Episode 6: QPT & Grasshoppers

I did not have any class on Monday. I thought I didn’t, that Monday. Wore my “pasar” clothes (clothes I wear to the market, just a t-shirt with a blue sleeveless long vest on top) to school.

The English Teacher told me to join her class…and to take over it. I didn’t prepare it at all; actually I was more conscious about what I was wearing than not being prepared for a class.

But hey, my first class with the 11th Grade boys went pretty well, and then again I had nothing to do. I slept in the library too. I really didn’t know what to do.

And then I hung out with the teachers?

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There’s the English Teacher, Biology Teacher, Spirituality Theory Teacher and Physics Teacher.

That week I remember two teachers giving their attention to me. One was the Civics Teacher who was interested to know about the socio-political situation in Singapore (what) and we played chess against each other and the other was the Quran Pronunciations Teacher.

QPT at the library asked me if I knew anything about keeping dogs at home according to Islamic rules. I knew he just wanted to test my level of knowledge on Islam, because very obviously he was the one who graduated from an Islamic university while I was just a random catlady. Oh, at that point of time nobody knew who “I” really was. He was just trying to be friendly. Surely this guy knows more about Islam than I do, and keeping dogs at home was one of the most basic topics in Islam.

Luckily for me, that was a topic I knew about. I explained to him what I knew and watched his eyes lit up with amusement and he rubbed his index finger and thumb on his chin as if paying very close attention to what I was saying.

He then asked if he could borrow my phone to Google for information.

That was weird, because he has a smartphone himself and I’ve seen him scrolling through Facebook. I was apprehensive too. My phone had incoming messages from “Bryan” and “Hakim” and I didn’t want anybody who don’t even know me yet to think I’m someone who is talking to two different guys at once (eventhough I am…they’re my friends). Anyway as a newcomer, I ignored the fact that he has his own phone and let him use my sister’s phone I was holding (students aren’t allowed phones on weekdays).

After using the phone to do some research for teaching he gave it back to me. I don’t remember what I did afterwards but when I returned to the Teacher’s Room, QPT offered me this:

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I was horrified. I didn’t understand a single thing this says at first glance (you don’t actually read labels right? I feel we glance at them). On close inspection, I do, it says Gunung Kidul’s Special Culinary Fried Grasshoppers.

“Are they even Muslims?!”

I have no idea where Gunung Kidul is, and wondered if that’s where Nyai Roro Kidul is from.

DSC_0492

“I’m not eating that it’s not halal!”

“Do you slaughter fish? How do you slaughter fish? Same thing,” says QPT.

“Fish is in the list of permissible foods without the need to slaughter. I’m not eating that it’s NOT HALAL.”

That statement obviously offended the lady who brought the snack to the room.

“No, in Islam we can eat anything from the sea and grasshoppers!”

Seriously?! I have NEVER heard of such thing. QPT took out his Islamic book to show me what it says.

“Do you believe me now?”

I didn’t reply.

“Come, I challenge you to eat one.”

“And what do I get from it?”

I don’t remember his response, but I know it wasn’t convincing enough.

Episode 5: We Gon Shopping

That weekend went by pretty fast I think. I played basketball and badminton in the evening with the English Teacher and the boys were saying “Malaysia vs Indonesia!” I was in skirt, it was nice. After that we went shopping with ET and a receptionist. There are two receptionists, both of them sleep in the next room. ET rented her own place outside school. That was the first time I saw my new friend ET in casual clothes. You know how you don’t know what teachers are like outside school? This was what it felt like. Sort of a revelation that teachers are normal people too.

I’ve always seen ET in professional and only professional clothes, so to see her in t-shirt and baggy pants, my lazy girl to the wet market style of clothing was a surprise to me.

That was my first time seeing entering a typical Indonesian rented house too.

“You’re not supposed to come when my house is messy like this!” said ET when I came with the Receptionist to pick her up to go shopping.

It’s a narrow but long house. She shares the living space with the Vice Principal. I know I’ve been to Indonesia countless times in my lifetime, but that was my first time visiting a single ladies’ home. Up till then I’ve only seen grand and huge houses of Indonesia compared to my home. My experience was somewhat like when Matilda visited her teacher Jenny in her cottage. We all remember that Roald Dahl childhood storybook, right? Except of course ET’s house has electricity.

I found the floor plan of her house on the Google:

Kontrakan

 

It’s called “Kontrakan” which means rented house. If you Googled Kontrakan, all houses are like this. How cool?

We went shopping at a nearby mall for groceries at Carrefour and I had some udon ramen at their hawker centre.

I only brought literally only five items of clothing from home because I had the intention to buy them all in Indonesia.

The next day, went shopping at a crazy huuuuuuuuuuge fashion wholesale mall called Tanah Abang with ET and my sister. Wanting to save money, we waited to hail a cab for nearly an hour. All these for four bucks! It was in the hot sun and thankfully I have a sun hat. The cab dropped us off at a nearby train station and we took the train to Tanah Abang. It costs Rp 5000 per person to take the train. That’s fifty cents. Ha ha ha.

I don’t even remember what I bought, but I spent $89 on 14 clothing articles. I came back and the students asked if I wanted to sell them.

“No!” I exclaimed to my own surprise (because I didn’t even think of these to sell), “These are for ME to wear!”

That’s the thing about Indonesians. They have an entrepreneurial, finding opportunities to buy to sell, and to sell everything that’s sell-able.  I saw a student going out on a Sunday bringing back lots of food and then selling them at the dorm hall. No, it wasn’t what her friends asked her to buy; she just went out, wanted to buy food, then found the opportunity to sell them.

I mean, if I wanted to get somebody something they didn’t ask for, I would just buy it for them and not ask for any payment. Right? That’s how our culture is right?

Episode 4: Bread

Date Check: Friday, 31 October.

A few days earlier I took advantage of THEFACESHOP’s birthday promotion and bought myself a “Smart Capsule” CC Cream along with the FaceIT Brush. Or so I think the name is. I wanted to look as natural and as flawless possible. I used it on my first day in school. First impressions, no matter how shallow, on-the-surface it is, is important.

Very carefully I walked into the teacher’s room. The ambiance was strangely quiet, something I was unfamiliar with. Oops, turns out I was too early. There were two men in the room discussing something at a teacher’s desk. I recognized neither of them, but just said hi, told them who I was looking for and put on my innocent, clueless newcomer mask and slowly sat at the teacher’s lounge. I don’t remember if I was invited to sit or not, or if the two men tried to make a conversation with me. Later I found out they were the Chemistry and Quran Pronunciations Teachers.

The other teachers started streaming in. I remember the female teachers being around me. Have you had breakfast? No. Oh why not? I don’t eat rice in the morning.

That was the start of me being a pain in the ass, in my opinion. Who eats rice in the morning?

“So what do you usually eat in the morning?”

“Bread.”

“You eat bread, and nothing else?”

“Nope.”

“Do you want some bread? We have some in the canteen.”

“In the canteen? Um sure, how much is it, I didn’t bring my purse.”

“It’s okay it’s free for your first day.”

“Thank you.”

Free food is always good food. The teachers after some casual chit-chatting with me went back to their jobs and the Quran Pronunciations Teacher (let’s just call him QPT) slowly approached me, took out a bottle of strawberry yogurt drink and carefully placed it in front of me. Either I remembered it in slow motion, or he was really being very slow in his actions. I thanked him. He went back to his desk. This was my second part of being a pain in the ass to myself just a few minutes apart from each other.

Yogurt. I have about the weakest stomach and nobody knows this yet. How do I be polite, drink this yogurt and not have any stomach triggers? I leaned towards the table. As I guessed, it’s warm. Great, how do I drink warm yogurt? I remember just taking a sip and not finishing it.

No stomach reaction.

I met the teacher who handled me since I arrived. She’s an English Teacher, so let’s call her ET. Wow that’s a cool nickname. We talked, and she brought me to my class in the library.

It was 7th Grade Boys. Yes, boys. You see, this is an Islamic Boarding School. Boys and girls have separate classes, not the same. I don’t know how I would feel or who I would end up being if I went to a school with this separate-gender class system.

A teacher whom I found out is the Civics Teacher (CT) was sitting in the middle of the library with the boys around him. I was early; I wanted to see what the class environment was like beforehand but it turns out my presence distracted the class. I saw someone immediately scurried behind a bookshelf on fours. CT looked up and asked if it was my time. I said no, not yet.

I looked around. All eyes were on me. Why was QPT there? And oh hey Librarian, I’ve been chatting with your wife via WhatsApp. CT told me I could take over the class. I insisted not yet, because he had at least five more minutes with the class. He won the battle I did not intend to fight, and suddenly again most eyes were on me. I noticed a boy not wanting to listen to me at all. He had his back leaned against the window reading.

Another boy ran out of the class, came back inside and collapsed on the floor. The same boy who hid behind a bookshelf: my brother. I told the class to ignore him. I forgot my brother did not know of my coming. I arrived late the previous night so he did not see me at all. Cute.

I then realized I did not have any class attendance list whatsoever. Wow, way to go, I grunted. Okay fine I’m not that mean in real life. Wow, way to go, I thought. We played an ice-breaking game (turns out to be a big hit across all levels, not going to say what it is here) and I made them to write about their hometown to find out where they stand in the subject. Hometown because I figured they’d miss home.

I went back to my dorm after class to mark the papers. As a “Hello!” token, I stapled a snack from Malaysia on each of their work, handed the whole stack of books to a student whose name was the only one I remembered then, and went back to my dorm to sleep.

Who knew teaching was exhausting work?

Episode 3: River Smirking

My grandfather was there with me at the airport on 30 October. He’s from my paternal side. My paternal grandparents divorced when my dad was a teen, and until now I don’t think they have fully reconciled. Trying to be a good granddaughter, I visit them every now and then, but I can’t tell one that I visited the other. Very bad business, very sensitive issue. At least he tries to “be there” for me too.

“I have an older brother in Cirebon I’d like to find.”

“What’s his name?”

“I don’t know, I don’t remember. But he looks just like me.”

“Oh.”

“I thought of asking you to support me financially for the trip.”

“But you know I’m going to go to this school unpaid.”

“Yea that’s the problem.”

I secretly smirked. This man has gone several overseas trips secretly for the past few months. He’s even gone to South Korea! He didn’t tell any of us, I saw a new fridge magnet and asked my step grandmother about it. “Didn’t we ask you along?” Ha ha ha, very funny.

“Your cousin could go to UK. How come you can’t?”

“If you have money you can go anywhere, it’s no longer like the olden days where only the smarts get into university.”

It’s sad and difficult trying to change the mind of an old man, but I let it be.

A few weeks earlier I received an email from the English teacher apologizing for her misunderstanding of the situation: I will not be paid. I understand from the immigration’s point of view that that would be illegal anyway; to pay me for my work. However, since I am hungry for new experience, I voluntarily accepted it anyway.

One thing that has stayed with me since childhood is my lack of interest in money. It’s bad, sometimes, really. I don’t know how to save, I don’t think of how much money I would need for the future, et cetera. I choose to live in this very present instead of troubling myself for the unknown future. I don’t think “future” exists, that’s why. Just go with the flow.

I am a river, I go with the current, my ending is the big wide sea, into the oceans.

Episode 2: Where Are You Going?

Morning of July-something I was on my way to my siblings’ school to pick them up for their school break. I had nothing with me but $100. $100 to pay for taxi fare ($20 one way), $45 to pay for airport tax, which leaves me with only $15 for my first Indonesian day trip. “This is the real adventure,” I thought. I found the thrill and excitement in knowing that if I fall, I had no cash to back me up so I had to be really careful about my spending. I don’t need to climb walls or jump off cliffs for adventurer. To me that is a sought-after and life-risking adventure too, but my adventure is more real-life themed.

I arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and went straight to the Silver Bird Executive Taxi counter and told her my destination.

“250,” she says.

I agreed to take her “Executive” taxi. It was Rp 50 000 more than what I’m used to when taking the Blue Bird ~non-executive~ taxi but it’s okay, two bucks for the name “Executive” and three bucks for me skipping the queue. I have adopted my own style of travelling “smart”: Put on a dumb, clueless and lost look but in fact be alert all the time.

Two ways to look at: either they take advantage of the clueless girl or they leave her to be because she’s too dumb. You win both ways, right? I took a picture of the taxi license plate in front of everybody, sent it to my parents and still, with my clueless face, sat in the taxi.

“It’s not 250. It’s 300!” I heard the taxi driver raise his voice at the counter lady. He thought I didn’t understand him. I looked at his name on the board. I don’t remember it now, but I remember associating with someone from Sesame Street. I think his name was Ernie. Or Earnest. I don’t know.

Still with my clueless face mask, I listened but pretended to look at my phone. I had expected the lady to be an ally, or I mean be someone with good customer service to own up to her own “mistake”. I had heard about Indonesians trying to scrimp off every cent off foreigners, and who knows all these could be nothing but a show?

“Miss, I’m sorry but you’re going to have to pay – 3…”

“NO.”

What was I thinking? I’m already in the taxi and have paid the Rp 250 000! Just agree to pay the extra Rp 50 000, it’s only $5, you’re not losing anything.

“I have been here so many times and usually the price is only 200. I have agreed to 250 and am not agreeing to 300!” I lied, because then was only my second visit to the school.

He sighed and agreed. And then fears started to creep in me. I looked at his face from the identity card on the dashboard. He looks like a thug. He could be an enemy! Here I am, the adventurer unarmed, walking into a trap!

In games I usually choose to either be a mage or a warrior. In this real-life adventure game, I am a mage. I started chanting my magic protection spells. May the Maker protect me. May the thousands of Angels that circle the Earth invisible to my eyes be with me. May the Maker protect me. May the Maker protect me. I am a Mage.

I turned on my GPS and had the GPS virtual lady speak out loud to show Ernie or Earnest that I KNOW where he’s taking me, which was big time fail because my phone sucks.

After all that drama, I arrived at the school anyway. Ha ha. I paid Ernie or Earnest the extra Rp 50 000 for getting me there safely. It was just five bucks.

It was a surprise visit for me to my siblings, and they didn’t know I was coming. They were rehearsing for their final performance that evening and my sister was in the audience. That time I was facing terrible breakouts making me uncomfortable with my own face so I was wearing a face mask. A real one. I filmed my sister talking to her friends. She turned around and shouted “Hey!” and walked away. Huh? Did my sister just shout in the hall? That’s unusual. Where are you going?

And then I heard a shriek and suddenly my body was embraced by another small but warm body. It was my brother who too didn’t expect my arrival. He started crying. Tears of happiness. He’s my mother’s baby and for him coming to the school was a huge challenge.

I said hi to people (the teachers) I met during my last visit in March. Little did I know I was going to be friends with them….

A couple of hours went by and I was at the hall watching the school performance. The English teacher, one of the first teachers I met in the school sat next to me.

“The school owner was asking the Principal about inviting foreign teachers. And the Principal recommended you. We’d like you to teach for a month. Would you agree?”

It was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.

“Yes, I would love the experience!”

“We’ll discuss the flight and payments later. On email? You’re going back soon, right? It’s too loud here!”

Episode 1: Goodbye

I couldn’t believe it: 30 October, this is it. There I was, standing on the grounds of Changi Airport Terminal 1 escaping my routine of cat waste cleaning, driving, being interrupted in sleep (because Pippi is my boss), computer.. basically everything I’ve known and been doing for several years for two months. Trade my easy computer and cats-centric world to a foreign yet still home to my blood country. Two months. Just for two months. Nothing insane nothing too exciting, I tell myself.

Two months is in fact nothing to people who has been out and away from their families. What “away” means to me is seeing them for a small period of time a day but spending the rest of their time working or going to school. It’s different for me. I have not been away from my mother for more than two weeks for years! In fact never, actually (of course not counting the times I went to school).

It wasn’t that difficult actually. Leaving my mom. Technology has made the world smaller. What was difficult was leaving Pippi. He doesn’t understand anything if we were to Skype. I was going to miss his secret cuddles, secret purrings and his Fancy Feast.

I’m an adventurer! Adventurers do these all the times. In games, I mean. We wield an armour and a sword, pick up coins from corpses along the way, upgrade our armour when we see a merchant dwarf, and level up to be the best adventurer there is! We have maps and money too. Oh of course, fight dragons and monsters twice your size. Special Attack! Dual Sweep! Dramatic final movements! However, no matter how much you’ve leveled up, you’ll definitely encounter stronger villains.

Same goes with life.

Cliche Post Title: Hello 2015

Two months went past like that. Two months since I last blogged.

Here I am sitting in a cyber cafe in an area I no longer call my own. I still know this place very well, yet I feel like a stranger on a strange land, with no sense of ownership over it.

Funny just because I sleep on the grounds of this area I somehow feel attached to it.

That’s because we moved, no regrets, to a farther and better place. Away from all these buildings and shopping mall. Downside is: No internet connection. Not easy for a web developer/someone who’s lived with computer and internet since the age of four to live without internet yknow?

I just want to add that I went to Indonesia for the past two months. I was invited to teach at a Sufi School there, which without second thoughts I agreed. It felt to me like a step into the portal of adventures I have always longed for.

I would blog a little bit more, but I only have 31 minutes left on this cyber cafe computer.

Indonesia was an eye-opening experience. I lived like them, yet not much difference (fees to enter the school is SGD4000! Imagine the luxury). I ate their food which my tongue and throat don’t particularly enjoy, understood what Indonesian currency is and how much each Rupiah means in the shoes of an Indonesian, took their public transportation; how pretty easy and carefree life seems, rode on motorcyles without a helmet, rescued an injured cat, went up the hills, numerous times getting sick, invited to places with people and most importantly I fell in love with the People of Indonesia.

Honestly I’d rather play some L4D now, so….till next time….

Juz Amma

Alhamdullilah.

This is so far the best thing that’s happened to me since I turned 22 last Friday: I have been given the permission and license by my teacher to teach the Juz Amma.

Juz Amma is 1/30 of the whole of Quran, and it’s the shortest series of chapters in the Quran. It contains the chapters 78-114, and alhamdullilah I have learnt its rules and pronunciation and have been given the trust and amanah (responsibility) to pass my knowledge of the Juz Amma to children and Quran beginners.

In the ancient times, there’s no such thing as a “license” in purely Juz Amma only. In order to attain a license of teaching the Quran one needs to know the whole Quran by heart. However, to encourage the spreading of Quran reading, scholars have agreed that this would be all right.

Not just anybody can teach the Quran. A student, before becoming a teacher, needs to have the proper education from a teacher whose lineage can be traced back to Rasullulah (saw). It’d be dangerous if a person decides he knows the Quran enough to teach it, but unknowingly is spreading his wrong pronunciations down a generation.

Insha Allah I pray for my mind to be free of distractions, free of worries, free of anything and I would very much like to know the whole Quran by heart. If not now, in the future insha Allah.

Do keep me in your prayers.

Sup Tulang // No!

I turn 22 tomorrow.

A part of me feels a bit bummed I have not achieved anything tangible yet. I think that’s the problem: I focus on the results yet the process seems a bit blurry. Maybe I have done many things this year. Maybe not. :/

Not in a very sentimental mood so I don’t feel like elaborating.

I just want some sup tulang.

NO LOL FIFI STOPPIT WITH THE NEGATIVITY.

you are great, you are wonderful, you’ve been living quite comfortably, you are tired but it’s all worth it, you are a millionaire in Rupiah, you are now not as affected as you were about your skin, you meet great people, you have opportunities you never thought you’d be offered, you are loved, you are free, you’re a better driver now, you’re a good role model, you give excellent tips, eventhough you’re not always right, your Quran teacher says you’re faster than most students, you’re leaving your mom, you’re leaving Pippi, but it’s okay it’s only for a while! I love you Fifi.

Where am I going? I’ll talk about it later maybe.

The other day someone asked me on a scale of 1-10 how “damaged” do I think I am. It’s because he wants to know if he attracts damaged people. Weirdest. Question. Ever?

I don’t think I’m damaged. At all. I may seem a bit loony (eccentric?) but I am hardly dented. Maybe I’ve been kicked but the kick’s not strong enough to damage me. Sometimes I think of how painful the kick feels but it’s just a thought. Not a dent. No damages.

Recently an old lady I met this year asked me where have I gone to school in my life. I think she expected normal, straight-to-the-point answers Primary School X, Secondary School X, Somewhere Else X. She was honestly surprised when I mentioned the list of schools I’ve been to, “Oh so you are someone with a lot of experience!”

I just smile. She thinks I’m new. She thinks I’ve been brought up with a silver spoon; comfortable my whole life.

Nope. I’ve had a fair share of everything.

My armour may be a bit dusty but it’s 0 on the 1-10 Damaged Scale.

Accepting My Feminity

I know it doesn’t seem like it, considering how girly I am now, but there was a period of my childhood where I hated being a girl.

I hated how “being a girl” came with so many restrictions. I even refused to acknowledge the fact that I was a girl (even as a kid I was weird) but that didn’t mean that I thought I was a boy either.

My favourite colour was BLUE and I didn’t want to have anything to do with pink because it was girly. Gradually as I phased through my tweens my favourite colour it turned to PURPLE because it seemed like a neutral colour and in my teens BOLD, STRIKING PINK and now as I’m maturing (just by the increasing number) it’s now a subtle combination of Striking Pink hidden with Brown.

It’s interesting to me how my favourite colours change as I change. It was during my teenage years that I wanted everything I owned to be striking pink. That was the time I finally accepted that I was made a girl and those were the times I declared myself a feminist. When I decided that if a man could do it why couldn’t I? I went through thoughts about wanting to be the Best Woman This, the Best Woman that because I believe I was a woman and I could do anything a man can.

And then I started hating the fact again that I was a woman. All other girls had the thought of marriage etc. That was when my hatred for men sparked. I thought, “Why do I have to marry?!” “What if I wanted my child without a husband!” (as in IVF). Which is obviously a wrong mindset because I’m supposed to be a good Muslim, but take note these were during my teenager times and she wasn’t a good Muslim. #rebelliousyears

I hated the fact that all the other girls were so girly meant that I had to be girly too. I felt that I was a girl but I didn’t need to be girly yet I’m not a boy either to be a tomboy. I hated the fact that I had to allow a man into my life to ensure my generation goes on (science duh Silly Fifi).

No idea why I chose to wrap myself with these confusing thoughts.

After a while (still in secondary school thoughts) I realised that the problem is with society. My ambition about wanting to be The Best Woman This and The Best Woman That felt outdated and irrelevant because women have proven to be able to do anything a man could. The problem that lies with this is that these women also want to be a mother. They want to nurse a baby in their arms while climbing up the ladder.

Achievable, but slow and difficult. For faster results “achieve my dreams” you toss the baby aside (to a daycare) and having the child rocking in the arms of a stranger affects his upbringing which will affect his life. That’s the problem with society: they lack genuine motherly love, care attention and touch; and I knew that that’s what I was going to change.

I wanted to be a full-time mother, raising, feeding and educating her own kids. To me there was nothing more honourable and noble than being a full-time mother.

At 14 or 15 or 16 – I don’t remember, there was a qt in my Higher Malay class but I don’t remember if he was there or not; the teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grow up. With this new revelation at hand, I proudly announced that I was going to be a housewife. To which this educated and career-minded woman replied “Be a bit more ambitious.”

Seeing how self-absorbed and full of myself I can be sometimes, that didn’t bring me down because to me I knew my purpose. I just felt that she didn’t understand. To me I am Salamahafifi, I want to be a housewife and that is my ambition!

Fast forward to today I realised that many girls my age actually want to get married and be stay-home moms. But what holds them back is: Fear and Guilt

1) Fear of having not enough money to feed the little mouths
2) Guilt to parents for having worked hard to send them to school yet they end up in the kitchen.

My parents are neither safe nor conventional so I’m never told about how if I don’t work I’m going to starve or how the world has changed: women should start working too. They’re not traditional either. We are just people with faith, but that’s another story.

Many girls want to be housewives and dream about building their own little empires but they can’t because of these two factors! That’s so sad!

You know me I will always try to find solutions to problems.

Fear

Let’s say your social standing is just like you and me, normal lame people (I’m not talking about the poor ok, and not sorry if you don’t categorise yourself as normal lame).

A husband’s salary is usually enough to support the whole family.
But you, the wife and mother, feel the need to work to support because “it’s not enough”.

Why is it not enough:
Because you’re not living up to your own affordability.

New 3D curved tv on credit.
Prada on credit.
LV on credit.
Luxury car on credit.

That’s why!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I understand it can be a bit frustrating with many show-offs on Instagram but their LV and whatever expensive names handbags are also probably on credit too. I’m not a hater but it’s possible their perfect lives are only on posing and hidden with filter.

Unfollow them. Unhealthy. It’s another story if you can afford it of course.

“But it’s my life, I choose to lead my life like this.”

Mothers, I know it’s your life but it’s also your child’s too. A child showered with real love will not feel hungry for replacement love eg. latest video games. A mother’s touch in every stage of a child is important. So is her presence and availability to a child. Compromise that for work to afford your expensive living and you will affect your whole child’s life.

Selflessness?

Personally, my mother has never worked. We’re never given expensive toys to replace her attention because we got the real thing. As a result you don’t see me going crazy over tangible objects (my skincare obsession is for health ok) like the iPhone. We don’t need an iPhone when we got our mom whenever we needed her. We don’t need latest games because we’re happy playing by ourselves knowing our mother is there.

You can afford being a full-time mother, don’t worry.

GUILT

A few months ago a family friend we haven’t met for a while was so happy to see us and excitedly asked me: “Have you started working?” We know her, and it will seal the deal and in her eyes I would have been seen as a successful person if I said yes. My mom said no, because that’s the truth.

The glitter in her eyes stopped sparkling and she said “Oh.”

My mom told me about this and asked me “What’s wrong with you not working?”

Hmm good question mom.

Does my worth to people go down low when I say I’m not working? I may not be employed to a certain organisation that ties my butt down to a chair for eight hours, but of course I’m working.

I can cook without having to Instagram every single dish that I make.
I know how to hold a mop without first posting a picture of me with it.
I have the eye to notice a spot uncleaned.
I know how to bathe cats.
I was the one who handled the family inheritance matters even when I’m not a lawyer.
I am trusted to make solo trips to a foreign country even when I’m supposed to be uneducated.
I am street smart.
I am able to love fully, because I know.
I am kind and nice sometimes too.

But of course, all these don’t matter because I’m not bringing $5000 home.

That’s screwed up. That’s not recognising and appreciating a human being. People are just recognising what they do in the sidelines. To society there’s no worth in somebody who doesn’t bring home money. All that matters are grades and money. It doesn’t matter if you’re kind, lovely, thoughtful…etc.

Screwed up thinking.

A good life is important.

A good life can be led even without the materialistic goodness.

A good life starts at home.

If you’re a parent, please remember that and respect and support your daughter’s decision to be a stay-home mom. Nothing is more noble than raising, educating and feeding her own children. She is ensuring goodness by instilling values that can only be taught from home into your generation.

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Another thing is with guys. Guys chase after girls who seem passionate about their “work” and who are “ambitious” while girls like me who seem to do nothing are “boring”.

You don’t know that when you’re working you look forward to coming home to me because you know I’ll be there happy and fresh, not “still in the office” or “tired.”

You don’t know that when you’re working you will never be out of underwear or socks, and all your clothes would have been ironed crisp because it’s my job.

You don’t know that our kids are happy because I am always there for them, not because you can afford to buy them the latest gadgets.

Please don’t tell me about the case with single parents. Irrelevant to my content.

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Back to me accepting my feminity. I remember that I used to have an obsession with climbing.

When I was 5 I climbed the grills to see what’s up.

When I was 8 I tied a skipping rope from my bedroom window and went down to try to climb it.

When I was 9 and back in Singapore I thought I could climb the HDB walls because Spiderman could.

When I was 12 I went rock climbing and loved it.

Time lapse.

A woman’s body started taking over me. And it starts being inappropriate for a Muslimah to do any of these.

Just kidding, a Muslimah if properly attired can do whatever she wants.

The day before yesterday I imagined myself as Altair from Assassin’s Creed and climbed onto a wall to join Pippi who was birdwatching.

My climb is not a competitive, corporate ladder climb.

I can climb anything I want wherever I want at any pace I want.

Because I am a human being.