Of Ice Breakers and Old Faces

Update: I’m back from England. Out from the cold and into the heat.

Speaking of which, the heat is CRAZY. 34 degree Celsius at night. That’s what my phone tells me at least. Imagine what it’s like during the day.

So, my first week back to college was alright.

As usual, the first day of classes always make me super anxious. I spend the night before picking out what to wear – something decent but nothing that stands out too much because the last thing you want is for the lecturer to notice you, in the event they have a random Q&A in class. But you don’t want them to think you’re a hippie either.

“Give me examples of different cultures…. Kelly?”

Damn it.

And then I move on to packing my three pens into an oversized pencil case and I check to see if my wallet has my ID and money, like I did three minutes ago for the fourth time. I make sure my phone is fully charged, or just enough so I get to keep it close to my ear at night to increase the chances of me waking up in the morning. I set my alarms, the back up alarms and the back up for the back up, just in case. And then I try to sleep and fail miserably, like I do in preparing for any form of social activity with the outside world.

I honestly despise the first days of anything. I feel pressured into smiling at strangers I never met because my resting face is well, bitchy. Or so I’m told.

I try and smile at lecturers and be myself, but not too friendly just yet, because the last thing you want is for anyone to think you’re sucking up for good grades, even when you genuinely want to smile.

It takes so much of planning to look normal, it’s exhausting. I don’t know why I bother trying sometimes.

My aunty once asked me how do I even get on in college.

So my college ritual usually involves me sitting at the front of class, which by the way, take a lot of balls considering the person I am. Especially on the first day, cause I know there’ll be ice breakers.

Do not get me started on ice breakers. I always give the dumbest answers to the questions I’m asked and spend the next semester or life, as long as I know my lecturer, regretting it. They must think I’m stupid. Once I was asked what my favorite movie was in scriptwriting class and I said “The Dictator.”

I thought I was being funny.

This time around, we were asked why we chose to take this class and where do we see ourselves in five years.

I look around me and realize I have about half hour to come up with a decent answer and not royally screw up my first impression like I did in my diploma. One problem though, I don’t know where I want to be in five years yet. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a little confused right now. I’m not as certain as I used to be. But, there’s 24 minutes left to come up with something.

I know I enjoy writing but, writing what? Don’t know that anymore.

News? Maybe. That and war journalism was always my first choice. But there’s a chance she might ask me about a current issue and then I’d have to keep standing up and speak longer when all I want to do is sit back down and observe everyone else.

So, bad idea. Next.

I have 15 minutes left now. Apparently half the class wants to do broadcasting.

There’s one guy who decided to give his life story and an introduction to Asian family feud. But heck, I’m next.

My turn comes and I can’t decide if I should face the class or the lecturer in front of me. So I just face somewhere in between, which is basically a wall while I stuggle with eye contact. Who am I introducing my self to, really? Haha, I almost fell too. I can’t even remember how. I hear J-Han say from behind me, “Calm down, Kelly.”

Apparently I wasted my time brainstorming cause class was almost over and the lecturer wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to speak, so giving a vague answer worked in my favor.

“I like creative writing. ”

She asked me if I liked to daydream.

“Yes!”

Oh well. So that’s my first week for you. I was made the class rep for Animation class. Ironic because I am the absolute WORST at computers and drawing – both skills you need to ace the subject. But, I’m not complaining. My lecturer seems fun. All of them are friendly and approachable, which is the most important thing to me.

Therefore, first impressions aside, everything else was good. Which is more than I could ask for. And I know at least five old faces from diploma, which is great.

Now excuse me, I have notes to look at and drawing skills to brush up on.

 

Kelly

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Hello again.

Today I am writing to you from Portsmouth, England.

My home, Malaysia, is currently suffering from a heatwave and while you think the cool spring weather here might be just what I needed, it really is not. My tolerance for the cold is just about the worst. You could say that I’ve taken myself out from one extreme to another.

Sadly, I’m not in the land of hope and glory for anything hopeful, nor glorious.

My mum and I were on our way here to visit my uncle who recently fell ill and were completely heartbroken when we heard he had passed away while we were on transit in Doha. The following six hours on the plane was grim, to say the least.

We were so certain we would get there on time to give him one last hug, but God had other plans it appears.

With that being said, death is a very peculiar thing, isn’t it?

It’s weird how a body can go from being full of life and personality to literally being nothing more than a shell of its former self. Even with that thought in mind, a lot of us feel and act as if the person we knew is still somewhere in there. I myself was bothered with the idea of my grandfather being cremated after he passed away. Just the thought of the body being burned and alone made my eyes wet.

Do you believe in life after death?

Has it ever crossed your mind what it’s like up there? I think about it all the time.

Do they meet other loved ones who have passed? How long before they ‘cross over’ into a different place or do they still live among us, invisible and ignored as we go on with our daily lives?

“Was that shadow I saw from the side of my eye ‘him’?”

“Was that smell I just had mean he’s here with us?”

There are so many things we ask ourselves so that we may use that as an excuse to give us assuring answers. Especially when it makes you feel less lonely.

And that makes the process a little more bearable for some.

I know what I’m about to say will sound a little ridiculous to a lot of you, but we felt my uncle’s presence today. Something strange happened and we all realized that it was him trying to tell us he was there, in his own mischievous way. And that thought made my aunt feel better. I could tell.

It put a smile on her face.

The Red Bookmark, an Old Diary and Childish Musings

The other day while I found my mind wandering inside the rich stories and historical culture narrated by an old book I recently started reading, the sound of my brother putting his pile of homework down on the dining table interrupted the temporary solitude I was enjoying.

Sticking out from the thick files and papers was a novel I remember convincing him to buy during a book sale last year and a dark blue faux leather Sherlock Holmes bookmark sandwiched in between the pages.

I recalled him buying that from London during our holiday in 2014 and him giving me the same bookmark, but in dark red.

Jealous, I stared down at my old and washed out bookmark that had a drawing of Cleopatra and some random hieroglyphs symbols printed on it and started to wonder where did my appealing red one go to. Don’t get me wrong though, I love my current Egyptian inspired bookmark I got during a family vacation in Langkawi, but this was far more attractive and mine was starting to look like a dried leave. Sort of. I’m exaggerating. I mean, it was cool when I was reading Chronicles of The Pharaohs because of how well the book and the mark went together. But still, the red one was simply too lovely!

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*P.S: You can find a picture of the red bookmark on this link. My brother’s book is nowhere in sight at the moment. But, it is almost the same thing. Pretty, isn’t it? *Cue the deep sigh*

I went through my already messy room and looked through the likely places I would’ve left the bookmark in and found no sign of it. Asked my brother and he is almost convinced he already gave it to me. I was disappointed. And to think only an hour earlier, I couldn’t care less about anything else other than the book I had in my hands.

Annoyed and frustrated, I decided to give my room a more thorough look and much needed ‘spring clean’. Let’s just be clear that my mum and I are incredibly particular about hygiene, so my room is cleaned and mopped everyday. However, tidiness isn’t exactly what my room is best known for. I still had Christmas presents stacked together at the back of the door and some books pilled over one another on my desk and near my bed. My bookshelf was and still is packed with the Mr.Midnight stories I used to read in school, along with recipe journals and these super thick books my grandfather used to give me for birthdays and Christmas. Everything was a complete mess, just like my thoughts at the time.

So, as mentioned in my last post, I decided that clearing or cleaning one would have the same cathartic effect on the other. It worked! I got rid of old papers and assignments but kept all my textbooks. Honestly, I didn’t realize how much unwanted pieces of paper I had hiding in every corner of my room this entire time. I came across many things I didn’t have the slightest need for (picture below) but not a single sign of the red bookmark.

I know it seems like a lot of work for a tiny piece of faux leather, but if you’re a bookworm, these little things matter to you. You cannot imagine the frustration of having to go through all that hard work and old dust and leaving without the one thing you were looking for.

Anyway, I did however, come across an old diary of mine.

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‘Pink Power’ . I know. Go ahead, laugh.

I found the paper trail of all the silly musings my 13 year old self used to write about. Took me back to the days of school boy crushes and when I spelled “chip” when what I really meant was “cheap”.

Going through the diary felt nostalgic. It instantly brought back old butterflies as I went through the pages of a younger me writing lists about my crushes and even longer lists about why I hated the catty girls in secondary school. I can’t believe I dedicated a page and a half of bad handwriting bitching about other half sized humans back then.

Oh, I just love how the paranoid kid in me made sure to blacken the embarrassing parts that could have potentially been used by my brother to blackmail me for five bucks at the time. Funny how after all these years, I still remember the words I blacked out and what they said.

I used to give all the boys I liked the codename ‘Cat’ while my friend Charlene called her’s ‘Dog’. Lol.

I came across the page where I vowed to study one subject every day for an hour and double that on the weekends while also making empty promises to finish my homework on time. I roughly remember the thoughts that went through my head as I wrote those things down at the time. I wanted to be the ‘smart’ one in school. Sadly, that only worked out for me in English and Science back then. But I managed to make up for that in college in any way I could! So, I’m not feeling that guilty about it now – everything worked out fine!

I do wish I had continued writing in my diary regularly back then so that I would have had more material to go through today. But silly me was only inspired to pick up the pen when Elena Gilbert did on The Vampire Diaries.

Well, I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did have a nice stroll down puberty lane. It was worth the while actually, since I’m wayyy over those days of my questionable taste in boys, cat fights and pimples. All is good and everyone lived happily ever after.

 

The end!

Kelly

Moderate Islam Does Not Exist

This is not a post with figures and statistics. If that’s what you’re looking for, you might get them here . This is simply a long overdue vent. 

There is no such thing as moderate Islam.

To say that such a fraction of Islam exists would be equivalent to saying that there is a part of Islam that’s radical.

Following that simple logic, this would mean that at least a billion of the Muslim population are colossal sinners for disregarding such a large part of the religion’s teachings.

The second a Muslim chooses to take the words of the Quran out of context and self interpret it according to their view of the world, they are forming an ideology.

Like Reza Aslan once pointed out, if you’re a sexist, you’re going to find scriptures in the Quran that support that. The same thing applies if you’re a terrorist, a bigot or racist. We interpret things according to how we want to see them to justify our way of thought.

“How you read scripture has everything to do with who you are,” Reza said.

We often overlook the thin line separating religion from ideology don’t we?

Terrorist groups such as ISIS, were formed on extreme and violent ideas and as such, have no place in ANY society. To say that they have taken their Islamic teachings out of context would be a massive understatement.

Let me tell you something. In my country where Islam is the official religion, I was obligated to take Islamic religious classes for the 11 years of my primary and secondary education. There was nothing in any of those classes that anyone could simply misinterpret for something violent or incite murder. If any of my classmates ended up turning into those two things, it would have come from influences outside the classroom. Perhaps from friends, the movies they watched or private ‘religious’ sermons they attended. Again, it is a person’s misconstrued idea of how the world should work that slowly births the rotten products of what we see in the news today.

Since the attacks in Paris, I found myself feeling obligated to share anything positive regarding Islam in relation to the assault in the French capital..Anything that points out the obvious logic, that this is not an Islamic problem, but a terrorist one. It is a problem committed by radicals who used an easily and already victimized religion to justify their actions because the Western media has made it so easy to do so.

This has become routine for me and other ‘moderate’ Muslims on social media. We end up on some comment thread discussing what originally starts off as a debate that ends with us defending our religion from bigots.

It’s either that, or we end up trying to prove our innocence by releasing statements such as “Not all Muslims are like that” and apologizing for something we didn’t do when in reality, it’s 2015 and we shouldn’t have to explain these things anymore. Not to adults.

I’m so tired of having to defend my religion and the other 1.6 billion Muslims in the world every time an act of terror is committed. Like as if we had a part in the heinous crimes these animals do. I’m tired of having to explain time and time again that Islam does not advocate for violence or the murder of innocent people. I’m tired of telling society that Muslims are nothing like what the media paints us to be.

I hate that it has somewhat become the responsibility of Muslims to be the ambassador or spokesperson for terrorism.

To my fellow Muslims, please stop apologizing. It is not our fault that we were born into a brutal world with endless stereotypes.

For those questioning why there aren’t enough Muslims speaking up against ISIS and their reign of terror, stop.

We don’t speak for them and neither do they speak for us. They do not represent Islam, the same way Jim David Adkisson or the Klu Klux Klan do not represent Christianity.

We are supposed to send condolonces, write messages of love to the families of the victims and partake in campaigns alongside our non-Muslim brothers and sisters  in taking a stand against a group of cowardly dingbats.

Their Islam is different from ours. It is alien, even to us. It is merely a shell of a name, nothing more. If you desperately want someone to speak up against these acts, get an IS recruit to do it.. Not us.

By the way, we’re called Muslims, not Islamists.

With that being said, the word ‘terrorist’ is for people who commit acts of terror, or someone who brings terror to the mass or a certain community.

Was James Holmes not a terrorist?  Did Vincente David Montano not bring terror to the people in that Antioch theater? What about the two teens who went on a shooting rampage at the Columbine high school? John Russel Houser?  Oh right, those are called mass murderers, not terrorists. You need special qualifications if you want to join the ranks of the latter.

Before I end this, let us remember that there is no such thing as moderate Islam or radical Islam – just Islam.

People can turn radical and they can also choose to practice their faith moderately, but that ultimately has nothing to do with the faith they practice.