Monday, September 30, 2013

Rationalizing Aliyah

Aliyah got her yearly school report yesterday. Her placement in her class had dropped from 4th to 14th. I had initially refrained from saying anything much, because I know she’d hoped for a better placing in class. Clearly she was disappointed and frustrated. But seriously I wasn't that worried about her because I know she is very bright. I bet her intelligence far surpasses my husband’s and I combined, and I am not just saying this because she’s my daughter. Sometimes she amazes me with what she can do. At times, I wonder to myself, ‘are you sure she’s yours’? Haha… But with the amount of people that kept saying she look like me, which I failed to see by the way, I guess I should be grateful Allah has bestowed me with such a clever girl. Now I must work at turning this clever girl to be a well-rounded person. That would require a lot of of skills and tact.

Aliyah is a perfectionist and a very cautious person, which somewhat made her appears snobbish at times. She’s also highly competitive, but easily initially frustrated with something new. These combinations can be problematic as it can be a lethal potion leading one to be a self-absorbed, self-centered person. The new KSSR curriculum implemented at her school although only having 40% exams’ result taken into consideration has somewhat fueled that competitiveness in her. As you can see from her report below, at the end of the day, the tests she took throughout the year still play an important role for the school to decide on the students' placement every year, including her overall band rates. Parents can campaigned for zero placement in school, or the very least the placement not being emphasized upon, but that also means there will be no Hari Anugerah Cemerlang and the likes. Most importantly, most teachers may have difficulty finding some ways of identifying how well or not their students are doing. I am sure they are ways to go about it. But seriously, they all involved hard work and many many man hours.  

I am not saying that being competitive is not good, it has somehow motivates her to perform well in school. But I’m saying that being competitive simply for the sake of being good at something is not good enough. She risked not wanting to learn something new and motivate her self-learning venture when she feels she won’t be able to be good at it. Hence, most times she would be learning something and be good at it simply to show off to her classmates instead of learning something for the sake of learning to find out about something. I guess, Malaysian schools do that to you, regardless of how they planned on changing the curriculum and methods of teaching and what made it worst parents help fueled that competitive rage too. Hey, I am one of the products of Malaysian public schools. But to my father’s credit, he had instilled in me a different way of seeing things while I was in school. That’s what I needed to do with Aliyah. Rationalized a few things with her and make her see the bigger picture and that there’s a greater purpose in life, greater than just her.

In the meantime, while her father was busy giving her a pep talk on improving her future results, I just smiled and gave a small laugh. Deep down, although I had wished she did well (all parents would have the same wish, of course), I am also glad she did not do as well as last term. To her credit, she was in the class with 43 of the brightest students in SP, half of these students’ parents are the ‘who’s who’ in SP. You named all the common professions available and you’ll have at least one parent of the student holding such position. I wonder at times whether I should have just let her stay in the last class, where her classmates’ backgrounds are less privileged. But then I risked putting her in the position whereby she’ll always be first in her class, thus inflating her already on the way ballooning ego. 

Having such result this term would make her realize a few things; one – she’s not the only bright student in the class, and two – to be successful she need to work hard at improving her grasp of things and eventually her overall performance in class. The result in my view was a blessing in disguise. Aliyah now needs to learn to be less cautious and uptight, and open up to learn things beyond her comfort zone and understand that it requires her several tries before she will finally be good at something.



As you can see in her result above, she’s pretty weak in Mathematics and Science. She has no difficulty with languages and clear cut straight forward concepts in other subjects. Once she grasped the concept behind a topic or subject, they stick with her. Her memory and memorization of things is excellent. But she’ll only remember things that she understands. She has somehow trained herself not to memorize things she doesn't understand in the first place. So when it comes to logic, things that appear frequently in Mathematics and Science, until and unless she understood the logic behind the concept, she simply won’t budge. It’s rather annoying at times getting her to understand simple mathematical and scientific concepts. And most students in her class will just memorize these things (well, to Uwais’ credit, since he’s a visual person, that’s how he studies things too, see things, imprint them and makes a connection later). But Aliyah won’t do that. In that sense, her learning style is a lot like me. Things that don’t make sense will not register in my brain. 

The traditional way the two subjects are taught in her school is not helping her grasp the logic behind certain concepts. What made it worst, when it comes to science, her school’s space constraints has made experimenting with certain concept of science rather non-existent. She’s at a loss. I can’t just wait for things to change any time soon. Which means I have would have had to do something about it – not shove her to tuition teachers, as most parents do these days. I need to get her to see the bigger picture first. Yesterday, once home from taking the report, I asked her to place a call to my father reporting her result. She told him that Mama only gave a small laugh upon hearing her result, and my father, I noticed, was slightly shocked. Well, I know he was expecting more from me than a simple laugh. So I know then that it’s high time for me to sit her down and give her my version of the pep talk.

Let’s report the session in another post shall we? I have some more marking to do ;-)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Zombie Talking

This week is the marking season for the Foundation and Diploma courses at my uni. At the same time, teaching for the Degree courses is running in its 3rd week. For the past 2-3 semesters I have only handled degree papers. But this semester I need to cover a paper for the Pre-Law students too. So for the first time after a couple of semesters back home, I find myself needing to juggle marking exams for 82 students and a few hours of classes handling 90 other students.  

Marking in itself is stressful, but being in such juggling situation had left me in a 'snappy' mood. What more with all the annoying thing you faced while marking exams year in and year out. (You can read about all that here.) My allocated one week time became even more 'compressed' forcing me to bring the scripts home. At home my patience are also running low, where I find myself snapping at unnecessary task and questions. Pity the kids :-( But there's just so much I can do. 

Actually, at work, patience about a lot of matter have been running low. Last week, after 10 years, I found myself standing up in a hall of 100 over lecturers speaking up about exam matters. Suddenly, I found myself 'infamous'. But I can't take it anymore, and the junior lecturers simply have too much too lose to even consider speaking up for themselves. So I considered standing up and voicing my concerns (where half of them wasn't even mine) as a community service to all my colleagues. At least, the management know we are not a happy camper with what that has been going on.

Two days later, I went down to my new boss' office and again voice out all of my comments, dissatisfaction and suggestion about the administrators - almost all of those complaints not even my own. He'd promised to look into the matter. But seriously, if nothing is being done in the next couple of months, most of us would simply just could'n't be bothered anymore. Get ready to be managing Zombies!!! Because that is what we are all going to turn into...   

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Give up...Let go...

....“When you leave, weary of me, without a word I shall gently let you go.” ~ (Kim Sowol)


But I know...

“There is a big difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up means selling yourself short. It means allowing fear and struggle to limit your opportunities and keep you stuck. Letting go means freeing yourself from something that is no longer serving you. It means removing toxic people and belief systems from your life so that you can make room for relationships and ideas that are conducive to your well being and happiness. Giving up reduces your life. Letting go expands it. Giving up is imprisoning. Letting go is liberation. Giving up is self-defeat. Letting go is self-care. So the next time you make the decision to release something or someone that is stifling your happiness and growth, and a person has the audacity to accuse you of giving up or being weak, remind yourself of the difference. Remind yourself that you don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to live your life in the way that feels right. No one has the authority to tell you who to be or how to live. No one gets to decide what your life should look like or who should be a part of it. No one, but you.” ~ (Danielle Koepke)


No one, but me. So here I go...again...


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

LASIK @ Prince Court Medical Centre - Updates, 1 Year later

Almost a year ago sometime in August I did my LASIK operation at the Prince Court Medical Centre. I have been wanting to update about about it since my last Updates, but I simply could not find the right time to write them down. Finally, I could type this down. I hope it will assist others out there planning on doing their LASIK operation.


I had opted to do a 'blended vision' LASIK (you can read through my Pre Operation experience for the rationale behind my choice). My blended vision corrects my dominant eye and modify it for reading vision while still maintaining a good distance's vision. In other words, the doctor had left one eye with minimal power for focusing on my near/reading vision and corrected the other eye to focus on my distance vision. The brain will merge images from both eyes, interchangeably depending on the distance, allowing good vision for near, intermediate and far minus the glasses. So I did not get a 20/20 vision from the operation. 

At first, for the first few weeks it had been rather difficult for my eyes to readjust. But eventually, they did, thanks to the brain haha... Seriously blended vision requires more work for the eyes to blend back the vision and send back signals to the brain. It's a two way communication. And both must be balanced. That's where 'positivity' comes in. If you focused too much on what you cannot see, then your vision falls apart. You stress out your eyes and your brain. But when you focused on the fact that - Hey! after all these years, I can actually 'see' without my glasses, the eyes and brain suddenly relaxed itself and better vision comes naturally. Truthfully, I didn't even notice when I can actually see clearly post operation. It seems as if one day I woke up and I can see everything as clear as day.

I do have issues with my vision some days, especially when I am tired or under a lot of stress. Mornings would always be a bit blurry (due to airconditioning) and night time would usually be fine under the fluorescent lighting. Seeing things in the dark and driving at night are not an issue, although some astigmatism is still there. Most days, I just ignore them. My brain don't need the stress. Some other days, a sharper vision is a bit problematic because I left my eyes extra dry, due to my air-conditioned office, classes and bedroom. Dry eyed is said to be one of the main problems post LASIK, but seriously I didn't even notice them. However, last July I had some sort of tissues stucked under my eyelids and it felt like you'd dust in your eyes. Probably due to some of the night creams I have been using, and somehow they find their way there ;-) The specialist took a few minutes to take it out and reminded me to keep my eyeballs moisturized (haha I have been busy moisturizing my skin instead). So I must actually remember that, but seriously I don't fine dry eyes that annoying. Other than that, I don't have any major issue with my new set of 'eyes'. 


I still wear my transition glasses from time to time especially under the sun. They continue to be part of my identification. They make great props, especially when you feel like dozing off in a meeting hehe... Anyway, I felt alright with the way things are now. If it gets even better, Alhamdulillah :-) Any regrets? Nope. A little bit of discount from the Prof would have been nice though :-D

Monday, September 23, 2013

Regrets

Throughout my life, I have had my share of disagreement with several people. Some were my friends, well I thought they were back then, some others were acquaintances, people you met due to some out of the ordinary situations, and some were those that came into my life that I simply cannot go along with no matter how hard I try (or not try, because for some reasons, I just can’t get along with them. Well, you can go in circles :-P).
    
Those who knew me well would definitely understand the rationales behind all my fall outs with these people. I don’t wake up every morning thinking of ways for people to be disgruntled with me. In fact I usually wake up thinking the opposite. Nowadays, I even make it an aim to make someone’s life a little bit easier or happier, even if that means just by smiling and giving my salam to strangers. That by itself is big feat for me, because I used to be a person who wanted to keep things to myself.  I am by nature not such a person. I am actually a happy go lucky kinda person, the one that would scream at the top of her lungs on top of a mountain she loved to climb! It’s a wonder how years of wall-building around you, can actually change one’s outer layers. So If I find myself in hot water with these people, I usually have valid reason to be in such situation. Funny thing, some of these people were at times so blinded by their own incompetence and condescending attitude that they pretend that nothing was wrong. Life simply goes on for them, while I am left picking up the mess they've created.

I do not regret these fall outs. I have actually learnt a lot from them. Well, maybe I regret one or two of them. Mostly I regret the way I had handle them. I regret not being able to say to their faces how insulting they have been, and how inconsiderate they were, and how low they have sunk, in trying to achieve what they had wanted at the expense of me or some others that I care about. Yes, I regret being the nice one, and I know I had it in me to just lay it out in the open and stunned them. But I didn't. I chose not to, not because I am better than them. But more so, because I hated confrontation. That’s one main reason I chose not to be a lawyer. Confrontation will always rear its ugly head…in me. I have difficulty keeping my cool. Maybe I have manage to do so now, way better than when I was younger, but still, I hated seeing myself losing control. Because as much as it shows how ‘mad’ I could be, it also most times manage to show how vulnerable I can be too. Once I have shown that side of me, it's fairly very difficult to get back to - a 'walled-up' me. 

‘Yes, I regret knowing you. I regret being led to be a pawn on your chess board!! Life would have been happier not knowing of your sore, miserable, whining self. I hope someday, you’ll eventually find someone who’d be willing to share your 'sorry' state of life. And I pray, because there's this remaining 'niceness' in me, you’ll be a changed person. Who knows I won’t regret knowing you that much, then.”

A/T: This post is dedicated to a friend of mine – who simply ask me today: “Why not start writing?” My dear friend, I have been writing for awhile now. I am just not sure if I make any sense to anyone who has been reading. So just you know this, do you know you've this special ability to actually touch hearts? At the very least…mine. Thank you for listening and suggesting.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Half-Hearted

Sebenarnya kasihan melihat sesetengah pelajar kini.

Ada yang pilih bidang pengajian yang langsung tidak diminatinya.
Ada pula yang berada di bidang pengajian X sedangkan pelajar tersebut minatnya dan kebolehannya lebih cenderung kepada bidang pengajian Y. 

Ada yang ingin memenuhi impian ibubapa (yang mungkin dahulunya tidak kesampaian), ada yang ikut-ikut kawan, ada pula yang terpengaruh melihat'kejayaan' ahli keluarga lain yang mengambil bidang yang sama.

Maka setiap awal semester, bagi pelajar-pelajar bahagian 1 terutamanya, saya adakan sesi taaruf yang menjurus kepada persoalan di manakah minat pelajar-pelajar ini sebenarnya. Adakah mereka benar-benar berada di dalam bidang yang bersesuaian dengan minat dan kebolehan mereka? 

Sekiranya mereka menunjukkan minat mendalam, saya maklumkan kepada mereka kelebihan bidang tersebut. Sekiranya mereka membuat pengakuan bahawasanya 'hati' mereka sebenarnya di dalam bidang lain, secara terus terang saya akan tanyakan kepada mereka "Jadi mengapa kamu berada di sini?"

Ada yang pulang berfikir dan kembalinya mereka (ke kelas) lebih bersemangat untuk meneruskan perjuangan, maka ada pula yang tidak kembali sepenuh hati dan akhirnya akur 'jiwa' mereka tidak selari bidang yang mereka pilih itu. Maka mereka berundur, dan doa saya mereka meneruskan perjuangan di dalam bidang yang mereka minat suatu hari nanti. Tapi berapa ramailah pelajar yang berkeupayaan dan boleh membuat keputusan begitu...

Sebenarnya kasihan, kerana kini ramai yang bekerja selepas tamat belajar hanya bagi mendapatkan sesuap nasi, melangsaikan bil-bil dan sebagainya, tetapi 'hati' dan 'jiwa' mereka tiada di dalam pekerjaan mereka itu. 

Do you ever wonder why these graduates join the workforce and give 'half-hearted' service...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Perihal niat dalam menuntut ilmu

Hari ini dapat sedikit ilmu baru di dalam pengajian Kitab Hidayatussalikin bersama Ustaz Saiful Islam di pejabat. Aku rasa amat sesuai dikongsikan bersama lebih ramai pembaca yang melewati blog ini. Malah telah aku updatekan di FB personal dan FB page pelajar sekali.

Tajuk hari ini adalah berkenaan kelebihan menuntut ilmu yang bermanfaat. Antara perkara yang dikupas oleh ustaz adalah bab niat di dalam menuntut ilmu.

Niat di dalam menuntut ilmu perlulah dengan tujuan:
  • mencari keredhaan Allah
  • ilmu tersebut diamalkan bagi mendapat manfaatnya
  • untuk keluar daripada kejahilan


Niat yang tidak punya tujuan sedemikian adalah salah. Niat yang salah dalam menuntut ilmu membawa implikasi berikut:

"Maka ketahui olehmu bahawasanya engkau jika menuntut ilmu dengan tujuan

- untuk bertanding kehebatan, bermegah-megah, mendahului rakan-rakan (dalam ilmu), 
- mendapatkan perhatian atau pandangan manusia kepada engkau, atau
- menghimpunkan kekayaan dunia, 

nescaya engkau sedang menuju kepada meruntuhkan agamamu, membinasakan diri sendiri, dan menjual akhiratmu dengan duniamu, maka tentu sekali ia suatu urusniaga yang merugikan dan perniagaan yang binasa. Malah gurumu sendiri yang membantu dalam kemaksiatanmu serta bersekutu dengan engkau dalam kerugian engkau. Dia seperti seorang penjual senjata kepada penyamun jalanan.

Bersesuaian dengan sabda Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam: Sesiapa yang membantu kemaksiatan walau dengan separuh kalimah, maka ia termasuk bersekutu dalam kemaksiatan itu." ~ Imam al-Ghazali (Bidayah al-Hidayah)

Na'uzubillah. Astaghfirullah.

Namun, Imam al-Ghazali turut menyatakan ganjaran bagi mereka yang mempunyai niat yang betul dalam menuntut ilmu:

"Dan jika niat dan tujuanmu antaramu dengan Allah dalam mencari ilmu, adalah untuk mencapai hidayah, bukan semata-mata bermegah dengan riwayat, maka bergembiralah, kerana sesungguhnya para malaikat melebarkan sayapnya ketika kamu berjalan, dan segala ikan di laut mendoakan keampunan bagimu dalam setiap langkahmu menuntut ilmu itu."

Subhanallah, bayangkan semua ikan di lautan Allah mendoakan kita. In Sha Allah sama-sama kita berusaha meluruskan niat menuntut ilmu semata-mata keranaNya :-) Sekiranya kita pernah tersasar segeralah kita mohon keampunan daripada Allah, Astaghfirullah, dan meneruskan perjuangan kita menuntut ilmu yang bermanfaat.

Sesungguhnya Rasulullah pernah bersabda:

"Sungguhnya bahawa berpagi-pagi seorang kamu, maka belajar ia akan satu bab daripada ilmu, nescaya terlebih baik baginya daripada ia solat sunat seribu rakaat."

In Sha Allah dipermudahkan. Ameen.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lincoln, Women, Policy

Lincoln & Women

I finally got to watch the movie  ‘Lincoln’ the other day. The movie traced the final weeks of Abraham Lincoln’s life when he orchestrated support to push for the passing of 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution which  abolished slavery in 1865.

There are many memorable scenes throughout the movie, but I find one particular scene somewhat unsettling. In this scene, the character , George Yeaman, a representative from one of the Southern states was arguing to the rest of the members of the House of Representatives why the amendment to abolish slavery should not go forward.

He said: “And...We will be forced to enfranchise the men of the colored race, it would be inhuman not to! (But) Who among us is prepared to give Negroes the vote?” And everyone on the floor starts talking loudly. Then Mr Yeaman continues by saying: “...What shall follow upon that? Universal enfranchisement? Votes for women?” And upon hearing the last sentence everyone on the floor stands in anger to make their disagreement heard.

I went OMG! I looked at at my husband and thought out aloud – ‘Wow! These white men are even more ‘afraid’ to give voting rights to women than to the black!’ To free the blacks from the shackles of slavery is one thing, but to give voting rights to women is totally unimaginable to them. Imagine then the ‘constraints’ of being black and a woman (as can be seen potrayed in another movie about the struggles of the black maids against their white bosses during the Civil Rights era in the US, The Help).

Women & Policy

Fast forward several hundred years later, whilst ‘formal’ slavery may no longer be present, and women are claimed to be free and given the right to vote (in most countries), such chauvinistic sentiments still exist among men. And I am not saying such sentiments caused it, but women in modern times continue to be underrepresented in the parliament including in Malaysia. Currently, there are only 24 women out of 222 MPs in our parliament. What ever happens to fulfilling the policy towards achieving a minimum of a 30% representation of women in decision making positions in the public sector (I’m not sure if the parliament is not considered a public sector since the MPs are supposed to represent the public)

Are these men afraid that women is only capable of making ‘main pondok-pondok’ policy? At the very least they should be having more women advisors working on their team. But what usually happen is political parties under their usual paternalistic leadership style would either sidelined brilliant and intelligent women from being in the top leadership role OR put up a select few women who have lived in their ivory towers for so long that they have forgotten how it feels like to be a commoner’s daughter, wife, mother, caretaker, sometimes provider, or a worker, at times juggling all those ‘positions’ at the same time and women that may have stayed at home as homemakers to their families but did not receive the rightful appreciation that they deserve, not even from their closest clans, what more the authorities. What sorts of policies do you make then? And let’s not talk about implementation of those policies...

All I’m saying is that we need more brilliant, intelligent and compassionate women to be part of our policymakers. We don’t need women who pretend to be men when they held top management/leadership post! We need women to be women, righteous women who can relate to us commoners and make policies that actually alleviate some of our livelihood burdens. Because at the end of the day, a happy woman, manage a happier household, a happier household contributes better and more to the society which then creates an affluent society, and therefore a greater country. I’m no mathematician, but that sounds mathematically correct at least, to me.


Life as I see it -NFN

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Eid's Reflections 1434H

Syawal is almost over, but I wanted to note this down, so I know, I can feel this way :-)

I had one of my best eid this time around. I found the occasion to be less stressful compared to previous years. Yasmin Mogahed once said “If there is one recipe for unhappiness it is that: expectations.” So I did that, I took away some of my usual expectations and change myself, the way I view things, the way I expect things to happen. It's a wonder what happen when you simply lower your expectation and instead do a little bit more for others and expect nothing in return. End result, I somewhat feel content. I have somewhat forgotten when I last feel the same way on eid's holiday, probably perhaps the last time was when I was a child. Back then there was no care, no expectation except for, to 'top' your siblings or cousins' duit raya collection :-)


For a couple of years now, celebrating eid had somewhat feel like a ritual, a passing through period. I am not saying that this year had lost that feeling, but I no longer wonder why I feel Eid as a passing through 'occasion'. Yes, perhaps it still is, or perhaps it's really that time of the year when you gather with family you haven't met for quite some time and reconnect (?) err really? hehe... But this year, I find peace in thinking that no one will ask me, 'when are u getting married, or having a child (or more child), or have you finished your study, yet?' I know that I have somewhat passed that time. People don't fuss around you no more. Fine. I actually feel good about it. I'm at peace :-)

Any glitches? Well life's full of it. Why focus on them. Our Eid celebration this year was also the first of many. After 36 years, this was the first time my family and I celebrate the First of Syawal in KL. And Oh My God who said there's no one here (in KL). Even the mosque are full, and no, not with foreigners. Perhaps they are all like our family, who one day finally decided, it's time to spend it with their closest circle first at their own parents' place, since probably all their grandparents have passed away (or maybe various other reasons, like work, and health emergency for e.g.) But we did travel back to Malacca after the Eid's prayer. 

Throughout the whole occasion this year I made several interesting observations:

1) Since my two sisters are getting married, there's wedding talks all the time. I noticed that weddings discussion is always more fun and and also very stressful than eid's talk (what do you actually talked about during eid anyway haha)

2) In the older days, you took days and sometimes months before you get your eid's album going around. Now everyone take their family pic on eid day using their mobile phones and post it online. Let's not go into the pros and cons of this new 'tendency'. Be happy, and smile for the camera :-P

3) I still love the old type cookies. Kacang Mazola is one of my old favourite. My mom used to make the 'Madu Tiga' cookies. She has since stopped since our oven broke down a couple of years back. I haven't found these cookies in any of the places I visited yet this year, except for the Kacang Mazola cookies, so I am partly happy on the cookie hunting department :-). I also found that all my children love 'kuih Samperit' so much, but Luqman would throw the cherries on top away hahaha. And as for my husband, he kept on buying longans (he refused to call them mata kucing - sound ridiculous he said :-P). He never get the Malay's eid so much and I have stopped trying to push him. If longans make him happy, fine longan it is ;-).

4) There's traffic jam around on hari raya. Imagine our trip from Kajang to Tg Bidara which usually takes around one and a half hour, stretched to almost 3 hours. And no, nobody on the road died while we were stucked in the traffic congestion. Where did all these people come from? I know, foolish question - no need to answer that :-P

5)  The kampung is still one of the most fun place for children who are cooped up like my children to run wild. I pity all the bunnies, cats, cock and hens that are being chased by my children ;-)

6) Makan nasi berlauk is the actually the best menu during eid. On the second of Syawal, which happens to be a Friday, we had the chance to visit a relative that offer rice served with sambal udang petai, ikan bakar, rendang daging hitam, ikan masak asam pedas and sayur kacang buncis. How in the world had they anticipated that I had cravings for sambal udang with petai, beats me! haha but that was the best eid menu I've ever had along with itik masak rendang hijau!

 So this is how I felt this Syawal, Alhamdulillah. I hope yours was excellent too :)