Saturday, June 29, 2013

59. godspeed

It only seemed like it was yesterday that I was writing about the raw grief I felt at losing a grandfather. A few days ago, I went through the emotional wave I did earlier last year, as my other grandfather was called home to his final resting place by Him on Tuesday night, 25th June, at 11.40 p.m. 

My mom called me at half past midnight, and I remember the exact words she said:
"Junee, don't be shocked. But your grandfather has passed away. Come back to kampung."
Kampung refers to hometown. My hometown was an hour and a half away. My father and brother had made the journey earlier, and I knew I couldn't make the journey alone, so late, so I called him and asked for his company. He told me there was no sense in leaving now, as my car was in bad shape, and overdue for service. For safety reasons, we should leave in a couple of hours, by subuh.

I felt helpless. I called everybody I knew, who could borrow me a car if they could. Alas, nobody could lend me one. Those few hours to wait until subuh was the worst. I paced the house, I couldn't sleep, I did laundry, I talked to my cats. I was so restless. Finally dawn came, and I left home to pick him up.

The journey back to my kampung seemed like forever. We couldn't drive fast because we were afraid of pushing the car to the extreme, and something would happen. Somewhere along the drive, I finally fell asleep.

When we finally reached my aunty's house, where my grandfather's body was laid temporarily for prayers, I stopped myself for a second. I couldn't look at his body. I went around, saying hello to my parents, kissed my mom's hands. Salam-ed my aunties and uncles. 

Then I saw him. I took my wudhu and took the prayer books placed next to him. Read the yasin for the first time in a few months. I humbly submit myself to God and His will to take my grandfather. Who was I, a lowly servant to question His doing? I was to accept that my grandfather, aged 80, who was supposed to celebrate his 81st birthday this Sunday, had left and departed into alam barzakh. 

I lifted the thin cotton cloth covering his face and kissed his forehead. Oh, how cold they were! It further reminded me that there was no vestiges of life left in this body. I carry his blood and flesh in my body. My legacy would be his. 

Once there was a huge gathering, we had a big recitation of prayers. Prayers to make it easier for my arwah tok to make his way to the next world. Next was the washing and shrouding of his body in kafan (where the body is wrapped in clean, white cloth). 

Right before the solat jenazah, my grandfather's childrens, grandchildrens and greatgrandchildrens - his generation- gathered around him, to make a personal goodbye. We were handed a bowl of spices to dust his kafan in. My youngest brother cried, and I cried in turn. He had not known my grandfather as long as I had, does he even know who his grandfather was? Why my grandfather collected all those encyclopedias?  What my grandfather did before he was married to my arwah grandmother?

 It turns out I would be the one telling my baby brother all these things about my grandfather, and not my grandfather himself. It is true that in Islam, you're not encourage to wail or cry excessively at a funeral, as this would be seen as opposing God's will, so we willed ourselves to cry silently.
When the Prophet Muhammad's own son died, he said: "The eyes shed tears and the heart is grieved, but we will not say anything except which pleases our Lord."
Then there was solat jenazah (prayers for the dead). The final step was the burial procession. This, was always the hardest step for me, because you finally acknowledge that your loved one is gone. My grandfather would hopefully be at peace. When you scatter the flowers and pour water over his grave, that's when you know for certain that He has reclaimed your loved ones. But I hope my grandfather is at peace. 
Loss and grief is part of the test. When a person encounters loss or grief, it actually a test, which Allah is putting us through. Allah says, " Be sure, We shall test you through fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil) but glad tidings to those who patiently persevere." - [Surah Baqarah, Chapter 2, Verse 155]

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

58. cheap thrills

And we'll never be royals,
It don't run in our blood,
That kind of lux just ain't for us,
We crave a different kind of buzz
- Lorde; Royals
I've been on all types of dates, from the worst, to the best type, on the dating spectrum. One of the best ones was a restaurant I went to in KL, it was one of those exclusive types on the top floor in KL, where you needed to reserve a few weeks in advanced, you could see the majestic skyline of KL, the waiter serving you donned a white cloth on his left arm, and the dress code didn't accept anything less than heels and dresses for girls. My date for the night wore a crisp shirt, I thought he looked so handsome.

But there was an interior motive to this glitz and glam.
He turned out to be an asshole who wanted a shag on the first date.
Needless to say, I didn't see him again when he hinted he could get a room in the hotel. 

Ugh. After that, I swore I wouldn't be blinded by a guy's bling bling.

I've been with my current boyfriend for a few months, and so far we haven't really gone anywhere fancy. No fancy restaurants with discreet tips to the receptionist, no places where the meal is worth a quarter of my salary. It's the simple things, actually.

People say you need to have money to have a partner, partly that's true, but you don't need an obscene, lavish amount. It's not like you're planning to pick out diamonds from his/her bellybutton kan? 

Things like travelling a lot together. Forcing myself to stay awake while he drives to Penang 4 hours straight. Trudging through a muddy field at a friend's wedding. Waking up at midnight and dragging him to McD for a cheeseburger. Walking in the city, spilling our hopes, dreams, and goals to each other. Watching a movie and feeling his fingertips creep around mine. Waiting for both schedules to be free so we could watch Game of Thrones together. Waiting for him to come home so I can lay my head on his lap and unload the daily news that unfolded. When he kisses my forehead. I'm so fond of these things, and every time I think about it, I shiver because it's too good, it's too great.

These are the things I want to remember forever. I think those lavish dinner dates are great, but only if you're dating the son of Roman Abramovich. It's great if it happens once in a while. But if it happens everyday, then the value of the date itself will disintegrate. All these expensive places won't mean much because it's happening everyday. How much foie gras and wagyu beef can you eat anyway?

And at the end of the day, which one will last forever? The three-hundred-ringgit worth of lobster in your stomach that you'll churn out anyway, or the memories that the finest restaurant can't give you? 

Ideas for a cheap date:
1. Picnic at a park 
2. Movie dates
3. Hot dogs, currypuffs and people watching at Ikea!
4. Coffee dates
5. Save up your money and go travel!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

57. the "f" word.

I've never....
been the tallest girl. I've never been the most sought after girl. I've never been the most beautiful, or gorgeous, or pretty. I've never had the perfect hair, or perfect nails, or perfect skin. I've always been known as the fat, dumpy one, trailing along behind her family.

Every time we'd go around visiting relatives, everyone would say that my brother was so fair, and I was so dark. That I was "makin sihat" (Malay for healthy - insinutating fat). Even my friends made fun of me, called me a penguin. I was born with inverted legs, my legs will never be straight. It's gonna be as crooked as scoliosis. I waddled and walked.

One day when I was 17, it hit me real bad, I started to panic.

God, why wasn't I born skinny? I'd cry and wept as I prayed to him. My mom's words cut into my heart, jagged and sharp, as she screamed at me and poked me and said, "gemoklah, pergi jog" (Malay for you're too fat, go and jog). I felt right there and then as if she had just branded my forehead with the word FAT. 

Two weeks before my prom, I panicked. I couldn't find anything to wear. We went to this costume rental shop, the theme was "vintage" or some shit like that. In the picture, the model looked like Audrey Hepburn. When I tried it on I felt more like a sausage roll clown parading around in an ugly wig. I couldn't even zip the back of the dress. I was only 17. 

Insecurities, like vines on a window, crept up to me. I was prickled with fear. I went to bed, my pillows drenched from the tears that poured from my eyes. I pinched my own stomach, pulled at the layer of fat, and cried at how fat I was. Fat. I grabbed it ferociously, trying to tear my own fat away from my body, only to cry some more because it hurt, and cried at how pathetic it all was, how pathetic the whole situation was. That I was going to die a virgin spinster, alone, fat fat fat. 

I did the inevitable thing.

I took the easy way out.

My trembling fingers found their way to the back of my throat, and I purged. I purged all the food I ate, cried again because I felt so fat. I felt confused. I thought I was born this way. But people were telling me I'm not supposed to be this way.

I began to go jogging. I jogged everyday, rain, shine, drizzle, an hour and a half, determined to burn those bloody fat away. I wish I could tell you that suddenly, I was starting to resemble a beanpole. Alas, it did not. My calves harden, my legs grew skinnier, but my boobs and arms remained the same. I changed what I ate, my boobs still remained. I ate, purged, jogged, did sit ups as I watched Alias. But my boobs still stayed the same.The boobs. My ex even named them, Pamela, and Anderson. He told me that it was his favorite thing about me, that my boobs were big.

I was so uncomfortable with my body.

Because I had thin legs but I had big boobs and arms. I felt it was too skanky for me to wear anything short. Other girls pulled it off effortlessly, if I wore it, with my giant boobs, I would redden when guys leered at me. Or did that ugly screeching sound where they pursed their lips and made wet raspberries. Guys would lick their fingers in front of me, or grabbed their crotch. I felt so weirded out. I was ashamed of my own body. I was ashamed of myself.

At the age of 23, when I returned from my 6-month-internship stint in London, I entered the workforce immediately. Exercise had long gone dissipated into the wind when I left for Europe. Returning back to my hometown, I ate with such vigor and enthusiasm. Satay? Yes, please. Meehoon goreng? Bring it onnn. Fried chicken? Do you even need to ask? I ate like there was no tomorrow.

Then, at that time, a friend invited me to go to the gym with her.

She told me it'd be nice to be healthier for my then-boyfriend. I agreed. I signed up for one year, and man, I worked my ass off there. Stairmaster, rpm, cardio, weights, you name it, I did it. A pompous peacock prick of an instructor told me, "you ni dah cantik, tapi you lagi cantik kalau you kurus. Train dengan I la!" Whatever. I did the bodytones. My body was changing. My boobs still remained.

I found out later that my ex had been cheating behind my back with this so called friend.
Yep, the one who invited me to the gym.

They had an affair to remember. What a fool I was! Of course he would cheat on me! Who the fuck wouldn't? She had a hot body, he had mentioned once that if he was ever to do a threesome it would be with me and her. Haha, what a guy, huh?

I found out this girl later on bitched about me and made fun of me. Of my hair. My skin. Of my body. To my best friends. While she was going out with my ex. For a while, that really killed my already-almost-zero-self-esteem. I moped around. I blamed the world. My mom. My dad. My inferior gene pool. I stopped gymming. I drank a lot. 

But then I realized, to hell with the world! It's about me! 

I dumped that ex. I changed jobs, picked up my jogging regime, did weights at home, completed tried to do Beach Body Insanity Workout. I changed what I ate, stopped drinking coffee so much. Started buying the right bra. Bought new shoes. Bought clothes that I thought accentuated my curves instead of hiding them. 

It changed my outlook on life.

For once, my happiness wasn't dependent on men. I radiated from the happiness I gained from looking good. It sounds weird, but it felt good to look good. To hell with the wolfwhistles. It made me feel even better. I started going out with guys, not because they wanted to get into my pants, but because they thought my smile was the sexiest thing ever. One of the guys said that "babe, your confidence is so sexy". But it all sizzled out, of course.

And now, I'm with someone who makes me feel so beautiful. That when I'm in the room, I'm the most beautiful person he sees (I know it sounds vain, but yes, it really feels like that). But that's a plus. He tells me all the time that I'm sexy, and I feel it too.

The world's no longer a bitter shade of black for me. It's not gloomy anymore. I used to hide behind frumpy clothes but now I wear what clings to my skin. Sometimes I look in the mirror and say to myself, "you look beautiful today". It makes you glow with confidence. That glow is the one that actually makes you more beautiful. A stranger looks at you and says, "wow, this girl is smiling, her smile is so sexy". Ask anyone, whether you're more attractive with a smile or a frown on your first. They will always say the former!

You have to realize that you don't have to be tall, or short, or skinny, or fat, to feel sexy. You just have to feel good about yourself. Because that is what makes you sexy. 

It took a long time for me to be at ease with myself. I'm still short. I'm still frumpy. I'll never have perfect hair. Or spotless skin. I'll always have the right front teeth longer than the left. My legs will never straighten. I have scars on my legs. But I'm okay with that. And so should you.

This post is dedicated to every girl out there, who have not felt comfortable in their skin at one point in their life, or hated the sight of themselves in the mirror.

Hehe okay yeah I stopped gymming for a while but I'm picking it back up now and I'm gonna try to reduce my carb intake, I swear :0

Friday, June 14, 2013

56. of weddings #SueShen

Back in 2011 when I was working in Nuffnang's sister agency, Churp Churp, a new girl named Sue came in. She wasn't really shy, she was extroverted and loud and do-as-I-damn-well-please attitude. We had lunch together in a clique a lot - it was me, Farah, Sue, Thara, and on-off Anne.

Ini crazy bunch at Nuffnang/ Churp Churp.

When she was working in Nuffnang, she was still going out with some new guy every other day and playing the "keep it cool" card. I thought to myself, man, this girl is pretty bad ass when it came to guys. When I left the company, we didn't meet for a long time, until one Thara invited me for a catch up dinner because Farah was leaving for Scotland. That sparked off the dinner at random places and shisha sessions.


Suddenly, this guy called Shen came along to one of our lepak sessions... And when I first met him I said to myself, "ohhhkayyy another one of Sue's ahem ahem". But again and again, and againnnn, he was there. Very chill, calm guy. Didn't really talk much to him haha. Then Sue told us, "babe, I'm getting married!" WTF. And she asked us, "can you guys be my bridesmaid?" So honored.

Was at this meet up that Sue told us. 

We shisha-ed more after the announcement, and she passed us kain to wear for her wedding. Slowly, I got to know her fiancee more, throughout more shisha sessions. The months drew closer, and finally, one weekend came where it was her wedding reception (in Perak)!

Sue looked unbelievably stunning. As we saw them both walk down the aisle, you knew that love was in the air, and no two people suited each other better. 

The next weekend was the reception in Penang, so me and him took the four hour drive up to Penang. It was a beautiful, outdoor wedding, right next to the beach. To everyone's horror, the evening was clouded by hevay rain, but it didn't dampen anyone's spirits. This is exactly how I imagine my wedding to be (although we could do without the rain).
Here's to #SueShen, may the happy couple embark on a beautiful journey and begin the rest of their lives as husband and wives :) You can now ber-SUEKAHATIHAHA now with your hubby!