Friday, December 25, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let's Tambah Bini

Newspapers recently reported a well-known tuan guru calling for people of religious standing (he specifically mentioned ulamak) to embrace polygamy with even more zeal by taking additional wives, especially single moms.

Somehow, he seems to be inordinately concerned with the increasing number of janda (divorcees), ibu tunggal (single mothers) and andalusia (old maids) in our midst, for he lamented about the latter days after airing his rather skewed thoughts about the former.

His solution? Ulamaks should help stem the tide by increasing their bini (spouse) quota. Why ulamak? Because he reckoned only they can help provide spiritual guidance to these 'unfortunate' women, to prevent them from falling by the wayside.

How insulting to the jandas and their ilk. What good will that bring if the only change an abandoned family ever experiences is spiritual overdose preached by someone else's husband whose alternate reason for his presence in the household is to fulfill the mother's sexual need?

These women don't need a husband if all he can offer is himself. I can bet my bottom dollar they have no problem coping with the absence of a sexual relationship. They have a well-functioning cold-storage system, Mr Ulamak, and they hold the switch, thank you.

They can darn well keep the lid on their sexual needs without having to sell themselves short, Mr Ulamak. They are more concerned about getting those kids decently fed, clothed, sheltered and schooled than getting a poke, Sir.

The absence of a prick (the appendage) is hardly an issue; the absence of the prick who fathered those kids, who eventually left them to fend for themselves, is.

I have a better idea, Mr Ulamak. Maybe you should look into WHY these women became single moms in the first place. Let me steer you in the right direction; spousal abandonment is the operative term here, Sir.

Maybe you should TEACH these men to be more responsible towards their family, that it doesn't do to walk out on one's wife and kids to disappear into thin air when times are hard, OR when a new model comes along offering what seems like an exciting ride.

Stop worrying about these single mothers, Mr Ulamak. They are made of sterner stuff. They are like the phoenix, they have the ability to rise from the ashes. They don't admit defeat, they love their children unreservedly and would sacrifice their all for them.

Don't lose sleep over them Mr Ulamak, for they have balls, although I can't say the same for some of your kind, especially the ones who err with impunity...

PS: Congratulations to 'Bung' for taking a starlet off the marriage market. May her star brighten, her pocket deepen, her life sweeten; and may they find happiness. My sympathy, however, lies with the one grieving in Kinabatangan..

Friday, December 18, 2009

Selamat Menyambut Tahun Baru.
Semoga diberkati Allah swt sentiasa.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


B'day boy & gal
Hungry & waiting..
Pak Abu & Mak Labu..
Not sure what dish this is.. I think it's chicken.
My sauce-laden, very tender beef cuts
Shrimp (I think)
Joe (right) still tucking in, Ann (left) probably kenyang already..
Pstt.. you shoot him and I have to pay for the meal!

In the midst of their uncle's sudden admittance to University Hospital for cardiac arrest, and his eventual demise two days later, our eldest, Najmuddin and youngest, Nawwar, celebrated their respective birthday which falls a day apart.

Naj turned 34 on December 12 while Nawwar, who is 10 years younger, turned 24 on December 11. Naj was born one grey winter afternoon in London; he arrived when his father was away in Germany and I had to fend for myself, taking a cab to the hospital in Euston Square and delivering while hanging on to the hand of a young houseman named Dr Foster.

Nawwar's arrival was just as eventful; in fact it was terrifying, to say the least. At full term and during my last check-up, I slipped and fell off the gynae's examination table in Penawar (now called SJMC), causing foetal distress.

Subsequently, I had to undergo an immediate Caesarean section, with me shakily signing the consent form myself because there just wasn't time to inform any family member.

As always, we celebrate their birthdays jointly each year. The mood of the recent one, however, was very much subdued. Understandably so.

With their beloved Pak Utih fighting for his life in ICU, their thoughts (and ours too) were with him, nervously waiting for that inevitable call.

The truth is we never really celebrated birthdays in the real sense of the word. What we have been doing year after year is group together for a family dinner each time a birthday comes along.

We usually extend invitation to close friends of the birthday boy/girl. Definitely no partying nor singing, no theme or any other fancy stuffs, and occasionally no cake either. In other words, no hooplas. Makan together is of prime concern to us.

This year we decided to go to Bubba Gump, a restaurant offering American Deep South specialties like Cajun chicken, fried shrimps and calamari et al. The clam chowder served there, prepared New England-style, was one of the best I had ever tasted anywhere.

Apparently, the restaurant is an offshoot of the movie Forrest Gump, where Bubba Gump is FG's best buddy. The kids told me so; I haven't even seen the movie.

The outlet we went to is located on the first floor of The Curve (next to the famous Waroeng Penyet) in Mutiara Damansara. The food was good, the portions substantial, and the service a-okay. In all, it was an enjoyable family outing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why Sleep Must Be Obeyed

How much sleep does one really need in a day? If you go by expert (read medical) advice it's eight hours, so as to give your body a proper rest.

By the same token, experts also tell you to drink at least a litre of plain water daily. This not only quenches your thirst but also serves to cleanse and detoxify your body.

I'm afraid I have never been able to achieve both i.e. sleep for eight long hours, interrupted or not, and down so much water. Not a worthy customer here, I am.

I have been surviving on four hours of sleep daily since God-knows-when. As a schoolgirl, I would read, in the comfort of my kelambu (mosquito net), into the wee hours until sleep overtook me.

As a journalist, I worked odd hours and the graveyard shift was nothing new, especially as I was attached to an afternoon daily where the paper went to bed as KL folks awakened to greet a new day.

As a writer, the creative juice flows in the stillness of the night when peace and quiet reign. Even today it's a rare occasion indeed for me to turn in before midnight and to wake up with the sun.

With clockwork regularity, I usually hit the pillow 1-1.30 am and rise 5.30 am. It's only in the last few years that I felt the need to catch 40 winks in the afternoon. It must be the ageing process and I am listening.

This was brought home when I crashed the car some years back by falling asleep at the wheels while driving one Ramadan afternoon. I was hungry as well as sleepy, yet hazarded a drive to run an errand, with my youngest child in the car.

Of all the stupid things I had ever done in my life, this was definitely one of them. A lapse of just a few seconds saw the car swerving to the right lane, skidding across a drain, barely missing a big tree by the side of the road, and crashing into the chain-link fence of Sekolah Menengah Subang Jaya.

The twisted fence somehow held the car in a loose grip as it hung precariously over the school field 30 feet below. One wrong move and the car would have toppled over and plummet onto the field, and in all probability flattened like a pancake, with us trapped inside.

With the help of passers-by and people from nearby houses, mother and daughter crawled out, shaken but thankfully only slightly injured. The front portion of the car, however, was badly mangled.

A frightful, sobering lesson that was. I have never been able to live down the fact that Nawwar and I once came so close to losing our lives.

Today I make it a habit to take a noon snooze daily, and not push my luck behind the wheels when the eyes feel heavy. It's just not worth it...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dari Allah dia datang...

My heart goes out to Puan Sri Hajjah Halimah Mohd Isa (my MIL in the '70s and '80s). Thirty-five long years ago she buried a husband; this morning she buried a son.

Life slipped away quietly from Ahmad Nazri Abdul Rahman, second son of the late Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Haji Abdul Rahman Hashim, at 10.52 last night in University Hospital. Nazri, 60, was my children's much-loved paternal uncle. He was warded on Thursday following a heart attack.

Pak Abu and I were at the Malay College Old Boys Association (MACOBA) annual dinner in Istana Hotel when we were informed of his demise. We decided to leave the dinner minutes later. It just didn't feel right to continue making merry upon hearing such sorrowful news.

On behalf of the family, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Polis DiRaja Malaysia for their assistance in all the preparations, including the burial this morning at Tanah Perkuburan Islam Bukit Kiara, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.

Thank you too to all of arwah Bapak's "men in blue", led by former IGP Tun Haniff Omar and wife Toh Puan Hamidah, who turned up to pay their last respects. Kesudian kalian menziarahi amat menyentuh hati kami.

Semoga Allah swt mencucuri rahmat ke atas roh Allahyarham dan menempatkannya dikalangan roh-roh mereka yang solihin. Amin.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Pain In The Heart

It's been a woefully depressing day today. In the morning Pak Abu received news that one of his MCKK classmates had just passed away due to blood complications. Ayub was only 57. We were unable to visit because his jenazah was taken back to his hometown in Kedah in the afternoon.

Just before noon, another phonecall relayed the death of another friend. Arwah Affendi was an affable man with a wealth of knowledge about traditional healing. A masseur, he was at our house several times some months back to help Pak Abu regain the strength of his numbing fingers and joints.

Just before Maghrib, we were jolted by yet another call, this time to inform that my former brother-in-law, Nazri (whom we call E) already in a critical condition since yesterday due to a heart attack and liver complications, suffered another attack in ICU this evening and is fighting death.

We rushed to University Hospital, to find a large crowd of family members already gathered in the cardio ward. While we were there, he suffered yet another seizure. The prognosis wasn't good.

The doctor in attendance informed that they had done the best they could. She said his system was shutting down and that he was being kept alive by the machine. We were asked to say our prayers; many read the Yaasin at his bedside.

While E's mother (my former mom-in-law) was calm, E's children weren't so composed. My heart bled for his five kids, who are extremely close to their single-father dad, having been raised by him and their grandma.

Soft-spoken Nazri, 60, affectionately called Pak Utih by his nieces and nephews, is a much-loved uncle. My children Naj and Ann rushed to the hospital from their office to be with their ailing Pak Utih, while their sister Awwa followed suit from home, with us.

At the time of writing, E's condition remains critical. This is going to be a long night. Please say a prayer for Nazri Abdul Rahman. Semoga dipermudahkan segalanya untuk dia apa jua yang Allah swt tentukan baginya...........

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tiger In The Woods

At last count there were ten birdies chirping merrily away outside his window, some waiting with bated breath to tell every juicy detail of their sex romps (for a price of course) with the mighty 'club' of the golf sensation, His Horniness Tiger Woods.

With his wholesome image in tatters, his golf on hold, his endorsements hanging in balance (one has pulled out) and the future of his marriage uncertain (wife Elin has reportedly moved out of their mansion with the couple's two children), Tiger has plenty of time to reflect on the consequences of what he had described as his 'transgressions'.

"Whatever you choose to call it, Tiger, it's Cheating On One's Wife in simple and plain everyday language. What more, you deserve every single piece of sh** splattered your way in the light of your conduct, so unbecoming for someone of your stature.

The fact remains that you have failed miserably as a son to Kutilda, a husband to Elin, a father to Sam and Charlie and as an icon to us, your avid fans (now no more, and good riddance too). The sad reality is that you are no better than any moronic slimeball in the same mould.

It is lamentable that you had shamelessly and stupidly let your dick do the talking. And now it's payback time, son. We wouldn't have cared a toss in which honey (cess?) pool you had been dipping your rod, had you not been a family man with a wife and two kids in tow.

You have let us down big time. And as far as I am concerned, Tiger, you are done for. You are well and truly in the woods now. For a few tufts of questionable mounds, you screwed yourself in the grandest possible way.

Elin should have whacked you nice and proper with a driver instead of taking a couple of spotty swings at the car. I do hope she will take you to the cleaners..... and more....."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Al-Khaadem Youth Camps

Al-Ustaz Haji Hussein Yee, Founder of Al-Khaadem

Al-Khaadem - Introduction

Those of you living in Klang Valley would probably have heard of Pertubuhan Al-Khaadem, a charity-based Islamic NGO established in 1984 by well-known Hadith scholar, Al-Ustaz Hussein Yee.

Al-Khaadem means 'Serving Mankind' and it was established to reflect Islam's compassion and to do charity work among the underprivileged and the needy. Headquartered in Kampung Kayu Ara, Petaling Jaya, Al-Khadem is run by volunteers.

Its founder, Al-Ustaz Haji Hussein Yee, was born and raised as a Buddhist but embraced Islam at the age of 18. Upon conversion, he pursued studies at the University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia where he majored in Hadith. He joined Perkim, an organisation that looks after the well-being of new converts, upon his graduation in 1978.

Six years later, with a group of like-minded friends, Ustaz Hussein embarked on the Pertubuhan Al-Khaadem project, with the aim of fostering a peaceful and harmonious existence between mankind regardless of race, colour or creed.

I first found myself in the sphere of Al-Khaadem in the early 1990s when I was introduced to it by my former sister-in-law, Datin Sofwanah Abdul Rahman (Kak Nah). A lady of too much leisure then, she was actively involved in the activities of Perkim, and had wanted me to be a part of Perkim in view of my public relations business and connections.

Over the years I had followed Kak Nah to many of Ustaz Hussein's Islamic discourse. I enjoyed listening to Ustaz Hussein simply because his lectures and talks were conducted in English. As such, his sessions always drew good crowds, mostly from the corporate sector.

He was also a favourite speaker/teacher amongst the non-Malaysian Muslim students pursuing their respective studies in local universities. One could find many such students, especially from International Islamic University Malaysia (UIAM), at his lectures.

I lapsed on my Al-Khaadem commitment for a few years but picked it up again last year at the behest of a friend. Unfortunately, I have not been consistent with my presence; my attendance is, at best, spotty.

Upon my return from the Hajj, my youngest daughter Nawwar, 24, made the startling decision to trade all her fashionable togs for the hijjab, to quit her job at the advertising agency and to study both Arabic Language and Islam full-time at Al-Khaadem. She also volunteers at the Foundation. This posting is written at her request.

Al-Khaadem Youth Camp 2009

As in past years, the organisation is again putting together two separate youth camps, for teenage boys and girls, in conjunction with the school term break. This year's camps, however, are eco-based and coincide with Ma'al Hijrah.

The youth camp for boys will be held at the Endau-Rompin National Park from 17th to 20th December 2009. Programmes for the four-day camp include Night Walk, River Crossing, Jungle Trekking and Treasure Hunt, apart from motivational & inspirational talks and team-building. Special guests will be Sheikh Hussein Yee and Sheikh Feiz Muhammad.

It is open to boys age 12 and above, at an all-inclusive RM350 per person. Closing date for application is 7th December.

Al-Khaadem is also looking for individuals or corporations willing to sponsor orphans and underprivileged children to join the camp. There will be 15 boys from the Al-Khaadem Home of Hope, five of whom have found sponsorship. The boys of Home of Hope come from multi-ethnic, multi-religious background.

Those interested to sponsor a child can contact Brother Mateen (012-2470749) or Brother Shahril (019-3196005) or check out the Al-Khaadem website at for details. The Al-Khaadem office number is 03-7726 4146.

Banaat Eco Camp 2009

This three-day Islamic environmental camp organised by Al-Khaadem is open to girls age 12 and above. It will be held from 18th to the 20th of December at the Forest Reserve Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), in Kepong, Selangor.

The three-day camp offers participants an opportunity to experience nature, while at the same time learning more about youth and Islam. As with the camp for boys, Al-Khaadem will also be bringing 15 girls from the Home of Hope to participate in the eco camp.

All 15 have, Alhamdulillah, found sponsors. Application, however, is still open to any girl above 12 who wants the experience of camping in the flora and fauna of one of Malaysia's oldest forest reserves. The cost is RM250 per person (all inclusive) and closing date for application is 7th of December.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bo Lah Awe...

Jemaah Haji Malaysia daripada maktab kami semasa menziarahi medan Perang Uhud dipinggir Kota Mekah. Syahdu melihat perkuburan para Syuhada terutama tempat bersemadinya Saiyyidina Hamzah, bapa saudara Rasulullah saw, yang gugur di peperangan tersebut.

[Bo Lah, dalam loghat Kelantan bermaksud Cukuplah. Ertikata Bahasa Inggeris yang paling hampir mungkin enough is enough. Marilah kita merenung bersama halatuju kita sebagai saudara seagama. Yang penting: politik diketepikan, ibadah diutamakan]

Kadangkala saya rasa dosa diri ini bertambah-tambah pulak sejak dua menjak ni. Musykil jugak bila memikirkannya, lebih-lebih lagi kerana pada hemat saya dosa yang dibuat hanyalah 'dosa kering' semata-mata. Tapi kerisauan tetap menggugat jiwa.

Apa tidaknya, menjelang Hari Wukuf, yang mana di musim Haji ini jatuh pada hari Khamis 26 November, genaplah setahun saya menadah tangan di Arafah, dengan linangan airmata memohon keampunan Ilahi.

Keheningan malam di Muzdalifah dan Mina masih terasa, dan sebak kembali bertakhta di dada bila menghayati saat-saat syahdu mengatur langkah-langkah kecil mengelilingi Kaabah yang suci.

Kalau boleh, diri ini tak mahu lagi mempersiakan sisa-sisa hidup yang sudah menjelang senja ini dengan dosa. Tak kiralah apa jenis dosa sekalipun, apatah lagi dosa besar.

Tapi, saban hari tidak lekang daripada membaca rentetan dan cetusan hati pembicara politik semasa tanahair, baik dari pihak kerajaan maupun pembangkang. Pelbagai isu diperkatakan dan kadangkala bahasa yang digunakan begitu kesat sekali.

Tuduh menuduh, keji mengeji, fitnah memfitnah, maki hamun dan carutan; demi mendokong pegangan politik yang berbeza kita sanggup mencemar maruah diri kita sendiri. Dimana letaknya ketinggian pekerti kita sebagai seorang Muslim?

Pokok pangkalnya saya sekadar membaca; benar atau tidak isi kandung komentar sudah tentu sekali tidak dapat saya pastikan. Andainya fitnah, maka secara tidak langsung terbabitlah saya kerana turut berburuk sangka terhadap sipenama. Inilah dosa kering yang saya maksudkan.

Kenapalah begitu tidak keruan sekali keadaan umat kita sekarang. Bila agaknya kita hendak berbaik-baik sesama kita demi agama, andainya tidak mahu berdamai demi bangsa dan negara?

Adakah politik itu tonggak segala-galanya sehingga kesucian agama tergamak diperlekehkan begitu rupa? Tidak wajarkah kita bersatu demi Ummah? Sesungguhnya, EGO telah meranap dan meruntuhkan akhlak dan aqidah antara kita .....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Budu Power

Terengganu has done it again! For nine consecutive years, the state has achieved the highest percentage of straight As in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination in the country.

The State Education Department reported that of the 24,156 candidates who sat for this exam (it used to be called Pepereksaan Darjah Enam during my time), 3,664 scored five As.

This is equivalent to 15.3 per cent of those who sat for it and an almost one per cent jump over last year's 14.4 per cent. What is even more heartening to note is that rural schools were doing much better than urban schools.

My heart swelled with pride upon learning this, not so much because I am Terengganu born-and-bred, but because it shows how much Terengganu, once considered the most backward state in the country (in infrastructure and everything else), has advanced in the realm of education for the young.

It wasn't long ago that Terengganu was Malaysia's own "Hickville", the ultimate boondocks of the ulus. This is not counting charming Kelantan of course, because Kelantan is never ever ulu, just not cut from the same kain semutar, that's all.

Coming from an ulu primary school myself during those long-ago days of the '60s, I can identify with kids like 5A-achiever Mohd Fadli Amin Khairuddin from Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Ladang Gajah Mati, 50 kilometres from the nearest town of Dungun.

Now, that distance to the interior from quiet Dungun would definitely place the school in the middle of nowhere, as with two other schools in a 50-km radius to it, SRK Pasir Raja and SRK Terus.

These are all schools with less than 100 pupils but blessed with dedicated teachers who, according to Fadli in a press interview, kept an eagle eye on their academic performance from the very beginning. It is such teachers who make a difference in the lives of these kampung kids.

Today Terengganu is blessed with natural riches, a stable (if squabble-prone) state government (please stop all the bickerings and back-biting and get on with nation-building!) and a populace that no longer considers becoming fishermen is about the only lot for Terengganu men.

They still look seaward today, but only to fish for black gold and not the aquatic specie they were used to. Terengganu is a blessed land indeed ... and I'm feeling extra patriotic lately; must be all those kropok lekor that 'The Malay Mail' reporter Gabey Oh brought back from Kuala Terengganu last week ...

PS: Lest I'm misunderstood, let it be reminded that it's not the string of As I am rejoicing about; it's the fact that the kids of my beloved Terengganu are showing their mettle in a most positive way, by coming out tops and staying there continuously for almost a decade... syabas!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Rant - The Pecker Package

What is it with men, especially married ones, vis-a-vis janda (whatever category she may fit in; single mom, childless, old, young, berhias or otherwise..)? What exactly is a janda's selling point or pulling power?

That she has been through the grind and so knows what 'it' is like and now that she isn't getting any she must be desperate? And so deprived is she that she must be an easy enough lay?

Some years ago, the religious department of a particular Malaysian state put forth a proposal so off-putting that even today it still rankles me to mention it. I came across the article while sorting out my cuttings recently, thus this long-overdue rant.

It had proposed a RM1,000 cash incentive to any man, married or otherwise, willing to take on a janda as a wife. I guess if a man wants to fulfil the four-wife quota, he can marry three at one go and make a tidy RM3,000 at the same time. Good bargain eh?

Whoever came up with this insulting idea should be given a kick in the groin. Please don't counter with the worn argument that it was proposed with the best of intentions. If you have the janda's interest at heart, you would offer the money to her instead, so that she could use it for her family.

For many, if the choice comes down to man or money, they would take the money. What guarantee does the janda and her kids have that their welfare will be taken care of, not when he gets a wife-plus-cash package deal for his pecker without spending a single sen?

Being an alumnae of Jandahood myself, I can tell you with absolute certainty that half the time single moms are so turned off by men that they don't want to have anything to do with them anymore. Of course we all have our own specific reasons for it.

I was on track for single-momhood and wasn't in the least worried about remaining a janda until I breathe my last, when jodoh came a-calling. Whilst it wasn't my call, I accepted what God had in store for me for He Knows Best, and I am thankful to have a kind-hearted man to share my life with in my autumn years.

I read somewhere that spousal abandonment is the main reason for jandahood among Muslim mothers in this country. Simply put, the husband just ups and leaves, leaving the wife to struggle alone. Child support? Not a sen.

And if she goes to Syariah Court to demand child support, she'd better be prepared to wait until her kids finish college before she can get a judgement, if she is lucky, that is. Half the time, that sorry excuse of a father would just ignore court order to present himself, or to pay.

So where does that leave her? The kids still have to be clothed, fed and schooled and the bills still have to be paid. And so the single mom slogs on, alone, getting herself into mounting debts along the way - hutang sana hutang sini - to keep the family afloat.

It's the same old story, then and now. Why is it so hard for these Muslim men to be responsible fathers? It's fine if he no longer wants to see the back of his erstwhile spouse for whatever reason, but those innocent kids are still his...

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Musical Interlude

A chorus of "bravo!" and "encore!" reverberated in Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre Sunday evening, as Sean Ghazi and Estee Pook ended their final performance with a rousing rendition of "The Prayer", Andrea Bocelli's famous duet with Celine Dion.

While Pak Abu joined the enthusiastic crowd in asking for an encore, I docked in with the rest of the concert-goers in showing my appreciation by clapping my hands continuously. By any account, it was a fitting finale to a memorable evening.

We were at a charity event, Konsert Amal DiRaja 'Unforgettable', in aid of Alzheimer's Disease Foundation, Malaysia. His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor was the guest-of-honour; other royal attendees included the Raja Muda of Perak Raja Nazrin Shah and his consort, Tuanku Zara Salim.

The main draw of the evening was Sean Ghazi, that iconic, LA-based singer-actor famous for his leading roles in several London West End musicals, and his innovative marrying of the haunting melodies of yesteryears with sophisticated classic jazz arrangements.

Guest performers included American virtuoso violinist Jessica Lee, winner of the 2005 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, and celebrated Malaysian soloist Estee Pook, winner of some 80 singing competitions locally and abroad.

They were accompanied by the Kuala Lumpur International Festival Orchestra comprising 66 topnotch musicians - international and local - under the baton of Malaysian-born, New York-based conductor Eugene Pook.

It's been quite a while since we hauled our ample derriere to an orchestral performance. My last was many years back when the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra put up an awesome show in KL in conjunction with the birthday of King Bhumibol.

Konsert Amal DiRaja "Unforgettable" also presented an opportunity for some women to "do the red carpet". A good many of them dressed to kill as they sashayed up and down the auditorium aisles. Evening gowns crowded the floor, many with lots of bare skin and barely-covered boobs.

While waiting for the concert to start and during intermission, I made the most of my time watching exposed cleavages deep and shallow, in direct proportion to knockers of all shapes and sizes.

For us tudung-clad ones, there was so much we could do without compromising our headgear, so fashion had to take a backseat. Since I had to hide my own, I might as well observe other women's jugs. Pak Abu, my partner in 'titty-watching crime', agreed wholeheartedly :)

It was the first time we watched Sean Ghazi's performance in person. In fact, It was the promise of his presence that prompted us to buy the tickets. As a former entertainment writer, I am loath to endorse artistes but Sean Ghazi is a different kettle of fish altogether.

I think of him as a true thespian; he's just as versatile on Broadway as he is on celluloid and in the recording studio. His is the voice of a crooner in the mould of Michael Buble. Small wonder he was given the lead in a major stage musical depicting P. Ramlee not so long ago.

A satisfying musical interlude that really was for us that Pak Abu felt we should make it a habit to check out the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra offerings on a monthly basis. Good idea, that...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kota Baru Revisited

Yours truly flanked by colleagues Yusof & Hisham (to the right) and batik makers Rashidah & Azizah (to the left). PESENI head honcho is Tn Hj Muhamad bin Jusoh (the one in batik) while noted painter Ismail Kadir, whose studio we visited, is the one in yellow.

Our gracious host, the soft-spoken and very obliging Deen - schoolteacher, post-graduate student into his last semester, artist, homestay owner, loving husband and doting father. Thank you for your hospitality, Deen!

KOTA BARU. "Newcastle" of the East, and just as provincial as its British namesake. Charmingly so I thought, as I watched the sunrays peeping through cottony clouds, its reflection glistening on the wing of the Firefly aircraft as it swooped low over the flatlands of Kota Baru, heading towards the airport in Pengkalan Chepa.

It was 8.30 Saturday morning. Aboard the Fokker, my colleagues Hisham and Yusof, and I, were shaking off the remnants of sleep in anticipation of a fruitful day in this well-known northeastern outpost where the populace is among the most parochial in Malaysia.

We were in town for a crucial meeting; our first face-to-face with PESENI, the umbrella for Kelantan artists and painters. Our mission - to present our plan for a major art exhibition involving members of PESENI and other Kelantan artists.

Despite sporadic visits (I was here last in 2001), Kelantan is a place I hold dear in my heart for it is 'kampung tok ayah', hometown of the grandfather I never knew (he died age 25 during the Japanese Occupation, leaving a young widow and 4 small children, the eldest of whom was my late mother).

Thus this trip, brief as it were, was almost like a homecoming of sort, even if there was no one waiting for me. There were relatives aplenty in KB for sure; aunts in Taman Guru, cousins in Jalan Sultanah Zainab and Lorong Tok Semian, an uncle in Jalan Bayam, other kin in Pasir Mas and Kuala Krai.

It's just that time did not permit social calls. Ours was a day trip and there were many things that needed to be accomplished within that short period of time. Much as I wanted to meet my relatives, such social calls had to wait. I have to come back, hopefully soon, to do the needful.

From my window seat, I could discern Kelantan River, with its thick yellow 'teh tarik' hue, snaking sluggishly towards South China Sea in the far distance. Dotting the scene were patches of water yet undrained, for the floods had just receded.

We were met at the airport by Cikgu Mazeri (Deen), he of my art piece "Buoh Seto TokMa" fame. He had gamely taken on the quadruple role of host, guide, chauffeur & chaperone for the day in the absence of Pok Zawi, who was indisposed.

He took us to a kedai makan just yards away from our meeting venue. There, Hisham and Yusof went adventurous with 'nasi pagi' and 'pulut manis' for breakfast, while I stuck to tried and tested 'nasi lemak'. Actually my eyes were eyeing the 'pulut inti', but I dared not overeat!

Then it was on to the main business of the day. The two-hour meeting, held at the State Tourism Office, was cordial. Many issues were raised and discussed. Generally speaking, PESENI was agreeable to our presentation and terms. Barring unforeseen circumstances, we would be back for the MoU signing in December.

Two smiling 'makciks' joined the meeting as we were about to begin. Pn Azizah and Pn Rashidah, both voluble and very charming, were on the PESENI committee and I learned they were noted batik makers in Kelantan.

As we fell into conversation later, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the duo, who were sisters, were first cousins of my late mother (their mom and my maternal grandfather were siblings). What a wonderful coincidence indeed!

I only knew their other sister whom I call Makcik Nora (mother to Johan Nawawi the well-known composer) and her late husband, Ayahcik Nawawi. Nora and Nawawi were first cousins too; as such I am related to them twice over. Now in her late 60s, Makcik Nora was a portrait painter of national repute in her younger days.

A hearty and hefty 'nasi ulam' lunch at a popular restaurant adjacent to the building concluded the discussion. There were ikan patin dishes and crispy sembilang and budu that just blew my dieting away. Oh, well...

A visit to the house-cum-studio of well-established Kelantanese artist Ismail Kadir followed. We were told his works had fetched good prices, in the realm of tens of thousands of ringgit. Whilst the bachelor lived in such artistic disarray, the walls of his two-storey bungalow were covered with some of the most captivating paintings I had ever seen.

We moved on to Deen's spanking new abode in Pasir Mas 30 minutes away to freshen up and rest awhile. Stepping into Deen's house was like entering a new art gallery. His paintings, bright and cheerful (except for one in sombre black and green), were everywhere, and one particular creation actually would look more at home in the concourse of a corporate office building.

Deen's wife Haslina, a trained counsellor, had graciously prepared some desserts for us. After having our fill, I excused myself for solat and a brief shut-eye in the guest bedroom. I was too full, to the point of lethargy, to do anything else!

Around 3.30pm we bid Deen's family adieu and took off to visit Pok Zawi at his house some five-minute drive away. Pok Zawi was temporarily house-bound due to gout, all because he just couldn't resist food that was forbidden to him during a kenduri the night before (tsk tsk tsk!).

The last lap before going to the airport was a stopover at Pasar Siti Khadijah and Plaza Buluh Kubu, the two 'must-go' shopping stops in KB. The former is a market for fresh produce and foodstuff while the latter offers mostly traditional items like batik, songket, handicrafts and such.

I ended up with serunding, dodol, lempuk durian, brooches, batiks and shawls. What actually stopped me from buying more was the non-availability of ATM machines in the vicinity; you have to walk quite a distance to the nearest bank.

The flight home was rough. I think we were riding turbulence for a better part of the one-hour journey. I still managed a snooze, though. All those walking had really pooped me out. We disembarked into a slight drizzle and got home safely by 9pm, exhausted but happy nonetheless, that all went well as planned.

PS: Thank you too, Deen, for your gift of a 'wayang kulit' puppet. A good conversation piece, that one...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Of Titty & A Shower of 'Babies'

Took an early morning drive to KLIA today to send daughter Ann, who was leaving for Tokyo after being summoned to appear as a witness in a Japanese court case. The occupational hazard of a reporter, as always. She'll be back Friday. Hello Titty visiting the land of Hello Kitty? Ahak!

As luck would have it, ran into Ana, the fourth of my five sisters, at the airport. She was bound for Johore Baru to attend a function. Ana, the sole academician among us siblings, is attached to UiTM Shah Alam, where she lectures business and entrepreneurship.

Also met her daughter
Amirah who drove her to the airport. Glad to note Mira is looking better than the last time we saw her. The 24 year-old college grad is currently undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, having lost a leg to the accursed disease four years ago.

This little bundle is Kayden Riley Stewart, the latest addition to my sister Idah's family. Born to Idah's daughter Amilda and hubby Sabran Gary Stewart in Cleveland, Ohio, two weeks ago, Kayden's their firstborn. So Grandma Idah lost no time in flying to Ohio, to be with her new (and second) cucu.

And this is MY own baby, a spanking new laptop, a birthday present from Pak Abu. Thank you, Pa. I promise to be a bit more rajin in updating my blog.. hehehe..

Here's another new 'baby', from me to me, purchased at the Pahang Art Exhibition on the last day of the event Friday. Thank you Mamasita for taking the trouble to reserve it for me (it could have travelled to Washington DC in Ambassador Datuk JJ's consignment otherwise).

"Rambutan" is a beauty to behold. With the forthcoming Kelantan Art Exhibition, I am hoping to expand my visual fruit orchard to include more varieties of buah-buahan..

And last but not least, here's the fifty-something "Golden Girls" as well as those not-quite-golden-yet girls lineup. From left: Mamasita, NanaDJ, Kama, Zendra, Desert Rose, Ezza and cutiepie Kay_Leeda. Thank you ladies for the pleasant birthday surprise. Blogger Edelweiss had left by this time; tak sempat bergambar together..

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Baby, Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me....

The other day I had a go at Carpenters' timeless classic "For All We Know", the first time I had sung that song in over 30 years. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could still recall the lyrics with ease.

Way back in the late 60s and early 70s, that song, along with a few other hits by Carpenters and Anne Murray, was a staple in my meagre repertoire as a teenage vocalist in a small-town
band in Dungun.

We sang a lot of Malay numbers then, only because our most frequent gigs were weddings. It was only when we had the occasional opportunity to perform on stage in public, usually as a prelude to some government-sponsored concerts, that English numbers, mostly those by The Beatles and Bee Gees, saw the light of day.

I remember only too well why I quit singing "For All We Know"; it was the ex's "theme song" with his Aussie girlfriend, the one he had harboured hopes of marrying. Circumstances saw that hope dashed, and he returned home alone upon completing his studies.

He came clean about it, but only when I found her photograph with the lyrics scribbled behind it, while sorting out his piles of books and things. Long after we parted ways, I still balked at singing that song, until last week. Perhaps it was a closure of some sort.

I am pretty sure we all share similar experiences when we were young and carefree and madly in love. Many of us would have had our own special songs, usually those saccharine-sweet, sentimental love ballads that had the innate ability to turn the best of us into blathering fools.

And then, when for some reasons the relationship came to grief, we found that we just couldn't bear to hear that special 'our song' anymore without feeling like strangling the erstwhile suitor or the singer, or both.

All through my colourful life, only two songs had affected me so, and for markedly different reasons. Besides "For All We Know", there was a pointed reminder in the form of Mac Davis' somewhat selfish "Baby, Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me."

Here's an interesting take on that second tune; I met the one-time steady again two years ago after a lapse of 36 years (we dated briefly at the tail end of 1973). It was a chance meeting at a golf club; I was attending the wedding of a niece and he was checking out the club membership with a view of becoming one.

A recently-retired army general, the Datuk, now with grandkids, looked as spiffy as ever. We had a good laugh over our brief and completely innocent courtship. He was then my eldest brother's best buddy, thus toed the line religiously (or risk bodily harm, I'd think!)

Come to think of it, maybe that was why he finally called it quit; that friendship with the brother had left him with no room for 'creative maneuverings' with the sister! Dumped me he did, for "Miss Chinatown" no less (and I kid you not).

Months before giving me the boot, however, he started playing "Baby, Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me" each time we got together. A good strategist he was; at 21, he was preparing my 19 year-old heart for the inevitable breakup.

This may sound laughable by today's standard, but our courtship was conducted almost entirely under the watchful eyes of his parents and two sisters. They were extremely nice people for sure, and I guess they wanted only the best for their only son and brother.

We would sit together and play his records on the turntable, and I would join them for meals before he sent me home to my aunt's at the prescribed hours, and not a minute longer. That was how chaste the whole courtship was; small wonder he felt so stifled.

Being dumped was not a pleasant thing to happen to anyone and at any age, more so if the 'dumper' was your brother's best friend. But losing out to a pliable beauty queen proved to be a lot less painful than I had imagined; perhaps because I wasn't ready to be a 'big girl' any time soon....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Week That Was

Mom and the boys at Red Box Monday. Pak Abu's behind the camera...

My very able Wonderwoman executive, Zira, manning the fort at the Federation dinner Wednesday.

Birthday girl Ann, new hairstyle all, flanked by colleague Fuzzie (left) and sister Awwa (right) at her birthday do Saturday.

FIRST of all, an apology is due for the slack in updating my blog. Believe me, it wasn't intentional. I had wanted to write and write, and there were so many things to scribble about, to comment upon.

Unfortunately, the mind was preoccupied with work and by the time Saturday approached, migraine conveniently took over. Suffice to say it effectively and spectacularly screwed up my weekend.

Yours truly's wargamas landmark which fell on Sunday last week was celebrated with a simple dinner with fellow senior citizen, Pak Abu, at our favourite Italian joint, La Risatta, in Medan Damansara. Monday night saw the family giving Mom a karaoke treat at Red Box, Mid-Valley.

Tuesday was packed to the brim with last-minute preparations for a gala dinner to be held the following day. The event, organised by the Federation of Public Listed Companies, Malaysia, was to honour the media. As FPLC's public relations "achi", I had to take the lead in organising.

The heavens opened on Wednesday afternoon, giving me the shivers about attendance. Knowing city folks as it were, I was afraid invitees would be deterred by the possibility of massive traffic crawls that they would decide not to come at all.

Thank God turn up they all did - we had a full house - but (there's always a "but" lurking in there somewhere...) the performers arrived at 6 pm instead of 3 pm as earlier planned. As such, the dry run flew out the window, pissing me off no end for I was deprived of an opportunity to give the whole event, including my emceeing, a run-through.

At times like this I thank my 20 years of experience in this line; scribbling notes at the last minute, ad-libbing my way to suit the occasion. I so much dislike unpreparedness for it offers too many opportunities to screw up.

Thankfully, everything went well (err, there was a slight glitch in the final dance performance when the music inadvertently stopped halfway, leaving the dancers flapping like lost chicken looking for their mother hen, but who's complaining?)

Somehow I felt those dancers scored points with that faux pas. I think the girls' outlandish (and skimpy) 'samba' attire with multi-coloured feathers, heavily-sequined boleros and God knows some other fancy stuffs they had up the ropol-ropol sleeves (they could have hidden a ferret or two in there and I wouldn't have been any wiser), were enough entertainment for guests.

Thankfully too, the Tan Sri president didn't chew my head off about the slip-up. And that he accepted the speech that I had prepared for him, verbatim. I guess he was being a good sport. Perhaps he too found the whole ridiculous scenario entertaining enough.

I thought I could take it easy Thursday; then I remembered my team had scheduled a meeting with PESENI (Association of Kelantan Artists) member Pak Zawi, to brief him about the forthcoming art exhibition that we are planning for PESENI.

Pak Zawi was returning to Kelantan after spending two weeks nannying his grandson in KL, so it made sense to brief him of the preliminary development so he could inform his fellow members upon his return. My team and I will be going to Kelantan soon to make a proper presentation to the association.

Thankfully, Friday was rather quiet. With my nose out of joint, all I wanted to do was sleep (which was what I did, incidentally, with Lillie curled at my feet). Blogging was out; much like Bukit Besi's decrepit iron-ore wagon train (keretapi lipang), the mind had stalled. It simply refused to regurgitate words.

A slight headache greeted Saturday; I instinctively knew it was going to be a bad day. But there was another meeting to attend, in Putrajaya this time. So off we went, praying hard it wouldn't be a convoluted one (it was short and sweet, thank God for His little mercies).

By noon my nagging headache had turned into a full-blown migraine. My migraine episodes, just like pyrotechnic shows, have always been spectacular - the endless throbbing and continuous puke sessions, the hot-cold-hot again-cold again sensation, the neck pain, the blurry vision...

Half the time I would sit up with arms encircling a pail, for hours sometimes, just so I could empty my gut. At times like these, all I prayed for was to pass out cold and wake up a day later with a clearer head.

That night the entire family celebrated Ann's birthday at Italiannis in One Utama without me. While they were merrily feasting on zuppe, spaghetti, gnocchi, lasagna, tiramisu and whatever else they had there, I was holed up in semi-darkness in the bedroom, wallowing in self-pity.

To conclude a sorely imperfect evening, Pak Abu got home on foot. The car wouldn't start! Luckily One Utama is just 15 minutes away (a brisk walk) from home. He forgot there were jumper cables in the boot...

Anyway, the car's back home. Everything's fine and dandy once again. For now. Let's see what this week brings. The way things go, I can bet my bottom ringgit there will be more hilarity in store for my good readers (at our expense, of course...sighhh)

PS: Caught Kak Teh 'live' on TV1 Sunday morning in the "Apa Kata Wanita" (What Women Say) programme. She was interviewed via skype in this week's segment about "Women In Journalism." Looked like she could use some sleep, the poor dear...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Turning 55...


Age 6: The pre-schooler and her first official portrait.
(Bukit Besi, Terengganu 1960)

Age 16: The schoolgirl in her Girl Guide ensemble.
(Dungun, Terengganu 1970)

Age 20: The newspaper reporter on her wedding day.
(Kuala Lumpur, 1974)

Age 38: The PR consultant-cum-single mom with 4 kids in tow.
(Bangkok, Thailand 1992 - serving Thai Tourism Board)

Age 47: Another shot at matrimony, after 14 years...
(Ipoh, Perak 2001)

Age 54: blissfully happy: Kama & Pak Abu
(Medina, Saudi Arabia - Hajj of 2008).

(This entry is unashamedly self-indulgent, so please forgive me. Give it a miss if it doesn't quite agree with you; I am just so happy to be where I am today that I could burst from the sheer joy of it).

A wargamas - freshly minted, legally certified and absolutely thrilled - was born today. Signed, sealed, delivered; that's me, rushing headlong into 55. How wonderful, to be able to proudly claim senior citizenship!

I had waited for this day ever since I turned 40. Frankly, it has very little to do with the promised bounty, enticing as that may be. It's just that the 40s somehow never really fit into my scheme of things. I couldn't relate to the old standby "life begins at 40" because for me it didn't.

If I were to assign some recognition to it, I'd call my 40s "the age of wilderness and confusion." You see, when you hit 40, you are neither here nor there. While you are definitely not young (being young at heart doesn't count), you are not old either.

The age of youth ends with 39. But old age doesn't really hit you in the face until 50 and beyond, so where does that leave the 40s? Granted, it may be just numbers to some but those numbers troubled me enough to give my 40s a wide mental berth.

Time stood still from the time I bid 39 goodbye until I leapfrogged into 50. The missing decade was spent in "age hibernation', emerging only on the treshhold of 50 to take my rightful place amongst the half-centurians.

Alas, what I had conveniently seek to forget, my bones never ceased to remind. The creaks amplified with every move. Not that I minded much really, because being 50 was a prelude to better things to come - turning 55 and joining the illustrious "Senior Citizens Brigade".

So here I am, turning 55 today - still alive and kicking - creaking bones, protruding guts, wobbly knees, greying hair, the occasional memory lapses, impaired vision and 'audio trouble' notwithstanding. All the same, Thank You God, for all Your blessings....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Feast for the Eye

Guest-of-honour YB Senator Dato Maznah Mazlan, Deputy Minister of Human Resource, flanked by event organiser Datin Huda a.k.a Mamasita Mamamia (left) and Pn Farisha Pawanteh (right), COO of Media Prima's Primeworks. Standing behind are some of the Pahang artists participating in the exhibition.

An eerie rendition, featuring a big tree entwined with vines; look at it a moment too long and it gives you goosepimples.

The two paintings that had me bowled over. I assure you they truly seduce in real life; it's my amateurish photography that doesn't do them justice here.

A typical scene in the East Coast; elderly makciks hawking their meagre wares. They look so despondent... :(

Jantung Pisang & Ikan Emas, batik-style. There are a few truly exquisite batik drawings in the collection; a quirky rendition of a monkey pitcher plant is one..

Fishing boats moored at a river estuary. Melancholy sets in just by looking at this piece of realism.

Absolutely stunning; an undersea vision of a turtle swimming among bright corals. My hunch tells me this piece will appreciate in no time..

Ah, these two boys have just undergone circumcision. Gently does it, boys! Look at the folds meticulously drawn, and the batik patterns, bright and cheerful...

One can never go wrong with the humble heliconia, upright and strong in all its red glory.

This Ayam Serama series gave blogger Jaflam a sudden adrenalin rush; besides collecting art pieces, he also used to keep these highly-prized chicks.

Kampung house in the moonlight. According to the organiser, this traditional abode is located in Pekan.

Drenched in sweat, a fisherman and three friends prepare to push a boat out to sea.

Simply Captivating

These art pieces speak for themselves. That each and every single one of the paintings is special is without a doubt. Mamasita's ceaseless efforts have borne fruit. Congratulations Datin; you did fine with this commendable endeavour.

Those Pahang artists are definitely a talented lot. Just look at the fruits of their labour, now up for both public viewing and sale at TV3's Seri Pentas. I am not a connoisseur and I do not know much about art appreciation, but I know beauty when I see one.

And speaking of fruits, I am once again smitten. Fruit renditions make me go weak at the knees. Once upon a time it was Mazeri's mangosteens, now occupying a place of honour in my living room. Yesterday, it was the rambutans (pix above).

Those humble rambutans are slowly working their charm on me. And they are VERY affordable too (darn!) I really can't afford to fall in love at first sight too often.. but we'll see about this one :)

I am calling on fellow readers to spread the word around. If you happen to live in the Klang Valley, do come visit the exhibition. I understand it will be on for two weeks (until the end of the month). It's truly a feast for the eye....

PS: Another art show from the East Coast - from the talents of Kelantan this time - is in the works. We'll inform when all details are finalised.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When He Whispers....

It's a marvel how Evil works. Half the time you didn't even realise it was his doing - the sly whisperings and nudges, the gentle proddings, the promises - until much later when sensibility returned. By the time you did it was too late; you had been duped.

For years I was the unhappy recipient of numerous "gangguans"; those weird, sometimes unexplainable happenings that would prickle the hairs on your nape or send a chill up your spine. Being at the receiving end of such creepy experiences was emotionally taxing; I have never really understood this ability to sense and occasionally see 'things'.

I have, however, taken it in my stride over the years, even if I am still as anxious as always, worrying about all things natural and supernatural, humans and hantus (especially humans behaving like hantus!). I know all I need to do is fortify my faith in God, and keep close to Ayatul Qursi as an added measure.

Truth be told, I found peace and tranquility after the Hajj. God has been so kind and I am humbled in more ways than one. Syukur Alhamdulillah, ya Allah. My life used to be so messed up with such nonsensical things that I couldn't see the woods for the trees sometimes.

Now, there's this issue about Isya' prayers (for the uninitiated, it's the late evening prayer, the last of five for the day) that had been bugging me for a while. While one school of thought says one should never delay one's solat, the other says one should preferably do the Isya' just before turning in so that one goes to bed with one's ablution intact.

While I do not see the merit of praying just before bedtime (praying on the heels of azan is still the best, I think), I sometimes do it because it is convenient. Therein lies this problem.. the seductive whispers of Satan...

There had been occasions when I would do my Isya' just before bed. That would mean way past midnight because I learned a long time ago that ideas came easy at the closing of day, so I would write away until sleepiness overtook me.

Half of me always felt guilty for delaying solat, yet the other half would say soothingly... "Alaah, if you are sleepy, go to sleep first lah and then wake up in the middle of the night and pray. What's the issue?"

Now, that's the whisper of that damnable Satan for you. He's hoping you'll be knocked out till dawn, and so will miss your Isya' and hopefully, your Subuh too! I knew it, yet I still fell prey to it sometimes especially when the bed beckoned ever so invitingly.

Last night, however, I was punished for refusing to succumb to his words. As I stood my ground, I knew he went away disgruntled, planning his next move.

It was past midnight and I had just finished some work at the computer when sleepiness closed in. The Despicable One, somehow, had me tuned to "sleep first, pray later" mode. I was already contemplating slipping under the duvet in the cool comfort of my bedroom when I was 'physically' jolted that I nearly fell off my chair.

I fully believe a kind spirit had a hand in giving me this 'wake-up call', literally. Chastened, I quickly took my ablution, completed Isya' and went to bed. Pak Abu was still finishing some work on his computer at the dining table, and watching TV at the same time.

I was nodding off to sleep when I heard a tremendous roar on the yet-unoccupied side of the bed. The duvet seemed to move in a wavy motion, and a hazy outline of a hand seemed to appear from nowhere, hitting the duvet continuously while the roaring continued.

I found my body completely immobilised but I could move my pupils sideways, only to see the duvet moving on its own. I tried calling out to Pak Abu, but no voice came out. I searched my mind for Ayatul Qursi but couldn't find it. All I could utter was "A'uzubillahi minasyaitanirrajim".

I kept repeating the verse until I could feel my body relaxing ... and then all was quiet once again. Immediately I grabbed the Surah Yasin & Ayatul Qursi booklet on my bedside table and started reading. Moments later Pak Abu walked in.

I wasn't scared, just very annoyed that The Damned One tried to intimidate me for not sleeping first and praying later. I think that was it. He had expected me to just go to bed and hopefully 'terlepas' Isya' altogether. Such dugaan...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Not Again, Lillie!

The "abang-abang bomba" assessing the situation, while Pak Abu (left) and Zaid (right), our condo's technician, wait patiently.

The wet kitchen of the unoccupied unit where Lillie got herself trapped in.

Up goes bomba's retractable steps, to reach the 3rd floor.

A rescuer on the way up to retrieve the stuck feline.

... another caper came to an embarrassingly eventful end...

By any yardstick, this morning's event, a briefing by the Labuan IBFC (International Business and Financial Centre) for members of the Federation of Public Listed Companies, Malaysia (FPLC) for whom I consult, was a successful public relations outing.

Press attendance was decent, with both the print and electronic media well represented. That alone took care of fifty per cent of all my worries when organising this sort of function; a PR practitioner's nightmare has always been media coverage (the lack thereof, that is).

I had agonised over the possibility of a media no-show, firstly because there was no final confirmation and secondly because of the venue, the rather secluded Sime Darby Convention Centre in Bukit Kiara. PR-wise, I have always been in favour of high-traffic locations (hotels and such) due to accessibility.

Happy with the turnout, I left the function around noon with a jaunt in my step and headed straight for home. There I was, bubbling with excitement over yet another job done to client's satisfaction, when I saw Pak Abu's grim face as I stepped into the house.

"Lillie has disappeared. I don't know where she is and I didn't realise when she slipped past the door. I have paced the entire 16 floors but there is no sight of her."

My bubble burst. Oh Lillie, not again!

I never had a cat that gave me so much heart palpitations like Lillie; high-spirited and keenly adventurous but with a mean streak of possessiveness and jealousy, not to mention intensely territorial. Occasionally, she also gave me the creeps when her eyes brightened up and followed 'things' we didn't see.

The next hour or so were spent going up and down the lift, exploring every nook and cranny of the building trying to figure out where she could possibly be. About the only place I didn't poke my nose into was the swimming pool.

The security personnel said he saw Lillie batting the cleaner's broom as the latter swept the 3rd or 4th floor. He said he was positive the cat was still on either floor as all the firedoors of the exit staircase were kept closed.

Up to both floors trudged I once again, calling out her name, all the time thinking how ridiculous I must have looked to fellow condo dwellers; tudung askew, poking my head into other people's doorway softly cooing "Lillie, Lillie.."

Then I heard her! The meowing, although distant and weak, was unmistakably hers. The meowing led me to the wet kitchen area of an unoccupied unit. There, sitting next to a broken down washing machine was a terrified-looking Lillie.

She must have jumped one floor down and landed on the wet kitchen ledge. A foolhardy move if ever there was one, for she could have slipped and fall to her death.

Lillie has a weakness for birds (she paws the air each time she sees a bird wing past our balcony). She likes watching a bird in flight. One had apparently built its nest in the empty kitchen, and this could have prompted Lillie to go check it out.

There were only two ways to retrieve her; break open the door of the unoccupied unit in order to reach the wet kitchen, or call the fire brigade.

The management wasn't keen to pick the lock on the unit's door for fear of being sued for breaking and entering. On top of that, the unit, although unoccupied, was full of household stuff belonging to a tenant.

And so it came to be that the fire brigade was summoned to dislodge the rascal, who by now had managed to create a spectacle for herself by squeezing behind some boxes and bottles, leaving only a paw visible.

Each time her name was called, she would move her paw a twitch, providing comic relief to curious onlookers. I honestly didn't know where to put my face with all her antics, but those bomba guys were really cool. Part of the job, said they.

Apart from a dirty, dusty coat and blackened paws, Lillie was okay, if a bit shaken. Thanking the rescuers profusely, I beat a hasty retreat, whisking the scamp up to our unit and giving her ear a mighty twack along the way to show my displeasure, before proceeding to bathe her.

Thankfully, she didn't protest much but allowed herself to be scrubbed under a jet of warm water. She then perched herself contemplatively on the armrest of the sofa, still uncharacteristically quiet. Soon enough, she nodded off to sleep.

I think she could sense I was mighty annoyed with her. "Boy oboy, the old woman's mad, mad, mad as a hatter! I'd better be on my best behaviour for a day or two.." Then again, seems to me being grounded doesn't mean much to this recalcitrant....

Lillie oh Lillie.. what am I to do with you..!