Friday, November 6, 2015

Thank you

It's been a month since Dahlia was published....

I would like to thank all my friends who bought and read my debut effort....

Special mentions to those who actually gave My Dahlia kind reviews. I say "kind" because i am sure they've read better written book, but since this is my first, these lovely people was (I feel) very generous in their praise.

They are:
- My Brother Ahmad Fuad Jaafar, 
- My friend Fadzil Nor (the first one to actually read and gave me a review and even bought the ebook via Google Play, thank you so much Fadzil), 
- My long lost (but glad we found each other on FB) cousin Zaimi Jismi, 
- my wife (mmwah mmwah), 
- my MBA brother Sukman  

Thank you all.

Coming soon.... ok not so soon. A sequel to My Dahlia.... here's and excerpt.

Redemption of Sam 
I recognize him immediately. Older, but still has that boyish look about him. The goatee gave him a rather pious look. I look away and smile to myself.

“What’s so funny, Mom?” Danial asks, when he sees me smiling. 

“Nothing...” I look at him, and see the resemblance. 

“Lia?” I hear Sam’s voice from behind me. 

I don't want to look at him.  

I love Australia.  

We came here about a decade ago, to attend my elder sister's wedding to an Australian white man. I did not think my brother-in-law was a handsome man. Sam was better looking. But my sister Rose seemed happy, and I guess that was more important. 

I never understood how it all went, but we ended up staying in here. I had just given birth to Danial. He’s so beautiful, I was so glad that I did not agree to the abortion, if my brother, Pit, had his way. They all hated me… except Mother. She was forever holding my hand and hugging me, protecting me from my brother and Father. I didn’t know I was pregnant. I didn’t know doing what Sam and I did would make me pregnant. I was stupid.  

Love makes you do stupid thingsThat will always be the only reason I did what I did. But it will never ever be a good enough to explain why I gave myself to Sam. And, I will never know why Sam never stopped us. He was older, he should know better. But, we were both children. I thought, since the boys seems to like watching it on those video tapes, maybe it was a precious parting gift for Sam. 

I love him, of that I am sure. I did then and I do now, though, I am always hopeful, I knew he will never ever be mine. He has probably moved on now with his life, a successful lawyer, married to a beautiful woman, and has beautiful children. I never told anybody who Danial's father was. So, there’s no way Sam will know of Danial’s existence. 

to be continued... don't know when. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Dahlia FAQ

Since (successfully?) publishing my first book, and sold 25 copies to date.... I have been bombarded by repeated questions which I feel obliged to list and provide the answers to herewith (with Malay translations):-

Q: What is the book about?  
S: Buku ni cerita pasal apa?
A: This is a collection of 7 short stories, which is back-dropped by my home town Muar.  
J: Cerita merapu yang konon-konon berlaku kat Muor.

Q: How did you find time to write?
S: Boleh, ek, engko ada masa nak menulis? 
A: This book was compiled from a number of writings that I have done over the last decade or so in my spare time.  
J: Ada laah, masa boring-boring... Hobi lah katakan. Tapi, lama lah jugak.. sepuloh tahun ada kot.

Q: Where did you get your inspirations from? (Actually no one asked me this but I wished they did)  
S: Mana engko dapat idea cerita-cerita ni?
A: All of the stories have something to do with stories I heard when I was growing up in Muar. We hear rumors about our neighbor's sons or daughters or mothers or fathers, and more often than not, we make judgements and stereotype people without really knowing the complexities of their lives. The word my editor used was SONDER. As an analogy, we see the tranquility and grace of a swan gliding over the water, not realizing her feet paddling vigorously under water.
J: Masa tengah membesar kat Muor dulu, selalu lah dengor cerita-cerita member atas member, jiran atas jiran... mengumpat sebenarnya. Kita suka mengumpat orang tapi kita tak pernah pikir mungkin ada sebab orang tu buat macam tu. Semua orang ada cerita di sebalik apa yang kita nampak.

Q: Are you sure this is just a story? (This was asked by my wife a few times, probably concerned that the character "Sam" in the first story seems similar to me). No translation here because she asked  me in her mother tongue, Singaporean. (Hehehe).
A: No dear, I swear....

OK... it's not as many as I thought... but, should any of my readers have any more questions, type them in the comment box below and I will answer them the best I can.

I still have 25 books available if anybody is interested... No price increase... RM50.

Warm regards,
Shamsuddin Jaafar

Monday, June 15, 2015

My mission: World Dominion

WHAT would you say to your 18 year old self, if you can go back in time?

It's just another way to say, I wish I knew then, what I know now.

It's just lamenting about the things that should have been...

Like Sinatra said, Regrets...? I have a few...

Ironically, I fancy that I have a chance to talk to my 18 year old self. He has manifested himself in my son, Afiq. I should not insult him (Forgive me, Afiq). He is at least a few hundred times better than who I was 33 years ago in many ways, except maybe in frivolity. I was frivolous. But, I realise, too, that frivolity is a sign of a person who like to enjoy life. A person who lives in the present and in the now, not wanting to care nor worry about what the future holds.

Now that I am the future of my 18 year old self, I feel bound to ensure that my sons (both Afiq and Aiman) will not make the mistakes that I have made. Then, I ask myself, didn't some old guy came to talk to me about not being frivolous? Didn't someone tried to make me understand that I need to think of my future? I don't remember. Even, if there was, knowing who I was when I was young, I would have lingered on until the old man finished his rants, out of respect for the elderly, and then totally forget whatever he said. It did not compute.

One thing, though, I think that I would have really appreciated and listened to intently, is the advice I heard only less than a decade ago. Even then, this advice had to be hammered into my brain, because simply I did not understand it. It's hard to unlearn things.

It's about how we see money.

In my young and frivolous way, I see money as the reward of doing something. There were so many things in life that I could have been really good at, be a musician, be a writer, be an insurance salesman, be a business man, all of it were prematurely halted because after a while, my motivation was not there, i.e. the was no money in it.

Only now, I realized that, had people like Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg (to name the billionaires of this millennium)  and people like Henry Ford, if they were motivated by money, we would not have Microsoft, iPhones and Facebook, and in the case of Mr. Ford, automobiles would only be toys for the rich.

If  Thomas Edison was motivated by money we would not have had the electric light bulb....

All these inventions would have been invented by one person or another eventually, but that person would be the one who, in his mind, has a mission to change the world.

So, if there is one thing I would tell my 18 year old self, is, "change the world, kid".

The money is just a bonus.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Can't Rely on your Children

The life plan of people of my generation was laid out thus; get good grades, get a good job, get married, get children… and hope that your children will remember that you had to get good grade, hold down a good job to get married and raise them. So, they too will need to be sure that they get good grades so they can land a good job, with good pay, so they can give some back to their parents.
Filial piety is and has been our culture, and is taught by all religions, but we must stop this vicious circle.

So, to all parents, I say, do not burden your children and please be self-sufficient. Do not put pressure on your children. Don’t put them on a guilt trip, repeating the overused phrase of “One mother can raise 10 children, but 10 children cannot take care of one mother”. That’s unfair. Those children have children to take care, too. That mother who raised 10 children lived in a different time than the 10 children.

If you children do remember you, and take very good care of you in your twilight years, then, congratulate yourself, you did something right when you yourself were juggling between your career and raising your children, perhaps even took time to visit your parents. If your children don’t have time for you, maybe you never spent time with them, nor did you think you needed to look into your elderly parents from time to time. What goes around comes around.

Parents, your children are NOT your assets, like many people like to think. They are not liabilities either. They are trusts. Those who are privileged to have children, please understand that God, with His Grace, decided that you are worthy of this trust. And parents, your job is to ensure that these trusts will grow to be the true “Khalifahs” of this earth. Teach your children well.

Once they’re grown, you job is done. You owe them nothing, and they owe you nothing. If they decide to give you a little of their time and wealth, that is their prerogative.
Those of us who are in their mid-forties and early fifties (like myself), start thinking of how you are going to live once your employer do not require you anymore. How will you maintain living the life you are used to now, after you no longer command, much less demand, your present income? How will you pay the clinic and hospital when you get sick? How will you pay the mechanic when your car breaks down? Will you still be able to maintain a car? Will you have to give up your pay TV? Your internet connections? Your smart phone/s?

Create an alternative income NOW! So that it will replace your current income later. And let your children go about their own lives, bringing up their own children to inherit this earth.
Read ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ and ‘Cash Flow Quadrant’ by Robert T. Kiyosaki….

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Rollercoaster and Life

Here is something I learned from Kak Long. After her SPM, she was still undecided of what she was going to do. I was worried when she finally decided she wants to study medicine. I was worried, not because I doubted her abilities, but I was afraid that she had chosen that field because we (my wife, my mother-in-law and I) thought that she should be a doctor.

Later, Kak Long told me, the real reason she chose medicine, was that; looking at the subjects she has to take, she thought she can handle those in medicine, rather than learning physics and add maths. I laughed, and commended her. I liked the practicality of her answer, rather than a naive but noble ones like, I want to find a cure for cancer. Well, maybe she will.

Thus far she's been doing well. She has her priority straight, I guess. Which is something prevalent only in the women of our family.  The men folk are frivolous, and only seek instant gratification.

Ok, maybe I just described 95% of all men on earth, but, it is weird that 4 people made of the DNA of the same parents can be so different.

Perhaps, women more resilient creatures. And, perhaps, (at the risk of being sexist), I think that is the reason why women stay in bad marriages and there are more cases of wife abuse that husband abuse. Men don't hang around. Men wish that life is like a video game, that, half way through the game, if there's no way to win it, we just hit the restart button, and begin again. Of course, that is not how things are.

Women, on the other hand, treat life like taking a roller-coaster. Just like Kak Long, she knew that once she had made the decision to ride this roller-coaster, she realises that there's no way for her to get off, but to make the best of the situation and enjoy the ride. And, as I like to tell my friends who shun the roller-coaster, I tell them, the secret of enjoying the ride is to let it take you. If you anticipate the rise and the drops, and you, throughout the ride, keep bracing yourself for impact (that will most likely NOT happen) that's when you feel the pain and fear.

So there you are. Life, apart from being a like a box of chocolates, is also a series of roller coaster rides. Some of us, go through life making sure we are the one who chose which ride we take and when. The majority of us, just ride this one roller-coaster over and over again, afraid to get off and try other rides.... until we were forced to by some "unavoidable" circumstances.

Thank you Kak Long, for teaching me this invaluable and priceless lesson in life. I love you and your siblings very much.

Now, I need help to get these constricting safety belts off me, so I can try a new ride..... or should I? At more than half a century old? Where are the release button on this safety belts called self-doubts?