Wednesday, August 23, 2006

There's Been A Death In The Family.

Funeral arrangements are being made as I type this. Family members are probably scurrying around town, getting funeral errands done as the undertaker comes and do what is required and necessary. Phonecalls are made to inform the relatives of the deceased immediately. No further elaboration is given to the other relatives about the details of his death, but are only rushed to come home as soon as possible. The wake will be held for five days and family members from far away are coming back to pay their last respect and fulfill filial piety. Shit happens so suddenly that none of us could even grasp it. Everyone's probably gathered at the funeral parlour/home right now, mourning, while I'm stuck here in KL, unable to go back yet.

Tua pek has passed away last night on his hospital bed.

Everyone thought he was going to make it through his final stage of cancer, but the doctor has proved otherwise last night. The phone call we got from kai ma, bearing the bad news, told us that we had to make arrangements to come back immediately. I was shocked to get the news (so informally) but immediately went back up to the first floor of the bungalow (that feels so empty now) to pack my bags after discussing last minute bus fares with Aunt Mary. Grace and I (being the eldest grandchildren in the family) will be catching a bus today to go back to Penang where all the family members are gathered.

Suddenly, I don't feel like staying anymore. Spent a restless and sleepless night, toiling in the bed and rubbing my eyes, thinking and thinking. I came here full of anxiety but now I'm returning home filled entirely to the brink with distress. I felt stuck for I can't go back to be with the others. Gosh, I din't know what to say. This is... so unexpected. I certainly don't mind my trip getting cut off now. As much as I'm reluctant t go home and face the music, there's still a great sense of responsibility hovering over me, telling me that 'I need to get back home'. Speaking of which, the word is, I'm supposed to take charge of all the rituals during the wake and the funeral seeing that tua pek has no sons and me, being the eldest male gardnchildren in the family would have to do it. Tua pek and the rest of the paternal side of the family are staunch Taoist. Dad's the only one who converted to Catholic. I don't know what to expect but I can say that I'm feeling nervous and afraid.

But not half as worried as I am towards amah. Gosh, I don't know if that grand old lady can take it. She's almost 80 and I'm seriously not sure if she could handle the news. As far as I know, no one have yet took the courage to inform amah. I hope everything's fine. I hope she doesn't crumble under the pressure. Her health isn't at tip top condition and all she needs is a little push to get her heart attack back on. I don't want to lose amah now. Not now. *sobs*. I think amah is the main worry of every family member now. I could still remember amah's face when I was four when ah kong (grandfather) passed away.

It was the funeral and the final rites and ritual were being carried out by the monk in front of our old heritage house, witnessed by all sorts of people that I didn't recognise. The hearse pulled up and the coffin was laid in front of the house for family members and friends to pay their last respect. As a child, I didn't understand what all this meant. Immediate family members were told to kneel down on the rough tar road, under the blazing sun and watch as the coffin got carried into the hearse. Workers from the coffin company were busy doing their work, oblivious to the crying family members. I couldn't cry at that time. Ah kong's death was not an impact to me at all. I had only 2 years of memory to hang on about ah kong then.

In the midst of the crowd as they made their way slowly to tail the hearse (chinese tradition), I turned in excitement to look for amah. I saw her, sitting on a stool beside the open door, with her eyes filled with tears and red. Being the small naive child I was, I asked amah, "Amah, you want to come along?" as I held out my hand for her to hold. She remained seated and sobbing. "Amah, are you crying?" I asked again, getting a little closer as if to inspect her eyes. Wiping her eyes wth the handkerchief, she told me in a shaky vocie, "No lah, ah boy. Faster go. Amah leg pain, cannot walk." Mom came and ushered me to follow the moving crowd whispering to me that I should remain quiet and ask no further questions. I turned back one last time with mom holding my hands to see amah buried in her handkerchief.

I didn't understand what the tears was all about then. I felt so comfortable in the hands of mom, dad, aunties, uncles and elder cousins. Come to think of it, that was the first death I encountered. Everything to me came as a surprise. Something new to watch. Something for me to keep asking 'why'. Something for me to gape in awe. It was two years, I think, after ah kong's death that my (paternal) great-grandmother passed away. Things were pretty much the same then. That was the last death the family has encountered and now, this. I hope amah strive through this.

Though Grace and I had a little conversation last night when were alone in the living room on the first floor. She looked more shocked than I did.

Grace: I didn't have the chance to see him for the last time and bid farewell.
Matt: Don't worry. I'm sure he understands.
Grace: Do you have any feelings towards tua pek's death?
Matt: Do you?
Grace: A little bit.
Matt: Yeah, a little bit. I mean, we totally do not have any great memories with him, right? It's hard for us to feel something great.
Grace: I suppose.
Matt: Why can't we be like that to everybody? Don't keep a close relation and don't have any sweet memories so that we won't feel the pinch when the person passes away.
Grace: Do you think life's that easy?
Matt: Well, no.
Matt: Do you think everyone's mourning at home now?
Grace: Hard to tell.

It really freaks me out that I could feel such a way last night. I'm not entirely sure if we felt the way we felt because we have yet to see the condition and the atmosphere at home or that that we truly do not feel that great sense of remorse. For that, I'm not sure if I'm going to cry. I can only say, let's see how things are first. Are we really being inhuman about this? I don't know. Grace is going to her varsity later today to apply for exemption as she has exams going on now. She's not planning to come back anymore until her holidays are over.

But anyways, I think this'll be my final post for the holiday. There's no telling if we are allowed to go home after going to the funeral parlour/home. I'd probably just post pictures if I could. It's sad that my plans were ruined, but it's even sadder that there's been a death in the family. This makes the second death this year, after kong kong's death. There's nothing more I want now than to get back home and be with the family. It's quite alot for mom to take and it's even more for amah to grasp. I hope everything's ok.

Now, as everyone gathers around the coffin to witness tua pek being laid to rest in his coffin and burn joss papers and other paper paraphernalia at the side of the coffin, I have to go check if all my stuff has safely been put into my baggages. The coffin will be sealed as soon as family members lay in objects for the soul to take to the afterworld. There'll be a great deal of women wailing which will only be heard as muffled voices from the inside of the coffin. But before long, everyone would be settled down at the parlour, going back to chatting (with a tiny tone of grief), paying for a spot in the obituaries in the papers, buying lottery with the deceased's death number (the number on the death certificate), and arranging tables for the night crowd to come attend the wake. Not to mention the frequent prayers held by the taoist monk/priest and the unpacking of food bought by family members to be laid in front of the coffin.

"Haiya, it's the seventh lunar month lor! What bad luck! It must be the spirits..." I can already hear one of my aunts saying to the other as she fans herself with yesterday's Kwong Wah Yit Poh, munching on peanuts and drinking coffee with her left feet up on the other bench.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Personal Details Tag, I Suppose?

I'm supposed to post something about being in KL but I've got them saved on my drafts. Don't seem to have the mood to type alot, so, I decided to do Adelyn's tag instead. Kind of obliging also. Got loads of time to spare here also. Mind you, I've never been tagged before, so here goes.

1. Full Name: Matthew Kang Li Wei

2.Name backwards: Iew Il Gnak Wehttam. How Thai-ish!

3.Were you named after someone? Don't think so.

4. Meaning of name: Dad used to tell me that Matthew meant 'The Gift From Yahweh (God)'.

5. Nickname: Matt (duh!), Kang-kang, and Li Wei.

6. Screen name: matrianklw

7. D.O.B: 11th of June 1990.

8. Place of birth: Loh Guan Lye Hospital, Penang, Malaysia.

9. Nationality: Malaysian.

10.Current location: Cousin's video room (KL).

11.Star sign: Gemini.

12.Religon: Catholic (devout)

13.Height: The last time I measured, it was 175cm (5' 9" isit?). Not sure.

14.Weight: Don't wish to disclose. I'm sorry. But you gotta know, I'm fat (really).

15.Shoe size: 8 or 9.

16.Hair color: Black.

17.Eye color: Dark brown (barely visible).

18.Who do you look like: Every camp or function I attend where I meet new people, they'd always say I look like some friend of theirs whom I have never seen or met before in my life. The previous one, I had a girl telling me I looked like one of her female friends! It's beginning to get annoying actually. How many people in this world can actually look as horrible as me?

19.Innie or outtie: What does this actually mean? If it means extrovert or introvert, I'm kinda like in the middle. More introvert sometimes.

20.Lefty or righty: Right.

21.Gay, straight, bi or others: Others.

22.Best friends: Edward and Darren.

23.Best friends you trust most: Edward and Darren.

24.Favourite pals: Grace, Patrick, Nicholas, Daniel, and I can't think of anymore, for now.

25.Best friend of opposite sex: Don't think I have anyone that acknowledges my presence. They all freak at the sight of me. Maybe it's because I'm fat.

26.Best buddies: Adrian and Carina. But I think they're growing up now that they see me as boring. Which is true, in a sense.

27.Boyfriend or girlfriend: No relationship for now.

28.Crush: No one likes me, I like no one. Mostly, they're all temporary crushes. Not worth mentioning. Can't even remember myself.

29.Parents: Mom and dad.

30.Worst Enemy: Pimples and obesity. No human enemies.

31.Favourite online guy: Edward, Darren, Luk Juan, Adrian

32.Favourite online girl: Adelyn, Hui Ying

34.Craziest friend: Nicholas!

35.Advice friend: Akak and Grace.

36.Loudest friend: Sorry, I took that place!

37:Person you cry with: Grace

38.Any sisters: Grace and Grace (Ong)

39.Any brothers: Edmund!

40.Any pets: Used to have Jasmine, a street dog. But she died a long time ago.

41.Any disease: Asthma.

42.Pager: Mobile phone.

43.Personal phone line: Mobile phone number is it?

44.Cell phone: Oh here. 016 4335419. What the point?

45.Lava Lamp: Planning to get one!

46.Pool or hot tub: Pool.

47.A car: None.

48.Your personality: No single words or phrase to describe me, I guess. You can easily tell from the way I write or through my photographs.

49.Driving: Rather driven than drive.

51.Room: 2 beds, a desk, my computer, cupboards, closet, shelves and a big mirror. Nothing awesome or interesting. Alot of junk (personal belongings) and magazines. Neat and tidy.

52.What's missing: Can't think of any. Alway thankful for what I got, especially my family.

53.School: Penang Free School, Penang.

54.Bed: King single.

55.Relationship with parents: Unconditional love. Rebellious at times, but other than that, a healthy relationship is the way to call it.

56.Believe in yourself: Fairly.

57.Believe in love at first sight: Definitely!

58.Good listener: Not really. Tends to start giving useless and unwanted advice. Something to do with being a guy, so I've read. Always trying to solve things when all others need is someone to listen to.

59.Get along well with parents: Most of the time.

60.Save e-mail convos: Gmail does automatically.

61.Pray: At church, bedroom, troubled times and when I'm lonely.

62.Believe in reincarnation: Don't know.

63.Make fun of people: Quite often. Enjoy mocking people silently.

64.Like to talk on the phone: Never have, never will.

65.Want to get married: Depends. Leave for God to decide.

66.Like to drive: No!

67.Motion Sickness: None.

68.Eat stem of broccoli: Ewe! No! I don't do greens!

69.Eat chicken with fork: Errr, I think so.

70.Dream in color: Don't usually remember my dreams.

71.Type with your fingers on home role: WTH?

72.Sleep with stuff animals: I have asthma. It can choke me to death.

73.Next to you: I'm not in my room. But I have a Pikachu telephone, speakers, CPU, calculator, modem, microphone, toy car, pirated CDs of Chinese artists, calender, pencil holder, box of tissue paper and a few stacked books (yellow pages and dictionary and Harry Potter book). This is not my room.

74.On the walls of your room: Nothing. I like 'em clean. But the drawings we made before our renovation are beginning to pop out.

75.On your mousepad: Don't have one. USB mouse (with the red laser).

76.Dream car: Know nuts about cars! Though I've always fancied cars from Kia Motors.

77.Dream date: Hoping for something like Room Raiders to happen to me.

78.Dream honeymoon spot: Don't know.

79.Dream husband or wife: Leave it to fate.

80.Bedtime: Depends.

81.Under your bed: Edmund's pullout bed.

82.Single most important question: "What the hell is wrong with you!"

83.Bad time of the day: Mornings! Just so hard to wake up.

84.Your worst fear: Can't think of any now. Alot, I think.

85.The weather is: Sunny, hazey and hot.

86.Time: 11.08 am.

87.Date: 21st of August 2006

88.Best trick did on someone: I don't do tricks. I get tricked.

89.Theme song: According to Tickle it's Every Breath You Take.

90.Hardest thing about growing up: Learning from stupid mistakes and taking the shame of my stupid mistakes.

91.Funniest experience: Can't remember any for now. Got loads.

92.Scariest experience: Can't remember for now.

93.Silliest thing you have ever said: Can't remember.

94.Most desperate and funniest thing i have done to get the opposite sex: Can't remember.

95.Scariest thing while you are with your friends: Can't remember.

96.Worst feeling: Feeling stupid and embarassed.

97.Best feeling in the world: Have to agree with Adelyn. Acceptance. Belonging. Loved.


Seriously, can't think of any right now also. Bad memory.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Packing. #2

I'm multitasking : typing ony my blog, picking songs to be burned into the CD-RW and occasionally turning back to insert more stuff into my already puffed, stuffed and heavy luggage (seems like there won't be enough space to put all my things in only one luggage). I guess I will never know how to learn to travel light. Never had, never will. It's only been a week since I got back from my camp and now, I'm packing for KL again. Third time this year? Must be breaking the record.

I'm catching a bus at 9a.m. tomorrow with apoh to KL and will be there for the entire week to spend my holidays. Not exactly as leisurely as you might imagine. The only reason I'm making this trip to KL was because it was Grace's request. She said she needed help in her assignments and stuff and mom and dad thought that it'd be best for me to spend the entire week there to help her. I was thrilled with the idea at first, but am beginning to see reasons of not wanting to go anymore. For starters, the bad encounter with the house from my previous visit was bad enough to scare me away. Not that I'm complaining (ok, maybe a bit), heck, I should be lucky enough to have a roof over my head waiting for me at KL.

There are other reasons which I do not wish to disclose... for now.

My clothes have filled the first luggage. Among other things, I'm burning myself a CD for the journey (it has become one of routines during packing now), and doing some last minute transferring of pictures from the camera and my mobile, besides updating my blog before I leave. I have yet to get an MP3 player (preferrably an iPod), so, the only way I can get my music on the go is to burn them onto a CD-RW and play it in my walkman. Still living the old ways, I'm afraid. I've also packed some CDs along, in case I wanted a change. All the vacant plug-heads (or whatever you call it) in my room are all occupied with chargers.

But seriously, I'm not looking forward to anything this trip. In fact, I'm planning to spend my time studying there, since I've already finished Harry Potter (Dumbledore wasn't given a farewell that the ought to have!). I'm planning to complete all my homework there, spending boring afternoons drawing up graph bars and charts alone. At least I'm going try.

I think that's it. I'll probably be back by Monday. Got my packet of Lay's and my camera in my backpack with two luggages, ready to set for tomorrow. I'm gonna have to do some last minute check list or somehting like that. Let's hope I don't forget anything important (deodarant!). Grace has also told me to bring some stuff for her. Wonder how am I going to manage all my baggages in the bus tomorrow. I seriously need to learn how to travel light.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rejected Proposal.

Apparently, my high spirits and hopes of spending this afternoon, happily, catching back with episodes of Grey's Anatomy, Prison Break or The O.C didn't come true when I started changing templates of my desktop again. Admittedly, it HAS been a long time since I last changed my desktop skin after I managed to reside with one of the most perfect Vista skins I've ever come about. Was reluctant to change but the inner me was screaming for another transformation.

Well, I came back from school feeling particularly pissed off today. Don't get me wrong. I had a good time in school, not paying the slightest attention towards all the teachers but kept busy with the eagerness to finish my copy of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in school. I couldn't help but feel a little lighter today, considering the fact that I DID pull off the proposal at the very last minute. Though, I must say that I could've done a far more better job at it if I'd took the initiative to complete it a week before! Went to bed at about 1.30 a.m. last night, causing the bags under my eyes to stretch even wider, deeper and darker. Couldn't blame the propsal entirely for it as I did, regretfully, crept out of my room to watch some stupid Cantonese ghost flick that lasted till 12.45 a.m. everytime the commercial ended.

Not that I'm a big fan of these inexplicably cheap horror flick, only aired by cable TV or that I might stay up pass 12 a.m. to watch some horror movie that I have never heard of. It's just the fun of doing so during the Hungry Ghost Festival. It has became customary to me (over the years of eagerly trying to scare myself during this time) to always watch at least one horror flick that's aired on cable during the Hungry Ghost Festival. It's just the fun of it I guess. TV3 has never failed to entertain it's viewers everytime of the year around. It's just that they seem t be running out of movies to air over the past few years. Well, it still doesn't bother me to watch re-runs of last year's Cantonese horror flick.

Anywa the day started well with the cancellation of Wednesday assembly due to the drizzling outside the overly grey clouds. KY nodding his head rythmically as he flipped through the pages of my proposal. I didn't intend to show it to him, knowing that I would feel rather restless about his comments on technical mistakes. He cornered me early in the morning as I was on my way to class and he asked me politely, to show him what I have come up with the last minute. "I guess that should be allright," he said cheerfully as he handed the file back to me. I got reprimanded by Mr. Khor for talking with other students outside the class while the teacher was in the class, causing KY and his friends who were there to scamper off hurriedly as I take the blow for being rude.

That didn't quite ruin my mood... yet. I guess it must be the euphoria that I was feeling after passing KY's verdict, that I took out my copy of Harry Potter alongside my Maths notes. carefully placing the notes and the textbook on the table, I hid Harry Potter under the desk, afraid that Mr. Khor would detect the book wrapped in bright green paper with daisy imprinted over it. Like normal, Mr. Khor started lecturing the class about manners when he was supposed to start off lesson for the day. I felt that I was excluded from the crowd and that it was safe to read. So I opened the book to where I left my bookmark and picked up where I left off, half the book hidden under the desk.

Who could've guessed? I got so immersed with the book that I felt that there was no point in trying to pay attention in class anymore for the rest of the day. I had double periods of Accountancy after Mr. Khor. Aiman showed up with my book today. I really saw no point of following Ms. Chee's almost-deranged explanation on the subject of Depreciation even though I had my note book with me today. Or you can say that Harry Potter got the best of me! Still, I could hear a faint cry deep inside me, telling me that I should at least pay attention to her scribblings on the board even if I refused to take down notes. A sense of guilt rushed over me later that day, when Edward (who was walking beside me) greeted Ms. Chee while strolling in the empty hallways during recess and she greeted the both of us back. I didn't even said anything to that and she was on her way off already, smiling a little to herself. I was sorry that she was so oblivious about me reading under the desk the whole time she was battling for attention from the class.

Accountancy came by and past with me dedicating the entire double periods to try to get to the end of the book. I treated the other subjects of the day no differently - except for that one period with Mr. Samad. Didn't have the guts to mess with him and dutifully finished all the questions he gave. Imagine the consequences that I have to suffer if he discovered me not cracking my head to solve his Add. Maths questions. Mr. Goh however, took a slight notice that I was reading and asked me what book it was. He had nothing against me as I was taking down hsi scribbles on the blackboard as well. He peered into my book as if to see if I was telling the truth. Spotting the word Harry Potter, he told me that he have downloaded the audio versions of the six books altogether and later asking me if I'm interested in having a copy. "No thanks, sir. I prefer reading," I said to him, smiling.

I also spent my recess disecting the pages of Harry Potter. Initially, I brought Accountancy note book along, hoping to at least get some work done by the time the bell rang. I went back to class to grab Harry Potter after realising that I won't be able to concentrate with the amount of students gathered at the pond area, all having their own cliques and groups occupying different spots. Past the time (regretfully) chatting to Edward and reading. School felt like it ended quickly, with me, detached form reality and submerged in a world of magic. Pretty easy if you ask me. I felt more elated when I was spared any scolding or confiscation of books during our double periods of History. Seriously, I had my head down the whole time (it kind of hurts now), transfixed with the book under my desk and not participating at all in class! Mrs. Tan was either oblivious to this or that she thought that it was a waste of time to get me to concetrate in class.

The bell rang and I proceeded to the next classroom where the Interact Club meeting was to be held. I was feeling such a great sense of relief that I wasn't even scared anymore to face the whole board of directors. I was approached by the president before the meeting started, asking me for the proposal. I handed it over to him, with a slight sense of satisfaction and nervousness. He flipped through the pages and I saw his expression slowly changed. It seemed to me that he was quite cross with my proposal.

I have no idea why but my wild guess would be that I left a blank space on the 'student advisor' column in my Organising Committee page. He told me off, in the most polite way that he seemed to be struggling with that my proposal was going to be project they were planning for three years ahead. His tone of voice sounded accusatory enough when he asked me why did I have to aim for something THIS grand. He took no hesitation on pointing out my other technical errors. I have to say in my defence, that the whole format of the paperwork I prepared was what I copied down a couple of weeks before when he wrote it on the blackboard!! I did exactly the same way he showed us on the blackboard and yet, he sounded accusing enough that I did things my way and disregarded the matter.

"I'm afraid you have to re-do this for me," he said, indignantly. Of course, a low post subordinate
like me would not even dare the thought of retaliating with him. I took his orders and I assured him that the proposal will be ready by our next meeting. Still, something inside of me was burning and I felt a great deal of discomfort. Not to mention how stupid and feeble I felt after he walked away. He didn't return my proposal but left it pinned under his books and files. "I will not allow him to show the other directors about my work and let him have fun and talk crap about it with his fellow mates," I thought angrily. I took back what belonged to me and kept it in my file once more.

I asked him for a copy of a proper proposal which he happened to have in his hand. He past it to me and I deposited it into my bag also. Obedient as I was, I stayed for the meeting, even after what happened. It turned out to be a meeting for the president to lecture his subordinates about responisbilities and cooperation. Like having to sit through his 20 minute lecture wasn't enough, I felt that the whole cause of him talking was because of me. Certainly, I didn't retaliate when he told me to re-do the proposal but he mentioned something like, "When I tell you people to re-do your proposals, you have to do it. Orders given are to be carried out. You shall not argue or chuck things aside. If you encounter any problems, you are to come consult me!"

Was he talking to me?

I was seriously pissed off by the time I got to the car. I felt that the president handled things a little too harshly and crude. There was something about the way he talked to me: like he was refraining from saying really harsh words to me with his constant roll of eyes when clearly, it was my first time of preparing a proposal. Injustice, I'd say. *sighs*. I grudgingly told dad what heppened when he asked about it as soon as I got in the car. Luckily, I fell asleep (from the lack of sleep last night) quickly enough to save me from further interrogation or advices that I felt, at that point, useless.

Feeling ill-treated and angry, I rewarded myelf with a free afternoon of doing nothing. Didn't have the mood to correct the paperwork just yet. When I had finished with decorating my desktop and felt self-satisfied, the tiny flame of euphoria was still flickering in me. I downloaded some music, checked my emails and replied Grace's overflowing emails in my inbox. Retired off to some TV right after that, to only discover another new singer by the name of Joshua Radin with his single Closer. Kind of nice to me. The name was intriguing enough for me to download his music, honestly. I'm planning to sleep early today, hoping to regain my consciousness in school tomorrow or I might as well be a walking zombie. Used ot be able to do this but can't even past 12 a.m. anymore these days, without feeling extremely lazy the day after. Couldn't be bothered to complete any of my homework also.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Worrying Matters

Spending my past two hours trying to complete my delayed proposal for the Interact Club in my school has led me to pulling out chunks of my hair in frustration! Well, if I had hair to be pulled. I couldn't think of anything for 'social work in school' to be proposed. Urgh. Got swayed away to blog reading though - and now, blogging myself. Something about staring at the blank page of a Word document and a stagnant mouse pointer with my finger rested on the keyboard just makes me feel uneasy. Already uneasy enough with the proposal, I just had to get my mind off things, I guess.

School today was as usual - flooded with work and assignments. Had alot of catching up to do, considering I missed an entire week of school last week, after my rendezvous getaway to an island to only come home sick and unable to attend the remaining two days of school. My level of unenthusiasm in class was soaring way high also, seeing that this will be the only week of school until the one week holidays which will be starting next week. Heaps of towering homework have been shoved to me, dutifully, by my classmates, overshadowing my gaze, as soon as I step into the classroom on the first day. It's still coming today. History finished a whole chapter without me and Add. Maths was also nearing the end of the chapter about Statistics.

Despite the amount of work waiting to be completed, I could still manage to find time to continue reading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in class. I mean, I could hardly pay attention in Accountancy, what more with the absence of my note book as a result of borrowing it to Aiman. Resorted to reading to kill time, you know. Was exceptionally free the as Mrs. Lim (my Economics teacher) was away for a course, leaving the class to be substituted by another teacher for two entire periods. More reading time for me. Funny, it didn't feel THAT long anymore in school. Maybe we've grown accustomed to the time extension or time seems to pass smoothly when I'm not paying attention and secretly reading under the desk everytime the teacher turns her back on us to scribble on the blackboard? Maybe.

Unfortunately, by recess, I was already showered with a tonne leftover essays and notes after History that I was beginning to get worried that I might never be able to finish it all in this lifetime. As usual, I start to get weary with all those sheets of given notes all messed up of its accordance and all those extra notes and essay that I was supposed to complete weeks before. I became restless when I was reaaranging those notes, thinking about my proposal and more Accountancy notes that I had to complete also. Urgh. Spent my whole recess attemtping to do some History notes at the pond area of the school at one of those stone benches and table with Edward rummaging through my pencil case, comparing the two bottles of liquid that I had and later, opening the cap and attempted to draw on the table with it; which I managed to stop in time.

Couldn't really work with all the distractions around, especially with Edward constantly conjuring conversations from nowhere, resulting me in talking with him more than I can write anything. Recess ended and I slowly walked back to the building with Edward, feeling nothing but remorse for not accomplishing anything during recess. I went to Edward's class (located at the other end of the hallway from where my class was) before returning to class, like everyday after recess, totally forgetting that I had Mr. Samad (Add. Maths) after the bell. Spent about 10 minutes, chatting with Edward and taunting Fergie's London Bridge with his other classmates. Our conversation and laughs about the silly words in the song "Fergie, fer..." got cut short with Edward's teacher entering the class. I scurried off and made my way back to class in the now empty hallway (everyone had entered their class obediently).

I slid right through in class from the back door, silently as Mr. Samad had his back turned against the class. It gave me a second or two of relief that he didn't notice but hearing him calling out my name as I took out my books immediately distinguished the little flames of relief in me.

Mr. Samad: Come here!
Matt: Ermm... I'm sorry sir.
Mr. Samad: Late again! You think you can just waltz into my class 10 minutes late and hope to get away with it?
Matt: No, sir. Sorry, sir.
Mr. Samad: I have told you countless times not to be late for my class! This is not the first time. Come here (he gripped my shoulder and spun me around).
Matt: I... I...
Class: *smirking*

What did you expect? He hit me hard at my back and warned me about being late again. He gave the class the satisfaction of seeing me punished, though, I would've expected something more serious than this with the way he was talking to me like I've just commited crime. He didn't let me explain myself: not that I had any good reason and my brain just suddenly stopped functioning that I couldn't even think of a good lie. I guessed I deserved it anyway. It wasn't my first time that I entered the class casually when he was teaching - it took me a deal of a lie to get me out of trouble the last time! Didn't know what to say but to apologise profusely this time.

I returned to my seat, feeling oddly calmed, took out my books and settled down to his class. I call myself lucky that I didn't upset Mr. Samad more that day as I had the slightest difficulty in solving all his Add. Maths questions. I mean, the last time I forgot (honest!) to do his homework, he interrogated me in front of the whole class for no specific reasons! Clearly, he was mad at me alone for not completing his work, while the rest of the class didn't even touched his work since the beginning of the year!

That wasn't all of the worrying matters I had on my mind. It was as if having missed a whole week of school, being not able to finish any of the homework in time and walking into class on a cross Mr. Samad were bad enough, it happened to be Career Week. The school was having an exhibition of some sort to help students choose their career paths. All the fourth formers were required to be in the school hall on the 7th period. I packed my things and adjourned to the hall as soon as Mr. Samad stepped outside the class. I met Edward at the hall entrance and we lingered around the booths, collecting various brochures and phamplets offered by different universities and colleges. I read some of the bent and folded booklets (results of fanning myself in the crammed atmosphere) that were collected as Edward and I made our way through the crowd of over excited students and saw some interesting career paths if I wanted to pursue my studies in journalism.

Edward, on the other hand was contemplating a career in Mathematics and Statistics or whatever it is called. Somehow, the idea of marking examination papers, correcting mistakes and dealing with unscrupulous students appeal to him. He fancies to become a teacher, I suppose. We found an empty booth after walking round and round the hall, looking at the same people and brochures and sat down. I flipped through the brochures again, thinking about my future as Edward continue to fan himself with them. I sighed to myself, thinking about my studies...

After a few minutes of mere daydreaming, I noticed KY striding towards my direction. KY was the one who got me my post in the Interact Club earlier this term - couldn't thank him enough for that - and he seated himself comfortably onto a chair opposite of me and smiled widely. I glared at him until he spoke.

KY: How's your proposal coming along?
Matt: Huh? What? Oh... that...
KY: You've done everything haven't you?
Matt: Not really...
KY: Well, you'd better. Don't screw this up ok!?
Matt: I haven't even thought of what to propose yet!
KY: You could do something about recycling, kua...
Matt: Yeah, I was thinking of somehting like that too. Cause a gotong-royong just sounds plain and cheap, right?
KY: *nods in agreement*

I was glad he agreed. He continued to give me some suggestions about the proposal and by the end of our conversation, I felt slightly more confident in doing this. I told him to come online and give me some help if he could before we parted, totally forgetting (once again) that I had mass tonight. He was, by the way, my superior. I am just his assistant. This assignment, however, was given solely to me. Still, I guess he feels a little bit of responsibilty to help me through.

So here I am now, still can't seem to make up my mind of what to propose to the president for 'social work in school'. I don't have much time left to do this. I have to get ready for mass by 7 p.m.. After all, this IS a delayed work. So many questions that I need to ask now that I've actually started to prepare the paperwork. I'm not sure if I can get it done by today. *sighs* I still have loads of homework to attend to, a whole board of directors to face tomorrow for the proposal, a future to worry about, and a reminder that I should not be late for any of Mr. Samad's class in the near future.

Do you find school hard now?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

SONY Nature Photography Camp.

*coughs uncontrollably*

Oh crap. I'm down with my usual coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and fever. I'm very sick. I know that being sick means I have all the time in the world and it's best I update my blog as I relax and rest at home, listening to the soulful voice of Michael Buble. No. Not when I'm coughing hyterically, scraping the insides of my throat and gagging at the end of every cough! It's excruciating that while I'm typing, my throat feels like I've just swallowed charcoal and my eyes couldn't stop tear-ing. It's usually best that I sleep it off with some chinese medication. Oh it definitely kills time and all the weird dreams I have when my head feels like it could cook an egg, definitely saves me from the painful blowing of nose. I couldn't even drag myself to sit firmly in front the computer. I blame the camp.


Not that it was entirely bad. It was actually quiet good, if you ask an amature photography enthusiast like me. SONY actually came up with a pretty good program for the kids to encourage the love of nature through photography and further enhancing photography skills. I thought it was a fairly good way to reach out to the youths. Sadly, there was quite a big majority of students who were just there for the sake of being there. Judging by the enthusiasm they show and their lack of spirit during the camp, it was clear that most of them were there because they were called to. There were some who had no clue on what the whole thing was about, seeing that alot of them gazed emptily at nearby trees or chatted away happily with their mates.

Though there was also quite a hopeful bunch of students who were really keen on photography and gave their best at the slideshow presentation. We were supposed to come up with and present a slideshow presentation with the laptops provided and the photographs that were taken during our hike into the forest, guided by our own seniors and a forest ranger. There was a total of 10 groups and I was in group 7, with the name Exonat (Exotic Nature). Cut to the chase, my group scored the highest marks for the presentation and won the whole competition. The slideshow we came up with was boasted with class and style. Black background against white framed pictures and classy grey fonts. Nothing classier. Compared to the other groups, they stand nowhere in between. (Yeap, this is me talking with a sense of pride!) I mean, pictures used as backgrounds and messed up fonts and effects... I don't want to think about it.

Aizat (my team member) finishing the final touches

Life at camp was generally ok, I'd say. Nothing fancy. It was held at Belum Temenggor Forest - an island, all by itself in the middle of a dam - where civilisation is a 20minutes boat ride away, mobile phones have no coverage, and electricity is generated from the waters. We were lucky enough to have a roof over our heads at night. It was definitely more relaxing than a scout camp or any other outdoor camps for that matter. We needn't prepare our own food, as there was a fully functional kitchen there and there was a group of people cooking all the time. We needn't build our own tents or sleep in tents. We needn't bathe in the dirty waters of the lake also as we had proper bathrooms and toilets. Ample time was given during the camp to complete given assignments. Hurrying wasn't used alot in their vocab. The whole environment was peaceful and serene. A place where the sounds of crickets, the chirping of birds, the slapping of water against the shores, and the occasional distant vrooms of a speed boat rule the place.


Come to think of it, it was kind of disappointing that we didn't meet any tigers, elephants, snakes or even leeches. Nothing extraordinary. The jungle hike was as safe as hiking up the Penang Hill and we didn't even make it all the way up to the top. We just stopped somewhere in the middle for some photographs and we went back to camp to prepare for the slides. Nothing unexpected or surprising. We saw alot of jungle ants though, crawling under our feet, over the branches and all over the place! Big fat juicy ants. Gives me goosebumps whenever I stare at it.


I managed to meet quite a number of people there, participants and camp coordinators alike. Got a handful of contacts which are useful in the near future. Honestly, I thought my group seniors were the craziezt bunch of them all. Calvin, Christal and Nicole lead my group well, nourishing us with ideas and keeping us on the right track most of the time. They were young, energetic and so full of life. Reminds me of the time I had with my BRAT seniors. Calvin had a lot of useful tips on using the camera itself up his sleeves while Christal and Nicole were good at the Adobe Photoshop skills. Seriously, where do these guys get their tricks and skills? Amazing! Other camp coordinators were slightly older and were a little more serious. Let's call them, highly-skilled, highly-experienced, professional photographers. They had this tone of seriousness in their voices about their work when they communicate with their respective group members while Calvin and my group were basically made up of laughters and jokes.

Christal, Nicole and Calvin!

The one thing that I couldn't help but gape in awe is the fact that the photographers were so willing to share their knowledge with us. I know how it feels to be giving away all your hard earned knowledge and tips to a group of 16 year old strangers. But they did share happily! Their skills were way beyond compare and each of them had their own style and signature shots. They have a great deal of experience in projects such as this camp and they knew how to handle the crowd well. Mr. Ho's (the representative from CLICK! magazine) talk on the first night was nonetheless informative and useful into giving us an idea of what kind of shots they were looking for.

Overall, I think it was a good program and I'm looking forward to the next one. Though, I hope that SONY may have a more multi-racial crowd. I mean, there were only 2 Chinese guys, 2 Indian guys, 4 Chinese girls and 1 Indian girl among other Malays throughout the whole camp. Maybe SONY could diversify the race they choose. Not that I have anything against Malay. In fact, I made quite a number of Malay friends, despite the fact that I speak attrocious BM. It'll definitely help into cultivating a multi-racial community and can also help in meeting new people from other races. Nevertheless, the whole camp was fun. I had a good time taking photographs, preparing the slides and presenting it thereafter. Meeting new friends and getting to know professional photographers was another great benefit.

Now, I'm back. Back to civilisation. Back to a place where the soft humming of a computer replaces the sound of crickets and the zooming of vehicles disrupts the night sleep. Back to a place where broadband connection is ever available and mobile phone coverage is nothing impossible. Glad to be back! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have to rest my head to stop my nose from flowing.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Attention Aside,

You know, yawning in mass can be really embarassing. Especially when singing a hymn. "Holy, holy, hol...yaaaaawwwnnnn..." It's usually like that when I'm deprived of sleep or when I'm just not in the mood to be communicating with God. I mean, mass can be so boring and tiresome at times that I could easily drop down and sleep on one of the benches, facing everyone's backside. Yawning in the middle of the hymn shows a sign of boredness and it only attracts unwelcoming stares and grunts of disapproval from the people around my viccinity. Sometimes, even people from the opposite side of the church will shoot me looks of dislike if ever they spotted me. Yawns are not easy to hide anyways. I just let them out wide, like a tiger lazing around the fields on a hot sunny afternoon.

Most of the time, hunger is also to be blame for the murder of solemnity which I ought to keep.

Today, I sat at the second back row of the church, yawning lazily as the hymn went on, not waiting for me. Hungry as well, I couldn't help but allow my mind to drift away as Father FA continued with his sermon. I know, I don't ALWAYS pay attention during mass. I'm not perfect, you know. God made me that way! Jealousy aroused inside of me when I remembered Adrian mentioning that he was going to purchase an MP3 player tomorrow at the PC Fair. Life's not fair, is it? It turned into angst when I gave it more thought. I consoled myself that dad just spent about RM500 on my new printer at the PC Fair yesterday. I guess that should compensate for my MP3 player, right? And I'm still saving for my iPod, anyways. It's settled then. No need for being jealous.

Yes, dad got me a new printer yesterday, at th PC Fair, after months my ever irritating bugging. You should know that dad's not the kind who likes to be rubbing shoulders (literally) with strangers in the hopes of getting irresistable bargains on goods. He'd prefer paying extra and save himself from the hassle of looking for a parking space at one of those jam packed PC Fairs. Not that he's rich or anything. Somehow, the thought of swaping sweat from other few thousand computer geeks to buy a printer doesn't appeal to him. He relented and he brought me there. God blessed him with a perfect parking space under the shady tree and the not-so-packed atmosphere. Well, we went in the afternoon on a Friday. It wasn't that crowded.

However, we was rather unenthusiasted by the sight of people who had their nose pressed against a handful of pamphlets, moving around the square dreamily, cramming themselves in a flood of people and the sight of computer goods dangling from the borders of the booths. Dad just moved along, tailing my behind, looking dazed and puzzled. I had to keep ushering him to keep up with me as he'd stare fixatedly at nothing in particular. It was weird. He didn't even showed any signs of interest when the salesperson explained about the functions of the printer. All he did was receive any pamphelts shoved right in front of his face or into his hands from the nagging salesperson. I was fairly agitated and was on the verge of suggesting to go back when he finally took some interest on the printer. He started questioning the salesperson, I stood aside, kept quite and dad just signed his card. Also managed to persuade my old man to get me a couple of memory cards and pen drive before leaving.

I stood up like everyone else for Offertory, rubbed my eyes of tears and slumped back on to the bench when everyone did the same. I was trying relentlessly to keep my mind focused, I tell you. It was hard, with all those thoughts cramming my mind. I remembered about the fact that I had to depart for Perak at 1.30pm tomorrow. The thought of my opened, half filled luggage lingered on my mind for a second and I decided to cut time by remembering the things that I have left out during packing. I couldn't pay attention in mass, so I tried to keep busy.

I left the church after a brief chat with Nicholas after for what seemed like ages ince we last met, feeling guilty and sinful of myself. Now, I'm staring at my luggage, excited that the day I've been waiting for for the past week has arrived. I can't help but imagine how things are going to be like tomorrow! Fairly nervous (as usual) about the environment and the peeple I'm going to meet there. Just for the record, I filled my luggage with 10 pieces of T-shirts among other necessity. What? I sweat alot. I've got my chargers, camera, medication and etc. etc. also.

The funny thing about packing my bags and preparing for this camp this time is that I'm being fussed around with words like, "Be careful when you're in the jungle", "Don't simply say things or call out people's name when in the jungle" and "Always stay with the group and don't get yourself lost!". It's really freaking me out that my family's kinda superstitious in a way. Even Grace had her fair share of telling me to keep away from the supernatural in her reply to my email when I emailed her today that I'd be leaving tomorrow. I don't want to believe these as I've said before, nothing will happen if you don't believe, right? Still, a little part of me wishes to just stay as far away from these "unseen forces". Akak was also creeping me out when she forced me to bring salt with me and when I refused, she stuffed it into my luggage secretly, looking worried and blatantly brushed the whole topic off by saying that it might help with the leeches. Hmmm...

My family really freaks me out at times. Just to clear the air, I don't believe in any of those but I'm still taking the initiative to take precautions. After all, I have God with me.

So I think I better get to bed and keep those "advices" in mind. I still have my monthly dental appointment tomorrow and the choir practice before I leave for Perak. Another busy day tomorrow. I won't be back till Wednesday night. Pray for my safety and for the smoothness of my journey! I'll definitely drop a word if there will be internet connection available in the middle of the jungle!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Some Bad News.

Things are so weird in my life lately. After the sudden knowledge about Adrian's coates disease, the incident of the horrifying pilgrimage that left all of us questioning God happened. It's as bad as learning that my best cousins in the world are going to migrate to some foreign town in a few years time, leaving my family and me behind while they take a whole new start. It sucks to know that my best cousins' family is ditching me (and the rest of the family) for a better life. It doesn't end there. It also adds up to the bitterness, when I found out that I did well badly on my English paper this monthly test. Something that I can't forgive myself for. I thought I did ok, until Mr. Goh approached me, personally, about my deteriorating writing skills. I was so bummed and I felt pathetic.

Not like that's bad enough, I just got news a couple of days ago that tua pek (Big Uncle in hokkien) went for an MRI scan and discovered that he had three growths on his brains. I thought I heard wrong, but what were the odds? He was complaining about dizziness and that he was walking as if he was putting on a balancing act on a rope with a pole to help him gain his stability. He went for a check up himself and discovered what he feared most. Being his stubborn self (I think it runs in the family blood), he didn't want to spend the night in the hospital. Mom and dad visited him yesterday at his home and from what mom relates, he acts like a drunkard. He's taking this very hard on himself and he just couldn't face the horror. Mom said that he was refusing to eat and he was extremely down about his situation and was often seen mumbling to himself, "I can't live anymore longer."

Certainly, as harsh and cold as this may sound, when the news reached my ears, I wasn't surprised at all. From the number of ciggarettes tua pek puffs a day, this was only going to happen sooner or later. The sorrow and sympathy was obviously inadmissible. He was the man who gave Grace, Edmund, and me our Chinese names, anyway. So far, the one who's badly affected by this is amah. She was the one who got the news first hand from tua pek's wife. Naturally, as a mother, she's taking this very hard also. Akak was so worried that she might pass out from all the crying the next day when she went to amah's house for her daily cooking and cleaning to only find amah's eyes so swollen. Don't you think that's a little bit too much of an impact to an 80 year old woman to get news of her son being diagnosed with final stage cancer on the brains, first hand?

I think so. I wonder what was tua pek's wife thinking when she decided to pick up the phone and be the barrier of bad news to amah. It could easily send a woman like amah into one of her heart attacks and can eventually get her killed. Tua pek's wife probably didn't have that in mind when she picked up the phone, huh? I haven't been calling either amah nor tua pek also, as I wouldn't know how to handle a situation like this. Akak keeps telling me to give amah a call to check and see if she was alright but I simply ignored her annoying cries for help. I swear that aka could be a little too busybody at times.

Till now, I've only received informal news about tua pek's situation. As far as I know, he has been warded today and is going for, what mom says is, radiotherapy. But I fairly suspect that she meant chemotherapy. Oh, I wouldn't know anyways. Oddly, though, dad doesn't seem to be overly sad over the matter. I mean, tua pek and dad were the closest siblings in the family and it's strange that dad shows no signs of sorrow. Either he's been keeping strong in front of us or he really doesn't feel anything. I haven't got the chance to speak with dad yet. Admittedly, we children, aren't that closely bonded with the paternal side of the family. Maybe it's because of the different religion that we don't have weekend gatherings and visits to each others house. Things are just different if compared to what we share with the other family members on the maternal side of the family.

However, I certainly am not looking forward to tua pek's death anytime from now, but I don't know how strong that man is. I'd love giving him some words of encouragement, if he understood English and if I was dealing with a more open minded family member. Reality is, I still live in a proverbial Chinese family where children are considered good when they don't bud in on things like that. Believe me, I'd love so much to help out but, something tells me that I'd better stay away from dealing with all these sticky web of family issues. I don't know when I can visit tua pek but I hope it'd be soon.

Oh, I pray that God be with him and help him along the way on this treacherous journey to fight cancer. In my position, I can do nothing but offer my prayers. After all, I still need to go attend the SONY Photography Camp that's been making my entire week a living hell. The bad news of family members impending death and bad grades is one thing. Waiting for the whole week for this camp is another agonising thing. *sighs*.