KL (10,539 km) London



I’ve thought a million times before starting to write this. Every time the urge to write arose, I talked myself out of it.

It’s too vulnerable.
No one would care anyway.
What difference does it make if you don’t do it.


But that’s the point. I’m not writing this for anyone else. I’m writing this for me. And perhaps, I’m writing this for the future young, shining hopes of Malaysia who will one day take the same path as me. Learning in a city 10, 539 km away from home, just so you could create a better future for our homeland.


End of Winter, Beginning of Spring 2017

“Let’s try out Bubblewrap this weekend!” I smiled, as I texted to one of my closest friends. I attached a picture of yummy warm waffles, topped with ice cream and chocolate and lots of other stuff. She definitely can’t resist this.

She didn’t read it immediately, but that was okay. I had a lot of coursework to get started on and oh look, the code I was writing in VBA wasn’t working. Great. The end of term was coming (also, May exams) but it looks like the bulk of the work this semester has only started coming in. It didn’t help that although we’re all still working on the current IT coursework, group selection for the next one has already started. Joy.

“Ooh, looks cool! But I have some stuff to do this weekend,” came the reply.

“It’s 2-for-1 this weekend though,” I texted back.

“Hmm, well, Serena* invited us to eat at Dapur* yesterday, but she called me saying that she cancelled it. If not, we could’ve dropped by Bubblewrap before going to Dapur.”

Her text made me stop. I had no knowledge of this. Was it in the group chat? I scrolled up. Hmm, no.

Living in a student hall had took its toll on me last Winter. The lack of human company, sunlight and exam stress somehow triggered something and I’ve been getting anxiety attacks since (more on this later). I was scared and lonely and I’ve started picking up the habit of staying at her place, which she shares with three other common friends of ours, because their company calms me down. It wasn’t something new to us though, I’ve been coming over to her apartment ever since we became friends in our Pre-U* days, back in Malaysia. I loved her company.

Words like ‘Us’ and ‘We’, usually included me.

But last weekend, I was at Serena’s surprise birthday party, and I was just as surprised as Serena herself was. Had I not met Alia* at my university campus, I wouldn’t have even known something was going on that Friday night. I would have packed my bag and be on my way to Bayswater where they lived, and be stuck outside again. During dinner, they realised they had forgotten to add me to the secret group chat and laughed it off. I laughed it off too. But truly, that was the first time I felt alone and small in a group of friends that I truly cared about..

I slowly began to realise that their ‘Us’ and ‘We’ are slowly starting to exclude me.

After 21 years of living, I am well aware that friends have the right to have a life that doesn’t include you. Friends have other friends. Friends don’t have to remember or text or consider you all the time. I accept that.

That doesn’t make it feel less lonely for me…

Every time I try to convince myself I don’t need friends- that reliance on another human being that is not your family is fruitless– a thought comes back haunting, reminding me that my family isn’t here with me. And that somehow, I need friends.

And I’m so tired of thinking: That my presence is an annoyance. That feeling they don’t want me around. Always on edge whenever the jokes get a little too rough and they jokingly tell me to leave but never knowing whether it’s a joke or not. Feeling left out on trips because even though I try and accommodate their need for endless photos, they don’t understand my love for museums.

Some of them do, of course. And I’ve never stopped feeling grateful for the times when they said ‘Hey it’s OK. I’ll go to that palace with you’ or when they let me drag them to the Malaysian Hall for lunch.

But as I write this, I’m beginning to suspect it’s the anxiety talking. Trying to convince me that my friends don’t love me. Or am I wrong, and it’s just my own thoughts? Or, Or was I right all along? Sometimes I think I’m going crazy because the noise inside my head just won’t stop. Won’t stop.


But I don’t need help… right?

Serena & Alia: (Not their rea names) Common friends of me and my close friend

Dapur: Malaysian Restaurant in Soho, near Bubblewrap

Pre-U: Pre-University. We did our A-levels at KYUEM, one of the top preparatory colleges in Malaysia for overseas-bound students.


Am I Enough.



The night before 2017
I sat with myself
As I
always have,
and I listened to the whispers of the world.

‘You are tall’ said the sky.
‘And you are strong’ said the Earth.

I nodded;
As I stood in Eiffel’s shadow,
my legs shivering in the cold.

‘You are significant’ said the mountains.
‘You are embraced’ said the seas.

I nodded;
As water slips through my cupped hands,
my lungs on fire.

‘I am enough’ I said

But I am not.
I am not.


There is nothing to see
There is nothing to fight
But it is there


It comes in gasps
Like you’re
on land.

It comes as thunder
In your chest
Telling you to
but where
do I run from death?

It comes invisible

How do I fight an enemy I do not know?


They say sleep is a form of death
A sweet, short version
of what we must all

I know what you are


You are-
Insecurity. Fear. Longing. Envy.
Sadness. Pain. Contempt.
Anger. Confusion.

You are-

Disguised as a thousand shades of emotions.

The calls that never come
The hollow cheerfulness
The absence that is not felt
That one small person in the vastness of a sleepless city

I know what you are

So I’ll keep you in a box.

Be quiet

I am tired of screaming without words
my demons
are beyond comprehension

Of Creating and Creation

Photo Challenge – Of Creating and Creation – Relax



Making crafts has always been my hobby. I’ve made all sorts of stuff ever since I was small, from crude cat-shaped piggybanks to hand-bound notebooks. I can’t pinpoint it exactly but perhaps it’s the satisfaction that I enjoy. How seemingly meaningless everyday items laying around can be given new purpose and a new form. Perhaps it’s also the way it lets me use my fingers: to twist, to pinch, to pull. When I’m creating something, the rest of the world fades away, even the music I was listening to, and all that’s left is an artist and her imagination. A reprieve from a noisy mind.

Two years ago, at the end of a 5-year struggle to finish high school, I found myself with a lot of time and inspiration. The Japanese culture has always intrigued me- its subtleties and folklore and the way they live. I was especially enamoured with their kimono, and soon my attention turned to Geisha and Maiko and the pretty flower ornaments they wear in their hair, called kanzashi.

Source: japanpowered.com


I got my hands on some beautiful Japanese fabric and that’s when the magic started. For weeks on end, I sat at the living room table, piecing together small fabric petals and bending wire to my will. When one method failed me, I tried another. Different fabrics. Different glue. Different colours. All while staying true to the end result that I had pictured in my mind.


Crafting is still a source of pleasure for me, a relaxing activity that allows me to escape my noisy mind. Although now, I’ve grown and my crafts have too. Now, instead of keeping them to myself, I make them with the purpose of helping others. For the first time ever, I’m joining a charity effort organised by The Kalsom Movement called Talent For Charity !

I’ve thought this over many times- reasoning with myself that the stuff I make are pretty amazing no matter what anyone says, telling myself to get over the fear of putting myself out there again. Stepping to the front lets the whole world see you, makes you feel vulnerable to the scrutiny and opinions of other people. It’s scary, but it’s also high time I start learning that I’ve got to start if I want to get anywhere. And it doesn’t matter where my starting point is: small or big, what matters is how I persevere on.

So if you’re in London tomorrow (3rd December 2016), please do drop by the Malaysian Hall at Queensborough Terrace (Queensway or Bayswater station) and support us! I’ll be there with other volunteers with stalls and workshops that showcase our talents, all to help tackle education inequality in Malaysia! See you there~

A full list of items on sale could be found here ! 🙂

All of them are always available, and I also ship overseas (shipping charges apply)





Holding hands and mean old ladies

Daily Prompt: Flames

A funny little thing happened to me yesterday.

I was out with a friend on a Friday night. It’s slowly becoming a thing that we always do once the weekend starts: find a place to go to enjoy the sights of this enormous city that is London. The view is drastically different than what we see during the day.

At night, the lights turn on and as we stood on the viewing balcony at Tate Modern, the vastness of this city hits us. Was Kuala Lumpur ever like this? Here, there were lights as far as I could see, and above us the sky looked like time stood still at a never-ending dusk. I remembered thinking to myself- “How pretty.”

Every person crossing the Millennium Bridge in the distance, has their own troubles and joys. Each monument, like St. Paul’s Cathedral across the river, has its own tale to tell. I wondered how different this city would have looked like a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago. Were the worries of the people of those times different, or the same? Wouldn’t a mother still worry for the safety of her child, a beggar still worry about tomorrow, a merchant still count their riches, regardless of which age they were born in?

That train of thought was quickly discarded in favour of amusing my friend as we looked at the galleries within Tate Modern’s halls. We were two girls looking for a night thrill. For some time, we pretended to be art critics, discussing the emotions that each painting brought out in us, awed at the more interactive exhibits and laughed when the figures truly didn’t make sense to us. A more artistic soul would probably appreciate Tate Modern’s art, perhaps. I wished I did. But maybe art ages like fine wine, too. And that’s why people flock to see the paintings that held little value to me.

We continued our trip across the Thames.

It was cold, and we held hands. My fingers intertwined with hers.

“Pink Panther!” a woman called out.

I looked back, but didn’t stop walking. True, I was wearing a bright pink fluffy hat/scarf/hand warmers that I had picked up a few years ago from Disney SEA and thought it would be a great idea to wear it that night. The woman was old, bent, and she seemed to have trouble walking but that was none of my business.

As cold as it sounds, I have learned not to be too sympathetic to random strangers in London. It has only ever brought me trouble.

We turned away and continued our walk.

“Or are you a gay panther?” she continued, followed by a mean cackle.

Her words baffled me. I blinked at my friend and she blinked back. How in the world did this woman come to that conclusion? We were two Malaysian girls, simply holding hands as we walked across the street. Hardly anything could be assumed from that besides that we are obviously friends.

Except that we were in London.

The thought had slipped my mind. That affection, in the western world, is quickly assumed to be of the romantic sort. Something done by a couple. And oftentimes, not welcome when it is done by two people of the same gender. It made me ponder on how starved for affection their youth must be, if every touch is frowned upon, every hug is assumed to have a hidden meaning. It puzzles me further, because as far as I am aware, western culture also involves men and women kissing goodbye. If a kiss can be seen as platonic, then why not holding hands?

I’ve been to many countries and it seems like I bump into mean, old ladies everywhere. Russia, Japan, Malaysia, you name it.

Middle aged people with a skewed view of the world.

How funny it is, that it is the youth who are more tolerant and more accepting of different cultures and different perspectives. But the people who raised them have such small hearts, and fan the flames of hate.

When our milkshakes and chicken wings arrived at our table in a cozy restaurant called Tinseltown, I had put the baffling event firmly behind me. So what if I meet a mean lady or two, I’ve given up holding a grudge against people I can’t change and things that can’t be moved. The Earth will keep moving, and the Sun will rise, the day will pass and one day, she will, too. And then, that’s one less hateful person in the world.



Eid al-Fitr! 

Celebrating Eid in our Subang Jaya home this year


Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!
Or Eid Mubarak, whichever you prefer, as we celebrate victory over out nafs (self and inner worldly desires) after a whole month of fasting in the holy month of Ramadhan. (Okay so Eid was actually on Wednesday hahah but better late than never!)


Malaysians usually just call Eid as Hari Raya (lit. Great Day). We’d cook up a feast with lemang and rendang being the main dishes and visit relatives and friends throughout the month. This is the time when you’ll be seeing a lot of open houses and lots and lots of Malaysian traditional food and kuih.


From left: Mom’s Chicken Rendang, Rendang Tok, Peanut Sauce
From left: Modern Ketupat, Lemang



I’ll tell you upfront that one of my all time favourite food is lemang and it’s a rarity on other days of the year so it’s a double treat for me, especially. Last year, my family celebrated Hari Raya in Penang so the meal and setting was grander but really, it’s the people whom you spend the day with that counts, right?



I didn’t get to take pictures because everyone was so busy but the first day of Eid usually goes like this for my family:

Quick breakfast of lemang and rendang

Eid congregational prayers at the Mosque

More breakfast with more food and kuih

Family session where pictures are taken and everyone apologises to each other for past transgressions and hurt feelings. Also, the duit raya session where kids get money from elders in a small packet.

Relatives start arriving / Visit the houses of relatives and friends

I went to at least five different houses on the first day alone and ate so much, I think I need to work out the extra calories soon. But it’s good. To be able to reconnect with my cousins and update each other with what’s happening in our lives-it’s not everyday we get to do that.


The next few days were spent travelling to my father’s hometown (Batu Pahat, Johor) and visiting his uncles and aunts and before today, I never really realised of how much knowledge and history they have known and lived through. It’s amazing.


The traffic on the highway was terrible, so dad decided to take a detour through some villages. To be honest, I have never actually cared about kampungs but the scene as we drove through the place was new to me. (I grew up in the city and then, in a modern town) I noticed that sometimes there’ll be a shallow moat or trench around the houses. In Johor, that’s how people used to mark the perimeter of their lands. It’s called parit in Malay. A lot of the villages have the word parit attached to them, like Parit Sulong for example. The road was narrow so dad couldn’t drive very fast and we got to see how a Malay kampung house looks like nowadays. I posted the video on my tumblr page so just click on the link below if you want to see it.

Watch the view from my window


I have a lot of pictures but I’ll need to sort through them first before I can begin posting. And I’ll also be writing another short story about my experiences from this year’s celebration~ For the meantime, Selamat Hari Raya!!

This year’s theme is purple songket kebaya!



Kuih – Malay sweet cakes and cookies, very yummy!

Duit Raya – Similar to Ang Pao given by the Chinese. However, duit raya is more thought of as a charity given to children now. Some earlier practices were to give money based on successful completed fasts carried out by the children as a way to encourage them to fast.

Kampung – Malay village/hometown

Parit – shallow trench/waterway

To Tread the Ground

Her bare feet weren’t allowed to touch the ground.

Even in Ilyas’s earliest memories, the dark haired baby was always in someone’s arms or atop their shoulders. He saw the way they cradled her in their embrace. Precious. Treasured.

“Why don’t they put her down?” he asked his mother one day, eyes still drawn to the girl, “They can’t carry her around forever.” She was dressed in yellow from head to toe today. A golden yellow that seemed to swallow her whole. Yellow, the colour of Malay kings and queens. His brow furrowed.


His mother hummed in agreement. “That’s why we’re holding the ceremony now, since more than thirteen months have passed after her birth.” Ilyas counted the difference and found that she was only a few years younger than him.


“What ceremony?” He was curious.


“It’s called berjejak,” she said. To tread. “Once they do this, she’ll be able to walk amongst us. Look.”


A wizened man bent over the ground, spreading a large yellow cloth over it. He threw a handful of red flower petals over its expanse; all the while his mouth moving quickly in some sort of chant. Ilyas strained to hear what he said, but he was too far away and the man’s voice was too soft.


Then he saw her. The girl, in her mother’s embrace as they settled on one end of the cloth, her face pinched and eyes glassy. Ilyas felt the urge to comfort her. It baffled him, and he moved forward but his own mother pulled him back firmly to her side.


A tray was brought towards the old man, filled items Ilyas could not give names to other than the short keris. The chanting grew louder. The girl was passed to the man and he gently coaxed her to walk, Ilyas realised. She had to walk across the length of the yellow cloth.


It was simple.


Ilyas couldn’t comprehend why such a big fuss had to be made.


And then, suddenly, she burst into tears. The old man still held her body up, urging her towards the end of the path but she struggled viciously, twisting and pulling in his grasp as she cried and screamed. She refused to step forward, shoulders stiff in terror of something. The world held still. She was frightened, Ilyas knew. He was, too. His hands trembled, eyes wide in fear. But against what?


The instant her foot touched the edge of the cloth, the girl seized her tears. Another step, her first contact with the cold dirt, and the world moved again. A heaviness was lifted off his chest and Ilyas could breathe freely again. He watched her take a few tentative steps, marvelling at how the ground felt beneath her small feet.


It still didn’t make sense to him.


But ten years later, it would.

The girl would be the one to tell him, as they sat together on the raised pavilion near her residence.


He knew her name now. Maya smiled, “A long time ago, a royal family made a contract with their people and the djinn of the land. Their descendants are to be respected and celebrated, to always be above the common man and so, forbidden to tread the same ground as them. In times of old, they would be carried in palanquins or litters borne by their servants.”


“When war ravaged their lands, some of their descendants with royal heritage fled to other countries. They gave up their titles and privileges, but while that caused the contract with their people to be broken, the contract with their guardian djinns still held. Anyone who violated the contract would suffer consequences. Prolonged high fevers. Some became deaf, others, mute. It became their curse-”


“So it was a djinn that made you cry that time?”


She blinked at him. “Was it? I can’t recall something that happened so long ago.”


“Then, what was the ceremony for?”


“I was told it’s to break an age old contract between my family and the djinns. But the world is different now,” Maya said, wringing her hands together. “To be realistic, if I can’t walk on the ground, I wouldn’t be able to go to school, would I? It’s more of a formality, I think.”


Ilyas shrugged his shoulders, feeling the cool evening breeze kiss his skin. That day ten years ago, when everyone else might have just seen it as another traditional ritual to be done, in his eyes-he sneaked a glance at Maya- he saw a child’s first real step into the world.



The berjejak ritual is usually done by people in Perak, Malaysia with Rawa and royal heritage that has its origins in Pagar Ruyung, Indonesia. This story is purely fictional (although the gist and history behind the ritual is as true as oral stories passed down from old to young), and is based on a friend’s personal experience with it. It is also part of my effort to narrate more of old Malay customs and traditions that are rarely known by my generation in a more modern way of story-telling.


Glossary: keris – Malay traditional weapon that resembles a sword with a wavy blade