Chasing that Beach Body? Here’s “An After-Gym Advice” – A Poem

An After-Gym Advice

A. A. Kamalov

Away from the attention of the
Glitzy, God-awful world, where
Anorexics grace the Paris runways, exists
A parallel universe. Another half struggles
For God-like perfection.

The struggle is real – no less
For Mr. Nice-Guy in glasses,
Bombarded by screens, by magazines,
By fantasies and fallacies
Of superior self-esteem.

The raw brawn of bloated arms,
Towering bricks and tree-trunk thighs,
Bulging veins threatening to burst
With vacuous masculinity.
Yet the sacrifice is emptiness –

It’s all in vain. You attempt to alter yourself,
A regular Joe to hot-bod Adonis,
But you’re not – you’re just Narcissus.
Try glancing at the mirror. You can’t!
Staring hard, always addicted and obsessed.

Draped in shrunken baby-clothing,
The constant stream of selfies
Relentless in my Instagram feed, you feed
Not just on protein shake, but on
Much needed attention and envy.

Does that make you a man?
Neither an athlete nor Olympian,
You lack heroism; just shameless,
Shameless prostitution! A Greek statue
Serves the same purpose.

Apparently the Sun revolves around
Treadmills, yoga-mats and dumbbells;
The bulk-and-cut cycle your seasons.
But bro, that blind devotion is laughable!
Don’t be dumbass and pick up a book.

Any sort of reading will do. I recommend
Medical literature, the science of muscles
Will surely interest your ignorant mind.
Put your experience into expertise, instead of
Baiting big-bosomed blondes for bed.

You have a choice. You’re seventeen,
Horny and hormonal, gym-jocks like you
Disregard reality, their prize money
A bleak future of menial labour.
Just don’t sell yourself short, dude.

Author’s Afterword:

SUN’S OUT, GUNS OUT: I bet you’ve seen at least one of these types of slogans before plastered on some sleeveless shirt on sale on a summer’s day. It’s that time of the year again where people go out and have fun, enjoying warmer temperatures outdoors with friends and family members. But on the other hand, on the run up to summer, the media would churn out messages like “Get yourself beach body ready!” and “6 Pack Abs for Summer” and other so-called “motivational messages” to encourage men to look like Channing Tatums and Zac Efrons in preparation to a shirtless beach exposition. This is what I was referring to in the first stanzas of the poem.

This poem is not meant to throw shade at people who work out and care for their fitness and looks. In fact, I have a deep respect for those who work hard to keep themselves in top shape while opposing the wave of rising obesity in many countries around the world. However, what I do have a problem with is the relentless media attention towards a certain body type (more specifically, the athletic, muscular look) in men which DO result in similar problems that women get when trying to be beautiful in the way the media tells them to. Men DO suffer from anxiety, loss of self confidence and depression from feeling inadequate because of the way they look. Men also can suffer from anorexia, bulimia and overeating. Not everyone can just shake it off and lift his way to a better body; it’s never that simple. The emotional and mental pressure caused by the society we live in can have a major impact for the rest of our lives.

There are many people out their who did achieve their desired body type and shape and work day and night, relentlessly, to maintain or improve it. But for what? Some people grow obsessed and narcissistic in pursuit of this “aesthetic”, always feeling inadequate with the muscles they already have and think they should “get bigger”. To top it all, it is very superficial, in my opinion, to post photos on social media and seeking approval from random strangers to give yourself an ego boost. There is so much more to one as a person than just a pretty body with a cute face, and that goes for both men and women. Empathy, kindness and intellect engages one in a far deeper way than simply looking attractive. So for those who are struggling out there because don’t look a certain way, as long as you’re eating healthily, exercise regularly and get enough sleep, you’ll be fine. Don’t take the media’s skewed ideals of a masculine body image to heart because you’re so much more than just your looks. Until then, have a wonderful day everyone!

My UCAS Personal Statement – Got Offers into All 5 Choices!

As you may or may not know, I have recently graduated and completed my 2-year International Baccalaureate Diploma course. With this, I can use it for applying into many top universities around the world, especially in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia (primarily English-speaking nations). Despite having this diploma, it is not enough to present this to apply to a UK university; I had to go through the same process as an A-Level student in the UK to apply for my desired undergraduate programme. This system of application is called UCAS, an online platform where students may upload their personal details and academic information to make the informed decision to apply into up to 5 different institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom.

In UCAS, getting “good grades” is simply not enough for a university to even consider you for a place in their courses. An applicant in UCAS must write a “personal statement” where the future uni student write down, in 4000 characters or less (including spaces), who they are and why they are most suited for the course that they have chosen. For example, I have chosen to apply for Economics and Politics as my degree in all 5 universities (Edinburgh, Durham, Bristol, Warwick and UCL in addition to ‘History’).

Writing a personal statement is no peice of cake, but it should not be a stressful endeavour. I myself had to go through multiple drafts and re-drafts before my UCAS guidance counsellor in school accepted mine into the online system. It’s really rare for someone to get the personal statement spot on on the first try. I will be sharing with all of you my final, polished version of my UCAS personal statement below. I think it is rather decent, considering that I did get offers from all 5 of my universities. I hope this will help you write your own personal statement, and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below and I will be happy to answer them.

Although I have spent half of my life overseas, I am deeply aware of the economic strife facing my home country Malaysia. A few months ago, the ringgit fell sharply to its lowest value against the US dollar since the 1997 Asian recession. Exports became cheaper, bringing less revenue and causing a slowdown to the national economy. I personally blame the government for causing the fiasco, a view shared by many in the country. Numerous scandals made headlines, for instance, reports alleging extravagant embezzlement of the state’s investment fund involving the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, such wrongdoing has a direct consequence on my funds to pursue my studies in the UK. As outraged as I am over this, I just do not have sufficient knowledge of political systems to understand how this problem can be alleviated. I am determined to seek answers through learning about the delicate intricacies linking politics and economics.

I am a highly-motivated individual with a lifelong passion for learning. For instance, I possess an especially profound fascination in the complex spatial nature of international economics. As an economics student who also studied modern history, I have always been captivated by the intense competition between capitalist and socialist powers during the Cold War era. I developed a particular interest in the Soviet planned economy, as I conducted an extended essay project analysing Stalinist policies in 1928-1939 that led to “genocide” in Ukraine. From here I learnt that economic policies executed by government to bring industrialisation and modernisation can have disastrous implications on the population for generations to come. Unfortunately many corrupt politicians today fail to take heed of these mistakes made in the past.

It also seems that no matter what era, stark economic differences continue to be a sore point between various nations. I have experienced this tension when taking part in Model United Nations conferences in Cairo, where I debate global issues which inherently relate to economics of development. Having represented Belgium and Norway, I helped formulate realistic resolutions even the most under-developed nation can agree with and implement. It was an enriching experience as I came out a more articulate and open-minded public speaker fitting for a future career in economics or politics.

I am a well-rounded person with various hobbies outside of academia, including learning foreign languages. I am trilingual, fluent in Malay (my mother tongue), English and Arabic. I aspire to become a polyglot conversant in five more languages: including German, French and Russian, all of which I have in varying levels of basic-to-novice proficiency. Knowledge of these languages is highly valued, considering in the heated political climate between the European Union and Russia. I aim to use this knowledge as a bridge between the two sides and bring a common understanding in my future career.

Another hobby of mine is writing. I have been running my own personal online blog for two years now, and the readership just keeps growing, thanks in part to my newly-discovered talent for poetry. I have written, published online and presented my poems and they were praised for their unique styles, variations and complexity. Poetry will prove beneficial for me as a future student in politics, as it is essential to understand how figurative language could be used in order to sway public opinion, or to lobby for a law to pass.

In short, I am a highly-capable and dynamic student with a strong international background. Furthermore, I truly believe that studying in the UK will help me to not only develop my knowledge in my favourite areas of study, but also will provide a wealth of opportunities for my future.

(3785 characters, 45 lines)

Transient Liberté – A Poem about Graduation and Ramadan

Transient Liberté

A. A. Kamalov

Anticipated anticlimax

Arrived, an ambience

Of little malevolence.

Praise be to Allah,


Whose spring blossoms

Has fallen on tearful,

Sinful servants, prayerful

Under blessed moon phases –


Chanting sacred sutras

Of transient existence.

A pièce de résistance,

A hop, step and splash


Of personal pride’s

Unwarranted, poor thing!

You – a weeping weakling,

Succumb too easily to the succubus.


So rejoin the path, abscond the past,

An elaborate awakening of future’s been cast.

Author’s Afterword:

This poem is the first one I wrote since completing my exams,which simultaneously meant the start on the road to freedom from school and entering adult life in the real world. I wanted to write something to express this, but to remind myself of who to thank for my success. As a Muslim, I believe that Allah (God) deserves most if not all the credit for allowing me to persevere through the hard times, and my poems have reflected my belief in this regard. The reference to prayer or “sutras” in this poem is also a reference to the month of Ramadan, which is going to begin in less than 2 weeks. This month is considered to be a highly auspicious period where deeds are rewarded in multiple digits. I realised that even though leaving school signifies “freedom” from education, there are still limitations in place with Ramadan, with daytime fasting being the primary activity.

I also consider myself to be a sinful person in need of cleansing, which is what Ramadan is all about. I want to improve myself not only academically or socially, but spiritually and mentally as well, because this will reinforce a more positive outlook in life (at least, for me). I am looking forward to this blessed season, and I wish to all Muslims Ramadan Kareem!

Damn Ahmad, Back At it Again With the Procrastination!

Forgive my attempt at referencing a totally over-used internet meme, but I’m in a rather pleasant mood right now and it has to do with the fact that I have completed my final exams! And I graduated from school, so I have the holidays to look forward to! Yay!

But yeah, I know I am probably one of the most inconsistent bloggers out there compared to those with supernatural skills in time management (or simply a lot of free time on their hands). I procrastinate a lot, I admit it, but who doesn’t right? From my personal experience, it’s a perennial teenage characteristic. I’m not saying I’m proud of it, but I’m not going to make promises I can’t keep. This blog will keep going indefinitely, and I will keep posting new poems, photos, travel journals and other random things in my life.

I would also love to rename my blog in the future, but still could not find a suitable name for it. I’m not going to stay a teenager forever. If you have any suggestions, you can drop it in the comments section below.

Today or tomorrow I’m going to drop in a few posts of some of the poems I have not yet shown to you guys, and I’m planning to write a top 5 anime review article for a change. I’ve been watching quite a lot of new ones recently and I feel that I need to take this blog into a fresher direction. I also want to spend quite a bit of time editing my old blog posts, updating and tidying everything up.

To everyone who’s been watching this blog, thank you for your continued support!

Leap Day Update

It’s the 29th!

I would not want to miss the chance of posting something on one of the rarer days of the Gregorian calendar. I’d just like to use this opportunity just to tell all of you about how things have been going for me for the past month.

Coming to terms with the IB

This week is actually the week of my mock exams, the last formal assessment for all of my subjects in the IB Diploma before the final exams which will determine my grades. For those who don’t know, the International Baccalaureate Diploma is a rigorous two-year pre-university programme, with a higher level of difficulty above Britain’s A-Levels and USA’s Advanced Placement due to demands for CAS (Creativity, Action and Service) and Theory of Knowledge on top of 6 choice of subjects. For the past few months, I have become rather disillusioned with the programme for it’s workload and  inability to keep up with my high-grade expectations. This made me feel a strong sense of sadness and even regret to some extent, because I know I could have excelled more easily in A-Levels without the same level of stress and mental breakdown.

Nevertheless this year, I have come to terms with the IB. Although I still think that the IB is unnecessarily complicated and the organisation aims to crush the hopes of students who were fated to take its exams, I realise that the IB was designed this way to set students with a higher intellectual capability apart from everyone else. It was deliberately done this way to create a more competitive playing field for the “elite” of upper-secondary academia,  who would otherwise be doing excellently in A-Levels and other less-demanding courses. I realised that I’m rather fortunate in IB because I am basically 6 first-year university-level courses in subjects I would otherwise have not done if I specialised early in A-Levels. If it were not for IB, I would never have encountered economics as a subject and probably would never consider about doing it as a degree in university. Similarly, I would never have encountered Sylvia Plath and other great works of literature if I had not taken IB, and thus would never have had an interest in poetry. Most importantly I would never had a chance to meet people in my year-group, who are definitely one of the most amazing people I have ever met! Looking back at my choice, I have to admit that despite all the hardship and trouble, the grade and points don’t matter anymore. It’s the experience and the memories I make along the way.

University Worries Are Gone!

Long gone the days of when I stress over the prospects of going to the university I desire. Due to the economic situation of Malaysia beyond my family’s control, any immediate prospect of studying in Europe has been reduced to less than 1% probability. On the bright side, I HAVE been given conditional offers by all five of my university choices in England and Scotland, and yesterday the University of Nottingham had offered me a place conditionally to study in their Malaysian campus. All I need to do now is wait and see if I get any scholarships that could take me into the UK universities, but if not, I will have to go to Nottingham in Malaysia for my undergraduate studies.

The prospect of studiying in Malaysia was surprisingly difficult for me to accept at first, because I really wanted to study abroad and live outside of Malaysia for as long as possible. However, at least that I will be able to meet up with a lot of my old friends who mostly lives in Malaysia. Nottingham Malaysia is also a very good university by world standards, even though the architecture is painfully boring (my biggest pet peeve when I visited there). They have a wide range of club activities which I look forward in joining, plus opportunities for me to continue learning foreign languages. In-Sha-Allah, I fly to Malaysia as soon as I graduate to prepare myself for the university early and meet my friends there.


I am currently on hiatus with my poetry writing, and I have not written anything new since January. There is a very good reason for this: I would like to study more variations of poetry first before writing any new ones of my own. I want to be a dynamic writer with the ability to express ideas with using various methods and styles that are known in the world of literature. I also want to diversify the genre of my poetry style from being just dark and depressing to something which expresses all types of emotions, including joy and love. Currently I am reading a book of poetry titled “Leaves of Grass”, by the father of free-verse poetry Walt Whitman. It’s a wonderful read filled with deep meanings, composed of 12 long poems in one small book. A good friend of mine gave it to me as a birthday present. I hope reading this will give me further inspiration on writing new poetry for the near future.

Language Learning: Japanese, Russian or German?

I have come to a point where I have to make an important decision on which language I should prioritise. Currently, I am switching back and forth, juggling the three languages listed above plus Dutch and French, which isn’t particularly useful considering that it makes me forget more often than remember. Upon entering university, I would like to be able to focus only on learning one single language on an intensive basis, but it has to be one which is easy for me to take lessons and practice with other native speakers.

I also have to keep in mind that since my uni is most likely to be Nottingham Malaysia, I would have easier access to Asian language resources than resources to learn Russian or German. The abundance and popularity of anime, manga and Japanese pop culture in general further inceases the availability of tools for me to use to study it. Personally, I have been watching a lot of anime these past few weeks, so my motivation to learn Japanese is significantly greater than any of the other languages. I am also using Duolingo’s English-language learning platform made for Japanese speakers as a roundabout way of picking up the nuances of Japanese grammar, and it is actually really effective. I’ve learned more Japanese than ever before, so I would really like to continue at this rate.