Friday, July 31, 2009

Which to choose? The plain white; classic and stylish? The black collared T; slick and aggressive? Or the black V-neck; dangerous and glamorous.

I paused. 

'Very well, now get a move on,' she seemed apprehensive.

I listened to myself breathe for a while.

'In your fucking dream', another voice came from behind, piercing through distance.

Or the striped shirt, with funny patchwork of purple, black and grey; radical, a way-out?

The clock is ticking. 


I stood up and reach for one.

I grabbed one at random from the yellowing pile at the bottom of the discolored, holey closet.

'Off, my man, off. You just blown it. It is over.' 

I grinned.

It was faded, grooved, baggy, smelled moldy and helluva muggy. 

I could see a guy in the mirror.

That guy who looked exactly like the weary, neglected, thoughtless fool that I was.

'Time is up!' and she hurled.

It felt great. 

Time is mine, chappy.


The clock is ticking, and still is.

You are right Patrick, it is time to let go everything we used to know. Because there is no point of building a house of cards and wait for it to fall.

Chained to history, you shall sink fast, surely.


The clock is ticking, and still is.

Have you picked yours?

posted by Izham Ismail at 2:49 pm | Permalink | 2 comments
Monday, July 27, 2009
Cucumber Sandwiches and Mint Tea

I have been struggling with knee injury for the past few months, and slowly getting back on my feet and just started kicking the ball again. I don't know what is happening to me, but my fitness is going into the pits. 

I am not getting old, you bitch. It means that I need more time on the field. As for you, you have to stop playing around with my time, and ask me out for football only if you are serious. 

"Let's futsal!" 


"Wey, main bola jom!" 

"Apa bikin, jom minum!"

"Futsal sometime?"

"Jom lepak!"

Wait until I replied, and you shall tongue-tie yourself, and your mouth will be full as if you are giving your neighbour a blowjob that you can't grab the phone, let alone talk to me. You are cheap, cheaper than Emmanuel Adebayor.

It is so hard to finish a book these days. I got bored in the middle of Rushdie's elegance, wit and ambiguity in Midnight's Children, and finished Conrad's long abandoned The Eastern Stories instead. Medical books are pristine, and set to make a comeback in a few months. By then, Rushdie might have written a new piece. 

That is why I hate people giving me books as present. It casts me a spell, an uncalled sense of blame and guilt, a responsibility to know the book the next time I met the person who gave me the book. I prefer to buy them myself.

But I have to finish with what I have first before starting to buy new ones.

People have no neutral opinion about me. They will either like me, or hate me. Maybe that is why I don't have lots of friends, and never get offended when people made fun of the number of friends I actually know on Facebook.

One thing it is just a fucking website, and another is, worrying over the number of friends I should have is the thing in the past for me. 

But I am worried if I am losing the people I already have. That is why most of the time, I didn't spend the time reading the book they gave to me, but writing a book about the story I'm having with them.

I am not a religious person you would want to get advise from, but I know that friend is a gift, a privilege you get after a good deed. God's work is mysterious, you can be a complete jerk and get millions of friends, and be that nice guy and get zero in return.

Either way, it is a good deed if you just be your fucking self, and God will pull the trick. You just have to stick around and make sure you are still alive to claim your gift(s).

I shall go now, the boys are sensitive bitches. They won't let me spend my time with you guys more than them. Still and all, the number of books I have to read is enough to make me go nuts. 

Thanks to them.

Anyway, what kind of book do you read?



posted by Izham Ismail at 6:37 pm | Permalink | 5 comments
Friday, July 24, 2009
Dear Abigail Jefferson

We chose to be in different story with whole different plot. 

I tried to sing to your chords. You thought you played beautiful epiphany. 

I tried to walk in your pace. You insisted not to slow down.

I tried to walk a bit faster. You didn't bother to catch up.

You never knew I was trying. 

You agreed that I was wrong. I agreed to agree. 

Now you've got yourself a nice colorful story to fit in. Joy.

Black and white is all I have for I will pretend I am doing well if you ask.

If you ask.

I am not mad if you hate me. I know you have learned so much from me. 

But never as much as what I have learned from you.

Please don't feel bad if you hate me but say thanks before you leave, at least. 

Good riddance.

posted by Izham Ismail at 1:08 am | Permalink | 5 comments
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
He made Edwin van der Sar and Ben Foster looked like tools between the goal post, captained Selangor's first ever Super League win, and wears number 17 while doing all that.

I have tried to hate him.

P.S. Happy 21st July.

posted by Izham Ismail at 12:05 pm | Permalink | 3 comments
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Makassar: An Anecdote

A different Sunday evening afforded me to enlighten myself by taking a walk. As though there were nothing to chew over, my final day after two weeks seemed so queer. I decided to stop and sat on the nearest bench, crossed-legged, and had my last view of Makassar which now getting much blurrier.

Even the intensity in the slap of Anging Mammiri could not help me to resign to actuality that this has come to an end.

I blame a friend for this, who put me in a good run for the endeavor that just well added some fine feature into my painting.

I thought my works are solitary activities, just to do justice to the stereotype that me and my boys shared - recluse, eccentric and narcissist. But few years working with the unfortunates whom luck is never on their side slowly complete me and I learnt that in reality, artists work in fraternity with other creators and visionaries in various form.

I have been called an atrocious cynic all my life and most times the title feels justified. But when push comes to shove, deep deep inside, I still have this persisting belief in the goodness of people. Maybe because of the fact that I chose not to denounce the entire human race just because of a few dreadfully evil people.

I realized that egos may clash but the fruit bears to limitless ingenious and aesthetic possibilities, and that is when I started working with other people instead with myself.

Formal way of drilling respect and courtesy was not in my family, but time and space to live a life without cents to rub together taught me well to appreciate what I have. Looking after my late grandfather and dad when they were battling for life, and years of pre-medicine doing compulsory voluntary works added the thought of unconditional love that some people just refuse to give.

So I flew for the first time to the land where my dark Malay skin would become unnoticed, and the land where my language, and my ancestors were born, Indonesia.

I used to only dream of ever becoming one of those people I saw on telly going from places to places and hearts to hearts, and few months ago, an e-mail I sent was replied, and the dream looked pretty to become a reality.

I joined few others in a journey to raise awareness of healthy lifestyle and to share few solutions to poor water sanitation in a number of slum areas in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Those few others were people with three brains - scholars from a number of South East Asia countries, who ply their mind studying in United States, and the kind of people who did not have to do much to make me even smaller.

God knows how lucky I was even to be in the same room with them, let alone talk to them.

The group dynamic developed itself, as we celebrated the difference in a brisk, although their American accent sounded the same to my ears. I shared a room with an Indonesian and a Singaporean, (excuse the irony, I don't have time for all that silly politics) and I was surprised to know how much I have learned from them.

Makassar is a humble city, slowly climbing the ladder of development, subtly equipping itself with modest facilities, but has brilliantly retained attractive pockets of traditional and environmental charm. And most importantly, it serves as home to lots of warm, friendly people.

If you are the kind of people who would check your face out every two minutes on a mirror, maybe you can try Antartica where the weather might be a little bit cooler and your face might not get that oily. It is July and sun goes out every day before it takes some day off during the transitional mixed weather in September.

I don't use facial wash foam or any kind of skin protecting solution to cater my Malay skin. Brushing teeth and rubbing soap all over the body are cosmetics enough for me.

So going to the beach and tropical jungle did nothing good to my already dark skin.

There is not so much to boast about the city of humble facilities. But my idea of paradise is more than that. Its nature make up for it brilliantly.

Just a quick note, malls in Makassar suck the biggest ball ever. It is worse than Fajar Kuala Kangsar even five years ago.

There is an abundance of white sandy beaches, exotic islands, lush virgin tropical jungle, quaint fishing village and dazzling waterfalls, and if your idea of paradise is warm sands with gentle waves and spectacular sunsets, then you will find it in Makassar.

I will definitely miss the time I spent at Pantai Losari, Pantai Akkarena, Pulau Samalona and Pulau Kodingareng Keke, although getting there on a boat nearly made me throw up my breakfast.

I don't have any problem with the food, because like the language we speak, it derived from the same ground zero. If there is anything that can be shared by Malaysians and Indonesians, without any prejudices, it would be the food.

We could engage in emotional debates on who is more Malay and above all, who is greater than the other, but at the end of it all, we would end up eating the same food with shrimp paste and chilli.

Language, music and food are national and cultural psyches for me, and most people take it for granted. It is sad to see this happening, even to a culture that I don't belong. Part of Malaysia is losing it and most Malaysians believe that being westernized is the way to go. Makassar is a relief - people still listen to dangdut.

Thanks Bakso, Mi Pangsit, Es Pisang Ijo and Es Teler. You guys are magic.

I come from a Malay speaking family (Kedah accented Malaysian Malay language to be exact), but I can only sing Indonesian songs, not speaking the language eloquently. The structure of the language maybe share the same root with Malaysian Malay but the difference of basic and essential vocabularies is just too stark that I might curse in Indonesian without knowing it.

I tried very hard to speak Indonesian Malay, and much to my dismay, it became a laughing stock all the time. So I stopped being flexible and spoke Malaysian Malay instead. And the laugh volumed up. This is worse than knowing nuts about the language.

Language is a big deal, and it is fun to see how the difference made us closer.

The team had to work closely with local university and school students to reach the community better, and to ensure the sustainability of the project, we were tasked to tutor them to set up a local team after we left to continue with the work we piloted.

We learned about each other pretty effortlessly, and while doing that, I learned a great deal about myself.

So there were two slum areas that have been plotted on our map, Tallo and Ujung Tanah, and with extensive preparation, basic understanding and huge desire to inspire each other to touch people's hearts, the bus left the luxurious hotel for the part of the world that I never thought I would set my foot on.

Deja fucking vu.

It is the part that my parents once lived in when Kuala Lumpur was still a thriving young boy. My older sister and brother had the privilege of the time and I could only give my attention to the story of how hard life was to the family.

So it was pretty much an e

motional outreach, as I was looking not only at one part of myself, but also the other part that survived the ordeals that my family was lucky to live through.

It was history all over again.

I led the team of 30 people and targeted more than a hundred households to tell and share some stories. We went houses to houses, and witnessed how lucky we are to live and grow up in the lap of luxury.

The people showered in the rain, the kids swam in the gutter for fun, looking for toys and food in the trash.

When I was their age, I played PlayStation.

I guess, the people I met there were sent from up there to fill me in.

I met an old lady, probably in her late 70s, who lived alone in the slum for many years and who children went abroad to work and study. She is too old to walk, let alone work her daily needs.

If it was my neighborhood, I don't think she would make it this long - everyday, she has her neighbor coming over to help her with her life's drudgeries. She might live on her own, but she is never alone.

I met a guy, who works as a street vendor all his life and had to feed his wife and 3 children everyday. He doesn't have a motorcycle, let alone a car, so he had to walk for miles and miles to make ends meet. His inflamed feet was visible and I could see how onerous his life is from the look on his face. No matter how many times I assumed he tried to kill himself, at least he is still holding and moving on.

In three months, we are of the same age. I complaint like a bitch when my car breaks down. He can kill me anytime.

I wonder how many of you would have by this point be wondering which of the many people I met and worked above were Indonesian, Singaporean, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Pakistani, Thai, man, woman, boys, girls, Malay, Chinese, Buddhist, Muslim, Lutheran, Protestant or American.

These facets seem to mean an awful lot these days, no?

I wonder what would it be like if we could discard the complexities of such aspects of our identities, and put aside those mostly limiting and habitually liberating denotations of who the fuck we are, just for one fucking moment?

Because deep inside us, there is a voice which needs a listening. It wanted to be connected, and has a lovely desire - a desire to belong.

So, Makassar in one word, interesting. Fucking interesting, if you need two.

I made quite a number of new friends, new favorite people and most importantly, new 'teachers'. For those who made it in my book, you know who you are. Thank you very much.

So that was two weeks ago.

I have to walk further on.


"Well is this why you cling to every little thing, and polverize and derrange all your senses, maybe life is a song but you're scared to sing along, until the very ending." - Patrick Park

P.S. Jacko is dead and the world suddenly moonwalk. Owen is in town and the boys shall convene for a spin to Bukit Jalil tonight. The lads will be off on a road trip to Malacca the next day. How is my summer again?

posted by Izham Ismail at 1:47 pm | Permalink | 8 comments
Sunday, July 05, 2009
So, How Is My Summer So Far?

You tell me. 
posted by Izham Ismail at 7:14 pm | Permalink | 14 comments