Sunday, 29 August 2010

Breaking Fast @ Buka Puasa @ Iftar @ Sungkai 2010

Here in Tongod, good food doesnt come easy. If you wanna cook elaborate meals, it usually requires weeks of planning, and that's why most of the time we choose to have only simple meal. But last week, I was lucky as I got to go to town to buy some ingredients for our special day of breakfasting. Here's some pics of them dishes:
Our breaking fast menu, more description below

My first attempt on Dried Squid in Spicy Peanut Gravy, tastes a lot better than it looks!

Nasi Lemak with Sambal Bilis, Sambal Kacang Sotong Kering, Hardboiled Egg, Cucumber and Papadom
Our desert for the day, my modified version of Creme Caramel: I put a slice of canned peach inside, and trust me it's really yummy!

That's all for now, sorry for disappearing for quite some time. Cheers!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Recent Flood in Tongod

"Even the dogs need savin' when the flood comes"

I've been writing just literature for quite a while and I guess to be true to the purpose of this blog, I should share with my fellow readers the happening in Tongod. Last January, we were hit by the worst flood incident in 19 years... So, here's some pics for you guys to see...

This is the picture before it all went bad... at this time it has been alternately raining and drizzling  non-stop for 3 days

Early in the morning, the house on the background were submerged at the end of the day.

The light blue house on the other end of the bridge is my house. Lucky we got to this side earlier, or else, we could've stranded for few days.

Students were evacuated from the hostel to the higher ground

"The river's a monster...."

"Extreme water polo. Anyone?" Yes, you got it right, that's the top of the goal post

"Not my kind of car wash"

 Two days after the flood...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Are You Still Playing Your Flute


Are you still playing your flute?
When there is hardly time for our love
I am feeling guilty
To be longing for your song
The melody concealed in the slim hollow of the bamboo
Uncovered by the breath of an artist
Composed by his fingers
Blown by the wind
To the depth of my heart

Are you still playing your flute?
In the village so quiet and deserted
Amidst the sick rice field
While here it has become a luxury
To spend time watching the rain
Gazing at the evening rays
Collecting dew drops
Or enjoying the fragrance of flowers
Are you still playing your flute?
The more it disturbs my conscience
to be thinking of you
in the hazard of you
my younger brothers unemployed and desperate
my people disunited by politics
my friend slaughtered mercilessly
this world is too old and bleeding

Is this the end of our love
time is forcing us, as artists
to live outside ourselves

translated by Zurinah Hassan

The way I read it, this is a love poem, or at least a 'semi-romantic' poem. It's told from a first person POV, where the persona, a grown up 'girl', finding herself reminiscing bout her 'old-flame' or rather a long-lost lover. She recounted the way her lover played flute in their village. However, she's not merely recounting the romance in the past but actually wondering whether her love are still playing flute, now that they're all grown up. She mentioned her feeling of guilt for missing the beautiful melody of his bamboo flute. She later questioned or rather keep on wondering he's still playing the flute now, since the village is now underpopulated and the paddy field is in very poor condition. She mentioned that nowadays, it is a luxury to be able to spend time relaxing and savouring the  beauty of the nature. In the final stanza, she repeats the same question, and this time around she admits that she couldnt help but feel that it is wrong for her to be thinking of their love at this time of hardship. The hardship is portrayed here as young men are now jobless, people are fighting over politics and countries are facing wars.


Okay, let's face it, I'm still a novice in decripting themes and messages out of a poem. In doing so, I refuse to depend on any of the literature revision books that are widely avaiable nowadays. Thus, mine would be vastly different that what you have read elsewhere. The first theme for me here is LOVE HURTS or maybe we can put it as LOVE IS COMPLICATED. Hahaha... I'm laughing at myself as I'm writing this because it's getting quite personal. Frankly speaking, this might not be the most apparent theme, but I still can't help but to highlight it here. Let me justify. Firstly, eventhough the tone and mood of the poem is not really romantic, part of the wordings suggest otherwise;

"longing for your song"
"depth of my heart"
"fragrance of flowers"
"thinking of you"

... these are the phrases that no matter how you read them, would still ooze of love and strongly signify romance. But as I say, it's not just simply about LOVE, but the suffering that one has to endure because of love. To say it in brief... if the persona, did not fell in love with the flute-player during her younger days, she would not have suffered the dilemma and guilt that she's facing right now. Does it make sense?

Another theme that I can see here is a little bit more serious. This poem can actually be related to the rough time that we are facing now. Eventhough I'm quite positive that this poem was written decades ago, the struggling and difficulties are something quite universal.  So, it brings up this premise: When we're young and in love, we don't really realize (or we choose not to realize) the realities/hardship that we face. As we got older, all of these difficulties become apparent.


'sick' paddy field


too old and bleeding
sun setting

 For this poem, I managed to find the original version in Malay. I personally felt that the Malay version is more romantic and full of emotion. Okay, I'd like to raise up a question to fellow teachers who are reading this: Would you incorporate the usage of this Malay version into your literature lesson? Why? and if you're gonna use it, how?

I am actually raising this issue because, I did ask the officer during a Lit course: "Can I use the Malay version in my lesson". Briefly, the answer that I got is "You can use them, but you are actually not recommended to do so, and if you still want to use it, please be careful. And remember, we're focusing on the small 'l' not the big 'L'".

I didn't really got the chance to argue my case during that time, so I guess I should do it here. Okay, first let me explain about the big fuss with small and big L. Basically, small 'l' means understanding and enjoying the literature components while Big 'L' would means teaching all the literary elements explicitly and in details. It's kinda ironic for me to hear the speaker says that if I were to use the Malay version, it would've mean that I was focusing more on the Big 'L'. I think maybe he just couldn't put himself in the shoes of us who are teaching in the Rurals. I wasn't trying to use the Malay version to highlight the usage of metaphore or symbolism in the poem. What I really wanted to do is use it as a 'firestarter'. To ignite my students' interest towards the poem. There's a lot of repetition in the poem, thus, if I introduce the first stanza of the poem in Malay and just keep the rest in English (in pre-reading or while reading exercise), I think my students would be more interested rather than me shoving the fully English version. There's a lot other way to use it as well. For example in a while reading or post reading exercise, we can use the Malay version to help our students getting a better understanding of certain mood and tones that certain words give towards the poem. Well, it's just my opinion, what say you? So, here's the Malay version, try to dive into the sea of emotion while you read it....


Masihkah kau bermain seruling
walau waktu telah terlewat untuk kita bercinta
aku semakin terasa bersalah
melayani godaan irama
lagu yang tersimpan pada lorong halus buluh
dikeluarkan oleh nafas seniman
diukir oleh bibir
diatur oleh jari
dilayangkan oleh alun angin
menolak ke dasar rasa.

Masihkah kau bermain seruling
ketika kampung semakin sunyi
sawah telah uzur
waktu jadi terlalu mahal
untuk memerhatikan hujan turun
merenung jalur senja
mengutip manik embun
menghidu harum bunga.

Masihkah kau bermain seruling
ketika aku terasa mata bersalah
untuk melayani rasa rindu padamu
di kota yang semakin kusut dan tenat
adik-adikku menganggur dan sakit jiwa
bangsaku dipecahkan oleh politik
saudara diserang bom-bom ganas
dunia sudah terlalu tua dan parah.
Di sinilah berakhirnya percintaan kita
kerana zaman sedang menuntut para seniman
hidup di luar dirinya.
Zurinah Hassan

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Spontaneous Review - Nature by, H.D. Carberry

Okay, so here it goes, the long awaited review for the poem, Nature by H.D. Carberry:

We have neither Summer nor Winter
Neither Autumn nor Spring.
We have instead the days
When the gold sun shines on the lush green canefields-
The days when the rain beats like bullets on the roofs
And there is no sound but the swish of water in the gullies
And trees struggling in the high Jamaica winds.
Also there are the days when leaves fade from off guango trees
And the reaped canefields lie bare and fallow to the sun.
But best of all there are the days when the mango and the logwood blossom
When the bushes are full of the sound of bees and the scent of honey,
When the tall grass sways and shivers to the slightest breath of air,
When the buttercups have paved the earth with yellow stars
And beauty comes suddenly and the rains have gone.

This poem is simply about nature. It talks about the condition, climate and atmosphere in Jamaica. Surprisingly, even figuratively, this poem is actually talking about the natural cycle of nature - the cycle of life. In my opinion, in this poem, the poet is trying to convey the message that in life, there will definitely be bad times and good times no matter where you are. And it can comes in every different forms.

Let us note here that the poem starts with the line, "we have neither Summer nor Winter, Neither Autum nor Spring", initially, it gave us the sense of absence, as if something is lacking in the persona's life. And as we continue to the third line " we have instead the days", I sense certain compensation from the persona. I felt like the persona is trying to tell us that they have something else other than the four seasons.

Beginning from line three till the end, the poem elaborates more on the different types of 'days' that they have in Jamaica. Just like how our life is, some days are portrayed as being better than the other, plus, there is also the 'best of all' days - not unlike the best moments we experience in our life.

To be honest, one of the reason why it took me so long to write this review is that in the beginning, I didnt 'get' this poem. I'm not sure why, but only after about a month 'off' this blog, I try to 'read' this poem again and I'm quite annoyed at myself for not noticing that this poem is indeed about nature - the nature of life.

I stated earlier about how good times and bad times come in differrent forms. I think we can definitely say that for those living in the places with the four seasons, the best seasons are usually spring and summer, and most of the time, people dread the Autumn and Winter's climate. As for Jamaican, and may I say, Malaysian, we have our preference to and in the poem, the best days are the days when the mango and the logwood blossom, bushes full with the sound of bee with the scent of honey, with slight wind, and the buttercup blooms all over the plains. Do also note that the poem ends with the line " and beauty comes suddenly and the rains have gone". This is also another big resemblance to our life, as it has been our experience that after bad times, good times will follow and sometimes ever so abrubtly. This reminds me to a piece of a lyrics that can roughly be translated as below:
"Adversity is a gift,
So, brave through it with patience,
Soon the light will come,
As the cloud will not be there forever,
But the light will be brighter than ever."
Somehow, it's not really related to the poem but I'm just feeling like I wanna share :)  In short, what I want to say here is the fact that sometimes in life, the best moments or events happen right after a series of really terrible periods in life. In term of the message of the poem, I think that is all I get from this poem. Please, do share your thoughts and opinions. Hmm.. bout the elements, here's what I found:

Onomatopoiea (finally... thanks situapui)
"swish" ; line 7

"rain beats like bullet"


"breath of air" (maybe?)

I might miss some others, sorry, it's 3.00 am, if you find any... do share, do comment, all are welcome... Thanks for reading