Saturday, January 12, 2008


2007 was a year for change. Noticeable change, if more subtle than those experienced in the previous year. A year for new friends and acquaintances; more inside jokes; new family-away-from-family. I will remember 2007 as the year I became more confident of the person I am, because I became more of the person I always was, instead of a person I thought I believed in. If that made sense.

In 2007, I grew to be more myself than ever before.

In 2008, I expect a new precedent for change. A more confident me. A more diplomatic (if a tad political) version of the tactless klutz of high school years before. I don't remember a year in which the Roman and Hijiriah 'New Years' coincided so closely. Maybe it's symbolic, I wouldn't know - I honestly don't care much for new years, symbolic or otherwise. Who needs New Year Resolutions? New Day Resolutions. Now, that's more my thing.

2008 will doubtless be memorable. If I want a decent shot at doing my honours, this is the year to buck up. This will be my final technical year in Melbourne. I began my New Year in Ireland, and spent the next day falling in love with Edinburgh, a place I know I will one day visit again - the city where I rediscovered the beauty of living, and a new faith in dreams. This year I take on new responsibilities with a fresh outlook on life and with far more self-confidence (which may often border on arrogance, in these early, early days) than I have had since I was four years old.

This year I turn 21, and God help the person who prevents me from voting in the upcoming election, because I will not forgo this right I have waited 10 years to qualify.

This year, I've found that I have outgrown Friendster in lieu of Facebook. And in the same way, I have grown tired of Blogger, and effective today, I am moving to the greener virtual pastures of Wordpress.

In the next few weeks, expect more changes as I get the hang of Wordpress through my usual way of never reading the manual.

Till then.


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 1:27 pm


Sunday, December 02, 2007

what's the matter here?

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.


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 3:34 pm


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

define democracy

Democracy, to me, is everything a secular government stands for. In fact, democracy is the basis of current government, and is the least that is required of the ruling institution of a nation.

And speaking from a place where actual, real democracy is in full form, I must say, I am angered and sad and disappointed.

I am angered that we have left things as they are for as long as we have. I am angered at our apathy and our neglect that has allowed things to become as they are. I am angered by condescension -- the almost unimaginable stupidity that deems the people to be seen as scum enough to lie blatantly to.

I am sad that self-denial perpetuates itself to the uppermost level of our nation. That at the behest of defending one's mistakes, we portray ourselves as insolent, blind idiots to the rest of the world. I am sad that my generation does not care - that we are selfish and passive and ignorant, and that by all means, we chose to be this way.

I am disappointed that it had to come to this.

But most of all, I am embarrassed. Because when I speak of the need to protest for fair elections, my Australian friends find the idea beyond them. Because the idea of freedom of speech is alien to us. Because fear and ignorance are so inherent in the make-up of our nation, that when it comes our turn, we fail to speak up.

I am embarrassed, it seems, beyond words.

I currently reside in a country where policemen's secret conversations of scuttlebutting are revealed to the public.

The prime minister and his opposition are both fair dinkum to debate, discussion, and when occasion calls for it, yes, even ridicule (in the form of hilarious and hardly flattering caricatures).

Where constructive criticism -- or heck, criticism period -- is the order of the day.

Where self-deprecation is a means of self-expression, so it seems.

And to go from all this, which was once so alien to me, to go back to what is now so strange, so desolate, so burdensome and heartbreaking...

Call me melodramatic, but it seems almost too much to bear.

There is too much shame now, too much shame.

So when will we begin to open the doors for change?

Labels: , ,

this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 1:44 am


Monday, November 12, 2007

Fool me once.

This was appalling. To say the least.

And compare this to this feeble excuse of reporting:

Illegal gathering causes traffic chaos in city

Shame on you. You know who you are.


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 12:17 am


Saturday, November 10, 2007

In honour

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, Most Kind:

Since I can't change the layout of this blog to suit the theme of the day (take note, Drogue Designs), I've decided that a tribute of sorts is apt.

May God reward those who fought the unprovoked tear gas, water cannons and police arrests to uphold justice and a better future for their children.



this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 10:24 pm


Thursday, October 04, 2007

broken fallacies and brutal honesty

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)


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 12:32 pm


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tag, you're it.

The title I'm using seems strikingly eerie, as are many things I've been doing thoughtlessly. Nurin's tragedy shook me - it was the first time, in a long time, that I have been honestly affected by news. I wouldn't have thought that the abandoned girl was her, and I was still holding out hope that it wasn't, until her family finally relented and claimed her from the mortuary. That was the first time I, the aspiring geneticist, refused faith in the exact science of DNA (I was holding out for that 1/1,000,000 error to pull through).

Talking to my mother after iftar and taraweeh last night, she put the Malaysian situation so simply, it had to be true:

"The whole country is in grief."

This was supposed to be a post in response to Lubna's tagging me. But on second thought.

Maybe when the pain is less raw, and her eyes don't haunt my waking hours any more.

Al-Fatihah. May Allah place her in the Garden, where she will no longer remember pain and suffering. Amin.


this has been a rant by Syazwina Saw at 11:42 pm