31 August 2013

I Want A Vacation

*

As much as I love Kuala Lumpur, even I have to admit that every once in awhile, I feel like getting away from it all and just do nothing somewhere else.

Lamanya tak bercuti. As in a proper, touristy holiday. Bangkok was awesome last year, but what I'm pining for is one of those 'escapes' to some tropical island somewhere.

I wouldn't even mind going alone, if I'm to be honest.

Must plan this. Soon.

Bora Bora

*

24 August 2013

Rawak Lewat August


*

On Ramadhan and Eid

Keluarga Raya 2013
This year's Ramadhan and Eid came and went by a bit too fast for me. Ramadhan used to last forever and Eid seemed to be an endless series of open houses and beraya.
 
I suppose I'm just getting older, and celebrations don't seem to hold that much meaning anymore. But anyway, this year's Eid was fun. It was the first time all of the siblings went back in four years. Banyak cousin-cousin kecil yang holyshit dah besar rupanya.
I looked fabulous, too. As always.
Maybe that's the thing about Eid and Balik Kampung; you can't do it every year. Once every four years seems just about right.


On Writing, Again
My current ongoing series, The Flower Heart, has a small but (it seems, correct me if I'm wrong) loyal series of readers. For that, I am thankful. To be honest it's turning out longer than I thought it would. That's a good thing, kot. What started out as what I thought would be a 10-15 episode series is quickly turning into an actual novella. Last count as a word file, font size 12 with Times New Roman on A4 gave me about a 100+ pages already. 

Shit. At this pace I could have finished Kenanga. I still do, but maybe not now.

I've been pretty prolific, too. Close friends would know the reason as to why, of course.


On Getting A Bike

With bad traffic and sakit telur isi minyak harsh truths about living in the Klang Valley and Singapore, this year my brother and best friend both decided to purchase motorcycles. And because aku pun dengki and gatal nak jugak, I would like to get a bike too.

My brother has this.

Megelli 250M Motard
And my friend has this.

Honda CB400F. I'd love this, tapi mahal.


I have zero experience with bikes, so I'm probably going to start small.

With this, kot. The Keeway RKV200.

Most importantly, it's pretty!

It's a good bike, it seems. Good to start on with, anyway.

Just waiting for a windfall of money to drop by. Haha.


On Smartphones

My Nokia Lumia 800 is screwing me over recently, so I'm thinking of getting a new phone, maybe in the next month or so. I checked out what's nice on iOS, Android and WP7. Not interested in anything from Blackberry hahahaha.

For the past year or so I've been on WP7.8. It's a great interface. But of all the apps yang tak available on WP, it's fucking Instagram. Aku suka kot Insta (though I haven't got an account yet), and I don't want third-party clients.

Android phones are fantastic to be honest. Especially macam HTC ONE. Shhiitttt. But besar gila kot. I don't think I'll ever want a big ass phone for now.

I've never really been pulled into wanting one until the iPhone 4 was out; tu pun I waited it out. Chiefly because I didn't like the iOS aesthetic though the hardware was superb and the ecosystem fantastic. But Apple's fixing it with iOS 7 (which is suuuuper pretty) and the upcoming iPhone 5C is also suuuuper pretty.

nakkk!


So yeah, I'm finally getting on the iOS bandwagon, yay.


On Masters in Gastronomy

I got my results a few weeks ago, expecting to maybe sangkut one paper. But lo and behold:

yay!
Not too bad huh, for a cincai-cincai attempt hahahaha.

Again, I reiterate I'm not doing a masters degree to get promotions at work. I'm doing it for my own ego.

On August
August has been a bittersweet month.

There is something I wish I could repeat over and over again.

:)


---



04 June 2013

Rawak Awal June



shades & blades = edwan awesome



Hello. Edwan kembali untuk membebel:


On Blogging
  1. Man I hate that word; 'blogging'. But anyway I am re-opening this blog due to a perceived need that I need to write regularly, again. I've come to the realization (again) that, uh, writing keeps me sharp of mind and tongue (again).
  2. Having said that, I suppose I'm not gonna 'blog' like I used to. Most likely, I'll use this old, old weblog as an outlet for , I don't know, a social commentary, or observations from my point of view.
  3. So I don't really know if there are still readers around. I used to have a quite a healthy number of readers last time. Back when things were more interesting hahaha.

On Work, Work, and Study


  1. This year is the year I've decided to take it all and challenge myself to the absolute limits of my capabilities.
  2. So I'm currently juggling three things: my full-time job at Sunway University (which I'm loving), a free-lance/part-time gig at Fried Chillies (which I'm also loving.. help!).
  3. And since March, I've enrolled myself as a student again at Universiti Teknologi Mara, taking a Masters in Gastronomy.
  4. I had doubts if I could do all three things at one time. I still do, to be honest.
  5. Sebenarnya aku penat.
  6. But I'll take it all. This song will explain: I'll Take It All - Joss Stone 

On Masters in Gastronomy
  1. Three years after completing my bachelors degree, I, as mentioned above, decided to take it one step further and do a masters degree.
  2. I'm enrolled in a Masters in Gastronomy course at UiTM.
  3. Gastronomy is about the study of food and people, or rather, the study of human social behavior... and food... and management.... *mulut berbuih*
  4. Why did I take this? Well, to be honest, it is NOT to naik pangkat or to naik gaji.
  5. I'm taking this because.. well, because I can. It's for my own ego. Though doubtless it'll be an advantage to my career, I don't think I'm going to use it as a batu loncatan.

On Story-Telling
  1. It's been awhile since I wrote stories, so I'm currently writing one now.
  2. The Flower Heart is my attempt at a more adult, explicit style of story, but it will become something I (and my readers I guess) am more familiar with as the story progresses. I also wish that this story will appeal to guys as well as girls. But oh well.
  3. Meanwhile, A Hatred of Light and Talking With An Alternate You is still around if anyone wants a glimpse of my earlier works.

 On June
  1. June is traditionally a good month for me. May this year be the same :)
Okay. Sekian. Nak tidur.








Edwan adalah awesome.


--

29 October 2011

On Masterchef Malaysia & Us, The Culinarians.

---------

*the opinions below are entirely my own and do not reflect the entire chef community.
*and because i'm an egomaniac, i'm going to pepper this posts with pictures of me, my students and the stuff we've been doing in culinary school.

 The Masterchef series has been launched in Malaysia, to much public joy. And yet after watching the first few episodes, I cannot help but feel frustrated.

"Edwan, did you audition?"

No, I did not.

"Edwan, why didn't you audition?"

Because apparently I'm over-qualified (but since my brother works for Astro, I couldn't even if I could. Sucks.).

A menu I created. 2010.
 
You see, I consider myself a CHEF. I was taught the Culinary Arts, I earned the theoretical and practical know-how of the Culinary Arts, and I worked as a CHEF, and now, I am passing on that knowledge to another generation of what I hope will be future CHEFS.

myself, teaching, in class. Garde Manger, 2011.
Teriyaki Duck, with Fried Potatoes, Snow Peas & Sauteed Zucchini. One of my students.   


Pan-seared salmon, with soy reduction, red basil, cucumber-rice 'sushi' and ikura. One of my students.

I think most people are seduced by the glamor and the popularity of celebrity and TV chefs. I admit, I was, too. Chef Wan, Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver and my favorite, Gordon Ramsay, have given most of the general public (and I speak locally) a perception that life as a chef is glamorous, and that it pays well.
this gentlemen quit engineering to become a chef. started all over. from scratch. he's doing very well.  
Salad of Crab, Avocado and Tomato Salsa with Balsamic Reduction. Recipe: Garde Manger, WILEY. Made in class.
 It's not. And no, it doesn't pay well. It's a tough, tough line of work, where you work sometimes all day long, sleep 4 hours a night, and have to prepare food for hundreds of different people of different tastes. It's a life where the people you serve rarely get to see you. Most times, you're nameless, faceless behind the kitchen-wall. Professional cooking is NOT for the faint of heart. It is NOT for people thinking that it's an easy job (which, even in this day of celebrity chefs and culinary schools mushrooming, a lot of people seem to think it is).

a colleague, Chef Fazlina Zulkifli, demonstrating how to finish a dessert, mille-fieulle.

No. The road to actually becoming a top chef is hard-fought, and filled with physical, mental and emotional turmoil. SUSAH SANGAT, to be honest. Yeah, sure, there are that lucky few gifted enough, and strong enough, to make it UP THERE. But for the majority of us, it's something like this:
  1. Enrol/Endure at least two years of Culinary School. Cooking+assignments!
  2. Apply for internship. Be a slave for three months or so. Literally.
  3. Graduate.
  4. Apply for job. Be a (better paid) slave, for a few years.
  5. Continue slaving. Move up the ladder. Quickly, if you're good or you're a suck-up. Slowly, if you're average or not a brown-noser.
  6. Continue work. HARD. Earn an average salary of around RM2000.
  7. Fight your way to the top. Sleep 4 hours a night. Work 8, 10, 12, 16-hour shifts.
  8. Be tired. On off-days, look at the sky and think: "What's that bright thing up there?"
  9. Get insulted or ridiculed or looked down upon by A LOT of people.
  10. Repeat, for YEARS.
You think chefs are a guaranteed path to wealth? Reality check. Just like any other job, most chefs (and I exclude the gifted) only really make good money when they're 40 onwards. You think it's glamorous? Like Chef Wan seems to portray? It's not.

It's not.

What has this all got to do with Masterchef Malaysia?

Hear me out. But first, a disclaimer: in no way am I saying that the contestants are terrible. They are amateurs. Of course I don't expect them to be Michelin-star quality. Now, that's out of the way, so here goes:

I feel that Masterchef Malaysia should have opened itself to us, CHEFS. If they were worried about an unfair advantage, then perhaps they should have limited it to those with, say, less than FIVE years experience. Better still, place the priority on CULINARY ARTS students. If professionals were allowed to compete together, it would be awesome to see amateurs against them; amateurs, who rely a lot on tradition and skills passed from generation to generation, against professionals who learned cooking formally. THEN we can see a true MASTERCHEF.

Maybe this opinion is skewed. I felt a bit frustrated about not being able to audition due to the fact I’m a ‘professional’.
But, as I pointed out above, a lot of us (us, being people who studied the culinary arts professionally) had to go through at least 2 years of culinary school, and after that, slave our way from the bottom rung of the kitchen ladder to get to wherever we are today.
some of my culinary arts students.
one of many kitchen classes. the students go through a LOT.

who knows, maybe one of them will be the next Ramsay?
 We work long, hard, shifts. We earn peanuts.

Seared and roasted Dijon glazed Striploin of Beef, with Spring Vegetables, Pommes Frites and Black-Pepper and Lemon Sauce. My own creation.
And there are so many of us who are talented, but in this ultra-competitive industry, it's difficult for us get national renown and recognition. I will admit that a lot of the professionals disregard the TV show, but I still believe that shows such as Masterchef Malaysia can play an instrumental role in the recognition of CHEFS in Malaysia. We have earned industry acknowledgement, we earn it constantly. But the general public? How many of them knew about Culinaire 2011? CAM? Youth CAM?

Then Masterchef Malaysia comes along, and will eventually crown a layman with no kitchen experience as ‘Masterchef’; said winner gets RM100000 (!!!) (the entry level salary for a hotel chef is around RM1400… and stays like that for a year or two…) and a book deal. Maybe a TV show?

Please realize I am not saying it's a terrible show. For the general public (admittedly, the target audience) it's great entertainment. And I acknowledge that shows such as Masterchef Malaysia do their part to increase the credibility of the Culinary Arts in Malaysia. Seeing Chef PapaJoe and Chef Zubir is a treat. Watching the contestants go through a condensed version of what I had to go through is great fun (although sometimes irritating).


Shows like Masterchef would have been great for us in the industry, especially to the young ones to showcase their talent.  But as it stands, we'll have to wait on the sidelines for that opportunity to be nationally renowned.

And though I realize most of us will actually prefer to do it the hard way (and repeat the steps I mentioned above), I still think there are some of us, especially at a very young age, who deserve recognition now.

It's about time.

Here I would like to take time to appreciate the efforts of The Chefs Association of Malaysia, as well as it's youth branch, The Youth Chefs Association of Malaysia, for their constant efforts to do good in the name of The Culinary Arts. To those people with passion, keep up the good work. Keep fighting the good fight.



- Edwan


22 September 2011

Rawak Lewat September

----------------------------------------

Edwan Adalah Awesome

I like to say that I am the coolest, awesomest, best looking human being alive.

Saying it makes me feel confident. Saying it improves my self esteem. And when I'm confident and my self-esteem is healthy, I can make things happen. I can make things work. I can take on the world. Bring it on.

"Perasan," you say. And you know what? I honestly don't care.

You wanna know why?

It's because I don't want to be that guy who is so self-loathing, so self-critiquing, so self-depreciating that he is left with not ONE ounce of confidence inside. I don't want to be the guy with ZERO self-esteem.

Besides, I think some people are secretly jealous that they don't have the guts, the confidence or the balls to say it out loud.

Sucks to be them.
-------------------------------

On Writing Romance and Horror, And Sometimes Both At The Same Time

I haven't written fiction for quite some time. I'll blame lack of time, but to be honest it's also because of a current shortage of good ideas. There are a few here and there, but they're unwritten. Stuck inside my head.

For instance, I have (what I think is) a cool premise to form a small novella (haha, small novella) with an old, traditional Malay horror as the backbone to the story. I've even written the storyline. I just haven't written it out. And I don't know when I would.

I also want to address a dilemma I face. Not a major one. Just one I think seems weird. It's this:

Whenever I write romantic fiction, people seem to think it revolves around something that has happened to me. Sure, most stories are inspired by real-life events, but come on, does every story have to be some incident that occured to the writer?


------------------------------------

Vehicular Weaponry

I have noticed that a lot of people, especially women, carry some form of weapon inside their car. Mostly, it's a short parang.

"It's useful to have," said one dude/dudette. "You never know when you might need to use it for protection."

Against what? I have no idea. Rempit, probably. Mostly I think it leans more towards a psychological comfort, as in, knowing that you have a weapon makes you feel safer. Hopefully never should the situation arise when one will actually have to use the weapon.Anyway, I have jumped on the weapon carrying bandwagon. Now, beside me, tucked between the car and the seat, lies a sword.

---------------------------------------

The Changes On Facebook

Every so often, Facebook will update their layout as they discover trends in usage, or they discover more convenient ways for people to share stuff. I like the latest update.

Then there's always the people who go "OMG WHY FACEBOOK IS SO DIFFERENT OMG I CANT USE IT GIVE THE OLD ONE BACKK!"

The 'old one' was the one they complained about before the 'old one', before the other 'old one', and that 'older one.'

If it's so difficult for you to adapt, or if its so frustrating for you to use, then easy: stop using it altogether. If not, then get used to it la, because I'm pretty sure it's gonna change again in the future.

Or maybe by then most people will be on Google+?

------------------------------------------------

Empathy

Too much empathy is never a good thing. Everyone should learn to not give a crap so much.

18 May 2011

STORY: Twenty


-----

DISCLAIMER:

Story might have disturbing content. Read at your own discretion. All factual errors, as well as errors in writing, are mine, and unintentional. This is a work of fiction. The situations presented in the story and the feasibility of it happening is debatable.

<"Wake up, Hasnul," said the guard at the door. But it wasn’t necessary: he was already up. He had been for the past hour or so. He sighed and arched his back, stretching his arms and legs as well. The guard at the door banged on metal bars with a short baton. “Come on, medical check-up.”

“Just me?” Hasnul asked, not really expecting an answer.

“And a few others.”

Hasnul nodded and washed his face from the small sink in his cell. He leaned on his arms and raised his head, scanning the tiny rectangle he’s been calling his own for the past seven months. He heard banging on the metal bars again and the door being unlocked. “Come on, Hasnul.” The guard smelled like lukewarm roti canai and tepid dhall.

“Had a good breakfast?” Hasnul said.

“Yes,” was the curt, short reply.

“Am I gonna get mine before the check-up?”

“No.”

Hasnul snorted. He stepped out of his cell and saw a neat line of fellow inmates already formed adjacent to the cells. He made a quick count; there were nine of them. He joined the line and the guard led them to the infirmary for their medical check-up. Hasnul was the last in line. The inmate standing in front of him was a scrawny Indian with a shaved head. They walked, some of them shuffling their feet lazily. None of them talked though. Hasnul sensed a thick stillness in the air. For all purposes, they knew why there were going for the medical check-up. He knew. His attempt at banter with the prison guard was a way of defending his own mind from the event that would happen soon.

He took a deep breath as they reached the infirmary. He suddenly wished he had a fever, or a sudden onset of the shits or whatever. But of course, when his time came for the check-up, the doctor confirmed that he was as fit as a horse.

“You’re all clear,” said the doctor, who looked like a thinner, taller version of SM Salim. Soon after, another prison guard, along with a police officer, arrived at the infirmary. The police officer was a kind looking man with a moustache as thick as a broom.

“Is everyone ready?” he asked, but to no one in particular. He looked at the inmates, and gave a satisfied nod. He motioned to the prison guard. “Bring them to the courtyard.”

At the mention of this, some of the inmates along with Hasnul swallowed. One of them started looking visibly nervous. Hasnul himself felt a pit in his stomach, and his head felt dizzy. The prison guard led them to the courtyard. As they passed by, they heard the whipping sounds.

To Hasnul, they sounded very loud. Occasionally they heard muffled cries of pain coming from the convicts.

Soon enough Hasnul and the others were led into a sun-lit courtyard. All the prisoners took a look at the rack; A-shaped, ready to receive them. About 20 meters opposite the rack was a tent set up, and beneath the shade, sat at a small office desk, was the police officer in charge. The officer cast long glances at the prisoners, including Hasnul, as they were led to an empty room. Hasnul noticed the presence of several other prison personnel, including the doctor who had given them their check-up. He must have arrived just after them.

They were led to a waiting room, with a single guard on watch.

“How many have you got?” asked a dark skinned Malay man to another prisoner with a snaggle toothed grin.

“Ten, God forgive me.”

“Fifteen”

“Six.”

The answers volleyed back and forth between them, and Hasnul noticed all of them were trying to make light of the situation. Hasnul himself felt his knees were turning into rubber, and there was a pit in his stomach that he couldn’t quite settle. A few of the prisoners nervously shook their hands and feet, as if it would help.

The first prisoner was summoned. The rest looked at him solemnly as the prison officer led him out. From the courtyard they heard the sentence being announced, and they heard the voice of their fellow convict answer the trivial queries by the officer in charge.

“Sometimes I think I’d rather get 100 years in prison rather than face this day,” one of the waiting convicts said. A few of them agreed. Hasnul hung his head between his knees as he sat on the floor, his buttocks cool from the cement. A prison guard stepped inside the room and announced, “Hasnul Ariff bin Hasnul Mat.”

Hasnul stood up, slowly and deliberately. “Yes, Tuan.”

“Follow me.”

They stepped into the courtyard. The caning rack was empty, but Hasnul could have sworn he saw droplets of blood on the cement floor. The whipsman, a burly, muscular Indian man, was taking his pick from a rack of thick rattan canes. Hasnul was led to the tent and he faced the officer in charge.

“Hasnul Ariff bin Hasnul Mat,” said the officer. “Identification card number 740909-04-4439.”

“Yes, Tuan.”

“Today you are to be sentenced to 20 strokes of the rotan.” The officer let it hang. “Do you understand?”

“Yes, Tuan.”

“If so, you may go and prepare. Thank you.”

“Yes, Tuan. Thank you, Tuan.”

Hasnul felt like an idiot. There were so many eyes present to witness the caning. This was not merely a physical punishment, he thought. His mind would hurt as much as his buttocks.

He was then led to a small room.

“Please undress and put on this loincloth,” the escorting officer said. His name tag read ‘Malik’. “Prepare, cooperate, and this will be over before you know it.” Officer Malik then left the room as Hasnul undressed and put on the loincloth. The loincloth seemed like nothing more than a small leather apron which covered his cock and balls, leaving his buttocks exposed.

He took deep breaths, and, as an afterthought, he slapped his butt-cheeks a few times. He thought that might help numb the nerves. He paced in the small room. The first fingers of fear began to brush him, and started to sweat. The beads of perspiration were cold, and felt very heavy on his skin. His mind was swirling and his thoughts landed on some familiar faces from his past life. A life he had spent and wasted through one fatal error in judgment. He felt the pangs of a headache.

Faces. Young faces, bubbly, full of life. The laughter of children.

Hasnul steadied himself. The fear was being augmented by another powerful feeling; guilt.

More giggling. The cacophony of noises from a playground.

Hasnul rubbed his face with the palm of his hands.

“Ready?”

He turned at the voice, startled. It was the prison guard, Malik. Hasnul hesitated. Finally he nodded.

“Come,” the guard said. Hasnul moved after him as he was led to the caning rack. A few prison officials or policemen (he didn’t know, and at this point, it didn’t matter) were already there, along with the doctor. The officer who escorted him motioned for him to lie flat on his stomach on the caning rack.

“Spread your legs, lean forward,” said one of the guards. Hasnul complied.

Two young girls. One of them had curly brown hair and honey brown skin. The other was a Pan-Asian girl with grey eyes. Beautiful.

The prison guards tied him on the rack. When he was secure, they strapped a guard, which looked like a saddle, on his buttocks. The guard exposed the solid meat of the gluteus while keeping the other areas protected. That was where he would be caned.

Hasnul, watching. The two young girls were playing badminton. The other children didn’t pay attention to them. Hasnul was. From his car, he watched their lithe young bodies move on the court. He started to feel a familiar tingle from his loins.

The prison guards finished securing him to the rack and gave the thumbs up to an officer in full police uniform, standing beside the rack. The caner, the same muscular Indian man, had taken his position behind Hasnul. Hasnul couldn’t see him, of course. But he somehow felt the mans presence.

Hasnul in the car, rubbing his crotch. His heart skipped a beat as one of the girls jumped for a smash, and as she did so her shirt lifted, exposing a band of creamy white skin. That’s it, Hasnul thought. He stepped out of the car. As he walked towards them, he could barely contain his excitement.

Hello girls, he said. The girls stopped playing and looked at him curiously.

Hi, my name is Uncle Hasnul. I’m from the Badminton Association. You know Rashid Sidek?

The girls nodded. They were cautious. Hasnul smiled.

Well, Rashid Sidek is my boss, and he’s asked me to scout around looking for future talents. I see you two are very good. How old are you?

The girls smiled. We’re ten years old, they said.

That’s wonderful! We need young talent like you two. Say, would you like to meet Rashid Sidek?

Wide smiles and enthusiastic nods. This was in the bag. They were not the first.

Well let’s say we take a ride and go see him, would you like that? Hasnul said, smiling.

Hesitation. The girls looked at each other. They needed convincing.

Come on, I’ll send you back straight away. It’s not far, just ten minutes drive, Hasnul said. Rashid is waiting for me, he continued.

The girls looked at each other, shrugged sweetly and said, Okay.

“Ready?” the officer in charge motioned to the caner. The caner nodded, flexing the thick rattan cane in his hands. Hasnul heard them vaguely. His eyes were glazed, his expression void.

“TWENTY STROKES,” the officer in charge said in a loud and commanding voice. Hasnul closed his eyes.

The girls in the car, faces eager to meet a national hero. Hasnul driving, already feeling moist in his pants.

Say, why not we ask Rashid to play a game with us? I can drop my house and get racquets?

Without waiting for an answer he drove on to a house. Not his house; but a house. It was his sisters house. She wasn’t in the country. He had the keys. Normally he wouldn’t have, but it was the nearest place. He couldn’t wait anymore.

Come inside, I need to look for the racquets, Hasnul said. He glanced around and saw no neighbours around. The two girls stepped in and he closed the door behind them. He thought he had locked it.

Wait here girls, Hasnul said, Uncle wants to go get the stuff.

The girls looked a bit uneasy, but they smiled at him.

The officer in charge drew a breath. Loudly, he said, “ONE.”

Hasnul stiffened his body. In a split second he swing of the cane, and he heard the cane slice through the air. There was sickening CRACK as the cane came into contact with the skin of his buttocks. He squeezed his eyes as every pain receptor in his body seemed to go off at once. The pain was monstrous, burning through the flesh and reaching to his bones. He could almost feel the tiny blood vessels beneath the skin burst.

In the house. Girls, he called from the room, Can you help Uncle with these racquets please? He was already undressed, his cock hanging stiff between his thighs. He heard the shuffle of small feet coming in from the living room. He stood behind the door, ready to spring his trap.

As the girls walked into the room, he slammed the door behind him and locked it. The girls yelled and spun around. Hasnul paced forward in rapid steps and he slapped both girls hard across the face. They fell to the floor, shocked. When they saw he was naked, their eyes widened and they cowered from him.

Now, Hasnul said, his voice deeper, crueler. Now, don’t scream and don’t do anything stupid. If you do, I will kill you. I will take a pair of scissors and stick it in your necks, got it?

The girls began to cry. He slapped them again. One of the girls, the Pan Asian, had her lips split from the slap.

You can cry, I like that, Hasnul said.

“TWO,” and a whip, and another lightning bolt of pain shot through his body. His buttocks trembled. He could not see it, but the rest could; the skin now had two almost parallel welts, about 8 inches long, spanning the length of the buttocks. The muscle beneath was already bruised and bleeding on the inside. The welts had faint, feathery edges where the skin was starting to tear.

“THREE!”

Hasnul gritted his teeth. He could feel a hand on his back, patting him, as if reassuring him. He found that odd. Punishment apparently came with compassion.

“FOUR!”

The cane seemed to sink into his flesh, and he felt the rattan tip swipe into the welt, trying to open a wound. The witnesses could see that the skin was not yet broken; but none of them doubted it soon will be.

In the room. Now take off your clothes, Hasnul said. The girls didn’t comply. TAKE IT OFF, Hasnul said. The girls flinched. TAKE THEM OFF OR I’LL SMASH YOUR HEADS ON THE WALL, Hasnul said.

The girls undressed, hesitantly, out of fear. As they came out of their clothes, Hasnul began to stroke himself. That’s it, he said. Lemme see them little bodies.

He moved closer towards the girls. They withdrew from him. He punched one in the jaws, the other on the chest. They fell down, crying, frightened. GET UP, Hasnul said. Come here, stand in front of me, he said as he sat on the bed. The girls were too scared to disobey; both of them now bore bruises from being hit. They stood in front of him.

He caressed their bodies with his hands, noting the absence of chest bumps. No matter, this was how he liked it. He leaned in to kiss their chests but they pulled back, so he smacked their heads together. They dropped to the floor, almost wailing but he shut them up by squeezing their faces and telling them if they so much as raised a voice, he’d cave their skulls in with a hammer.

“FIVE!!”

The cane swung fast, and hit hard. This stroke felt like a white hot knife with a serrated blade was plunged into his buttocks. Hasnul kept quiet, but his whole body was trembling. Drool slipped out between his lips, and tears started to well in his eyes.

“SIX!”

Whup! The cane struck again. He felt the tip brush against a grainy, sandy wetness and he knew that his skin was broken. A few of the witnesses started to wince. They saw what Hasnul could not. The cane had sliced open the skin of the buttocks, exposing the dermis. Blood trickled from the wound. It looked raw.

“SEVEN!!”

Hasnul’s hips jerked from the pain and the guard’s fastenings opened. “Whoa, whoa, hang on,” said one of the guards. “We need to tie him back up.” The officers began to re-secure Hasnul to the rack. He was glad for this reprieve, although he knew it would only be for a minute or two.

In the room. You, Hasnul said to the curly haired girl. On your knees. She did as she was told. She was sobbing. Suck this, Hasnul said. The girl shook her head furiously. Tears fell on his feet. DO IT! Hasnul scolded. He grabbed the girl by the hair and forced her to suck him.

The Pan Asian drew her gaze away. Hasnul rammed a hand between her thighs. She exclaimed in pain. Hasnul pushed his fingers inside and she let out a tiny shriek.

SHUT UP, he said. The girl was trying hard not to wail. Hasnul leaned forward and licked her face like a dog would lick its master. The curly haired girl had stopped. Hasnul leapt to his feet.

Lie down on the bed, he said.

“EIGHT!”

“NINE!”

“TEN”

The strokes came in even intervals. Hasnul had thought that the pain would dull with each stroke. He was dead wrong. Each time the cane slammed into his skin, it was as if there were new, fresh pain receptors just waiting to fire his body. One of the attending guards whispered into his ears, “Patience. Ten more.”

Hasnul sobbed.

They were crying in pain as he forced himself into them. He bit their shoulders hard, drawing blood. When their cries seemed to be just a little louder than he liked, he punched them in the stomach, and slapped their faces hard.

Hasnul didn’t care. Their youth was what he wanted. He toyed with their bodies as if they were dolls. He touched them here and there, and ran his tongue over them.

“ELEVEN”

“TWELVE”

The witnesses to the caning watched. Some of them were stoic, expressionless. These were the witnesses who had seen this a hundred times before. The others, of whom this was the first time, were visibly distraught. They winced and grimaced at the strokes. They were in amazement at how fragile the human skin really was. The buttocks belonging to the convict started to look like raw meat. The blood already trickled onto the cement floor. The officer announcing the number of strokes looked as grim as Death itself.

“THIRTEEN!”

“Aagh,” Hasnul exclaimed in pain. He pissed himself. His feet were stiff, frozen in their archways. Tears ran freely from his eyes. Saliva dripped from his open mouth.

“Patience, patience,” said a soothing voice. He felt a hand on his back. It was strangely comforting.

The girls huddled in a corner. Hasnul pleasuring himself, looking at their bruised and battered bodies. They were crying.

That was fun, Hasnul said and laughed. He was feeling a bit drowsy now. He had used both girls.

Now sit there while I take a breather, he said. He laughed again.

Just as he dropped his head to lay down a moment, the girls suddenly got on their feet. They were so quick. They opened the door and ran out, screaming. They were still naked.

Hasnul got to his feet but slipped and fell. He hit his head on a cupboard. He cursed out loud.

NO NO NO NO NO NO.

He ran out the bedroom just as he heard the front door being opened and the girls running out, screaming. He heard a neighbor exclaim in shock, OH MY GOD WHAT ON EART—

Hasnul ran back to the room and got dressed. He rushed. He got back in the car and slammed into the gate, forgetting that it was still closed. The girls were no where to be seen; a neighbor had probably taken them in.

“FOURTEEN!”

“FIFTEEN!”

Hasnul began to sob uncontrollably. The cane sent violent spasms up his spine.

Hasnul, stopped by a police car. Hasnul, arrested, brought to the station. ID’d, fingerprinted, locked up.

“SIXTEEN!”

Hasnul, being charged with the rape & assault of two minors.

“SEVENTEEN”

The guilt was strong now. Stronger than before.

Hasnul, in court. All evidence against him. The judge, sentencing.

You have abused your place as an adult, a protector, and you have ruined the lives of two innocent children to satisfy your demonic, animalistic needs. If there were a death penalty for this crime I would not have hesitated one second…

“EIGHTEEN!!”

The cane again. He felt wetness on his buttocks, and knew it to be blood.

Hasnul, first official night in prison. Sitting on his bunk, head in his hands.

He thought of the two little girls. Two little girls he had helped ruin. They would never be the same.

The guilt came like a tidal wave. It crashed through his conscience and his thoughts, heavy and overpowering. He sobbed. He sobbed and tears fell to the floor.

“NINETEEN”

Hasnul sobbed on the rack.

Forgive me, Ya Allah. Forgive me, children. FORGIVE ME! He had sobbed that first night in prison.

“TWENTY”

The final stroke came. It hurt just like the nineteen others before it.

FORGIVE ME! Hasnul screamed in his prison cell.

“DONE!” said the officer in charge. Hasnul wilted on the rack, energy drained through the ordeal. The prison attendants began to untie him. One of them tried to keep him calm. But as they untied him from the rack, he fell backwards and passed out.

Hasnul in the cell. Haunted by his deeds. He knew he would be caned. But he thought it would have been better to have been given death. Suddenly the thought of having to bear the guilt and sin of what he did seemed more torturous than even a million strokes of the cane.

25 March 2011

When I Was…


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When I was 4 years old I had my first ‘girlfriend’ of sorts; she was missing two front teeth and had hair the color of a raven’s feather. Our parents used to tease us that one day we’d get married and we’d both jeer and sneer at each other. But then came playtime and she’d make me her ‘tea-party’ guest and served me imaginary tea and cakes in empty plastic cups. We played everyday until her family moved away and I never saw her ever again. I missed her but my 4 year old mind didn’t allow me think about it. The next day I was playing like nothing ever happened, and this 4 year old girl would cease to exist to me.

When I was 11 years old, and all the girls in school were getting bumps on their chests and me and my friends would wonder what they looked like beneath those stupid shirts, I had my first real crush. She was in my class, and her name was… Dear God, I don’t remember. All I remember was she was (back then) the prettiest girl I ever saw, and I would think of me and her holding hands and say cheesy things like “I love you” until my cheeks would flush red and my eyes took on this glazed, dreamy look. In my childs mind I already saw me and her married and staying home doing… whatever it was married people do. Then one day I told her I liked her and she said “I don’t like you, you jerk!” and I went back and told my mother what she said. My mothed laughed (a little insultingly) and jus said, “Don’t worry dear, you’re only eleven.” I had no idea what she meant, and after she said that, I didn’t tell her that I felt this peculiar aching inside my heart… because to be honest, I didn’t understand it myself. But I would again.

When I was 15 years old I had my first real girlfriend. And I remember her name: Julia. She was in the same class as I was, and we’d been stealing glances at each other for more than a few weeks until surprisingly, she came to me and told me she liked me. I thought that was the amazing thing to ever happen in my life at the time. Julia was demure and quiet, and she was sweet with me. We’d sneak away on dates after school, always to the nearby mall where we’d have ice cream or talk about the latest pop songs and TV shows. I thought her so beautiful that I’d write her corny notes in class and ask her friends to pass it to her, and one day a teacher caught us passing notes and decided to make us read the notes out loud. It was humiliating, but afterwards both of us giggled and laughed it off like crazy. Six months into the relationship, she told me she loved me, and I told her I loved her, and we were both happy. I was happy that I was convinced that I would spend my life loving her. Nothing was impossible to my teenaged mind at the time.

But when I was 18 and we had dated for three years and I was still so much in love with her, on this one beautiful day where the sun was soft and the clouds were like cotton candy amongst the clearest blue skies, Julia came to see me just before she left for college to tell me she didn’t want to be together anymore. When I asked her why she refused to answer and instead told me that we should just be friends. Despite my protests, she left without looking back and it was only a few weeks later did I find out that she left to go to the same college with my ‘best friend’ of whom she’d be cheating on me with. So I felt my first real heartbreak, and It felt like drowning in a sea boiling with rage, where the light was bleak and there was no helping hand, where all I could hope for was a face that I knew for certain back then would never come back.

And then two years passed, and when I was 20 I met this girl in college who was smart and quirky and had the brightest eyes I’ve ever seen. Summoning the courage I never knew I had, I asked her out and she said yes. Her name was Damia and she was an arts major who wore scarves and hats to class. She picked me up in a yellow Volkswagen Beetle and we had our first date eating sate by a roadside. I was totally captivated and for the first time in a couple of years I felt alive again. Two weeks later I asked her to go steady with me by saying I had a huge crush on her and she said yes. I was ecstatic, and everyday I’d see her in college and every other weekend we’d go on picnics and hikes, and we’d visit museums and libraries.

But when I was 22 Damia and I graduated and we shifted to different places and started our own jobs. We tried hard to spend time together, but maybe not hard enough. We went on long periods without seeing each other and one day I woke up to find that I didn’t miss her, and we met and talked things over and we ended our romantic relationship there and then, on mutual grounds. We kept in touch, if only sporadically. One day I was reading the news and there, on the front page, was a photo of her. She had died in a horrific car accident en route to work, and without realizing it I shed tears that fell on the newspaper and smudged the ink.

I dated on and off for a few years, then when I was 25 I met this lady who was a friend of a friend from work, and she took my breath away. Her name was Farah and there was something about her that was so irresistible. After meeting her in the company of our mutual friend a few times I could no longer deny I liked her and yes, I asked for her number and we got in touch on the phone a few times and one day I asked her out. We had dinner at a nice restaurant and took a stroll in the city and she linked her arms around mine. I looked into her eyes and I thought to myself: she could be the one. After a few months we became a steady couple and after another few months I told her I was in love with her and she told me she felt the same way too, and I remember taking her hand and kissing her fingers and she smiled.

And then one lovely day when I was 27, Farah and I were married in a simple but happy ceremony, with all our closest friends and family present and they wished us well, and that we’d have a long and happy life together. Farah looked gorgeous in her wedding dress, and I would have this lasting image of her holding a bouquet of flowers in one hand and smiling at me as she stood on the altar. I remember the joyful faces of everyone in the crowd, and I knew then that the world was mine and that my life was now complete because I had her as my wife.

When I was 29 our marriage celebrated its second anniversary and we gave each other the most wonderful gift of all when we our first daughter was born. We named her Ilya and she was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I wanted to spend every waking moment looking at her and cuddling her and making sure she would grow up to be a loving child, a smart child, a child we could be proud of. Farah and I would spend hours contemplating our childs future, and our own future.

But when Ilya was 10 years old and I was 39, Farah and I started to constantly fight. We would point out each others shortcomings and we would argue hard throughout the night and Ilya would watch us silently, uncomprehending. Farah would blame me for being uncaring or for not understanding, and I’d blame her for the same things. One day it got so bad Ilya started to cry out of fear and that was when we realized we were hurting each other and hurting our daughter more. From that day on, we tried harder to be who we used to be, loving and caring and full of support for each other.

When I was 42 Farah and I drew each others’ last straws and after a bitter discussion we agreed to divorce each other. Sometimes, like some people say, things just don’t work out no matter how we try. Honestly, when I look back, I can never really pin point what really happened between Farah and I. One day, it seemed, everything just dissolved, like a spoonful of sugar you absently stir into a cup of tea. We parted in silence, with Ilya the only bridge between us. There were times when I questioned the decision to separate, but I never once said a word. I consoled myself by saying it was better this way. Maybe all that was wrong with us was that we needed a break from each other.

I focused on work until my retirement, and when I was 56 my daughter Ilya married her long time boyfriend, whom she’d know since her college days. On her wedding day I noted how beautiful my daughter had grown to be, how alike her mother she was in both physical looks and mannerisms. I was so touched I cried, for she was my only daughter and now I had to let her go to be under the care of someone else. Farah and I had become friends by now and I don’t know; perhaps it was the romance in the air at the wedding, or perhaps it was something deeper than that, but we hit if off once again and we started to date. Maybe you might scoff at the idea of two middle aged people dating, but honestly, it was the most natural thing in the world.

And so it was when I was 57, Farah and I remarried in a quiet ceremony, with only our daughter and her husband along with their little baby, my grandson, to celebrate with us. Farah and I moved in back together, and our lives resumed the same way it had before our divorce; all the pieces just fit back together, as if there had never been years apart for us at all. And it was somehow better. Perhaps aged has mellowed us down but there was a whole lot more love and caring this time around. It was as if we’ve accepted our roles in this life, and finally, we can stop chasing the world and instead kick back and watch the sun go down on our own time.

We would live to be happy for years ahead, until, when I was 67, Farah passed away peacefully in her sleep and I lost the love of my life, of whom I’ve shared so much with and spent half a lifetime together with. Oh how I had wept that morning when I woke up and realized she was there but no longer ‘there’. Oh how you could almost hear my heart break when I knew for certain that I would never again see her smile when she woke up beside me, and how I could never again talk to this woman who was my soul-mate, my best friend, my life-companion. The years that passed after Farah went away all seemed to move too fast; Ilya insisted that I stay with her, and my son-in-law was very helpful and accommodating to me. I saw my grandchildren increase, and I watched as my daughter handled her family like only a loving wife and mother could. I see Farah in her, and that soothed my heart, knowing that Farah and I had raised her well, raised her good, and that now Ilya was her own woman with her own life to take care of.

So four years ago when I was 70, I pooled all my life savings and bought a small house away from the city, and there I said goodbye to my daughter and son-in-law and my grandchildren, and she had wept and said she’d visit often, and I had told her how it was okay if she couldn’t constantly be there. I didn’t want to burden my daughter. I was just an old man who was content. So I moved into my little house, and I kept a cat as a companion. I call him Mr. Buggles because I overfeed him and he waddles to his dish.

And here I am today, 74 years of age, living comfortably in my little house away from the city with my tubby cat as a friend. My daughter visited often, and it would always delight me to see my grandkids. I think they are one of the reasons that I’ve kept on going with life. I jog 20 minutes everyday, eat good meals and not a minute doesn’t go by that I don’t say a prayer for my late wife’s soul, and for the happiness of all the people I love and care for.

When I look back at these long years that have been my life, I guess I can finally say that I’ve reached a point where I can look back and smile at all the relationships I’ve been through. Not just at the happy bits, but for the sad bits too. Love has changed my life in more ways than one; love has made me strong and then made me weak, but it came back and made me stronger again. I guess, you could say, that if you live your life with love, then you’ll be alright until the day you die.

And so I say to you; love your life, and love the people who are part of it. Because that is what you take with you when it all comes to an end; the love you had for the people in your life, and the love they had in return for you. It’s enough to make the your twilight years seem not so bad at all.