live, wake up.

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

It’s currently the 26th of November as I’m writing this. Yesterday, I completed my Biology Paper 3 at 3:30 p.m. and officially ended my time as a budak sekolah after an eleven-year roller coaster ride of numerous ups and downs. God, it feels euphoric to walk on this earth as a free woman. Without having to worry about logarithms or alkalis anymore. Absolutely no strings attached to any educational institute.

Kami bagaikan burung yang sudah terlalu lama dikurung di dalam sangkar, yang bebas menerbangkan sayap jua akhirnya untuk melihat keindahan bumi Sang Pencipta ini.

The weather was my favourite kind — the weather that makes me question if I’m really in Malaysia (’cause this country is cloudy most of the time). The sky was clear and brilliant blue, allowing the sun to shine in all its glory over the green faraway hills and transmission towers. I actually had to stop for a moment at the DS to take in the picturesque view for the last time. Subhanallah. After all, in Subang, I will see more concrete than fauna. Maybe it was the heat of the moment, but Alor Gajah had never looked more beautiful to my eyes.

Then came the exhausting part of heaving all my stuff to the car, once Mum arrived. I truly despise packing and unpacking, but I’ve been forced to do so countless times ever since I entered MRSM AG on the 13th of February, 2013. And now I was leaving. The aspuri was completely devoid of my personal belongings and I had exchanged goodbyes with my friends. The only thing I clearly remember leaving was my locker tag back in 5 Actuary, with ‘Loy’ written on it in red marker — which someone will throw away eventually, whether it’s the makcik cleaner or a candidate of SPM 2015.

All evidence of human existence eventually fades away. The future generations aren’t going to know that the members of 5 Actuary held a freaking class party during prep one Friday night in 2014.

One thing almost every student who has ever studied at MRSM AG has aspired to do is, to climb the hill behind the aspuri up until the water tanks. Kiranya macam taiko sejati kalau dapat buat. I was this close to going, during my final days at the maktab, but in the end my skema side won me over. Plus, Dad did specifically tell me not do all those rebellious activities Form 5’s naturally do during SPM.

The last twelve days at the maktab were extremely memorable. The other batches had gone home, and everyone had to move down to ground floor. We picked our own roommates, hogged whichever rooms we wanted, and some of us decided to push the lockers against the walls to conjoin two rooms together. No more going up three flights of stairs to GS Top for me. The DS served superb food and parents brought superb food. There were jamuans almost every non-exam day – I attended jamuan BADAR (ayam masak merah!) and jamuan budak Seni (Magnums!). We had no roll calls, no formal classes, no cleanliness spotchecks. Some wardens didn’t even care about the mass of people who smuggled smartphones in. Sometimes I’d go for lovely morning walks with my gang and capture lots of photos. It was like paradise – except, you know, the threat of SPM constantly hovering over our heads.

But SPM is over.

I didn’t even notice the exact moment I drove out of the maktab because my Mum was talking about makcik cleaners.

It all just disappears, doesn’t it? Everything you are, gone in a moment, like breath on a mirror. 


I am Loy. And I always will be. 


But times change.


And so must I. 


I used to think Loy was the stupidest nickname I had ever been given. Sometimes I still do. But I got it during orientation week when I still despised the maktab with every fibre of my being and wanted to separate my fake personality and my real personality as much as possible. So I gladly accepted that nickname, which my homeroom members gave me due to my sepet eyes (not because of Elfira Loy, though coincidentally my name spelt backwards is Hafira). Plus, I once read this insightful post by John Green about the nicknames our friends give us.


We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. 


In Biology we learn that enzymes change the shape of substrates so that they can convert into products that allow the body to function efficiently. Once upon a time MRSM Alor Gajah was synonymous to hell on earth. A notorious nightmare I could not wake up from no matter how hard I tried. Jauhnya aku terbang — siapa sangka? This maktab was where I gained precious memories, unforgettable experiences, and more than anything, character development. This maktab was where I learned to talk in front of 800 students, to converse with adults, to use the proper method of ironing a school tudung, to read ayat Kursi every night before I go to bed, to form meaningful bonds of friendship, to become imam during Friday Zohor prayers, and so much more. This maktab was where I found myself. If I were to tell you the whole story I would have to write a book. It’s been almost 48 hours and I sorely miss everyone who made the past two years, the time of my life. I am a product leaving the active site of the enzyme. I hope my batch who took SPM 2014 will all turn out to become useful products. Amin.

I won’t forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear.


For those of you who watch Doctor Who, my shift from government school to MRSM was like the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration. It was bitterness at its finest. Remorse, hatred, anger and misery fused together to create an inferno. Just like Ten, I ‘didn’t want to go’. It was the worst period of my life.

And now my shift from MRSM to completing my secondary education is exactly like Eleven’s generation. Sedih memang sedih. Terlalu ramai orang yang aku akan rindu. Terlalu banyak kenangan indah yang aku takkan dapat ulang balik. Tapi aku sedia menerima dengan hati yang terbuka. I am ready to proceed to the next stage of this life.

People will call me Arifah again, ahah! Well, hopefully. But…

I will always remember when I was Loy.


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.”


“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.

Obligatory New Year Post

This is my goodbye to you. Tomorrow morning I’ll be off to Melaka, with a pile of bags and a dream. I’ll only update maybe twice, thrice a month. Out of all the years of my life, I think 2013 has contributed the most to the growth of who I am today.

  • 5 weeks in Seafield
  • experiencing boarding school life 
  • celebrating my birthday during Minggu Aktiviti
  • the birthday video Elena made
  • spraining my ankle at Mass Camp *laughing while crying emoticon*
  • giving a morning speech that was actually okay and somewhat overcoming social anxiety and immense stage fright
  • getting my own Polaroid cam
  • getting Nabilah back – and her making friends with Sarah
  • topping the grade for English every time during Sem 1
  • getting three articles published in Niexter
  • learning how to get along with people from different walks of life
  • increased knowledge about sociology and politics
  • getting used to food I usually won’t eat
  • hearing tazkirahs every night at the surau, and indulging more in Islam
  • having more than 3 friends
  • going to my friends’ room at midnight to celebrate their birthdays
  • doing my own laundry and rushing whenever rain started to fall
  • puasa, buka puasa, celebrating Raya at maktab
  • that one time I met Kash this year
  • painted on canvas for the first time
  • being a BADAR member and AJK Exco Komunikasi
  • going to Spell-It-Right at Mahkota Parade
  • seeing the lengths my parents would go for me
  • developing my taste in music/books/clothes/movies
  • Instagram, Instagram and Instagram
  • tuition at Get A
  • archery and bike rides in Port Dickson
  • getting a new IC
  • watching Super Mokh the musical
  • watching Catching Fire (finally!)
  • holiday + wedding in Medan (I wanted to blog about this but… maybe another time)
  • watching the Doctor Who 50th anniversary and the Eleventh Doctor’s regeneration
  • getting a replacement pen for my Wacom Bamboo
  • the Sherlock Christmas minisode
  • trailers for Divergent and Captain America 2 
  • seeing Aimi in her primary school uniform and Arif in his secondary school uniform
  • checking out INTEC and thinking ‘wow, this could be my future’
  • finally decided on my general ‘hala tuju’ kehidupan
And of course, resolutions. 
  • get straight A+’s for all exams, especially trials and SPM
  • download motivational talks in mp3 and listen 
  • save up, and don’t waste money on unnecessary things
  • focus on what’s important
  • stop idly wasting time
  • read the qur’an, zikr, read religious stuff, attend talks more
  • pray 5 times a day, every day 
  • accept that all human beings are flawed, and so am I 
  • strive to improve self every day
  • complete homework on time and do not copy
  • don’t study, but learn
  • think outside of the box and never conform to what is stupid 
  • read more good books
  • cherish time spent with loved ones
  • create more art, write more stories
  • document the week, every week, at the maktab – DO NOT BE LAZY
  • puasa sunat a lot
  • khatam al-qur’an
  • if you want something, NEGOTIATE
  • work on taekwondo 
  • participate in more stuff 
  • enter those events yang boleh pergi MRSM lain 
Well, I have to pack. Maybe it’s because it’s my senior year, or because the last few months of school were actually pretty nice, or because I have my sights seriously set on pursuing animation, but I’m not that bummed about returning to school. I accept it and I welcome it. Just like the New Year. 
Hello, 2014. May you be a year of good challenges, personal growth and success. May you be MY year. Amin.

Last Day of Form 4

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

Late post. I wrote half of it a few days after I came back for the hols but left it incomplete for weeks.

7th November, 2013 was my final day of my NOT-honeymoon school year. I burnt the midnight oil because Bi, De, Sy, Nan and Nab were discussing ledgers and equities in my room (they still had Accounts Paper Two to go), and I definitely wasn’t going to deal with that. Instead, I blasted music on my MP3 player and did my laundry manually for what probably is going to be the last time this year. I went to GS 2nd because three of the sinks at GS 1st were occupied, and one was out of order, and I avoid ‘after’-ing people at all costs. “Nak after?” is an every day phrase here – whether it’s for ironing or washing clothes or bathing or spoons or novels or stationery. I couldn’t stand that phrase at first but… when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I even nearly said that to my brother. But yeah, I’d rather venture to different floors than ‘after’ people, because I despise waiting and I am not close with my floormates. I never go to GS Ground as an alternative, though. I don’t know why. It gives a strange vibe. However, I always go down to visit Ay and Dar.

Afterwards, I made a trip to the Bilik Rek(reasi) and found Ay and Hu there, going through pictures from At’s camera. I went back upstairs when Shk came into the picture and decided to watch some Korean reality show with Ay. The corridor lights of GS 1st were already out by then. Dulu, GS Ground dengan GN Ground je skema nak tutup lampu koridor (awal pulak tu…). But then the wardens got mad, so the rest of the floors put the corridor lights out by midnight. I then ironed my school clothes and my deep pink baju Raya – no matter how sleepy I am, I will iron before I go to bed because I can’t be bothered to wake up before 5:55 in the morning just to compete with the majority who iron during early hours. When I went back to room 111, all my roommates were already in Slumberland.

My last night in the maktab for this year. I was gonna miss Roomie #1, Nan, with her neat freak-ish ways (baju dalam almari, buku kat rak mesti lurus je), her love for Nutella, studies 28/7 (which frustrates me to no end), and her gadis Melayu terakhir persona. Then there was Roomie #2, Nab, who likes depressing novels and always has interesting stories to tell (especially about her baby brother), though she has not been in the room much lately ever since she got a post in the BWP (student representative council) and a place in the exchange program to Japan. Lastly, Roomie #4, Bi, who converted Room 111 into ‘tumpuan segala pedagang’ because she’s treasurer (it actually has some other fancy name but I can’t remember) for Persatuan Usahawan Muda (mind you, the PUM is very active). She is the other new Form 4 in the room, my ex-classmate and my homeroom buddy, and she misses me. Ahahaha. For some reason, she always has a load of laundry to do. I fell asleep in the midst of tweeting about the night.

Bi woke me up, as usual. She always insists on waking me (and the other two) up at unnecessary times even though she knows we almost never get up before 5:55. I think all three of them rose early for last-minute cramming, though – I can’t remember. But they all showered and changed into their school clothes, whereas I didn’t shower and changed into a normal baju kurung (okay, it was pretty fancy because it was my baju Raya). I wanted to experience the emotion of tegang-ing my cadar for the last time, but in the end it was too frustrating to straighten so I simply ripped it off and stuffed it in the locker. Afterwards, there was solat berjemaah for Subuh as usual (though many girls opt to pray alone in the dorms before that), and bacaan Yaasin because of SPM. The cleanliness roll call and the morning roll call had been cancelled, so everyone just went to eat breakfast at the DS. I’m pretty sure they served egg sandwiches (which I do not favour, so I did not eat) and us Bio-only kids went to line up at the space between the aspura and the aspuri, but not before snapping a Polaroid ramai-ramai at the aspuri stairs (I don’t even know whose Instax it was).

Then Ustaz Zaidi, only wearing t-shirt and kain pelekat, told us we had to get our stuff out in the span of an hour and forty-five minutes, then go to the PSP (Pusat Sumber Pembelajaran) to return our textbooks, then sit for our Seni exam. And so we did. I headed to my floor, GS 1st, and began throwing everything in bags and bringing them out of the aspuri. Luckily, I was early enough to ‘chop’ a spot where my stuff wouldn’t kena hujan. Ya Allah, it was exhausting. I was so tired and sweaty and my hands were very lenguh. And I already packed some stuff beforehand during the past week. I must have packed more than twenty bags (of various sizes, of course) – I have a LOT of stuff. I also had to bring down a small bookshelf. For some reason, Fy and I were the only ones on our floor even though Qam and Shq should’ve been there. God knows where they went (they did arrive though, after a while). Nan, Nab, Bi, Qoy, Re, Ra and De were all taking Accounts. Fortunately, I had the time to take a quick bath and change into my (thankfully) readily-ironed school clothes. But only because the female wardens came way after the supposed time limit to check the aspuri.

Alright, before I get all emotional, I’ll post pictures of my room pre-last day of school.


My bed


View from entrance (ASAL CAMERA AKU SILAU DOH?)


Senarai penghuni, on the exterior of the divider wall


View from my bed


Another view from my bed



Yeah, I just spammed you with pictures, but let me be, because it was SO hard to find a time when all three of my roommates were gone, I was appropriately dressed, and the room looked spick and span. ‘Cause most of the time it looks terrible.

My locker looked so strange – it was empty, and my mattress was bare, whereas the other three beds and the other three lockers look the way they always do (during school hours, that is). No more Polaroids of my family and friends (and a strap saying “ENGINEERING” indicating my class name, when I was forced to become a model for the theme ‘village’ for the Fashionista slot of Semester One’s Minggu Aktiviti) decorating the insides of the locker doors, none of my clothes not-so-neatly folded, no colourful baju kurungs hanging, no deodorant and no comb and no dictionaries and no novels and no air zam zam and no Coklat Minda placed on the upper compartment. No food supply on top of the locker, nor religious reading material and my huge, forest green copy of the translation of the Qur’an. No apple green towel hanging at the side of the locker. Beside my locker, no lime green bekas of toiletries placed in my neon green bucket (Okay, enough with the green, Arifah!), usually on a pile of dirty clothes. No bookshelf holding probably a hundred books – mostly schoolbooks, and art supplies. And then, my bed. No more green bedsheets or green pillow or green bolster with cartoon bees. (God, what is it with green?) What used to be my space in GS 111 were now devoid of life and personality. No signs at all that I had used them for almost nine months. Lastly, I took my corkboard-but-not-really (I don’t know what the material is, it’s sort of like polystrene but less annoying, and I bought it for RM5 at Daiso), my Doctor Who quote-about-good-things-and-bad-things poster, and a hadith I pasted on GREEN A4 paper.






Generally my stuff (yang belakang-belakang tu tak lah)


Another view

I wrote a short letter for my roommates since I didn’t know whether I’d be seeing them or not later in the day. I mean, come on, we worked together to find plastic bags to shove our junk food wrappers in when we ran out of them (and one of us had to volunteer to take the trash out every school day). Then, after reminiscing my first time in the dorms (ahh, how clueless and naive I was then!) and having an emo moment to myself being in my room and walking the floors of GS 1st for the last time, I evacuated the aspuri and brought my heavy bag of textbooks to the PSP. Not as burdening as it would be as government school kids, though, since we didn’t get textbooks for science and math in BM, as well as English.

I was tired out from packing my stuff, bringing it down the stairs of the aspuri, and then lifting the books all the way from the aspuri to across the DS to the blok akademik. Then I put the bag down for a while and went up a few flights of stairs to check if the Accounts kids were still having exams, which they were, which annoyed me because I wanted to return my textbook (that somebody was borrowing since I dropped Accounts), then I came across Sha who I walked with to the PSP.

After that, I lepak-ed with As and Dar until the start of the Seni exam. Which wasn’t even a Seni exam, really, since they asked us to choose from two pictures and copy it as nicely as we can. Before the exams, when we had to wait outside, Pu took a small rubbery red ball out and us girls had fun playing with it (mentang-mentanglah exam Seni). The other classes were staring, particularly 4 Engineering. There was a lot of confusion and debate whether there would be a Seni exam or not over the past few days since it wasn’t announced when they rescheduled the exams (finals MRSM wajib selaras, and Kelantan just got a public holiday because of football). I made up my mind that it wasn’t taking place.

So the day before, after… Add Maths, I think, when nearly everyone had vacated 4 Dentistry and 4 Biotechnology, I yelled REALLY LOUDLY to the world, “YEAHHHHHH! FINALS DAH HABIS!”. And you know what? I was like, 150m away from 4 Actuary, who for some reason, Dar found out, were STILL taking Accounts Paper One. But I’m not very close with Actuary kids, so hopefully they did not recognise my voice. And no one confronted me about it, HEHEH. BECAUSE THAT WAS REALLY, REALLY EMBARRASSING.

Anyway, ramai orang boleh tangkap-tangkap gambar, boleh tidur masa exam Seni. Whereas I, someone who is actually taking Seni for SPM, was focusing hard on copying the drawing down. One side of my right hand went all shiny with lead. And then exams were over. Everyone was happy and celebrating, especially since they all knew home and holidays were waiting. I didn’t quite enjoy my last few moments being in 4 Dentistry, though, since half of the boys didn’t help at all to arrange the chairs and tables and that really irritated me. Don’t really have semangat kelas for 4 Dentistry, since I was only with them for one semester. But then again, I never had semangat kelas in secondary school anyway. Except maybe just a little bit for 4 Engineering because that time classes were a combination of two homerooms, and Cikgu Syamsuddar’s homeroom is really fun and they’re generally close and comfortable with each other while of course I had a ~bond~ with the members of Cikgu Zuliana’s homeroom.

The mass of cars drove into the school compound, outing cards were signed, goodbyes were exchanged. I had to wait until 3 something though, until my Mum came, so I lepak-ed in the surau with As first. And then, goodbye, MRSM AG! For now. It’s been a good year.

And finally, I get to spend seven weeks in the comfort of my own home.



The Late Birthday Present Dilemma

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

Over the holidays, I’d often see an interesting item on the internet and I would be like, “I WANT THAT! Does anyone still want to give me a late birthday present?”.
So when Uncle B (yes, we call him that – he should be Pak Su, really) actually asked me what I wanted for a late birthday present, I felt overwhelmed because I didn’t know what to answer – which is not the best thing in the world because:

a) He practically swims in wealth because he is a pilot. (UPDATE: Shhh, this was my perception at the age of sixteen)

b) He won’t question anything I want to buy. My Auntie offered to buy a birthday gift last year but she rejected my pleas for Iron Man: Extremis and was really concerned about me because she thought it was ‘for children’.
c) He’s getting married, In Shaa Allah on December the 22nd. Which means he is still a bachelor now. Before he has to tanggung his wife and kids I might as well take advantage, no? Hahah. I’m kidding. Really.

My first thought went to sandshoes. Converse Unbleached White Hi Top Chuck Taylors, to be precise. Tak boleh panjang lagi ke nama? Exactly like the Tenth Doctor’s shoes. I’ve been wanting them for a while now – was planning to buy them with my PMR money, actually, but somehow I decided to buy an Instax instead. Well, the leftover money was enough to buy sandshoes, actually, but all of it went to my bank account and what with not being at home and everything I never got to buying them. And I finished up the bank account money for boring stuff like Taekwondo fees and groceries (okay, junk food, more like) during maktab outings. After Raya, I brought all my Raya money back to the maktab so that it would always, always, always be with me and my parents couldn’t do anything with it. But during the car ride back, Dad questioned me on where I put my Raya money and I felt bad about lying. So I ended up giving almost all of it to him. And he put it in my Tabung Haji. And believe me, when money goes into my Tabung Haji, it never comes out. Ever. Even when Mum says it’ll only be there temporarily. I’m pretty sure the only time anything will ever come out of it is when I actually go to Haji when I’m forty plus (my name is on the waiting list!). In Shaa Allah.

I literally don’t have (appropriate) shoes right now. Before I went to MRSM, I only had Bata black PVC shoes (for some reason I thought they were classy and I DON’T KNOW WHY, I was fourteen, and Sarah Nur Aina – and a few others, I believe – criticised them). Then I bought a pair of grey shoes from XES for prep. Every time I came back home, I’d bring those shoes along because I definitely did not want to wear school shoes (turns out the uniform attire for MRSM included black PVC shoes). Now they are ugly and worn and Mum threw them away, with my approval, because I thought I could easily get a pair of new shoes. Tapi setakat ni, berapa kali je aku pergi shopping complex cuti ni. Tu pun selalu lupa nak beli kasut. Bila ingat pun, mesti takde kasut yang sesuai. SO GUESS WHAT, PEOPLE. I WEAR MY SCHOOL SHOES EVERYWHERE. TO SHOPPING MALLS AND TO TUITION AND TO RESTAURANTS. Good thing they’re not white canvas shoes, eh? Oh wait, I went to Nabilah’s aunt’s wedding yesterday and wore a pair of fancy shoes I bought from Renoma during the hols – most expensive shoes I’ve ever owned – but they were bought specifically for Uncle B’s wedding (or just weddings, I guess).

Other than that, I wear my school shoes. Bapak glamour! Even for Raya Haji.

Around two months ago, I was on holiday in KL, came across a Converse store in Mid Valley and went in there dengan muka tak malu just to Instagram a pic of the sandshoes. ALLONS-Y!

Anyway, I decided against sandshoes because I wouldn’t even be going out that much since I go to boarding school and chances are I’d outgrow the shoes before they become old and battered. I mean, come on, I want to catch the eye of fellow Whovians at college.

WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU CALLING THEM SANDSHOES, ARIFAH? Because the Eleventh Doctor did, hahah. In the 50th anniversary special when he met the Tenth (who denied that they were sandshoes). It’s a British term for plimsoll shoes.

Speaking of shoes, I’d love a pair of high heels but I can’t be bothered to get myself a pair because I run a lot and I have bad balance. BUT THEY LOOK SO CLASSY AND THEY GO CLICK CLICK. Haih. Fortunately, my Mum has a pair of red ones that just barely fit me, which I’ll get to borrowing sooner or later.

(Get me River Song’s high heels for my seventeenth birthday, will you?)

So uh, I thought of ordering button badges in bulk instead. By some miracle I found a company that lets you personalise different designs for every badge. I was super-excited at first and started venturing the whole world wide web for designs. Mostly fandom stuff.

I’ve been collecting badges since the age of 11, if you didn’t know! Collecting is a splendid part-time hobby, in my opinion – it gives you a sense of accomplishment. You also develop patience and persistence. It also makes you break all your boundaries, because if I wasn’t a badge collector, I’d be all picky with badges and throw free ugly ones away but because I am, I keep every single one I can. Even really irrelevant ones, the ones that have nothing to do with me. The number has definitely increased since I took the picture below, but I do not have the energy to snap an updated picture. Unfortunately, the more interesting badges aren’t in this photo because I left them at the maktab (I snapped this during some short hols). Right now, I have 70. I’m not even kidding. Awh. I am really proud of my badge collection, though! I have free smiley face badges to pretty costly Hogwarts House pins.

But at some point I felt like… is this really worth it? Will this benefit me much? So I just put my answer on hold.

I’ve been thinking about my Wacom Bamboo Fun Tablet for a while, a gift back in Year 5 for getting 5A’s for finals. Between sounding spoilt and boastful, I choose boastful. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t get it for simply getting 5A’s! But it was because I hadn’t been to a Malaysian school in almost two years and for my first test back in March or something, I got 1A and 4C’s. Plus, I was taking UPSR the year after.

I abandoned it for quite a while after concluding that it was easier to colour with a mouse. But just now I found my ol’ tablet in the deep, dark corners under my bed. And it still works! I bought it five years ago, man. Unfortunately, the pen is missing. And I know I only gave up on my tablet because of my lack of knowledge of digital art at the time and my lack of motivation. So I asked Uncle B for a replacement pen I found on eBay. I’ve never actually bought anything online before. Not directly. Technically, this isn’t direct either but it’s as direct as I can get. Who knew a frickin’ pen could be so expensive? Not as high-priced as sandshoes or badges in bulk, though.

Come to think of it, the pen is a waaay better choice than the sandshoes or the badges. It will actually allow me to express artistic freedom and result in me being a productive human being who will experiment more with anatomy and expressions and Photoshop effects. Maybe it’ll even help in making portfolios for college applications since I’ll probably go for the creative industry. Whatever the case, I can’t wait to get the pen, and get my creative juices flowing in. Because so far, 2013 was a lot of things, including The Year I Only Made Around Ten Digital Coloured Drawings. May this never happen again. Amin.

P.S. I’m gonna save up for a fancy-schmancy camera, something I’ve been wanting since Year 6.

#nowplaying Pompeii – Bastille

Recharge of Iman

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

Ever since the school holidays started I could sense my iman level plummeting. It ain’t a nice feeling, kids. Maybe not everyone has experienced it, but if you just knew – if you just knew how it feels like to be aware that there is absolutely nothing between you and Allah, you would never want to leave.

We forget.

That He created the beautiful ever-glowing sun that rises in the morning, beckoning you to see and do wonderful things as long as you are still alive. That He is the reason you are still breathing and alive and happy and have the potential to change the world. That you are enjoying delicious food and sweet beverages and lovely luxuries only because of Him, and that He can take away all of that any second. That He is the one who makes the rain fall, so that the water cycle can continue, and so that plants can live. That you can always count on Him when all hope is lost. That somebody who has Allah, has everything. That he created humans – created us, you and I – to praise Him and only Him. That is our purpose in life.

We should stop refreshing our Twitter feeds once in a while and wake up early in the morning and perform Tahajjud prayers. Read a few pages of the Qur’an and its translation. Go outside and embrace the fresh, dewy scent of dawn. See the birds start to wake up. Watch the sun rise. Indulge in the fact that this is Allah’s perfectly-created world.

Back in MRSM, I would hear Syakir perform the azan for Subuh every morning in the midst of bleariness. Hayya alas solah, hayya alal falah. Marilah sembahyang, marilah menuju kejayaan. I would perform jemaah prayers and then read the Qur’an for a bit, before breakfast and the morning call. During the morning call there’d be recitation of Asma’ul Husna and du’a for today to be a good day. Before every lesson, we’d read du’a penerang hati (my Sejarah teacher, Cikgu Fezali would insist on Surah Ash-Sharh too) and we’d end them with Tasbih Kafarah and Surah Al-Asr, and salam-ing the teacher. During rehat, quite a number of people perform solat dhuha. Not every day, but consistently. Once a week is good for a minimum amount, I think. After lunch, we would go to pray Zuhur so it’d be pretty hard to delay ’em. And at 6:30pm, Arissa’s voice would boom over the speakers, telling everyone to bathe and get ready for dinner and Maghrib prayers at the surau. So yeah, the event of napping until you miss Asar prayers is very unlikely to occur. And every night, we would perform Maghrib and Isyak jemaah prayers. It feels very peaceful to be in congregation with everyone. When you’re in jemaah you realise that nobody is better than anybody else, we are all equal and we are all Allah’s creations. Ever since Nabil became BADAR president, he would make sure that we’d listen to a tazkirah every night and perform solat sunat hajat. Usually, he would deliver the tazkirah. Even if some of the students make noise and don’t listen. It’s very inspiring, really. But seriously, everyone began to look forward to tazkirahs ever since he took over. He even won the really nakal Form 5 guys over. Because he is very sincere in his speech, and he doesn’t talk about cliche things that teachers drone on about very much. He explains about interesting things we don’t really know about – like bidadari and the dangers of alcohol and bala Allah and the signs that Judgement Day is coming near. We’re also encouraged to do qabliyah and ba’tiyah prayers (2-rakaat prayers before and after solat fardhu). Prep would begin and end with the recitation of du’a by Syakir over the PA system. On Fridays, when the boys would go to Jumaat prayers, the girls would gather in the surau for tazkirahs. Honestly, the Form 4’s haven’t really done an excellent job yet at this. (UPDATE: Memang lah, belum Form 5 lagi, hahaha) This includes me. The Form 5 girls are brilliant, though – particularly the ex-vice president of BADAR, Kak Hanim (classic!), Kak Husna, Kak Dada, Kak Nadia and others. This is when we talk about girl issues, of course. Once in a while, someone will burst into tears while talking. That’s how much they care about the welfare of others. On Saturday nights, us girls would read Surah Yasin in the bilik rek (bilik bacaan now, but nobody calls it that) and give short tazkirahs.

So yeah, the practise of ad-din (incorporating Islam in your everyday life) is very encouraged at the maktab. Which is why I feel so lost now, back at home where I don’t have a school system to force me to into a routine. I am temporarily comforted by the thought of going back to my maktab but what happens after that? What happens when I step into the real world? When I don’t have my parents or grandparents to remind me? What if I study overseas in a country where Islam is not dominant?

I must stay strong and have faith. Remember that the reason my heart still beats is to please Allah. How do I do that?

  • Don’t delay prayers. Don’t delay prayers. Don’t delay prayers. Take wudhu’ the moment masuk waktu, or before if possible. Focus when praying and don’t let worldly thoughts conquer my head. Remember that you are communicating with your Creator, especially during sujud. Make du’a and recite Ayat Kursi after prayer.
  • Read Al-Fatihah, Ayat Kursi, the three Qul, du’a for sleep, and Shahadah before going to bed. Set an alarm for Subuh. Start the day with being grateful that I woke up this morning. Don’t go back to sleep.
  • Read the Qur’an. It brings tranquility to the heart.
  • Don’t care what others think of me. In the end, it is between me and Allah, not me and them.
  • Do zikr. Perform a lot of solat sunat. Donate to charity. Show kindness to others (what goes around comes around!). Mind my aurat. Smile. Give salam to strangers. Be nice to my siblings, tegur nicely, and encourage them to be soleh and solehah. Gain knowledge and put it to good use. Do things that will bring me closer to Allah and avoid time-wasting activities. Be productive and aim to use my talents in a way that Allah would love.
  • Think, “What would Prophet Muhammad do?”. Remember that he is the best of mankind, and he should be my major role model, not anyone else.
  • Iqra’. The first word from the Qur’an that was revealed to the Prophet. It means ‘read’. There are so many Islamic articles and books and magazines if I make the effort to find them. In English and Malay and whatever language I please. My personal favourite websites are ProductiveMuslim, Islam Reflection, I Luv Islam, The Beauty Of Islam. Follow pious people on Twitter. The range of knowledge of Islam is so, so vast. I would not be able to imagine.
  • Watch less dramas and watch more TV Al-Hijrah. Listen to less rock music and replace them with zikir and nasyid. Leave comedians and artists on Youtube for religious lectures. Don’t just pay attention to fandom blogs but visit Islamic blogs just as much.
  • Remember the terror of Jahannam, worse than any horrors of the Dunya, and the rewards of Jannah, better than any pleasures in this world.

I am an imperfect human being and this is a reminder to myself, and also to you, my dear fellow Muslims. Let us strive towards a better Ummah.


Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

Suka ke, tak suka ke, tahun depan tahun SPM. Aku tak nak tergagap-gagap nak jawab bila mak bapak/cikgu/kaunselor/makcik-makcik/pakcik-pakcik/orang kat education fair/kengkawan/senior/junior/pakwe (yang last tu hanya sekadar bahan jenaka) tanya nanti nak ambik bidang apa.


Not that I’ve been mulling over it since forever or something. My first ambition, before I started primary school, was to become an astronaut. At that time, I thought it was as simple as hopping on a fancy-schmancy rocket and blasting into space to give my regards to extraterrestrial life. I didn’t know that astronauts were an uncommon profession, let alone that Malaysia had none so far. But yeah, Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar beat me to it.

I thought about becoming an artist, but at the time I thought art was limited to painting and I wasn’t very skilled at that. I also wanted to become an interior designer like Eric Leong but somehow I forgot about that dream.

In one of my profile books for SKS, my top three ambitions were, 1) pelukis, 2) penulis, 3) guru. My Mum told me that I was the one who told her to write those down, which obviously I do not remember. But I seriously doubt I wanted to be a teacher at the age of seven. At that time, I’m pretty sure I thought teaching was boring as crap.

I had tons of ambitions throughout Year One to Form Three… including pilot, actress, journalist, humanitarian, novelist, graphic designer, architect, comic book artist, et cetera.

Nope, I’m just not interested in the science industry. Well, maybe slightly for a few fields like genetics or psychology but I mostly like learning about science and feeling amazed at the wonders of the world, not… sitting in a lab, conducting experiments, handling microscopes and stethoscopes. And then there’s mathematics. “There’s no such thing as a weak student of Maths”, Mr. Prasana said in tuition last week. I love learning with him – it makes you feel like there’s so much more to maths than just numbers. I’m not weak, I’m just… really lazy to do exercises. When I do master a topic, though, I feel intelligent! But I don’t feel knowledgeable. I feel like… I don’t gain anything. It’s too black and white. I’d much rather learn about complicated compositions of a cell or the civilisation of Ancient Rome. Not denying that maths is very, very important, though – it’s just not for me. Plus, it teaches you not to give up because you know there is a solution to your problem.

And then there’s accounting. Accounting deserves a frickin’ special paragraph. Because Mum, Dad, Auntie, Uncle Nan all majored in accounting. My mother is a lecturer of accounting. And then there’s me who got a B for KH (elective: perdagangan dan keusahawanan) in my PMR. Ha ha. MRSM AG forces you to learn accounts for the first semester and I had no frickin’ idea what was going on half the time. I swore to God I wouldn’t take Accounts next semester. Unfortunately, like half the staff knows my Mum. Even on my last day this year, the warden who checked my room (that time only Bio-sahaja students were allowed to pack because Accounts kids still had Paper 2 to go) was like, “Eh, awak tak ambik Akaun ke? Bukan mak awak terer Akaun ke?”. …Please lah. ‘Bapak borek anak rintik’ doesn’t apply for everything.

I’ve considered lots of things, really. TESL? Oh my god, I can’t teach kids, I can barely handle my own adiks. Architecture? Blueprints look boring and tiresome and taihen. Philosophy? Cam lawak je. Industrial art? Interior designer? Errrrr… doesn’t seem very fulfilling. Fine Arts? Creative Writing? Graphic Design? I think it’s more worth it if I just went to a few seminars or follow tutorials online, to be honest.

So, right now I’m inclining towards media/communication studies and international relations. Yes, I tend to be reserved and quiet but I am trying to work on that. Because I actually like sharing my opinions and gathering new experiences. I want to speak to the world, and make sure they listen to what I have to say. And I would like to influence what is broadcast to the world. TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, internet. I also greatly aspire to improve the fiction industry in this country, be it through film or television or books – especially after reading this. Help the industry grow more by adding more intellectual and unique elements. Help people out of the tiny, cramped box they live in with their playboy suamis. Also, through international relations, hopefully I’ll get to travel! My preferences aren’t limited to London and Paris and Rome, okay. I would like to see the state of developing countries as well. Biar insaf sikit. I’ll broaden my experiences and think about how to make the most out of situations. Plus, I feel pretty helpless as an unemployed sixteen-year-old hearing about the attacks on countries like Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Rohingya. When I grow up I do not wish to stand idly, I want to be the difference.

But you know what I really, really wanna be? Above everything else? A creative genius. Of course, there’s Da Vinci and Picasso, and from Malaysia, there’s P. Ramlee, Sudirman, Yasmin Ahmad. but the best modern example I can give you is Tim Burton. A film director, film producer, writer, poet, stop motion artist, illustrator. That’s my dream in bright lights – inspiring and giving hope to people all over the world through art. To direct like Steven Spielberg. To write like J.K. Rowling. To draw like Dato’ Lat. To imagine like Hayao Miyazaki. To vision like Walt Disney. That would be nice. Really nice.

There is more to see than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever be done.

#nowplaying Circle of Life – The Lion King

Of Potential Energy and Beats

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.

I suppose that makes most people big blobs of potential energy aimlessly wandering around the earth when they could be converting that potential into outstanding output.

Don’t mind the late night philosophical musings of a Physics student.

In other news, I attended Arif’s primary school graduation and Aimi’s kindergarten graduation. My brother will soon be a hormonal teenager donning green trousers, and my sister will soon be reciting her multiplication tables. I am in denial. And what about me? Am I really going to be a Form 5 student in a matter of one month and three weeks? I do not understand. Form 5 used to seem so distant, over snow-capped mountains and vast waters, in the Kingdom of Far Far Away. It is unfathomable for me to be a Form 5 student. Form 5’s are supposed to be mature, strong, professional, ready to take on the world. Aku ni siapa je? Budak yang tak tahu pape pasal dunia ni. Yet at the same time it feels odd to imagine ironing school clothes every night or not having permission to handle a steering wheel for much longer.

I do miss journalling. I actually virtually did not journal for a whole month. It ain’t easy when you live in the same building as 399 other girls, honey. I don’t get along with peeping Toms.

#nowplaying Son Of Man – Tarzan
#nowreading Angels and Demons – Dan Brown

The Great Perhaps

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

When people asked me why I was going to MRSM AG, I’d jokingly quote Francois Rabelais, as a crippling attempt to be optimistic, when in reality it was codswallop.

I go to seek a Great Perhaps.

What the heck is a ‘Great Perhaps’, eh? Opening the door to a thousand different glowing opportunities and chances? To swim deep down into the vast sea of new, unforgettable, life-changing experiences? Paving the path to developing into an improved, efficient, beautiful individual? Probably.

Did you find your Great Perhaps, Arifah? Did you?

For three whole years I was a hermit who lived in her own world with a burning rage for virtually everyone and virtually everything, refusing to peek out of my shell. And I’d stare up at the sky and blame the universe for not paying attention to me. More dates were crossed on calendars, and the days went by fueled by hatred, sadness, timidness and insignificance.

A man said to the universe: “Sir, I exist!” 
“However,” replied the universe, 
“The fact has not created in me 
“A sense of obligation.”

Correct me if I am wrong, but those days have come to a halt. I have learned tolerance, respect, and learning how to deal and live with others. How to share my problems with other people and the art of conjuring good times out of thin air. The importance of interaction with others, when I used to take pride in my almost non-existent social life. How vital friendship and teamwork is in the worst of times. As Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”. And that the simplest things you do or say can open an impressive array of possibilities. You cannot sit and do nothing, and expect the world to notice you. It is you who must offer what you have to give to the world. In the words of Emma Stone, “What sets you apart can feel like a burden. And it’s not. A lot of the time, it’s what makes you great”. So, my friends, stop caring so much what other people think. In the end, it is your life.

I also discovered courage. Mastered how to stand on my own two feet, to speak up for myself. Discipline and punctuality. Assume responsibility when needed, and to show commitment and kindness at all times. To be less picky, and to make the most of what I have. To take necessary action, and to always find room for improvement. As mentioned previously, I am slowly but surely getting over the fear of giving nasihat to others, and accepting the nasihat of others wholeheartedly. Also, apparently things like pizza, shopping, going to the movies, and the internet aren’t really that important once you’ve learned to live without. Except the internet maybe, hahah! Just… well, less important. As my parents always remind me, the British royals were all sent to boarding school to sow the seeds of being independent. Even if Kate and William recently announced that little George will not be sent to board.

As quoted from Mulan, “the flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all”. Life for the first three months or so was fiery hell on earth. Refer to my post on the 14th of October. Like I said, I was pushed lightyears and lightyears away from my comfort zone. In the end, aku jugak yang dapat hikmahnya. What if I did not go through all of that? I would still be that poor, clueless little girl. And because of that I have become less judgemental towards people. “Don’t be in such a hurry to condemn a person because he doesn’t do what you do, or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today”. Wise sayings from Malcolm X.

Kak Husna Nisa, a Form 5 student, who is a pretty active BADAR member, gave us Muslim girls a final reminder last Saturday night after reciting Surah Yaasin. She said that to change for the better, we must remember three things. Firstly, intend to change for Allah. Pintu taubat sentiasa dibuka selagi jantung kita masih berdegup. And Allah will shine the light of guidance to those who sincerely, genuinely want to mend their ways. Other than that, stop hating other people and learn to forgive because we all make mistakes. And we use up a great deal of energy when we hate. I would know. You could take all that emotion and put it into doing something productive, something beautiful, something that will contribute to mankind – if not mankind then to at least one person, even if is only yourself. Lastly, stop backbiting. You may have heard this a hundred times, but the reality is that backbiting is equivalent to consuming the flesh of your own brother. Avoid it at all costs. It feels so truly satisfying to hina, to caci, to maki, to kutuk, to ngumpat. But you know what? It feels better to not expose the wrongdoings of others – imagine how you would feel if someone did that to you. In conclusion, worldly pleasures do indeed bring intense pleasure. But you never really feel that… ketenteraman hati that someone who dedicates his existence for Allah does. Because the world will never take his heart.

She did include snippets of the person she used to be. Hidup sengsara untuk setahun masa first masuk maktab ni, bila tengok balik kawan lama dia sekarang – diorang amalkan cara hidup yang sangat bebas, etc. Of course I was reminded of myself. I teared up before she did. The next day, I gathered the courage to go to her room, with my trembling hands, and shared my troubles with her because I don’t think I know anyone else who would understand. The burden of a dark past, and the uncertainty of the future. I was so worried that the moment I step outside this school, I would go back to my bad old habits and abandon zikr and the Qur’an. Not even attempt to pray early or with khushu’. Go to sleep without reciting doa tidur. Indulge in worldly abandon. Give in to my nafsu. It was at MRSM AG that I gained an abundance of religious knowledge, obtained the consistency and sincerity of performing various ibadah, to truly see Islam as a way of life and not just five letters on my I.C. But how was I to maintain that when I venture into the outside world?

But Kak Husna was kind, she gave me a boatload of advice. She said that I have to remind myself every day, surround myself around good people, pray frequently, put all my trust and faith in Him, and if I feel like doing something sinful, I should call up a friend who will try to pull me back to siraatul mustaqeem (the right path). She also said that she has never met anyone named Husna who wasn’t nice. After all, doesn’t ‘Husna’ mean highest goodness/beauty? Asma’ul Husna. Nama-nama Allah yang terbaik, terindah, terpuji. She said, Allah akan menguji kita dengan peristiwa yang gelap supaya dapat berubah untuk menjadi insan yang berakhlak baik. The night before SPM, the Form 5’s salam-ed with the juniors. Kak Husna’s last words to me as she hugged me? “Kerana Allah”. Ahahah, and I used to be pissed that a Kak Husna existed in this school. ‘Cause Kak Husna is my name! All the kids in my family call me that. But I’ve learned to like Kak Arifah, I guess, ’cause only Razan calls me Kak Husna at school.

Ustaz Zaidi ada bagi pesanan. We should salute the chicken on our plates at the DS (dewan selera) because it fulfilled it’s purpose of living – to become a source of energy for humans. But are us humans worthy to be saluted? Because the purpose of our lives is to serve Allah. Ikut segala perintah-Nya, tinggalkan setiap larangan-Nya. The funny thing is that Arissa’s voice boomed through the PA system, announcing that the DS would be serving chicken chop that night. Anyway, Ustaz said that we enter heaven or hell atas pilihan kita sendiri. I was instantly reminded of something Peter Parker said. It’s the choices that make us what we are… and we can always choose to do what’s right. My motto for the school holidays, and ultimately, life.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the unbeliever.”

And for the record, yes, I believe I have found my Great Perhaps.

P.S. I just really like quotes, okay?

#nowplaying Mufasa’s Ghost – The Lion King

Not The (Girl) Next Door

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

Coming home used to feel so good
I’m a stranger now in my neighbourhood
I’ve seen the world at a faster pace
And I’m coming now from a different place

Home. I am home.

It hasn’t changed too much since I left – well, there’s the newly-painted baby blue living room walls, the new beautiful verses from the Qur’an shining in gold on the wall, and the brand-new black sofas. I jokingly asked my parents if I am allowed to jump on those. ‘Cause when they bought the blue sofas not long after we first moved in when I was around three, I wasn’t allowed to jump on them but I still jumped delightfully on the forest-green sofas at my first home, Grandma’s house.

But apart from that, my beloved red spinning chair is still in the computer room, older than ever and losing even more sponge. The bookshelves are still filled with thousands of printed words ranging from Dr. Mahathir’s political views to how rivers are formed to fairies and pixie dust to hadith from the Prophet s.a.w. Umizoomi and Dora the Explorer still blaring on the TV downstairs, gluing Aimi’s eyes to the screen. Arif still hunches in front of pink gadgets (Mum’s phone, Mum’s laptop, Mum’s Galaxy Note) and blocks out the rest of the world. Dad still unwinds after work by lying down on his bed in his kain pelekat. Mum still yells at me to do this and to do that, and cooks great crab.

Know what’s changed? Me.

Though I may look the same way to you
Underneath there is somebody new

Today is the 14th of October, 2013. Exactly one year ago, I did not burn the midnight oil studying. I created an inferno from it. I slept for only thirty minutes, cramming mathematical formulae into my head and doing endless exercises, constantly attacking the buttons on my calculator. My breath tasted of badly-mixed coffee, and shadowy bags hung under my eyes due to lack of sleep and excess of tears. I had never studied so hard in my life. Pretty sure the last time I got an A for Maths was during Form 2. This is my balasan for blankly copying answers off Idzni every day.

With post-PMR celebrations came heavy, pouring rain symbolising the freshness of freedom, alright. But despite my madman-like studying, I wasn’t sure if I wanted an A for Maths. The inevitable day came, though. And yes, I got an A for Maths for my PMR. Sure, my KH grade suffered because of it (I had trouble staying awake during KH for crying out loud), but I was extremely proud nonetheless.

And well, it was the A that made me end up in boarding school. Qualifications of children of MARA staff to get into MRSM? A minimum of 6A’s, and A’s for Maths and Science. Cukup-cukup je. I went against my will, though. I suffered horribly, so horribly, that I came out feeling like that I wouldn’t give a crap if life decided to pelt me with sour lemons again in the future.

I’ll try to keep it brief. Was a total fish out of water – forcibly tossed to shore with nothing to cling on to. My lack of socialising for the past three years turned out to be a huge disability. Then there were judgemental, disapproving people, people who have never seen the world outside their wall. For the first week, ‘unwell’ would be an understatement. Blurry vision, restless leg syndrome, nightmares, no appetite for anything – not even Milo, intense shivering, terrible insomnia, lethargy, inevitable homesickness, culture shock, extreme loneliness, and severe depression. And for the following weeks, I would put all my energy into hoping that I would come home. I was exhausted, so exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally. At one point I would lose my will to live for most days. No friends. No friends. No friends. Tried twice as hard, ended up half as liked. And when my troubles were dismissed as petulant, I skipped prep and cried continuously for two hours in the dorm. I never get too upset about the past, dear reader. But contemplating on this (which I do every once in a while) ends up in miserable nights and wet cheeks. If Dementors attacked me, memories of this period of my life would come crashing down on me like heavy rocks. Felt like all hope was lost – like all the lights in the world went out, and the moon was playing hide-and-seek but would not come back out.

But there is, surprisingly, always hope.

You’ve been saving those souvenirs
Faded photographs from my foolish years
We made plans but they’re wearin’ thin
And they don’t work out ’cause I don’t fit in

I suppose that what I really want to stress on in this post is getting out of your comfort zone. Well, at this point I was lightyears and lightyears away from my comfort zone. When people think of boarding school, they think that the hard part is washing your own clothes, sharing a room, no television, lack of privacy, having to switch the lights off before 11:45pm, et cetera. All of those things did annoy me, of course, but I could get used to that. That is nothing compared to me having to endure the real pain.

I was an oddball, and I had poor interpersonal skills.

This is a problem anywhere I go, because people are generally unkind. But at my old school it didn’t matter as much. I stayed out of everybody’s business and they stayed out of mine. Every man for himself. Lived completely in my own world, a bubble protecting me from the outside world, sometimes letting in my two or three friends. No harm done.

Unfortunately, at MRSM AG, people make sure that your business is their business. Perangai aku dahlah pelik gila. My stomach can’t accept certain foods. I have intense stagefright. My speech intonation is unusual. For most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by people who know more than basic English. Not used to interacting with others as I lived a semi-secluded life. Walked around the school alone. But I could not do all of these things in peace because they had to question everything.

Kenapa tudung kau pelik? Kau freehair ke kat luar? Kenapa kau cakap macam ni? Kau takleh cakap betul-betul ke? Asal kau gelak macam tak ikhlas je? Kat rumah dengan family kau pun kau macam ni ke? Kenapa kau pakai spek ni? Asal kau jalan sorang-sorang? Kenapa kau tak berkawan dengan orang? Kau speaking ke kat rumah? Asal kau tak ambik kuah? Weh, ambik ah! Kenapa kau menggigil kat depan tadi? Kau tak pernah cakap kat depan ke? Takkan kau tak tau lagu ni? Asal muka kau sedih je? Kau ada masalah ke?

I found that people find it easier to discriminate, rather than trying to solve the problem, or accept it.

And those memories will just weigh you down
‘Cause I got no place to keep ’em uptown

I suppose, that slowly but surely, I got used to everything and the sun started to shine again. Made friends – and some very amazing ones, in fact. Who knew I would manage to find a few like-minded people in the midst of aliens, eh? Mastered the art of asrama life (how to guarantee an vacant bathroom in the morning, how to find your clothes that got lost at the dobi, how to manage rubbish when plastic bags run out, how to cry without being noticed, how to keep your wudhu’ from Asar to Isyak, how to not grumble at late-night meetings). Topped the form for English. Became a BADAR member. Competed for Spell-It-Right, the preliminary round and the state round. Went to Mass Camp and had tons of fun. Became an AJK of Exco Komunikasi BWP. Shone thanks to my abilities in art, writing and computer science.

Oh, and believe me, my interpersonal skills improved by miles. Gained more confidence to do what I want, to speak out. Put a bookshelf in my room, a metaphor that I accepted this place as home now. My understanding of religion skyrocketed, and I performed ibadah a lot more, things I would do once in a blue moon at home. Learned to deal with people from all walks of life and how to be patient in the worst of times. Expanded my range of ‘edible food’ and learned to go weeks without the food I did love. I used to hate studying with people around – I still do actually, but now I can tolerate it. Discovered how to rely less on Google, and the internet in general. Extreme deprivation of WhatsApp and Instagram. Less watching newly-released movies, keeping up with tv shows, rocking out to a newly-released album, participating in fandom events, giving a crap about celebrities.

But the things I really, really miss until now? Fangirling about the latest trailer of whatever with my friends one minute after after its release, scrolling through beautiful quotes and pictures on Tumblr and Instagram, the convenience of swiftly researching something I don’t know on the internet, reading the opinions and comments of intelligent people, playing my music loudly, being able to keep a password-protected journal on the internet instead of having to fetch a solid book from the store room in a locked suitcase.

I’m not sorry for just being me
But if you look past the past you can see

And whenever I come home, I feel like the life I used to have is so, so, so far from this life.

Some people think that boys and girls sitting wherever they like in class is something foreign. Not that separating boys and girls is a bad thing, but, well, you can imagine (or can you?) what their reactions would be towards the secularism of my old life. Which is why I don’t talk about it.

And they are the type of people who find it hard to accept, well, ‘secular’ people. They don’t understand, or maybe just cannot accept, that some people were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, or converse in English at home, or have fathers don’t perform Friday prayers, or have mothers who don’t cover their hair, or have siblings and friends and relatives who go clubbing and drink alcohol. They go up to non-Muslims and ask them all sorts of strange questions about their culture, race and religion as if they came from another country.

This is why it is hard for me to make friends. But I’m trying. I am.

Thank God for the Form 1’s and Form 2’s, who are more like me. Who know what the world behind the wall of MRSM Alor Gajah is like. They’re taking IGCSE so they had to pass an English exam to enter. And well, those fluent in English are generally from more urban areas. Secular.

Sorry, the word ‘secular’ is just hilarious to me ever since I read Renyah. But then again, if you’re reading this blog, you’re most likely from KL or Selangor, therefore you guys are reading PAPA for KOMSAS and not Renyah.

(UPDATE: Okay, I didn’t REALLY know the meaning of the word ‘secular’ until now — it means having no connection with religion, so yeah tolong abaikan benda-benda pelik yang aku tulis. Being fluent in English does not equal to secularism!)

I am not the boy next door
I don’t belong like I did before
Nothing ever seems like it used to be
You can have your dreams but you can’t have me

However, they’re good people, really. My batchmates. They are. They care about each other, and they love God. They’re just… less exposed.

I think I’m exposed, though. I’ve went to school with seniors who joyfully did the dirty in dark cinemas yet I’ve known guys who’ve cried because they don’t want to carry the sins of hearing women sing. I’ve known girls who send ‘pictures’ to their boyfriends and I’ve known girls who wear socks just for a one-minute walk from the dorms to the surau. I’ve heard stories from those who go to New Year parties with kisses and booze and I’ve heard of those who wake each other up to perform Tahajjud at 4 a.m. And I’m talking about people my age, people I know.

How did I get this far? I was supposed to talk about me.

With morning calls there are morning speeches. I think it was around March or April or something, when I was in no position at all to make a speech in front of everyone. It was late at night, and a girl came to my room begging for someone to give the next day’s morning speech. Roommate #2 forced me into it and gave my full name, babbling about how I’m good in English, and how everyone has to give a speech sooner or later, and yadda yadda yadda. Easy to say for somebody who has never experienced anxiety and is totally comfortable on stage. But… I didn’t want to look weak, I suppose, so I didn’t protest that much. And I ended up spending more time worrying about the speech than preparing for exams taking place the following day. Like I said, I had a shivering problem. Don’t know where it came from. Sebelum aku masuk sekolah ni, takde pun. Went up on stage. Forgot my lines. Dudes mocked me. It was hell.

Didn’t end there. I became infamous because of that, really. And you know what? Because of that, from having little confidence to speak in public, it dropped to way below zero. Every time I had to make a presentation in class or whatever, people would observe me carefully, their hungry eyes just waiting for me to humiliate myself. On bad days I would, on better days I wouldn’t. The second semester was full of oral tests and presentations and speaking out, though. I hated it, but it was beneficial in the long run. Slowly but surely, I would lose the anxiousness of addressing an audience.

Every other week, morning calls would be done according to one’s form. For example, Form 4’s would have their morning call at the Foyer Gemilang on Monday. The day after competing in S-I-R at Mahkota Parade, my class, 4 Dentistry, had to handle it. I was hoping to take part to increase my confidence – read the SEEDS or recite the student oath, but Cena forced me into giving the morning speech three minutes before I did. Yeap, two of the things I suck at. Spontaneity and public speaking. Believe me, I was shivering. But Alhamdulillah, when I went in front they couldn’t see me shivering. Probably because it was at the foyer so I didn’t have to hold a mike. I got tremendous applause, mostly from the guys, when Cena said my name. Most of the guys here are… not very nice. It’s a fact, okay. All the Form 4 baru students I’ve asked, agree with me and say that the guys at their old schools were way more decent. I ended up talking about S-I-R. And you know what? I was good. Great, even. Excellent. Despite all the unnecessary mock-clapping from some guys. Aku buat bodoh je, didn’t even see it as a threat, but this one girl interpreted it as me ‘fighting back’, said that I was determined to finish my speech. That’s a… flattering way to see it, I guess, even if it was not my intention. But since then, I felt like I could do anything, man. Anything. Like I was just waiting for this moment. The moment of truly breaking away from the shy, timid little girl with no voice whom I used to be.

Ironically, I made that speech whilst recovering from literally losing my voice. Nasib masa S-I-R I didn’t sound too much like a frog.

Anyway, I discovered that I actually like addressing an audience. When you make a speech, you can like, share your opinions with people. Wow. How awesome is that? I hope to give many, many more speeches in the future. I proved everyone wrong about me that day. I showed them that I am capable of talking in public! And people congratulated me for it. Broke down the walls around me, they didn’t know how strong I am!

Parents fear that they’ll grow distant from their children when they go to boarding school. In my case, I grew closer to them. Before this, I didn’t talk much about my life to my parents. Not that anything ever happened in my life, anyway. I mostly immersed myself in TV shows and fandoms – takkan aku nak cerita pasal spoilers episod Glee yang bakal keluar kat parents aku kot? Then I went to boarding school and always heard people on the phones with their parents and was just like… “Wow. People actually talk about their daily lives to their mummies”. They influenced me to share more with my parents, I suppose.

I believe I grew a lot religiously. Berkat sembahyang berjemaah, baca banyak risalah agama, dengar tazkirah setiap malam agaknya. Before I shifted schools I didn’t hafal Ayat Kursi, or wear handsocks, or know the tune of Asmaul Husna, or recite prayers before sleeping, or read the Qur’an very much. I’m still working on gathering the courage to nasihat others, and to accept the nasihat of others.

All in all, my tragedy was a good thing. Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

Oh, I can’t come back there anymore
I am not the boy next door

P.S. I feel the need to talk about this, because I’ve been wanting to blog about it for months but never got to it. I sprained my ankle during Mass Camp, after a go on the flying fox. ‘Cause after I landed, I didn’t watch my step (the steps were high), and my right leg terpleot. One of greater fears since I saw my Year 6 (Standard 4, actually, but in England, Year 6) teacher Mrs. Basson twist her ankle. Yeah, it hurt. But it hurt good! I felt like a Gryffindor, I was so proud to have a serious physical injury, haha!

Had to use a cane for a while, had to bandage my leg, had to pray using a chair. Was my excuse for not participating in SEGAK tests and for skipping Taekwondo classes. After around three weeks, I walked back to the dorms with Shakirah. The afternoon-turning-into-evening sun was hot in the sky, and barely anyone was around. It was serene and lovely, and… I dunno. I just started running. In my baju kurung. It felt amazing. Felt young and free and limitless. The last time I ran was during Mass Camp (Cikgu Zamri would force us to do three rounds every morning).

Like Pollyanna said, you never, never know how perfectly lovely legs are till you haven’t got them—that go, I mean.