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.

Poetry

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.

The Poetry of Pain and Catharsis

The Poetry of Pain and Catharsis

Last time I posted, I shared with everyone a poem called ‘Again’, which was written in a confessional style. The poem was set upon a backdrop of turbulent anguish, which is reflective of my emotions at the time of writing the poem.

In the days that followed, I had brief moments of respite from the sadness that I was experiencing, but it got to me nonetheless. I began to regret ever choosing my pre-university programme, the IB Diploma, pointing out that I felt like I was losing my sanity because of it. I was teetering over the edge, so it seemed.

I wrote this poem as a way of memorialising my depressing thoughts, to find closure and acceptance for my failings. It was very hard to get by because I am constantly being fed so many sugarcoated words that I believed, but then let me down. I felt betrayed by others, but couldn’t find any reason to blame anyone but myself.

Teetering

By A. A. Kamalov

Is that it?

Seasons have shifted

 

As hopeful glimmers fade,

Morphing to virus-infested

 

Chills chocking my airways

I could barely breathe.

 

You, and your confectioned offer like

A cruise-ship to the Caribbean

 

For which I have prepared for months!

Packing what to wear

 

For the formidable tropical heat

Of the moment.

 

I believe in miracles of

The Lord, happily ever afters,

 

But the bullet tore through

With surgical precision

 

Of a lobotomy –

It keeps me blissfully stupid.

 

There is no consolation

But complementary lies;

 

All the while, coughing blood

Among decaying bones of the ward.

Not too long after writing ‘Teetering’, I sat and wrote down another one which alludes to the Cyprus expedition from last March. The trip was mostly a pleasant experience for me, as my group qualified. However, it was not without a lot of struggles faced by other participants. Some were physically injured and some were mentally wounded. It was saddening to see my friends break down and drop out during the entire thing, while I was more or less left unscathed.

Looking back with hindsight, I wondered what it would be like if I ceased to exist because of the trip, which would have avoided me from experiencing the sorrow I have now. Thanks to studying Sylvia Plath and A Streetcar Named Desire, both the poems have contextual allusions to death, a common theme in both literary texts.

Both these poems also allude to mental illnesses and mental institutions, because in A Streetcar Named Desire, the protagonist Blanche DuBois was sent off to an institution as she was incapable of accepting the realities of life. I felt that school was trapping me like a mental institution, hence the references.

Cyprus

A.A. Kamalov

If I had fallen that day

Down the mountainsides

With the weight of the world

On my shoulders,

 

If I had vanished

Separated from the crew

And abandoned in the woods

In Aphrodite’s valley,

 

If I had simply never

Woken up that dawn

Inside the tent and

A corpse is flown back home,

 

Would the horror subside?

Life goes on like the harsh ticking

Of a clock’s hands. The mourning

Is negligible. I’m one out of billions,

 

Too worthless to be remembered.

The mental institution would

Hide my memory, suppress my

Sinful spirit from mention.

 

Yet as I observe, clad in white

Cloth and bathed in rosewater,

I knew Allah is always kind.

His mercy saved me from the

 

Bloodbaths which were soon

To follow. Relentless executions

Unravelling any crumb of

Sanity remaining in the inmates,

 

Failing therapy after therapy.

The psychiatric ward reeks

Of putrid decay, while matrons

Laugh and jest at their patients’ plight.

I hope you liked these poems. If you have any suggestions or criticisms, feel free to write in the comments section below. I am trying my best to perfect my poetry skills, and I would like all the help I can get. Thank you.

Again – A Poem

Again – A Poem

I don’t think I need much of an explanation for this poem. I’m feeling under a lot of pressure by everyone and I feel like I am slowly losing it, bit by bit. It’s something I can’t exactly understand myself, but I am trying to and so is everyone else. Then again, what does it matter to them? They can live on as usual no matter what state I’m in. Anyways, it will be more comforting if you can give your critique or opinion of this poem in the comments section below.

Again

A. A. Kamalov

Here I am once more.

Entrenched in the

Abyss, mournful Marianas,

Ocean of despicable despair.

 

The perpetual vortex

A trumpet, a devil’s horn

Pulling me in, rotten sins

Chaining and choking

 

Almost a delight!

Multiple moons pass by

Burden after burden –

Compounding exponentially

 

Like interest. The loan of joy

For a ferry to Paradise

Is futile: take one for suffering

Instead. You’d go much farther.

 

The quill is mocking me now,

Squid’s ink dissolving intestines

While coral fishes swim by

With benign indifference.

November – A Month of Dilemmas and Lamentations

This month has been horrible, to say the least.

Twice, I’ve hit my lowest point in school, breaking down pathetically before the gaze of teachers, lnowing all too well my predicament.

My workload has always been excessive, but the amount trebled this month: a toxic admixture of essays, homework, projects, oral examinations and foreign-language assignments burdened upon the “courageous” student, with only one straw needed to break this camel’s back.

This metaphorical straw is the university applications.

Tomorrow is the deadline set by the school for getting all of my applications ready. There was a mad rush by twenty-or-so year-thirteens to get it checked by only one teacher, who is the university advisor in school. It was horrible, just horrible! I tried to get hold of documents without her involvement, as my intention was to reduce the work on her part, as well as making it easier for me to upload onto my non-UK university applications. Nevertheless, it was taken badly and I was heavily reproached by her and other teachers for trying to break so-called “school policies”.

I was very upset with that. I felt that the school was being unreasonable with the deadline, but I had more pressing issues in my mind. My question was: will the school entertain my demands for documents AFTER the deadline, especially if the actual university deadlines are way ahead in February or May? I was extremely worried by this, not to mention stressed to the point that I feared that the school will leave me abandoned with my applications incomplete because they might refuse documents. Thankfully, all was resolved on the same day after talking it through (over a box of tissues) who agreed to assist me with my final steps for application.

Making choices for university is really stressful to begin with, and this deadline is in no way making things any more comforting for me. No matter how much other teachers try to console me, they cannot erase the underlying problem which still looms over my future, which is:

“Will I be able to pay for it?”

My dream is to go to a top university in Europe, more specifically the UK, where I have imagined myself to be since I was 10 years old. This year, I made the choices to study in Durham, Warwick, London, Bristol and Edinburgh. I wanted to study Journalism while I was in primary school, but as my interests evolved over time, today I applied to study Economics and Politics.

I also applied to the Netherlands, a country I have visited just this year last spring. I had a splendid time and plus I felt like it was the place to be. I feel somehow accepted in my pristine surroundings, filled with beautiful canals and bright tulips. After my visit to Rotterdam, I was inspired to apply to the presitgious Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, which has one of the top economics school in the world.

With further research about possible places to study, I also settled on Singapore, Asia’s international trade hub and economic powerhouse, in addition to being Malaysia’s rich neighbour. Their universities: the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, are not only the top in Asia, but the entire world! I know I just had to apply there and take my chances. I know that it WILL be competitive, as many Singaporeans are known to be quite ‘kiasu’, but I wouldn’t know I’ll get it unless I try.

Well all of this positive attitude in making uni choices ignores one crucial fact: my parents can’t afford it.

They reiterated time and time again that they will NOT be prepared for me to study in any of these countries, not unless I can get scholarships. They say they can only afford to send me to a university in Malaysia, and with the fall in the value of Malaysian ringgits, their words can’t be any truer. My education fund can’t support 3 years of tuition fees in England, Scotland, Holland or Singapore, let alone cost of living.

This led me to an unsolvable dilemma for quite some time, especially in the first week of November. What  is the point of applying to these unis when you can’t even go there in the end? I searched for existing scholarship programmes. While none of them were prepared to fund my entire tuition, they were reasonable discounts. Unfortunately these were not enough to convince my parents, save for the Singaporean tuition grant programme, which would reduce my international fees at the cost of working in Singapore for three years after graduation as part of the contract.

Preferably I don’t want to be stuck in Singapore after my degree; I came there to study but work? I’m not prepared to make such a big decision yet. Unfortunately it seems like I don’t have a choice, because even to earn a Singaporean scholarship that could cover all of my fees, I would need to take the grant first.

I was very upset that first week of Monday. I saw no way out: I was condemned to studying in Malaysia, which I really did not want. I have a complex relationship with my country, which I will probably elaborate in another post. More importantly, the choice on university: University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, is not really so much to my liking. I don’t really like the campus so much due to my distaste for the lazy architecture and its far distance from Kuala Lumpur, which makes it really difficult for me to pursue my language studies. In addition, the though of living in Malaysia for three years, not as a global citizen, but as a LOCAL, strikes me as condescending and depressing. I am more than just a Malay Malaysian, but most people will never look past my appearance and know my world experiences.

That first week on Monday, I also struggled to write my personal statement for my UK university applications through UCAS. I had a hard time trying to express myself to convince the universities to take me. I also had the dilemma constantly ringing in my mind, making me more upset and almost-depressed. I remembered last year’s Year 13 student whose name was Kim, and he got an exceptional 44 score and got accepted into Princeton in the US. His parents were prepared to make the financial sacrifice, not just for his US application and tuition fees, but also for paying for his SAT exams which he needed to sit beforehand. This is in stark contrast to my family’s attitude. Granted, we’re not rich. In fact, we’re probably one of the poorer families in NCBIS, a school filled with mainly elite to upper middle class households. I was the student with one of the greatest prospects in terms of IB grades, yet I felt that no matter how hard I tried, I will end up in Malaysia anyway. I felt that it would be a waste of my talent and time, having gone through the hellish experience of IB. I could have comfortably done A-Levels and still get into a Malaysian uni.

After all of the above, I memorialised that week of grief and sorrow into a poem. I would like to end this post at this note. I have never written one so long before, but I feel that I need to let it out, to let my readers know about how I feel and why I have been absent for so long. Please, if you like this poem, give your comments below. Until then, see you next month.

Lamentations

A. A. Kamalov

For two years, I endured

A lonesome existence.

From Sunday to Thursday

I barely survive the week.

Almost eternally, like a

Relentless pedalling of wheels

On a stationary gym-bicycle.

Locker to class, class to class,

Class to canteen, canteen to class,

Class to locker, then back home

Shifting around like a drone.

Friendships are superficial.

I trust none. I really couldn’t.

I know them just by name,

But really, they are strangers.

Where they attend, I pretend.

Unsurprisingly, this is why I

Resent such teenage liberties

Those hangouts and parties,

The decadence disgusts me.

Instead I appease the system

With industrial fervour,

I push aside petty anxieties,

Headaches and fevers

To get grades no-one

Else would dare surpass.

I was instantly recognised and

Hailed as the next Kim, while

Deluded by rational fantasies.

Then I realised: no-one wants me.

Not Princeton nor Oxbridge,

Just name any university.

All hard work is fruitless

For I’m a penniless foreigner,

And my world ruled by the dollar.

I’ve no choice but to return to where I

Belong, a tropical trash-town

Fraught with endless miseries.

So it must end this way, it seems.

Waste no more time,

Sing no more praises please.

Let me graduate silently –

No prizes or awards to console

This worker bee; this tradable,

Replaceable commodity. One day

He’ll labour and die without family

And all of the above will be

A long-lost memory.