Sunday, December 25, 2011

Fed up - Big Time

Yes, I dread this day, and it has arrived. I'm fed up with dieting. BIG TIME. Why do I have this body in the first place? Why do I have to eat like a sick bird when everyone else is so blatant in showing their love for fatty, unhealthy yet good food? Why me? Why not everyone else? Why can't I eat makanan rapu and not feel like I should exercise 5 hours straight to rid that guilty feeling? Why can't I just love the way I am? WHYYYYY????

OK, done with the rambling. Now, let's move on. You've decided to eat healthy because of your son, the cheeky three year old boy, who is your world and your life. You want to EAT HEALTHY because you want to be healthy and feel good that you have actually tried all that you can to achieve it. You have decided that you'll eat what you want to eat but you will not go overboard. MODERATION is something that you need to hammer in your too-thick-a-skull. And those other people? They are your motivations!.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'll stand my ground, thank you...

I'm allergic to negative people and those who expect the worst of everybody. This kind is extremely toxic and I will avoid them as much as possible but when there are one or two around me, what can I do? Stand my ground, hold fast to my beliefs and hope some of the positive vibes catch on.

But to rid of that feeling of annoyance will take extra effort.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


My first posting after beberapa bulan. Down but not out, not yet for I'm still fighting the bulge. My jeans is still loose and I can still fit into last year's jeans. I'm still eating healthy following the 6 meals plan. Exercise was still on up until last week. This week I don't get even one day at the gym because something happened and we are suddenly carless, which means I have to car pool which means I have to clock out at around 5pm and sacrifice my alone time at the gym.

I'm trying very hard to be positive, smiling and laughing and dismissing this major setback like it's nothing. Laughter, other than doa, solat hajat, solat tahajjud and solat dhuha, helps to ease the heaviness of the heart too. I'm lucky to have great, albeit crazy people around me. If it's better this way, then I am all for it, redha, but if it's not supposed to be this way, I pray for the solution to come soon.

Up until several months ago, I logged all my food intake in MyFitnessPal almost religiously, I even have the apps on my phone. But when the connections got too slow, I got fed-up and stopped logging in altogether. I will resume the practice starting tomorrow, Insya Allah.

So, yes, it takes a lot to destroy the human spirit. Do not fret because we have Allah.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's Eid!

Which means lots of oily and fatty food, but who cares eh? I'm allowing myself to eat indiscrimantely this weekend and it had started on Friday. I went to Ikea for dinner and you and I know what that means. Yes, a full dinner complete with dessert and coffee.

But I'm not going to be too hard on myself this time around, because I have realised that these cheat days are very important to keep me sane. So I'm going to take it all in with an open mind and I will not weigh myself this week. It's cheat day la, so let's cheat all the way.

We are getting ready to drive to Sepang. So, see you when I see you.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Outgrowing each other...

My high school friends and I, we have outgrown each other. I left to do Form Four at Ampangan, Seremban. I was still in close contact with several of them then, since they were also my childhood friends, but for the rest of my schoolmates, we became estranged.

Thanks to Facebook, we became in contact again. But after several attempts of reunions which I tried to organise didn't happen, I became disillusioned, if that's the right word for it. I couldn't help but to think, the reunions didn't materialise because I was the one who called for and organised it.

This year they organised a big reunion at our former school and it succeeded. Good for them! But I didn't attend because my other half was not in KL that time and I was busy with something. There were many small gatherings after that.

I did try to join one or two, but I discovered we don't speak the same language anymore. Tonight I have come to a conclusion that we have outgrown each other. I didn't contribute much to the group (they have a secret group on FB) except several comments here and there, which clearly they didn't take heed (and most of the time, ignored), so I have decided to take myself out of the group.

But these group of people have helped me to understand myself better and for that I am very grateful. I hope they have learnt something from me too.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Another lost...

Yehuuuu I've lost another kg and this was done without extreme exercise, just sticking to calorie deficit everyday and having to look after a young rockstar who is truly stressed out. I really hope I can start my exercise routine on Monday. I miss the kutti kutti gym at the college.

I've got an early anniversary present (he didn't say it was, but I'd like to think otherwise) so now I can log on to MyFitnessPal, introduced by my good friend (si MG tu yang dah lost almost 30kg - jealous you!) wherever I go.

Meanwhile, Rockstar's mood is getting better as with his condition. I'm still on leave (one week straight!) and being sick makes him more clingy than usual. I know we will have a hard time to send him back to school on Monday. As it is now a mere mention of school makes him an angry boy.

I hope he misses his friends at the nursery and is eager to see them again. I hope.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chicken Pox is here...

The whole week's schedule is disrupted since my little Rockstar has chicken pox. I'm still counting calories, eating right most of the time and under 1500 calories. I'm a bit depressed because of Rockstar's condition. He's depressed because he cannot scratch (I make sure of that) and we're both extremely depressed because we are cooped up at home.

He was weak and also cranky all day yesterday and it escalated as night came. One minute he wanted Mama another minute he wanted Ayah. When Ayah was beside him, he didn't want Ayah, he wanted to hug Mama.

Today, is a bit better, I think. He's playing and making a mess. I hope we get to go out today, even for a while.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

An acceptance..

A year ago I was diagnosed as having dysfunctional menses by the government doctor. I was having non-stop bleeding and A LOT. She did the pap smear test and scanned me and both results were OK. Nothing wrong there. During the really heavy flow, I had to change 5-6 times within one hour.You can imagine the discomfort I felt.

But then I decided to try the Islamic treatment approach and the young ustaz diagnosed me with something else, which I have long suspected. The way they do things is to treat diseases that a patient has one at a time, so the first time that I went to see them, they treated me with the first disease. In two months time, I would have to come back so they could treat this dysfunctional menses problem.

The bleeding got worse since last week, I lost so much blood, my face is pale and my mood gets worse by the day. I'm going to see the ustaz again in two weeks time, but yesterday I went to see Doctor Hasniah to get the pills to stop the bleeding. She also gave me Vitamin C pills and cautioned me to eat. Of course I didn't mention that I am on diet.

Because of this I only get to exercise twice last week, which is very very frustrating. But, I won't despair, because I have come to a stage where I'm trying to live with it. I won't stop looking for the cure but at the same time, I will learn to accept this with an open heart and mind. There's a hikmah to this, of course, I just don't know what. Only Allah knows, and I trust Him completely.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Slow but moving...

The loss is very slow this time, but a loss anyway. Alhamdulillah. My right hip hurts and that worries me. I hope it's nothing serious.

People say green apple can assist in losing weight and I'm trying it out. The problem is I don't like green apples. I don't like anything sour. I cannot eat it straight like that, so I mix the apples in my green salad. So far, it's palatable.

A colleague commented on my resolute to lose weight. Yes, I can be like this when I feel I cannot handle the weight anymore, when I cried and got extremely angry for not being able to fit in my jeans, when I hate taking pictures, when an innocent remark about how I've 'grown' put me in a foul mood for the whole week.

I figured, the only person that can change that is me and only me.

My target is, by new year, I should be able to fit into my wedding baju kurung.

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just wondering...

These past few days have been stressful. In times like this, I can't help but to wonder what plans He has for us. Will our life be much better, will we get to breathe easier? I wonder. Only He knows. And whatever He has in the planning, I hope we are strong enough to face it. Ya Allah, Ya Rahman, Ya Rahim only You can cure my aching heart.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Back on it again

I went astray yesterday. Dinner was at McDonalds since my better half wanted to spend a little time with Rockstar and made him happy. I don't think I'll share what I have eaten, because whatever they were, I had busted my calorie intake for that day. But Rockstar was happy and his father was happy, I was happy.

I ate everything on the table but stopped at the drinks. Yeah, OK I took a sip or two and that was it. We came home and drank lots of water and ate one pear, hoping that by morning it would help me go. And before calling it a day, I downed a sachet of Total Cleanse.

This morning, I spent quite some time in the loo and the weight after is surprisingly OK. Alhamdulillah. Is it cheating? So be it. As long as I'm, not depressed, my conscience is clear. Heh.

And I'm back on track.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Plateaus - Why do they even exist?

It's Thursday now and I haven't lose any kg. This is very frustrating. After googling, I think my problem is my calorie intake per day is too low, less than the 1200 recommended. That's what happen when you are too eager to lose weight, thinking you can bypass all those professionals.

So, today I'm going to eat a full 1200 calorie meal, high on protein and low on carbs. Insya Allah. I had a hard boiled egg for breakfast and water and for lunch boiled broccoli, chicken balls and chicken kurma (drained of the kuah). I'm going to snack on cream crackers dip into a mug of Milo Fuze. For dinner I'm thinking plain tosai plus red apples. I hope this is healthy.

I've been jogging for 40 minutes on the treadmill with the speed of 6 to 7 and cycling on the stationary for 20 minutes, not to mention weight training since Monday. I really really hope this will work.

Pray for me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I lose and I gain...

I blame the gains on the weekend. I really let myself go at the high-tea on Saturday. It started out good, I had plenty of water and when it was time to hit the buffet line, I felt full but the problem was I left my will power to resist at home.

Feeling guilty just by looking at the endless spread of glorious food, I took three pieces of tauhu sumbat and a wee bit of sauce. But on the way back to our table I saw yummy slices of strawberry cheesecake and brownies and all the wonderful pastries. What did I do? Went straight to our table and ate the tauhus.

At the table, my better half was eating a delicious looking dish which was breaded fish fillet with cream sauce, and the Little Rockstar seemed to love it so much. It looked delicious and must have tasted even more delicious! Did I mentioned I left my will power somewhere? Yes. So what happened next? Yup you've guessed it.

I went back to get the fish fillet about three pieces of them, complete with the sauce and a healthy serving of sauteed cauliflower (due to the guilt, but it didn't help much later I realised). I alternated the food with several glasses of water thinking it would help in taming my mad appetite. Did it? Of course not!

I went back to the food for the third time, to the pastries section and took a medium sized chocolate doughnut (for Rockstar), two brownies and a slice of strawberry cheese cake. Rockstar wanted the brownies and that made me feel a bit relieved but not for long because he handed me the brownies when he saw my better half with a bowl of tomato cream soup. So, not wanting to let good food to waste, I ate the brownies (one and a half) and attacked the cheesecake.

On normal days, I'm not really into cheese but this particular cheesecake was extremely delicious. I didn't want to finish the slice on my own and wanted my better half to finish it but he was busy entertaining friends at that moment. So, too bad, I had to finish it all. I managed to stop myself from eating the doughnut though.

As soon as we arrived home, I weighed myself and what's the damage? 2kg of extra fat and guilt. And as punishment, it was only water and guava for snacks and dinner.

Sunday was a total mess. I didn't go jogging (it was drizzling), lunch was rice with dhalca, ayam masak merah and kerutup daging and dinner was ok I guess with guava, wholemeal bread and crabsticks. The only consolation was I stuck to water all the way.

So there. My "sinful'' weekend. Haih.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oh Oh It's here again

Yeah. The weekend. I'm not normal, I know. When the average people love the weekend, I am otherwise. I think many dieters dread weekends. I don't know, maybe. When at work, I can avoid eating more than the allotted calories because of the many classes I have, but at home at weekends, I'm not sure if that avoiding tactic works.

Furthermore today we are going to attend a high tea function at Cyberjaya. This is a must go, not to mention tomorrow is the wedding of one of our nephews. A must go too. What's more worrying is, today is my rest day from exercising.

I guess I will have to exercise more tomorrow, early in the morning, when most people are still asleep. What did I tell you? I'm not normal.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jogging is the way

I have decided to limit my daily calories intake to only 1000 starting on Monday. It's Wednesday today and I have lost another 1.7kg. Alhamdulillah. So far I still can bear the food limit.

A friend had advised that I have to start jogging to lose the weight more quickly and to avoid me from giving up when I see the scale is not moving to the desired loss. I was reluctant at first because of my knees but still gave it a try on Monday. And so far today, Alhamdulillah.

I really love the feeling it gives after a 40 minute slow jog with a speed of only 5-6.5. I will definitely stick to this routine for a week or two before increasing the speed. Insya Allah.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What horrible experience weekend was...

It's horrible I tell you. Everything was except for the two weddings, one on Saturday and the other one on Sunday, that we were invited to and the short get together with a friend from Indonesia. Well, ok, not everything, but most things.

The effects of the malfunctioned car (ohoo not just the door baby but the battery and the alternator too) made me very moody and hateful. Why hateful? That's another story which I don't want to share. So this was my overall temperament through out the weekend and it was so easy to fall into that emotional eating trap again. But one thing that I was happy about that weekend was I didn't give in to temptations.

I stayed on course most times although barely and even at the wedding of our beloved Ms Julia Shapiee, which we arrived exactly at 4pm when the caterers were cleaning up, I only had a small helping of rice. It could be because my appetite was spoilt by the Saturday traffic jam or the small chunk of chocolate I had in the car.

Having said that, I am still not happy with my overall diet plus I didn't get to exercise much. A 30 minutes freestyle dancing which I did on Saturday was not enough for someone who needs that post exercise rush to feel happy and good about herself. Sounds pathethic eh? Well pathetic I am.

On Sunday, my mood got worse by noon. One advice, if you are toilet training your three year old son, don't try dieting at all, vice versa. These emotional laden activities are meant to be done one at a time.

I had resigned to the fact that the day would not get better. But of course, I was wrong. There was the meeting with our family friend from Indonesia with her lively 5 year old daughter. Watching Rockstar and 'Kakak' played together made me felt warm all over. Despite the initial awkward first meeting between the two in the car, they hit it off as soon as we arrived at AU3.

Then there was the wedding of a rockstar guitarist of MUH at Damansara. Before that night I had always thought that PRs are lively, friendly bunch of people. But this one particular 'anggek' person proved that fact wrong. So I came to the conclusion that not all PRs are friendly, or maybe because I am not famous that I was shunned at the table, if that's the case then not all PRs are bright, intelligent beings.

My nefarious appetite wanted me to commit unthinkable sins, and after much struggle, I managed to stop myself from going crazy. It was a lovely wedding by the way, and very 'rockstar'. The handsome groom and the blushing bride entered the hall with the voice of Billy Corgan singing "Tonight, Tonight".

Before we left, I went to that PR side of the table and shook her hands and said "Till we meet again". Yes makcik, I am a bigger person than you and I'm not talking about my size at all.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Yours Emotionally

I have a feeling that this is going to be an emotional journey because I'm doing this not just for me but for a certain three your old boy whom I love with my life. Baby, you are my inspiration.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Makan-makan Potluck@Office..NOT!

I had decided to bring potato salad to the office today for a makan-makan. I was all ready with my potato salad prepared the night before. Morning came and after the normal morning fuss, we (Rockstar and I) went to the car first. I started the engine while waiting, and put him in the back, but the passenger's door could not be closed. Already late, I tried my best to mend it, but I'm no mechanic and the door still would not close.

I'm not going to share what happened after that. But I had to take an emergency leave because of it. So, I missed the makan-makan potluck at the office, the one that I initiated. I felt really guilty, but if I were to come, I would not be in my right mind. But in retrospect, I should have just gone to the office. It was not a big deal, but I made it one because I failed to control my anger.

My temperament should have been better as the day progressed, but it did not. The student who called me 23 times just to ask if the replacement class was still on tomorrow added more fuel to the fire. But then Rockstar became the victim. I've been complaining that I didn't get to spend much time with him, but when the time came (although only after I decided to take EL), I blew it big time. Regret. Regret. Regret is a cruel thing.

As the result, I ate more than yesterday and the meal time was scattered here and there, not what I had already planned the night before. And I didn't get to use the mini gym. That added more guilty feeling, more anger and frustrations. Although I ate less than the daily calories permitted, the feeling is still not good. I need to learn to control my emotions better and recite dzikir more I guess.

I pray that tomorrow will be better. Less food and more exercise. But I can't promise if I can control my wrath (on that particular student).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Fat Mom on A Mission

I am fat. As much as I hate to admit that fact, I AM FAT. Tonight I have decided to share my journey to be a much healthier and more active mother, not to mention slimmer and hotter in this blog (though I know not many people are aware of). I am very much inspired by a good friend of mine who has lost almost 15kg so far. Thanks MG. I love you. You are my idol. Always has been.

My weight has ballooned to 105kg from last year's weight of 100kg. Yup, I was fat then, and fatter now. As soon as the scale hit 105kg, I decided to re-visit the college mini gym. But the weight is yo-yoing in that region because I treat meal time as I treat the physical exercise, the more the better.

Then I started to take things seriously, only after I suffered an excruciatingly painful knee injury after a netball game with the students. I could not wear heels, had to take the elevator even when going down the building, had to pray sitting down and had so much trouble getting up from sitting on the floor. These are not the things that a 36 year old person should experience man!

I cut down on my rice intake, also a few other foods. I have stopped my nescafe routine since Ramadan and learnt to drink black coffee instead. But now I have totally stop taking coffee altogether. It's water all the way. I'm drinking up to 4 litre of water, sometimes 5, every day. So what if I frequently visit the restroom. That's a small price to pay.

Since the beginning of this week, I have started to count my calories intake, thanks again to my now lovelier friend MG. Calculating my age, my weight, height and the kind of lifestyle I lead (sedentary or otherwise), the counter says I need approximately 1850 calories a day. So far I have used less than the goal, which means a good thing.

According to the calculation, if I keep up with this pace, I will be 5kg lighter in 5 weeks time. I don't know if its reliable, but I can always try, can't I?

Please Allah, give me strength and the will power to do this.

Created by MyFitnessPal - Nutrition Facts For Foods

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Place To Remember

I spent 11 formative years in Kampung Selamat, Pantai Dalam, which today stands a high-rise low-cost apartment, with my family. When I moved out of Pantai Dalam to Pantai Baharu, a mere 15 minutes away, I was still connected to that place because many of my school friends lived there. I am still very much connected to it since some of my extended family members have made it their homes.

Along the years I have witnessed many physical changes in and around the area where the ruling government had made much effort to develop this squatters zone. All these developments gladden my heart because at last people who are from Pantai Dalam or its neighbouring areas can have some pride in where they are coming from. And I really really hope that these changes run parallel with mindset and paradigm shifts of the dwellers.

Was I ashamed to be associated with this place? Yes I was, but I have seen a lot and experience many things since then and now I am glad to say that I'm not ashamed anymore. Although visits to my grandmother's flat sadden me for the lack of awareness on basic things like cleanliness and courtesy, I still have faith that eventually the people will realise that in order to genuinely develop the area previously well-known for its many squatter homes, they have to take part as well by changing their mindset and attitude and adopt new paradigms.

Changes can be much easier when one accepts the fact that excellence is not an option, it is the only option and that being content is seen as a grave offence. Having said that, humility plays a vital role in making sure that the transition to a better self is smooth without major glitches. I hope with this shift all of Pantai Dalam (not only certain areas like Bangsar South) will be associated with excellent living.

My name is Murni and I come from Pantai Dalam.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Few Good Movies - Laskar Pelangi

The real Laskar Pelangi. I wish to meet them and their teacher.

Once in a blue moon I get hooked on good movies. And I will watch these movies over and over but never get tired of them. Good movies in my book are movies that make you want to get off that sagging couch and start changing the world. From the Shrek movies to the Bucket List to the Freedom Writers and now it's Laskar Pelangi and Sang Pemimpi.

I have learnt that watching movies and listening to songs are not just mindless activities anymore. There are a great many things that one can gain and learn from those two activities provided that you look deeper than just the actors and actresses or the melodies of the songs, even if you are watching a flop or listening to a cheesy love song. There are lessons embedded in them.

It is not everyday that you can get a good quality movie in Malay that requires one to think and contemplate on the message that it tries to convey. So, imagine my surprise when Laskar Pelangi made it to our living room a few weeks ago.

An Indonesian student had told me about the movie and wanted me to watch it, but at that time I wasn't really paying attention. And early this year when it was shown on Astro I didn't make any effort to watch it either thinking that it would be just like any other Malay movies that receive so much hype but in truth it's just that, a lot of hype. I humbly admit my mistake.

The ten poor children from the richest district in Indonesia back in the 1970s reminded me for the third time in two weeks to always give other people a fair chance and that money is never a factor in making sure that knowledge and education reach the people.

The next step is for me to get both the books, Lasykar Pelangi and Sang Pemimpi.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Making Sense of Common Sense

According to the ever helpful Wikipedia, "Merriam-Webster Online defines common sense as beliefs or propositions that most people consider prudent and of sound judgment, without reliance on esoteric knowledge or study or research, but based upon what they see as knowledge held by people "in common". Thus "common sense" (in this view) equates to the knowledge and experience which most people already have, or which the person using the term believes that they do or should have." According to, common sense means 'akal' in Malay. Thus a person lacks in common sense is frowned upon as the person who 'tak ada akal'.

As we make our way to be better developed people, supposedly more advance in our thinking, attitude and overall conduct, this common sense that should be innate in us, seems to have lost its revered place. It may still be there somewhere in the convoluted brains of the modern man but seeing the many errors that these so called modern man commit, makes one wonder if it will resurface.

Taking up a a dedicated parking spot of a tenant, calling your lecturer at 10pm on the day she is on leave asking for your carry marks, or not giving signals for an ample time before changing lanes, are a few examples of where and when common sense and not to mention social grace have failed terribly. In these instances there were not due to lack of notifications or information, the unit address of the first example is clearly painted on the spot, the said lecturer had mentioned of her impending leave before, during and after she concluded the class and as with drivers in other countries, Malaysians are also required to go for driving classes and tests before they are allowed to drive. So what went wrong?

I might be guilty for simplifying things, but I think the problem lies in our attitude of having too much pride in ourselves aka being selfish. Our world revolve around ourselves that nobody can take precedence above us. This sickly attitude of the so called modern men and women can be the very source of the early demise of our caring society Well, one might argue that we are actually witnessing the destruction of the caring society vigorously promoted by the government.

Common sense breeds courtesy and courtesy is what makes a young man offers his seat on the LRT to a pregnant lady, a school boy offers to hold an old man's hand to help him to cross the road or a student offering to help carry his teacher's load. We all can do our part, in a small or big way, to bring back common sense into our folds. We just need to look beyond the confines of our egoistic selves and acknowledge that there are other people out there who deserve our attention.

Let's start today.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

An Afternoon with the Freedom Writers

I finally found the opportunity to watch The Freedom Writers this afternoon. The first time I watched it was I think a year ago at the college, but I didn’t get to digest it due to the group of restless students who didn’t make any good effort to understand the whole story. Upset with the lack of efforts by these students I left the hall halfway through the movie. I was so caught up with my frustration that I forgot all about the movie.

The passion and enthusiasm shown by Erin Gruwell played by Hillary Swank in the movie really inspires me as an educator. Are there any more teachers like Ms Gruwell that would do the extra mile for her students? Personally, I would love to be able to do what she did for the students and to inspire them to want more than what they have been handed with in their life, to encourage them to dream and have hopes in their lives and to be someone, somebody great.

I have always loved reading and when I came here to work at the college and was required to teach reading classes I was dumbfounded for I had been telling my other half that I wanted to teach people to read, to love reading to make reading their priorities, because reading had been my savior when I was growing up. Now, it was handed to me and I was given a free hand in how to handle the class. Allah is Great.

However, in real life, it is not easy to instill the habit of reading in people because first of all one needs to have the thirst for knowledge and the realization that the knowledge that one has is still not enough. I had a firsthand experience of this hard truth with my own students. No matter how frequent and diligent I told them to read a book, they still do not understand the importance of reading in their lives. Some did get inspired but many of them are still ignorant of the benefits of reading. They are too caught up with life as a young adult, dealing with the anxieties of being away from the comforts of their own families and kampongs, too busy with living the new life that they don’t pay much attention to the reason why their parents forked out their life savings for them to be here at the college. It’s a sad truth that I have to face each day, and I take it upon me that this if where I fail as an educator.

Facing this hard reality every day, it is very tempting to just go with the flow, clock in, do what I am paid to do, clock out and never bother about anything else. If they seem disinterested in their studies, if they fail, it is none of my business, because I have done my part and I don’t care if they have done theirs. It is damn tempting I tell you.

But to do that means I would have to forsake the personal vow that I made to myself when I first started teaching 12 years ago, that I will do the best that I can to share the knowledge I have gained and the ones that I have been picking up along the way to the students, whose parents send their children to get education for the betterment of their lives. And to forsake that would mean I would have to betray the students and their parents who came here full of hopes, where some of the parents had even pleaded to me personally to take care of their precious children. To do that means I would have to betray everything that I have believed in my life, the very core of me.

Erin Gruwell and her freedom writers have knocked some senses in me, have reawaken the dying fire inside me. My other half always tell me that he knows the reason why Allah put him where he is, because Allah wants him to serve. The things that have happened to me, to us these past few years, have made me believe the same too, that I am here to serve others. The reason Allah tested us with hardships, toils and tribulations are for us to have the empathy that so eludes many of us towards people who are not as fortunate as us. And these students of mine, who mostly come from kampongs whose parents are not the rich or the famous, are the people that I should serve.

I might not be able to help them to have meals at hotels or take them for a field trip like what Erin Gruwel had done for her students but I know I can do something. I know I can encourage them to reach for the stars no matter what deep shit condition they are facing at the moment, I know that I can give, if only a sliver of hope to them and inspire them to do everything that they can to achieve a great life that they and their parents have dreamt of. It is not going to be as easy as I how typed these words, but I believe when you have good intentions, Allah is beside you. Insya Allah.

So when you feel that the fire inside you is dying out, find the time to watch The Freedom Writers or other such inspiring movies to help you reignite it. Do not give up without fighting.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Camp To Remember

The Ibadah Camp, which is a compulsory requirement for graduating students at the college, was jointly organized by the department of languages and the school of management. Not a graduate of IIUM, I was ignorant of the programme and its modules and proceedings. I took up the challenge of being its Head Programme nonetheless, although I had doubts about it at first. It turned out to be the best experience as a facilitator I have ever had so far.

After weeks of preparations, the big day finally came. Early Friday morning, laden with overnight bags and travelling suitcase, the final semester students, came excitedly to register for the programme. They seemed very eager to participate which surprised me a bit since I had not seen this kind of excitement and response given to a collegiate requirements before. After many briefings by both of the organizers, the CEO gave another of his memorable speech to mark the opening of the Ibadah Camp. One of the memorable quotes was “Work is poison, but doing nothing is suicide”, but then I digress.

The committee departed to Air Tenang Resorts in Janda Baik earlier than the students to ensure smooth checking in process. The four buses came at around 4pm, which was later than estimated. Despite that, the checking in process went on smoothly without any major problems.

That night, we proceeded with the first module, where we invited an accomplished speaker on the scientific significance of solat. It was a talk that left a lasting impression on me. I had never thought that there are an abundance of benefits that one can gain from the actions in solat. Allah is Great. Tears fell, mine included, when the honourable speaker made us close our eyes and imagined that we had a heart to heart talk with the Creator. O Allah, how we have sinned!

Drawing on my past experiences participating in these kinds of programmes when I was in school and university, I didn’t want to be too rigid with the participants. I told myself that they would be graduating in a few months time, and the last programme organized by the college should be something that they can remember us by. It was my prerogative to ensure that the participants enjoyed themselves to the fullest.

The moment of truth came the day after, on Saturday morning, after a session of simple stretching and a much simpler breakfast of fried rice and tea, the participants and all the committee members, took a walk to an orphanage, which was about 200 kilometres from the resort that we were staying in. The cool air and the wonderful sight were no indications of the heart wrenching tales that we would later hear.

We were greeted by the Badan Amal Nur Zaharah’s manager and his assistant and some of the children who sought protection at the home. They seemed oblivious to the arrival of 180 of us and went on with their routine. I remembered thinking that they seemed indifferent.

After a simple briefing about the house (shown in the picture), how it came about and the children that they take in, we roamed about the land that housed the double story home to these children, several vegetable plots and a goat’s pen. According to Encik Yahya, the manager of the orphanage, the home’s expenses are sponsored by organizations as well as individuals and they in turn sell organically grown vegetables and the goats that they reared themselves. Every Thursday, the workers will transport the vegetables and send them to their customers in Kuala Lumpur. Apart from that, to make ends meet, the manager himself will sell the Holy Quran to family and friends and members of the public. They need around RM25,000 each month to cover all the expenses of the two homes (the home for girls is 4 kilometres away).

I did not know how to go about these unfortunate boys lest I might say or do something that would hurt their feelings. However, I decided to trust my instincts and tried to have a conversation with one of them. I managed to get close to Danny, a standard five boy, who looked frail and small for his age. I knew better than to ask him about his family, so I probed on his daily routine at the house. According to this shy boy, they had a quite organized schedule, one that includes getting up early to get to his school, which is 10 kilometres away.

My heart sank when I asked about his school and he seemed lost. It’s common knowledge that children who came from broken and abusive homes, poor families and abandoned children, do not fare well in their studies. For an educator, this fact is extremely frustrating. I wish I could do more for Danny and the other children at the home in terms of improving their studies.

We came to the home, not empty handed of course. Prior to the visit and to the event, a colleague had organized a charity drive on Facebook, collecting donations from relatives and friends for the home. We were wonderfully surprised and impressed of the response because in that short period of time, she managed to collect around RM3400 and the money was then used to buy nine bags of 10kg rice and six bottles of 3kg cooking oil. We also decided to pack goodie bags for the children containing biscuits, chocolates as well as toiletries and some money for each of the children. When I mentioned this to Danny and his friends, their face lit up. I couldn’t stop myself from crying. The things that we packed for them were everyday things that most of us take for granted, but for Danny and his friends, these things were much valued.

When I heard from the home’s assistant, Rahim, that the youngest boy they have at the home was only four years old, I had to bite my lips to prevent myself from crying in front of him. He is only four years old and life has been cruel to him. He is the victim of a failed marriage and his mother cannot take care of him anymore. O Allah, please have mercy on this little boy.

I have a mountain of respects for Rahim. A young man, fresh out of polytechnic, he only did a friend a favour when he volunteered at the home. After much adjustments and getting used to the responsibility of taking care of 15 boys of varying ages, he finally found his place at the home. He has been taking care of the boys for four years now.
We left the orphanage with sadness in our hearts and prayers that the boys will find happiness and their place in the world. O Allah, please protect these children and guide them to Your path.

In the afternoon, the participants were required to slaughter fowls, clean and cook them for dinner. There were 15 fowls, one to a group. This module, according to an Ibadah Camp veteran, was never done before. It was such a wonderful feeling to see the students worked together to prepare the main dish for their dinner. I was amazed by the talents that some of them seemed to have. Alhamdulillah, somewhere, someone did something right.

The soup was simply marvelous, prepared by our budding chef, Naim, assisted by some of his friends. The same cannot be said about the fried chicken though, but to set the record straight, it was none of their fault since the problem was in the chickens, the meat was too hard. Despite that, I am sure they had fun preparing it. Alhamdulillah.

The night was filled with music, songs and laughter, when after a short period given for them to practice, the participants succeeded in performing their acts for the Islamic Cultural Appreciation Night lined up for them. Given chance and an outlet, the students could really shine. Time and again I have learnt that one cannot underestimate the students. The participants as well as the committee alike, came away satisfied that night.

On the last day, the second speaker came earlier than the allotted time. Miss Julia Shapiee, or Kak Ju, as cordially called by the participants, shared her life experiences in fighting and winning over breast cancer. It was such a lively talk given to a participative and sporting crowd. I am very glad that we made the decision to invite Julia, a family friend to share her experiences.

The end was near. After the talk and their morning break, the participants were gathered for the closing ceremony. Winners for the Islamic Cultural Appreciation night and the Explorace were announced and hamper baskets changed hands. It ended with a roar.

This Ibadah Camp was truly a new experience for me. I am sure it is very educating not only for the participants but for the lecturers as well. Alhamdulillah. Allah has blessed us with this learning experience that I believe not many got the chance to experience. There are lessons to be learnt from all of this and the knowledge of that lies with the All Mighty.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Working To Create A Future

I read in a backdated magazine about Mike Oldfield and his goldmine of a masterpiece called Tubular Bells. It does not ring any worthy bells in your head, does it? This is because to many of us, it is known as the Exorcist soundtrack. I have to agree with Shaktidej, someone who commented on a YouTube video of this haunting instrumental that Tubular Bells is not just a soundtrack to Exorcist, it is much more than that.

To me, this captivating piece of music is a testament to how little that we human know about our own abilities. This song has made the composer and his record label, Virgin Records, into billionaires and Mr Oldfield is now retiring comfortably with the royalty from the song, which became a world wide hit in 1973. Did he ever imagined, while playing guitar in folk clubs, that one day he would live like a king? If I were him, every day I would wake up amazed that I, of all people, was lucky enough to be the one chosen to have my dream realised.

Is it impossible then? I have seen so many dreams came true in my life that I cannot say otherwise. These once far out and impossible to achieve dreams have often times been materialised beyond the dreamers' wildest imaginations. To state the obvious, no it's not impossible. This success story of a man's hard work should be motivating us to keep on discovering ways to create our own masterpieces to last us a lifetime and even when we are gone to be with our Maker the legacy will live on, fresher as ever.

When I was on my own, I was easily content with what I had, though I did have dreams like everyone else, I did not have the courage nor the motivation to pursue them. It is a different story now. I was knocked down by life challenges one too many times and thanks to the All Mighty with His Permission I was able to get up again and again. I now know how lonely that much afraid rock bottom is and I never want to go there again. This courage to stay alive, to fight with all my might to achieve the stars, was awakened inside me by two very important beings in my life now. For them and with Allah's will, I will not stop until I have created my own masterpiece.

I wish that everyone of us would pursue excellence in this life because only by doing so, we can be sure that we have not wasted the life that Allah has bestowed upon us.

This is Mike Oldfield performing Tubular Bells. He played more than twenty instruments in this song. It's beyond amazing.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Thank You Note

I am at the lowest point in my life but I've been at the lowest of the lowest before and I am just very grateful that I succeeded in climbing out of that diabolical abyss into a much less dangerous level. I am also grateful to have my husband with me and together we are finding ways, working endlessly and tirelessly to take our family to a higher, brighter and much safer plane of life.

Thanks also to my source of inspiration, whom I love with all my life, whom I will give even my life to protect, the Little Rockstar, whose future is our raison d'etre. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah to the Most Gracious for giving both of us the courage and determination to keep fighting, and I pray it will be until the end.

I have witnessed and personally experienced one too many of His blessings, particularly these past two years, and I promise that I will devote myself to seeking His Pleasures by doing all that I possibly can to help myself, my family, my loved ones and strangers alike because we are all born with strengths and weaknesses that beautifully complement each other. Let us be grateful of that.

There are always people out there who will always try to break our spirits and I am sure there will be a day that I will fall to the ground and lament why things happen but I am certain that when that day comes He will not let me get too carried away with my emotions. Somehow He will lend me His strengths to push myself off the ground, quickly bouncing to take a fighting stance. He is All Knowing.

I am also extremely grateful for friends who understand our predicament over the years, who did not run and hide when we came to them for help. May Allah bless you and your families here and in the after life. Thank you so much for the lifelines that you have thrown in our way to help us float during turbulent times.

Syukur. Syukur. Syukur.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year, New Place, New Challenges

I've long abandoned The Moon The Stars. It'll still be a part of me but I'm pushing it in the backseat for now. I stopped writing posts in the blog because I just got fed up with it. I was extremely frustrated with myself and the situation that I was in and trying to fight that deep frustrations drained me out of energy. So I stopped.

However, it is imperative that I start writing now, since our livelihood depends on how good a writer I am :). I'm not good, I'm still grappling with words and grammar rules but I want to be good and I strive to be good and in due time I will be good. Insya Allah.

I registered the blog name many many moons ago, I cannot be sure when exactly and I did just that. Registered the only name I could think of and after a few minutes staring at the screen I left it sans any post. My mind was devoid of any writing ideas.

Today, a schoolmate asked me about the previous blog and why in the blog I wrote in English while in Facebook 'Melayu Tulen' is my choice of language. I told him, many of my FB posts were in English and that I was thinking of writing in a new blog. Not exactly answering the question but it was the only answer I could come up with. The truth is, I don't really know.

So, he was the final push. In conjunction with the new year, the new place that we are in (which is just a stone's throw away from the previous abode) as well as with the new heights to be scaled, I present to you, MamaRockstar and her ramblings. This will be the venue for me to practice, to vent anger, to gloat, to say thanks, to be grateful, to be helpful, to be insightful. Above all I hope it will be the venue for me and for us to learn and re-learn.