Life

It bites. You scream in pain. It stings. You holler. It pinches. You yelp in agony. It scratches. You moan sympathetically. It locks you up in chains. You cry out. It snares at you. You whimper.

And then it licks you all around playfully. It overwhelmes you with love. It consumes you in its erotica, leaving you breathless. It shows you its gold and diamonds, endless treasure.

But just when you are trying to allow yourself to be fully submerged into its calmness, it rises up so high that it looms over your little head, and engulfs you, and drowns you into its nothingness.

When will this end? Is life really a trivial matter, and do we truly let ourselves to be played on in its little – and sometimes deadly – games? Probably the childlike soul is frolicking in its own deadly hide-and-seek, experimenting and testing the vulnerability of the body in which it is its abode.

The truth is, until you take charge, these so-called little games will never end.

And that’s just life for you.

Red Scarlet

 

 

Godsend

Today, August 6, 2016, marks the end of my undergraduate years as a psychology major. It has been six years of seemingly endless struggle and bittersweet happiness which did not just change when I decided to take my life in my own hands.

Way back in 1998, when I had first moved into the city, there were no tall buildings, the only shopping mall and hotel had just opened in the neighborhood, and there were no highways and express trains. Even the institute where I graduated from was really an abandoned block of concrete nobody bothered to work on until a decade later.

A good 18 years later, new constructions started sprouting up one by one.  The scene in this photograph is taken at the back of the campus after my very last day. It is an example of how as time progresses, things change – for better or for worse. In reality we pick things up along the years and discard those parts that are not as useful in our purpose. Humility is a lifelong process of learning and practice. Of course we must be grateful for the opportunity that we have been given. This is what shapes us into becoming successful individuals.

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It was really tough having to plan and manage my team for my company business Brainiac Laboratories while studying, working part-time, and writing together at the same time. I was really hard-pressed for results. I had to meet all kinds of people every single day. You know how god puts you to test something you abhor again and again – until one day you raise your hands in submission and begin to love it as much as you can. Is that good or bad? More than once my life seemed to be just hanging on a thin string of thread, waiting for a sharp pair of scissors to snap it cut. I have no clue why, but it just kept happening. The amount of tears I cried throughout all these years could have over-filled a pool. Things went down the drain several times; and I was so helpless all I could do was try to stop myself from crying. But I cried anyhow.

I had hated my life. I hated how everytime I had to register myself for subjects the following month, the management would pull out my accounts statement  to tell me that I had an outstanding of nearly RM20,000 to be paid before I could register for any classes. I hated how I had to write to them letters after letters attached with a new instalment plan of empty promises, and I hated how I had to face rejection with a solid face and unnerving gaze but a mind full of doubts. Last of all, I hated how my uncertainties seemed to be growing bigger very quickly.

I whirlpooled into depression for the second time as I sought for solutions. I watched as my friends – some of whom were even my batchmates – walked out happily out of unhiversity after their final semester. I saw how my friends started getting married one by one and having families of their own. This made me question myself a lot.

What set me apart from my peers was the fact that I had the ego of knowing that I was way better than them, so there was no point of getting along with them. That I had to spend a huge part of my day working at the bookstore, shopping mall, or what not, and then take a bus back to home to clean the house of mess (it was like that everyday, trust me) before I could actually sit and study. Right there and then I could run back to my house and give my mother a bear hug  and go lovey-dovey like any child would, but I did not. It has never been the way my family worked. My mother refused to pay for the education I was entitled to, and she was taking the money I earned from working part-time to buy other things for herself. The more I tried talking to her, the sharper the answers I received from her. I tried my best to listen and care for her but I never got anything out of it.  Every ounce of my energy was sapped away as I worked in and out and studied at the same time. If I ever failed to do as I was required, or I could not because I was really, really tired. I got hit by anything. My depression just worsened.

Like I had done many times, I asked myself a question: What am I doing all these for? It was quite a question because I pressed myself for the answers all day. I pushed myself forward to do what I could. I definitely did not want to go through the same things anymore. Yes, I was tired of being depressed; I was tired of destitution. I was sick of all the lies I was made to tell to cover my life from my “friends”. I was sick of the inner demons eating away at my soul, devouring up the life I was supposed to have.

The answer to my own question: I did what I did to save myself.

Red Scarlet

Warrior

     The sound of gunshot crackled through the crisp cold morning air.  The bullet penetrated through the misty dewy darkness of twilight, escaping into the vast emptiness, beyond auditory threshold.  It signaled the fresh start of a long 21-kilometer run.  Tens of thousands wobbled at their feet, their toes still slightly cramped from the morning cold.

The senses orchestrated themselves to lots of things happening around.  The ears captured all that was there to hear: the endless chatter of the overly-excited crowd, the rapid pattering of thousands of feet, the resounding siren of the police, and yes, the gunshot.  The eyes looked ahead… and about.  They saw people in orange vests in front, beside, and behind.  All running on their feet, their faces twitched by the lack of oxygen.  The sweet, small mouth – it gasped for air. The lung expanded and contracted at normal pace in intervals.  The Chambers of Life pumped slightly faster than usual.  Little drops of sweat trickled down the tiny pores of the skin, dripping onto the ground.

There she was, a young woman not over 20, running on her two feet, not too fast, not too slow, a speckled dot among the entire lot.  It was her first half-marathon in her life, and she was determined to make it.  Not that it was impossible; she had exerted a bit more than an hour on the training grounds running ten kilometers.  She mentally repeated to herself that she just had to go slow and take it easy.

It was only 4AM.  In the blank state of her mind, the young woman felt extremely refreshed.  Nothing crossed her thoughts.  She was so relaxed.  There was no sign of pain as she swayed left and right (that was the way to run, right?) and her heels hit the ground.  It seemed so utterly effortless.

But no one knew.  No one knew what the dear child had gone through, that only seven years back, her very life had hung on a thread.  That thread was about to snap if it were not for her seven life savers, all crowded around her in the surgery room with their green overalls on.

It had come from the back.  This big vehicle, a lorry probably, was speeding down the empty road with hellish swiftness.  A young, fat Chinese man was behind the steering wheel.  He had a companion at the back, open-air end; was he Malay, Chinese, or Indian no one could remember.

The companion was sitting at the back, but he was not sitting still.  He was frantic – but, good Lord, why?  The two appeared to be rushing from someone, something.  In all the hullabaloo, the driver did not even notice the young girl walking in front of him.

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Photo credits to Faizan Khiyani. Make-up and wardrobe by Alicia Ai Leng.

    She was just right in front of him, you know.

In a matter of seconds, everything happened.  The lorry slammed the girl down.  Her right shoe slipped out of her foot and flew off, landing distances away.  The impact forced the young woman out of her gait too,  and she landed on the ground with a thud approximately a hundred meters away.

Nonetheless the lorry did not halt its brakes.  It just went on as if nothing had happened.  It would have sped off if not for the traffic lights – and her younger brother as well.

The small thin boy ran as fast as his skinny legs could carry.  He wanted to stop the driver, and he did.  Stupefied by the horror that had occurred right before her very eyes, the boy’s mother stood watching.  The little boy made the driver’s companion hoist his motionless sister into the vehicle.  He vehemently directed the driver to the nearest hospital.

That night was a night of desperation.  As the heart monitor gave out its timely beep, doctors worked on the body, half hoping, half dreading; the child’s mother sobbed uncontrollably in devastation, and her brother did his best to look calm, although signs of overwhelming distraught showed in his eyes.  Friends and neighbors came to console the mother, but it seemed hopeless.   Finally the main surgeon walked out of the OT. “She has only 25% chance of survival.”  That was the last thing anyone wanted to hear.

Her spleen was removed – at least a huge portion of it – and her lung too, for it was completely lacerated.  Her blood capacity was below 50%, and her ankle and rib cage were fractured.  She was now very pale and thin.  Her eyes were shut close as her spirit breathed on and on, considering whether it should hold itself together or simply give up.

In the dire circumstances, her spirit fought through a tough combat between Life and Death, between the real and the Void.  It battled to keep the girl alive, her dear heart beating and her lung breathing.  Her warring soul never stopped for weeks on end.

Yet just when everyone was almost losing hope on the beautiful child, her beautiful brown eyes flickered open.  There were a few more battles, battles that were not as tough as the one before, but were still battles.  First she lost her voice – and then it came back, slowly, gradually.  Then she had to learn to stand up; she fell hard onto the ground so many, many times the searing pain shot through her feeble spine and left her semi-paralyzed for a second.  Next she had to learn how to walk again.  On several occasions she fell headlong on her crutches as she hobbled through the corridors of the hospital.

Nonetheless, she conquered each and every fight.  She grabbed hold of the crutches – and no, she did not hobble along anymore.  Rather, she walked the crutches swiftly, as if she were carrying the crutches with her wherever she went.

Finally, she let it all go.  She left her crutches behind and started taking small steps.  Before she had even mastered the step, she went ahead and started running – or jogging, more like.  It was very hard at first, but Sabrina always believed in allowing herself time to grow.  She did not condone in pushing herself far too much.  And run she finally did.

Today, at the age of 25, the young woman has not stopped running, although not competitively.  She has completed 21 kilometers in two hours – her first half-marathon – and she swims 10 laps in her condominium pool regularly.  She is now a month short to her bachelor’s degree, and is working on her first start-up, Brainiac Laboratories.  She aims to do her Masters too, with a focus on clinical psychology, and finally develop another startup concentrating on personality development.

Life is about firing one’s passions up to the maximum.  There will always be the inner struggles and the external ones as well.  Nonetheless, these come together to put the pieces up and make up the being as a whole. You just decide one day to grab your life in your hands and steer your own way.  It is about harboring a Spartan spirit, where the strength of the soul overcomes every war it faces with honor,dignity, and perseverance.

Red Scarlet

 

2015 in a Bottle

Gazing blankly into the ghostly sky with its morning star hidden right behind the thick, heavy clouds, I downed my cup of espresso.  I tried to shut my thoughts and listen to the sounds around me.  I sat still in my wooden chair trying to capture some form of hope for my trusty pen to thrust its wildest dreams on.

If I could, I would.  Definitely.  I would part this sheet of paper from the book, roll it up, and then put it in a bottle – and set it free.  Well, what if I actually did?

My thoughts would have the freedom to linger off through the water surface, forever encased in its protective covering.  Hopefully it would seek refuge from raging storms, and finally meet with amicable weather in the Atlantic, before sailing smoothly into the Indian Ocean.  Perhaps, thousands of years later someone would be lucky enough to stumble upon it when it gets itself stuck in the soggy sand.

Parts of the lines are quite cheesy, and I do have to apologize, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, for borrowing the words in your lyrics to vent my dissatisfaction.

Thank you for calling me a bitch.  Thank you for assumming that I am a slut.  Thank you for piercing through my heart all your sharp arrows, of setting my soul to flames.  Thank you for calling me stupid, and whatever other names you felt befitting.  I have never once been that, and I shall show you that I mean it.

The players are going to play, play, play.  The haters, on the other hand, they are just going to hate, hate, hate.  What can I possibly do about that anyway.  I sort of knew you were trouble when you walked in to my life, so maybe shame on me now?  Hmmm.  All too often I was just left in blank space, baby; because all boys only want love if it’s torture, if it’s pain, if it’s hurt, and if blood oozes out from their hearts.  What do you really, really mean?  You were, in the end, the reason for the teardrops on my guitar (well, ok; it was really your guitar, but I held it with my dainty fingers sometimes).  Finally, your friends talked to my friends talked to your friends talked to me, and so we are never ever getting back together.  Not like I actually cared even.  I only have to shake it all off my head.  Yeah.  Loving you was so red, in fact forgetting you was like trying to know someone I never met.

Nevertheless, from the ashes rose a phoenix with wings so large they carried it away from the consuming fire.  I started showing gratitude and showering my appreciation on people, sometimes even people I do not even know who helped me in doing something.  I allowed myself to be as genuine as possible in dealing with the different kinds of people I have to meet everyday.  These things cannot go wrong.  As a result, I am proud of myself for having grown emotionally stronger and bolder than before.  It could be that my feelings have been numbed from the constant hurt, but my chains have been broken, and my soul has been set free.  I hope.

A few more months – just one more semester – I will be graduating!!!!  (I do wish I could insert a love icon here.)  I shall be done with my degree after a long, long time.  I should be so excited right?  Yes I am, but no, I am also not.  Oh gosh, my mind is wandering to so many places!  Life is an exciting venture, a beautiful journey bestowed upon Man.  There is no other gift more amazing than the gift of life.

This year also I am chasing time to kick off my positive psychology start-up as well.  While I am working on one SBU (strategic business unit, that is) now, I will directly after I graduate, start-up the other SBU.  Currently I am looking for sponsors and venues for investors.  It has been a crazy six months running about to widen social networks and contact suppliers, and so on, whilst studying final year.  I still have not mentioned that I am also doing sales.  Haha.  Crazy times.

I have of course had my fair share of repeating heartbreaks, but yet I did all I could to keep pushing on and on.  Whether it has got to be love, wealth, fame, or self-fulfillment, I wanted it to work out this year.  I probably went a wee bit overboard, pushing myself dangerously over the edge.  But I had already decided from early this year that I am not going to let things happen to me just like that.  I am going to make things happen to me instead.

So I just want you to know: I am fiercely fighting for whatever that is meant to be mine – my degree, my start-up, and HIM!!!!!

Never say never.  All I need to do is be patient. Perseverant.  Positive!!!!  The 3Ps!!!  Oooh – how sweet.

Red Scarlet

Birthday

November rains are back.  Everyday it is raining, raining, raining.  The skies are crying, weeping tears of bittersweet joy.  Massive clouds of whitish-grey matter cover the sky, creating a reflecting gloom that shrouds the earth.  Some twists must be taken, must they not?

Even the air is set with a dewy mist.  Winds blow, though not too hard.  The ground is moist; in some places it is damp and soggy from all the wetness.

The wisps of mists fill the air as it evaporates, awakening the senses – perhaps with a start – and the soul, with a renewed vigor, skips along the sidewalks in merriment.  For through pain, through jagged maps, through persistence it came through it all, and is still coming, on its way.  One day soon it shall be no less obvious, because its dear heart would thump with powerful beats along to the tune of the music whispering in its ears.

An afternoon in downtown KL. (Photo credits to Alicia Ai Leng)

An dizzling afternoon in downtown KL. (Photo credits to Alicia Ai Leng)

November is a beautiful month, the time of the year when Mars and Pluto cross paths and stars collide.  It is the time of the year of every other year when little baby scorpions emerge from their eggs and take their very first crawl.

Oh!  The clock is ticking, and I am running out of time.  I must put on my birthday suit.  For in a few minutes I am turning 24.  How old can I be?

I am in oh-so-deeeeep love with the month of November.

Red Scarlet

PS:  This post was written a few days prior to the author’s 24th birthday.

Getting Lost

Pack your bikini.  Throw in your hammock.  Take along some food, maybe.  And, oh, do not forget your sunglasses.

Go alone.  Switch your mobile phone off.  Disconnect yourself from the world.  Throw it away; forget yesterday.  Lose yourself.  Challenge your limits;  go the extra mile.  Push yourself a little further than usual.  Gain the courage to embrace the unknown.

And there is no need to be afraid.  Where you find water, jump in.  Where you find the ocean, plunge in.  Get wet.  Inhale and exhale whole-heartedly as you allow the tiny rippling droplets of sea hydrate the  pores of your skin.  Where you find the forests,  run through and get yourself lost in the trees. Capture the magic that you find in the air.  Look for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that comes in between the rain and breaking sunlight.  Sketch imaginary dreams in the blue sky.  Close your eyes.  Live in the present, in the moment.

Pay attention to the inner dialogue, that little voice speaking inside your heart.  Be one with your mind and soul.  Be it rain or shine, let the weather wash away your anxieties.  Let the gushing sound of streams in the waterfall filter out your emotions.

One of my Getting Lost excursions. (Photo credits to Alicia Ai Leng)

One of my Getting Lost excursions. (Photo credits to Alicia Ai Leng)

Drive somewhere you have never set foot before.  Head out to the beach in the morning; slowly tread along the shores in your bare feet, and feel the waves brush gently between your toes.  Head to the hills in the evening and find a little spot where you can get a good view of the sunset.  Turn the light breeze into music as it orchestrates over your ears.

Grab hold of Mother Nature, and never let go.  Permit yourself the luxury of freedom.  It is best to travel without planning the day.  Let life happen as it should.

Life gets in way with what we are occasionally; it has us chasing after several things that we wish could be ours – but are not, unfortunately.  Normally we forget who we are in the process; we imprison ourselves in our own rigmaroles and deny ourselves the meaning of life.  Like auto-generated assembly lines we operate tediously from dusk to dawn.  Every single interaction with another human being becomes programmed by rules and instructions set by society.  We arrive home flustered, exhausted, and frustrated.

The solution?  Get yourself lost.

My Getting Lost excursions are kind of memorable.  The last time I got lost, I hiked up a hill filled with waterfalls.  The trail was steep and slippery, but I managed to climb all the way up.  I had fun on my own in the gushing currents. On the way down, I met a furry little kitten who was fending itself from nasty babboons.  What did I do?  Well, I picked him up and carried him down to the foot of the hill, chasing those monkeys away in the process.  I even had lunch with him; I watched as he munched at the burger I bought him.  That was just one of my excursions.

What about yours – why not go somewhere new, away from the world today?  Find your Narnia; it could even be simply at your backyard.

Red Scarlet

Trauma: The Coping Mechanism

The time I am writing this is already past 3AM in the morning.  I am just done with the first round of analysis over some creative work by a particular trauma victim.  His writing was exceptionally good – therapeutic for him in a sense – that set me in deep wonderment.  Though it did not eventually unclasp the locks to his initial dread, it helped him approach death with a much more positive perspective.  Surreal as it sounded, probably to more “normal”people like you and me, it was a hopeless situation he was dealing with.  One that had only one end, and a horrific one too.

Where the sweet mouth could not move, and the beautiful lips refused to speak, but the Chambers of Life keeps pounding, and pounding, and pounding, beating loud and clear to dear life, attempting to suppress the drowning emotions away, but at the very same time wanting to cry out.  Or wail, even.  Oh, who would hear? More importantly, who would help?  Often the searing pain of even re-enacting the ordeal in the silent, yet tragic mind results in the victim pulling a mask over his face, only to hide the scars that so embolden him.  Time over time the mask grows so thick it necessitates a trustworthy companion to walk carefully down the dwindling stairs of terror right into the dungeon, allowing for the past to surface, little by little.

In the case of unjust death, all the victim could possibly do is sit and wait for the minutes to tick by, slowly, dreadfully, wasting and rotting away into disintegration.  It is quite an unfortunate thing to realize, but sometimes the laws and politics interfere with the people, and that becomes an absolutely dangerous thing.  The truth is that all of us are looking for a purpose in life; some have found it, while others are still searching for it.  What is you were looking for your own treasure box of purpose, when out of the blue, someone comes up to you and tells you that you are going to die tomorrow?  How would you feel?  Or worse still, what if the ground cracks and opens up, consuming all that was once rightfully yours in less than an hour?

With the blink of an eye, one’s locus of control is shattered into a thousand pieces; every sound, every moment is scrutinized in the senses.  Everything seems to get out of hand right at the point of time.  Social connections are lost, food is gone, the gory scenes of dead people are everywhere – even the air pukes of death.  Images of the self in the same state of destruction, with blood streaming from his wounded torso, form in the mind.

But we keep going, do we not?  And that is the beauty of it.

Red Scarlet

PS.:  It is about time we get serious.

On Being a Little Selfish

They fight.  Argue.  Yell.  Scream at you, even.  On another note, they clamor for your attention because you are prone to letting them have something they know they cannot get elsewhere.  At least they know you are kind enough to give them what they want.  (Wink-wink, ha-ha).  Period.

Photo Credits to Alicia Ai Leng

Photo Credits to Alicia Ai Leng

On a regular basis, however, there is nothing wiser than simply putting a stop, albeit temporary, to every single source of distraction and leave oneself to the luxury of being alone.  Forget the rest of the world, everyone else included; and enjoy the air breath by breath.  Keep away from human contact – if possible, go on a trip to some place and spend a little time in indulging in the self.

One of my favorite activities these days involve taking my hat down and tipping off at strangers I bump into British-style.  I love how I am given the opportunity to act like a m************ tourist.  Which I actually am.  JS.  It is kind of fun pretending to not know the local language and watch them struggle in my mother tongue.  Ok, I admit I am being a little too evil.

Forget the world for awhile would not hurt.  (Photo Credits to Alicia Ai Leng)

Forgetting the world for awhile would not hurt. (Photo Credits to Alicia Ai Leng)

Well, this is just a part of life where you discover and rediscover yourself, constantly.

Expend on a journey to get to know yourself better.  For the world must keep itself silent for a moment so you are able to examine your own thoughts. Plan out your life at your own will.

Get crazy.  Get wild.  Get started.

Red Scarlet

PS.: Do not forget the quid.

The Blietzkrieg

Past midnight; really early, and it is a little more than a half-moon tonight.  A glass of chocolate caramel sits melting away patiently beside my books.

Thoughts scurry along the intricate wires of the charging station, awaiting their turn to be discharged to outside air.  Boxes of conciousness containing unspoken words swoosh along the neural tracks.

As I wade through the blurry pool of dreams, thoughts, fantasies, and feelings, and aims and goals, some left hanging unfinished, a few pleasant, and others with various degrees of disgust, my Chamber of Life pumps blood throughout my body. Upon my exit from the very first box, an array of bullets are directed towards me.

Photo Credits to Alicia Ai Leng.

Photo Credits to Alicia Ai Leng.

My shield.

I am fortunate to have it on for some form of protection, though it is still in steady, albeit gradual, growth.  At present, it is creeping upwards over my skin – one day it shall, with absolute certainty, envelope the whole of my physique and engulf me in the Flames of the Moment.

In the sepulchral silence where I now stand, the Chambers of Life thumping ever so diligently bringing full-Blood zest to the exercise of all my wont.  My heart is still with overflowing zeal, for the eagerness of exploration to as high up and as deep down shall experience some form of continuation in my journey through the earth.

That the body seeks success and the spirit satisfaction of wisdom I cannot deny.  It is through weather-beaten paths the march shall prevail till it reaches the summit of what-not, personal achievements.

The jet sitting in the center of the hall, with all the artillery arranged in rows beside it – that I shall board and take off to greater heights.

I have already switched on the engines.

Red Scarlet