Wedding Bells, All’s Well.

Hello Hello!
I know its been such a long time since I’ve posted anything on here but I ppent my day yesterday catching up with QI and out came the topic of marriage. QI stated that in today’s society, the higher the cost of the marriage ceremony the higher the chance of divorce. Alternatively, things were factored in like how the times were different back before society began to implement the theory of modernisation. Anyways, these were my thoughts about it.
People back then were affected by the harsh conditions and significant events that made people in general put their very best of efforts to make everything work. It doesn’t have to necessarily mean marriage, but at the very moment two people go into a relationship, even then, they were taught to never give up and do their very best to keep things together. Hell, there were those back then whom after the war, they cross continents on boats just to find if the person they fell in love with was still there.
Of course, these days…Mostly everything is all about the glam and the glamor. Whom can provide the sustainability and financial security without the hassle of wanting a bit of “hard times”. These days, people are more inclined to leave at the first sign of trouble or something that they cannot stand. However, there will always be a strong and patient few who stay and try to change or adapt out of love and for those who do, may you always be appreciated, even if things do not work out in the end.
Additionally, in-laws have more say in the way of things, be it in the ceremony to the extent of what they do for the future, and marriage have become a ceremony not as a sacred covenant but more of a statement. But above all else, with the illusion of social media and the rise of the information era, we have perhaps come to learn and have become master at the art of putting up a false image of ourselves.
We’ve become so good at being who we are for the world to see that when it comes to meeting someone we instantly fall for, we put up that same face because we know, if we were ever to stand a chance, we’d have to kill who we are underneath the mask.
For those who are strong and try to break the walls of deceit, great. For those who stay despite their own walls broken down, kudos. You found a love worth fighting for.
All in all, what I wanted to say is simple.
We live in an era where once things don’t work out, especially in relationships, we’re more inclined to leave. “Plenty of fish in the sea”, they would say. “Its okay to try again, you’re still so young and you guys were only dating.”
Perhaps they’re right you know?
But perhaps, everything started and ended there?
I mean, its so easy to say all of that, but how do you act when you were the one trying your best to never give up on something you considered a privilege?
The voice of the world tells you to run and see her wonders wherever your feet may take you, the Hand that writes our destiny tells us to be patient and its all going to plan; one should be thankful for the short amount of happiness that he or she brought into our lives and be appreciative of the sadness for it has made you stronger.
To these entities, I say yes. I agree.
Only if we’ve given it our all…

The Body In Motion

Hey there,

This chapter continues from The First Steps of Life. Its been a long time coming since I’ve decided to write this entry but I’ve finally found the time and the peace of mind to begin.  Its been more than 3 months since I decided to continue writing on this story. Lets just say that with everything that is going on in my life, I just need a medium to let my thoughts flow. I will give a mention of a forewarning that this would be a extensive story in the making. After all, twelve years of my life was dedicated to this dream; a dream that I’m about to indulge you in. So welcome to my rise, and welcome to my fall. A story of Love, and a story of Heartbreak…Where it all began;

 

The Body in Motion. 

I entered the gymnasium at age 4. Before I even got in, my parents found out upon registration that my application to even get into the kinder gym would be another year or so on the waiting list due to the already filled capacity that the program provides. For those whom are not acquainted with my usual antics, I was a hyperactive kid; jumping from sofa to sofa, climbing in-between the doors pretending I’m spiderman, running here, there and everywhere, and even doing flips on the bed at age three… So naturally, my parents were a little disheartened because they do not know what other sports would be a suitable option for me.

So lets look at the options. What other activities were available to me? Why not football?
Well, I was a selfish baby and toddler growing up and remember my collections of balls? Nobody was allowed to play with it. Furthermore, during a family picnic event when my uncles and my cousins were playing football, the ball came rolling down to me and instead of kicking the ball back, I sat on the ball and did not let anybody get it back. My father eventually had to take my ball from the car and replace it with the football before carrying on with their game. I was not born a team player so with a game like football that involves passing, it was a no brainer. Absolutely not.
Why not Swimming?
Swimming was one of those activities I really enjoyed. I loved the water and I started lessons at the civil service club at the age of two or three with my sister and then it slowly progressed to regular training classes. I got to go into the deep end of the pool by four because I knew how to thread water by then but the downside of swimming back then was the lack of indoor swimming pools. Furthermore, swimming lessons for kids lasted for a mere 1 hour and it was once a week. Lastly, if it rained, the pool was closed to protect people from being struck by lightning. So that option was not viable.
So gymnastics.
Getting back to gymnastics, this was the only real option for my parents. The training schedule, the repetitions of training per week, it was heaven for them. Upon being told that they would have to wait another year, the main coach back then, by the name of Kevin, saw that behind my parents, was a little boy he’s never met before doing cartwheels perfectly and running about. We were just about to leave, when he came running to the receptionist and started asking my parents so many questions like, “how can he do a cartwheel? did he come from another gym? how old is he? does he always run around like this?” …and so my parents answered. I was a hyperactive kid that had power rangers for idols. Where else did I learn to do cartwheels and front flips on the bed? Sesame Street? Kevin then started talking to the receptionist and told my parents to have a seat and after a few minutes, he asked me to come through the gym doors where he brought me to a landing mat. He let me see everything going on. From the people doing balancing on the beam, to the kids jumping on the trampoline into foam pit with a rope for them to pull themselves out, to an outside area where the pommel horses are. Being only 4, I got to see that it wasn’t just training but also fun and games too. At the end of the day, the last 30 minutes were dedicated to playing games that involved a lot of running around. An example was that they’d split groups evenly and we’d go above and below and above again and below again the balance beams of different heights and then when you reach the end, you do the same thing on the way back and tag your partner and the winner gets a prize.

Only upon typing this did I realise that it was in these last few minutes of the day, where the final amount of energy that we have remaining gets spent and we’d crash in the car and sleep as soon as we get home, obviously tired from the activities of the day. Win-Win for the parents. Being only four, I was eager to get participating immediately and Kevin noticed that. So he introduced me to everyone and I began my life in gymnastics.

Three Years Later

Remember how I was hyperactive? Ammar Jaafar three years later wasn’t just hyper, I was a showoff too. There were times where in school, I’d do a cartwheel, or a no handed cartwheel (called an aerial) just because I can, and it’ll scare the teachers, which, in the long run, proved to be a cause of annoyance because during recess, teachers on duty would keep an extra eye out for what mischief I could be up to. Absolutely no freedom to do what I wanted, which was show off gym tricks for the girls to notice (which they do), but then I’d get shy and then run away with my friends and then it’ll turn into a massive hide and seek game for the girls….by which by the time they found us, the bell would ring and we would have to go back to class. I brought a lot of unnecessary chaos to the school at the time but I was 7. What did you expect? I didn’t even know what I was doing half the time but it was fun. I even managed to be Prefect a few years later!

Since the start of my life in gymnastics, I’ve skipped a few groups and got myself into the stage where I would be eligible for competitions. Believe me, I was so proud of myself when I was given my first leotard, short shorts and the long ones for the “formal apparatus” (as I used to call them). Short shorts were for informal apparatus and long ones, for the formal. Everywhere I went, if I knew I had gym later in the afternoon, I’d be wearing it the whole day. On the MRT, in the taxi, at the mall, yada-yada-yada…everywhere. Usually, people would go to the gym, change in the locker room, and then they’d go sit on the floor and warm up. Not me. I came to the gym, threw my bag into the changing room, sat on the floor and just warmed up….or jumped on the trampoline on my own until I was told off to sit down because there wasn’t any coaches around.  Commitment: 110% aka Semangat. (some Malay word which should mean: Spirited)

But age seven is when I started feeling the butterflies in my stomach and I would not be able to look at a particular girl’s eye whenever she looked my way. Age seven was when I could not wait to get to the gym. Age seven was feeling good that she was there at the gym, and feeling extremely down when she wasn’t…

At age seven, I was seating on the stage over looking the gym. The stage is where the trampoline is located. Theres a trampoline dug into the floor that fitted perfectly, while next to it, is the foam pit to do catch and releases on the high bar or do dismounts into it. Similarly, it is used to do twist and saults into the pit from the trampoline. So, as I was seated on the stage, waiting for gym to start, I noticed that coming in, was a girl I never met before. She was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in my life and she was shorter than me. Accompanying her, were her parents, who were immediately recognised by the girl head coach and after a few minutes of talking and hand-shaking, this girl would come into the gymnasium…just like that.

She must’ve noticed me noticing her because as soon as she came into the gym, the first person she looked at was me, and I shit you not, I did the quickest glance away and began talking to my friend….but when I turned back to her, she was STILL looking at me. I didn’t know what to do. Age seven me never experienced this before. It was a weird, weird, weird feeling and I didn’t know what to do with it, but … it was also a really nice feeling.

Warm, gentle, calming…with a scented rush of adrenaline…

That was how it felt…and if our eyes met, imagine all that, with an electrifying jolt to the heart and my senses. It was a high I never felt before.

(Just as many of you reading this might know about me, yes… I did not say hi to her nor did I even have the courage to ask her what her name was…I don’t think. I had to sneakily ask another girl who the new girl was and it must’ve been written on my face because she immediately responded with, “why? you like her ah.”
I’m telling you now, when she said that, it felt as if somewhere in my heart, the drop in my facial expression was nowhere as deep as the Mariana Trench. It was DEFCON 4.

….Nothings  changed, really. I’m still the same shy person who’d never say hello)

My first competition came a year later, and guess what? I came Eighth placed. I was eight as well. The coincidence is a little discomforting as it felt that next year, since I will be nine years old, I would do worse than I did that day… Thankfully, I came 2nd.

I came second because, I figured, she would not notice a last-placer, nor would she want to notice or be seen with  loser. I worked hard, feeding on her presence and that adrenaline to  let me learn new skills to reach new heights. But throughout all this, I never even said hello. Between us, it would be only be the quick glances. Never anything more. The day I said hello to her, was at my house, on March the 18th, 2001….two years later.

I heard the gate-bell ring, and went to see who was at the door and lo behold, it was her! I looked at my parents and wondered what she was doing there with her parents and my mum said, “I invited them.” It was my 9th birthday and there were lots of people. There were fun and games and we even had a bbq pit in which I was in charge of….until the guest arrived. But when she arrived, that was when I said my first hello, and that was, in a bit, really awkward. Because, I said it in a matter that would’ve been okay if I just stopped at Hello….but I HAD to say her name…which came 5 seconds later. Instead of being awkward about it, she replied, “Happy birthday, Ammar. We brought you presents :)”

I got to know her brothers as well and during game time, I was grudgingly partnered with her. It was really awkward. We had to fashion a wearable costume out of those big black-disposable sheets and I was the modal while she was the designer. I didn’t say a word since I didn’t know how but when she told me to move or turn around, I would. Everyone was laughing and I, secretly, deep inside, was really really happy. We got third place.

After the games, and people were done with eating and what not, all the cousins, friends and her were playing catch while I was seated on the sofa finishing my bbq chicken but after I was done, when I noticed her looking over at me, I realised she was wearing a black elastic hairband on her wrist so after i washed my hands and went back to the living room, I found the courage to come up to her, and say, “can I please see that bracelet of yours?” She slowly took it off, and let me see it, and I must’ve taken her by surprised cuz I immediately dashed for my room and she chased after me.

I must state at this point, I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING but I climbed onto my double-decker bed (since it was the cool thing to have back in the day) and thought i’d be safe, but as soon as I got to the top, she managed to get up there effortlessly and now on it, were just the two of us. I was frozen in sheer awe. I never seen her so beautiful and up close as I did. She was wearing a pink long sleeved shirt, and her hair long and graceful while her eyes, in all its mysterious, was resting perfectly onto mine. Slowly, she came forward, took my hand out, without me moving an inch, opened up my grip, and took her band from my hand…all whilst smiling faintly. I was in awe. This, was one out of two memories of her, I cherish the most.

The next day, (and for the next few months,) we would go back to our silence and the glances at the gym. I think, instead of awkward silence, it was our understanding of whatever friendship we had. We were both busy with gymnastics and we both wanted to get to where we want to be, and even then, we both knew it wasn’t the right time. So we focused on being the best in our field.

_________________________________________________________________

I think i’m going to end this here for now. This story should be completed by the next installation which, I hope that I’d get to write sooner rather than later. I wish to let you know that in regards to where I am at where I’ve stopped writing, I believe I am now in Anglo-Chinese Primary school (ACS). I was placed in Thoburn House so #represent. I have complete my 3rd competition and I would be getting first place.
Furthermore, I’d like to justify why I’m adding the story of her into all of this. She was a huge influence to my success in gymnastics and the competitions to come. One of the biggest. The reason why I never mentioned her name is because of the respect I have towards her..for the events to come in the next installation, and the inspiration she gave.  I gave it much thought over the weeks and I think that at the end of it, all the Singaporeans in my friends list who will stumble upon this story would immediately identify who the girl is, so I wouldn’t have to mention it anyways. I humbly ask that you do not message her and tell her to check it out, but if you feel like you want to, whatever, do what you feel like doing. I can’t stop you.

In the next installation, It’ll go through how I got myself into Australia…and the people there. The friends I made, the life, and how Dubai came into the picture.

Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,
Ammar Jaafar
5/4/16
1217pm GMT+8hrs

Seviyorum Numinous

Allow me to tell you a story about my travelling experiences from around the world. I caught myself dreaming the other day, of different nations I visited…But I realised, in its own form, its going to be quite monotonous writing in the sense that if I mention the names of these countries, you’ll probably get the presumption of the beauty or the damned, the stories you hear from the friends or family whom had visited in the past, or you’ll skip the story entirely, because you’ve been there. So to make things interesting, I won’t mention the name of the places I’ve visited. There are so many places i’ve had the fortune to visit so naturally, I’ll tell the story one by one. Some, with family, and some, with friends. I aspire to write more adventures like these in the near future so without further ado, lets begin. Being a man that respects history, culture, architecture and art, I hope to paint the story of my experience in your mind; the inescapable feeling of anger and frustration growing up, and how the beauty and the spirituality of the world and its wonders gave peace, serenity, acceptance and humility to my heart. 

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”

-Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 7: 1966-1974


The year was 2009. It was in a stressful time for me because if memory recalls, it was the mid semester break of my final year of sitting for the International Baccalaureate (omg, i can finally spell it without the squiggly lines coming up[yay!])…or It may have been holiday season in Dubai in which the family decided to go travelling after my final examinations of grade 11. Either is possible, but back then, I was on the edge quite a bit. I was addicted to World of Warcraft, and being an addict, I didn’t really want to go anywhere; yet alone go travelling with the family to some unfamiliar land when I could be at home farming stacks to sell in the Auction House for fake gold. All I wanted to do over the holidays was just chill at home, play games, and go out with my friends. I mean, its my holiday. Why did they get a say in what I had to do? Being an addict, I would also be quite asshole and I’d be open to sudden burst of anger if my playing times got interrupted. Ive come a long way from then but the Ammar in 2009 was an ungrateful piece of shit that didn’t deserve the beautiful things his parents did for him. I regret that lifestyle to this day. I tried to put up a hard fight but alas, I was overruled. I grumbled as I packed my bags and within a few hours, I was seated on the plane travelling off to a distant land; a land, that would open my heart to a dream that would continuously grow, little by little. The dream to connect with other worlds, other cultures, and other souls. The dream to see unknown lands that lie beyond the horizon.

I woke up hours later to the bumpy landing of the plane ride. Just before heading to sleep, I remembered that supper was served. A cheese platter with an assortment of different buns. The apple juice that went alongside the food spread helped made the body at ease and sleep took over shortly after.

The airport was huge; spacious and vast. But what amazed me was that in this piece of modern structure, outside, was a great expanse of greenery; hills and trees in every direction. An outlier in its own right; a structure of modernity in all its loneliness while surrounding it, the land, as ancient and as untouched as when God first created the Universe. This was the land wars were fought over. A land where lovers set out to sea. A land where scholars from afar came together to talk about the divinity of faith, sciences and progression of nations. This land has stood as an Empire and also as a Caliphate. Most importantly, this land has stood the test of time. But Ohh, little did I know of what will come to be during my time here. For the first time in what felt like weeks or months, I let out a faint smile. This was where I needed to be.

The drive to the city was observed with curious eyes. Eyes, which felt like I have not had since I was a kid. The fear of not being able to see all that there is to see. There was a runabout as you exit the airport. Turn to the right, and the signboard that beholds will show a list of different countries

  • Paris: 3000km
  • Rome: 2300km
  • Vienna: 1800km

I was awestruck that from where we were, there was a road connected to Rome! Like, it would take 20 odd hours but can you imagine the drive?! To cut through mountains, hills, villages, and going through some European Nations…One day man. I pray that one day, I get to do it 🙂
If we went straight ahead, we’d be welcome by the many villages along the way; each more ancient than the next, with monuments or relics paving the way from a time long gone.
We took a left turn. Where we would be heading to is known as the Seat of The Throne.
Our taxi driver was so knowledgable and welcoming of nomads to his own country, it was refreshing. Coming from Dubai, since Dubai was a bustling city with new roads added every week from all the construction and projects going on, its a hassle from time to time when companies get new cab drivers from other nations and you have to show them the way. I mean, that is all fine and everything but it is an absolute nightmare when you don’t know the way, and the cab driver don’t know the way. Coming to this country, the cab driver was so informative. He even told us at the specific moment when we have crossed Asian Borders and entered the European Border and gave us historical dates as to when certain monuments or advancements were enacted and the reasonings behind it. It was like a history class…in motion.

Prior to arriving to the hotel, there lies a huge suspension bridge that separates two grand continents. Crossing it was one of the most profound moments of my life in the sense that it was the first time in my life that I encountered such a thing. I mean, we landed in Asia but by mid morning, we were in Europe. I know! It was so weird. There were huge trees that sheltered the road along the way , which made the surprise of seeing the spectacular view presented before us a whole lot more effective. Imagine driving for an hour, on a two by two road, with barren hills and old cottage houses, seeing the farm life, going through the suburbs, and then BAM! it just hits you in the face; its exactly as how it was portrayed in the postcards and movies.

The view was just there for you to witness in all its glory. Seeing my bewildered state of euphoria, the cab driver drove a lot slower on this long suspension bridge. It was nice of him and there were so many ships sailing underneath, returning to the ports or going out to the vast unknown. Lovers everywhere, walking hand in hand, looking at the view. From the middle of the bridge, looking out, it was as if the world was waiting for you to just set sail and explore.

When we finally crossed the bridge, the road changed. It was no longer the smooth and modern road we find everywhere across the world for smooth travel. No, the roads were ancient too. You could count the stones or the bricks that were placed evenly on the streets. What was beautiful was that in this city, everything “old” or from a memory long pass was preserved. Everything. From the roads to the walls, to the pavements, to the signs…everything was preserved to give you the feel that you were back in time. It was at this moment, I understood. I turned to my parents in the car and I apologised and proceeded to say thank you. I never knew such a place as beautiful and profound existed. With countries and nations focused on modernisation, this was a city that wanted to preserve its past. Having the burning desire to know why, I asked the taxi driver. He looked at me, eyes gleaming, and said, “Hey, I don’t want to spoil it for you. You’ll come to find the answer on your own. With your eyes, Effendi, maybe you’ll find it faster.”

 The Sacred of Trust was a place within the city, located within the castle walls upon which Sultans young and old used to roam on a daily basis. It was a museum of sorts, unlike any other museums out there in the world. For one, it was filled with hundreds, if not thousands of people day in, day out, but there wasn’t a sound save the sound of clobbering or exhausted feet. It was a place that consisted of many of the greatest treasures of Islam. From the artefacts of War, to the belongings of the Messenger PBUH, and other Prophets as well. Furthermore, therein lies too, items that belonged to the four great Caliph that ruled after the Prophet’s death, and you get to witness the vast richness of the sultans and their lifestyle within this place. It was an amazing construct. The palace had its own hospital, menagerie, bakery and school. The Gardens were well maintained with marbled floors to echo the steps of her visitors while doves nested upon trees; eating the fruits by the hundreds. Its not that there wasn’t anyone talking, but everything was reduced to a whisper, as if to not disturb the awe or the serenity of the person next to you. Everyone was being considerate of themselves…it was a strange tranquility to witness among humans. Above, you can hear the echoes of a man reciting the Quran. There were no speakers or anything so the voice carried itself on its own to enter each room. All there ever was, was a single man seated in his religious claddings and a microphone set in front of him and a single speaker that faced towards the  crowd. The rest was an architectural feat.
Going back to mentioning how I adored architecture, there is a book that covered how the Chief Architect at the time, Mimar Sinan, achieved such a feat when designing the palace. He credits the Christians architects with their superior wisdom in acoustics, to carry sounds in their grand cathedrals:

Enter the buildings when there are few people inside. Hold the pin at the level of your head and drop it. Does the sound die off right away? Or does it reach the furthest corners? If so, ask yourself how did the architect achieve this? Can one make the sound flow like water, back and forth, in a gentle tide? In cathedrals this is done through the creation of a whispering gallery. Go and listen: you’ll hear how the smallest sound is carried.

According to the tour guide, there are ‘Royal Reciters’ upon which each take shifts every few hours to recite the Quran. Despite the palace being opened for the day, when comes to night, the reciters would still be reading; reciting the verses of God to protect the treasures and the people that dwell within.

So where did all the sound go?
The First Courtyard? No.
The Pool? No.
The Botany? No.
The voices can be found a hundred meters away from the Garden. It was by the balcony. There is a spectacular restaurant set up upon which lays a view of the world so vast and beautiful, you can choose to either ignore it, and talk about all you seen, or you can remain silent and eat your food in peace whilst looking at perfection. To your left, you could see the suspension bridge while to your right, all you saw was the separation of two entities and the sea. Choose one. You could choose both, but then I’d be forced to believe that you didn’t appreciate all that you have witnessed. It was one of those moments. As we await to get seated, it seemed like an odd request for the waiter to set up a table for four. All the tables, I noticed, were set evenly apart between one another….and then it hit me, I got it. As I stared out there into the magnificent scenery, I made a small prayer…

—–

The next day, I found myself in the markets. Except these kinda markets, were not the kind to sell animals, but they sold garments from across the world and those made there. They sold exotic fruits from every corner of the world as well; making use of the ancient routes that ships still use to this day to make contact with distant lands. Therein too lies art and maps of the ancient world. The design of the souk were made in such a way to make the visitor feel as if it is an endless expanse; with turns after every few shops. You could start at the Heart of the city, and end up all the way to the barge. I’ve always wondered how women don’t lose their heads whenever they enter it. “If you think the first shop is cheap, effendi, go deeper. Each more cheaper than the next and everything more diverse. Everything you wish to find in the world, who knows, maybe you’ll find it here… and everything you didn’t know you needed can be bargained for a good price :)”Intriguing way to put it, no?

My mother bought tea pots and jewellery,
My father bought coffee and calligraphy,
My sister bought gifts and souvenirs for her friends,
& I bought myself the map of the ancient world.

I still have it, that map. It sits proudly in the living hall at home, together with the calligraphy paintings my father bought. I’ll upload it on instagram when i’m back 🙂 


I’ve seem to gone on long enough writing about this experience so it is at this point, I won’t go further…I’ve realised its a lot harder to write without telling the name of the city I wrote about and it did make me think every now and then but I can’t deny that it was fun 🙂  Did you figure out where I was? Also, did you figure out why I made that little prayer? Don’t worry if you didn’t know why…but theres a reason why its easy to remember. its a city of dreams and a city of love. People dream to fall in love here, and lovers dream to return here. This was my prayer:

“Everything I witnessed, I testify that it has all been achieved through love. From the Bridge that connects East and West, to the Grand Mosques that honours lovers that moved onto the next part of their life, to the Souks where lovers of trade and knowledge gather to learn more about the different parts of the world and trade what they have to further their love with a coin. I understand why everything is not overturned nor renewed, but maintained. We are humans from an era far beyond the expectations and the dreams of the original builders of this city. But from their time and ours, this city remains the sole bridge that connects past, and present. This city was built on the orders to connect the west and the east and beyond. I am part of the beyond….I will continue to be part of the beyond. I pray that the city that i’ve come to witness and understand will continue to stand the test of time. As I seat here overlooking all that I’ve come to witness, I pray that in the coming years, I may be welcomed back here again…because I know, this is the city of love and henceforth, May I be blessed to return here with the love of my life.” 

It is with this journey, to this city, that I began the dream of travelling around the world. It was a feeling that grew; an unexplainable feeling that made you feel closer to something greater than yourself…at least thats how I felt. It is with this journey that I saw something better than the computer screen and went outdoors more to experience the solemn, majestic, the damned and the discarded things in life.

We find peace for the heart in many different things. I, found peace in travelling to distant lands.

The Illusion of Fear

4th Jan 2016.

Today marks the day where both work and school begins in 2016. Some kid out there would be experiencing school for the first time and some would be eager to meet old friends to tell stories of what they did over the holidays. Also, some young adults would be experiencing work for the very first time whether it’ll be an internship or even a work placement and some, will be in continuation of their placements from the last break, all in hopes for a stable job in the future…well, at least in South East Asia anyway.

Within these two groups of people, however, it can be observed that there is an objective that binds these two together and that is the courage to step into something unknown to them in the pursuit of happiness. For the child, the quest to attain knowledge and wisdom to get the necessary pre-requisites to get into the next stage of education, which will in turn, present an infinite number of possibilities for them to consider in the future, while for these young adults, they face the chance to experience the bigger world for the first time. To each person his own, but the pursuit of happiness is something we unknowingly chase and some of us may even spend the entirety of our lives trying to attain it. I pray that the latter would not be the case. May we find our happiness when we need it most. Nonetheless, to these two groups of people; adult or child, I wish you well and the to the very best of health.

However, today, I’m not going to talk about the pursuit of happiness. I’m here to talk about the Illusion of Fear. 

“Why?”

——–
Please note i totally died last night at this marker so im continuing the story on a new day (5th Jan)
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5th Jan 2016.

Before answering why, I’ll first give you a little insight into what I do. This business that I’m undertaking, it is an institution that trains, prepares, and readies workers that have set their sights for the offshore industry. The offshore industry is controversial in the sense where the working hours, big pay, and often chilled lifestyle overshadows the extremities and the workers might face. Take that really famous oil spill incident. One wrong move and it could end your life, or worse, the life of others.  We facilitate the company’s request to fill their candidates with the knowledge of the hazards and dangers that they can face out at sea; be it in firefighting, helicopter crash/emergency landing, food handling, fast rescue crafts, the works…We simulate real-life scenarios and execute it in order to test competency and readiness.

Getting back to the why…
Today was the first time I encountered a candidate who gave up blatantly out of fear.

It was interesting to witness. Prior to the actual physical application, there was the theory section which was conducted in the class. The theory consist of everything the candidate will have to learn before going through the physical application of the courses they paid for. I mean, you can’t just fight an oil rig of fire without first knowing the key steps to take in order to minimalize unfavourable outcomes. I was not the lecturer but I was observing the class from the back. As soon as there was mention of a physical aspect in order to get the certificate, the candidate panicked. He started asking so many questions, which, were already presented in the slide show. We do not mind answering them. In fact, we want to answer them but the method of inquiry upon which the questions were asked already demonstrated that he was acting really scared. Yes, there are two certified divers to assist us underwater during the helicopter crash/landing simulation and yes, there’ll even be two instructors inside (with him) the helicopter to monitor the candidates and advise them on the procedures to safely escape and what not. What is interesting to note, however, is that the candidate does indeed have prior certification of the same program that he is undertaking which brings up the question on how he got certified in the first place. Did he buy the certification? Well, considering that we are a new company, it could not be from us. But lets not talk discuss about this part. I don’t want to raise anything controversial…

Anyways, when it comes to the physical application, the candidate blatantly refused to participate. Once he saw the demonstration of how the helicopter would be reduced underwater, and turned, he backed out. The instructors even did a demonstration with them inside to ensure safety and method yet he proudly refused to continue. Suddenly, he was acting sick and just started removing his PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and just watched from far despite the trainers counselling him and affirming him that everything was safe. But he refused. Whether it was pride or fear, i don’t know. But the fact that he turned away from it all, demonstrated fear.

Lets me introduce to you a part of me that many of you do not quite know. I was a gymnast. Everyday, I walk through those doors and I do what many people think is impossible. I was a rare athlete in the sense that I was an all-rounder. I did all 6 of the Men’s Artistic Gymnastics. Vault, Pommel Horse, Rings, Floor, Highbar and Parallel bars. The one I hated the most out of fear was the high bar..aka horizontal bar. That metal part (the bar) is flexible to give the gymnast the speed/momentum but ohh wait…. its METAL. The amount of times i’ve hit myself on it doing dismounts is batshit insane. Through the pain, I started getting more frightened of it and there came a time where once it was time to move to high bar, I got afraid and did my best to get out of it, quoting back injury and what not. I was a terrible liar and my coach saw through it. He made me do it over and over again until I was able to overcome my fear and execute the skills.

Take the example of a kid experiencing school for the first time. If they have a fear of people, of making friends, of opening up, the number of things restricted to them would be endless! No friends means eating alone at lunch, doing things alone, having nobody to select as a partner for physical education…but luckily, as kids, we know nothing of the word fear and we try our best to be friends with everybody because its what we are as human beings; Helpful, cheerful, and sociable.

Take a young adult doing internship for the first time. On paper, yes he/she is good and the company is impressed and decide to give him/her the job as the intern. But upon arrival, the intern demonstrates no social skills out of fear of socialisation. How is that going to look? How is that going to reflect on the the potential employability of the intern? Not very good, right?

The same can be demonstrated with this candidate that I am experiencing.  We are a company dedicated to produce operational-ready workers with the confidence to execute the self preservation of themselves, and even better, the preservation of others in the events of a hazard before they depart for their jobs in the offshore and maritime industry. If the candidate has fear, we’ll try our best to help them but it is up to the individual alone to make that leap…to take that first step and try. At least if he tries, we would be able to take that into account for something.

My friends, it is very important in this world today that you try your best for everything. Fear is an illusion and it is a strong and deadly attribute that you must kill in order to achieve the greater luxuries of life. If we take the example of this candidate and after today, he still does not want to do it, we cannot force him. This is the second chance we present that we hope he’ll accept. I remember the time where I nearly gave up on being a gymnast because I feared certain apparatus and being a gymnast with fear meant not being able to progress to do more difficult skills. I’m glad I overcame that battle but overall one cannot hope to progress in life with fear controlling your heart.

I wrote this in observation that we take certain things for granted. We always assumed that our candidates would always be capable to execute the task we present to them since the safety that we present and the fallbacks that we have in place would always give the candidates the confidence to try.  But we learnt something important. No matter how hard we try, sometimes, an immovable object is just an immovable object.

*edit: The time now is 1742hrs. GMT + 8. The candidate made it. After a much needed prep talk and making him understand that he won’t be able to be promoted or progress in the offshore industry, he finally made it. props to the team leader though and the rest of the staff standing by.

Regards,

Ammar Jaafar
5th Jan 2016
1126hrs GMT +8

Stay

Hi there,

Its been a few days since I wrote. With the New Years break going on and me travelling here and there, its finally nice to be sitting back at home, with a pot of tea settled next to me to calm the mind. I was going to start writing on the next chapter of my story but for some reason, it didn’t feel like the right time. Thoughts were bouncing off the walls of my cranium and reflecting back to the brain nonstop. Felt like a headache. Maybe I’m tired from all the driving? Idk. It was too much to handle to even begin writing at first so I went for a run. I’m back now; showered, fresh, and the mind is a little clearer. I’m quite exhausted from the events of the day so I am not gonna talk about the story, but instead, I will be talking about what this year means for me.

Its 2016. 

To put things into perspective:
I’ve attended 9 schools since the day I was born.
Its been 9 years since my journey in Australia concluded.
Its been nearly 6 years since the Dubai chapter ended.
Its been 3 years since National Service was over.
& the number of relationships I’ve had in my life is 3.

15 years is a very long time since the day I left Singapore and started the journey that would, (without sounding too dramatically cheesy) change my life forever. From the change in character, to the change in personality, to the goals and the dreams, 15 years of travelling meant that I was never there for my friends when they needed me. Also, I was never there for the girl who loved me, nor was I ever there to consul her heart.

15 years meant knowing how things would end if I decided to indulge in chasing what the heart truly wants. Is it better to have dated and lived in the moment than it is to not date at all? Or is it better to exercise patience and restraint for you know deep down, the pain, the grief, and the sorrow to come would just not be worth it? I mean…

everybody deserves someone who’ll stay.

Or perhaps you perceived me as someone who is selfish? You gave me stares, you gave me smiles, you gave me your time, you opened your heart to me, and I to you but instead of making things real, I backed away because I was scared of hurting to you too.

“for the chase, you enjoyed the run, not the prize.”

So maybe I have been afraid of loving and maybe you have been right. But 2016 is the year I’ve decided to stop running away. I may be travelling but I’ll always come back to you. I’m a little older, and I feel a little wiser. I’m starting to be responsible again, and I’m aiming to get fit. I’m a work in progress, but I’ve accepted and made peace with the past. I’m working hard now, trying to get back on my feet, to one day support you and me. 2016 isn’t just the year I stop running, but the year I take you with me…wherever I may go.

Insha’Allah.

The First steps of life

I fear that I have forgotten to add a very crucial detail in my first post. One of the main reasons and inspiration for starting this blog is to trace back a part of me that i’ve missed…that a lot of people close to me have missed. I am blessed with a beautiful memory, but these thoughts bounce off the walls of my brain in an increasing frequency that at times, it becomes quite difficult to focus on what I need when I need it most. In time, I pray that I can find what i’ve been missing and make myself whole again. 

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Have you ever had the privilege of walking through the house when you’re  bored and you have quite literally nothing else to do that you start opening the drawers in the living room for no apparent reason and instead of finding pens, or toasters, candles and other living-room things, you find albums?
Not just any albums but like old, family albums? No? Okay 😦 #foreveralone

Well anyways, I once found a whole cabinet filled with them. Like if you stacked them up one on top of the other, you’d have…..

…..a cabinet worth (hehehehehe)

So naturally, as any curious person would do, I went through all them. The things I found that day made me laugh, and cry. From finally knowing how my grandparents on my mum’s side look (since they both moved on before i could meet them), to my dad’s travelling days as a captain, to my mother’s personal collection of candid photos around the world…there were so many things I came across that does indeed reinforce the quote that, “a photo can speak a thousand words”

I think it was from this moment in time during my teenage days, that I started reflecting on the things I’ve done in the past that made me who I was then. Like for example, I was actually a fair skinned baby. One shade lighter and you’d think I’m european kinda white. So what made super brown?

Lunchtime football for 45minutes in the bloody hot Singapore sun.

Before I migrated here and there, recess was the time where if you had a ball at home, the unspoken rule was that you bring that ball to school and you’d be the designated guy that would bring the ball to school so that you and your classmates would have like a full on 20 v 20 football match. If you think you have a better looking ball than the designated ball guy, it’ll be a vote of aesthetics on which ball is better looking. So quite legit, i’d football all day err’day and i’ll get picked up from school and my mum would be like, “I don’t remember you being black.” Point being, nobody cared about the rules. We were 7 years old and we would think the world was ours and we would play class vs class during lunch. Winners would make the losers pay in eraser flags, with the country of their choice, based on the collection that they owned. This carried on for about 3-4 years. These were beautiful days but I’ll talk more in detail regarding this part of my life in the blogs to come 🙂

However, Even before the time of primary/pre school, even before I had my first crush, I was a baby. And with albums upon albums of baby photos, each contained bountiful wisdom about the kind of boy I would soon grow up to be.

Lets get started with the very beginning…

In about 90% of the photos, you would find that I’m always smiling. In fact, family members consisting of relatives would recall the days during family outings that I was the Smiling baby. Why I smiled so much, nobody knew, but because I was constantly smiling, everyone in the photo would be smiling to. Also, I was a bald baby with very little hair. Theres a story of me visiting the zoo when I was 1 year old and when we approached the llama paddock place, a llama came up to my dad whom had me in his arms and it licked my head and then went back to its business. I, on the other hand, felt irked by what has happened and whilst my parents were rushing to clean my head to avoid the spread of germs,  my sister would be on the ground laughing.

As a baby growing up, I was allergic to egg as well so naturally, chocolates, cakes, food with eggs, were kinda a big no-no during my early childhood life. I would get an red eyes, and i would scratch my entire body because instead of dying, i’d just get really itchy. I remember telling my mother as a kid on the way home in the car that the itch “felt like theres a worm in my eye and i want to pull it out to stop the itchiness.” She would laugh though and say, “well, who ask you to eat that chocolate when you know you shouldn’t?” The answer was obvious: It was delicious.
I’m also quite the rebel as a toddler. Due to my inability to eat cakes, chocolates and what not due to my allergy, I came to develop a love for fruits….Especially cherries. Why cherries?
Cherries were always placed on cakes back in the day. If you didn’t have cherries, your cake wasn’t legit. There were many many stories of how during birthday parties whether it’ll be mine, my sister’s, or my cousins, there would be the curious case in all occasion where the cake would remain standing perfectly in its glory however, upon closer inspection, you would find that all the cherries were gone. The family would be like, “Where are all the cherries?” and instead of nobody owning up, you’ll hear a toddler giggling behind the sofa trying not to make a sound but my inadequacy to remain silent would always somehow have me as a culprit. I still think I’m innocent. I could’ve been giggling because I may have seen the culprit but nobody would believe me…especially since I could not speak well, if at all during that given point in time. But I would say its true though. I mean, cake cherries are quite delicious.

Then comes the issue of birthday gifts. For people, buying me a birthday gift is the easiest thing they’ll ever had to do in their life and its also economical. As an uncle now of many wonderful nieces and nephews, its quite a challenge to come up with what would interest these little people. Now, with the whole Star Wars craze, they’re suddenly very Star Wars oriented. Before all this was TMNT and before that was Bob the Builder. All these, to say the least, would be a little costly but as for me, I’m quite economically savvy. Why? Because my favourite toy was the ball. A simple ball. A piece of rubber which, when given air and a kinetic force, shapes itself to become a rounded object that had the potential to bounce or roll. My parents always thought that I saw the ball as a role model. No idea why but if i had to fathom a guess, I would probably say its because it rolls back if i push it to a wall or something. I wouldn’t have to get up from sitting and shuffle or crawl all the way to get it. I would push it and it would return. Efficient. I like efficiency. I had a whole collection. Truly, when I was that little rascal, ball was life.

I learnt to walk by about 9 months and I could speak my first word (dada) just before a year. I was very independent as a baby since my mother would let me roam all over the house. When things would get a little quiet, she would check up on me though….and she would find that i’ve stacked the plates from her drawers over each other for no reason and she would be like, “Adik (little brother), what are you doing?” and all I could do is smile then crawl away. To combat my usual antics, my mother found out a long time ago that I had an irrational fear of stuffed toys. Why? I don’t know. But my parents always said that it was because I found the cotton or the fur too weird and stuffed toys looked scary to me. My sister, would, on occasion fill the cot whilst I was sleeping with stuffed toys and i’d wake up screaming. She would get scolded though, and I would laugh at her being scolded so in the end, it was fun. But yes, irrational fear of stuffed toys. My mother would hang little stuffed toys all over her cabinet, drawers, the television, just basically anything i would get my hands on and I would not be able to do anything….until I was about 2 years old.
One day, as my mother recalled, she would watch what i was doing. I was in the living room, walking about when I realise that there was a stuffed toy near me. So at first I backed up really quickly but instead of going somewhere else, i’d stare at it. I’d stare at it for a long time until slowly, I took my first step forward and cautiously approached it. I’d take one foot at a time, step by step, and then nervously, i’d reach my hand out and with my little finger, I touched it and then I realised…it did nothing back. So i touched it again and again, it had to reaction. So then I grabbed it, and then walked to my mum with a wide smile of my face and then gave it to her :D. That was the day her reign of terror ended and she laughed.

I was a hyperactive baby. Going out, my parents would have to have that baby leash because i would run waayyy ahead of them and go into shops just to see what they sold and the shopkeepers would be wondering why theres a baby/toddler in their shop looking around. Idk. I would walk all on my own and sometimes, the odd sweet person would kneel down next to me and give me the pat on the head and i’d be off to another shop whilst my parents try to keep up from behind. But despite the restraints, theres only one shop in the world that they would allow me to roam freely. That shop is Toys’R’Us. It was the shop they knew where I would be. The ball section.
Since my dad was once someone of high importance to the general public of Singapore, he’d get lots of invitations and since I was too young, I could not mingle with the ministers or public service workers and I’d be given by my parents, to my relative’s grandmother for her to take care of me. The first time she took care of me, she did not know I could walk and shuffle so fast so for a complete hour, I would run around her house and she would be frantically trying to catch me. For an old woman, I gave her a workout. But eventually, during the 2nd time, she learnt her lesson and she would just hold me throughout the time my parents left me with her and despite my struggle to break free, she would just hold on to me until I was too tired i’d fall asleep in her arms until my parents came back to pick me up.

She’s moved on to the next part of her life but she always told my mother to remind me to never forget her and remember her growing up. In a way, I hope that by adding that short passage and story about her, my memory of her with be immortalised.

By age 3, I’d do front flips on the bed and jump from sofa to sofa. Seeing as to how hyperactive I was and they couldn’t keep up, they enrolled me into what would be the greatest chapter of my life growing up. The Dreams, the goals, the rise and fall, and the migration all began with this chapter of my life.

Gymnastics

Thank you for reading this chapter. Here are but some of the baby photos from back in the day. 🙂 I honestly can’t wait to start writing the next one but yeah, its going to be quite a long chapter.

Sincerely,

Ammar Jaafar
30/Dec/2015
1112hrs GMT+8

A Pensieve

Like how any story would begin, theres always the talk about the past. Be it a flashback, or a cut in the scene which directs you to a place or a time in history that will show you what life was for the protagonist; what his or her dreams were and what fuelled their dreams to make it a reality.

This would be something like that…except instead of a historical date, and a setting, i’ll present things in a general manner. Also, rather than going straight to the point, I usually prefer to present some context that would comparatively link past, present and (perhaps) future together that would create a natural flow between the stories.

The Past would constitute the experiences, thoughts, ideals, dreams, and the years I’ve spent either in Singapore or overseas.
The Present would constitute the experiences and thoughts that occured today or in an event that is reciprocal to a time nearing the now.
The Future would constitute the dreams and ideals that I would set in motion from the present in order to achieve the things I desired through actions from the past.

So lets get started.

So many a time, we would live our lives and on a blessed opportunity, we’d have our paths intertwined with meeting new people. Be it meeting a friend for the first time, or a lover, an annoying roommate, or even a colleague; just somebody in general. We would meet these individuals and we’d talk and talk. From these social interactions, we’d probably make a friend out of them, and sometimes on the rare but possible occurence, we’d not make a friend. All these are based on what we like and dislike or whether our interest are aligned or whether we are completely different people. In short, our personality. Our personality defines us and its what shapes us to what we are today. However, take our personality apart. Take our likes, and our dislikes away. Take our wisdom of knowing what we desire away, and what are we left with? An empty soul? Not very likely.
I personally enjoy believing in the idea that we would become like how we once were when we were kids all those years ago; curious-innocent little people who cared not about what people thought about themselves and the energy and desire to learn more about the world, to understand things, to make friends with everybody, to criticise anything without fear, and to feel big. So many a time, we would meet, and we would continue meeting people whom by this day and age, would have learnt from their past, and are already on their way to meeting their goals or trying their best to get there.

But every now and then, we’d stop and wonder with the people whom with met what their life was all about all those years ago….and from wanting to ask about others, we come to ask about ourselves…and thats where reflection comes in.

It is with these reflections in comparing my past and my present situation that inspires me to write my thoughts into this blog.

I’d like to think that this blog would evolve as my stories progresses. Its going to be chronological, in timeline and I’ll even talk about the relationships that define the man I am today. Everything and anything goes.

You and I meet different people everyday. Sometimes, Fortunes shine upon us, but sometimes, misfortune rains upon us too. The blog is given the name, Maktub. Maktub, in arabic has a very peculiar effect in which a very long and intense conversation between two or more people could be ended with this simple yet powerful word. It means, it has been written. 

 

Nowhere else would I write Maktub again in any of my stories because you, as the reader, will come to understand its meaning on your own through the stories that I will come to tell.

I expect to produce my first reflection on my life in the coming hours or days but thanks for reading thus far.

Sincerely,

Ammar Jaafar
29.Dec.15
1810hrs +8GMT