To Time

Dear Time,

It’s amazing that I can’t poetically beautify your name when I address you. You’re just Time, but you hold such great power over everything and my entire being. From my thoughts, to my intellect, to my breathing, to my tears and of course, to my pain; you govern so much of it that I don’t know how to even compartmentalise you.

Yes, compartmentalise. A concept that I have no idea how to even start learning or understanding. As much as I am quite a tidy and neat freak with my stuff, as much as I arrange my wardrobe colour-based; I still suck at compartmentalising my emotions and my thought-process. I think a lot of my role models and biggest influencers in my life are great at compartmentalising; but not me. And it has got a lot to do with you, oh Time.

But when I think of you, I think of three other things that comes with you. Space, Patience and Constancy. In time, there is space, there need to be patience and of course, constancy.

With my life on a vacation right now, it’s a true test for me to be patient, to be constant, and to give space. I do have a lot of you on my side and I don’t know what to do with it. You’re healing me throughout (Yeah, Time will heal); and I need to be patient, and constantly remind myself to keep the spaces between me and other people like a flowing river. See, I can’t be too poetic when talking about you. I don’t know if it’s a technicality issue or you have such a stronghold on reality.

Last night, it was very timely that I finally got to read the letters sent by my voice of reasons from across the world. She told me how she admires and inspired by the way I love myself and how I love others. Especially on how I make sure that I put everything that I have in my heart into everything that I do and to everyone that I connect with. I made sure everything around me makes me happy. I cried, for half of the night, missing that person.

But you have given me phases of opportunities to develop myself. I get to be that person, then I get to be the best lover and carer for someone else’s heart, and now I get to come back and fill in more gaps for myself. It’s all you, Time. And all your oompa loompas along the way, nudging and reminding us with a little flick here and a little pat there.

My soul still lives by the second, and maybe because of that, it’s very overwhelming for me to feel the power of each moment. I used to be very oblivious to moments; it was just tick tock tick tock what can I do with the time that is given, until to a point that I even enjoy being idle. But now, each moment comes in fully, whole and heavy. I would take a nap because my eyes were heavy and after dozing off to a scene of a dream only to wake up realising only 5 minutes have passed me by. Or sometimes, I feel so so much heaviness of this love in my heart that I am keeping for someone because I can’t pour it out to her, and suddenly, I stand up right and like a carebear, I try to shine this love to the universe to whisper it in her being and it only took less than 3 minutes. What the hell am I supposed to do with the other 23 hours 52 minutes?

You have given me this Time, (oh Time), to learn how to master my emotions and thoughts. You are teaching me how to play and dance with you. And just like in real life, when I dance, I get confused on who’s leading. Do you want me to lead? Do I let go and let you lead? Oh, if this is a tango then we’re both screwed!

I’ll try to use you the best that I can. You are the pillar of my existence, just like Love and Kindness. If I can embrace Love and Kindness, I shall try my best to embrace you.

Just have hope and faith that I do, okay?

Just give me time.

Yours Sincerely,

Abby Latif

To the sombre Thursday morning

Dear Sombre Thursday,

I woke up to you with a slightly heavier heart than of yesterday’s hump Wednesday. The heart carries some thoughts and memories of the love that slipped away from my grasp.

Me, as a person, has very little control over myself. But then I look at the plants on my window panes. And the breeze of your cloudy wind brushes onto the leaves and somehow gives it life. I smile. Indeed a sombre kind of joy, but joy nonetheless.

The scent from the candles that I burnt last night by my window pane filled the air as I read my newsletters facing the window. Again, a sombre kind of joy, but joy nonetheless.

It’s not yet noon here, from this part of the Earth that I’m at right now. And as much as it’s bright as a day, the sun has not pierce its rays onto us yet. Waiting is something very heavy in my dictionary right now, though I would want to redefine it as ‘space’ and ‘opportunity’ instead.

It’s interesting that as ‘longing’ came back to my raison d’etre after a brief joy of ‘belonging’, the art of writing came back as well. Indeed it is an ‘either or’ ability. It is a sombre kind of joy, but joy nonetheless.

Today is going to be a slightly heavier day for me. But of course I’ll survive. We have survived through worse days, what can a sombre Thursday do that we have not gotten anyway, right? But I don’t disrespect you, sombre Thursday. This is your power. A sombre kind of power, but power nonetheless.

Well, you be good now. Go make friends with the birds and the rays. While I go make friend with this joy, at its best.

Yours Sincerely,

Abby Latif


To Lady Luck

Dear Lady Luck,

Hi, How are you? Sometimes I know I don’t check on you that much but you have always been by my side. In the weirdest most unexpected time which I could only realise much later. I wonder about you a lot these few weeks. I’m sure you’ve been swell, well, for all we know, luck is yours to begin with, and to give away.

But this is a personal thank you note from the bottom of my heart, and I really really mean bottom because I have been there, figuring out the depths of it while patching back its pieces during my darkest hours (and your luck came to light me up cos no one can do shit in that kind of darkness).

Through you, I get to be with the luckiest person in the whole wide world (I seriously still don’t know whether I am the luckiest or she is the luckiest). It was indeed such luck that we complemented each other so well like a pair of gloves. We’re so lucky that we met each other, fell for each other, grew up with each other, went through hardship with each other and now finally making our individual paths with the faith and support from each other. I have never thought I would go through this in such composure and faith (Knowing me, the hysterical cry baby). Trust me, she has intentionally or unintentionally given me all that I actually needed to grow, and I, at my very best, am giving (and will always be giving) her what she wants, the right space and support for her to grow. How lucky is that? Maybe there’s no luckiest because when you sprinkle down luck, whoever gets it, gets it enough of what they need at the moment. You smart like that, huh?

I have been visited by your luck so many times. I mean, here I am worrying about my lost of appetite until I lost 7 kg in the past one month and you gave me the body that I’ve always wanted since I was like what, 30 years old? I’m at my ideal weight of 46 kg. How lucky am I?! Thank you, thank you!!!

With your luck, you have saved me many times. From myself, from my demons, from my thoughts and in a lot of situations. You have sent so many guardian angels to help me find my way out. So many many times, always, even those I can’t remember (my memory is still peanuts, wattudu). But I know you were there!

You gave me so much luck that I don’t know how to repay you, or the universe, except for these few manifestations that I will share with you:

  1. That I will be stronger and more positive about my outlook in life. I know I have put a side a lot of things and maybe it’s time to revisit them. Like in the words of Jean-Luc Godard in his Breathless screenplay, “To be immortal, and die.”
  2. Superstars are meant to be with each other but they need to grow and build themselves on their own. I’ve realised this now (duhhhh) how it means so much to me. And I am so excited for this journey! I’m starting to plot my way in conquering the world! (and I know you’ll be by my side, kan? kan? Kan?)
  3. I’ll be 37 in 2 months. Oh my, the amount of skills and experiences that I have been able to grow is amazing! And also the opportunities that I have gotten to be here. Even for all the situations, the challenges, the hardships – it is indeed so crazy lucky (thanks you!) that I am still alive and well and able to envision my future. And I am envisioning my future as a stronger and better person. I’m still trying to grasp the fact that I am here right now (gilalah!).
  4. I will make things happen for me. I am more certain on what I want in my life now. Although I have grown up as an emotional and sensitive person, I’m seeing it as I have developed one of the best EQ level among my peers, I’m very fortunate. It’s no longer my weakness, it is indeed my strength, and I shall not feel sorry or guilty for it. Now, I just need to make time to brush up my IQ and also stabilise my standing in the world, especially financially. I’ll be your Superstar achievement, Lady Luck! I promise!
  5. And I want to love everyone. I do still have so much faith in kindness. I really do still believe that if I want kindness to prevail, I need to lead by example. I want to be able to be remembered as someone who is always kind to others. And when I die, my tombstone will read, Por Causa De Amor.

I don’t know if you read blogs. But maybe those who drop by and read this post will help me manifest and send this to you as well. And of course I will always come by to read this again and again. For I am Abby Latif, the love poet, who is in love with the person that she used to be, has become, and will be.

Oh, I just did a premature signoff. Damn.

Yours Sincerely,

Abby Latif

Love is just a four-letter-word

When I was younger

I long for a romantic love that would

sweep me off my feet.

I was so in love with love.

I was in love with the moon.

I was in love with the longing.

I was in love with the romance.

I kept on thinking about

the kind of love I would give out.

I wrote hundreds of poetic words,

so I can practice how to be in love.

To me, love is an ideal.

A utopia, an ecstasy.

And then I fell in love for the first time and got my heart broken. Shattered.

I was in an illusion of love that allowed my heart to be broken to pieces for it to understand the meaning of love.

I was my own heart saboteur.

It took me a decade after that to fall in love again.

And fell I did.

This time, love to me was intense and real.

It was so intense that I would wail nonstop to not be left alone.

It was so real that I would do anything to make someone else happy.

But this love taught me consciousness.

This love taught me all the things I didn’t know about myself and my life.

This love taught me to take care of another person.

This love taught me to take care of my own self.

This love taught me how to prioritise.

This love taught me the limit to selflessness.

This love taught me the most important thing – that loving someone “so much” means different from one person to another.

All the clichés are true.

All the love songs sound cheesy.

Every romantic gestures receives no praises.

But weirdly, I love this person so much still, and forever.

I guess, in the end,

Love is just a four letter word.

In an entire dictionary of life together.

For love

Here’s an ode to couples

who will go through a lot

to be together because

they know that they have found the one

they would fight for to be with.

Allow your heart to love,

and it’s okay if you have to wait.

Jodoh is all about the nature of time.

If you go against the rule of time,

you might not end up with your person.

I’m no expert, we have our ups and downs.

But I don’t think I would love anyone else

as naturally as I have been loving my person

There are days we do not feel for each other

There are days we compromise

And there are days the entire universe

conspires against us.

It’s weird that I can’t imagine myself loving

anyone else than this person.

And it’s strange that giving up is a feeling

that goes against my entire being

I have always been in love with love itself

And now that I am in love

with this very special person that complements my entire universe

I feel like I have arrived to my destination

Like I am home, belonged.

Of course I am scared of the fact that this person could stop loving me

Of course I am afraid of losing this person to someone better than me

Of course I am terrified of how broken I would be if this person decided I am not the one

But it’s my destination to love this person, and I’m here

If this person moves on, that’s their journey.

My journey ends here, with this person.

Until my last breath, it will of love for this person.

I hope that you get to be with that person.

And if after this, I don’t end up with mine,

don’t disregard this message.

For I have won my fight.

My recent (lifetime) journey in Malaysian health care

I kind of grew up in Malaysian hospitals, my entire life. Okay, that might be overstating it.

When I was born, in General Hospital, Kuching Sarawak, my mom had to be admitted in the hospital for a good 3 weeks before labour because I was a heavy pregnancy, that was what I’ve been told. So I started getting familiarised with the hospital before I was even born.

And when we first arrived back from 1 and a half years (1987 to 1988) residing in Melbourne, the first month in Malaysia, I got my first ever athsma attack.

I remember the attack, not when it happened, but when I was rushed to the hospital (early 1989), the nurses took me to a room and suddenly I have about 10 doctors or maybe more surrounding me. It seems that they just bought the nebuliser and they were demonstrating how to use it, on me, to all the doctors there. I was 6 (going 7) years old then. It was too momentous to not let it skip my memory. Plus, I went to the hospital too often because I remember playing with the big saga from the saga tree in front of the hospital block (we were in Johor Bahru at that time).

When we move to Ipoh in 1991, the late night visits to the rumah sakit angkatan tentera (my dad was an army officer), I became such a pro with the nebuliser. At that time the doctor had to give me 2 inhalers, the blue and the brown one. My athsma came from dust allergy. And that was my identity. It was so easy to skip school, but breathing was like playing violin, wheezing all the way in, and out.

My worst attack had to be when I was 16. I was in MRSM Terendak, and I collapsed when walking from the bathroom heading to my room. And when they put me on my bed, I was struggling to breathe, I remember my friend had to stop holding me because I was gripping her hand way too hard. They asked the warden to take me to the Kem Terendak hospital. I was warded for 2 or 3 days, I think. My parents were overseas at that time, my dad had to bring his students on a field trip and my mom followed (I think to Istanbul).

After school, I no longer have my athsma attack, but instead, it was so easy for me to get tonsillitis. Almost every 2 months, I’m down with it. I was in my Diploma programme and the health officer in UiTM Alor Gajah probably see me more than his own mother in the kampung. But my tonsillitis was never severe enough although it’s constant, so doctors never advised it to be removed.

When I entered the working world, I didn’t fall sick as much. Although my dad know how hard I push myself to work, to one extend, he said, “Abah tahu badan kamu adik. Your body is not strong. I raised you, I know.” Of course he knows, he raised a sick child.

Last February after a family vacation to Lumut, the moment we arrived back in KL I fell down with a severe cramp on my upper left thigh. I never felt that much pain and my siblings had to hold me walking to the clinic. Doctor diagnosed Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) to be the cause after finding some infection in my urine. After the stretch of antibiotics, I was well again. Middle of April, I fell down with my cramps again and after going to the doctor and explaining that it was similar pain to my first UTI, he diagnosed me with UTI without taking a urine test and just by slightly touching my abdomen. I wasn’t fully convinced and after 2 days, the pain didn’t go away so I went to another clinic and the doctor took a urine test and diagnosed me with UTI but with a different set of medication. After the series of antibiotics, I was fine again.

Last Thursday (23rd May), I started having a mild cramp at the same place. The pain starting throbbing worse after I broke my fast later that day and my partner rushed me to the clinic to check. The doctor diagnosed me with UTI again and asked me to come back after 2 days if the pain doesn’t subside.

That night, I couldn’t sleep as my entire abdomen was so in pain and I kept waking up every hour to pee. It was too painful that the next day (Friday), I insisted to go back to the clinic to get a referral to the hospital. I felt like admitting myself into the ward because I just couldn’t bear the severe abdominal pain that is causing my tummy to bloat.

At about 8:30pm, my younger sister brought me to the clinic where the doctor who treated my second UTI (the second doctor I went to in April) said it could be bladder stones and referred me to Hospital Selayang because that is the nearest hospital to my parents’ house. So about 9:20pm, we arrived in Hospital Selayang.

And there we started a journey of waiting….

Waiting to get registered, because at 9:20pm, the outpatient clinic of Hospital Selayang is like a pasar tani (farmer’s market). Thank god the pain wasn’t too throbbing at that point and we braved through waiting to be consulted by one of the General Physicians (GP) there.

You see all kinds of people at a government hospital. All kinds of faces, attitudes, races, sizes, and conditions. It’s sad to know that illnesses do pick the poorer people more because health is such a luxury these days, especially if you’re living in a metropolitan city like Kuala Lumpur. Because a normal consultation at a private clinic is RM 20 – RM 40 per consultation (that probably takes less than 15 minutes), not adding medication yet. And although Malaysia still have one of the better health care services in Malaysia, with the inflation and urban affordability especially for the B40 urban poor groups, not many can afford private clinics because government hospitals only cost RM 1 for consultation.

Anyway, we got to see the GP at around 10:45pm, and I showed him the referral letter. He asked me to do an X-Ray and take a urine test. He couldn’t see any stones in the X-Ray but he also said that C-Rays are only 60% accurate. He also said he did find an infection in my urine but since this is my third UTI, he will refer me to the urology department. But urology department works on office hours so I could only go on Monday morning.

So this morning (27th May), I went to Hospital Selayang’s urology department and showed my referral letter. After 20 minutes, the nurse told me that she can only schedule my appointment to meet the urologist on 21st June 2019.

That’s like for another month! And that, is with a referral.

I went back home and thought for awhile.

In my mind, I was scared of bladder stones, because then it will cause recurring pain if I don’t have it removed. My eldest sister called me and told me to go and get a CT scan to be perfectly sure. I gave it a thought for a few hours before deciding to really go ahead to a private hospital. I called KPJ Damansara to check on the cost (nurse told me around RM 1,500) and had to borrow money from my parents and told them if anything persists from the scan, I can always claim from my insurance. So I went to KPJ Damansara in the afternoon.

When I arrived in KPJ Damansara, I went straight to the Imaging Services department and inquired on the CT scan. When the nurse saw my referral letter, she asked if I have seen a urologist and I said Hospital Selayang would only let me see one in June. Then I asked if she can refer me to the urologist in KPJ Damansara. She referred me to one Dato’ Dr. Kamil Nordin.

Probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Dr. Kamil sat me down and took me through what constitute urinary tract infection and explained that GPs would not do a special test called Urine Culture which could determine what is the bacteria causing this recurring infection. And then he told me that there’s a lot of possibilities and bladder stones could be one of them. He suggested an ultrasound instead because CT scan has radiation and he advised to avoid it if possible.

So he did an ultrasound on me. My kidneys were fine until he went to my abdomen and found something that caused my tummy to bloat. He suspected fibroid but he recommended me to see a gynecologist to confirm. Apparently the suspected fibroid is 7cm in diameter as he can see in the ultrasound and he said it was quite big. My mom requested for a referral to Hospital Selayang since it’s nearer to our house, or maybe Hospital Tuanku Mizan because it’s a government military hospital that she’s more familiar with.

Upon leaving KPJ Damansara around 3:30pm, we rushed to Hospital Selayang to make it on time to see if we can meet the gynecologist there.

When I got to the counter at 4:30pm, the nurse told me that the doctor can only see me in July. Yes, what??!! Nurse said, there’s too many patients and that’s how it goes. She said that if I feel too much pain, I can just go to Emergency ward later. And when I asked, which gynecologist will I be seeing, she then said any doctor will come in and attend me then.

I returned to the car and told my mom that tomorrow, I’ll go back to KPJ Damansara to check with a gynecologist there.

Here’s the deal.

1 out of 3 women have or will have fibroid. It is a common thing for women, as how UTI -is common for women.

I’m not going to die, of course I know that.

I just want it removed as soon as possible. And to wait until July, the probability of the fibroid growing bigger is also high. 7cm is quite big already. And I don’t want it to grow bigger until it crushes my bladder and cause more pain when I need to be on my feet, working and berkhidmat for the masyarakat that I’m serving. And what if it’s not fibroid? It has a probability of being something else as well. I won’t wait until July to know.

But imagine, what about people who can’t afford private hospital fees?

What about people without medical insurance?

What about people who doesn’t work with companies that provide panel hospitals?

They have to wait for a month to meet a doctor in a government hospital, and maybe another month to get a slot for the procedure.

I wish there are better ways we can improve this system.

Imagine the money that Jho Low stole from Malaysia and spent on wining and dining Hollywood superstars, imagine the money Najib Razak and his crony stole from Malaysia and spent on his families’ luxuries, imagine all that going to employing more doctors in government hospitals, then maybe we would have a leading and exemplary health care services in the world.

I’ll see a gynecologist tomorrow and keep you all updated with my procedure.

I wish to share my story so people can understand the process and journey should they experience the same in the future.

Remembering a national treasure

Today, since I’m sick, I’ve dedicated my entire content consumption to Sudirman Haji Arshad, since today is his birthday and I saw Google paid tribute to him via the search doodle.

I was (and still am) an avid fan of Sudirman. His music, his comics, his film, everything about him affected me growing up. I remember always asking my Mama to buy me a can of Sudi cola whenever we go to Chow Kit Road and Sogo back in 1986 and 1987. At the age of 8-9, I’ve memorised all his songs.

I also remember about 10 years ago, I wrote a blogpost about Sudirman and I received a comment claimed to be from Atai, his nephew who thanked me for my tribute post.

Now at 36 (going 37), it has been almost 30 years since I first fell in love with Sudirman. I am still in love and at awe with his remarkable and iconic persona.

I watched both the History Channel Biography feature on him and his one and only film, ‘Kami’. Kami was a film released on the year that I was born, 1982, but I only got to watch it a few years after that, during his glory years of late 80s. I remember how the film affected me so much, the hard and gritty life of 2 kids, living on their own and taking care of each other. Watching back ‘Kami’, it is such a great story which deserve international festival recognition.

His strength in performing is remarkably amazing. Every stage presence is an opportunity to impress. He studied, researched, and made sure everything is planned to perfection.

And then there was the Chow Kit Road concert in 1986. I am sure my dad didn’t allow my mom to go because of the massive massive crowd but to know that this 5’2″ small man managed to convince everyone around him to close the road, build a stage, bloody got him a crane for his grand entrance and made it all free for public was more than what any Prime Minister or any person in Malaysia could do. I don’t think even BTS (the Korean pop group) could do it either. That was such a communal thing to do, by such an accomplished performer.

Then in the SEA Games Closing Ceremony in 1989, he wore a 200 feet cape where he made all the athletes hold while he parade in to sing his songs. That is such a commanding charisma.

I remember when he passed away in 1992, I was 10 years old and I remember crying especially when I learned that one of the last songs he performed was ‘Salam Terakhir’. It was such a big impact for a small girl of that age (but at that time, I was already listening to Sheila Majid and Anita Sarawak thanks to my mother’s cassettes). Sometimes I wish that he would still be alive so I get excited to get the opportunity to meet and talk to him.

Sudirman would’ve been 65 years old today. I’m sure, if he is still alive, the entertainment scene would’ve been slightly different. He would’ve raised the benchmark for every living performer in Malaysia.

But I hope he would be so proud knowing that 27 years later, there’s still so much love for him.

Rest in Peace, Sudirman. May your soul be blessed in many ways that you have inspired all of us.


(Photo Source from News Straits Times)

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