30 Oct 2007


I've been wanting to write up about some of the books I've been reading lately but just couldn't find the time. Just got a stash of books recently - mainly chick lit and some Asian Lit. There's one I've been wanting to recommend to any body interested in a good read - that is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It is a poignant and deeply moving story of two boys growing up in Afghanistan - the land that is being systematically destroyed by the Americans. Set against a background of the late Afghan monarchy in its final stages of oblivion, it goes right into the present and shows us the rich cultural background of a hitherto unknown region. Afghanistan was my grandfather's land and when I first took the book that was the main attraction. However, once started I could not put it down. Set in the 1960s, it tells the story of young Amir who lives a priviledged life and his friendship with Hassan, the son of his servant. However, while Amir constantly strives to gain his father's love and acceptance, Hassan it seems could do no wrong in his father's eyes. He takes part in the annual kite flying tournament hoping to gain his father's attention and his love. He wins the tournament but just as he thinks all will be well between him and his father, he see Hassan being raped by a group of boys in a back alley. Amir ignores the incident and buries his guilt by being cruel to Hassan. Political changes in Afghanistan take over after this incident which marks a change in the boys' relationship, and Amir's family escapes to America where he grows up and marries a woman he loves. But he cannot forget Hassan and that day in the back alley. His guilt torments him until he returns to Afghanistan to find out what had happened to Hassan. He finds out that Hassan and his wife had died, leaving a young boy called Sohrab. Sohrab it seems is now living with one of the Talibans. Determined to rescue Sohrab and bring him back to America, Amir risks his life and almost dies.The book had such an impact on me that I could not get it out of my mind even weeks after reading it. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie and reading his second book - A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Shasha also got me some good chick lit by Dorothy Coombs - My Bestfriend's Girl and Marshmellows For Breakfast. Both are good reads. My Bestfriend's Girl is about love and betrayal and loyalty. Unlike many of the romance novels that I've read, both these books give us an insight into friendships - even unlikely ones. In My Bestfriend's Girl for example we see a young black woman who moves away from all that she knows and loves to escape a broken heart. (I know it sounds corny but read on). She was engaged to be married to a white man, but just before the wedding she finds out that the little girl she adores belonging to her best friend, is actually the love child of her soon to be wed fiance' and her best friend. Grief stricken, betrayed and unsure of herself she runs away and stays away for six years. But six years later she finds out that her best friend is dying of cancer and she has inherited the little girl - proof of her fiance's betrayal. Now she has to bring this little girl up as her own and cope with her own sense of loss and guilt.
This sometimes moving, sometimes funny story tells us how she copes with bringing up a child and finding her own self. A really good read and a must have!!

20 Oct 2007

Age is catching up Kat!!

Old age sure takes the fun out of things we used to enjoy before. I was doing some gardening - weeding and repotting some plants when I had a sharp ache in my back. Wan used to scold me for bending from the waist. He says we must always squat first before we want to lift things.Well who can remember such things? And this evening when Repin and I were sitting down for dinner he groaned because he said his knee was giving him some pain. What a pair of old foggies we are!
But I think we were both very lucky we didnt suffer any aches and pains when we were on our haj. Just thinking of the walk from our tent in Mina to the place where we "stoned the devil"I wonder how we managed the walk. Granted there were hundreds of others walking with us, but even then. I remember feeling very tired though but when I look back at some of the others - many of them much older than me, some in wheelchairs and some with disabilities - it gave me the impetus to walk on. And Repin was always beside me or behind me all the time. In restrospect it was quite an adventure. Just imagine - hundreds (just our group) of pilgrims - all dressed in white, wearing the bright yellow vests to ward off the cold, marching towards the hills for the jamratul U'la. It was 6 km to and fro and none of us complained. At that time we never felt our age. God is truly great.
And yet now, just after a few months I ache all over just doing simple things like carrying Sophia, carrying pots in the garden, mopping the floor. Wouldnt it be nice to grow old without being sick or without aching bones. Scientists should look for a cure against that rather than a potion to make you look younger. I guess looking younger has more financial gain.
On another topic - I was looking at Rizal's blog this morning and he showed a video clip of Bukit Bintang. It was taken in August at the height of the Arab invasion - it looked as if it was taken in Riyadh or Dubai. Arab writing everywhere, and women, Arab women in veils walking as if they own the place. Now its not that we dont want them to visit our country - but I think we are turning over the identity of Bukit Bintang into one that is more like the middle east. What's wrong with keeping it Malaysian?


What happened to my doo doo?"


19 Oct 2007


The daughter of the East is back in her country. Yesterday CNN showed her comeback in glory amid cheers from her supporters and today 130 of those supporters have died. A suicide bomb. Sometimes I wonder when the carnage will end. Will it ever? And why only in Muslim countries do we find all these turmoil? Some say that her return was engineered by the Americans - so that she can deflect the extremists. I think her return will encourage more suicide bombs, and more extremists. As it is the Taleban already hate her. Even her own people hate her. She has had her chance to make something of Pakistan, not once but twice. But she wasted it and left her country in 1999 amid rumours of corruption. Can she ever right the many wrongs she left behind? I doubt it.

There was a time when I really admired her. I thought she had it all - looks, charm, power and ability. I even dedicated a poem to her. But time has proven me wrong or maybe she still needed time to prove herself. Someone said that she was the mediocre daughter of a great leader. Well, in this decade, the mediocre rules. Look at the US.

18 Oct 2007

My fish pond

Yesterday I was told by my neighbour that all my fish had died. It was because my nephew had forgotten to turn off the tap and too much chlorine had gotten into the pond. At first I felt angry... this was the second time my fish had died and these were growing to be quite tame. Even though I didn't want to get attached to them I had become attached. They would come to me whenever I feed them early in the morning... gobbling up the food greedily. Now I feel frustrated and vow not to get attached to anything anymore. I loved Moshu my cat like a child, she would sleep with me every night... and when I brought her home with me to Melaka - the very same nephew chased her out into the road and she was hit by a car. I think I wailed out so loud it panicked Repin. It was as if my heart had broken. Even months after that I could not talk about her without tearing up.
Well... so all my fish had died. There were nearly 2o of them - I loved the golden yellow ones best. And even the Jelawat - they're also dead. I just can't believe it. Maybe I shouldn't rear fish anymore. Just let toads breed in the pond.

15 Oct 2007

Birthday blues

Its my birthday today ... feeling kind of old too. I know I still look ok for such an old hag (he he) but these old bones do ache sometimes.Anyway just pondering things...when am I going to stay put in my house in Melaka? Its such a waste - we've got a nice garden and a lovely home but we are so seldom there to enjoy it. I want to add some more flowers... improve the ones that are already there. I'd like to establish myself in Taman Ikhsan so that the neighbours know me. Right now only Kak Yah and Norliee know me and although I've met a few others I dont really know their names. What a sad state of affairs isnt it? I wish my grand daughter could also grow up here- go to the local school and be friends with Edy's children Izzati and her sister. As it is I still feel like a stranger in my own neighbourhood.

Sophie's 3 rd month

Tomorrow Sophia will be three months old. This is her latest picture, held by Wan her uncle. Isn't she a cutie pie? She's the most darling baby I know. (Hmmm maybe I'm a bit biased, but she is cute!)

Idil Fitri in Melaka

This is already the 3rd day of raya. This raya is Sophia's first - all my children except Sarah are here. It's great and yet sad too because we wont be a full quorum until Sarah finishes her studies in 2011. Then only can we all enjoy a raya with the whole family. Where will we be then I wonder. Will Repin and I still be around to celebrate it? Will my mother in law still be around too? Let's hope so.
For the first time since we moved to Melaka we had breakfast in our own house - not at Mother's house in Semabok. Then my sisters and brothers came to the house - more like an attack than a visit!! It was a great day, though I felt quite tired at the end of the day.

The picture above shows Yah, Jasmin and their children with me at the waterfall. And this is me with my grand daughter, Sophia

2 Oct 2007

Ugly Malaysians

Malaysians generally are rude I think. They are quite selfish and lack courtesy as well as road manners, which is why for such a small country we have one of the highest accident rates in the world. I'm saying this because this morning while queueing up to pay the toll at the LDP plaza in Sri Damansara, there were so many drivers jumping queue you really feel disgusted. Granted there were also many courteous drivers patiently waiting in line, but for every 10 of the good ones there are at least 3 of the louzy ones. And when people say we lack manners we jump up a mile at the criticism.
Even in buses or on the train we see this bad behaviour again and again. We pride ourselves in being generous especially when a catastrophe befalls us... but what we are also is selfish, insensitive and lacking in common courtesy. I've seen teenagers sitting in the seats specially reserved for pregnant women and old people, not caring that an older person is standing up and holding on for dear life on the rails. Sometimes I wonder where the traditions that we Easterners are famous for have gone to. Did we lose them in our rush to become a modern and progressive society? Japan is also a modern and very progressive society but their people are still imbued in the old traditions that teach them to respect the elderly and to care for the weak.
I was in Tokyo just a few months ago and was struck again and again at how respectful they are to each other. The place where we stayed at - Asakusa - is slightly out of town. Maybe like a suburb of Tokyo but still a bustling little city of its own. Its not as busy as downtown Tokyo perhaps, but what I really liked about the place were the people. When they meet a friend they always bow to each other, talk for a while, then bow again before walking on. In the subway you see pretty school girls standing up to let an older woman sit. There is never any rush to get into a train, however crowded it is. Everyone patiently wait in line to get in. Even if the line is almost a mile long ( as when we were going to Tokyo Disneyland). Nobody pushes anybody when the train comes. Can't we learn to be like them?

1 Oct 2007


I was looking at some pictures the other day - old photos of my children growing up. Sometimes I wish I can see it all over again, experience again those wonder years. Looking at Rizal's pictures - at one month old, six months old and so on... life seems to have flown so fast. Now I'm here at his house looking after his child. He was such a beautiful child, I think all my children were. No doubt I'm being very partial but I do believe its true. Rizal was such a good boy - he hardly ever misbehaved. And so fussy about cleanliness. I remember how he refused to go inside my mother's toilet - it was wet and there were signs of mould on the walls where she didnt scrub them. He would step on my feet and refused to put his own feet on the wet toilet floor. Watching the village boys playing in front of my mother's lawn, he refused to join in despite cajoling and persuasions from the other boys - they looked entirely too dirty for his liking.
Wan however was the exact opposite. He would dive in regardless of the dirt and the wet. I remember his cheeky smile after a particularly grueling play session at Sequoia Park in California. He was so covered in dust you could hardly recognise him. More like a street urchin than my own. No child revelled in dirt as much as that one did.
They were all different in their own ways - the girls and the boys. Rizal had to grow up suddenly when we had Wan. He had been our only child for a long time - 6 years , then suddenly had to be pushed aside by this little squalling brat everyone said he had to love. Sometimes I wonder how he felt. At that time I was studying for my degree, so had very little time left for him.If I could change things I would change that aspect of my life and pay more attention to him.Looking at photos of him as a seven year old I see a scrawny looking boy, a bit sad in the eyes and regret not paying attention to him then. Even when we were in the States and Rizal was 9 or 10, I don't remember sitting down with him and talking to him of school and what he did - just asking him whether he had completed his homework. I really must have been a terrible mother I think.