seventeen, and looking for a fight.

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived

First of all, I won’t apologise for the abundance of quotes in this post because they are all relevant.

“Hold on to sixteen for as long as you can,” said John Mellencamp. I will be sixteen for another one month and seventeen days but I feel like letting go of sixteen right now.

The time just seems impeccably right.
  1. I have undergone a great deal of self-growth over the past few months – which I shall elaborate on afterwards – and I feel the need to make it official that I am a changed person by having a birthday.
  2. I won’t be able to celebrate my birthday properly, it’s in the middle of SPM trials for crying out loud.
  3. And even if it wasn’t, it would be hard to find the time and privacy to contemplate on my increase of age, at boarding school.
  4. The mentality of Malaysians towards schoolchildren has brainwashed me into thinking I’ve been seventeen for the past six months and eleven days anyway.
  5. According to the Hijri Calendar I would have turned seventeen on the 25th of February, the equivalent of the 25th of Rabi Al-Thani, my birthday in Islam.
  6. There are way more song lyrics about being seventeen than about being sixteen. And I want to sing “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”, even if the lyrics are incredibly dim-witted and sexist.
  7. I just finished watching Dead Poets’ Society for the first time, and I love this dialogue between Mr. Keating and Mr. McAllister over dinner.
“You take a big risk by encouraging them to be artists, John. When they realize they’re not Rembrandts, Shakespeares or Mozarts, they’ll hate you for it.”

“We’re not talking artists, George, we’re talking free thinkers.”

“Free thinkers at seventeen?” 

“Funny, I never pegged you as a cynic.”

“Not a cynic, a realist. Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams, and I’ll show you a happy man.”

“But only in their dreams can man be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.”

“Tennyson?”

“No, Keating.”

My personal achievements since the second semester of 2014, aka my last school semester ever, started:
  1. Contributed to the Hari Guru celebration by designing a banner with half of the Form 5’s of GS Top (aka Exco Loy). It’s a long story – I initially did it reluctantly, but when inspiration finally hit, aku terus bersemangat. The banner was used for the Form 5’s performance (banner seen at 5:01). Also, I was beaming with pride when they showed the 3-second videos of every teacher in school – I sacrificed one week of recess to video all the Language Department teachers, okay! Everyone loved Cikgu JJ (made his origami bugs fight each other), Ms. Norma (posed with WSC llama plush toys) and Sir Fathur (he hid behind his iPad showing a selfie of himself), mostly.
  2. Pengetua a.k.a. Mak Wan knows my name. Actually, a lot of teachers know my name. Heh. I can actually talk to adults now, you know? Including my own parents and relatives.
  3. I drank 2.5% sodium chloride for Bio for this urine experiment. Ended up going to the loo thrice during the next lesson, English, due to diarrhea. Fortunately for me, I remembered every detail of the experiment because of that. Dan eksperimen tu lah yang keluar untuk exam! Bahagia aku.
  4. I’ve been teaching people English a lot lately – even the most unlikely of people.
  5. I pay a lot more attention in class now, and fall sleep less (not sure if this applies to Ramadan though, sadly!).
  6. Was selected for English ULBS (oral test) with nine others with an official assessor. I was in the same group as Dibot, Aydina and Amzan. I thought it would be nerve-wrecking, but it was just like an intellectual conversation at a coffee shop. The assessor was super-friendly and by the end it was more like a pep talk than an oral test. Then, Miss Muni ended up belanja-ing us at the cafe since we missed recess. The best part is only teachers get to eat at the cafe during school hours – that’s when the cafe makes the best food!
  7. I got into the state challenge of Spell-It-Right, but unfortunately my father does not allow me to go because it’s on the 24th of August, one day before SPM trials.
  8. Sisih-ed a LOT of my stuff thanks to 5S.
  9. Went to the clinic by myself when I suddenly developed rashes and didn’t sound like an idiot when facing the doctor.
  10. Created the shirt design for BADAR 13/14 girls. (UPDATE: We didn’t have the time to actually print the shirts)
  11. Became imam for Zohor prayers one Friday – not my first time, my fourth time actually, but it is still a scary experience. Tanggung jawab seorang imam itu sangat besar.
  12. Sternly told off a few juniors for forming a gossip circle during tadarus.
  13. Designed the organisation chart for my class, 5 Actuary, and since we don’t have a real secretary, I put my name. Hahahaha! Anyway, I feel ten times closer to my classmates ever since we started having a permanent classroom. Our class is now spick and span, really organised and pretty now!
  14. Proceeded to continue my hafazan of Surah Yaasin until Ayat 20.
  15. Only yesterday, I volunteered to deliver the morning speech during roll call. Talked about Ramadhan. Tapi antara tujuan aku buat speech ialah untuk meluahkan perasaan kepada pelajar junior yang tak nak dengar cakap.
  16. Akhirnya, aku selesai melunaskan segala hutang aku – termasuk hutang annual dinner, yuran Taekwondo, dan juga RM2 yang aku pinjam dari Ezlin untuk beli Milo kat koop.
  17. Completed my reign as AJK Exco Informasi dan Komunikasi BWP (most people just call it “Exco Barak”. Gonna miss going to the announcement room on weekends and taking pictures at events.
  18. This isn’t really an achievement, I guess, but a bat somehow sesat at GS Top in broad daylight one Sunday. It was pretty cute. I managed to get a grainy photograph. “Semua benda kau nak tangkap gambar,” my roommate Yana commented. Well, you know me. I can’t refuse to document things that happen in life.

Only 44 days left until SPM trials. In Shaa Allah it will be 44 days of sweat, utmost determination and hard work. For MRSM kids, there exists the probability that trial results will be way more significant than SPM results. I’m glad I didn’t fully waste today – Usually I spend nearly 100% of my PB (Pulang Bermalam) time indulging in the art of wasting time. I studied bits of Chemistry and Biology at night until I truly understood the topics. I felt extremely accomplished when my brain cells united and worked together to menghayati the sciences.

In all honesty, I miss being fond of science. When I was little, I would pore over science books. I remember Grandma was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my cousin Nabilah. I think the illustrations in the book alternated between both night and day, and Nabilah asked where the moon and stars went during the day. Of course, with Nabilah being only, I dunno, probably four, Grandma told her they disappeared. Being the Hermione-ish seven-year-old I was, I disputed that fact by explaining that the light radiating from the sun is too bright for us to be able to see the moon or stars.

Yesterday was Hari Akademik and my name came up (again). Not because my GPA was low, but because of maths and science. The real problem with me is that I study at the eleventh hour, and at the eleventh hour, it is much easier to quickly absorb facts of history and religion, essay formats and proverbs, rather than the complex processes of the lympathic system or solving problems on probability distributions. I don’t really tell this to other people, though. Plus, it is my own fault.

I had this conversation with Nanthini (4.0 GPA kid!) the day before our last PB session, during kem subjek Bio. She is one of three people in my batch who takes both Bio and Accounts. Because 98% of Form 5 students take either Bio or Accounts, the kem subjek for both will be conducted simultaneously. Nanthini (and the other two) chose to attend Bio. I asked her why she likes Accounts (because I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone does, even if my parents and relatives are all Accounts people).
She said, “Because doing Kunci Kira-Kira is better than seeing your crush smile at you”.

I burst into hysterics at her answer, then mused over it. For me, Bab 9 of Sejarah Tingkatan Lima was definitely better than seeing my crush smile at me. Malaysia dalam Kerjasama Antarabangsa. What sane human being wouldn’t want to learn about World War I and II, and Malaysia’s role in OIC, the United Nations, and the Commonwealth of Nations? I literally couldn’t put my textbook down when studying that chapter because the excitement, the desire, the intense craving for more and more knowledge exceeded any sort of impulse to put the book down and go to sleep.

 

Maybe you can only get straight A’s when studying every subject is better than seeing your crush smile at you.
Which surprisingly, is was what I felt when I finally grasped the beauty of balanced chemical equations. When I got the hang of it, I looked for more questions to solve. More! More! More!
After revision, I did the dishes and folded some clothes while waiting for the rice meant for sahur to finish cooking.  I went to bed at nearly 2 a.m. but I couldn’t sleep so I read a portion of my Mum’s copy of See You at the Top by Zig Ziglar and came across this particular paragraph.
“I tell this story because the chances are that over a period of time, people have been dumping “garbage” into your mind. What you must understand, however, is that it doesn’t really matter if garbage has been dumped into your mind in the past. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if others, through either malice or ignorance, have built low ceilings over you. You can overcome all of that “garbage”, so I’m going to say to you, “Happy Birthday”, because today is the first day of the rest of your life. The past is over and the fact that you have read this far indicates you are now in the process of building a foundation for a greater future.”

Wow, it really is my sweet seventeen today.

Alhamdulillah, Allah still lets me inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.
I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air, so there.
I’m kind of older than I was than when I revelled without a care, so there. 
Many happy returns of the day, Arifah Husna.

Aku sudah terlalu lama hidup dalam zon selesa. Mungkin sudah tiba masanya aku mengorak langkah berkelana untuk melihat ciptaan dimuka bumi milik Sang Pencipta ini.

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