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2016; The Return to Writing

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I scrolled down through my email. Checking each and every one, including the promotion, social and even the spam folder just in case. 

 'Successful entries will be notified through email by the 19th of December 2016'

What a way to end the year, with a second rejection. Well third actually if you considered the fact that my first manuscript was rejected twice. I thought of sulking. Laying in bed and chanting positive mantras of:

'the writing life ain't supposed to b easy!'

'Remember how many rejections JK Rowling and Stephen King got? You're no way near there!'

'A lot of other things happened this year too remember? Don't let this one thing determine your 2016' 

I sat up clutching Mr. Puff close to my chest. That's right. A lot of things did happen this year. Some expected, and some unexpected but they happened. Sure, I graduated, then got a job, did spoken word for the first time ever. But if anything, what would I really remember 2016 for?

When I think of it, that's not such a hard question. It would come to be known as the year I returned to writing.  

My primary school friends would remember the days when they had to pay 20 cents to read stories I wrote. Sure they were cliche love stories (Someone Like You), and one Godzilla rip off i had immaturely called The Wormasapa. Even had my co-author Zara Airina (remember Twin Spies?).

I still wrote during my days in boarding school, but they were mainly poems. I submitted a piece every year (2005-2009) to the school magazine Teraju Puteri, but never anything else. 

Somehow, somewhere after high school I lost touch with writing. My commitment to my purple Snoopy journal that I never failed to write in every night since standard 4 was also left abandoned. Sure there were occasional posts here, but they were never constant and came at bursts. Personally, I never pursued writing and allowed it to remain as a stagnant skill used only for my thoughts. Why? I myself can't remember. Perhaps I lost interest, or maybe just gave up on the idea of becoming a writer. 

Short stories were left unfinished, whilst my novels never made it past chapter three. Poems were scribbled on tissues and receipts, never meant to last. I think it was in Japan that I wrote the least. This was interesting because this was when I had most of the time in the world. I had plenty of ideas though, but those ideas never made on to paper. Even when they did, they never made it to my computer for any submissions. 
The idea of becoming a committed writer stayed as a dream. As long as I never acted upon it, I could never fail and it could remain a possibility. Because let's face it, it's scary. What if people hate my writing? Worst of all, what if i'm not as good as I thought I was?

'In the end we regret the chances we didn't take'

Till today I'm still not sure if it was a stroke of luck, or chance, or even fate that made Eddy think of me (I owe you BIG time buddy) when it came to Letters, considering how long we haven't spoken to each other. From there a whole new door of opportunities started to open, and I started to take writing seriously. 

'You just need a little more kinetic energy ni, mesti boleh.' 

For the first time in my life, I got connected to at least a 0.1% of the writing community (yes, this is representing you Hin) and I had a chance to take a closer look at what the writing life would be like. It astounded me that these people were my age, and yet they have done so much. Easy to say, it re-ignited a flame that had long faded in my heart. It got me to my feet, and with that the milestones I managed to reach. Not to mention the friends I have made (including my two all time favourite proof readers Afiq and Azim). This uncharted territory had  plenty for me to discover.

This year, I completed my first draft of a full length novel, got rejected twice for it. Submitted three short story pieces, and already got rejected for one of them, waiting on the other two now. Co-wrote an article and got published in the November issue of Penang Monthly. Highlight of them all, would be having a piece in Letters To Home. 

'Sometimes life can get in the way of our dreams and we forget them. That doesn't mean that they aren't still there somewhere waiting to be rediscovered again' 

It takes a lot to chase a dream that only you can see. That's why when you come across people that see this dream too, and actually believe in what you can do then consider yourself lucky.  I remembered when Choo Ki and Mabel sat with me to discuss my writings, on developing my skills, I was so happy. So happy and quite frankly found it hard to believe that these people actually have faith in my writing, because for so long now I thought it had only been me.  And really, that was all I needed.  

Maybe this is as far as I'll get. Who knows. Maybe i'll never get published again and this dream will be forgotten and left alone. There is still a long way to go, and I have barely even scratched the surface.

But if 2016 taught me anything;

It is that even if that happens; at least I know that there are those around me that will undoubtedly help me find my way back.

I just need to be brave enough to take the chance. 

Isn't that right now Mr. Puff? 

Happy 2017 everybody 



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Last Tuesday night, at 10:03 PM, I got into a car with a complete stranger.

The consequence of my action did not dawn upon me until the moment he looked at me and said; 

'I saw you eating alone at McDonald's for a while. Must be lonely right?' 

For four years I have lived in Japan, and never have the idea of doing things on my own came across to me as something sad or pathetic. In fact I believed it was a sign of independence and strength as a woman to not require company. The people there taught me the joy of solitude, no matter what it came to. From solo backpacking travels, to five hour shopping sprees, and of course the compulsory 'Me-Time' that is to be exercised over a cup of hot matcha in my favourite coffee shops. Occasionally there are the days where I would spend my nights by the sea, playing broken tunes to the moon from my ukulele till the wee hours of the morning, and even then I would not encounter even the slightest bit of disturbance from anyone. 

'Malaysia is not safe like Japan, you have to be more careful!'  

The words mama would often repeat to me before I ventured out anywhere on my own. I understood where she was coming from, but I refused to let this fear hold myself back from doing the things that I wanted to do. Yes, there were instances that I felt slightly uneasy on my walks and took extra precautions, but after six months I adjusted myself, and was finally comfortable enough to feel safe in my own country.

That changed, however. 

It was just like any other night. Then again, all these stories begin with nights like any other because we never anticipate it going any other way. I ordered my Spicy Chicken McDeluxe, chewed and swallowed it down before proceeding to spend the next forty minutes sketching an entry for the third day of inktober. 

'Of course he could see me.' I thought to myself, while fastening my pace. 'I was sitting right next to the glass wall facing the open street'  

We are often blindsided by our actions, and the whole severity of the situation will only slowly take shape after we take a step back and view it from an outside perspective. By then however, it is usually too late.

' AIYA! How can you be so stupid? Of course the murderer is in there! Why would you even go in?' 

Like the angry audience, watching the poor protagonist fall to his fate in a horror movie, I could feel that people would react the same way when reading of people's experiences, because it was common sense. Sure its easier that way, but we will never understand what drove the protagonist to do what they did, until we are put in that situation ourselves.

'Hey, let me give you a ride into campus' 

The white MyVi had slowed down by the side of the road, congesting traffic as he talked to me from inside the car. I waved a no, and continued walking, but he insisted again. The urge to ignore him was useless due to number of cars he had blocked on the road. They were honking angrily, and pressure started to build up as I realized that he was not going to move until I agreed. 

'It's just around the corner, come on. I'll drop you off'

Perhaps he was just a kind person.

Perhaps I was overreacting. 

Is there really no faith in humanity left that an act of kindness must always be reacted to with a sense of caution and underlying agenda? 

I comforted myself with the thought, but with each sentence he uttered I could hear siren, after siren, warning after warning blasting through my head at full volume telling me that I need to get out of the car. He claimed to be part of the university, but I could see that he was completely unfamiliar with the campus, asking me for directions. Not to mention how much older he looked. 

'Do you mind if we take a detour? I need to go to the bank for a while' 

For some people, that might have been the last words they hear before disappearing. For some it might have been the words by a sincere citizen that really just wanted to give you a lift, but needed some cash at 10 PM. 

For me, it were the words that knocked sense into my head. Declining the detour, I insisted that he stopped me immediately at the first hostel building we passed, telling myself that I would have to resort to jumping out of the car if he refused to let me off. 

There are many ways this story could have ended.
To think, that even a person such as myself, in different circumstances can easily break down to pressure and commit such a naive mistake, is a lesson that I think is worth sharing. 

Maybe I was just over thinking, and this whole incident was nothing but a mere mundane event that has been dramatized to no end. Either way, when your body goes into fight or flight mode, it's a sign worth listening to. 

At least I think so. 

Don't you? 


An Open Letter to My Jerawat

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Dear Jerawat,

It has been 14 years since you first appeared in my life. I will have to admit, I was nervous and scared because your existence meant only one thing at the time; that I was growing up. You were a sign of adolescence, a sign of the unbalanced hormones and awkward self discovery teenage days to come ahead. I was ready to accept you, even though you were such a chore. 

Never mind the fact that you purposely chose days when I had events to come bursting out. A friend's party, or a big competition. I was a bit too young at the time to start wearing make up, and told myself to be patient as everyone had told me, that this too shall pass. I listened to your demands, and frequently changed facial soaps to calm you down on days where you were especially red and pulsing yellow. I even developed the habit of squeezing you out, just to quicken the healing process, even though I had been advised not too, but its just really fun and satisfying to do. 

As I neared young adulthood, I felt ready to finally part with you. Certain that my hormones and what nots should have probably been stabilized by now, I felt confident that my patience would finally pay off and we would go our separate ways.

However. This of course. 
Did. Not. Happen

We have been in this relationship for too long now, Jerawat. Too long, that I think you may have not realized just how much you are affecting me. You have mistaken the care I give you as a sign of affection, and instead of leaving you stay and keep popping up. The countless therapy sessions we have gone through together, but still you refuse to budge. That is why I felt the need to write you this letter because it is the only way that I can ever convey my feelings.  

So please, believe me when I tell you that it's as hard as it is for me, as it is for you when I say this;





This has got to end. Even Brad and Angelina are getting divorced after twelve years! I know you'll get angry when you read this letter, and will probably surprise me with a big one on my forehead just to get back at me, but I believe that everyone has a right to know that our relationship isn't as rosy as we have painted it to be. 

I'm sorry that you had to find out this way, but I am not happy Jerawat. If you really care about me, then I hope you will take this letter in the best way and understand that you need to let me go. I will forever cherish the moments that we had, but the past should be left in the past.

It's time to move on.



The Wanderer's Day Out

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If you are a member of The Wander Society, then I believe that we do not need any further introduction. However, if you are not familiar with us, then I suggest that you head off to your nearest bookstore and pick up a book by the same name by Keri Smith. On the other hand, if you are just curious then you may continue on reading, or perhaps something more interesting may catch your eye and be worth your reading time than these rambling words of a wanderer. Either way, it suits me just fine. 

The word wander it self is defined as 

'to walk or move in an aimless way'

It is common for people to assume that wanderers are lost. That we have no purpose in our direction, and that we are far way dreamers with our feet detached from the ground and floating around in a reality that is our own. If only we could explain it. And even when we do, societies do not accept easily, which results us to keeping ourselves hidden, and leaving symbols behind for fellow members, just so they know, that they are not alone in their quest of wandering. 

I set off today by taking the 301 bus from USM all the way to Georgetown. I haven't been on a roller coaster in months now, but I do believe that it could be considered as a fair equivalent. I wasn't sure exactly where I wanted to be dropped off. All I knew was I would know it, when I see it. So I kept my eyes glued to the window as we swayed to and fro, thinking about where I could leave signs behind. 

The purpose of wandering itself can be hard to explain, as it bears no purpose. Or so it seems at first. Why is it that when we are so focused on looking for something that we want, is the same time when we will most probably not find what we are looking for. Instead, on days when we aren't looking for that specific something will be the day that you stumble across it without any hassle at all. 

Today was spent strolling down Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. I started from Armenian street, like any tourist would do, then made my way down the whole stretch, all the way to Padang Kota, allowing the sights and smells of the town to fill me in, with their preserved buildings, temples, and cafes. I liked how the scenery changes so drastically in such a short period of time. Bumped into a Japanese girl and spent a good ten minutes chatting with her about the area, before setting off again down the road, hoping to stumble upon something. 

It is true that everything has its purpose, but when you are unsure of what that purpose is, its easier to let that purpose to come looking for you. And that is why we wanderers wander. We open ourselves to discoveries that we did not even know were things that we might have been looking for.  

When you set yourself to wander, you cut yourself away from the essence of time. You are not chasing anything, and you are not expecting anything. You can feel the absence of time, the stillness, and as I sat in the lovely cafe I found amidst my wandering, its as if the whole world could just wait for a minute, because like we members like to say, 

I felt infinite 

No, I did not take that from Perks of Being A Wallflower, the society has it too. Just so you know. and it comes with a symbol as well.

That feeling was enough for me, and made my day feel completely fulfilled. 

I came back satisfied. Feeling lucky and wonderful to have that moment, because there are days when wanderers return empty handed. Yet it keeps us hopeful for our next wandering session. Because you just never know what is it that is waiting for you. And though society may make faces and shake their heads in protest at your quests because they think you are loony gone nuts, as you stare up into the sky and feel the waves of the sea talking to you. But always remember that;

not all who wander are lost,
       we are just seeking a bigger truth beyond what we are 


Are you one of us? 



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I'm coming home, coming home.
Tell the world  I'm coming home.

 I remembered sleeping in my empty room that last night before I left. The possessions I held dear were all packed away and waiting at the foot of the door for the postman to pick up. I used to think that this room was a bit too small, too cramped. Instead now it was more spacious than I could have ever imagined. My bed had been sold off, and it was just me on the floor snuggled into my flowery futon, staring away at these same four walls that have held all my secrets. Has four years really passed, since I first started here?  

It was different when you are the only one to be graduating, the only one to be leaving. While you were busy packing, and settling things that needed settling, everyone else was starting a new semester. It was in that final week I truly found out how detrimental mellowing in past memories could be. It was also where I figured out how much people want to be remembered, and how the even slightest idea of being forgotten can set of wave, after wave, after wave of endless emotions. Every end is a beginning after all, and every hello has a goodbye. 

Let the rain, wash away

All the pain of yesterday       

It was 4.00 in the morning when I left for the airport. Boarding the bus in the empty morning, where I saw my city for what might be the very last time. There were no space for lengthy goodbyes, or farewells because when it's time for you to go. You just go. While deep inside I was certain that I was never going to forget the people and this place, I could only hope that I too, had been a good enough of a memory for them to remember me by. 

I know my Kingdom awaits,

and they've forgiven my mistakes 

It already felt like home the moment I stepped on board the plane. The stewards playfully teasing at the plush tiger I had strapped to my back. Kind faces that have tried helping me when my bag had been overweight, asking if everything had been alright. I put on my seat belt, cuddling Chandu I cried silently in my seat as the plane lifted off into the blue morning sky. Not really sure if they were tears of sadness, or tears of joy. Tears of leaving, or tears of coming home. Tears of endings or tears of beginnings.  It didn't help that they had Adele's full album on their playlist. One can only be so affected by such brilliant vocals and meaningful lyrics for a whole 6 hours. 

I'm coming home, coming home

I told myself a lot of things before making these decisions. In the past they had seem so life threatening, so life changing, that every step taken was full of doubts and caution. I couldn't help but contemplate my choices, if I had indefinitely made the right or wrong one. 

Tell the world I'm coming 

Today my mornings would be sitting in the kitchen with Mama while we planned the days menu and plans. She'd tell me about what she had been learning at the masjid, or her latest worries. Babah would do the dishes and fill us in on any news, asking continuously if I had filled in all my applications and if there was a fair we could go to. I've just realized how long I've actually been gone through the wrinkles of Mama's chubby white fingers, wiping the dishes, and Babah's tired eyes. I guess I sometimes forget because they still do so much for me, when I'm supposed to be the one doing everything for them. It might have been pretty difficult back then, but looking at the three of us now, sneaking mangoes in the middle of the night so that the children wouldn't see us, I knew for sure I was on the right path. After all, there's only so many places we can truly call 


Azalia's Graduation 2016



of those who come and go

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My best friend of 10 years left for the airport today. For a moment we were not 24 year old's on the verge of adulthood, but just two 14 year old girls giggling and wondering how life would have turned out if we never became friends. When we kept thinking about it there were many times when we could have just stop being friends because god knows how often life tried to split us into two. 
At this tender age of uncertainty, life tends to get in the way of many things. Dreams are put on hold for realistic goals, principles held are bent to fit into societies molds, and relationships are left to hang with years gone by without a single hello.

Scrolling through instagram or facebook, it's a common feeling to stumble across pictures of old friends and think about the great times you had, or how you used to be so close. Would you still get along like you did in the old days? Do you wish you could have been better friends? Or how life would turn out differently if you stayed in touch. 

I've never had that many friends, even since primary or secondary school, but I remember the juvenile days when I would always try to hang on so tight to the ones I did have. Regardless, it took me 5 years to finally realize that you can't be the only one holding on. Like all relationships, it is a two way street, and above all things this 10 year friendship has taught me that the people who want to stay in your life will make an effort to stay there. They know that you are important enough, valuable enough to them that they will find every single chance they get to show you that they want you to stick around. 

some will annoy you.
some will go through distances to help you.
some will cry to you
some will lecture you
some will buy you food

Everyone has their own way, but it all comes down to that. I'll admit there are people that were once the shining stars of this short movie I call my life, but today, they are just familiar faces that I can't even recall their names. Along with time, their importance slowly starts to fade away, and memories just remain in the past, no matter great they were. 

We tend to take for granted these people by our sides, believing that they will always be around, while we ourselves focus on reaching out to other people, god knows why. 

 I have finally let go of those who didn't find me important enough. Sure it was pretty hard, but when I look around and see the faces of the people who have never failed to try and spend their precious time with me, why on earth would you even want to bother with anyone else? 

Of course, It would be naive to think that people won't come and go. Friendships can be tricky, feelings can get hurt, and sure they will. But if they are worth it, like all relationships you will find a way to make things work.

So if you are reading this, and it is making you think of that someone that you've always found important but never had the chance to say it to, I suggest you pick up the phone and start catching up. 

because well,

 you never know.


Betting on Yourself To Get Yourself There

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They say that every twentysomething should try traveling alone at least once in their life. if you googled that sentence, Buzzfeed can give you up to 19 reasons. I'll be honest when I tell you that it was pretty naive of me to believe that I would discover all 19 would be true, but anyway I packed up my bags and bought the first ticket to South Korea.

Even though reason number 9 states that most people come home changed after their solo trips, as someone who is used to taking care of herself, I didn't expect the trip to be life changing in any way. 

this was a mistake, of course. 

If you were to ask my friends, they would definitely tell you that I am never a person to take risks. I prepare weeks and weeks before doing anything, there was even once I actually got to the airport at 6 pm even though my flight was at 11.30am the next day. I'm sure that my friends would not believe me now when I tell them that on my last day in Korea, I decided to go all the way to Nami Island which is 3 hours away from Incheon airport.

but as reason number 8 states: 

Being alone – a.k.a. being free of any judgment whatsoever – will inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and do things that you wouldn’t usually do.

By the time I was ready to leave Nami Island, (10 minutes after I arrived) which on that Saturday had more than 3,000 people visiting, the buses did not come, and traffic was not moving. I had approximately 3 hours to get to the check in counter before it closed. What followed for the next 3 hours would be the most adrenaline filled time of my life. 
As traffic wasn't moving, running to the station seemed like the best chance. 

It was through the running that I experienced reason number 10:

You will let go of the anxiety that comes with meeting new people

Even though I did not find myself talking much with people during my stay, the run to the station got me saying hello to everybody. Telling everyone I passed that I needed to rush to the airport, and strangers wishing me good luck and giving me advice as I ran, gave me an extra push. There was a train that could get me to the city in just one hour, instead of two. I felt relieved but it didn't stay that way when three Malaysians I met told me I wasn't on the express train. With no internet, it was impossible to find out the schedule of the next express train and I was stuck with a decision that I had to make in 4 minutes. 

1) stay with the Malaysians, at least I feel safe and just find another way to get to the airport with them.

2) get off at the next stop, and pray to god that there is an express train coming in the next 10 minutes. 

It might seem petty, but every minute that passed was excruciating because every decision I made would determine If i would get on that flight or not. 

So I got off.

I was crying by the time a sweet Korean girl told me the next express train would leave in 12 minutes. She helped me buy my ticket and assured me I would be fine. I would reach Seoul at 6.43pm, but Incheon was still and hour away from there.

As the fact that for the first time in my life I would not make my flight sank in, I cried on the crowded Korean train. I cried and blamed myself because there was no one else to blame. But along with the crying, I knew that I couldn't give up just yet. I needed an hour to reach the check in, and I had exactly an hour. No more no less. I had to bet on myself, that I could get myself there.

with crying eyes I asked a Korean girl if she could check the train schedule for Incheon Airport, and she told me that the fastest I could reach was at 8.00pm. I had to be there by 7.45, but she told me it was impossible, unless I took a taxi, that would also usually take an hour. I said thank you, but still upset because it didn't seem to change the situation.

But what she said to me next moved me deeply.

'I'll run with you' 

Her friends wished us luck, and once the door opened we ran up and out of the huge station to the long queue at the taxi stand. Cutting everyone in line, she ran across the street and stopped the first taxi she saw and ask me to get in quickly. 

'She needs to be at Incheon in 40 minutes or she will miss her flight! Get her there, go! go!'

 is what I assumed she said in Korean to the driver. 

I will never forget her face and what she did for me. 

When I reached the airport, the taxi driver pointed at the time on his dashboard

'7.41pm!' he said happily as I rushed out with the biggest and most thankful smile on my face. 

I wished I could go back and tell them thank you. I wished I could tell them that thanks to them, I got on my flight. That their kindness had helped me a great deal. Kind of like that scene in How I Met Your Mother when Ted ran back and hugged everyone who got him to the curb at the exact right moment. 

If I did learn a big important lesson from this solo travel, is that everything comes down to you. It was much easier to make decisions when the only person at stake is yourself. There was no time to think about other people, or what people would think of you, or if they judged you. There was no space for pride. So what if you were crying and asking for help. 

Reason number 18 says that you will learn that there are things you want to change about yourself, and you’ll doubly embrace the things you don’t.

I risked my flight just for 10 minutes at an island. Sounds stupid, and a waste of time but it was beautiful and I will never regret the decision that I've made. It seemed like my end point was the flight. The flight resembled my happiness and whatever happened I just had to get there and there were two options, to live life the safe way or to take risks. 
I guess I did care a lot of what people thought of me. Then again who doesn't. We always say we don't but deep down we know we do. You know how they say that you should always do what's best for you? I think I really know what that means now. It might sound selfish at first, but 

when it comes down to your happiness, who else are you gonna count on but yourself? 

hello, visitors :)

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1992; Part time writer, full time dreamer. A person who writes for comfort and is learning how to become a kungfu master

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