Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An offer I could ultimately refuse

I am writing this from my hometown. I'm not back for a holiday, I'm back for good. I've said my farewell, cleared my last few tasks at the office, cleaned my office, packed up my things, and moved back, one year and one month to the day I first started working in Jeli, Kelantan. I guess that their offer was something that I could refuse, in the end. Just to recap, the deal was for me to come work there for a maximum of one year, then further my studies abroad under their full sponsorship, before finally returning to continue working for them for seven more years.

So what made me change my mind, after spending almost a year there? After all, it's not everyday that you're gonna run into such a lucrative (although one which requires a huge sacrifice) offer. 

First of all, Jeli. I have lived there for almost a year, in what amounted to almost total seclusion. It's a small town to begin with, and I have always kept mostly to myself, even before moving there. A typical day would consist of me waking up, eating brunch at the least busy stall, going to the office, locking the door behind me, doing work until it's quitting time, then back home and to my room. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Now living there might sound like a suitable arrangement for me, but I ended up wanting both company and even more privacy, strangely enough. On some days, I would intentionally avoid going to the grocers with the better service for my groceries, just to avoid having to make small talk with the friendlier grocers. and when I ate out, I would almost always pick a place without too many people. I don't know whether it was just me, but I always got the feeling that the people there were eyeballing me when I was around. I only wanted to be ignored. During weekends, I would get my supplies beforehand, and then shut myself in for the next two days. Nothing to do, nowhere to go to. The nearest cinema is 200km away in Ipoh. The people I considered friends were not in visiting distance. I would surf the internet on the very slow connection the whole time until it's work day again. God it was awful. 

Secondly, I started feeling that the place I was working at wasn't a good place for me to advance my career. I had my primary job scope, but I found myself tasked with doing things that are not my responsibilities a little too often. Now I don't want to sound like your typical entitled, fussy, 20-something, I understand that sometimes that's what having a job is about; doing things that you don't like doing. But the thing is, the unrelated and irrelevant tasks popped up quite often, to the point that they got in the way of my primary tasks. And most of these secondary tasks had to be done near the city, 100km from Jeli. So having to fulfill these secondary tasks almost always meant losing a full day's work. So what's the big deal? It's not like I can't do my actual work on the next day, can I? Well, the nature my job was somewhat time-sensitive, because it also involved other people. I know it's kind of vague, but what can I do? NDA and all that jazz. Just to make it clearer, imagine that my job was to dig out holes in the ground. But I can only move the soil out of the holes with a torn sack. And worse still, my immediate superior's official job is to kick the earth I had just dug up back into the hole. He is not being an asshole, and he sure as hell doesn't like doing it, but somewhere higher up, either through a royal fuck up or just sheer ineptitude, a higher authority figure had decided that holes need to be dug up with a torn sack, but someone also needs to kick the soil back in.

Dear lord, I sound like a little bitch with all this moaning. Boohoo.

Well, now I am back home, trying my darnedest best not to get on my parents' bad side, doing my best to toe the line and playing at being a model, religious, clean-shaven, first son. So far so good. The thing is, now that I am back at home, I feel a lot better. I always have things to amuse and occupy myself with, and I don't feel cooped up anymore. It's so nice just to be able to drive around in my car with the window rolled down, a cigarette in my hand, and my favourite tunes playing on the radio. It feels so liberating, it makes me feel five years younger, and somehow it makes me feel invincible, like I am going to live forever.

But of course I am still jobless at the moment, and my savings are running out, fast. So I have to find a suitable employment soon, although I have turned quite anxious at the thought of holding another nine to five job. But that's for another post.

Talking about future posts, what's going happen to this blog? I imagine that I'm going to update it with two or three or more posts, with an epilogue of some sort thrown in to wrap some loose ends up, before its quittin' time. I've never been one to kiss and tell, especially on the internet, except when I think that what I'm going through is a unique experience that some people might be interested in reading about. I mean, another vague post on missing your ex? That almost makes your kitsch, poorly-Instagrammed pictures of overpriced food seem professional by comparison.

Aaaaaanyway, the decision to start writing this blog was made after I had realised that uprooting my life to go live in a rural part of this country is a somewhat unique experience that not too many people can relate to. But now that I'm back home in Klang Valley, I'm just another nondescript 20-something who's trying to find a gainful employment, make himself and his parents proud and find his peace of mind. Nothing worth shouting about. Now I can get back to reviewing movies on my other blog, which has been left unattended for quite some time.

Until next time.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lelaki berkebolehan

I’m almost 30 years old of age. I’ve done a number of things, some I’m proud of, some totally cringeworthy. However, there are three things that I’ve done that I am very proud of. 

I’ll start off the list with something that I can’t even recall completely. I was in university at that time, in a meeting. What essentially happened was that what I had said earlier was quoted by a friend in the meeting. The thing is, I don’t even remember what it was that I had said. I’m pretty sure that it was something original and I remember feeling impressed with myself for being verbally quoted by someone. Anyone from back then still remember what it actually was? 

The second thing had happened earlier, but I remember it a lot more clearly. I was seventeen and home from boarding school during a gap between the SPM papers. The cistern in one the toilets wasn’t working properly, so my mother got a new one. The problem was my father wasn’t around, so I had to install it, even though I wasn’t the handiest person around with tools and plumbing. Seriously, my Kemahiran Hidup PMR project was so lousy. It was one of those tacky wooden shelves with a lid that lights up and plays songs when it is opened, only that somehow the lid on mine could only be opened partially and it didn’t light up and play songs. It was THAT shoddily-made. Anyway, back to the cistern. To make things more complicated, the new cistern didn’t come with an installation manual. But I didn’t feel like disappointing my mother at that time, so I took the plastic bag apart and started tinkering with the parts. And what do you know. After half an hour of “Maybe this goes there...” and “now what the hell is this?!”, I finally managed to put the whole thing together, and it worked fine, too! I was really proud of myself at that time. And I still am. I’m a man, and admittedly society requires men to be handy with tools and repairs. We can debate until the cows come home about how gender stereotypes are just a social construct, but for me personally, that is one demand towards men that I must be able to fulfil for me to feel like a proper man. It might not sound like much, but hey, no manuals. Maybe one of these days I should get a plaque made to commemorate that event, and get it pasted on the toilet door. Maybe if I’m famous sometime in the future, my fans (or my devotees. Oooohhhh...) will flock in droves to pay respect to that particular toilet. What should I write on the plaque? 

“He got his hands dirty to make this toilet clean“ 

I should probably keep working on it. 

The last thing in the list happened in 2011. I can’t tell too much about it, although this time it isn’t because of my prematurely-failing memory. It’s due to privacy and safety. Basically put, what happened was I jumped five FRUs who were jumping a guy whom I didn’t even know. How I came to be in that situation I can’t explain. But suffice to say we weren’t doing anything illegal, it’s not like I was a Mat Rempit helping his buddy escape a roadblock or anything like that. However, the raw and unbridled threat posed by my imposing physique was quickly and rather effortlessly neutralised by the rest of the FRUs who weren’t jumping the guy I was supposedly trying to save. I mean come on, I’m 55 kg and 170 cm; what do you think was going to happen? I was restrained and one cowardly senior officer then even took the chance to sock it to me. Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt at all. I had expected more from a member of the armed forces. I guess that’s what happens when you only take cheap shots, and at restrained adversaries. You turn into a weakling. Also: Pigs go oink oink. But later the dude I was trying to save and I managed to slink away from custody because the cops then had their hands full with other things. Or they just didn’t feel like coming up with the paperwork needed to charge the two of us. 

So why am I proud of this particularly thuggish episode in my life? First of all, like I explained earlier, the people I was with at the time weren’t up to anything illegal. The dude I was supposedly trying to rescue, had not committed any offence. In fact, it came to light later that day that the FRUs were only stopping us because they had thought we were about to get into a fight. Couldn’t they just have asked first?! But then again if they had the smarts to ask first, they wouldn’t need to become cops for a living, to begin with. But more importantly, I am very proud of this moment because I have always read about people who risk their own safety and even lives to rescue complete strangers who are facing danger without thinking twice, and I’d like to think that I’m made of the same stuff as these selfless heroes, after that incident. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who is brave enough to help others who are in dire need by putting aside my own needs and safety. I hope I don’t sound like I’m bragging. That’s not my intention. I just want to share with you how I function. 

In fact, I don’t exactly know why I wanted to write about these so-called achievements of mine. Maybe it’s because I’ve quit my current job and needed to remind myself of what I am capable of doing. Oh, haven’t I told you? I’m leaving Jeli and Kelantan at the end of this month.