Monday, 29 November 2010

Soporific...

A few days ago, I was about to go out on some errands when I was distracted by something being shown on TV. The television was on the HBO channel and was playing a movie called `Wit'. The scene was a hospital examination room and the patient, played by Emma Thompson, was narrating something in a lovely English accent. I ended up watching the movie right to the end and forgot all about my errands.

Vivian Bearing is a professor of English literature who has just been diagnosed of ovarian cancer. She is about to undergo an experimental aggresive chemotherapy treatment and the movie shows her struggles throughout the process. A large part of the film shows Bearing in monologue... and it clearly demonstrates the strength and acting skill of Thompson in handling the character.

Towards the middle of the movie, there is this scene in flashback where Bearing recalls the exact moment when she knew that words would be her life's work. She was reading a Beatrix Potter book titled `The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies' when she came across a new word that she does not know the meaning of. Say it in bits, says her father. So-por-i-fic.

It means something that tends or has the the effect to cause sleep. Like certain drugs and medication... or boring conversation... or a heavy meal on a warm afternoon.

The movie is almost pure dialogue with no action scene whatsoever... and I loved it. Indeed, it would ironically have the same soporific effect on viewers who prefer the action-flick movie genre.

Soporific... what a wonderful new word I learned this week. It brings to memory of a time that really fits the description of this word. The year was 1979... and I was in Form 5 of boarding school. The Science subjects are all taught in the laboratory classroom where three long workbenches face the front blackboard. There were 25 students in our class consisting of 9 girls and 16 boys. By tradition, the girls would sit at the frontmost workbench while the boys take up the remaining two rows.

When it came to Physics class, the boys would make it a point to come early because everyone wants to sit in the back row, even if it means squeezing for space. At times, there would be up to 12 guys seated at the back... meaning that only 4 would sit in the middle row. Glaringly obvious and disproportionate. The reason for this is that Physics class is real boring and it is quite a challenge to remain awake. Presumably, sitting as far away from the teacher as possible would make it less likely for him to spot us dozing off during his lecture.

I could not be bothered to rush for a back row seat so most of the time I am one of the minority who sits in the middle row. To stop myself from falling asleep, I began to sharpen my skill in doodling. My Form 5 Physics notebook probably has more creative drawings than formulas or calculations. It still puzzles me sometimes how I ended up doing engineering.

Soporific... lovely word.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Sacrifice... just a simple word

It has been more than a week since Aidiladha and my post about the qurbani celebration of this year is still not up. Just shows you how much I have been procrastinating.

Sacrifice... just a simple word. What does it actually mean? Is it a difficult thing to do? Is it actually worth doing?

Of course there are no straight answers. Sacrifice means different things to different people... and it comes in different levels. If we are to consider the historical act of Nabi Ibrahim (a.s.) offering his son Nabi Ismail for slaughter, then I have in no way reached that level of faith. Nonetheless, each and every one of us has faced tests and trials in our lifetime and no doubt, has had to sacrifice something along the way. Perhaps what makes certain levels of sacrifice a difficult thing to do is when we have to offer something of value in exchange for something that is not yet tangible or certain. In all likelihood, we may not even be able to experience or get the return we expect the sacrifice to bring. In other words, there is always the chance that we may lose. Sounds a bit like a wager, doesn't it?

But to me, it is not... because the noblest aspect of sacrifice is expecting nothing in return.

Ok then... now to what I did during the Hari Raya Korban holidays. This time around, we made a day trip to my parents in Singapore. Ar-raudah Mosque is located just across the road from my mom's flat in Bukit Batok. Every year the mosque organizes a community qurbani event where sheep are offered for slaughter. When I was younger, I helped out the organizing committee as a volunteer... basically doing simple things like herding the sheep, packing the mutton and cleaning up the place. It has been quite a while now since I last volunteered. Many of the younger generation are at hand to help out. Nowadays, I am just an observer.

Ar-raudah Mosque committee has been doing the qurbani for so many years that they have near-perfected the system of organization. From the initial registration, the import of sheep from Australia, the veterinary requirements, the temporary pen, the slaughter, the butchering, the packing of the meat, the distribution of various portions and the final clean-up and disposal. As smooth as clockwork. The following are some pics that I took of the process... except for the part where the sheep went under the knife because I couldn't get access.

Hope that your Aidiladha this year was a memorable one...

Ar-raudah Mosque front entrance

Sheep for the slaughter

Cleaning up the crap is a dirty job, but someone has to do it

Crowd at the meat distribution counter

Volunteers distributing the portions of free meat. Note the sign above...

I didn't have that level of `sabar'... so I didn't `beratur'

Those who queued for the free mutton

The mid-day heat did not deter those who have patience

The queue stretched to the outside of the mosque compound

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Jangan tinggal daku...

One of my favourite songs to sing at any karaoke session (which is not too often, if I may say) is P. Ramlee's `Jangan Tinggal Daku'. No particular significance why I like it except that it has a soothing melody and that the song's key fall within my limited vocal range.

If this blog can sing... that would probably be the song of choice. I have been neglecting this blog for too long and who could blame it for feeling left behind. Even the last post was a feeble attempt at giving it an impression of being updated... *sigh*

It is going to be Aidiladha tomorrow.... and I can still remember our qurbani celebrations of last year. It is a bit quiet for this year.

I am still working on getting things in order on the work front.... which explains part of the reason for silence in this blog. Hopefully things will work out soon so that I can get back into the rhythm of writing. Thanks to some friends and readers who dropped me a message saying that they are missing me. Seganlah pulak I dibuatnya... heheheh...

Anyway, just a small point to highlight before I end this post... I've just noticed that the Malay word `tinggal' carries two meanings that are distinctly opposite. It can mean `leave'... as is in `Don't leave me...', the translation of this post's title. It can also mean `stay'... as in `Anda tinggal di mana?', translated to `Where do you stay?'

Hmmm.... so should I leave or should I stay?

Selamat Hari Raya Korban to all friends. May all your sacrifices be amply rewarded...