Despite the pounding ache in the back of my skull, the stabbing needle-pins in my right ear and the steady and constant ache that results from overworking all motor muscles in a massaging chair, I feel stubbornly compelled to write. No, make that rant. Because I shall live up to my blog name, and also because I find myself unable to communicate well in any other way. Let’s chalk it up to awful social skills.
I have been, ever since I got to Malaysia from Melbourne, growing increasingly antagonistic. My first 24 hours here started out splendidly, with breakfast and mall-hopping and Facebooking my girlfriends 6545 kilometres away over the seas. It was all good.
And then I came face-to-face with Malaysia.
In my family and our extended network of friends and acquaintances, local politics is a common topic. And quite frankly, having come fresh from my first brushes with an actually democratic national election (which, surprise of surprises, did NOT take place in the Land Which is Truly Asia), I am nothing less than DISGUSTED.
Shameless, is what it is. Embarrassing, is what it feels like. Frustrated, is how it gets me. And close to murderous is how I end up being. And despite my voice being the marginalised one, seeing as how I’m not old enough to really matter anyway, I made no qualms about how I feel. I mocked and winced and joked and ranted, because I needed to make them understand that my peers and I understand the shite that has been recycled through the political garbage heap, and that we do not agree.
For the last 24 hours, I have been on edge. I’ve found myself comparing Melbourne and Malaysia endlessly, which has made me increasingly upset.
I have found that I feel distinctly odd here – as if I am the jigsaw piece misplaced in the factory, and I just won’t fit in the picture. I find my voice gaining a cynical, angered, furiously passive and passively furious tinge to it, which has been disconcerting. I have been quietly, rather incoherently passing snide remarks at everything. I secretly suspect that I prefer being angry to being sad and sympathetic, because the former provokes me into striving for the better, while the latter just makes me sigh and stare out the window.
I have seen my generation at large, and I am not amused. I am disappointed, and I am sad, and I feel like punching people where it hurts most. Because we are acting like we are more stupid than we actually are, and the ridiculousness of the situation just begs some serious slapping. My generation has become pathetically apathetic. Maybe it’s my fault for having friends in Melbourne who actually care. They set the higher standard to the point that anything less infuriates me.
My chest feels constricted and my eyeballs start to ache and my teeth clench and I pump up the volume on my iRiver and refuse to look at people, in fear that I might finally crack.
I see my generation huddled on the steps, sharing a drag among twenty people, and I cannot look beyond that. I see them acting like idiots for an unwitting audience and I feel sick to my stomach. I hear them shout and howl in packs in shopping complexes, as if trying to prove the Darwinian theory by acting worse than animals.
I can feel my heart pumping faster to keep up with the mass of adrenaline stuck somewhere beyond my ribcage before I finally seek refuge and peace in a desperate prayer.
I am disgusted at the condition that is incumbent upon me to change – because I am Muslim and human, and the situation and its nearness calls on me. I feel the draw of Melbourne, with my amazing friends and the abstract simplicity of it all, where in between sunny picnic and bike rides and thoughtful chattering and heavy brownies and afternoon ramblings, I know I found myself.
I wonder if the extremity of my emotions is not because I am torn.
I asked my mother once again, this time my eyes not quite looking at her face, about working and living in Australia after I graduate, God willing. And she repeated her reasonable hope that after I do whatever it is I shall, that I come home to fix things.
Maybe that’s why I feel so hopeless. I think I’m trying to figure out a way to fix things now, and pushing myself away from it by longing for what is better and easy and already there.
I grew up here eighteen years of my life. But I became myself away from this place. Maybe that’s what’s the matter here.
Labels: running away
Something about the quiet pain in Lior’s Bedouin Song as he cries, ‘Heading East/Turning into calm seas/Like a river release’ has made me homesick. Amidst the sudden bout of patriotism my countrymen have been struck with lately (what with Merdeka flag-waving and all), and the frequent calls from home (often made in a spur of the moment by my empty-nested parents) have got me thinking a lot more about home. I know that a bare few months ago, I had doubted being able to fit in back home, in Malaysia. I never had. Maybe never will.
But something Lubna said in reply to my soliloquy struck me as true – that I have to return home, at some point, if I expect people like me to ever feel like they belong.
Ah. A few months ago I thought I was so worldly-wise, hypocrite that I am. It was all about comfort and belonging and finding that little niche I could fit in, like repressor proteins in the transcription factors of an eukaryotic gene regulation system. It was about relinquishing responsibility. It was about being able to stay in a far corner of this small, small planet and wipe my hands off the whole mess and say, “Not my problem anymore.” And being content to relegate myself to the egotistical role of distant analyst.
I once told a friend (who was formerly an acquaintance) that criticism was easy. Too true. It gives one the fallacy of feeling as if something has been done, despite the fact that even when those words are oft-repeated, they are nothing without action.
And I am that hypocrite, in the annoyingly selfish way that I talk, and that my brain accepts it as already settling whatever issue I had a problem with. And it is also annoyingly selfish the way I say things, and then I do not do them. Subconscious self-damnation, if you will."O you who believe! why do you say that which you do not do? It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do." (64:2-3)
When someone I love dearly told me, in what medium as may be called the epistle of brutal honesty, of these very flaws, I was, as Australian colloquialism put it, cut. I was hurt. I wouldn’t say righteously hurt, but I felt like I had been peeled raw. Because I don’t think many things chill you or shake your core as much as seeing things you’ve only suspected of yourself, pointed outright as fact. It’s distressing, because who likes to be shaken off one’s personal pedestal, especially in a time when self-confidence is an endangered species?
And so, in this cut, self-indignant cloud of emotion, I went about the rest of the noon. Slightly more determined, because nothing spurs one on like being proven small. On my way, I bumped into another loved one, who, upon seeing me in a state other than cheerful, thought that my father had gotten run over by a car (or something). And when I confessed to her the source of my distress, I could see that she was slightly torn between laughing out of relief and being a comforting friend.
I love it when someone else makes my quibbles less significant that my ego says they are.
And when I was about town, doing my own chores and still enveloped in my force field of misery, I was halted by a girl in a walker. Her legs were limp and unassisting, as she pressed onto the shaking metal frame at hip-length and dragged her feet forward to move. Her father lagged behind, his eyes keeping watch at her feet, hoping to catch her before she stumbles. Her mother moved ahead, blowing her semblance of nonchalance by the regular glance back.
I love it when God reassures that my quibbles are less significant than I think they are.
After seeing that wonderful resilience, I couldn’t be cut anymore. Not barely.
And so, there you go. I am a hypocrite. And yes, although I barely acknowledge it in my subconscious, it still hurts when someone says I am.
But things need to be said. And words are not the end of the world.
It took a metal walker and a heart of gold to prove it to me."Nay! you prefer the life of this world, While the hereafter is better and more lasting." (87:16-17)