Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Covering Up

When I was about 18 years old, I entered Matriculation, right after SPM. My college was in Melaka, and was, reportedly, the strictest matrciculation college at the time. And so it was a ruling (not sure if this was true for other matrix colleges) that all muslim girls must wear the tudung.

And so, upon leaving, I decided that I would just go on wearing the tudung, since it was convenient. about a year passed and I began to regret my decision. I felt that I wasn't ready. People seem to expect things of you when you cover up. You're supposed to be demure, not supposed to be in certain places, so many socially imposed rules and regulations, that I felt trapped within myself.

I made a decision (after consulting my mother, and asking for her consent) to take it off. It's not something that I am proud of today. I know many people on campus who looked down on what I did. They didn't have to say anything, I knew from the looks they gave me that they disapproved, but I didn't care (well a small part of me did, of course). All that was important was that I felt comfortable with myself.

I had my fun (within limits, of course), got married, and then about 3 years into my marriage, I felt that perhaps it was time for me to cover myself back up. I consulted my mother, my mother-in-law, and of course, my husband before making the decision. And in October 2010, I decided to go through with it.

Looking back, I have no regrets. Yes, I'm not proud of 'uncovering' myself, so to speak. But I don't regret the decision.

There are still times today that I feel as if life would be easier if the head covering wasn't there. I look back on how easy it was back then, just slip into something presentable, make sure my hair looks alright, or else tie it up and I was all done and ready to go out.

Nowadays, it's a chore to make sure my outfit matches with my headscarf, that it covers all the appropriate parts of my body, that no one will look at me and start whispering about how "pakai tudung tapi.....".

People are just so much more judgemental when it comes to girls who cover up. In a way it's good, because it makes them (us) be more careful about what we put on, but seriously, the pressure sometimes drives me crazy. Yes, I get offended when people start talking about people who wear the hijab, yes I get angry.

We are trying. Maybe we don;t do it perfectly, but who IS perfect? We're all human beings. We all have that desire to look good. If not to other people, then maybe just ourselves. Some people say, "pedulikan apa orang kata. Do you do it for other people or do you do it for God?"

Well, to these naysayers, I say, I pray that one day you'll also be able to reach the level that you expect us so-called "hijabsters" to reach. I pray that when you decide to do something good for yourselves, naysayers like yourselves won't come into the picture and start bringing you down just because you don't do it perfectly. I pray that no one will expose all of your faults just because they don't think you're doing it right instead of advising or telling you nicely. I hope you'll never get to the point where someone makes you doubt your faith just because they expect you to be perfect and you're just, simply put, not. I hope no one will judge you for being only human.

Nobody is perfect. Nobody.

What ifs.

It's been so long since I've written anything. You have no idea how many times I've opened up the compose page and started writing, get a couple of paragraphs in only to point my mouse on the exit button without finishing.

It's a little disturbing to me, given that I used to be able to compose in a heartbeat and still end up with a semi-decent post. I think I've lost the ability, and maybe even the passion somewhere along the way.

So many things have happened in the last couple of years.

I got a beautiful baby girl (duh), got an amazing job, quit for my studies (and still regretting it everyday), and I still have yet to get anywhere with my thesis. The original reason I quit was to get further than I would otherwise, but looking at how slow my progress is, I might have to be content with finishing what I started and thinking about the next step later. I know this is really vague, but I think those who know me personally will know what I'm talking about.

It's so hard. I feel like I'm stuck in the middle of so many things. What I want, what I love about my life, what I should be doing, what I would be if I had or hadn't done some things.


Such a dirty word for someone like me.

I wouldn't trade my life for anything, and yet I still wonder what if.

So many people are convinced that I will make something out of what I have and pull myself and my family up.

I wish I had their confidence.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Well, not really. She can say a few words already though. She started saying "mama" when she was about 6 or 7 months old, but now I'm very sure that when she says a word, she does mean the actual object/person instead of arranging sounds in her mouth randomly. I know this because when she says "bear", she points to the nearest teddy bear that she can see.

I've always noticed that cognitively, she developed very well. She seemed to understand certain words from a very young age. Now that she's 11 months old, she's amassed a list of words to her vocabulary:

1. Mama
2. Dadd-eh (daddy)
3. Nene (nenen/milk)
4. mamam (makan)
5. Beah (bear)
6. baw (ball)
7. hshy (fishy)
8. kish (kiss)
9. buwah (bunga)

There are other words which she cannot pronounce but knows the meaning of, like "butterfly" or "tweet tweet" or "balloon". If you ask her "Mana gigi?" she will open her mouth and point. If you ask her "Hana nak apa?" she will immediately point to the thing that she wants (if she can't say it).

She can't walk yet, and as of now, is still crawling, but I don't mind. She can take her time :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Katherine Stone, of Postpartum Progress tells us that the number of women who suffer from PPD is higher than the number of people who sprain an ankle or suffer from a stroke EACH YEAR in America.

Despite this though, especially here in Malaysia, not many are aware of how real PPD is. Many confuse it with just Baby Blues, and assume that it will go away on its own, and from personal experience, no, it doesn't. What started out as baby blues actually pressed on to become full blown episodes that scared both my husband and I.

On the outside, I tried to be cheerful and play my part as the proud new mother. One disclaimer here is that yes, I love my baby. To bits. But I just couldn't help missing my old life. I couldn't help the slight resentment that I felt. And with that, I rarely took part in caring for her. After the first few months, I left my husband to wake up at night for her feedings, even though both of us had to work in the morning. I let him bathe her, change her, feed her even though I could do it myself. I'm not proud of the lack of interest I took in my baby, and even when it was happening, I hated myself for it.

Driving home alone from work, I'd cry in the car for no reason. I'd get moody and angry very easily and wouldn't calm down. In fact, on the first day of work, my husband and I had a huge fight on the phone while I was driving my baby to my mom's. I got hysterical and shut him off. In my head, I was going to send Hana to my mother's, safe and sound, drive off and crash the car into a wall. Luckily, sanity took over when I reached my parent's place. I ran out of the car and confessed to mama that something was wrong with me. She told me to Istighfar and think of Allah whenever I had any of these dangerous urges. If only it were that simple.

I had a few of these episodes. Each worse than the last one, each almost ending with me hurting myself. I was convinced that the PPD would go away on its own. Some days I would feel totally euphoric and I'd tell myself that it's gone. Other days, I'd wish that I never got out of bed. I struggled with work, with friends, and even with my family.

The wake up call came when one day, during one of my episodes, my husband called me a bully and told me I was abusive. That was what I had become. And I really needed to get help. A visit to the doctor for a simple case of the sniffles ended up with me in inconsolable tears, again for no apparent reason. As it turned out, my husband had already told my doctor that he thought I was suffering from PPD, so I suppose she knew what to expect in a way. Never in my life had I had a doctor actually offering and semi insisting on my taking two days of mc until that day! LOL.

She gave me a number for a psychiatrist and we went. I am now on medication for the next 9 months and on regular visits.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that PPD is very real. I've got a supportive husband but it was still bad for me. Imagine what a woman who doesn't have the support system has to go through?

A few weeks ago, a video of a woman beating up her baby went viral around the social media networks. People automatically condemned her for her actions, but I was horrified. I suspected that she suffered from PPD and wasn't lucky enough, like me, to have someone recognise it. What horrified me was the extent of what could happen should PPD remain undiagnosed.

Even for me, in the process, I almost pushed away my family, I almost lost my best friends and I also almost walked away from my beautiful daughter, the most wonderful husband in the world, and life itself.

I'm ok now. Not sure if it's due to the doctor, the meds, or simply to the wonderful people who've always been around me. Alhamdulillah, my faith has been regained and I am so much more active in my daughter's life now.

I've learnt that it's okay to feel overwhelmed, especially as a first time mom, and that it's okay to reach out, or to express my dislike for something instead of just keeping it in. I've learnt to accept that you can't change people, and you can't expect them to understand what you're going through or read your mind, and that you have to talk things out. I've learnt to accept change. And that what I went through is normal, even though it's not something society talks about.

And by actually publishing this post, I'm saying that I realise I'm not crazy, and what I went through is real. And that I want people to know and realise that it could happen to anyone and that IT'S OKAY.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

She Listens!

So after 8 whole months of pampering and being the apple of everyone's eyes, my daughter has become somewhat spoiled. She basically refuses to go to sleep unless she is so tired that she can't see straight, and this poses problems to us whenever we need her to take a nap. Today, I had been trying to put her down for a nap for the better part of half an hour, and as usual, she's struggling and crying, and screaming and yelling as if the world would end if she slept. Exasperated, I took her pacifier out and said "Listen. Listen to me, Hana". To my surprise, she quiets down and looks at me, so I continue. "You need to take a nap because you're tired. When you wake up, we can continue playing, okay?" and give her back the pacifier. She takes it, and about 10 minutes later, quietly falls asleep.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The love of my life

One of them, at least.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012


In my mind, my youngest sister is still 17. Our other sister is still 21 and I'm still 24. My mother did not age a day over 40 and my father is still 45. Nevermind that when you take into calculation the years we were born, and how far apart we're aged, the numbers don't make sense. This is just how I see them. In my mind, we're all stuck in a infinite time warp.

But then I watch my daughter grow, from being able to fit her whole body into my arms, to her being able to turn over on her own and babble nonsensical things at us when she wants something and I realise that time isn't stuck at all. It just fooled me into thinking that we're all younger than we really are. Because Hana is constantly growing, it shatters my illusions and brings me back to reality.

In reality, Hana is more than 6 months old. I'm almost 27, my youngest sister is going on 20, and the other one is turning 25. My mother will be 53 this year, and my father, 56.

Realising these things give me a jolt. And I guess a part of me wishes that time wouldn't go by so fast. That it really would just stop for a while and let me enjoy the precious moments.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Today's breakfast: 3 gyozas and a pau

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