Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm Not Angry.

Something's wrong. It doesn't take CSI kinda guy to know it. I've got piles and piles of bills in the mailbox and they are pretty soaked up good. The floors are dusty, the furniture hasn't been dusted for weeks and the kitchen is slightly better than Falujah after the car bomb. Obviously someone has been trying very hard to be Nigella. I try calling up the housekeeper but she isn't in the right mood to answer my calls. I am not angry. I'm just a little tired after the long flight home and now I've got a major cleaning up to do. I'd better do it now or else this is gonna come to me in a bad dream and I ask you again, what could be worse than to wake up at 4 in the morning to sweep, dust, mop and go back to bed pretending as if I've never left the house to be cared for by a woman who said she could do it for me for RM500.00. I paid good money and all I got is a house full of dust, potato chips, wrappers, plastics, straws, messed up kitchen, dirty bathroom and an empty fridge. Good thing there's no human body parts in there cut up into eleven pieces.
No, I'm not angry. I'm just a little tired but I've gotta clean the house before I go to bed.
And so I start with the kitchen since this is where everything begins. And for me, it's the heart of the house. After this it's gonna be the living room. Gotta sweep off the dust real good before mopping it up with the chemical, and turn on the fan full blast so it will dry up in time before I can do the upstairs. And then I gotta dust and wipe the furniture. I reckon this is gonna take about 2 hours. I'd better start now.
It's good to be home. Of course it would be better if it's a clean home. But I am not complaining. I'm not angry. I don't think it's a good idea to be angry or annoyed at anyone at 2.30 in the morning. Everyone has a reason for doing what they do. I'll deal with the agent first thing in the morning.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I'll Never Stop Loving You.

You don't have to know that I waited until the plane disappeared into the clouds.
When it did, I know better that I'll never see you again. Or think of you again. But deep inside there's a part of me that won't let you go even though the plane is now gone and I'm driving home to the apartment. The apartment you and me did all our loving, laughing and teasing. And fighting, until it got so bad we had to make a decision to stop talking to each other so that we could lead a separate life, to move on, to catch up on things we had put on hold in order to fall in love. And now that we are all out of love and find out it was all for nothing but a hoax, one big bubble that won't hold out long enough in the rain, I don't think it's a good idea to analyze what went wrong. You know better that I don't have the brain for it, you told me that a million times that I took it as the part of me you had to live with long enough until you discovered a man ain't much of a man if he can't even discuss Ibsen or Pinter or people like that. And so I took up two shifts, cutting meat or spending my time in the kitchen of a chef who taught me a thing or two about how to boil an egg. It was then that you realised you married a wrong guy. You wanted someone to discuss things but what you got was a butcher with a collection of German knives you find repulsive because you didn't see the point why men go to war and you hated this guy named Ronald Reagan.
We became different after being too similar. But that's how it is. People change. I married you because I had thought it was the right thing to do. You were so right. How was I to know it could turn out so wrong. Of course there was no way of knowing it would go this way.
No, Catherine, I don't have any regrets. I'm glad things happened that way. Maybe I'll see you again. Or maybe I won't. But that doesn't really matter because once upon a time, we were so in love. I know that I did. And I like to believe that you loved me too. This is enough for me to move on. To live day by day knowing that once in my life a woman called Catherine took my heart away and never gave it back.

Monday, July 09, 2007

You Don't Play Play With Aqidah.

It is easy to become a Muslim. All you gotta do is accept that; there is no god except Allah. You don't have to change your name from Alberto to Ali, or Susan to Suriani. As far as Islam is concerned, you are a Muslim. And if by the twist of fate that you die two minutes after saying; there is no god except Allah, you die a Muslim. As Muslim as a guy who has been a Muslim all his life.

And so you may wanna ask who is this Allah? Is He the same god the Christians pray to? Or the same god the Jews, the Hindus, the Buddhists or the Baha'is pray to? Why is it that to become a Muslim you must first deny the existence of any other gods? Why is it that you must never accept the notion Allah co-exists with gods the Christian pray to, and the Jews and the rest of the religions pray to.

And so you ask who is this Allah?

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only!

Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;

He begetteth not nor is He begotten.
And there is none like unto Him.

Surah Al Ikhlas

This is your Allah you pray to. This is not the same god that others pray to. He says so in Surah Al-Kafirun:

Say you, O infidels!
I worship not that you worship.
And nor you worship what I worship.
And I shall not worship what you worship.
And nor you shall worship what I worship.
For you, your religion. and for me my religion.
Now that you have more or less understood who is this Allah that you have accepted wholeheartedly as your god, does it make sense to you when a guy or a girl says that all gods is the same? Does it mean kitchen god, table god, bathroom god and spoon god are the same as Allah? Or Jesus is the same as Allah? Does Jesus qualify to be described by this ayat?
Say: He is Allah, the One and Only!
Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
He begeth not nor is He begotten.
And there is none like unto Him.

Or is it right for you to say that you have met god at the airport waiting in line to buy teh-tarik? What kind of god he is, sharing the same attributes as you who enjoy teh tarik, a smoke, and go to the toilet?

Or what about a guy who says god is a friend he turns to in times of trouble, a shoulder to cry on, someone he talks to when he's feeling under the weather. Is that who god is? A friend?

When you accept that there is no god except Allah, you put Allah above everything else. Above your mother or your father. Or your wife or your mistress, or your sports car. You even put Allah above logic. And so when Allah says pray five time a day, you pray and you don't question and you don't know why. When Allah says perform your Haj, you do it, walking around the Ka'abah 7 times and you don't know why. And when Allah Says to the Prophet Ibrahim, slaughter your only son Ismail, he does it without questioning. Yes, you put logic way down and Allah way up.

When you accept that there is no god except Allah, you become His servant, and He, your master. A servant, no matter who you are. You may be a CEO of an oil company or a president of the United States, a janitor of a school in Kudat. Or an accountant of an international audit company. No matter who you are as far as Allah is concerned, you are nothing but a servant. That's who you are, a servant. Worse off than the Indonesian maid. As a servant you don't ask questions, you accept everything in the Qur'an wholeheartedly and you are willing to die for what you believe in because this is same Allah who says that if you die defending Islam, the only rightful reward for you is Heaven.

Is there a god out there whom you accept as your Master you are willing to die for? The Christian in the Philippines are willing to be nailed to the cross but are they willing to die on the cross in the name of Jesus? The way 'Jesus' died on the cross and was left hanging there for three days that it left the world to move on without a god for a good three days. Which makes you wonder what kinda god is that when he dies, eats and drinks and goes to the toilet like you and me.

And so you ask who is this Allah? Why is He different from other gods? Why Allah warns you that if you as much as compare him with others, your rightful place in the hereafter is hell. If you happen to believe in the existence of heaven and hell, that is.

Maybe you have cooked up the notion of Allah in your head all by yourself while watching CSI New York. Imagining that He's cool about a lot of things that seem pretty harmless to you like missing a prayer of two because you are busy running a business, or watching a concert. You say, He's the forgiving kind so He won't mind. So you think because you consider him a friend, not Master. And since you don't consider yourself a servant because you don't like the idea of being submissive, and this whole concept about submission to you is no better than blind faith, you imagine god is as good as an open-minded dude who reads more than you.

Maybe you imagine Allah behaves like this in a situation like this, and behaves like that in a situation like that. Of course you cook up all this in your head because you consider it backward to study Tauhid, and you don't want to be all that Muslimic to have to go to the mosque to follow classes in Tauhid, Fiqh, Tassawuf, Tafsir and Hadith. You just wanna be a Muslim on a wedding day, hari raya and on the funeral day. For the rest of the time, you just want to be an open-minded Muslim who believe that religions are the same, all gods are the same, it doesn't really matter who you pray to as long as you pray to a god. Maybe you are not the same as the folks who carve gods out of wood, stones, cement, marble, jade or gold but in your mind you have a pretty good idea who god is according to your imagination and therefore you don't like it when you have to submit to Allah without a question or two since you are known to be the inquisitive kind, the intellectual kind. So you think.

Does all this make you think that I am a dogmatic person who can't live in a multi-religious society? Does all this make you have the impression that I live in a shell all by myself without having to rely on Mr Ragunathan to deliver my morning paper, Mr Chong to take my surat khabar lama, Uncle Simon from whom I obtain the up-date on the activities of the Little Sisters of The Poor St. Francis Xavier Home for the Elderly. Or Auntie Dorothy who depends on me to drive her every Saturday to see her son in Cheras. Does all this give you the impression that I am the type who can't wait for something like a religious unrest to happen so that I can bring out my collection of knives to the street?
Obviously you are the type who jump the gun, putting your emotion above logic. You wanna be careful because this can get your blood going up and give you a bad heart.
Disclaimer: Bergen is not responsible for some of the comments posted by visitors in this blog especially for the entry 'Don' Play Play With Aqidah.' I believe some the comments have completely deviated from the subject. They were posted to incite Malay sentiments which this entry doesn't even include in the discussion. Quite frankly, I fail to see the causal link between being Malay, migrating to Australia, NEP, Malay rights, and the topic of this entry.

Don't Order That Pasta, Ma'am.

All it takes is a high-class restaurant, a high-class talk, a high-class lunch with a high-class businesswoman, and a wrong food to look stupid with white sauce foaming in the mouth as if she's down with a serious fits of epilepsy.
It is none of my business when she decides to order Carbonara for lunch but I've seen what a plate of pasta with Carbonara sauce can do to you especially if you don't have the necessary skill to chew it slowly, all time being very careful not to let the sauce finding its way out of your mouth through the openings along the lips. It doesn't take a guy with extra brain to know that Carbonarra is best enjoyed at home, preferably alone. It's not the kinda food you'd want to have when you gotta talk business, prices, production schedule, logistics, delivery points and stuff like that.
I don't want to tell her to be careful with this Carbonara thing but after she's taken in about three spoonful down, I decide not to continue with lunch which must have piqued her a bit that she asks, why aren't you eating?
Of course I feel like saying, you're foaming in the mouth I'd better call the ambulance. Instead I say something like, I think the prices you quoted is too high.
And she chomps chomps chomps the pasta, and the white sauce keeps foaming like soap around the lips that I can't help but to look the other way because by this time I'm definitely not hungry anymore.
She still has about 3/4 plate of pasta left and I calculate in my head, at the rate she's eating, she's gonna take about 10 minutes to finish it all up but I know better that things are going to be even more foamy when the sauce thickens in this aircond room. And so I say, well I'm gonna leave it all up to you to give me a fair price. I pay in US Dollars and I've got my people to handle customs and the logistics to ship the whole thing to Sudan.
I pick up my cellphone and say something like, aww, man, when did it happened? Okay, I'm on my way.
I tell her, listen, ma'am, sorry to leave you this way but I've got an emergency at the site. Don't worry about it, the check has been paid for.
No way I'm gonna be seen with a woman foaming in the mouth with Carbonara sauce in the middle of a hot afternoon. Not even when she's Elizabeth Taylor.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

We're Innocent.

One way to add a bit of excitement to an otherwise pretty straight forward life is to get to know a couple of friends who make an honest living driving an honest to goodness truck for hire delivering anything from furniture to construction materials.
So here I am riding a pick-up truck, sitting next to Yogeswaren listening to the stories he got coming for me and I figure if I want to get back to where I left my car, I had better listen to everything he has to say or he might leave me in the middle of Kesas Highway where everyone knows if you end up here you might as well end up somewhere in the middle of Isfahan, Inner Mongolia or Qum. He got the stereo turned up loud which makes listening to stories he got coming for me a hard work and it is truly hard work listening to him in between songs I don't understand a word of but I am not all that thick to guess that the songs are about happy people in love and how happy they are to be singing and dancing in the sun, not feeling the heat because when you are in love even the sun is nothing but a huge air-cond with a twin blower.
We are heading toward a middle-class neighborhood where the dogs bark at you non-stop for coming up so close to an electric gate but how else are you supposed to get this bulky sofa into the house if you don't park your truck close to the gate without arousing the dog obviously trained to bark at anything that moves. The dog is getting pretty loud and I ask Yogeswaren if it is okay for me to let go of the sofa so that it will land right on top of the dog. Yogeswaren says don't worry about it, can't you see the dog has been safely secured?
We move the sofa to face north, and then south, and then north, and then south again that in the end the lady who owns this huge sofa says, just put it at the corner there. I feel pretty thirsty in the throat that I feel like going to the kitchen to get me a tall glass of water from a huge fridge that I figure must have weigh at least a ton and can easily hold a ration for a rigging crew for a month. We leave the house to head to an address on the other side of the neighbourhood when a call comes in that gets Yogeswaren pretty excited. I can tell from the way he answers the phone that it is not the kinda call that can make you want to open up a can of soda to celebrate the good news. Yogeswaren says we've got to go pick up a few more things from a store and make the delivery before 6pm.
We are driving around a middle-class neighborhood trying to look for a house with the address Yogeswaren has written on a piece of paper the size of a matchbox. It's close to 9 pm and I figure I've had enough excitement for a day that I can't wait to get back to my straight-forward life, a shower and maybe a bit of TV before calling it a day. But Yogeswaren says we've got to find this house and I know too well that I had better go along with it or he might decide to leave me in the middle of this middle-class neighborhood with confusing street names and the numbering system that must have been worked out by a guy who failed his Maths big time.
We stop to ask for a direction from a guy but this guy starts to make a phone call on his cellphone and before we know it, a couple of guys on motorcycles with police light flock around us talking us down, asking us a lot of questions and demanding that we show some IDs. I say I don't have one on me and a guy with a flashlight starts to talk tough about how he can make things difficult for me if I don't do what he says and so I ask what do you want? Maybe it's a wrong question to ask since it could mean different thing to different people and so this guy with the flashlight says, do you want to get into trouble? I say, no I don't want to get into trouble, me and my friend Yogeswaren here are in the neighborhood to deliver this nice looking fridge to a house we have trouble finding and so if you folks can help us find this house we can leave the neighborhood quietly. By this time we must have created such a ruckus that it got the neighborhood excited that people are beginning to peek through the windows to find out what the commotion is all about. I am getting pretty excited inside too that it feels kinda right to smash the skull of this guy with the flashlight against the truck and see what his friends are made of, whether or not they've been in a fight before so as not to feel uneasy to see blood, broken teeth and eyes bulging black and blue like golf balls. Yogeswaren says, please lemme call my boss to get the telephone number of the the guy who has bought this fridge and if it isn't too much of a trouble the guy with the flashlight and his friends can escort us to the house until this fridge is delivered safely to its rightful owner. Obviously the guy with the flashlight won't have none of it because he believes we've stolen the fridge from a house in the neighborhood and are making our quick exit of the area in a getaway truck.
Yogeswaren must have faced a situation like this many times over that he seems to carry himself like a gentleman that he is that I got nothing but a lot of respect for the man. He gets us out of that situation, and a sorry from the guy with the flashlight and his friends, not to mention a police escort right up to the house of the guy who owns this fridge. He's a nice guy who offers us a drink so he can ask a question whether we got connections that can get two policemen on a motorcycle to escort the delivery of a fridge on a night hot like this.
Sometimes it's not a good idea to add a bit of excitement to an otherwise straight-forward life you're leading.