Thursday, June 28, 2007

Why I hardly ever walk up the stairs

2 –3 days ago, I ran upstairs to our surau. My colleagues were already in the surau and as I opened the door, one remarked “ Naik macam apa entah. Macam kena kejar.. “ or something like that.

I replied, “ Sorry, none of my siblings berjalan naik tangga. Semua orang berlari sebab kalau jalan ada yang tangkap bontot… “.

It is true. Dan’s father once made a remark somewhat like my colleague’s when he heard my sister ascending the stairs when we were in Nottingham.

Can’t be helped. Because if my father was home, as we unsuspectingly took the stairs, there will be somebody creeping from behind and grabbed our butts. After that we learnt to run as that is the safest. Running and looking behind, just in case. If you walk, you are an easy target, my friend. Believe me.

“ Waarrgghhh ! “ Grab !!

“ Wargghh !! Janganlah !! Ayah jahat !! “

That is the usual exchange of words at our stairs at home.

I do not like walking in front of anybody when I ascend the stairs. But now… well… we never learn do we. My children would also run when they use the stairs. Because.. well there is me to grab their cute behinds now.

Ohh… well Dan, somehow knew that I miss the tooshie grabbing routine and would sometime grab mine whenever we were on the stairs. Aaahh…. Bring back fond memories of childhood.

But… no matter if it was us or my children, we would dissolved in laughter whenever ayah ( or me ) did that. It is rather exhilarating, somehow…

I have to say, sometimes we were disappointed when ayah didn’t do it. That is a secret. Don’t tell my daddy…

Monday, June 25, 2007


Last week an interesting article on maid abuse surfaced in the papers. This article was of course spawned by the week before’s 15th floor maid incident. NSTP interviewed some abused maids who are currently seeking shelter at the Indonesian Embassy. There were many horrifying stories. But what is more appalling is that one abused maid’s employer was let go after paying a fine. Only fined ?

What a load of crap. Abuse is abuse no matter to whom it was done to. The last time I checked, Malaysia is not an apartheid country. Foreign workers although do not have full rights as we Malaysian do ( like voting or free education or whatever ), still have the right to be safe and to be paid for the services they have provided, among other things. They still deserved to be respected, to be pitied and most importantly to be treated as human. Basic human rights that is given to all people no matter if there are on their own soil or not.

I condemn the authority that let abusive employer’s go with a mere fine. Just a stupid slap at the wrist. These things can put a permanent label to us. I mean we Malaysians endure labelling our whole lives. You know, every Malay is lazy, or this race are liars and people of that ethnic group are thieves. I mean come on, we do not even have to look at other races, we Malays even dissect our own people by the state they come from. How Kelantanese is like this and Kedahan is like that etc. Do we want to be known as a country of abusers ? It will stick to you, you know. Especially when stories of fined abuser leak out to the whole world. It shows that abusing maids are the norm of our countrymen. “ Oh everybody does that here. Just yesterday, I poured hot oil over my maids body because she didn’t wish me good morning !! “ The acts of a minority can effect the whole nation.

Having a live-in maid is part of our culture. When I was small, all our maids came from Johor. I don’t know why but they just did. One stayed for 6 years until she got married and after that we had a succession of Johorian maids with 1 to 2 years stint each. We usually lose them to their boyfriends and after that we got ours from Indonesia.

So when I moved to my own abode 4 years ago, there was no question of whether I am getting a maid or not.

Our maid was good to us initially. The house was clean but most importantly my children were happy. We have two tellies and which ever one we used, she would use the spare one. I once cooked alone because she wanted to watch a Hindustan movie upstairs. I let her be as to me there is no issue there. She was at home the whole day and as far as I am concerned, if I get to go home and relax, she can too. Her condition is worst than mine as I can leave my office. She can’t. She sleeps and breathes her workplace.

Everyday I will leave her some money just in case she wants to do a little bit of shopping at the nearest shop or too lazy to cook. When I found out that she liked to read, I bought her new Malay novels every month. Sometimes I even furnished her with Malay magazines ! All in the name of compassion and pity.

When we went out, the kids didn’t want her to assist them at all. Dan and I still had to feed and mind them. She is left with carrying our things. I didn’t like that. My mom didn’t like that either. I remember us taking the maid out only once because mummy didn’t like Kakak trying to make herself useful by carrying whoever is youngest at that time or our things and then walked 2 – 3 paces behind us like she didn’t deserve to be with us. Therefore Dan and I always asked if she wanted to come along. She usually didn't. So we stopped asking knowing that if she wanted to come, she could just say so. She was relieved because she said she preferred to stay home to relax and watch the telly anyway. Why not ?

Whenever we were home, the kids were our responsibility. She never bathed or fed them whenever we are around. They are our kids and therefore our duty. I do not have the stomach to let somebody else be with my kids, nurturing and loving them whenever I am around. Therefore whenever we were home, the kids were completely ours.

So you could imagine her life. We respected her, we called her Kakak and she just called us by our names. I learnt to buy Malay DVDs to keep her entertained and watched them with her so that she had somebody to watch them with. I bought her RM 100 shoes, real leather ones because none at Bata fits. I bought her a set of pots, the ones that she had been dreaming of. I even paid for her intelligent son’s monthly school fees and promised that I would give her the money to buy her own cooking gas tank.

Then I found out that she had been abusing my kids. Not just physically but she had been yelling and cursing them too. She even spread lies about us to our neighbours, lies so outlandish that luckily none wanted to believe. Our neighbours saved us by ratting on her. Apart from that, before we found out that she was doing those things, she was offensive to us. About 5 months after she entered our homes, she started to be cynical and rude but since we needed her service and didn’t want her to hurt our precious ones ( which she did anyway ), we just closed one eye.

What did I do ? I did nothing. I sent her to my in-laws’ house without so much as a harsh word and soon after that showed them her true colours to them and were sent back to Indonesia, pronto.

Did I want to kick her sorry arse ? Yup. Did I want to slap her face ? Badly. Did I want to rant and rave until I get hoarse ? Until now the feeling is there. But I didn’t want to because I still have empathy. But most importantly because I am a Muslim, I got more class than that. I would not stoop that low.

Errmm… I think my entry today veered from my original plan. I got sidetracked because of course this issue reminded me of HER. So… well.. I have lost my original train of thoughts. I basically wanted to voice my displeasure of all these monsters who abused their maids because my maid abused my family mentally and physically and I didn't lay a finger on her.
Maybe I will get them back… My thoughts that is...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Book Review : For One More Day by Mitch Albom

Waaahhh….. What a touching book. Sedihnya. This book will teach you stuffs, my friends. It will teach you about forgiveness, parental love and especially teach you about the sacrifices they make. It will make you want to reach for your mammy or your daddy or even better both of them.

It will make you reflect on your relationship with your parents and this book will make you weep for the wrong things you have done to them. When I read this book, I imagined myself as the narrator. After every anecdote, I will remember almost similar incident that happened to me and then I will be overwhelmed with regret. Children will always hurt their parents because they don’t understand. There is no maturity. It is quite okay if you don’t mean to hurt but if you do it with intent… well, then….

This book is about Chick who totally lost it when his mom died. He lost it because the last time he spoke to his mom the conversation was full of deceit and he couldn’t wait to leave her. All his life since his father left, he had been angry with her and the last time they spoke to each other was no exception. When she died he drank his sorrows away and became a person that his wife and daughter could not live with. The failure of his marriage made him turned to alcohol further more and he lived in the shadows.

Until one day when he received a letter from his daughter announcing her marriage. He was not even invited. He didn’t even know his new son-in-law. He was overcome with grief so momentous that he decided to take his own life. But before that he wanted to visit his childhood home for the last time.

He was involved in an accident on the way there and escaped unhurt. Since the accident happened near his home, he decided to resume the journey on foot, still fresh from the disaster. Imagine his surprise when he opened his door, his momma was there to greet him.

Then, like all moms are wont to do, she consoled, supported, and guided him.

His dad once told him “ You can either be a momma’s boy or your daddy’s boy. You could never be both. So choose, “. Chick said, he chose his father because unknowingly, you will cling to the person that was most likely to leave. And he was right. His daddy left. I felt so sad because to me his father leaving changed him. If his father had stayed, he wouldn’t be a drunken man, living his regrets.

Books like these are important. It could either teach or make you realise about certain aspects of the life you lead, or better still both. To me, kesedaran itu penting. It is good if the kesedaran is long lasting but even it if it lasted for a short while, giving you enough time to make a difference even a smidgeon, that is good enough for me. This book reminded me again that I do not know every little thing that effects my parents’ decisions. That even at the times when I hate them, even if at that time their decision seemed cruel or stupid to me, they did it out of love and for my best interest.

We do not exactly have a clear guidebook on how to be good parents. All of them are usually vague and very macro at best. We make mistakes. Parents make mistakes. Therefore it is crucial for children to understand whatever mistakes parents did, it was out of love.

This is my third book by good old Mitch. My first was Five People You Meet In Heaven followed by Tuesdays With Morrie. Both books were out of the normal topics that people usually write about. Although love was still the main staple, but it was presented to us in unique plots.

Read it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Book Review : Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

I grabbed this book as soon as I saw it. Firstly because it was a Meg Cabot masterpiece and second because it was the lone copy there. I didn’t even want to think about it. Grab, pay and oh shucks, my kids are running to me with their own books, rummaged for more money. Oh well..

The book is about Lizzie who went to England to meet her English boyfriend only things didn’t turn out well. Well it was a disaster in fact. Luckily for her, her bestfriend is holed up somewhere in France in a castle helping her boyfriend’s bestfriend Luke, to organize a wedding for Luke’s cousin. Phew.. !!

Lizzie and Luke of course fell in love in the midst of Luke’s parent’s coming divorce, Luke’s scheming girlfriend and the wedding planning headaches coupled with a spoilt bride and a few other wedding disasters. But Lizzie and her big mouth ( she doesn’t think when she speaks and regrets her words as soon as they came out. Happens to the best of people many, many times – aku le tu ) saved the day. Hmmm…….

The book is funny. I like funny stuffs so I like the book. I mean I have recommended Size 12 is not Fat and Size 14 Is not Fat Either and I was not disappointed with the book… well at the end of it anyway.

Seriously, the first few chapters weren’t good. It was not the story line, I have no problem with that but the way she wrote it. The words she used and the style of writing was so cliché that I was hugely disappointed. She wrote like any other chick lit writers out there. It was cliché… unoriginal. But then she began to pick up pace, she might have worn her usual hat when she wrote the rest of the book as it sounded more like her. All in all, I gave a huge, satisfied smile at the end.

Read it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Movie Review : Sumolah

Watch it. That is all I am going to say. Watch it. Hilariously funny. If it is too late to catch it at the cinemas buy the original dvd when it comes out later.

No lah, that is not all I am going to say. I have a lot to say actually. Praises first. The dialogue is funny. It had us laughing the whole movie. There is a believable storyline with the right amount of love story injected into it. Afdlin was brilliant during the sumo tournament scenes. The action, the snapshots of sumo wrestling, the wrestlers themselves and the audience coupled with brilliant music ( all kinds of drums from the Malay, Chinese, Indian and Sikh version ) was amazing. I didn’t know my people had it in them. Directorial capability that is.

Afdlin’s acting was of course amazing. But I have to give a special recognition to Awie, Radhi Khalid and Kartina Aziz. And well…. Gurmit Singh. Wah lau wei…… He is such a good actor. We are so used to his Phua Chu Kang altar ego that when he played a baddie, he looked like a totally different person. Like he was not Gurmit Singh at all. He was brilliant. He looked Japanese somehow and his portray as a Japanese was convincing. I like the essence of Manga that was incorporated in the movie whereby whenever a hero or villain makes an entrance they will pause at the door for their goodness/badness and usually handsomeness to take effect. He he… so cute. The conclusion ? Gurmit Singh’s embodiment of a villain ( albeit a soft one ) was realistic.

The criticism ? Again, lack of attention to detail. Patrick Teoh should spend more time being around Japanese who could speak Malay or English. I cringe whenever he speaks because well, it was horrendous. That Thai girl who played Honda Siti ( isn’t that just funny ) although very lovely, suffers from the same problem. Her Malay was… well just not there yet. Some would argue that she is half Japanese and half Malay and therefore her Malay is not perfect but she doesn’t sound like a Japanese speaking Malay either. It was neither her nor there.

Whatever it is, Sumolah is funny. Like I mentioned earlier I love the tournament scene which I find very well planned and inspiring, a stroke of genius. Although Afdlin is still not there yet with the likes of Hollywood greats, but he is definitely getting there, fast.