Sunday, February 26, 2017

Let's go?

Hello again, folks!

How was everyone’s Chinese New Year? I hope it was much better than mine. Mine was expectedly quiet, seeing that it’s my penultimate year in a foreign land with a different spirit for the festivity. I’ve learnt not to expect the annual lion dances or fireworks (unless it coincides with other events) because it’s not ingrained in the Australian culture in the same manner that it does for Malaysia, which is why I’m always caught aback whenever I hear the drums.

If memory serves me well, you’ll know that the festival season is around the corner when the shopping mall or grocery stores are alive with the mandarin oranges or the festivity-themed songs. Your neighbors will set the firecrackers or fireworks off on the street, sending you into a temporary cardiac arrest or reaching out for your thickest headphones.

Nothing of that sort occurred here.

To be honest, I didn’t even know that it was Chinese New Year until I received the festive greetings from friends on WhatsApp and one of the sales assistant at the Asian grocery store that I patronize frequently informed me about it. Talk about being kept in the dark, lol. I guess that’s the beauty of not traveling during the festivity. Unlike the rest of my compatriots, I chose to spend it here instead of back home for reasons that I’ll rather shove under the carpet. I think the only fruitful thing I did was watch the much-anticipated Australia Open 2017 finals between Federer and Nadal over a plate of Magharita pizza at the tail-end of the heatwave.

It was down to business with the start of the orientation training. We gathered on the lawns outside Elder Hall like piranha fish giddy with delight over human delicacies to meet the students who were assigned to our care for the important day. I wouldn’t blame the commencing students for the overwhelming nerves because we’ve all experienced it as freshmen. It took me an entire year - yeah, I know - before I found my footin and regained my confidence as a sophomore. Let me tell you that it’s not the orientation day that will paralyze you with fear (although I didn’t attend mine. I mean, I was there on campus but it was a different atmosphere altogether). It’s the first day of tutorials that has the potential of you breaking into a film of perspiration - unless you’re the lucky one to have friends/cliques from college in the same degree and seminars as you.


After the necessary introductions and small talk, we listened in on a speech presented by the outgoing Vice-Chancellor before we disembarked on a campus tour. You’d think that I’d have made my way to the O-week activities since I was there, but I gave it an entire miss. I wasn’t feeling the spirit of it. It’s one thing to attend it with familiar faces but it’s another to be there on your own.

That’s not to say that I can’t attend events on my own. Heck, I’ve done it before.

My penultimate year officially starts tomorrow with the Creative Writing lecture. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I’m either out of my mind or crazy for not pursuing a double degree. I’ve thought about that as a freshman in Taylor’s … but let’s just say that I’ll have gone for it in a different world. It’s not a piece of cake to endure the intensity of a double degree because you’re talking about 4 courses every semester for at least 5 years.

I don’t know what to expect although I’ve been doing this for the last two years. I mean, each year throws you off-balance with its weird twists and turns. I’ve also peppered the foundations that will lead me to the next stage of my life with seeds of hope. I’m not going to jinx it by speaking of it, but I hope that things will turn out for the best and it’ll at least bring out some joy. I don’t know why, but I’ve been feeling alone and isolated in crowds. Like I’ve tuned everyone out and the only sound I hear is the one of my beating heart.

Which is not a good thing, if you ask me.

Which is also a good thing that the physical exhaustion masquerades it. I’ve always taken my time to flag a ride to the same destination as everyone else (if it makes any sense?). I don’t do things just because everyone else of my age is doing it. Take driving license for example. Most of my friends rushed to enroll in driving lessons the moment they were legal to do so and are now proud owners who are independent, at least in the travel sense. Me, I’m still license-less because you could say I’m a rebel. I still don’t see the need to fork out the money for it, especially since I’m abroad now. I’m not familiar with the roads here and I’ll have to read the RTA from cover to cover before I decide on taking my license in Adelaide. (I can imagine my good friend groaning at that thought because he’s been pushing me out of that due to the financial costs involved. Sorry, mate.) Another reason is because I’m not sure where my heart takes me for work. I don’t want to be in the midst of learning it and suddenly move to - let’s say - Brisbane for work and throw everything in a limbo. It’ll be a different Road Transport Department and God knows how much unnecessary paperwork I might have to endure.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Just a word of update

Hello folks, it’s been a wild week over here. I’m sure you’ve heard about the heatwave that’s thrown Australia into a furnace with temperatures edging closer to 50C. I don’t think you can imagine the hot air, but to provide some context, it was being baked alive in an oven. To make things worse, there were unscheduled blackouts for load shedding. Humidity also paid a visit. It’s different from the 70 - 80% humidity that we have in KL in the sense that you feel like you’re being suffocated. At least with KL, you’ve the cool winds at night.

“Because it’s easier to know what you’re not than what you are.” - Born in Ice by Nora Roberts, page 182

Everyone has spoon-fed me with things along the lines of intelligence, confidence, and kindness and expected me to be brainwashed by those sweet words. Some of it is based on the the truth, which I’ll willingly admit, but some are sugarcoated. I’d rather believe that I’m the average girl next door who’s trying to weave her way into a smooth transition from one environment to other. I want to believe that I’m capable of dropping people like hot potato once they’ve inflicted enough damage and making them suffer emotional trauma because it masks my weakness with the protective layers and keeps me from keeling over in angst.

It’s for the same reason that I’ve kept my innermost thoughts at arm’s length from the good friends, instead using exhaustion as an excuse to mask the absence.

That’s it from me today. I’ll be back with a more detailed post some time next week.

Friday, February 10, 2017


I dreamt that I drove to someone’s house and landed in their driveway. It was occupied by a Chinese family - judging from the happiness sticker that they plastered on the wooden door. The occupants looked familiar, but I couldn’t place where I previously saw or met them.

Later that week, when it was time for exams, I searched for the examination hall hosting the paper that I was about to sit. The security guard didn’t search my bag and demand that I send it through something that resembled the airport scanner because I slid under the radar. Once inside, I perused the noticeboard for my name, but it wasn’t listed there. A name similar to mine was, but either it belonged to someone else or it was a spelling mistake. I didn’t want to take my chances and commit identity fraud.

In reality, I’ve been visiting a particular family - acquainted to my Mom since when childhood - whenever I’m back in town. A quick reference check online indicated that the inability to find my seat for an exam meant that I want to prove myself, but am unsure how to. It’s like being restrained against your will.

In another dream, I fled from the floors of SJMC and found myself head to head with someone at the entrance gate. Her eyes burnt with fury and demanded that I leave the scene immediately. An adult with a younger fellow entered the seaside building on a breezy yet sunny afternoon. It was evident that they were mother and child. When I saw them, I ran in the opposite direction. The child saw me - her father - and called for him. My heart wanted to embrace her, but my brain said to run. I was cornered by walls at every turn while I tried to rid the child off my trail. We ultimately caught up with each other at the row of elevators. Her voice was enough to melt my stone cold heart.

In reality, the aforementioned person in the hospital is someone whom I’ve not spoken in months. In reality, we’ve drifted away due to unresolved matters and the distance of time. Maybe she’s thinking of me or still annoyed with me, I don’t want to know.

The change of gender in the dream reminded me of something that an acquaintance posted on Facebook a while back… it went along the lines of not being able to be the doting parent to a beautiful and treasured child. Could my dream be a signal that the father in the dream is the adult version of me? Or just the way of an exhausted yet sleep-deprived subconscious?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Start afresh?

A quick refresher?

It was already nightfall when Brendan was given his hotel key card after the check in process was completed. He didn’t care much if his room was blessed with the magnificent view of Swan River because he wouldn’t soak up Mother Nature’s beautiful artwork. Most of his time would be spent outdoors, experiencing Perth while tracking down Winnie. What he needed was a comfortable bed to crash on instead.

With the help of the hotel receptionist’s instructions, he made his way to the Crawley-Nedlands campus of University of Western Australia by bus and train the next morning. As he was a stranger to this part of the country, he assumed the role of a prospective student and casually followed the crowd into the admissions office before he waited at the corner. Half an hour later, he found himself being given a tour of the large campus and the accommodation. Allowing himself to rest on the wooden yet heated bench and with one last effort at contacting Winnie, he dropped a text on WhatsApp and hoped for little. Two years of friendship and continuously seeing each other in tutorials were enough for Brendan to understand the inner workings of Winnie’s mind. The girl had the penchant of ignoring messages on Messenger for weeks at one go. Getting her to reply on WhatsApp was a tad bit easier but still took an effort. Brendan shook his head, relieved that at least Winnie came with the brains to answer to urgent and important texts on either social media accounts. His phone vibrated with such intensity that he almost jumped in shock.

It was Winnie, which surprised him.

“You’ve finally got in contact.”

“I read your messages. Why did you track me down in Perth?”

It was not a question of how. It was more of why, which was highly indicative that she knew he’d search for her whereabouts and that their former lecturer fed him with the important information. She knew he was hot on her trail and it wasn’t long before her hideout would be exposed to the light of day. “I needed to know if you were alright. You left without a trace. Katrina and I are both worried about you.”

“I had my reasons.”

“Any of which you want to spill? I’ve time and can listen.”

She navigated past his gentle prodding. “Don’t you have classes to attend to back in Adelaide? It’s not the autumn break yet.”

Smart gal, he thought. Although she was no longer physically in the North Terrace campus, she still kept herself in touch with the university’s academic calendar and events. “Missing a tutorial once is fine. Plus, my friend will cover for me. My flight’s on Sunday. If you’re thinking of throwing me off, it’s not working, Winnie.”

There was a moment’s silence in which she debated whether to reveal the truth or to keep the cards close to herself. Sure, he was someone she trusted. She had come to appreciate his presence in her life over the course of their friendship. He was able to be there for her while maintaining a distance - unlike Katrina, whom Winnie felt was intrusive at times. He was a mature chap who understood the crooked paths of life, but she was unsure if he could handle everything she was to tell. It wasn’t just Katrina’s role that complicated matters. It was his feelings towards her… and as she hated to admit, her thoughts of him. He fulfilled all of the attributes of her Mr. Right but distance was a double-edged sword. He didn’t endure the 3-hour flight to unchartered territories for nothing. He wanted answers, something to assist him in understanding the rationale behind her decision and the reasons leading to it. She’d dish the truth on a plate to him, as per his silent wishes, but she was in no way responsible for the impact on him.

“Fine, you win. Where are you now?”

“Your campus.”

“Tell you what, Brendan. Meet me in front of Coffee Club Harbour Town in two hours time. It’s quieter there and we’ll talk.”

The call went dead before Brendan responded. Winnie was deranged to have suggested that place. How was he to head there? Couldn't she have suggested somewhere nearby, somewhere closer where he wouldn’t find himself lost like a confused deer? With a sigh, he retraced his footsteps to the admissions office and prayed that whoever was in charge would be able to guide him.
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