Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Sacrifice

Eid this year seemed to be a different one. It's been a long time since I visited my dearest grandmother - perhaps a month or so - due to school and stuffs. I told myself that my Grandma, of all people, would definitely understand. I know she'll miss me, but she'll understand.

We went to her place after Friday prayers and as I entered her room, she smiled before I could smile and as I walked towards her bed, I apologized for not dropping by as often as I used to. We hugged and kissed and I asked her how she was and we talked. Everything seemed normal. I secretly felt glad that she wasn't angry at me for not visiting her as often - as she normally would whenever a few days has passed since my last visit. She never fails to remember.

As we were talking, an aunt of mine came in and mentioned something about a couple of birds, pointing at the top corner of the room. I had no clue what she was talking about as there were obviously no birds there. That's when another aunt of mine told me that my grandmother said that she saw the birds - two brown ones who were supposedly the parents and a little grey one - birds that could not have existed.

My thinking mind ran a marathon in a couple of seconds and tears formed in my eyes. I hate it when I get overly affected by the thoughts that went through my mind. I thought about how fine she was the last time i visited, how she wish she could walk again and move her left hand, how she could be more useful and less of a burden, how I would tell her that she'll never be a burden and that the stroke was just a test of patience and faith. I recalled my childhood with her - stories about her carrying me in her arms when I had high fever one night when no one was home, how I used to always accompany her to the market and the first time I carried a 5kg sack of rice, the countless durian ice cream she buys for me, the countless mangoes she'd bought for knowing that it's my favourite, the times she forces me to pray, the times I sleepily accompanied her to the mosque for subuh prayers. I also remember that as a kid I'll always include in my prayers for my grandmother to live a long and healthy life - for her to see me get married.

And I wondered why, despite all this beautiful memories of my grandmother, I wasn't willing to sacrifice a couple of hours a week to be by her side and just to keep her company. I knew how happy it would make her whenever her grandchildren came to visit. And I knew too just how often us grandchildren would come to visit - not as often as I would like my grandchildren to. Yet, for some selfish reasons, I was being very selfish.

Remember that time waits for no one. After the two second marathon, I left her room. If I had stayed any longer, my mind would have ran a triathlon and the little tears in my eyes would have rolled down my cheeks. I guess someone must've told me that big boys don't cry.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Crossroad

I was on the train back home thinking about things. The word 'crossroad' came to mind. I then stopped my train of thoughts so that I could think about it now - as I write(I don't like to think about things twice). My Physics paper this afternoon was a bad one despite me knowing what to expect having failed it last semester. And when the paper was over, I was confused. I wasn't sure whether I should stay positive and look forward to my final two papers or to dwell on the paper just passed and slam myself for not preparing for it as well as I could have. I know the latter's a definite waste of my time. But I'm not sure about the former either - I'm not sure when optimism crosses the line of madness.

I'm always giving advices, silly words of encouragements and telling friends not to dwell too much on the past and to look on the bright side of it all instead. But seeing many feeling depressed and upset over the littlest things made me wonder if I'm "mad" for always looking at the glass half full. I don't think I am, but why the self-doubt? I feel like I'm at a crossroad - feeling unsure as to which path I should take.

On the bright side though, I felt that my previous 3 papers went well. Alhamdulillah. Last semester, I felt great after my Physics paper and ended up getting an F for it. So this time around, I've learnt to expect the unexpected. A failure isn't the end of the road. Two consecutive failures .... I'd like to think of it as a final wake up call to really a rhythm that suits me best.

The two biggest monsters, Soil Mechanics and Mechanics of Materials, await me next week. While they're clearly my weakest two modules, there's really nothing much that I can do now besides making smart use of the next couple of days and hope for the best.

Can't wait for all this to be over. There's a movie that I've been wanting to watch and never had the chance to, but will - 500 Days of Summer.

"This is a story of boy meets girl. The boy, Tom Hansen, grew up believing that he’d never be truly happy until he met “the one.” The girl, Summer Finn, did not share this belief. You should know upfront: this is not a love story."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turning Red

Today's probably the second time (an underestimate) when friends told me they could see me blushing. And the more I deny, the redder I become. As much as I'd like to maintain a cool neutral face, I go red whenever someone mention someone that strikes a chord somewhere. Could someone tell me how to not make my true feelings show?

A dusty line crossed - a year later. And as the line waved at me from across the old canteen, a friend ruffled my hair as he walked behind me. How embarrassing. Now if only a special little red line would somehow appear and ... hmmm...

Saturday, November 21, 2009


If only I could somehow love numbers more than words ....

Seeing my mother asking me twice if I wanted anything to drink while I revise my work and seeing my younger brother coming back from his first day of job assessment and complaining how much he hates having to stand for 8 hours doing something boring, I realize that I can find reasons to keep on going.

It was funny though how he expressed his hatred for work and how he doesnt feel like working anymore. At least now he knows the true value of money.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Magic of Nostalgia

A friend wanted my SimonCowell-esque comment for a short piece of poetry. My first glimpse of it reminded me that despite my love for words, words in the form of poetry isn't exactly my cup of morning tea. But as always, I tried my best to understand. and I kinda understood.

Reading the story behind the poem reminded me of the story behind a "poem" that I wrote quite a while back. It was my first time writing something poetic. But it was also my last coz I feel that writing poetry makes a guy appear.... soft.

After I wrote it, I thought it was nice - it was something I felt, thought hard about, and then scribbled them down in my notebook, lying on my bed, with a pen in my hand, thinking. Reading it again tonight, I still find it nice, calm and poetic but I'm also slightly irritated that the person that wrote this hasn't changed one tiny bit. Haha...the magic of Nostalgia. Could someone just tell him where he could purchase a bottle of courage?

Lying on my bed
A pen in my hand

Wondering why she's taking so much of my time
Why she appears in most of my thoughts
My dreams

Of coz this is foolish
These things come and go
I noe

The more i try to not think abt it
The more i want to think abt it

Why i wanna forget abt it i dun noe
Why i wanna keep thinking abt it i dun noe
Actually, maybe i do

Could it be tt i like her?
Could it be tt shes come to be my special someone?
Or could it simply be me?
Am i simply thinking too much?

Should i go up to her and tell her i like her?
What then?
What if she says she likes me?
What then?
What if she says she doesnt feel the same way?
What then?
These are questions to which the answers will never surface..
Unless i make the first move...

The first move
It's ever so hard

How can i tell tt she likes me?
Is it thru the way she dresses?
The colour she wears?
The hints she drops during conversations?

How can i tell tt i like her?
Is it thru wat i wear?
The things i blog abt?
The colours of my stationaries?
The colours on my blog?

Well i guess lying on ur bed
A pen in ur hand

...That should be enuff to tell u tt u like her

Writer's Note: A friend told me to take this poem down cause others who stumble upon this public blog of mine will think that I'm 'soft' and hence, it might kill off any chances of romance that could blossom through my entries coz apparently no girl likes 'soft' guys(Precisely why it was my first and last poetry). Really?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Will you be the one?

I'll be the one who brings you coffee when you can't get up
I'll be the one who turns the light out when you go to sleep
I'll be the one who turns your stomach into something else and you say
Shut up, shut up, every time I say
I'll be the one who takes your coat off, one to take the blame ...

Yes yes. I'll be the one. But will you be the one too?

Writer's note: Someone's just tired and simply wonders if he is still sweetly distracted by the sweet distraction. I guess he still is. haha. Someone's talking to himself, again...

Writing isnt an easy task. I still cannot write a decent conclusion. I seem to think that I have the ideas but I can't seem to write it the way other intellectual academics write their papers. Introduction to Magical Realism has indeed stretched myself to what I think is my maximum and I'm glad I had challenged myself to take this elective this semester. Introduction to Children's Literature with me some time in the near future anyone? (:

The Magic of Hybridity

If my head were to explode write now, words and thoughts and ideas will fill the space surrounded by the four well known blue walls. The space known as my bedroom. Oh man, this talk about SPACE has just reminded me that spaces also play a significant role in most of the text - but I shall not digress. I shall not digress solely because the very thought that is sitting right on top of the piles of words, thoughts and ideas right now. And if you realize, I'm beginning to "talk" instead of write.

I left out the concept of "Transgression of Boundaries" in Garcia Marquez's Of Love and Other Demons from my previous entry because of my ability to think of any as I write. However, as I set out to write on my next plan, I realized the following:

HYBRIDITY can actually be interpreted as a transgression of stable boundaries. One of the most disputed terms in postcolonial studies, hybridity commonly refers to “the creation of new transcultural forms within the contact zone produced by colonisation” (Ashcroft,Griffiths and Tiffin, 2003). Syncretism on the other hand, is the reshaping, union or attempted fusion of different systems, beliefs, thoughts and practices through cultural accommodation so that "they consciously or unconsciously blend with those of the dominant culture"(Rheenan, 2003). In both these concepts, the blurring of boundaries between different worlds and categories contributes to magical aspect in Of Love and Other Demons.

Hybridization takes many forms in the book. Hybridization is taken literally as illustrated in several instances. A slave named Judas was referred to as "a minotaur" - part man, part bull. In addition, when the Marquis mentioned his fear of horses, Abrenuncio suggested that "if we broke down the barriers, we could produce the centaur" - a creature that is part man, part horse. We later learn that "Sierva María's hair coiled with a life of its own, like the serpents of Medusa" - who part woman, part snake. References to hybrid mythological creatures were probably made to blur the distinction between the hybridity that took place in myths and the ones that are taking place in reality. It is also interesting to note that the creatures were those from Greek myths thus, making the book a hybrid in itself - a hybrid of European literary realism and the magic of Latin American reality.

Racial and religious hybridity is one that occurs in the real world setting of the text. For example, Marquez's protagonist Sierva Maria is the daughter of a mestizo woman and a Spanish marquis. Father Aquino was a priest of African decent who could converse in Yoruban, Congolese and Mandingo. In addition, "(the Church) had constructed sumptuous cathedrals to hide the pagan pyramids, not realizing that the natives came to Mass because their sanctuaries still lived beneath the silver altars" - this illustrated the religious hybridization of Christianity and paganism. We also read of the "chaotic mixing of blood that had gone on since the conquest: Spanish blood with Indian blood, and both of these with blacks of every sort, even Mandingo Muslims"- this went further to show how the initial hybrid of racial bloodlines can eventually lead to the hybrid of religion.

In the text, hybridization was seen as polluting when the bishop "asked himself whether such miscegenation had a place in the Kingdom of God". In this case, Marquez uses hybridity to allow readers to imagine and feel the plight of the indigenous. The Church's main objective was to establish the dominance of Christianity by assimilating the indigineous into Spanish culture and colonial order. Hybridization was seen as a (threatening) ‘contamination’ of Spanish blood. Hybridity and multiculturalism was interpreted as a gradual dilution of the exclusiveness of the Spanish colony. It was viewed as a threat when boundaries between races, ideologies and beliefs began to blur. And for this reason, the exorcism on Sierva Maria and the Inquisition can be seen as a repressive means to silence the colonized.

Through the concept of hybridity, Gabriel Garcia Marquez gave readers a feel of what life was like during and post-colonialism for the colonizer and well as the colonized. It also brings to light the negativity that is seems to be associated with the term hybridity and forces us to ask the question whether hybridity is a form of contamination or a form of creative transgression.

Writer's note: As I decide to end this looping piece of writing prematurely, I smile and am thankful that I'm in the engineering field. Writing essays after essays will definitely drain my love for writing and I definitely do not want that to happen. My heartfelt sympathy to those majoring in Literature.

Writer's latest note: I'm writing this a day after my paper. I wrote something during the exam that I found interesting. Week's ago, I wondered why the African priest Father Aquino died a mysterious death. While writing my paper, I found a possible answer: Father Aquino embodies the hybrid of race and religion. Perhaps, Marquez wanted to put across the idea that even this was unacceptable in the eyes of the Church.

I wrote that the Inquisition and the exorcism was the Church's way to silence the colonized - as represented by the 'hybrid' Sierva Maria. It was their way of showing the authority they had over the colonized and to some extent, their hatred for the indigenous. Perhaps then, one could imply that Father Aquino didnt die a mysterious death after all. Interesting. This thought of mine (as crazy as it may sound) was the perfect way to end my paper. Hope I get a decent grade for it.

The Transgression of Boundaries

In magical realism the writer confronts reality and tries to untangle it, to discover what is mysterious in things, in life, in human acts. The principle thing is not the creation of imaginary beings or worlds but the discovery of the mysterious relationship between man and his circumstances. In magical realism key events have no logical or psychological explanation.
.....Luis Leal, Magical Realism in Spanish American Literature. Magical Realism. Ed. Zamora and Faris, p. 119-123.

Roh’s conception of magical realism was intrinsically interartistic. In his 1925 essay he asserted that “magical realist” painters created a new kind of imagery whose “special way of intuiting the world …can apply to all the arts, including music”.

(In Magical Realism)....all “seeing” is symbolic, and requires mental operations that literary critics take for granted when we speak about verbal “images.” The relation of consciousness to the visible world is more likely to be the purview of philosophers, and more recently, of psychologists and neurologists, than of literary critics. To apply Roh’s argument to literature, then, we must acknowledge the physical and cultural operations by which the apprehension of material objects (what the eye sees) become literary “images” (what the “mind’s eye” sees).

....Lois Parkinson Zamora, The Visualizing Capacity of Magical Realism: Objects and Expression in the Work of Jorge Luis Borges

May I be able to "see" as they see.

I've been tossing the ideas around for a week now. Scribbles after scribbles, Google searches after Google searches and I'm still unable to write a decent coherent plan. Here goes yet another "plan as I write" piece....

BOUNDARIES, in both the physical and non-physical sense of the word, play a very significant role in The Metamorphosis, Of Love and Other Demons and Amelie. Boundaries that we so often take for granted serve to provoke the reader "to actively interact with the text in order to ascribe meaning to the place where it collapses"(Pentony) and forces us to reexamine the existence of boundaries in our present lives. Here, I shall attempt to discuss the significance of boundaries in Kafka's book The Metamorphosis and Jeunet's film Amelie.

In The Metamorphosis, the first boundary we see are "the four well-known walls"(Kafka 4). Besides giving us a glimpse of how much time he had spent in his room, this physical boundary is significant in the introduction of more abstract boundaries in the text. These walls literally and physically prevents him from coming out and the house is a slightly bigger boundary that keeps the family in. This boundary comes into play as we learn that "standing out clearly on the other side of the street .... was a hospital"(Kafka 24). For some unexplained reason, no one sought medical help for Gregor. Was it because everyone felt that Gregor was no longer human?

We see Kafka's protagonist Gregor caught between two worlds: the animal and the human world. Due to his transformation, Gregor had to "hurl himself ... with all his force" just to liberate himself from the bed (Kafka 9). He had "an animal's voice"(Kafka 20) and his sense of taste gradually changed - he prefer leftovers and spoilt cheese over sweetened milk and white bread. However, he still retains characteristics that are recognizably human. "He felt a great pride that he had been able to provide such a life"(Kafka 34) and when his family had an argument, Gregor hissed in anger that "no one thought about shutting the door and sparing him the sight of this commotion" (Kafka 73). While physically, Gregor was a vermin, he retains the emotions and thoughts that separates us human from animals. The transgression of boundary between the human world and the animal world provokes the question of what makes a human ... human.

As I read on, I began to lose my ability to distinguish the humans from the animals. The fact that his family never sought medical help for Gregor disgusts me far beyond Gregor's transformation. Gregor's family, horrified that Gregor has become an enormous insect, keep him in his bedroom and refuse to interact with him. When Gregor broke out one day and ventured into the living room, his father threw apples to chase him back in. One managed to hit him in the back. Eventually the apple becomes rotten and infected. Gregor's health deteriorated. Despite being treated like an animal, Gregor "remained in this state of empty and peaceful reflection"(Kafka 89) moments before his last breath. He "remembered his family with deep feeling and love"(Kafka 89). Just because one appears human, does it "naturally" make one better than animals?

Traditional boundaries that typically exist in every household appears to be blurred in The Metamorphosis. We learn that Gregor financially supports his parents and younger sister despite them being able of fully supporting themselves. The boundary between a younger sister and her older brother is usually one that is bound with unconditional respect. However we see this boundary transgressed as "the sister now kicked some food very quickly into his room in the morning and at noon"(Kafka 71) and how she "had grown tired of caring for Gregor"(Kafka 73). The transgression of traditional boundaries begs the question of the existence of such boundaries in the first place. Is it the jobs of fathers to go out and work? Is it acceptable not to work despite being able to do so? Should a younger sister respect her elder brother unconditionally?

Through the transgression of boundaries, Kafka might have wanted to alter our perspective on things that we might find not normal. For instance, the way we treat the physically and mentally disabled, the stereotypes we attach to people that are different from us - Muslims, Christians and Jews etc. Perhaps through the use of boundaries, he wanted to put across the point that boundaries are lines drawn by Man and it is something that can be redrawn by Man.

Besides provoking thoughts among readers, boundaries can help create a common ground between the audience and the literature that they read or watch.

In the film Amelie, Jeunet's explores a personal boundary that exist within us - the boundary that makes us either an introvert or an extrovert. His protagonist Amelie is an introvert who enjoys the simple pleasures of life. However, she transgressed the boundary that separates an introvert and an extrovert when she made the first move and eventually getting the guy of her dreams. The boundary between the possible and the impossible is also transgressed when we see Amelie's imaginary friends and her suicidal pet goldfish. The fact that Amelie ended up with the guy of her dreams despite her roundabout way of getting him evokes the question of it's possibility. Having created a common ground through boundaries that already exist in our lives, Jeunet's transgression of those boundaries moves us into doing something that we felt was never possible. By destroying the boundary that separates introverts from the extroverts, Jeunet introduces a new class that one can fall into - one that sets one's own boundaries instead of being bound by boundaries that had been created by others before them. The use of boundaries in Amelie inspires positive change.

Boundaries can either keep us in or keep us out. And there can also exist a world that knows no boundaries. The use of boundaries as seen in The Metamorphosis and Amelie serves only as a guide for us to decide the boundaries that should be created, those that should stay, as well as the ones that needs to go.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Magic of Dreams

As the exams draw nearer, we begin to understand rather than simply knowing. I wonder why we can only develop this ability now and not weeks earlier. 14 weeks in a semester seems a little too short. But I guess it's the same in other universities, isnt it?

My first and most favourite paper is in 3 days - Introduction to Magical Realism. Posts labelled "Magical Realism" are the ones I wrote to help me recall each texts. They arent the typical conventional post about myself - though it's not surprising if you find me in every piece of writing. In the coming three days, I will be writing posts on "Magical Realism" as part of my preparation for my paper. One might say it's unwise to share one's thoughts for the exam online but what are the odds of all 200 students in class finding me? And if some do end up here, please do share some of your thoughts too in the comments below. Anws, I believe in sharing what I know as only through sharing will you learn. Unwise? Maybe, but that's just me.

I've also been trying to figure out how the comparative essay question will be like. This is a newly added component to the exam so sample questions from past year papers are unavailable. However, one can always make educated guesses, can't they?

Comparative Essays Definition

"Great minds think alike" – this expression underpins the rationale of a comparative essay. In a comparative essay, you are expected to discuss the similarities between or among two or more works. For example, in literature, writers typically address universal themes of the human condition; in the social sciences, academics often find common ground for analysis; ..... In a comparative essay, your professor expects that you will grasp the key concepts in your field of study by examining the works of more than one writer or scholar in an academic discipline.

So here, I shall identify several common ground among the three texts that I'm focussing on: Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis(TM), Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate(LWFC) and a small dose of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Of Love and Other Demons (OLAOD). Firstly, the concept of hybridity - the most obvious of the lot. Secondly, the battle between strong female vs the weak male characters: Grete vs Gregor and his father (TM), Sierva Maria and Martina Laborde vs Ygnacio, Abrenuncio, Father Cayetano Delaura, Father Aquino and the Bishop(OLAOD) and Mama Elena, Tita and Gertrudis vs Pedro and Dr Brown (LWFC). And lastly, the subtle and abstract use of abjects and space in the texts. I prefer to leave the concept of the grotesque unique to TM and the concept of feminism unique to LWFC.

I've briefly written on the grotesque and abjects in "The Magic of Abjects". Hence insyaallah, during the course of the next few days, I plan to write on the following:

  1. Is LWFC genuinely 'revolutionary' and feminist or does it support traditional values and gender roles
  2. The significance of hybridity and syncretism
  3. The significance of abjects and space
  4. The significance of food and cooking in LWFC
  5. Reasons why female characters are being portrayed in a much stronger light than males

It's a relatively huge task Ive set myself out to do despite being in a battle with monsters with names like Probability and Statistics and Soil Mechanics. But you see, I'm a dreamer - so anything and everything is possible. This is what I meant by "The Magic of Dreams" for it's dreams such as these that give you something to hold on to and work towards. I'm just glad that my dream has helped me to finally turn the mess in my head into something tangible and coherent - and I hope it has helped some of you with the mess in your head too!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Magic Of Abjects

"ACCORDING TO JULIA KRISTEVA in the Powers of Horror, the abject refers to the human reaction (horror, vomit) to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between subject and object or between self and other. The primary example for what causes such a reaction is the corpse (which traumatically reminds us of our own materiality); however, other items can elicit the same reaction: the open wound, shit, sewage, even the skin that forms on the surface of warm milk." [Felluga, Dino. "Modules on Kristeva: On the Abject."]

"Barbara Creed writes: The place of the abject is where meaning collapses, the place where I am not. The abject threatens life, it must be radically excluded from the place of the living subject, propelled away from the body and deposited on the other side of an imaginary border which separates the self from that which threatens the self."
[Samantha Pentony, "How Kristeva's theory of abjection works in relation to the fairy tale and post colonial novel: Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, and Keri Hulme's The Bone People."]

The word "ABJECT" has been mentioned one too many times in class that it deserves my attention. In Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, physical abject seem to stand in for, or symbolises the social abject. I read of the physical abjects - the "sticky substance" and "brown liquid" that came out of Gregor, who is both a physical and social abject himself. Firstly, he is neither a cockroach nor human. His fall to abjection is supported by the fact that no one sought medical help for Gregor despite the hospital being situated just across the street. He falls deeper into abjection among the dirt and rubbish is his room when his sister no longer cleaned his room as thoroughly as she used to. Secondly, ever since his partial transformation, he has been kept away within the confines of his room - away from society. He was no longer able to perform his duty as the provider of the family. Everytime Gregor attempts to leave his room, he was chased back in.

On one occasion, I see Gregor being chased into his room by his own father by "throwing apple after apple" in his direction."A weakly thrown apple grazed Gregor's back but skidded off harmlessly. However, another thrown immediately after that one drove into Gregor's back really hard." Later we learn that "no one ventured to remove the apple, it remained in his flesh as a visible reminder." Kafka wrote that the wound "seemed by itself to have reminded the father that in spite of his present unhappy and hateful appearance, Gregor was a member of the family, something one should not treat as an enemy, and that it was, on the contrary, a requirement of family duty to suppress one's aversion and to endure - nothing else, but endure."

I immediately scribbled along the margin the word "GROTESQUE". The way Gregor's father treated him disgusts me. No father should simply endure the presence of his son irregardless of the condition his son is in. And having left an apple in his son's back, Gregor's father could have shown a little bit more care and concern for his son instead of "endure - nothing else, but endure". I find Gregor's father more disturbing and grotesque than the physically disturbing and partially transformed Gregor. It's also useful to note that other sources of the grotesque in The Metamorphosis include Gregor's own thoughts and perspective after the transformation as well as the way his sister and mother reacted to his transformation.

I've been figuring out the reasons for the use of abjects in literary works like The Metamorphosis and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Of Love and Other Demons throughout the course. Perhaps, the following best decribes one of it's many uses: "The use of abjection ... provides a forum for the exploration of the subconscious. It is provocative because it forces the reader to contemplate that which is uncomfortable to face. This both disorients the reader and encourages us to actively interact with the text in order to ascribe meaning to the place where it collapses." (Pentony)

Hence in The Metamorphosis, I find that abjects highlight and amplify the grotesque to make readers truly feel for the suffering protagonist, make us hate the way his family treated him and hopefully, make us treat our own family and loved ones that little bit better.

The use of abjects is also present in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Of Love and Other Demons. However, they play a slightly different role as compared to those in Kafka's The Metamorphosis. "Then Delaura witnessed the fearful spectacle of one truly possessed. Sierva María's hair coiled with a life of its own, like the serpents of Medusa, and green spittle and a string of obscenities in idolatrous languages poured from her mouth." Here, the green spittle that came out from Maria's mouth amplifies her rage and anger towards Father Delaura.

The concept of abject was applied when describing the state of Bernarda Cabrera, Sierva Maria's mother, a mestiza. "Her Gypsy eyes were extinguished and her wits dulled, she shat blood and vomited bile, her siren's body became as bloated and coppery as a three-day-old corpse, and she broke wind in pestilential explosions that startled the mastiffs." Here, the abject is used to degrade the indigenous people to the lowest possible status - to reflect the degradation they were subjected to as the colonized.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Other People's Shoes

"Try to put yourself in his shoes once in a while so that you can have a feel of how he feels." This and others that carry a similar meaning can be detrimental to one's health. Initially he wears the shoes of others to be a more considerate person for one should not do unto others what he does not want others to do unto him. But as time passes, he began to wear their shoes to try and be that person - he tries to anticipate their possible reactions to his possible actions. When he feels that things are very likely to go his way, he'll execute his plans. But when he has the slightest of doubt, things usually remain unmoved. Should he then stop wearing other people's shoes?

Why bother trying when I know what's going to happen? He asks himself after wearing a pair of shoes that isnt his, without realizing that life isnt as predictable as the films he'd seen or the few books he'd read. He wonders if it's time to dream less and think less. He wonders if it's time to stop finding too much pleasure in the simplest of pleasures. But he wonders if this is a positive thing or a dangerous form of escapism - a way of avoiding unpleasant realities and abandoning "big political ideals".

In my previous entry, I shared how a simple pleasure has kept me going day to day. She helps me to avoid falling into the trap where I start to whine and complain about anything and everything. Clearly, this a positive thing. However, after the lengthy conversation tonight, it could also be a dangerous form of escapism. I've become too comfortable in my own little world that I'm starting to fear certain things in the real world. Someone pointed out that this fear of mine could make me remain single all my life. Worse still, a stalker. Now, that's dangerous. Was Amélie a stalker?

Escapism is bad. It becomes a habit. It may be a way of avoiding unpleasant realities but in reality, the unpleasant are usually unavoidable. Perhaps what I need is someone to make my life unpleasant. Get me a Liverpool jersey.

.... [Inserts a new paragraph the next morning]..... While preparing to go to school, a thought flashed pass his mind. He scribbled somewhere the following: "Escapism for ordinary people is bad. But for introverts like Amelie and me, escapism is a good thing. We are escaping from our own introversion by exploring and enjoying life through simple pleasures. It's only a matter of time before I explore and enjoy life beyond its simple pleasures. Look at Amelie - towards the end, after playing her little games, she ended up with the person she wanted to be."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Sense of Purpose

I read and hear of people around me complaining about school - to the point of giving up. Whenever I hear such stories, I pray to Him that I, as well as my siblings, will never think of giving up at any point in our lives. I pray that we'll be as strong, if not stronger, every time we meet an obstacle. And I shall not let anything stop me from believing in myself - even when my results say otherwise or even as I'm not doing as well as the rest around me.

I believe the key to my optimism is faith. Having faith that insyaallah, things will turn out fine as long as I keep on trying and doing my bestest. Besides faith, I believe that having a motivation or two and a sense of purpose have helped me stay on the right mental track.

This semester, my motivation has primarily been someone who do not know of my existence. While walking to class this afternoon, I questioned my purpose of being in school. I asked myself what REALLY keeps me going - whether it's her, or is it something bigger. And I realized that my sole purpose is to be able to graduate, find a good job and to support my family. And only after I successfully achieve this mission of mine will I make known of my existence to her.

Would that be too late? Am I being foolish? Should I make myself known now?

Haha ... And rhetorical questions such as these never fail to keep me going day after day after day.

"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." ~ Carlos Castaneda

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Sister's Sacrifice

Every morning, I wake to find my younger sister getting ready for work. Even on Sundays. As I struggle to force myself to pick up a book or a tutorial assignment, I realized that dad's departure hadn't only affected my life. It has affected hers too. I'm sure if he was still around, there will be no need for her to work weekends.

My realization of my sister's sacrifice has made me more defensive of her actions every time Mother gets angry. Whenever she's not back by the preferred time, I'd tell Mother that she probably needed some time off work and that there's no need to be angry about it. I've been defending her actions a little too much. I've been playing the role of both a mediator and a counsellor of late in my attempts to find a common ground between us children and parent. Putting myself in between has, to some extent, made my mother feel alone in her battle to watch over us. I feel that as much as she needs to let us go slowly, it's important not to let us go totally.

We're changing... growing up. As much as I'd like them to be able to see and understand things like I do, I know it's not possible. All I can do is to pray that as we mature, we slowly begin to see and understand our mother's hopes and fears and likes and dislikes, and make personal sacrifices just to make her feel at peace, insyaallah.I'd like to see a warm smile greet me every night when I return home after a frustrating and tiring day of school.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A New Line

Tonight a line, that crossed my friend's line many many weeks ago, crossed his, as well as mine. Sometimes, I surprise myself with my ability to "read" someone's possible course of action. Or perhaps, it could simply be fate at work. I guess meeting someone on the bus or the train back home isnt such a distant dream afterall. A slight change of perspective can make school sucha wonderful place.

It's surprising - the simple pleasures in life that we often ignore.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rewriting a story

.....The director ponders what his character should do when time rewinds itself once more for the 14th time.

He almost wanted to quit writing his character's story. He didnt know how to continue. He wanted to end it. When things do not seem to go his way, he felt as though films and movies like Amelie, The Lakehouse, You've Got Mail and Turn Left, Turn Right had cheated him of the truth.

While he admits that those crossing of paths and all the sweet lovelies that came along seemed to good to be true, a small part of him believes that there's a small chance that it could happen in real life. And tonight, he asks himself, "Which is better - avoiding disappointment by not doing anything about it or to look back with regret having not known at all what the answer might be?"

The director took his pen and made some changes to the storyline. He wrote, "My character shall never again look back in regret."