think Didi sighed in relief when we finally reached home and the kids poured out of the car.
I reached home about 4. Taufik was napping on the sofa with a wet towel over his head.
A few people at the MRSM Kuantan Alumni gathering sent me text msg-es asking me where I was, I had to reply with regrets for not being able to make it.
Took a nap.
Watched "Bowling For Columbine", which I thought was pretty good in content, but was a bit haphazard in presentation and sometimes I didnt like the approach Michael Moore took when interviewing some people. I mean how could you embarass Charlton Heston.. "Moses Himself".. I thought MrMoore could've approached the subject with more tact and respect.. then maybe he'd get a respond, and wouldnt make the person feel like he's being accused or attacked.
I cried at some parts, especially during the 911 calls (from both Columbine and the Buell elementry school)
Then the kids played Transformers.. and now Taufik is playing Transformers. I guess he's feeling better.

Been working on a Fictional Jam.. it's been brewing and stewing for quite a while. I think I'll dish it out tomorrow.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Alive and 'The Mamasan Trilogy'

Mood: 28 days till quitting ! Playing: Alive by PearlJam

Haven't been writing about Pearl Jam for quite awhile.
Yesterday I was listening to Kickstart on Red 104.9 on my way back from a BNI meeting and they played "Alive".

I, like I guess most people, first thought that the song was about hope and thankfulness about being Alive. The chorus goes "I, I'm still alive". It's prolly one of the first PearlJam songs I listened to.
I didnt buy the album till much much later and only then did I realize what the song was really about. Then I read their interview in the RollingStones , where Eddie explained further on what the song was really really really about.
It gave me the heebee jeebees.

Written By: Vedder, Gossard
Album: Ten
Release Date: 1991-08-27
Found On: Ten, Alive Single, Alive Single, Oceans Single, Dissident Single
taken from

son, she said, have i got a little story for you
what you thought was your daddy was nothin' but a...
while you were sittin' home alone at age thirteen
your real daddy was dyin', sorry you didn't see him
but i'm glad we talked...
i...i'm still alive
i...i'm still alive
i...i'm still alive
she walks slowly, across a young man's room
she said i'm ready...for you
i can't remember anything to this very day
'cept the look, the look...
you know where, now i can't see, i just stare...
i...i'm still alive
i...i'm still alive
i...i'm still alive
i...i'm still alive
is something wrong, she said
of course there is, you're still alive, she said
oh and do i deserve to be?
is that the question?
and if so...if so...
who answers...who answers...
i...i'm still alive
i...i'm still alive
i...i'm still alive
i...i'm still alive

If you have never read the Rolling Stone article, basically what Eddie said was,
it's about a boy who was told that the man whom he thought was his father was actually not really his real father (and it explains alot on how the 'father' has been treating him -- this topic is covered alot in their other songs). The thing is, the boy has now grown up to look exactly like his real father, and now that the father is dead, the mom started realizing that she still has feelings for the man.
The part that gives me the heebeejeebeees is that "The look, the look .. oh you know where" .. Eddie explained that a lot of people think that when he says "the look", people assume its "on her face", but actually the "you know where" meant .. you know, "down there".
It's pretty sick, but also very sad. Sad for the mom, to have to go on with a constant reminder of the man she loved (once and probably still), so close yet so far. And of course, sad for the boy, to be burdened by the way he looks (something which he can't help). His mom loves him for the wrong reasons, His step-dad probably hates him just coz he looks like 'the enemy'. It could and would totally screw him up.

So here comes The Mamasan Trilogy.
I don't know how true the story is. The story that's been going around since Ten was that PJ wrote the song in a trilogy, and it's all about this boy, his mom and how screwed up he became.
One part is 'Alive'. The other part is 'Footsteps' , a song about a boy blaming his mom for every nasty thing he did. And the third is 'Once', a story about a man, who spends his time killing hookers on the streets.
It all sounds pretty violent when I write about it, but actually if you listen to the songs and read the lyrics, nothing is ever graphic, just bits of suggestions and nuances that paints the picture without really drawing out every detail (which is exactly why I love PearlJam so much).

So I guess the next time I write about Pearl Jam, I'll write about 'Footsteps'.

p/s Ilham was jumping about in the living room singing "Our house, in the middle of our street" today. I asked him where he learned that song and he said he heard it in his dad's car (on the radio). So I sang the song to him, and he was quite delighted that I knew it. Woo hooo..! I guess now I can introduce him to Madness!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Epilogue on "Effin pissed"

Mood: 29 days till quitting ! Playing: Sounds of Nickelodean

I think I have done injustice to The Actress when I described what happened a few days ago.
She's actually a really nice person. I've known her for at least 5 years. She's a very competent person, very thorough in her work and very knowledgable in her field. I have never known/heard her ever passing the buck with any of her duties and have never been on the receiving end of any if she ever did.
I would consider her a friend, some one who is more than just an acquaintance.
It's the end of the year, there are a lot of deadlines to meet, and the manufacturing (which we support) have a lot of goals to meet. What with limited resources (One of my colleagues just resigned, and me stuck at home), a lot of issues, and the boss away, I think she was pressured to make a decision (and if I heard correctly, The SystemAdministrator, who have been known not to be so supportive and have been known to pass the buck sometimes, have been complaining to her about the sudden increase of responsibilities) .. so maybe that might have been the reason why she had had to put her foot down and wrote that email. Furthermore, how could she know what I was doing if I didnt tell her, right? She can't read my mind, and with me not in the office, she can't see what I'm doing either..
I talked to her and ironed things out and so everything's fine. Don't panic. I havent kicked anybody yet.

Thanx ChekNa for the tips. Will definitely make full use of them!!