Sunday, July 31, 2005

Raffles Institution

The School That Suited You Most!
brought to you by Quizilla

Rofl. I don't know if I should be amused or insulted. Probably a little of both. Argh. I hate exams.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Blogging hiatus: 2 days

Time to read: Priceless

I am rediscovering the joys of reading, thanks to a Humanities day stint which required me to fish for books I loved, and passages I would love others to hear. My first choice was the first chapter of Pride and Prejudice:

On second thoughts, it's way too long to type out here, and I'm not sure if I'll be infringing copyrights.

The day before the event though, I found out that I couldn't do Pride and Prejudice because someone else had chosen it first, (and had chosen the exact same chapter too, as I discovered eventually) and so I had to choose something else. After exactly 4 minutes of brain storming, I remembered my pre-Austen all time favourite: The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery. I love the whole book, but as I had only about 4 minutes for my passage, I chose this one:

On the fifth day - again, as always, it was thanks to the sheep - the secret of the little prince's life was revealed to me. Abruptly, without anything to lead up to it, and as if the question had been born of long and silent meditation on his problem, he demanded:

"A sheep - if it eats little bushes, does it eat flowers, too?"
"A sheep," I answered, "eats anything it finds in its reach."
"Even flowers that have thorns?"
"Yes, even flowers that have thorns."
"Then the thorns - what use are they?"

I did not know. At that moment I was very busy trying to unscrew a bolt that had got stuck in my engine. I was very much worried, for it was becoming clear to me that the breakdown of my plane was extremely serious. And I had so little drinking-water left that I had to fear the worst.

"The thorns - what use are they?"

The little prince never let go of a question, once he had asked it. As for me, I was upset over that bolt. And I answered with the first thing that came into my head:

"The thorns are of no use at all. Flowers have thorns just for spite!"

There was a moment of complete silence. Then the little prince flashed back at me, with a kind of resentfulness:

"I don't believe you! Flowers are weak creatures. They are naiive. They reassure themselves as best they can. They believe that their thorns are terrible weapons..."

I did not answer. At that instant I was saying to myself: "If this bolt still won't turn, I am going to knock it out with the hammer." Again the little prince disturbed my thoughts:

"And you actually believe that the flowers - "
"Oh, no!" I cried. "No, no, no! I don't believe anything. I answered you with the first thing that came into my head. Don't you see - I am very busy with matters of consequence!"

He stared at me, thunderstruck.

"Matters of consequence!"

He looked at me there, with my hammer in my hand, my fingers black with engine-grease, bending down over an object which seemed to him extremely ugly...

"You talk just like the grown-ups!"

That made me a little ashamed. But he went on, relentlessly:

"You mix everything up together...You confuse everything..."

He was really very angry. He tossed his golden curls in the breeze.

"I know a planet where there is a certain red-faced gentleman. He has never smelled a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved any one. He has never done anything in his life but add up figures. And all day he says over and over, just like you: 'I am busy with matters of consequence!' And that makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man - he is a mushroom!"
"A what?"
"A mushroom!"

The little prince was now white with rage.

"The flowers have been growing thorns for millions of years. For millions of years the sheep have been eating them just the same. And is it not a matter of consequence to try to understand why the flowers go to so much trouble to grow thorns which are never of any use to them? Is the warfare between the sheep and the flowers not important? Is this not of more consequence than a fat red-faced gentleman's sums? And if I know - I, myself - one flower which is unique in the world, which grows nowhere but on my planet, but which one little sheep can destroy in a single bite some morning, without even noticing what he is doing - Oh! You think that is not important!"

His face turned from white to red as he continued:

"If some one loves a flower, of which just one single blossom grows in all the millions and millions of stars, it is enough to make him happy just to look at the stars. He can say to himself: 'Somewhere, my flower is there...' But if the sheep eats the flower, in one moment all his stars will be darkened...And you think that is not important!"

He could not say anything more. His words were choked by sobbing.

The night had fallen. I had let my tools drop from my hands. Of what moment now was my hammer, my bolt, or thirst, or death? On one star, one planet, my planet, the Earth, there was a little prince to be comforted. I took him in my arms, and rocked him. I said to him:

"The flower that you love is not in danger. I will draw you a muzzle for your sheep. I will draw you a railing to put around your flower. I will - "

I did not know what to say to him. I felt awkward and blundering. I did not know how I could reach him, where I could overtake him and go on hand in hand with him once more.

It is such a secret place, the land of tears.

And, on a related note, it is such a lonely place, the land of fears. (Back to me. Reality calls.)

Fears of falling: out of track. out of mind. in love. apart.
Fears of needing: comfort. people. more than what i have.
Fears of feeling: out of control. powerless. alone. needy.

Powerless-ness. I think most of us fear that. A situation where you can't do anything about anything. Yet somehow, it could be a liberating situation. One in which you have no choice but to put it all in His hands. And then you realise that it's been there all along. And then you are free.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In (predominantly wishful) anticipation of not blogging for a while, I've left several links below my Previous Posts sections. Probably worth checking them out. :)

Monday, July 25, 2005

And this is probably one of the most sublimally beautiful tragic love scenes in the history of literature:

They were strangers who had met in a chance encounter.
They had known each other before Life began.

There is very little that anyone could say to clarify what happened next. Nothing that (in Mammachi's book) would seperate Sex from Love. Or Needs from Feelings.

Except perhaps that no Watcher watched through Rahel's eyes. No one stared out of a window at the sea. Or a boat in the river. Or a passer-by in the mist in a hat.

Except perhaps that it was a little cold. A little wet. But very quiet. The Air.

But what was there to say?

Only that there were tears. Only that Quietness and Emptiness fitted together like stacked spoons. Only that there was a snuffling in the hollows at the base of a lovely throat. Only that a honey-coloured shoulder had a semi-circle of teethmarks on it. Only that they held each other close, long after it was over. Only that what they shared that night was not happiness, but hideous grief.

Only that once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much.

Yet another excerpt from "The God of Small Things". Honestly, reading this book reminds me again and again why I love lit, and why I'll never regret doing an extra year for it. I would copy out the scene between Ammu and Velutha and the end of the novel, except that I suspect that would be a spoiler (as yet, those who havnt read the book wouldn't know who this particular scene is between). Also, I might horrify certain readers with the blatant eroticism and sexuality of an A-level text. Not that I'm complaining mind you. It's about time people stop seeing sex as dirty, or just plain fun, but as something beautiful. (As a pointed aside, the Catholic Church doesn't view sex as dirty. Sex, as an act of love (and thus pro-creation) is beautiful - as is sexuality.)

Right. Back to Ayemenem then.

Attn all guys: This is NOT sweet

Girl: Do I ever cross your mind?
Boy: No
Girl: Do you like me?
Boy: Not really
Girl: Do you want me?
Boy: No
Girl: Would you cry if I left?
Boy: No
Girl: Would you live for me?
Boy: No
Girl: Would you do anything for me?
Boy: No way
Girl: What would you choose: your life..orme?
Boy: My life

The girl runs away in shock and pain and the boy runs after her and says...

The reason you never cross my mind is because you're always on my mind.
The reason why I don't like you is because I love you.
The reason I don't want you is because I need you.
The reason I wouldn't cry if you left is because I would die if you left.
The reason I wouldn't live for you is because I would die for you.
The reason why I'm not willing to do anything for you is because I would do everything for you.
The reason I chose my life is because you ARE my life.

Now, once and for all, let me make this clear. When a girl asks a guy if he likes her, it is NOT the time to be smart alec-y. SO not the time. The whole rubbish about the 'real' reasons sound more to me like polished attempts at reversing a break-up scenario. Not funny, not very smart. Feelings are not oratorical competitions you nitwits.

Right. All in the world is right again. I can't BELIEVE someone sent me that with the heading: so sweeeeeeeet. I'll like to see the girl in the scenario say the same. Sheesh.

On to more serious stuff. This is one of the most heart-rending passages I've ever read:

This was the stuff their dreams were made of. On the day that Estha was Returned. Chalk. Blackboards. Proper punishments.

They didn't ask to be let off lightly. They only asked for punishments that fitted their crimes. Not ones that came like cupboards with built-in bedrooms. Not ones you spent your whole life in, wandering through its maze of shelves.

Without warning the train began to move. Very slowly.

Estha's pupils dilated. His nails dug into Ammu's hand as she walked along the platform. Her walk turning into a run as the Madras Mail picked up speed.

Godbless, my baby. My sweetheart. I'll come for you soon!

'Ammu!' Estha said as she disengaged her hand. Prising loose small finger after finger. 'Ammu! Feeling vomity!' Estha's voice lifted into a wail.

Little Elvis the Pelvis with a spoiled, special-outing puff. And beige and pointy shoes. He left his voice behind.

On the station platform Rahel doubled over and screamed and screamed.

The train pulled out. The light pulled in.
Excerpt from "The God of Small Things", by Arundhati Roy
Really, really beautiful book. Word after word, line after line, passage after passage, page after page of heartbreak. So that you never want to read it again. But you do (and not just because I'm studying it for paper 5, although that IS a pretty good reason), simply because of the sheer beauty of her words, and the compulsive-ness of the story. If you've never read it, go and read it now. And if you've read it, go and read it again.
In this book I've discovered the most beautiful, and also most heart-rending word: Naaley. Tomorrow.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Back to the Grind

I suppose I should have been prepared for the realisation that nothing is ever over until it really is truly over.

Nobody would have understood that, don't beat yourself up over it.

Well my results were less than satisfactory, for me at least. I've got a long way to go to the results I'm aiming for for both the prelims and the blasted As. Still, it's a shorter way than what it was a month ago, and for that I'm thankful.

I love the ache my body feels after a good swim/run/climb/workout. When I arch my back there's this nice, stretched feeling that runs all the way from the base of my neck to my tailbone. Yes, I know it's called a spine.

Tailbone. A vestige of the tails of a Darwinian ancestor? Although I don't believe in his theory of evolution, there are amazing similarities between our monkey friends and us. Not the least being the incessant chattering one is surrounded with in a predominantly girl class ;)

I love my class. eunice azzah sy dora jac max wilson mos houston libby jinx wulan grass gardine camy janice eunice abel liying persis mel tania yintong. see what i mean by predominantly girl? But they're darlings, all of them. Most of the time, anyway. Sometimes they're brats. *grinz*

On a more sober note: God bless the souls of all who died in the London subway attack. And the souls of those who died and are dying all around the world. With all due respect, it irks me when only terrorist attacks on major (read: developed and rich) countries get major press attention. Did anybody notice the running thingy at the bottom of the tv on CNN last night? There are tragedies everywhere, manmade and natural. Of course it angers people that people kill people - but really by our every action (and non-action), we kill people too. When's the last time the Straits Times published a headcount of the people (Iraqis, not American) killed in Iraq? Why is it we only get updates on American casualties? How come a land that was supposed to be 'freed' is still under occupation? I have no sympathy for violent Muslim extremists. I don't even have sympathy for violent 'Christian' extremists. I say 'Christian' because Christianity is a religion of peace. A violent Christian is an oxymoron. I do however, have much empathy for the thousands of people who suffer because of them.

On a related note: When I heard about the blasts last night, I messaged a couple of friends telling them about it. One of them replied: "Do you think my people did it?" I said: "Your people? Like who?" And the next message was: "You know. My muslim brothers who get labelled as terrorists." I told him people who kill innocent people are nobody's brothers, changed the subject, and we let it go at that. Maybe he was kidding around. Maybe not. But it begs the question - if something like this happens here, in Singapore - how many of us will still hold 'my people' to be Singaporeans, and how many will switch 'my people' to being those who hold the same religious beliefs as we do? Will friend turn against friend, brother against brother (because I know of families with different religions), mother against child? Or will we stand together, back against the wall, banded against the attacker who no longer is part of 'my people', but the enemy? I hope I know the answer, but sadly, I don't quite know for sure. Maybe we wouldn't physically attack each other. But we may just turn away - and somehow, that will be so much more damaging for a society that is just only begin to turn towards.

Well, it's back to the pseudo-reality of mugging, sighing, mugging and mugging again for me. I'm so glad I'm not prone to hormonal crushes on vampires and stationary. Not to mention ingredients in fish-head curry and tools of tictactoe. I can do without anguishing over semi-developed beings with heads so big they need to wear helmets for 2 years to keep them from imploding due to excess space on the inside. (I'm on a roll here, aren't I.) Thus free from alpha chimp-induced trauma, I WILL get those grades I need. And when those grades are done, (or, occasionally, in-between), I would probably enjoy a bit of alpha chimp attention. Till then though, I'm content with my court jesters. *grinz*

Till next time.