Friday, October 19, 2012

A long distance relationship

My previous two entries have focused solely on me complaining and being insecure like a bitch. Wah wah wah, blah blah blah. Fair enough. I admit it. But the truth is, I haven’t been completely honest with you. It’s not just the loneliness, sheer and utter boredom that get to me. It’s also the fact that I have been away from my love.

Before I came here, I was very much involved with her. Once a week I would go see her, along with a bunch of friends. We liked to think of it as some sort of a charity work. Sometimes being with her means travelling to other faraway places, spending a lot of money and time and effort. Foolish, you say? No, not exactly. For one, the reclusive me found company in other people who also love her, far and few they might be. Secondly, they found me committed enough to let me within their ranks, and they seemed to respect me for my commitment. And respect is a highly-valued currency in the world of men, especially since what I do for a living is quite a rare talent that not many people possess, surprisingly. Let me tell you, every other aspect of my life had improved because I was happy being with her. My work was top notch, and I was more sociable and diplomatic. This coming from a guy who was borderline suicidal before she took me in. And thirdly and most importantly, I simply love her, without rhyme and reason, the kind of love that defies professional commitment and parents’ disapproval. The kind of love that leads a man to spend most of his hard-earned money, and be punched by a bunch of cowardly cops.

So if I love her, why did I uproot my life to move to Jeli?, you might ask. I don’t know myself. Maybe I foolishly thought a life of solitude would be easy. Maybe I thought a long-distance relationship could work for us. That watching her from afar and seeing her only once in awhile would be enough. Oh the naivety. Maybe it was vanity, the desire to prove that I could be a better a person professionally than she is. Here I am now, 10 months into my tenure in Kelantan, and nowhere closer to that PhD than I was in the beginning. Maybe the idea of having to be away from my love for seven years of my post-study bond terrifies me. I don’t want to simply be a bystander. I want to be in the middle of the action, fucking and burning shit up, and being sucker-punched by middle-aged, armed, uniformed criminals we call Malaysian cops. And the fact that the guys constantly keep posting about me being away from her, almost mockingly even, on my Facebook wall doesn’t help. I guess I’m not as big a recluse as I often make myself seem to other people. I want to come home to her. 

All I can say for sure now is that a man with no passion, for his family, for a cause, or for a woman, is a soon to be dead man. Another thing; kasih sayang is a responsibility which is more or less reciprocal. Cinta on the other hand is almost always one-sided, unfair, but always voluntary in nature, obsessive even, but ultimately more rewarding in the end, even in its one-sidedness. If you find this entry cryptic, I apologise. I want to write about how things are going with me, but I kinda hate expressing all of my feelings. If you don’t understand Bahasa Melayu, then tough luck. Learn it. It’s not that hard. Anyway, sleep on it, friends. I have a job application to fill up.

Fraternity in mortality

There were two men. One I didn’t know as well I should. The other a complete stranger, I am not even sure that he was male. But somehow, in the dead of this rainy Jeli night, I feel a strange affinity to both.

The first one was a relative. He was my mother’s cousin. I called him Pak Su, as he was the youngest among his siblings. Being on my mother’s side, he came from Kedah, But he moved to KL when he started working (as an engineer I think). Soft spoken, dark skinned, gaunt, willowy, almost effeminate. He used to drive a black two-seater Honda. But the keyword here is ‘was’. He passed away almost ten years ago, rather prematurely. Wasn’t married, and obviously had no kid. I remember the day I learnt of his death. In fact, I was the first to learn about it in my immediate family, as my family was supposed to come back from an overseas vacation which I decided not to go with, the day he died. Leukaemia or something. Sickly-looking, that’s the word I was looking for. He was buried, and that’s about it. I know about him now as much as I knew back then. All that’s left of him, as far as I know, is his Honda, which I had last seen in front of his mother, my grand-aunt’s house, around a month ago went I visited my mother’s hometown. Shit, even his mother is still alive. But sometimes, that’s how life is, with the old outliving, and burying, the young.

The other, to say that I know less of him would be outright lying. I never met him. Let’s just say that he’s the former tenant of the house next to mine. I’ve explained about him in an earlier entry. He’s also dead, and when he died, it took people a few days to realise that he was dead. When he died, he died alone. Now his house is abandoned, with a wall missing and facing my kitchen window. But that’s besides the point. He was ill and rarely went out, and lived alone. So it was no surprise, I guess, that he also died alone.

This is where I’m supposed to segue into the point I’m trying to make. But it’s 1.30 in the morning, I’m sleepy and I’ve been drinking a little (fine, a lot), so fuck subtleness. The long-winded point I am trying to make here is I think I am going to share the demise of the two people I just described. Alone, premature or due to a fatal illness. I’m putting my money on lung cancer. Or aneurysm. Or heart attack. Or stroke. One of those illnesses which used to only afflict the elderly, but are now starting to affect the younger generation. I smoke to keep myself distracted from the dreariness of my nights. I don’t exercise at all, because I have been reduced to chasing down instant gratification from the internet, Playstation and cheap booze, and I don’t see myself wanting and being able to commit to the kind of women I am into as long as I’m in Jeli. Wooing a woman has been rendered nigh impossible these days, and I am not a man with a lot of patience to begin with. So if I were to suffer a heart attack while I’m alone at home, that’s it from me.

But there’s also this cousin of mine on my father’s side, who used to be single and lived with his rich mother, and honestly looked kinda sad without having a lot going in his life, until he surprisingly (at least to me) married a Kelantanese woman, took over some of his mother’s enterprise and now has two kids of his own.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

All turn to ash

As a kid, I wasn’t much to look at. Scrawny as a stick insect, short-cropped hair and pimples that somehow decided that my face was a really sweet place to hang out on. And due to the fact that being in all-boys boarding school meant that there were no girls that needed impressing, I certainly didn’t dress to impress.
In university, of course there were girls (and surprise, surprise, I had a girlfriend too), so I did dress and look after myself better, but I still wasn’t one of the guys people considered good looking. Just less shabby. The thing is, me being me, I could never quite comprehend this fascination and single-minded obsession with looking good.

The way I see it, you try your damndest hard to look good, spending your money on straightening your hair, getting new clothes every month, hunting through the town for bundle stores for that particular pair of shoes, only for your good looks to wither away from that inescapable disease that is called middle-age. All for nothing. Also, this attention to what’s outside sounds a bit too much like we are trying to hide the terrible aspects of ourselves that is contained within by our mortal body. A misrepresentation of the personal, if you will. But I’m not saying that I’m right and they should wake up, sheeple. No, it could be that I’m just a misanthrope and bitter towards the better-looking population.

And that’s not to say that I dont put any effort into how I look, either. I do. Now that I’m a responsible, working, adult member of the society (supposedly), I can afford to and do spend my money on better attire. But whatever I buy, they are still relatively conservative articles of clothing. You won’t catch me wearing a fedora hat or a fur coat, no sir. I can’t pull fabulous. And my hair, it used to symbolise me really well, in the sense that it was really stubborn and refused to be styled according to the way I wanted. Now that it (and me) is approaching 30s, it seems that it has mellowed out somewhat (also like me?)  and is now more acquiescing towards me.

And you know what? I am now quite good-looking.

it’s just not me. Sometimes I catch the womenfolk just sneaking glances at me when I am in town, and some rather, err, effeminate men doing double-takes at me. Well to be fair I won’t get to tell the ladies to please form an orderly line and contain their excitement anytime soon, but what little visual attention of the feminine variety that I’m starting to receive now is comparatively more than how it used to be.

Even if they are just my imagination, it’s still fine. Why? Because even I myself think that I look good now. I am my worst critique, and my looks is one of the most frequent topics of criticism. But now, I would see the reflection of myself in the car windows of the car that I pass by, just to inspect the angle that my hair is standing at, at that particular moment. And the guy in the window who is looking back at me would be such a handsome SOAB that I could kiss him. No homo.

So how did this transformation came to be? I haven’t had any cosmetic surgeries performed on me, and I most certainly have not read anyone of those ‘love yourself’ self-help books, if you think that the change is just a matter of my perception. If you’ve watched the movie Benjamin Button, there is a scene whereby the title character stands in front of a mirror with his wife, discussing about how that moment is when they are at their physical peak; that’s it’s downhill from there. I think that’s what’s happening to me. I am nearing 30, and all the changes in my physique have converged and congregated at this moment to make me into how I look today; better than how I looked a few years ago. And it’s not just me. This also happens to everyone that has ever lived and walked on this fine earth. We get a small time-window during which, even the ugliest of us look our best. But as hinted by the movie, this also means that it’s downhill from now on for us. For me. And this scares me.

Now that I have this gift of being better looking after spending most of my life not looking much, the idea of having the gift taken away from me in a few years’ time is a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t want to end up looking like the many middle-aged men in their dowdy, ill-fitting work clothes and rotund figure. And it’s not like you can fix it just by wearing young people’s clothes. When you’re old but are dressed up like young, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. You’ll just look weird. And guess what? After all these years of me thinking of the effort to be physically attractive as hypocritical, it seems that I now like what little attention I get due to my looks. Funny, huh? Well, I’m not laughing.

The only consolation I have to temper my worries with is the fact that I have more of my mother’s genes and the men on their side, my uncles and cousins, when they grow older, don’t grow fat or pot-bellied. They stay lanky and they don’t lose their hair. Whereas men on my father’s side, although they are fair-skinned and quite well-built in their youth, when they hit 40, they’ll start losing hair and gaining weight. Chills!
So think about that, friends. Use this time-window well. To philander, become a model, actor, whatever you want to. You are not good-looking for long and it’s all shit from then on. Bye friends, until the next entry. Sleep tight tonight.