A poem for Mom, my Angel In Between

“‘Mother’ is another term for the occasionally thankless, lifelong career that is also known as real-life-sometimes-demonic-out-of-necessity-angels.” — Dreaming Human

So Mother’s Day is coming up tomorrow. Disregarding other plans up my sleeve, the poem I’m posting here is a gift I’d like to share — no, not with you, it’s your mother‘s day tomorrow, you selfish child (P.S. If your moms’ are giving this snarker an evil look, tell them from me that I’m only joking and not really bullying their child, and by the way ma’am, congratulations on protecting your son/daughter so well from these dangerous alien things called snarks).

All levity aside, I only need to say that “Mothers are special people in our lives who we really need to appreciate” before you all stop reading and start skimming the text in boredom, because really, everyone knows why these special beings humans call mothers are special in the first place. In other words, it goes without saying that all of you appreciate your mothers, because (you minds tune out and fills in the blanks here) just like me. So while I dedicate this poem to my own Mom, my very own angel in life, I don’t think she’d mind if I let any fellow snarkees, present and future (thankfully there’s no past ) share it with their mothers too.

 

ANGEL IN BETWEEN
Before I was born
I made a pact, signed a contract.
I was shown life, death and
all that comes between
and then was asked to choose:
To live,
or to live unborn.

What I saw, I did not like
Life is too uncertain, death too absolute
— What reason is there to choose this world
suffused with its masks and demons
with its malice, hatred, suffering?
what could possibly be good of this place
so lonely, unkind, so unforgivingly cruel?

They tell me, Love.

Love? I know of it
heard of its legendary warmth
but skepticism shadows me
I ask, and how would you know
that I will experience it
that love will come to me?

It comes, they say, from an angel
That angel will care for you
protect you, raise you at all costs
She would give her life so that yours is brought before you
and die, and live, and die again
to ensure your life ends
only after hers
to ensure you are happy
to give you love

She would love you all your life.

Now I am born
now I am alive
and I turn and see
the angel promised to me.
She has been here, by my side
all these years and more
This angel has loved me, will continue to love me
through life, death and everything in between.

To this being
This angel in between my life and death
I wish to say
–Mom,
thank you, and
I love you.

 

COPYRIGHT NURUL JASMINE 2013

 

As a note, this poem was written last year, when I as a seventeen-year-old looked past the commercialization on steroids that every Mother’s Day seems to inspire, and tried to figure what I would tell my mother if I had to summarize the entire seventeen years we’ve been brought together through my birth. Wondering whether my messages would grow in depth or change in some way as the years go by, I remember concluding back then that there really was nothing more, or less, I could say, than “thanks for everything” and “I really love you.”

Of course, “you were right most of the time”  also neared the top of the list — but obviously, every growing teenager would like to discount this when immortalizing their happy moments with their moms a.k.a their personal Earth’s angels.

Anyway, guess what? Exactly as I suspected, one year onward, what I wanted to tell her didn’t change, and probably never will: the only thing I could really say to you, Mom in spite — or maybe because — of all you’ve done for me (cue wails of incompetence and a reflection on how I and every loved child in the world is forever indebted to their mothers-synonymous-with-angels) is to say..

Thank you for everything. And I love you beyond life itself.

Looking back at the poem above (which I wrote last year, remember), at its ending lines, I have a feeling I’ll be saying that for  a very long time. And no matter how much I say it, it’ll never be enough, because nothing I do will ever match up to everything my mother, my angel, has done for me, starting withe the day she gave birth and gave me the love I was supposedly guaranteed to get in life.

All that’s left is to celebrate Mother’s Day..

Maybank Scholarship selection, stage 2

“The impossibility of something impossible happening is so possible that the impossible is literally impossible.” — Dreaming Human

From Fullmetal Alchemist:  Brotherhood, the character Greed has said that “Nothing is impossible.” As if in response to my immediate, obstinate ridicule, later on in the show Alphonse Elric reiterates this as well.

Alphonse Elric: “If there’s one thing I learnt, it’s that NOTHING’s impossible.” I suppose being a soul-boy bound to a 7-foot armor can influence your belief in the impossible somewhat.

In a admittedly not-so-rare case of anime reflecting real life, I just had my proof of the impossibility of impossibility (tee-hee, see what I did there? Turned this philosophy on its head, didn’t I?) on the 20th of April,Saturday, when Maybank called me up for the second stage of its scholarship selection.

“Wait, wait, isn’t this post a little outdated then?”  you say? Well, it is, but my busiest week ever was always destined to morph into my busiest month ever, and I think you’ll soon find the truth of that statement if the tight schedule doesn’t make quick work of me — 0r my blogging inclination (which honestly is more likely to fall prey to self-proclaimed exhaustion than I am) — first.

On that note, let’s return back to our regularly scheduled programming/blogging, shall we?

Before I so ingeniously interrupted myself, I was relating the incident in which what I thought was impossible actually happened, thus proving the FMA creators right and putting me (and most parents who consider anime a blasphemy) to shame.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the call I got from Maybank to undergo its second stage scholarship interview, of course.

There I was, enjoying the cool breezy wind outside my house when my twin far outdid  my mere contemplation of going out for a walk by barreling out of the door with the phone in her hand and the words “Maybank Scholarship” blazing on her handphone screen. My jaw dropped; I held my breath and definitely did not eavesdrop. Neither did I urge Shamine to ask about me, nor arrange that we’d be at least interviewed on the same day so that we twins could make the 45-minute trip to KL on the same day. Nope, I definitely did not do all that. ..Denial can be such a revealing mindset, don’t you think? Anyhow, after the date was set (for the next Tuesday..didn’t I say it was going to be a busy month?), my twinsister put the phone down, leaving us to do nothing but look at each other, right before we did something truly profound: We burst into giggles.

I suppose psychologists would term that phenomenon as “hysterics”. Laymen would probably call it “temporary loss of sanity.”I call it “giddy relief”, and before I continue to imitate a walking, talking (writing?)  thesaurus, let’s review some key facts to find out why yours truly is so relieved / hysterical / insane / all of the above at getting THE call from Maybank:

  1. I sent in the application form in February. Which, incidentally, was before this blog was even created.
  2. The call for Stage 1 of the scholarship selection process came somewhere in March. To future aspiring Maybank scholars reading this blog for tips (who’d better be newly-converted snarkees aspiring to follow this blog too, or shame on you for trying to get tips while giving nothing in return — “only joking!” to any cyber-police out there), Stage 1 of the Maybank scholarship is an online test that’s pretty simple in concept, in that it consists of two parts: the first a verbal reasoning test, the second a numerical reasoning test. Of course, it’s ‘simple’ in concept because it’s an absolute hell in questions, as these psychometric tests are meant to stress you out with the short time frame and mid-to-high level of complexity. Don’t get it yet? Making it simple: Little time + long-winded questions = you’re gonna feel like an idiot. Invariably, any NORMAL human being will find the test easy in some parts, hard in some parts..like I did (not that I was ever arrogant enough to claim myself normal, which strangely enough is normal thing for the other 6 billion people on this planet to claim NOT to be).There’s only two strategies for such tests: aim to answer as many as you can, or as correctly as you can. Every other scholar I’ve met have had to make such a decision, and if you know someone who didn’t and actually found the test easy, it’s probably because they’re a true-blue genius destined to be the next Einstein, in which case salutations to them, and by the way how do they plan to change the world? Personally, I went for accuracy over speed, since I dislike being proven wrong more than I dislike being proven that I’m a snail. (It has to be said that there’s something inherently wrong about the human race that we’d rather be inhuman than be incorrect, but that’s neither here nor there, I suppose.)
  3. Since then, it has been one week. Plus another three. Yes, it’s been a 4 weeks / ONE MONTH since I completed the aforementioned online assessment a.k.a Stage 1 of the Maybank scholarship selection process, and bearing in mind that some people in the forums of Lowyat and Recom have reported getting calls for the next stage (some early birds have even gotten on to the 3rd stage at this point, much to this disheartened snarker’s surprise), I had given up on procuring the scholarship. The weeks passed, I begun to get really busy and started contemplating the possibility that I was a deluded student of mediocre intelligence who hallucinated her possible brilliancy (note that at this point there was no one, or indeed no Dreaming Human available to tell me that it’s normal for the test to present a little bit of a challenge, so I was dragging my feet thinking everyone else found it easy. Which they didn’t right? Right?? Maybank scholars, past and present, answer me!!) In other words, I thought that it was impossible I’d have a further chance at the scholarship, since I appeared to not have passed the first stage even.If I did, I would have been called, and since I didn’t, well, let’s just say I thought it was impossible…and. Then.
  4. On a nice, windy day in April, the call for the second stage came. And impossible was once again proven impossible.

Upon checking my email afterwards, I found this:

"Never fear! The call for a scholarship is here!" Deluded saviors are enchanting.

“Never fear! The call for a scholarship is here!”
Deluded saviors are enchanting.

When you have the computer open and an email such as the above (the getting-called-for-an-interview part, I mean, not the deluded-hero-theme-cry part) arrives in your inbox, there’s only one thing to do: you search up “Maybank second stage scholarship”, obviously, since we kids these days are ever so cunning and technologically savvy.

And there you would find — wait for it — absolutely nothing. No accounts. No blog posts. A few users on the forums claiming they’ve gone through the second stage, but there’s nothing concrete or useful.

First-impulse move: Bang your head, repeatedly chanting “why”.

Next move: spend time getting scared and freaking out before the interview (Yeah, like you won’t be freaking out during and after it, is that right?)

WAIT.Why do you think I’m here?? Other than to dream and snark and write about that utterly random, nonsensical thing called life of course.

Next move if you’re Dreaming Human: spend time getting scared and freaking out before the interview, going for the interview and getting freaked out during and after it for good measure, then going home and writing a blog post about it. So yes, I’m writing this to fill you aspiring future Maybank scholars cum to-be snarkees / curious little cats with too much time on their hands and nothing better to do / loyal beloved followers of the DreamingHuman blog (pick whichever is relevant to you, dear reader) on the progression of the stage 2, also known as the interview stage.

And there’s really no other way to say it: It.Is. An. Interview. As I’m sure you can see from the picture of the email with the superhero complex above, my interview session began at 3 in the afternoon, which curiously coincided nicely with my twin’s. Since my morning was occupied, I came early, and sat at the seats provided (no really, Dreaming? What did everyone else do, stand at the seats provided?). Almost immediately, we were given 15 minutes to write an essay of about 250 words.

250 words? In 15 minutes? How do I not over-write? And before you think this is bragging, the topics are pretty easy. In fact, they’re probably the same, year in, year out, and this is not me calling the scholarship selection process unimaginative. Or indeed, un-innovative. After all, they’d better not change the selection process lest this post becomes irrelevant to the group of readers who are aspiring scholars, right?

So, 15 minutes and overarching the 250 words later, I sat down again and in an admirably calm manner promptly proceeded to freak myself out. I couldn’t be blamed either: there seemed to be two or three rooms in use for the interview sessions, and I looked set to go in the Jasper room — which happened to house the two interviewers (one male, one female) and a kid who must have been a really good comedian, judging from the way he was making them laugh so hard and so loud. I could hear them from where I was sitting, and the doors to all the room were closed. And when the kid came out, he strode straight to the counter and looked at his watch, then announced to the clerks,”Wow, I took one whole hour!”

Just my luck. Haven’t even started my interview, and already I was upstaged by a boy I knew nothing of. It would have been interesting to at least get to talk to him and find out what made the boy tick so strongly that he shone, or otherwise how he bluffed his shine, (remember who the Dreaming Human is as a human) but alas! It was not to be, because it was my turn next. And here, any attempt at Shakespeare’s sophistication will have to be abandoned in order to accurately portray what I was thinking at the time:

–eek eek eek eek ihopeidothiswell eek eek —

Curious fact #1: You never hear that the above is a good mindset for an interview, but you always hear that it’s in everyone’s mind before any interview.

And then, the two interviewers (whoops, their names escape me now) flipped through my original certificates, then asked the first question: “Tell us something about you that this file doesn’t tell us about you.”

Curious fact #2: When you’re at the initial stage of application for any scholarships, all they want to know is your achievements; any extras such as personal letters are discarded as trash (not that I’d know anything about that). When you’re at the next stage and you’re being interviewed, all they want to know is you, and your achievements are just a redundant aside for all they care.

Such are fickle human beings, I suppose. And yes, I know it can seem like the people interviewing you aren’t human beings but man-eating monsters / high-nosed aristocrats / whatever you find most intimidating, but they’re not, really —

— unless they’re trying to be. And that’s what happened during my interview: the two Maybank-ers questioning me affected an air of boredom right off from the start, as if they had used up their daily quota of laughter on the boy before me and had not an iota of it left. The man (Mr. Drawling, I call him, because he had a drawling voice) even answered the phone while I was talking, while the woman (Shifty Eyes) looked everywhere but at me for the first few minutes of my interview, which left me feeling awkward and made me wonder if there wasn’t an imaginary friend I couldn’t see standing in the room, or if I wasn’t one myself and didn’t know it.

Sounds disastrous? Imagine being the candidate sitting there, having to go through all that. The thing is, after the disaster that was my UEM interview, I was wiser to the methods of these strange, strange people we call interviewers, and I figured that maybe they were trying to test my mettle, so I kept my cool and answered the questions as best as I could. To aspiring scholars, I really think that what they ask you or indeed how they treat you will depend on as varying a factor as Luck, their mood or even what personality they decided to play that day, so really, all you can do is to not get rattled and keep your cool.

Not enough for you? Seriously, the interview epitomizes a conversation you might have with someone older — for example, mine’s resembled the conversation I might have with a particularly condescending aunt / uncle, or even heaven forbid a parent. In fact, Mr Drawling even mentioned that I was like his daughter at one point, the moment being when I was rattling off on the reason why I chose my course and what I plan to do with my life.(The first thing I wanted to say in reply: I have no idea; that’s why I’m off to university first. No, not really, and don’t follow this, kids.)

One question they asked me which I think any aspiring scholar applying to any scholarships would be asked at some point (or if nor by scholarship providers, by your university, your country or possibly your mom) is:

“How can you contribute to us?”

And no, saying the first thing that came to my mind (in an incredulous tone): “I’m gonna work for you, isn’t that enough?” is not a good idea.

Lo and behold, the strange world of scholarship selection. You’re required to be yourself, which you’ll often find isn’t the first thing you hide about yourself but seem to be (e.g. a smart-mouthed snarker).

One interesting thing to note that I think proved that the interviewers aren’t exactly who they portray themselves to be (that is, bored / mean / irritating / all) either: During her interview, my twin also had to deal with interviewers who were acting bored, who also picked up the phone in the middle of her answering a question. Keeping in mind this happened in a different room with different people at about the same time, it could be a genuine strategy of theirs to unnerve the applicants.

…Or it could be that they really were bored, and we both just performed well. For, a week or so later, the same day 4 corporate scholarships collided with my life, both my twin and I received a call inviting us to Stage 3 of the Maybank interview!!!

(insert trumpets and much fanfare)

Conclusion: The Maybank scholarship selection stage 1 is a verbal and numerical reasoning test. Stage 2 is an interview. Stage 3 — we’ve yet to find out, and for good reason.

No, not that, you sly, overfocused possible future Maybank scholars.

Rewritten conclusion: Alphonse Elric was right Never lose hope and think something’s impossible, because the impossible never is.

Despite all that, though, let’s see whether the above stands true when I finally try for the seemingly impossible challenge that takes the form of passing my JPJ driver’s test

Of flowery explosions and wacky Malaysia

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind; so instead of taking each others’ eyes out, how ’bout I get you a new pair of specs instead?” –Dreaming Human

Image

Malaysians leaving flowers at the Philippines embassy. Embassy, pick your favorite.

There are many things about my country that is considered unique (replace this with bizarre / cool / amazing / predictable / just downright crazy / all of the above, as is deemed appropriate), but I think this one takes the cake of Malaysia’s uniqueness..or at least a very large bite of it.

And here I’m not talking about the food (although yes, the kuih lapis I had this morning was absolutely heavenly, oh sorry, did you want some?) or about the cultural melting-pot, the super-friendly attitude my fellow Malaysians exhibit to foreigners or even the three-month holiday most secondary-school leavers embark on before starting college. Oh no, I’m talking about something else entirely.

I’m talking about the fact that we Malaysians can, and actually choose to, fight fire.. with flowers.

That’s right, folks, historically when things turn ugly and homemade human rubbish hits the fan, the media goes wild, the Americans have tea, still others produce their own unmentionables, but Malaysians go out prove that we’re all exceptionally, decently mad and leave flowers on  the opposing side’s doorsteps.

To any poor dears who are actually attempting to follow this but have not the faintest clue what I’m talking about, you can read about what we’re calling the Ops Bunga — my inner snarker would like to inform you it’s transliterated to Operation Flowers, and is giggling maniacally as we read while chanting “Flower Power!” — in the link provided above. The short, over-simplified (I’m serious) version goes something like this:

  • a claimant to the Filipino sultanate has had his militants invade Malaysian shore
  • the militants / invaders — oh wait, they’re officially terrorists now! And here we thought that only the world’s biggest superpower would have to face these scary things we call terrorists.. Anyway, they set up an ambush in a direct snub to the police-extended deadline for the armed group to leave without repercussion. They killed two  policemen in the ambush and left both my country and the Philippines in an awkward fix that’s slowly — if minimally; small comfort there, I’m sure  —  turning bloody.
  • …fingers are inevitably pointed by keyboard warriors and known figures alike, heroes are proudly made and heartrendingly lost, sides come together and turn against each other and as the presidents do damage control and the military launches air assaults to end it once and for all..
  • some members of the Philippines’ public decided to convene in front of the Malaysian embassy there to show their protest of the way the country is managing the standoff. 

Credits go to them for it being peaceful affair. However, the fact that Malaysia initially tried to prevent bloodshed in the first place seems to have escaped their memory, while certain quarters remember it all too well and now call us soft-hearted, weak, ineffective etc., when I’m sure most civilised humans would agree upon more fitting terms like ‘merciful’ or at least the all-encompassing ‘diplomatic’.

I mean, come on, who’ll be the last one snarking when this fiasco is over? Certainly not the trigger-happy people who would jump into battle at the slightest provocation.

But enough about that. My fellow Malaysians have proved that they are a peace-loving bunch who’d rather look around and smell the flowers — quite literally — than descend into a free-for-all squabble meant only for experts on those touchy-feel-y issues concerning ancient rights and obscure treaties.My friends, I have seen the future, and ironically my vision consists of a History textbook: History of Malaysia, let it be oh-so-creatively titled (can you tell when I’m snarking?). And in a particular page in it I see this block of text:

“EVIDENCE THAT MALAYSIA IS A PEACEFUL AND DIPLOMATIC NATION”

(historians, alternately insert whatever official-sounding, textbook appropriate title here)

  • [various dates]:mention the whole got-Independence-by-diplomacy stuff, plus the successful-protest-of-Malayan-Union and whatever else should be put in here; hey, don’t look at me like that, it’s only natural History becomes a vague mammoth for post-SPM students still enjoying their holiday blues–
  • May 2013: in response to a protest carried out by the some Philippines, the public leaves bouquet after bouquet of flowers at the Philippine embassy as a gesture of love and goodwill towards their fellow Suluk countrymen, as appreciation for their fallen policemen, as their show for solidarity and peace, and — 

Alright, so I’m not cut out to write a textbook — yet. Still, you get the idea : what  transpired in Ops Bunga really made a mark on me, and should leave a mark in history even, because everywhere we look these days, the world’s fraught with war or some semblance of it; looking at the way the Lahad Datu standoff is going right now, and in places like Afghanistan or  Korea, even the US when you consider the random gunmen..Everyone’s scared, every side wants to look out for themselves, so much that we insist on giving back exactly what hell the enemy gives us; we go tit for tat. Gandhi’s words mean less than naught.

But then suddenly my lovably wacky, cracked nation decided to change that by bombarding the other side not with bombs but with pretty, fragrant flowers.

Granted, it’s a small step, but a significant one nonetheless — at least, that’s what the there’s-still-hope-for-humanity side in everyone would like to believe, I’m sure. To quote the poet Max Ehrmann, “for all its lies, sham and drudgery, it’s still a beautiful world.”

For all its political finger-pointing, its fluid race/culture-dependent allegiance and its other faults, it’s still beautiful, peaceful, loving Malaysia.

So here goes, let’s all #prayforsabah, and for this nation to keep up the peace. God knows, the world needs it; me and you, we all do.

Now excuse me while I toy with the idea of bombarding people I dislike (not that there’s any, I say with a straight face) with flowers. The look of dumb shock and bemusement I should be receiving seems sweet enough a revenge.