Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Days of my life

Life release activities: -

Sat, 29  Sept 12  : Crickets

Sun, 30  Sept 12  :  Baby frogs

Sat,  6 Oct 12  :    Crickets

Sun, 7 Oct 12  :    Fishes

Sat, 13 Oct 12  :  Crickets

Sun,   14 Oct 12  :    Baby frogs

A wounded fish bought and released some time ago.

Little  prayer of  the  heart:

May all beings without exception enjoy freedom and happiness and a life free from harm.

May  the wish-fulfilling jewel of the Bodhisattva grant me  a life free from emotional distress, worries and obstacles.

Dear  the Great Bodhisattva of  Infinite Compassion,
I pray for your boundless love and immeasurable compassion to grant me with good health,
so I can  practice the Dharma with the least of  distractions, and to continue within my means to liberate all these
helpless creatures from the Wheel of  Samsara..

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On the eve of Merdeka

I wrote this entry on the eve of Merdeka, two years  back  and never bothered to post it  until today. It  never ceases to amaze me how time really flies....

Today I multi-tasked between casually watching the evening Mandarin edition of local news over RTM2 and folding my pile of laundry at the living room sofa when the newscaster read a report about two Malay students who spoke in fluent Mandarin of their desires to further their studies in some  universities in China.  I admire these young kids who have, unlike a minority of certain shallow-minded people, chosen to look beyond race  and religion  to come to appreciate the language of other races  in such fervor and enthusiasm. I am proud of them, really.

It also reminded me of a former colleague from years back who is a US graduate who doesn’t speak Mandarin who when asked why simply blurted out `I don’t like Mandarin! ’ . I remember myself protesting silently as to why she didn’t even bother to exert a little effort to learn about her own culture and speak her own tongue when the very fact is she’s a true blood Chinese. 

But I digress.

If only we as a nation and our leaders especially can stop talking about all the supremacy and special privileges accorded to certain groups at the same time finding solutions to put a stop instead of adding fuel to the small racial bush fires that have already been ignited sometimes ago (our leaders do that quite often, consciously or subconsciously, in their political speeches) and cease stressing a point as to imply race and religion being the prime dividing line between you and me, then we can certainly co-exist in peace and harmony, away from  all the deep hatred and persistently frustrating confrontation and bitter aggression which is slowly, if left attended, becoming the representation of who we exactly are to the world outside.     

My great grandmother of Bajau descent who had lived up to a ripe 104 years old and was a very devout Muslim who preached her children to practice simplicity in life and kindness and generosity to humanity. She and my late great grandfather who was a Buddhist lived harmoniously under one roof. (my father said cooking was done separately with my great grandmother using her own utensils to prepare her halal meals). On the other hand, her daughter i.e. my paternal grandmother in her life time was very faithful to Tuah Peh Kong (heavenly God) and worshipped Guan Yin Ma (the Compassionate Bodhisattva) whom I fondly remember as a very kind and gracious lady who liked to wear kebayas  and had more Malay friends to play tokok and angtiam (a card game) with than she had Chinese, and Malay neighbors and friends were among those who wept openly like they grieved over the passing of a loved one in the family, when they attended her funeral in the village. 

My great grandmother name was inscribed as Siti Jelih binti Datu Lidau on her tombstone. Whereas my grandmother’s Muslim name was  Siti binti Lim Hap, as written in her birth cert.

Now my cousin Danny Affendy Teo who married a Christian woman but subsequently converted to Islam on his own will  has since pursued his faith with deep interest and spirituality, once earnestly discussing with us verses from the Holy Quaran, comparing certain chapters with the Holy Book Bible. When I dropped by in the small  town of Bongawan and asked what was the white flowing garbs hanging on a cloth line for, he told me it was a Muslim prayer outfit to be worn by him when performing prayers in the mosque.  During Chinese  New Year Muslim and Christian friends and relatives congregated at our village home in a spirit of celebration and togetherness and on Hari Raya we sometimes followed our cousins to the Muslim cemetery to pay our respect to our ancestor, and visited a Chinese relative who upon marrying a Muslim man had converted to the faith wearing the tudung, and this coupled with  her features and dark skin tone would have people mistaken her as a Malay woman. 

The issue of race was not in the mind of an old Malay woman, a friend of my father in the village, when she leaned down to give me a tender kiss on the forehead while I lied in the hospital bed  recovering from  a car  accident  more than a decade  ago.

Nor was race a barrier when an elderly Malay lady gave me a warm motherly hug just for showing her how to take the lift in a hospital to get to her grand daughter who was being warded on another floor.

Race and religion have never been a taboo subject for us, nor would it interfere with and inconvenience our daily routines in life.  But maybe is the case for an exceptional few. Just maybe.

Or so I would like to believe.

Just like a group of Indian, Malay, Kadazandusun and Chinese all having a cup of kopi-o in their favourite coffee shop with the Chinese tauke warmly engaging them in a friendly conversation about the weather, the price hike of a kilo of sugar or the result of a football match or  even dirty politics. Issues like race and religion were thrown to the dark back alley of the kopitiam  because what matter to them is the rich aromatic smell of the kopi-o kau and the warmth companionship of friends of different  colors and faiths, the reason for them to keep coming back again, and again…

To them, since when does the issue of race and religion becoming an issue, really?

For me, it’s just this political mind-game conceived by certain unscrupulous quarters with some ulterior motives in order to stir a little chaos in the lives of the inter-racial community as well  as to garner popularity votes  so as to win the big race to gain the ultimate power and influence over the entire nation.. 

A son of my cousin, a Muslim convert, `merenjis air bunga mawar' on the `pusara' of  my late great grandmother .

Papa & aunt from Ranau with her daughters at the `pusara' two years back.

My late great grandmother  Siti Jelih binti Datu Lidau

My late grandmother (on the front) Siti Binti Lim Hap,

            and with her grandchildren.

P/S : On the eve of merdeka, I am recovering from food poisoning (the constant episodes of vomiting and diarrhea have made me ponder about  suffering and the importance of good health and how we normally only come to treasure it only when we are losing it, even for momentary time  period of two days), but my spirits are high and I have things and little goals to accomplish ahead and I am not letting the small discomforts to stop me from radiating positive energy from within.  I am a happy person right this moment (smile).   

Happy Merdeka Day to my beloved homeland, you have so many flaws  and too much negativity  have been uttered about you, but I love you nonetheless….

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A seminar , memory loss and a thought on retirement

I was in Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resorts & Spa towards the end of December 2010 to attend a two days seminar on risk management, a subject  which is quite new to me and a skill that I have yet to apply in my area of work, hence there was an eagerness and anticipation to want to learn as much as I could from the seminar.

While I was in the function room, the speaker, a Sarawakian of Bidayuh descent, suggested that we drew the curtain which revealed the sea view outside .  He commented that it was such  a waste that a breathtaking scenery such as this were blocked from view for  the participants inside the room.  

While adjourning for lunch time, a friendly lady greeted me and initiated a conversation from investment and banking to food. I would have never been able to engage someone in a lively chat like that. At one point, on being asked a question,  I struggled to remember the term `distributors’ but failed, hence embarrassingly covering up my abrupt memory loss with  `retailers’, albeit in the business world these words  were two different definitions from each other.


It was drizzling in the afternoon after lunch and as I turned my sight towards the view outside revealed by the drawn curtain, I saw a man riding a water scooter, cruising  in the turbulent water of  the sea.

Sometimes, people needs that kind of adventurous  pursuit to really find fulfillment in life, or perhaps a sense of liberation, in an attempt to seek revival of the mind body and soul I guess. I was wondering whether he would somehow find serenity in the rough waves of  the  ocean.

But as I looked out, the sea view and the drizzles did  invoke a sense of  calm in me, a welcome  reprieve from having to focus on the  content of the course being delivered by the speaker.

The following day during lunch break I took a seat at a table where a former colleague was seated. I had not met this person for more than 14 years since I left the firm which I worked as a junior whereas he, in a senior position in another department. He is now attached to a prominent group of company which I reckon must be in senior managerial position.  I then looked at him and smiled and he  reciprocated while commenting that I had a bigger bowl of soup as appetizer (I had earlier requested for vege meal) but never really acknowledged the fact that he knew me. I on the other hand was shy and a little awkward to introduce myself in the presence of other diners.   Perhaps, just like me, his memory was also failing him?

But  once in a while  it’s  fine  to wrap myself in a cloak of non-identity, like this.

Upon the conclusion of the seminar, while waiting for my sister to pick me up at the main entrance, I greeted the speaker who was coming toward  my direction and he told me that he was catching an evening flight to go back to KL later to Penang to conduct another seminar. I casually mentioned to him that he seemed like a busy person to which he replied not really as he is now retired from permanent employment he actually has more time to pursue things that he would otherwise unable  to engage during his full time employment.

I concurred with his statement, adding `its ok to be busy as long as you like what you are doing.’  I like this speaker, in his late fifties he is an experienced and accomplished individual both in his personal and professional endeavours , having himself authored 18 management  books  and appears as a regular speaker, facilitator and panel chairman at various public forums, workshops and conferences, locally and abroad, yet humble, tactful and  thoughtful in approach. I have earlier bought a copy of his books and he was kind enough to present me with another copy of his motivation series for free.   

As he boarded a waiting cab and waved me goodbye,  I’d wonder  the kind of life that would greet me  when the time came for me to finally approach the  years of retirement..

I’d only hope  it would be as fulfilling and enlightening as what the speaker has imparted to me throughout the seminar.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Letter for Nabo Jie2

An email written some times ago..

Dear Sis,

I have days ago browsed through online news portals for a multi-national corporation and came across your name and position in one
of the articles. I am a little surprised yet happy for you that you are actually holding the position of Head Of Marketing for Malaysia, for I initially thought that you were the Marketing Director for KL’s operations only. Congratulations wow!

But as much as we are happy for your achievement (I have shared the news with Bulat and all) we are also worried of the immense pressures that come along for being the country’s Head of Marketing in a big multinational corporation.

And with looming deadlines and sales targets and other assignments I believe the responsibilities won’t be easy for you, which we could detect during your trips home recently. Ah Chai and Bulat (and even Jimmy) said they could see and feel the strain you have been under and it was being reflected on your face (which prompted me to write this letter). Even though I was not able to detect any I chose to trust their instincts instead.

Just feel like writing to tell you that as much as we are happy for you, we are also equally concerned of the weight of responsibilities that you have to shoulder , and the effect it would have on your general well being, if any.

As much as you can, please try to find time to seek a little relaxation for yourself. Put away the iphone or laptop for a while and immerse yourself for some quiet moments with your loved ones, reading or even exercising or cooking . Try to pause for few minutes in between your work , and take some deep breaths in between. It will help soothe your nerves a little. I tried this method before.

Please do not worry about us. We know how to take care of ourselves, and babu and papa especially. The least we can do these days is to try to make their lives as happy and comfortable in their twilight years , even though we can’t spend as much time as we can with them.

As for me, I am only drawing a decent salary, which is the very basic pay for an accountant, and without much perks. I learn to not compare with my peers for if I do, it will make me feel a little down. But this job is at the moment stress-free and I can devout some time to focus on improving my health (I am easily tired and with back pains these days), and other spiritual stuff to help me get back on the track of living a peaceful life, which I am striving to attain these days. Work is just a tool for me to earn money to pay the bills. I am contemplating on leaving the job once I have enough savings to get a small break before finding a job which will offer a better pay.

You may say I am not ambitious but each of us have different goals in life, and each live according to her/his own ideal and purpose.
I hope with the loan that I have taken up recently, I will start saving money for retirement and right now my monthly income is only sufficient to cover the housing and personal loans, and once the housing loan is fully settled, which I hope in this two/three years time, I may consider getting a car. But right now the car has been and is still faithfully serving its purpose without major issues so its not a problem for me.

Please do not buy so many expensive clothes for me I do not need them. I appreciate the thoughts but really I am already happy to get recycled clothes/bags from you. Instead save the money for Tze Ern’s education or your own retirement fund. It will not be cheap to see her go through college or universities.

Being a practicing Buddhist, I have little need and want these days and learn to be contented with what I have.

I may sound grumpy and have been rambling but this is my genuine concern for you, and that of the family too, we do care and pray for you and hope that you take care of yourself, and that at this stage you may try to initiate within yourself to seek and add a little spiritual meaning to your life while getting your ambitions and aspirations fulfilled amidst the cruel rat race environment in the competitive metropolitan city we called KL.

With love,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Through their eyes

The day that was 12/02/12


It was a Sunday , I drove for about 15 minutes  on a narrow road thriving with potholes, before turning to a familiar junction with a signboard pointing  to the location of  a Chinese temple, and drove for a further short distance to finally reach my destination.  I parked my car and took out two huge plastic bags containing some fishes which I wanted to release into the small river, nodding and smiling to the two Timorese men working on some scrap metal as I crossed an old bridge to go to the other side where a handful of wooden houses  were seen perched by the riverbank.  This is the place I often go to for fang seng (life release) activities, mostly by myself.  I often ask for permission to step on their properties, lest they are in knowledge of any trespassing law, just in case. But Malaysians are such peace loving and friendly people that you can hardly hear of any incidents relating to legal suits that would drain you of your financial means, as we often hear in the west.  Being alone, it always brings a sense of comfort in me to see their smiling faces albeit with a bit of inquisitiveness at my intrusion,  and my intention of buying then releasing the lives of the creatures is something these folks would  not be able to comprehend.
Only politicians and wealthy individuals will get themselves embroiled in legal cases. The majority of ordinary folks like us would be too engrossed in  the daily mundane works that we would eschew any opportunity  to redeem our pride and maybe a chance to gain some financial rewards by means of embarking on legal actions of any sorts, even if the opportunities  glaringly present itself  in front of us. Plus, I believe, most of us don't have the financial means  anyway.
Or so I thought.
While I squat on the riverbank releasing the fishes, the kids from the houses were standing on the bridge looking down gleefully for what perhaps to them a refreshing sight, and they seemed to truly revel in the  opportunity to bask in the camaraderie  and  innocence  playfulness  with their  peers.
Once,  the landlord of the houses, an overweight lady wearing some gold bracelets  on her arms who came to collect rents was seen berating the kids for standing and playing on the wooden bridge, `it would ruin the bridge and I would not have money to repair it’,  she shouted in her deep Kadazan accent,  while the adults who peeked from outside their windows just looked on helplessly, feeling somewhat a little oppressed and discontented on how the Landlord in her condescending tone seemed to clearly emphasize her status of being the boss around here, at that moment inevitably relegating their ranks to that of temporary occupants, at her whims and  whilst their  finances allow them.
I clambered up the rather steep river bank once I was done and moved towards the kids still standing on the bridge, their excitement were laced with a little anticipation, knowing I would probably hand them some sweet treats.  I whipped out my digital camera and asked them to pose for photos and they eagerly obliged, thereafter hurriedly approached me to take a peek while I checked on the images on the lens. These children later scurried behind me when I left for the car and  patiently waited while I retrieved some packages of  sweets from the car trunk and distributed to them.
Their polite utterance of `terima kasih’  and the look of delight and  pure joy on  their faces quickly  dispersed any sense of unease on my part for having this Timorese adult, the father of one the kids  I presumed,  monitored from behind, even taking a closer look into my car trunk, lest I happened to be a child abductor masquerading as a sweet-talking woman to lure these kids into my menacing trap.
He didn’t  know that  these kids, as innocent as they were with their tender looks and heart melting smiles, were in fact the ones who have unconsciously set up an imaginary trap, and I was being the one  so irresistibly  lured into it.
For through their eyes I thought I could learn to see the world with a little less scepticism, making living a little more tolerant, and every problem encountered just seems a  little more manageable .
At that point of connection, these  kids  did  just  that  to me.
There is always some valuable little lessons to pick up from every times I venture out of my comfortable dwelling for this life-release activity, and to reach out to some strangers  like these.
It’s  always a soul-enriching, energy-shifting  experience for me...  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The rain and a story about aging

The day that was : 8th March 2012.
It’s a quarter past three in the afternoon as I type. And outside it’s raining.

I take a peek from the glass window at my work place and watch the rain pouring down, like a deluge. And the sound of droplets raining onto the ground can be intimidating, it’s as if to sound off warning of impending gloom, like a flash flood, which is a frequent occurrence here at my place.

But casting aside this thought and simply allowing myself to indulge in the sight and sound of water cascading down to the ground is such pure bliss, I feel as if I am immediately brought to a safe corner of my own, away from judgement and criticism and self deprecating thoughts, where now only a sense of calm and tranquillity permeate my being.

Today in the midst of completing tasks at work I surfed the internet aimlessly, just to draw some inspirational words in a bid to dispel these feelings of pessimism and morbidity which, without me noticing, has managed to sinisterly creep in while my focus veered out of its course in those few unguarded moments of carelessness and stupidity.

I came across a piece of writing about a 40 years old photographer who took photographs of aging animals. Its a noble attempt on her part to confront her own fear of aging , having had to care for her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease besides the pain of dealing with her increasing state of decline and vulnerability . It was such a beautiful and touching story. And reading her moving account of how animals, just like us humans are able to experience pain and fear as well as pleasure and contentment, and how they have to ultimately deal with the inevitable – death.

I am truly inspired by this story, I do believe death in itself, and the fact that we are mere mortals do not perpetuate this sense of morbidity in us, but how we adopt our own attitudes towards dealing with the inevitable are essentially the key to ensure that, in time to come, we are able to equip ourselves with the right mentality to embrace aging and mortality with a sense of grace and dignity.

That evening, the woman’s story tucked at my heart strings, and it became a rope to reel me in...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

These kids

In a few more years, these kids will outgrow me, develop their own unique personalities and blend into their own circle of friends, of which I might not be playing a part in. They will have their own share of stories of learning, finding love and taking chances, discovering their potentials whilst exploring the big wide world outside.

Within their circle, I guess I will be the one from outside looking in.

But I hope I can still offer my two-cents, as and when they need it.

In the mean time, they are just these innocent little faces willing to sit on my lap, occasionally whining , occasionally chatting a little about their daily kiddy adventures, all while savoring a little tender loving care from within my embrace.

They need it, for now..

Some random photos: -

Tze Ern as a toddler in 2006.

Yee Zhing

Tze Ern and Yee Zhing, in 2010.

Tze Ern in Shang Villa, PJ, getting ready to school, Dec 2011.

Tze Ern looking chic and trendy in Uniqlo Department Store,1U, Dec 2011.

Yee Zhing and her koko some time in 2009.

The way they were...
Cun2 and Wen2 way back in 1998.
Cun2 and her toy gun.
Cun Cun and Kewei.....

In 2006. I really like this photo. Through their eyes I see a spark of the innocence of youth, pure and untainted...

As they are today.