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..

Advertisements

Seven Wonders of humanity

“Only through the seven wonders was it possible for humanity to build seven wonders of Earth .” — Dreaming Human
How was the idea behind this poem conceived?  At 14,  my younger self thought that the Seven Wonders of the world should actually be renamed the Seven Wonders of Earth. .
Humanity doesn’t generally need any more stroking to our over-inflated egos.Yet, as lowlifes who underwent evolution to end up running (and paradoxically destroying) the planet, the  world’s truer wonders, I felt, lay in things far more awe-inducing than what we could merely physically build.
Two days, a couple of minuscule tweaks, hairs torn out and 6 pages later, this poem was born.
What’s it worth?
I was proven the value of Seven Wonders when it won the recent NST Niexter’s Young Writers’ Awards 2012, which you can read about here.
It wasn’t the certain amount of money won that made the award sweeter let me tell you. What matters more is the seven wonders that got me writing it in the first place.
Who is it for?
To some people, especially those who lack time or a poetic soul , Seven Wonders might be too long and too dreary.
To poets, it might be too wordy and lacking in metaphors and/or imagery for a poem. T
T o me, it’s kind of galling that my fourteen-year-old-self conceived poems that won awards while I haven’t quite gotten around to writing one yet. Said fourteen-year-old self is gleefully dancing in the background of my time-unbound psyche, by the way,
To most people, though, I think their main thoughts would be on which of the seven wonders might affect their lives more, and which appealed to them most in whatever way. See for yourself, which wonder is the most amazing to you?
SEVEN WONDERS
Were there an outsider, a foreigner
to come here a few days
from alien worlds yonder
watching men and their mad, mad ways.
Iwere it to hail you; it willsays:
 
“I hail you, human. You are one too, are you not?
Only they may know the answer to the question that I’ve got.
I shall explain, lest you show confusion
I seek none but truth, so pay me some attention:
My brethren say seven wonders
run rampant in this world.
I came to see them, I believe
I have seen them all.
 
The wonder known as love is the first that I have seen
Love, in a widow’s grief, or in a couple’s tiff
In the warmth of a mother’s arms as she asks where her child’s been.
Love has created the world; love, the flames of life..
To love is the act hardest to perform,
yet that wonder is ingrained, the basis of human nature.
 
Then I have seen belief
Laden in prayers and the eyes of the dying, the conviction of the dead
Either a mirror or a blindfold, truth that can deceive
Belief, if not powerful, is nothing.
 
Hope, another wonder I am privileged to see
in futures and children, no less, for children are hope incarnate.
Even without everything else, hope is last to flee
Dying and reborn, lingering through day or date.”
 
Three wonders, insofar of human lore
What, pray tell, would you have as the remaining four?
 
“In the eyes of stargazers and leaders alike
I see the wonder known as dreams
Dreams that gives purpose, propels revolutionaries to strike
It can shake the world, inspire ideas, shatter schemes!
Yes, hand-in-hand, dreams and wonder
often come together.
 
Fifth comes the wonder known as pride
that is, vanity in its mask of majesty.
One turn bringing a man’s downfall, another swaying victory to his side
Pride: the ultimate mistake in life and its brevity.
 
Next comes joy, also known as happiness. Do not scoff or laugh
— or rather, laugh a lot, for the pursuit of this is
the right of every being. Dance, smile, laugh!
Find joy, permit yourself to enjoy life, pursue happiness!
For even as a human lives, they are dying.
 
The seventh wonder, known to humans as empathy
also compassion, kindness. In alms given to the needy
in the strong helping the weak
where empathy reveals its face, is humanity at its peak.
While love is exclusive, purely for some and no other,
empathy encompasses all, one human to another.
If love creates the world, empathy perpetuates it.
 
So there it is, human. Seven wonders in all
Now for my question, if I may so have the gall.
Seven wonders you may have, but do you see these seven as such
Are they truly a wonder to you, or merely one, the rest not as much?
Are they in danger of fading; will humanity keep its call?
How do the seven look to you, if it’s true each human has it all?
 
I am returning home, human, where it is void of the seven wonders
so pray tell:
what meaning have you for the seven wonders?
And  due to them what change will your world befall?
 ..That, I believe, is something you and I may ponder.
COPYRIGHT Nurul Jasmine 2013
Which of the seven wonders do you consider most important, my dear snarkees? I have mine, but then this was never about me.

 

The second time around:the NST Niexter Young Writers’ Awards

The one thing truly great people who change the world have something in common with us everyday people is that they rarely have a good idea of what they’re doing. They’re all blundering through, just like we are. That said, what sets them apart is that they try where we stop and claim it’s not worth it.” — Dreaming Human

The first time around, three years ago, I found an official-looking card in my postbox cordially inviting me to the New Straits Times inaugural Niexter Young Writer’s Awards 2010. Back then, I admired the design on the card, took little note of the date, put it back in its envelope..and with the admirable, unmatched speed of the ignorant and the unconcerned, managed to promptly forget all about it.

I ended up blinking in bewildered disbelief a month later when I was informed by my auntie who was informed by my uncle who was informed by my auntie-once-removed (who we can assume was informed by her brain while she was attending the above-mentioned ceremony) that my name had come up during the 2011 Awards for four of the awards I was apparently nominated for.

Mind you, the awards I won wasn’t anything truly significant; it wasn’t the Young Writer of the Year award or anything like that — I just got the Contributor awards for both Schooltimes and Niexter, the Clean Copy (I now know it means ‘free of any editing’) and most delightful of all for me was the Best Poem, for a poem I entitled ‘These Fools’.You can read it here.

Here the snarking human would like to remark snidely that considering the far more prestigious awards some other talented writers had gotten, the awards I had won was somewhat lame.And I knew it.Not that I was unhappy with what I’d been awarded for — no, I assure you this snarker was grinning fit to burst for weeks — it just that as far as achievements went, I didn’t do much. All I did was write, submit and make sure no issue I headed had any discrepancies in grammar and that my poem rhymed where they should/could, without sacrificing the message I was trying to get across — in other words, I did mundane little things that I know most other people could have too: I wanted to write, and I wrote.

But even though most people could do it, I (and of course, the other esteemed Niexter writers who got FAR better awards, just saying) was one of those who actually stepped out and did — that’s what differentiates a winner from the masses, in this case the mass of people who can write, I guess.

Try and you might just win something; never try and all you’ll win is nothing — now that’s a life lesson for you. You already knew that you say? We-ell hey, so did I, but this event just serves to illustrate the point. Now the dreaming human is convinced that if I just continue to write new posts in this blog of mine, I will eventually reach million-page readership, have people actually commenting and generating discussions, et cetera.

The snarker has to add that of course, to achieve that vision I’ll have to brush up on strategies of blog-promotion and advertising, lest the revenue generation from ads might be a boost to the blog readership.(The snarks keep coming out, which is never pleasant, but extremely less so if you use it on yourself, like I do. One of the (dis)advantages to having the dual persona of a realist and idealist, I would presume.)

Whatever it is, I wrote for Niexter for the simple joy of writing. Basically, I did it for the simple joy of doing it, and to my luck and utter surprise, a jury I didn’t even know existed decided to give me awards to immortalize this activity of mine forever in my memory.

And of course, to ensure that I keep writing for Niexter, the ever-cynical snarker chips in; and now I”m thinking that I really should stop sounding like a bipolar maniac.

Yes, yes, of course I continued writing for Niexter AND Schooltimes, a weekly issue NST publishes weekly on Thursdays, now (let it be noted that they actually paid a little, and while the sum is not much at all it’s still better than our old pal Niexter McScrooge, which doesn’t — did you guess right?). Year 2011 and 2012 passed without incident, though; there was absolutely, heartbreakingly no mention of the awards ceremony (this means that I wasn’t fit to be invited, by the way, not that there wasn’t actually any ceremony held. Blame my constantly preoccupied form 4 self, or the torture masquerading as the convoluted examination system known as SPM). There was no sign even of Niexter as the large writing community it actually was. Assignments ceased to come to my inbox, and my queries for further tasks was met with silence or brush-offs (which hurt more, curiously enough, but you never heard anything from this softie). I was left feeling abandoned, disillusioned…and when I reached Year 2013, under the assumption that I was too old to write for these news pullouts, I stopped writing for it completely.

And then the invitation came through the mail. Bearing the grand title “NST Niexter Young Writer’s Awards“, it bore the missive that a certain delighted dreaming human was invited to bring herself and one person (read: parent/guardian. Recall that Niexter writers consist of old senior hats like me to young eenie-wenie 9-year-olds who probably look as sweet and innocent as the Golden Trio did in the first two Harry Potter movies. Age has a way of getting to you when you least expect it, hmm??)

images

Seemingly innocuous things rarely are. Yes, Snape, we agree that the Golden Trio are a prime example.

Harry Potter references aside, what was the First Thing that came to my mind when I got the invitation card, you ask?

Firstly: I got a card, so I must have been nominated for something!!

Next: “Hobbits of the Shire”??What in the blazes is that??
If any snarkees are completely clueless as to what the hell I’m talking about, do take note that the above-mentioned piece of seeming garbage is actually the dress code printed on the card.

The delight being irrelevant, I was already fairly sure I would not be going, and so I did the obvious thing anyone in this day and age does when they’re fairly sure they won’t be attending something: I RSVP-ed saying that I would attend. “Hey, you never know–I might be able to go!” is what I’m sure most people will say, and on this particular occasion, I’m no exception.

And here I would like to report that I DID NOT ATTEND the ceremony, held on April 6th with much gusto. Neither did I get a call in the days that immediately followed, which led me to believe that If I HAD attended, I would have returned home empty-handed (and possibly brokenhearted), with no awards to highlight my name and bolster my regular-sized ego.

Then, the day right before my week spent in the inferno known as BUSY, I got a call (among other calls — read the linked post above for further explanation) through my poor overworked phone from Kak Lydia of NST, who holds the position of…er, whatsitname in NST and is in charge of us young Niexters. The call was garbled and lacked clarity on account of my being rather preoccupied with freaking out about the packed and nerve-wracking events I had scheduled for the following week (again, see above for explanation; gosh I’m starting to feel like a parrot) but I did understand that I had been nominated for, and actually received, some awards (yay) and that I had to collect them by Monday, otherwise it’ll all burn. As in be disposed of. As in ka-poof.As in bye-bye, no award prizes and/or money for you.And since any of you who have read about the busy week I would be having would already be aware of, there was no possible way I could go pick that stuff up miles away in NSTP Balai Riong KL on Monday or any day before without splitting myself and my darling starting-to-look-frighteningly-harassed mother into two. Even if I were so inclined to try, it wasn’t like we knew the way either, and anyway compared to everything else that was cropping up, really, automatic disposal of prizes I didn’t know I won until a full week after was the least important for me.

Didn’t mean I wanted to ‘dispose of it’ any more.

What could I say? Boo.

Fortunately, from past experience (e.g. the first awards I mentioned above) I was well-equipped to deal with this sort of thing. Within seconds, I got Kak Lydia’s permission to send a representative instead, wrote a letter of identification and contacted my aforementioned aunt (hi MakLong!) to ask her to get the services of her courier to get the prizes on my behalf. Sounds complicated? It is, somewhat. Sounds like I knew what I was doing too well? I did, because (and here appallingly I’m imitating the habits of a parrot again) I’ve done this thing before already.

So, by Monday, my Niexter Young Writers’ awards were reclaimed and saved from expulsion by virtue of quick-thinking, experience and the services of an unknown but extremely appreciated courier. I wasn’t to have the prizes in my hands until Friday, though, when my UEM interview took place. I was quite surprised by the number of items there were inside the unassuming bag containing the prizes, but then it was explained away when I realised that I was awarded the prize for Best Poem (titled Seven Wonders, click here to read) but also Best Story, alhamdulillah.

Let’s take a look at what the prizes were, shall we?

553062_533321340040107_755221321_n

It looks like a lot.

There’s really no other way to say it: It.Is.A.Lot.

Not much that I could really use, which resulted in my giving a little of this and that to my lucky little sister, but still. I’m happy that I even got anything.

“Hang on, the picture’s too obscure. What kind of trash did you get, Dreaming?”

Hmmph. I’ll have you know it’s no trash. There were predominantly comic books and things to do with comics — which I’m no great big fan of; I’m more of the bookish kind — but since Gempak was one of the main sponsors, I suppose this was to be expected.

And here is the inventory list, so that in the future when I’ve managed to lose a.k.a. strategically misplace everything, I’ll know exactly where to find it, accurate memories of it that is. Ho-ho-ho, Santa knows this is no wish list. Neither is it listed in particular order, I would like to add.

  • a trophy bearing the words Best Story 2012. What makes it priceless for me is the beautiful picture superimposed on the glass.
  • four English comic books from Gempak Comics, all of different genres
  • a book titled Logomania, which I happen to know was offered as free copies in some major bookstores. Har-di-har, I caught you, prize-givers.
  • Kidzania vouchers, two of them to be precise, one for an adult and one for a kid. I guess we know what my twin and my lil sis will be doing the next time we go to theCurve.
  • a blue velvet box which opens up to reveal paperweights bearing the artwork of Gempak artists like Kaoru and I don’t really know the rest. A rather useless but admittedly pretty present.
  • three certificates, for Contribution, Best Poem and Best Story respectively, which will be invaluable for my future in the way of applying for scholarships and universities, or so I’d like to believe.
  • a recommendation letter, with which I’m deliberating over the wisdom of actually displaying it on this site.
  • an artworked T-shirt which is apparently size L but must have been mislabeled — no one with a size of less than XXL can wear that thing.
  • a fancy card-clip chain
  • one free copy of you-guessed-it, Gempak
  • a six-month long subscription to the Gempak magazine, which will invariably end up in my sister’s room
  • a ‘survival kit’ in a nutter’s sense of the word. When I open it, out spills postcards, readily disassembled cardboard boxes as well as stickers. Then I realize that ‘Survival Kit’ is the name of the series portraying the characters on the items. I think. My clueless state will hopefully be sufficient to signify that I feel no attachment whatsoever to such objects, and have offered it to my sister, who I must offer congratulations for being wise enough to reject it. Goodjob  for knowing when I’m trying to load off on you, lil’ sis.
  • a special artworked bag of Gempak
  • …the greatest deal, a fairly large sum of money which I shall not divulge, and all for a simple poem I wasn’t initially aware of its publication.

Wait, you mean to tell me that my poem Seven Wonders was actually worth almost RM200??

Curses.Had I known, I would have charged them for publishing that poem.

…Obviously, I’m joking. With a completely straight face and a serious heart, I can truthfully attest to the fact that in the end, it’s not what you achieved, but the fact that you achieved something that will give you the greatest sense of accomplishment.

529491_533321476706760_767202359_n

These gifts are nothing.

Compared to that, the gifts I mentioned above are nothing.

So here’s to the fierce joy you get when you realized that the second time around you won was not purely due to dumb luck and a little bit of skill anymore, but due to your own initiative and perseverance.

I think my experiences above illuminate clearly what it really means to “just try”, and what you can get out of the simple act of taking the initiative to do what you want.I read (or was it said, I wonder) somewhere that the difference between those who change the world and those who remain insignificant is the willpower (that’s right; the initiative) exhibited by the former.

And if these great blocks of text haven’t spurred you dear snarkees on to do that one thing you’ve been putting on hold, or knew you could do but somehow never get around to, I’ll make it plain and LOUD so that your ears ring and your brain reverberates even if you technically can’t hear any text:

JUST.TRY.IT.

And no, this is no imitation of Nike’s catchy phrase dominating all of their ads, alright? Just to be clear.

Now, then. Since I’m too old for Niexter and Schooltimes now, I think I’ll see if I can do anything for ReMag instead…