Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One More Month

Seeing that a lot of my friends seemed to have given up blogging, I kind of wonder why I'm still doing this. It's not like I have anything particularly interesting to say anyway. But I suppose it does feel good to have a place where you can talk and talk and not be asked to shut up. For that reason, I shall continue to blog :)

The end of the year is very near, which means that exams are very near as well. Preparations are getting better, so thank God for that. Today marks exactly a month until the last day of my exams, and quite frankly, I'm more excited about the prospect of being free from exams rather than worrying about the exam itself. I have quite a lot planned for myself once I gain independence, I should write it all down, in no particular order:

1. Watch tennis. Lots and lots of it. I plan to watch every single tournament, whether its ATP Masters 250 or a Grand Slam. The Australian Open is coming up very soon (in the midst of my exams, in fact), and I can't wait to see Nadal lift the trophy! If he does, he'll have all 4 Grand Slams in a row and 10 Grand Slams altogether! All at the age of 24! :D

2. READ! There are tonnes of books that I've bought that haven't been read yet! E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Mitch Albom's Have A Little Faith, and Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures. I also need to finish: Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Jane Austen's Persuasion, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and John Grisham's The Firm. Books that need re-reading include: Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (the appendices section), and of course Rowling's Harry Potter. After I'm done with all that (or perhaps somewhere in between), I plan on expanding my reading horizons. I need to read all of Dickens' and Austen's works, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Forster's Howard's End, Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence and Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day. I must also read up some non-fiction, finishing Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World would be a good start, and then get my friend to recommend me more non-fiction stuff. Perhaps something related to Philosophy, Economics or Theology. The pursuit of knowledge is a lot more exciting when you know there are no exams at the end of it! I probably won't even like half of the books I've mentioned above, but that's not the point, is it? Every book has something to offer, and besides, think of the feeling you'll get after you've finished them. You can go around telling people "I have read War and Peace by Tolstoy, have you?" I felt that way after I finished Lord of the Rings. It's a great feeling :)

3. Brush up on my general knowledge. I'll have so much time in my hands after exams, that there won't be any excuse for me to remain ignorant about the world around me. Spend hours on the Internet and read up on all the excruciating details on Israel-Palestine, North-South Korea, all the major Wars, Capitalism, Communism, foreign policy, and everything else! Come on, Aira. You must be like those walking breathing CNNs and Wikipedias you know and envy!

4. Attend as many MUNs as possible. Perhaps even start chairing! :)

5. Get a meaningful job/internship that pays. I have several in mind, and haven't particularly decided on one yet. Of course there's always Petrosains, but I do want to explore new things and do something more intellectually challenging.

6. GET MY FREAKING DRIVING LICENSE. Aira, you have not stressed this enough. YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO DRIVE BEFORE YOU GET TO THE UK. PLEASE.

7. Khatam Qur'an lagi sekali. I must!

8. Apply for as many scholarships as possible. It's extremely troublesome, and may not even be worth it in the end, but I have to try. No excuses because I'll have so much time!

9. Watch Schindler's List. I bought the DVD a while ago, the original one mind you, but never got around to watching it. I'll be honest. I'm too afraid. My mum's watched it before and swore she'll never do it again because it scarred her so much, thus I have no one to watch it with. I shall overcome my fear and watch this movie no matter what. I mean, come on, who doesn't watch Schindler's List? Especially one who claims to be a history buff!

That's all I can think of as of now. Considering that I have roughly seven months before I start my degree, all of the above seems possible. Some will be easier than others, of course. Like watching tennis, for example. I think this will be my last post for the year, so if it is, I'll just post my new year greetings now. Happy New Year everyone, and may 2011 bring all the blessings, joy and success you've ever wished for! :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nostalgia

Exams are in a month and the studying could be better. Maths is incredibly frustrating, and I'm afraid I'll have to resort to just going into the exam hall with pure 'tawakal' and nothing else. It's all too much sometimes. I should've just done AS Maths. I wonder if I'll regret continuing with A2 Maths. Only next March I will find out.

I just realized how much I miss debate. Seeing some of the people I know participating in prestigious tournaments like AUDC, WUPID, Australs, ICRC, MDO, National Novice, Royals, IIUM Interschool and PPM, I feel a tinge of regret for not going to UIA and for not being brave enough to join HELP's debate team. If I went to UIA, I will definitely join the debate team. English or BM I'm not sure, since both appeal to me in different ways, but what's sure is that I will be a debater. Interschool 2008 is, and forever will be, the fondest, most cherished memories I keep from my high school years. Nothing, nothing will ever replace that feeling of anxiety before every round, the panic urgency in the 30 minutes of preparation time, and the elation and relief we felt when we were announced winner of each round. Victory is sweet, but the defeats we suffered were memorable too. I still find it amusing that the 2 rounds we lost during the preliminaries were to all-boys teams (STAR and MOZAC), and our quarter-final loss (which eliminated us from the competition) was to another all-boys school, MCKK. We thought it was the end of the world when we lost to STAR and MOZAC. At the time, placing 8th overall and meeting MCKK in the quarter-finals were almost unthinkable. Another funny thing was that our big break came in the octo-finals (we were given the privilege to skip double-octos because we placed 8th overall after 7 rounds) when we beat yet another prominent all-boys debating team, RMC. The euphoria of winning probably got to our heads, or we were just too overwhelmed by the atmosphere, that we didn't perform very well against MCKK the next day. The defeat was painful, but I honestly felt, and still feel, that we had nothing to be ashamed of. Never in the history of the tournament has a day school placed 8th overall, and to lose to eventual finalists MCKK on such a big stage was a small dent to the name we carved for ourselves and our school. I learnt life lessons during that week at IIUM - perseverance, humility, resilience and most importantly, the bond we formed as teammates will last forever. I never knew we could be so united, we covered up for another teammate when she messed up, and we always encouraged each other no matter what. I remembered how I broke down after one of the rounds where I did horribly, but you girls were always there, supportive as ever. Ainaa, Nadrah and Hasanah (wherever you are), I hope that you girls will never forget those few days we spent together in the hallowed halls of IIUM, for they played a role in shaping us into the individuals we are today. I wonder if you girls remember those days in as much detail as I do. Haha.

IIUM was also where I suffered my first ever concussion. I was climbing those horrible double decker beds in my kaftan (smart me) and accidentally stepped on the hem, slipped, fell, and knocked my head into the corner of the wall. I remember that I could not see clearly for a few minutes, everything looked blurry and fuzzy, and that my head felt heavy and swollen. I'm just thankful that it happened after we debated MCKK. Haha. I remember the flurry of panic it caused. Nadrah was panicking, Fatin called our usher, Kak Beah, and she came hurrying on her bicycle. BICYCLE. I was rushed to the campus clinic and the doctor gave me some painkillers. My friends were fussing over how I should take those pills regularly etc, but I was just happy that our tournament was over already by then. It was actually quite cool, experiencing my first concussion. Hahaha!

I won't forget the response from our school too. We were asked to present a mock debate in front of the whole school the following Monday. Yes. THE WHOLE SCHOOL. I felt cool back then, but when I think about it now, its actually quite embarrassing. People were calling me 'Akak Debate' and 'Tuan Speaker' after that, which makes me cringe now. And the best part was we all received Aungerah Kecemerlangan Kokurikulum from the school for our achievements. The school meant well of course, but they got the award all wrong. The brochure stated that we met MCKK in the finals, and the certs said semi-finals. HAHA. We couldn't stop laughing. I would've died if we had to debate on that huge stage at the CAC!

I know that Interschool 2008 was more than 2 years ago, and I might appear as someone whose life is defined by that one achievement. But IIUM meant a lot more than just an achievement. That tournament made me believe in myself, believe in my friends, made me realize that anything was indeed possible. I miss it all so much. The atmosphere, the people. I wish I made more friends back then, talked to more people, shared a lot more. I wish that we were not so caught up with the 'competition' side of things and built more friendships and acquaintances. Now, I would do anything just to get those moments back. How I wish our juniors could experience the same feelings we did, learn as much as we did. I wish the debating culture in our school was more alive, so that Melawati will be a force to be reckoned with in Malaysia's debating community. Sadly, that is not the case. But I still have hope that someday, somehow, we will live those glory days again. Because experiences like that don't come twice.

It's wonderful to be part of something that meaningful. And I experienced it in ONE tournament. How I envy my debate friends from MCKK and RMC who are probably so used to winning, so at ease in tasting victory. But perhaps it was the rarity of our achievement that made it all the more special, all the more precious. Being in that debate team made me feel important and included. It is truly a beautiful feeling, one that I miss dearly. Very dearly.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Twelfth Month

I noticed that this year, I managed to post something up at least once every month. Didn't know I am capable of such discipline! It's December already, and I'm sure I'm not alone in marveling at how incredibly fast the year zoomed by. This time next year, God-willing, I will be in UK doing my Law degree. I know that that depends entirely on my results, and its a long way from now, and a million things might happen in between that changes things, but I still can't help but be amazed at the notion that I will leave the country I have lived in all my life, to pursue my studies in a continent I've never set foot in. That being said, my final exams start on January the 14th, and I can find no words to describe how superbly important they are. If I screw up, it would mean that I have wasted one and a half years of my life, wasted my parents' thousands of ringgit, and shatter not only my own dreams, but also my family's. So no pressure.

Sometimes, the lack of company I keep startles me. Its hard to talk about it without sounding like an anti-social loner freak, but I realized that I keep an astonishingly little number of people close to my heart. And when I actually had someone who was truly close to me, I drove that person away with my own foolish emotions. Now, its been a month. And still that person continues to linger in my mind. It's wrong what they say, that friendship can endure everything. I don't see how our friendship will prevail this time. Even if it does prevail, I don't think it will ever be the same again. How do you find your way back, after all that?

Life amazes me in its cruelty, compassionate and mysterious ways of functioning. Once in a blue moon, you come across someone so interesting, you want nothing more than to get to know that person better. But at the same time, a million and one questions swim around in your mind, a million and one doubts, a million and one impossibilities that cause you to be resigned to the fact that these things aren't meant to happen. But I guess, one should be thankful, and enjoy all the good things and good people life brings. Whether those people stick around forever or not, you cannot control, however much you would love to. Its best to take things as they are, and not to think about everything too much. Occlumency should really exist. It would make life so much easier.

My attempts at posting something less melancholy and more significant always fail miserably. As a Literature student, I know for a fact that masterpieces are more often than not, a product of grief, sadness and tragedy. I don't wish to be overly-dramatic here, but I do find it easier to write about the less pleasant goings-on in my life. My cheerful thoughts are usually expressed through my Facebook statuses. As for writing about something more significant and meaningful (eg. current issues, international affairs, politics), I'm afraid that I'm neither well-read nor widely-read, and you might end up reading something that lacks substance and eloquence. Not that I write with any particular substance or eloquence otherwise, but at least its not facts I'm dealing with. My emotions are terribly hard to describe, but at least people won't be able to disprove them through Wikipedia or Google. Regardless of that, though, I will start writing posts about current issues and such, after my exams probably.

May the last month of the year be superb for all of us :)