Monday, 28 September 2009

Happy Birthday Madam Z

I'm glad that I have this blogsite because tonight I want to share with all the readers that tomorrow is the birthday of my favouritest lecturer, Madam Zamrudah Haji Ahmad Rashidi. And just like other students, I wanna show that a student will always be willing to go the extra mile for their favourite teacher/lecturer. Therefore, here I am writing a post especially for my beloved lecturer. This is for you, Mdm Z,...

I wish, I am ridiculously rich; then, I can repay your kindness with wealth and everything beautiful,
I wish, I am extremely famous; then, I can let the world know that you're so great and so very cool,
I wish, I am extraordinarily gifted; then, I'll be able to solve ur probs, no matter how miniscule,
and sometimes I wish, I could turnback time: then I can be ur student again, yet not b d 'ol fool,
But wishes are all that I have, and 'cos you've taught me well, I now realised and I'm grateful,
That the measure of a wish, is never skin's deep, Thus, from the bottom of my 'hati'
I am wishing you; Happy Birthday Mdm. Z. May you forever be Happy. 

You're the best, Madam Z.....

p/s: click on the picture for larger view of it.... taken from a camping site in Tongod.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Selamat Hari Raya

Hadirmu sahabat menyulam indah,
Pahit dan manis bersama diredah,
Walau kini jauh terpisah,
Memori lalu tergubah indah,

Terkadang kataku ada yang salah,
Mengguris hati mengundang gundah,
Terkadang lakuku tidak semenggah,
Membikin pusing mengundang amarah,

Sepuluh jari kususun pasrah,
Memohon ampunan silap dah salah,
Semoga kita kembali fitrah,
Tatkala Syawal datang menjengah.
p/s: Click on the picture to view it in the original size.

Monday, 14 September 2009

He Had Such Quiet Eyes - Review Part 1

He Had Such Quiet Eyes
Bibsy Soenharjo

He had such quiet eyes
She did not realise
They were two pools of lies
Layered with thinnest ice
To her, those quiet eyes
Were breathing desolate sighs
Imploring her to be nice
And to render him paradise

If only she'd been wise
And had listened to the advice
Never to compromise
With pleasure-seeking guys
She'd be free from "the hows and whys"

Now here's a bit of advice
Be sure that nice really means nice
Then you'll never be losing at dice
Though you may lose your heart once or twice


Before I begin, thanks heaps for kind words and supports from friends and readers. Due to good response, I am now even more motivated to write another review. So, Let's not waste time and have a look on my take on the poem.

Just like the first poem, I have never heard of the poem nor the poet. You can try googling but I think there's nothing much there, so don't bother. She is an Indonesian writer and looking at it positively, I think that this is a good idea. But I really hope that MoE has asked for permission to use her poem because we don't want another conflict to arise (got my point?). Okay, enough rambling, let's start...

Dealing with the obvious first, let's look at the RHYMING SCHEME: a,a,a,a... yes, the rhyming scheme is uniformed throughout the whole poem. This is IMHO the strong point of this poem. This would be an x-factor that could attract students to this poem. Especially, in my case where nurturing the love towards the beauty of literature is quite challenging with poems with the like of Monsoon History (no offence, it's a good poem... but you got my point right?). For beginner-intermediate students who are still struggling with simple vocabularies, asking them to love such poems is almost like forcing a 0.7mm pencil lead into the 0.5 mechanical pencil :) This poem is different though. It's meaning is not entirely simple. Yet, it is verbally beautiful. The uniformed rhymes gives life to the poem. A lot of while reading activities can be crafted into interesting lesson when teaching this poem. Just by reading aloud, even without instruction, the poem would still sound interesting. And this is very important for beginner students. This poem is not unlike song lyrics, thus, I think you got my idea.

Okay, let's settle the LITERARY ELEMENTS first before we go into the Themes and Messages. Let's do it in a checklist form:

"two pools of lies" should be the metaphore for the eyes (rite?)

I'm not sure but there's something about the phrase "thinnest ice". I personally view it as a symbolism of a heartless man or a cold-blooded "hunter", who would harbor no feelings at all towards his victims.


The way I learn it, personification is giving human quality to inanimate object. However, in this case, the eyes are'nt really inanimate object, furthermore, it's also part of the human itself. So, where does this one falls into? :
-quiet eyes: the eyes are given the quality 'quiet'
-breathing desolate sighs: the eyes are portrayed here as 'breathing',

onomatopoeia; again, even in this poem, the word 'sigh' reappear. So, can anyone tell me whether ‘sigh’ can be counted as one?



Okay, other elements like plot, setting and characters are not really apparent eventhough we could still debate that these elements exist in the poem. As for POV, it is written in a 3rd person POV. Finally, in term of tone and mood, I think that this poem sets a very mellow tone and it alludes the mood of regret and sadness.

Okay, I'd love to continue, but it's already 2.00 am, and I'm all alone in the office. Getting real sleepy now, so... I'll continue this ASAP ok? Thanks for reading, take care and bye!

Part 2

Okay, I know it’s been quite some time since I wrote the first part of the review. Truth is am not sure what to write really. Hahaha… let’s give it a try. Hurmmm, I think it’d be good to talk bout the message rite? The message in my opinion is very clear and apparent. Just like “If” by Kipling, this poem is similar in the sense that it’s trying to give you an advice, but the similarities stop there. The message here is actually an advice especially for young girls. “Don’t be fooled by appearance”, and “Looks can be deceiving” might be the suitable phrase here. What do you think?

Since we’re still with this poem, I’d like to share some part of the poem that I found really interesting. Take a look at this;

To her, those quiet eyes
Were breathing desolate sighs
Imploring her to be nice
And to render him paradise

In literal meaning, this is my version: She was hypnotized by the emptiness look in his eyes, because of that she feels obligated to be nice to him, exactly the effect that he intended. In being nice to him, obviously, she’ll do anything that he asked, in order to make him happy.

This poem brings out the concept of the power of the eyes and how, since ages and ages ago (this poem is written in 1968) up till today, Casanovas all around the world are still using the same old trick and women, all over the world still fall for it. Thus, I am really hoping that by teaching this poem to our students, we could teach them and prepare them to face the ugliness of the real world. However, based on my experience, it would be a lil bit difficult for them to digest and most of the time they will not see the sense in the advice until it’s too late. Regardless, let’s try our best, and make the lesson as interesting as it can be.Okay, that's all for now.

"...losing at dice" may symbolise that life is a gamble?
"ice" can be a metaphor (Does this word have an "e"?) reflecting the coldness in the eyes...and "thinnest" may be an indication that one can see through it...perhaps, if one looks hard enough.
"the thinnest ice" also symbolises the danger - walking on thin ice. Once it cracks, she will drown in the pool. I think there is imagery here..."
- comment from my blog reader; suituapui

Thanks all.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

My First Attempt


By Latiff Mohidin

At dawn they returned home
their soaky clothes torn
and approached the stove
their limbs marked by scratches
their legs full of wounds
but on their brows
there was not a sign of despair

The whole day and night just passed
they had to brave the horrendous flood
in the water all the time
between bloated carcasses
and tiny chips of tree barks
desperately looking for their son’s
albino buffalo that was never found

There were born amidst hardship
and grew up without a sigh or a complaint
now they are in the kitchen, making
jokes while rolling their cigarette leaves

Translated by
Salleh Ben Joned

Okay... where do I begin... Hmmm... first of all this is just my humble take on this poem and bear in mind that I don’t have a clue of neither the poem nor the poet. The main thing to notice here is the fact that it is translated thus, telling us that the poem was originally written in Malay. I like the idea behind it that could make the students realise that literature is universal and that a good piece of art can be appreciated in any language without losing its strength, beauty and aestheticism. I’ve tried googling “Sajak Latiff Mohidin”, in hope of finding the original version... which could be manipulated into lesson to make it more interesting... but I could not find it (please send it to me if you found it). I guess I might be visiting bookstores as soon as I reach civilisation soon.

I personally felt that the new collection of poems hold more values and in-depth lesson that students nowadays really seem to need insurmountably. As the title suggest, this poem is obviously trying to convey the hardship that a family in a village is facing after a big flood. “Smart-a**” students might be asking; “How do you know that they live in a village, sir?” The answer lies within the albino buffalo (kerbau balau), a complete giveaway of the setting of the poem, as city people are not known to be rearing buffalos (IMHO). However, the big theme or message in the poem as I see it is not the hardship itself but how the family handle it. In other words, it can be said that the theme might be “the optimism of the unfortunates”. I can’t help but to state again here that this is 100% my own words so, feel free to share yours (the upside to the fact that no ‘baby-step’ is written yet). Back to the theme of my choice, I said so based on the lines 6-7 and also the last 2 lines:

but on their brows
there was not a sign of despair

It was stated before lines 6-7 that the returned home at dawn in a soaking-wet clothes that is all torn-up and with bruises and cuts all over... but, their face did not show any sign of hopelessness and despair that would normally be expected.

now they are in the kitchen, making
jokes while rolling their cigarette leaves

These last two lines further accentuate my points on the optimism of this family. Imagine yourself hours after a terrible tragedies or disaster. It takes a lot of courage and strength to see the silver lining and to move on after that. Yet, that is exactly what this family is doing. They’re spending time together, enjoying each other’s company and may be gratifying on the fact what they still have instead of what was lost. This is exactly the authentic and profound values that our students need to be taught about. In my students’ case, most of them would be able to relate very well with the family; the fact that they face the same kind of struggles and the fact that they are almost always grateful with what they have (disturbingly, some of them seems to be to optimist that they don’t bother to want to change their fate... but this is out of topic... haha). Back to the point that this is a good value and most students nowadays should realise that they really are becoming ungrateful brats. I’m sorry to go here and there at such a random pace, but this is no assignment rite? So, humour me and please read till the end. The tragedies in the poem actually allow us with a lot of option for pre-reading activities. The suffering of this family can easily be contextualised with a depiction of real occurrence around the world. Floods and tsunamis are obvious choices; you can have it in form of pictures, videos, audios or even articles. But we can go a step further by showing pictures of malnourished families having great times under extremely unfortunate circumstances. I remembered Mdm Z saying something about how her children could not really sympathised with what they saw on their trip to Africa (if i’m not mistaken) because the children there are so happy. Even when they don’t really have a lot to be happy about. There are actually a value that could be learnt here. It’s just a matter of making it obvious to the students and this is where we should facilitate.
Let’s try to look into the other literary elements here. Settings have been discussed though I can’t be sure of the time frame as I could not trace the original poem. Hmm... let’s see... metaphore; nope, simile; nope, personification; nope, onomatopoeia; hehe... is ‘sigh’ counted as one?, assonance; nope, and alliteration; nope. This is my observation, again... feel free to correct me. And another one is rhyming scheme; I think this is a free verse right? With no apparent scheme. So... I think that’s all for now... as I’m typing this my battery is almost dead... I wonder what’s wrong with the generator this time... we’re having power disruption again... at 9 a.m. just like yesterday... Hmm, such a challenging day to keep smiling... But I guess after reviewing this poem, I could brave it through; come the heat, the sun, the hunger and the thirst... I should be grateful that I’m alive and I should “make hay while the sun shines” right? Hahaha, such a very strange idiom to be contextualised here.

p/s: I love the 2nd poem even more... let’s hope that I can write the review soon
      -there was no electricity till later at the evening


Here are some thoughtful comments that surely worth highlighting:

“Latif used to write with lots of colours. he still does. In The Midst of Hardship he uses colours of ‘dawn’, ‘home’, ’stove’, ’scratches’, ‘wounds’, ‘brows’, etc. I would tell my kids that life is full of colours – like those on a pallate of an artist. How’s that?” – Anonymous

“…there are abundant (words referring to hardship) in this poem (in my opinion) … i’m no expert but words such as: “scratches”, “wounds”, and “horrendous”… are really identifiable with “hardship”. Hope this help…” – Cikgu Faisal

“…probably can add here another theme; ‘love’. Mostly of course, about the love within a family. Love is what binds them together. I’m not sure but the line ‘desperately looking for their son’s albino buffalo that was never found‘ really jumps out to me. During the time of hardship, who would care about what their son or daughter lost. But in this poem, they show concern and are desperate. I guess coz they care. parents nowadays kan are too bz and ‘forget’ about the needs of their children. I feel this line really ‘menyindir’ town parents who r senang lenang and dont find time for their children. dorang nih yg in the midst of hardship pun, still show concern for their child. any of get what i mean here?
 ‘albino’. also jumps out to me. i mean, Salleh  could have jz said ‘buffalo’ right? (correct me if im wrong) so why ‘albino’?” – Marinette

In response to Marinette’s question on why does Salleh uses the word albino, that’s because we have that type of buffalo here in Malaysia… if I’m not mistaken, it’s called “kerbau balau” or “kerbau balar”… am not really sure (Cudnt find the original poem but I’m sure that’s what Latif uses in his poem). I can’t read Latiff’s mind but I think by using albino buffalo here, he managed to insert another value here. Nette, brought up the theme of love and I agree with her bout that. Consequently, as we can read in the poem that they returned home without finding the buffalo but they didnt seem to be “really bothered” by it. They accept fate as it is but more importantly, it portrays how “immaterialistic” they are. Albino buffalo is rare and very difficult to get but here we can see that eventhough they are concern with the fact that the precious buffalo is missing, they refuse to let it ruins their day… and their spirit. That is my opinion… thanks for reading!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

A class of its own

I just want to share my experience conducting a lesson out of the classroom. I did it few weeks ago and it was not really planned carefully. It was one of the days when the attendance were just beyond acceptable, only 10 out of my 27 students turned up for class that day. I wasn't really in the mood of giving another lecture on "the importance of going to school"... especially knowing that it was a 'menugal' season (sowing paddy), hence the lousy attendance as most of the students are out in the paddy field helping their family. To add on to my frustration,  it was one of the hottest days in Tongod. I knew at that moment that I would not be functioning well if I were to conduct my lesson in the class. Thus, I came up with the idea of conducting a lesson by the river... or what people in Tongod refer to as the 'karangan'. So... of we went to the river....
It was a friday afternoon and the breezy environment under the shades of the trees... in short, it was just nice. A perfect spot to conduct a small class of students.

The students were also definitely enjoying themselves. They had fun conducting their discussion before presenting it in groups. We were not doing any heavy discussion though, it was more of an incentive for the students for being in school.

The scenery was definitely a bonus. And this will definitely not be the last time for me conducting a lesson here.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Breaking Fast in the Dark

Just a short update. Want to share with you a picture I took on Wednesday when we had to break our fast in the darkness of the night. We had about 24 hours of power disruption thus, we also had our Terawih prayer with only the candles' light glimmering around us. It was pretty romantic and for sure it's a memorable one.
And here's a picture of students having 'moreh' after terawih...

Generator Generating Fire

Wednesday, 2nd September - Tongod, one of the three generators supplying electricity to the villages around Tongod has burst into flame. At around 1.00 pm, there was a disruption in the power supply all around Tongod. Power shortage is not uncommon incidents, therefore it did not raised any alarm amongst the villagers. However, shortly after that, the disruption was followed by a loud bang, heard as far as 500 metres from the scene. Black clouds of smokes filled the sky. It was chaotic for a while. Motorcycles, cars and pickups all rushed towards the scene for close encounters. One of the Sabah ElectricSdn Bhd's employee , Mr. Rufino, 28, who was currently on duty during the tragedy, suffered from 1st degree burn on his right arm. Apparently, he suffered the injury when he attempted to prevent the other two generators from catching fire as well. A very heroic act indeed. Due to the fire breakout, schooling session for the  day was resumed under a very uncomfortable environment; sweltering heat during fasting month. Fortunately, this problem was handled in a very professional and efficient manner by the District Officer, within 24 hours, the temporary mobile generator was brought in from Sandakan City and Tongod came back to life.