Monday, August 31, 2009


"Life is like a swamp of bees. You should not be afraid. But don't be an idiot too. That's why you wear long sleeves. And don't swat. Don't even think of swatting. Most importantly give love. Everybody likes a bit of love." ...or something like that :p That's something I learned from watching The Secret Life of Bees. Been repeating those words to myself these days.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Things I Want My Daughters to Know

I just finished reading a book I bought in Kinokuniya, before I went, to accompany me during journey. The book is titled ‘Things I Want My Daughters to Know’. I showed it to my mum the day I bought it. Why the book caught my attention is because of the life junction I’m at. I mean, I don’t mean to sound like I’m at a dead end or something. But I guess there are things that I could learn a thing a two from the book. Basically the book is about a mother who died of cancer and left her four daughters letters and her journal to help them carry on with life.

But the thing that I can’t forget most from the book is when her eldest daughter, Lisa, came up to her and confided that her new love is a divorcee. Her mother said that that’s great. She told her daughter never to underestimate the ability of a person who can love and love again. She also said that the virgin – emotionally – has less to offer. When I read that I put the book down for a second to think… We’ve always heard the expression “It is better to have love and lost than never to have love at all.” I think it’s no secret that I agree to that 100%.

I know the conservatives at home are shaking their heads in disapproval. I know the adults are mumbling how those ‘loves’ are actually infatuations. But how are they to know? Can they feel what everyone feels? They’re saying that because they can’t bear the idea of their kids growing up. And when the child loses his love, they cheer silently. The thing that I want your attention for is that when the child goes through a heartbreak yet is able to live on and continue to love and trust another being is simply…amazing.

The other thing that I can't let go of the book was the mother’s letter to the husband she left behind. She told him to not be afraid to fall in love again. She said that being able to love and love again after each of her babies was born proves that a human’s capacity to love is massive.

Why am I writing all these? Because I miss my family so much. Not in a bad ‘I’m homesick’ kind of way, but in a good ‘If I have one more day I just want to say I will never stop loving any one of them’ kind of way. It’s good. From reading the book I rediscover both my love, and theirs towards me. I realized what unconditional love really means. When I first got to know Rassyid I asked him what does he look for in a partner and his answer was simple: someone who can love him unconditionally. Days and nights I thought of his answer. What does it mean to love a person unconditionally? Can you really love the person if he has cheated on you? Can you love a person who is not ready to have a baby with you? Can you love a person who is not related to you as you do your family? Can you love a person who murders? The answer that I came up with was “NO”.

But then I read the book and I realize that when I answered “no” before, I was using my head, not my heart. My heart now says that if I want to, I can totally forgive the person whom I love unconditionally. As long as the person is happy, that’s all you would ask for. That’s unconditional love. If he doesn’t break the law – both of the human and of God – then there’s nothing that should hold your love for him.

How did I realize all these? I thought of my parents. I thought of growing up in their home. I thought of the advices that they’ve given me. I thought of the things I did. I thought of their facial expressions, of their words. How I didn’t believe them then but I do now. I know now that they know me so much better than anyone. And they allow me that room to grow into my own self, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I know of their disapprovals and disappointments, though I let my ego get in the way and not let it affect me before. I now know better to admit all that.

This is my current desktop background. Yes, I’ve replaced the picture of my university with a picture of them. My dreams mean nothing if not for them. Thank you for teaching me that in order to love, there’s nothing else to ask for except to being love back.


p/s: Three things that we get pahala for without niat: 1) Seeing Baitullah, 2) Reading letters of the Quran, 3) Looking at your parents’ faces with kindness. I’m so sad I no longer can do the third one for a year…

Friday, August 28, 2009


Hello All!

It is my pleasure to announce that I have finally really settle down here in Pittsburgh :) How so? We finally have our own internet connection! Wee! Now we can finally BREATHE and LIVE! ...Sorry for being a bit over-dramatic, just feels so long!

Anyhow, the title is NEW because...well, together with this new life, we have our own new 'things'!

First of, is the new apartment. I bet based on Ellys' "The apartment is fab!" story, compared ours to hers, ours is a bit.....not on the fab side. But I'm really loving it. Yes, if you want the see the bad side, there are many: It's an old townhouse, the interior is older with lead paint, it's quite a distance from our school, and by 9 almost all the shops are close. But being me, I like to see the good side of things :) The rent is quite cheap. Although it is quite small, only the two of us are living here, so relative to the number of tenants, this is quite okay in size. It may be a bit far from school but once we got our Student ID bus fare will be free and by bus, our school is only 10 minutes away. The other perk? The bus stop is right in front of our house! Our house is near the intersection of Negley and Center, and Negley and Baum, so it's really not a problem for us to go ANYWHERE. There are many grocery stores around. This is more of a family neighborhood so it's quite convenient for us. Maybe the only thing that's on the downside on my list is that we're close to the hospital so every night, without fail yet, ambulances will pass through our street, with sirens blaring. But the way I see it, it reminds me of my house in Permata :)

The other NEW item is my brand new phone. But I'm not telling what phone I bought. I'm gonna surprise my family next year :)

OK, that's it for now. Till then, later!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Three Days Worth

Wow okay, so a lot had happened since I left tanah airku tercinta, Malaysia. Wanted to update earlier but had been too busy to even find time to get online. So here’s the best of what my memory can recall of the last three days.

Left KLIA on the 19th. To my family members and two best friends, thank you so much for sending me off. A special thanks to Kak Yong who shouted both our names, even though I know it’s more fun for you :p Anyway from KLIA we transit in Incheon. My feet were bloody hurting while looking for the transfer desk. From there we said our final goodbye to Pia because the two of us had to catch an earlier flight at 10.40, local time. So we just sat drinking Lente Coffee Latte while I went online. Bought a calling card but can’t figure out how to use it :p So that card and the extra 2000 Won will be souvenirs for Kak Wani.

From Incheon to Dulles we did not get to sit together. So for the 13 HOURS we flew Korean Air, I was sitting between two Koreans. Yes, I was in the middle. Thank God for the good entertainment on board. But I have to say, MH really fits as MALAYSIAN HOSPITALITY when compared to others... Once we arrived in DC there was not much holding up during the immigration. Just that the officer thought we were brother and sister. And then the other interesting thing was that we heard him asking another officer, “Is Malaysia in that list? Just checking.” It got us wondering...what list...... Then we got our bags and moved on to finding the check in counter. That was the bump because we were really lost, although it’s a small airport. But it was a good experience figuring out the new system we’re not used to. In the elevator, the first non official person we meet, an airport employee greeted us with a Salam. He thought we were Philippines. For me it was a good sign of our arrival.

The best part of our adventure at Dulles is the security check before we could board. I was asked to step into a glass cubicle for almost 10 minutes. No, they were not holding me up for unnecessary reasons. They just want to do the procedural body search and the male officer was not sure if he can touch my scarf, so the waiting part of a female officer took a lot of time. But I felt sorry for the old lady that was asked to be in the cubicle with me. She was fifty-ish, I think, and a bit scared. She kept on telling me to recite Lailahaillallah. She was Moroccon. She kept on talking to me in Arabic. Why can’t Middle Easterners accept that not ALL Muslims can speak Arabic?

It only took 35 minutes for us to reach Pittsburgh from DC. Oh did I mention that we were the last passengers to board all because of that hold up? Anyway. When we arrived I was exhausted out of my mind. I thought Aishah, the nice senior who offered to pick us up, had to work so she could only be able to arrive later; so we slept. But apparently she had been at the airport around the same time we arrived. Some instinctive voice asked Rassyid to look over at the lady in black scarf and we’re lucky it was her.

Aishah took us to dinner at an Indian restaurant, Tandoor. And then she drove us around for a personal tour of Pittsburgh. That night she wanted to take us to Walmart but the moment I get on the bed I did not wake up until the next morning. How exhausted I was.

The next day we went for the OIS (Office of International Student) orientation. Unfortunately we were not able to meet that many new students except for the three Chinese and one Taiwan boy at our table. But during ‘bingo’ a Chinese girl suddenly came up to me. We chatted a bit and then she offered the Salam. I asked if she’s Muslim and she said no, but she came from a community where there are many Muslims so she liked Muslims.

After orientation we had nowhere to go for Aishah had to work. So we decided to find our way to the ICP (Islamic Center of Pittsburgh). We were not sure of the EXACT location but we were willing to take the chance because we have not done our Dhuhr prayers. After 30 minutes, we found it. Then we called Aishah to pick us up from there. But I was thirsty so I wanted to find something to drink. And that led us back to William Pitt Union. We were disappointed to find all the shops closed!
Wanted to call Aishah from there but our calling card ran out of credit. What else to do but walked all the way up the hill to ICP and waited there.

Aishah had dinner plan with a Malaysian lady she met on the street. The nice lady, Auntie Azida, invited us too once she found out we were with Aishah. She and her husband, Steve, were very nice people. They welcomed us to their home and treated us to a traditional Malay dinner as a celebration to welcome Ramadhan. Once we were done with dinner, they went to ICP to perform Tarawikh but I was too tired from walking to and from ICP that I decided to stay home. And once again, the moment my head hit the pillow I didn’t even hear Rassyid calling me.

This morning had sahur and now fasting the first time in America. Activity for today? Shopping and perhaps moving in to our own apartment :)


Monday, August 17, 2009

Butterfly V2.0

Before I started INTI roughly two years ago, I posted Corinne Bailey Rae's Butterfly which is about understanding the love parents shower their children with till they are able to 'fly like butterflies'. Now, I am posting another song, titled Butterfly Fly Away, which is saying no matter however hard it is, a child has to leave home eventually in order to reach his dream. Not hard to figure out why I'm posting it now, eh.

You tuck me in, Turn out the light
Kept me safe and sound at night
Little girls depend on things like that

Brushed my teeth and combed my hair
Had to drive me everywhere
You were always there when I looked back

You had to do it all alone
Make a living, make a home
Must have been as hard as it could be

And when I couldn't sleep at night
Scared things wouldn't turn out right
You would hold my hand and sing to me

Caterpillar in the tree
How you wonder who you'll be
Can't go far but you can always dream

Wish you may and wish you might
Don't you worry, hold on tight
I promise you there will come a day
Butterfly fly away

Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away
Flap your wings now you can't stay
Take those dreams and make them all come true

Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away
We've been waiting for this day
All along and knowing just what to do
Butterfly, butterfly, butterfly, butterfly fly away

Butterfly fly away
Butterfly fly away

Songwriters: Ballard, Glen; Silvestri, Alan;You tucked me in, turned out the light


Monday, August 3, 2009


When I was young, I did not understand the “half full, half empty” question. I wondered why they were making such a huge deal over a half full glass of milk. Then it hit me. I realized that I see my glass as half full, not half empty. It has since become such an important question in my life. Whenever any situation hits me I try to see the ‘half full’ side of it.

The same applies when money is involved.

I don’t see any point in quarreling over money or anything bought by it. If my maid accidentally tore my clothes while ironing, I still have a few more in my closet. If I dropped my cell, I can still use it with a semi broken screen. If my favorite book got smudged by curry, I can just wipe it away and continue the story.

Yes, true, I agree, that I never yet in my life learn the value of a Ringgit. I have never worked a day in my life. I don’t understand yet the sweat that goes into the Ringgit I hold in my hand. I hope to one day understand it though. But what I do know now is, a Ringgit is just a ‘thing’ that I use to buy whatever I need (or want) in life. The value of it, on the other hand, lies only in my mind. How I view money is different from the next person and I know it. As I see it, the Ringgit holds no value at all if it’s not used wisely.

Money is a tricky subject. As a Muslim, I have always believed that God and only God decides my rezeki for me. Some people work their asses off every day but never come home feeling satisfied with what they own. Some only work as a truck driver but can still support a whole family of six with that one job. One thing I learn in Makkah is that when I pray, never forget to ask God for “enough rezeki” because even that is determined by God Almighty. Besides that I try my hardest not to complain whenever I lost my money or had to use it for an unplanned rainy day. It is all part of God’s plan. At the same time I also try not to make a big deal whenever I received some money through whatever means. Money can be both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in that I can live another day comfortably; yet at the same time it is a curse for if I use it for some unwise spending, I’m thus considered friends with the devil. That is why money is a tricky subject and had always been so in my life.

So I see it simply this way. As Muslims, we have to believe that “rezeki Tuhan ada di mana-mana.” If we work hard, God is gracious to provide us fairly and necessarily. The magic word is ‘work’. However rich your parents may be, if you don’t invest the money somewhere, it will evaporate into thin air one day. At the same time, even if your parents work hard only as fishermen, if you study hard and work even harder afterwards, you’ll be able to reap the outcome of your sweat and tears eventually. It all goes back to the basic belief that there is no need to become a fanatic of money. Even if you don’t believe in God, the Economy teaches you to spend your money in order to generate more income.

My simple question is this: would you rather keep your hardcover Harry Potter away from your kids in hopes that one day your great-great-grandchildren will be able to sell it on future e-bay, or let them enjoy the magical story of a boy wizard growing up in a fantasy school called Hogwarts? Which one is more valuable to you? Ringgit or Escapism?

Don't you agree now that the value of a Ringgit is nothing more but a mere creation of the mind?