This is my letter to the world, That never wrote to me, -- The simple news that Nature told, With tender majesty. Her message is committed To hands I cannot see; For love of her, sweet countrymen, Judge tenderly of me! - emily dickinson -

Friday, October 28, 2005


it's been such a trying time this ramadhan. i'm up to my nostrils with backlogs from this operating system change project i'm leading. am up to here with the melodrama of the big boss too! there's a long holiday looming ahead and i just can't stop thinking about the things i plan to do--places to go, friends to meet (and relatives to avoid!), foods to enjoy, sights to relish, and things to buy! our customer's demand is slinking into another unpredictable and unreliable curve while we're supposed to keep the lines running at as constant a speed as we can manage without running into each other's hair. my project is way behind schedule and i'm running out of rescheduling dates and reasons. then, apart from the effects of fasting (dry throat, cracking lips, that depressed feeling), there's also the raya songs playing incessantly from somebody's pc. how am i supposed to concentrate on redistributing operators' workload to achieve balance when p.ramlee kept reminding me to think of my folks back home?


Sunday, October 16, 2005

numbers, iii

sixty four. 'b64' to be exact. that was the number assigned to me when i got enrolled in malay college. everyone had his own number. at first the numbers did not mean much. they were just numbers assigned to all the beds in the dorms in prep school. the alphabet prefix was meant to differentiate one batch of students from another. but because we were also told to use the numbers to tag our personal possessions, from toothbrushes right down to our underwares, the numbers became our personal identification.

as for me, my number became a very personal item that, in a way, helped me go through the five years of secondary school years. whenever i came across sixty four in the news, on a road sign, on a food label, wherever, i would start finding whether there was some correlation between the situation surrounding the number and the state i was in or something. if there wasn't, then i would make one up. it was crazy how i would try to make sense out of two things that had nothing to do with each other in the first place.

one of my favorite 'pastimes' was to do math with my number. how? well, for example, i would multiply sixty four with another number, look at the product and try to make some sense out of it all. stupid you think? well, being left to fend for oneself in a far-off place, being forced to eat food that my mother would never have served to her children, surrounded by strangers speaking and behaving in all sorts of weird ways and constantly prodded by masochistic peers, seniors and prefects were more than enough to drive my young mind to find some kind of diversion (i guess a lot of my peers did silly things in those days because of all the unfamiliar things and the pressure).
after a while, my one diversion became a habit. i would add, subtract, multiply, divide or simply string numbers in my head (or on a calculator when the numbers were big) and twist and try to conjure some good karma. it had to be good. if i failed to create anything good, i would just dismiss it. if i succeeded in wrangling some good vibes, i would catalog it in my mind, smile to myself and move on.

one good karma i liked was when i got one after adding six to four. huh? well, first, i added six to four to get ten. then, i added the one to the zero and i ended up with one. the number one. so i was number one. it didn't matter that i never got number one in my class or in the one hundred meter dash or anything but my sixty four said that i was number one. hah!
of course it could have also meant that i was alone. lonely. but hey, i needed to feel good about myself, okay?

much later after form five, when i got into an english program for overseas-bound students, i got a number that created chills right down to my core whenever i did my math on it. the number was seven eight seven two. it was the last four digits of a bigger number. but during the course of the program, we all carry around this last four digits as our personal id. so what was the big deal with this number?

it's the product of multiplying sixty four by one hundred twenty three. hold on a sec and let me explain.

by form five, the number of people in my batch was down to a hundred and twenty three, one-two-three. this many people survived all the exams, the heartaches, the matches, the arguments, the miseries, the embarrassments. this many people also shared all the laughters, the euphorias, the thrills, the happiness. this many people developed an identity that bonded everyone, an identity that grounded us to the fact that no matter how we loved or hated each other in those school years, we will always be bound together by our memories of all those experiences. and everyone identifies with one-two-three. kleenex, please.

okay, enough with the mushy wushy schtick.

so, take my personal sixty four and multiply it by the all-time favorite one two three. the product? seven eight seven two! now, THAT has got to mean something GOOD!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

nascent spirit

tomorrow will be the start of another month of fasting. a month to think of just nice thoughts, do all the nice deeds and to avoid thinking and doing all the nasty stuffs. it will be a month of hard labor for the body, mind and soul. for me, with all my nasty thoughts, it will be a long month indeed. but you gotta do what you gotta do.

ramadhan mubarak to all.