Sunday, November 12, 2017

Daria's Ranting - Royal Guard Saves the Day


*I am posting this eighteenth ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

“She’s always fighting about her family home.”
“Better not involve her in our organization/activities, she always fights against the authority. About her mango tree lah, Gedung Kuning etc.”
“She is always writing letters urging the authority to look into the unfairness of the AMLA and other laws. She’s crazy.”

Recent Victory:
In 1999, a Deed of Assignment was signed by the descendants of Mohamed (Haji Yusoff’s son from Noribah, his first wife). The assignees assigned to Shaik Raheem s/o Abdul Shaik Shaik Dawood “all rights, title, estate and interest, including any rights under any trusts, in all the property real and personal of whatever and wherever situate which may be due and payable to Assignors as the beneficiaries of the Estate of the said Mohamed Bin Haji Yousoff.”

The descendants of Haji Yusoff’s second wife (Hajah Aisah) aka my family were not aware of the Deed of Assignment until 2 October 2002 when the estate lawyers received a notification letter from Kalamohan & Co.

You may read about this long overdrawn saga here. 

I decided to help Mohamed’s family who was cheated. Like a sleuth, I dug up the dirt about Shaik Raheem who was a convicted criminal and a fraud. I read case files from the Commercial Affairs Division (CAD) and asked my lawyer friend to help me with my investigation. When we had sufficient evidence of possible fraud, I urged Mohamed’s family members to lodge a police report using all the documents I had gathered. Instead of thanking me, some of Mohamed’s family members scolded me and further defamed my Gedung Kuning family’s name (these people were actually afraid that I had uncovered how they had also cheated their own family members). 

To cut the long story short, after about a decade of effort and with the help of our estate lawyers, we have finally resolved the matter. But, crooks will be crooks. As Shaik Raheem had since passed away, his son now alleged that his father had given Mohamed’s family $300,000 and not $100,000. Of course, there was no evidence of this. We were prepared to take him to court but as of November 2017, he has agreed to settle the matter out of court and dissolve the fraudulent agreement of 4 August 1999. I am so happy and thankful that my effort had paid off. I did not receive any monetary reward for helping my extended family. I did what I did in the name of social justice and to protect the vulnerable family members from unscrupulous people who took advantage of them. Shame on the parties (some of whom Malay Muslims) who had facilitated the fraud! You may escape punishment on this earth but not the Hereafter. The Day of Reckoning cometh.

To reiterate, I will NEVER apologise for fighting for my family, yes, even for the extended Haji Yusoff family (from the first wife). I care about my family and will do anything to protect them from unjust and harm. Why should I be sorry about complaining against those who destroyed our family artefacts, or cut down my mango tree or even cheated our family members of their inheritance? I am more sorry for YOU who hurled all these vile accusations against me. It goes to show that you don’t love your family enough to defend them in times of crisis. If I am your family, I would be so ashamed to have you who will bail out at the first sign of distress. Boooo!

Like the Imperial Royal Guard, I will protect my beloved family members against any harmful attacks and wrongful acts by anyone, Sith Lord or Sand people. Peace.

My Name is Mikhail. I have Cerebral palsy.

We launched the second book in the 'I am Unique' series at the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF)!

"And judging by the reaction of the children, it was an intergalactic hit!"

"She was dressed in a strange orange get up, which I initially assumed was because all her clothes were in the laundry and this was the only clean outfit she had around."

Read Review here.

"Every time I walked away from something I wanted to forget, I told myself it was for a cause that I believed in. A cause that was worth it. Without that, we’re lost.” — Cassian Andor
Cassian shows Jyn Erso what it means to devote yourself to a worthy cause.

The book that you write is not for or about you. It should be for the people or the cause which you care about. 

Check out the Cerebral palsy book launch photos


Monday, October 30, 2017

Daria's Ranting - Sauron in Red Guard suit

*I am posting this seventeenth ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

When I was studying in Paris many moons ago, I visited B who was reading law at Oxford. I had my first Harry Potter dining, attended law lectures and basically enjoyed my stay in magical Oxford. While I was there, I went on a day trip to Cambridge, fell in love with Cambridge and studied there many years later.

I stayed in B’s room, a college residence in one of the old, quaint English houses. There was a fireplace in the room to keep us warm. B told me that the bedroom was once J.R.R. Tolkien’s room (it was halved when the house became a students’ residence). B told me to soak in the intellectual aura; who knows, I might write many epic books like Tolkien did. I never had the intention to be a writer then but I imagined how it must be like for Tolkien to sit beside the fireplace, dream and write.

Alas, during this short period when I started my journey of writing, I came across many Orcs and Urukhai whose behaviours are as ugly as their appearances. Ugggh… even Gollum seemed milder.

a. They criticised your work without even reading them.
b. They insulted your craft yet they have no publications.
c. They instigated others not to collaborate with you; they whispered vile and baseless accusations that put you in unnecessary trouble and stress.
d. They think so highly of themselves and their ‘work’ which are of inferior quality.
e. They use their celebrity ‘Saruman Army’ association to win fans and cultish friends over.
f. They refused to share knowledge and information with you, even though you would acknowledge them.
g. They conveniently forgot that you had shared knowledge and pertinent information with them because you wanted to help them.
h. They crashed your events just to meet important personalities who attended; but they ignored you.
i. They took your payment but told you to remove their names in your publications (conflict of interest, they say). Yet they happily and openly participated in others’ events and publications.
j. They promised to fund your work but pulled out at the very last minute giving some lame-ass excuses; leaving you stranded with no alternatives. It's ok not to fund but don't promise and double confirm plus chop.
k. Unlike yours truly who ‘kejarkan tujuan yang lebih berharga dari harta’ (chase for the purpose that is valuable than wealth), they want the recognition that comes with their fluff work.

As Sauron in the Red Guard suit, I have this to say to you (Yes, you. You know who you are):

Good will always defeat Evil. No matter how long it takes. 
I am watching you. And I have patience and perseverance.

Photo credit: Faisal Mohammad who owns the original replica of Sauron's mask. So heavy!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Bahasa: Guide to Malay Languages


Bahasa: A Guide to Malay Languages explains common Malay words and their equivalent meanings in eight Nusantara languages of the Malay Archipelago: Banjar, Bawean, Buginese, Javanese, Malay, Minangkabau, Slitar and Tagalog. Personal anecdotes by the author and charming illustrations frame a brief history of the Malay peoples, offering a unique lesson in the anthropology and experience of these eight ethnic groups. As the presence of these languages in everyday conversations gradually diminishes, it is hoped that this book may revive interest in these languages and preserve knowledge for the benefit of generations to come. 

This guide is accessible to and may be enjoyed by readers of all ethnicities. Immerse yourself in the kaleidoscopic diversity of these Malay languages. May this book serve as a delightful introduction to the scintillating spirit of the different Malay ethnic groups, embodied in their mother tongues. What new words will you learn today?

Author: Hidayah Amin
Illustrator: Idris Ali

Foreword written by
Professor Emeritus Abdullah Hassan
Linguist, and retired Professor of Malay Language Studies and Dean of School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia

ISBN 978-981-11-3883-6
Genre: English, non-fiction
Format: Paperback
Size: 240mm (height) x 140mm (width)
Pages: 256 
Target audience: Readers aged 10 and above, educators, parents, general public

Read Review here.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Oh Anuar Zain!

Since this is Bulan Bahasa or the Malay Language month, let's talk about all things Malay. Yes, yes, my Bahasa book launch is in six day's time so let's skip the academic and political aspects of being Malay. Let's talk about Malay songs. 
I am a tad slow at catching up on the latest Malay songs. A few hours ago, while listening to Florence and the Machine, I noticed Anuar Zain's music video thumbnail on my iMac screen. I love Anuar's voice so I thought why not watch it. Tears welled up in my eyes. My heart was filled with sadness and a dozen other emotions - feelings that I thought I had banished away ever since the son of a Mr Anwar (how ironic) broke my heart.
My mind whirls to an imaginary Kanye-Kim proposal moment. Anuar Zain appears in Starbucks at Longwood Avenue while I am sipping my soy latte, trying to read from the 'Fundamentals of Surgery' book. Anuar starts singing 'Andainya Takdir' (If it is fated), in his melodious voice and everyone looks up. Anuar Zain is here, singing to me, the only Malay person at Starbucks? Tears flow down my cheek and as Anuar is finishing his song, Prince Charming appears beside Anuar, carrying a stalk of lilies. Prince smiles and ... 
... to be continued ... [just like Anuar Zain's music video]

Part 1: Andainya Takdir (If it is fated)

Part 2: Cinta Takkan Berakhir (Love never ends)

Return to Jerusalem

Ibn Abbas: "And The Prophets lived therein. There is not a single inch in Jerusalem where a Prophet has not prayed or an Angel not stood."— At Trimidhi

“You’re shaking … so am I. It’s because of Jerusalem, isn’t it? 
One doesn’t go to Jerusalem, one returns to it. That’s one of its mysteries." — Elie Wiesel

An unexpected journey in May 2017 to Jerusalem was filled with challenges... only to find us at Al-Aqsa Mosque on the blessed night of Nifsu Syaaban.


Thank you, Allah the Exalted, for giving us the opportunity to return to Jerusalem. Please let us return again.

Dear (ex) Travel Mate

Dear (ex) Travel Mate, 

Where art thou? Have you found another travel partner? Or have I lost you to the world?

With the not-made-for-trekking El Naturalista shoes and a keffiyeh wrapped around my ala Ruby Rose hair, I started the trek through the "rose-red city half as old as time". I imagined life as a Nabataean in a period when time stood still. The breathtaking rock formations made my imagination run wild with excitement, with stories dancing in my head. I turned to you hoping to share those stories... but you were not there.

There was no Florence and the Machine singing "Wish that you were here". Rather Billie Ellish's enchanting voice whispering,
"But I remember you
Don't come back, it won't end well
But I wish you'd tell me too."

I went beyond the gorgeous Khazneh (Treasury), tanned, thirsty, tired but I carried on until I reached the highest point and came face to face with the magnificent Ad-Deir (the Monastery). It felt surreal. It was me, the mountains and God.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Story 7 - A (in)Sidious Game of Matchmaking

I know, I know... I said four stories. But it grew into six and now the seventh. Why? Coz I just remembered this story told by Mon Mothma. And because Cassian is still ignoring our advice! 

Mon 
Mothma called the story, 'The Hypnotism of Adi Gallia'. Adi Gallia was a gorgeous woman, a brave warrior and a perfect candidate for a life partner. One day, Adi Gallia disappeared from her home in Coruscant. Her family later discovered her staying in the home of one Prince Xizor (who was of the Sidious clan. C'est pas vrai!). It was so unlike Adi Gallia to abandon her family and follow a random stranger.

So, Adi Gallia's brother made a report to the Jedi Council about her disappearance. However, as Adi Gallia willingly left home without any coercion from Prince Xizor, the Council could not investigate the case any further. 

Adi Gallia's brother needed to know if she was alright. He went to the Prince's castle and then saw Adi Gallia in full wedding attire. She was about to be married to the wealthy prince who was a great manipulator and leader of the Black Sun. Brother persuaded the Prince to let Adi Gallia go home to visit her father who was 'dying'. He promised to bring Adi Gallia back in a few hours time. Prince Xizor agreed. Brother quickly took the dazed-looking Adi Gallia back home where she was immediately helped by the family's priest. Suddenly Adi Gallia woke up from her stupor. According to the High Priest, Adi Gallia was hypnotised by the Prince so that she would marry him. Adi Gallia broken down when she found out what had happened to her. Thankfully, Brother acted fast, lest Adi Gallia would be cut off from her own family and be doomed to spend her lifetime in misery in an evil household.  

*Moral of the story: Desperate people will resort to any means, even hypnotism and dark magic to get what they want.

Cassian, we are not surprised if Father Sidious has resorted to such dark means, even in this day and age. A desperate man is a dangerous man

**Story is based on real events. Names are changed for privacy. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Story 6 - A (in)Sidious Game of Matchmaking

So it's Valentine's Day today. So what? Since we don't celebrate this très commerciale day, life goes on, it's business as usual. But all the sentiments of love have actually made me reflect on why I pen all these (real) stories. I suppose it is only because I care about Cassian enough that I sincerely don't want him to get hurt by the unscrupulous Sidious family.

This sixth story is about called 'The Tragedy of Exar Kun'. Exar was an evil Lord of the Sith. He was so mean toward his parents (and other people) in Korriban that I felt strongly that he deserved the tragedy that happened to him. Still, even for an evil person, he didn't deserve the treatment by yes, another member of the Sidious clan. 

Many light years ago, Brother Sidious invited Exar to the house and said that he had three sisters whom he wanted Exar to meet. Exar was actually keen to get to know the elder one but she arrogantly scoffed him for being a low caste, uneducated, 'poor' soldier. Exar felt insulted and decided not to be involved with Family Sidious. But Brother was cunning. He persuaded Exar to marry Elan, the younger one instead. What? Is this some kind of bazaar auctioning women? Exar, again for whatever reason, agreed when the Brother hastened the wedding. Perhaps Exar was compelled by Dark Magic of the Force, and he married Elan. 

All seemed well but Exar began to torture his own parents more horribly than before marriage. When his family told Elan, she just smiled sweetly and said that she couldn't do anything because he was the warrior of the family. Everyone thought that Elan was an emotionally-abused wife until the truth came out recently. Exar's cousin, Bail Organa, paid Exar a visit to persuade him to abandon his bad ways. Elan went berserk and demanded Bail returned home with Exar as she didn't believe that her husband had spent the day with Bail. Bail was puzzled and realised that it was Elan who was the psychotic one (though she appeared innocent, sweet and 'religious'). It was not only her but her whole Sidious family were controlling Exar and his every move. Bail was more surprised when he discovered the threats and blackmails the Sidious family made to Exar. And worse, Exar seemed powerless against them. They even cut him off from his own friends and male cousins who were members of a highly respected family in Alderaan.

*After thought: I am beginning to believe that the stereotype about the Sidious clan is true. Their only mission in life is to get their daughters and sisters married, at any cost. Putain!

Cassian, this is already my sixth story. If you still want to get involved with Brianna the Handmaiden, it is your prerogative. But when the Sidious clan forces you to cut off ties with your family members and your longtime friends like me, you only have yourself to blame.  

**Story is based on real events. Names are changed for privacy

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Story 5 - A (in)Sidious Game of Matchmaking

This is a continuation of the series of stories of 'A (in)Sidious Game of Matchmaking' - The Tragic Tale of Stardust. I really like Stardust that when I recalled this story, it made me so angry!

Stardust was living a quiet life in Coruscant. She worked at a hair saloon owned by her adopted family. One might ask why she was leading a low profile. She was skilful, did her warrior training in Lokori, yet returned to work in a humble saloon as a hairdresser(!). Why? Maybe she just wanted to fade away from prying eyes. 

One day, a customer, Mrs Random, asked Stardust if she wanted to meet her son whom she said was nice and was looking for a life partner. Mrs Random persuaded Stardust's family to influence Stardust into marrying Son Random. For whatever reasons, Stardust agreed after meeting Son Random a few times. The elated Mrs Random showered Stardust with gold jewellery and even sponsored the wedding ceremony. 

Alas, a few months after the wedding, Stardust quietly walked away from the marriage. She left Coruscant for Galactic City, broken-hearted. “What happened?” I asked her family. It seemed that Stardust found out that Son Random was a hardcore drug abuser and even consumed drugs on her wedding night. Mrs Random knew about her son's drug addiction and was convinced that marriage would change him. That was why she showered Stardust with 'love', money and wealth... to entice Stardust to 'marry' her loser son. OMG!

*Moral of the story: Again, if it's too good to be true, then one must exercise more caution, n’est pas?

Cassian, why do you think Father Sidious searched the whole of Coruscant for someone to repair your precious heirloom watch? It's to keep you beholden to him. 


**Story is based on real events. Names are changed for privacy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

MMM (Mr Misogyny & Machiavellian)

Listening, watching and reading about the protests against Trump's inhumane policies, I suddenly thought of one MMM (Mr Misogyny & Machiavellian). I knew MMM from school and I thought that he was quite a nice guy. Ambitious yes, but so am I. Anyway, there were certain things that happened in the course of our friendship that made me distance myself from him. I should have done this much earlier but alas, I am soft-hearted. Among the many things he had said:

1. [When I got the Fulbright Scholarship]: Oh, I guess the Fulbright is not as prestigious as I thought it was.


2. I am thinking of perhaps changing my ethnicity to the ethnicity of my grandmother's. You know, for economic reason.

[My response: Ooi MMM, the biological family of your grandma threw her away, and our ethnic group raised her like she is one of us. And yet, you want to acknowledge that ethnic group who is known to abandon baby girls or worse, sell them off? What kind of person are you?]

3. What?! Me liking Hidayah? Eeehhh... When I look at her, I don't feel any lust towards her.


4. No wonder, she is not married! No man wants her... haha.


5. Someone told me that I look like [.....], the famous actor!


6. Humpphh, are you sure your great-grandfather bought Gedung Kuning (the Yellow Mansion)? 

7. Hidayah thinks she can change the world by studying at Cambridge?*


8. Hidayah is such a dreamer! Wanting to go to medical school and be a surgeon. Petui! She is not even smart and yet she wants to go to Harvard?**


Quel méchant! 


MMM, your behaviour is so not cool. You are tres Machiavellian that you put Niccolo to shame. God forbid, you turn into a little Trump-et!

----------

*See poster. Yes, a lot of Cambridge graduates "change the world."




**When I told my friends that I got rejected from medical school, one of them emailed me: "I hope that you will not be discouraged, and will continue to realize your dream of becoming a doctor."
No one made fun of my medical school ambition but YOU. And how ironic that you married a doctor. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#NoMuslimBan #NoWall

I received a message last Saturday night from Daniel Harray, an American friend whom I met at Penn Station when we were heading to Princeton - me with my rice cooker* and him with a big box of Krispy Kreme.
Anyway, Dan reached out to me because of the chaos that is happening in America. He wanted me to know that "nearly everyone I know is horrified by what our President is doing. I have signed petitions, made phone calls, and marched against his inhumane policies. I will continue to do so, and will cast votes for the most humanistic, progressive candidates."
Even though Dan and I lost touch these years, it warms my heart that he took the effort to assure me that not all Americans agree with President Trump's hateful policies. America was my home for a while and I have met many wonderful Americans who embody the true spirit of America - that unwavering spirit to stand up for the oppressed and fight for what they believe in.
America, I believe in you. Please do not disappoint this Lehigh girl.

*Read The Journey of the Rice Cooker