On Writing And Emotions


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There are times when I could honestly profess that I love writing; but although the passion itself waxes and wanes as time flies, one statement always holds true: writing is my favoured way of passing information.

When I speak, I am shackled by my whims and impulse. Half-baked thoughts and incomplete words are tumbling over each other, guided only by my current sentiment that disintegrates at the next moment to be replaced anew. It’s like a wild cooperation team with a leader who switches their strategy everyday and everyone is scrambling to keep up with half the needed resource.

However, when I write, I am forced to fully form my sentences in a methodical and grammatical manner. It allows me to look for exact words that could convey the specific information in a particular way. Even when I don’t have the words to precisely identify a particularly vague and shapeless thought, I can still describe it in a satisfying way, closest to being accurate.

And like using a conditioner in your tangled hair, it allows me to better separate individual strands of thoughts from my emotions; which helps me to present my opinions honestly from my mind, unclouded by spontaneous feelings. There have been many times when I can feel the excitement bubbling beneath the exterior when I speak, bordering on desperation, and it’s nerve-wrecking how much influence it has to the words I say.

I still have emotions leading my thoughts when I write but they are much more grounded in my beliefs and principles which form the person I am. Even when I do write in a fit of passion and you could feel the emotions brimming from my words, it comes from a more honest and constant stream of expression — not the whimsical feel of the moment which are often not even accurate to how I really feel on a deeper level.

Because, really, our emotions are often at the base of our inconsistencies, which is the signature trait of a human being. History is full of dutiful and honourable men who call for fights to the death or even wage war upon one another. Gentle mothers who sense a threat aiming at their child could transform into raging behemoths and hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

To strip ourselves of all emotions is futile and impossible (although I could not say I haven’t tried) but to fall victim to the bully that is our impulsive thoughts is to beckon chaos and regret.

I believe that the best choice for me is to embrace my sentimental side in all of its paradoxical nature and to try my best at cultivating it into a semblance of a civilised being. One who is aware of the changes within and holds fast to the pillar of faith that gives it structure. I hope to guide my emotions instead of letting it have full control over steering me.

Which is why writing is my favoured way of passing information. It gives me more control on my words, what curates it and how I present it, with an accuracy I could never achieve when I speak.

 

Reclaiming My Ship


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In my ‘writing’ years when I devoted myself to the art of telling stories and weaving words, I enjoyed participating in writing prompts and exercises that I find on the web. One that I remember fondly was Plinky, which acted as a starter to kickstart your writing gear. All they did was give you a question; how you wish to address it or create your prose is all up to you. It used to be a feature offered here on WordPress. However, I used mine separately, as back then, my blog was where I wrote my writing assignments and I wasn’t sure if the journal-style writing I wrote there was up to my parent’s passing grade.

Similarly, I enjoy almost all of the composition papers I had to sit through recently on both my A-Level and SPM exams. Stripped from all of their disguises and the pressure of knowing that whatever your ink happens to spew at that moment shall determine your future career, they are in fact, writing prompts — with an added time limit and a wandering invigilator who sometimes glance over your work and remind you that you haven’t written your identification number at the top of the page.

Whenever I do those exercises, I try to detach myself from reality. I try to forget that this is going to make or break my future. The path of my pen, the shape of my ink and the message I craft were mine and my own. Even though I had technicalities to mind, formats to memorise and the examiners to please, I was an illusionist on stage, bending the limitations of senses to my will.

I may not be the best performer but I was my own and come what may, I have an audience waiting. I shall run my own show.

Naturally, when I opened my inbox today and received a message from the Australian Writer’s Centre asking me to share a one word theme I am choosing for the year 2020, my brain launched into a state of excitement, generating vague thoughts and ideas until a shape began to form. I lunged at it, peered at it and watched it grow into a word, a command, a statement: Reclaim.

Reclaim. The past decade had been like a tumultuous storm and waves of all sizes had crashed into my vessel. On the peak of crests, I had grown and matured, standing tall above the ocean and reading the curls of every wave as I do the names of every star. In the deepest of troughs, I had withered in fear as the sea, that I have loved as my home, stretched its maw and threatened to swallow me whole. For the most part, I had watched passively from the bridge with my compass long gone, glancing at the stars only when the whim strikes me. But this year, I want to try something I had been afraid of doing; to hold the wheel and reclaim my ship.

I am not delusional enough to think that the waves would stop crashing just because I tell them to stop. I am aware that shouting my resolution to the sky to be carried by wind is to tempt untethered wild emotions both from me and others around. I also know that I will have days when the storm seems everlasting and all I could think of is the deep set fear that haunts my nights and tortures my days.

But they will be my challenge, my journey, my adventure.

I am the captain of this ship and it is my hand that should steer it.

Eclipsing Dreams


I was about seven years old when I made my first travel plan. I was looking at a map of total solar eclipses from 1998 to 2019 from the book, ‘Eclipse of The Sun’, in our little ‘play-room’. I saw that the path of the 9th of March, 2016 eclipse would traverse a few Indonesian islands and seeing that it was the one closest to Malaysia, I started calculating my age and my possible state of life then. I figured that at the age of 21, I should have completed school and my seven year old brain assumed that at that age, I would have all the money and freedom in the world to bring my siblings to Indonesia so we could watch the eclipse together. And every now and then in the next fourteen years, the thought would occasionally cross my mind and I would dream about it.

I was correct about one fact. I did watch the eclipse with my brother – and the others occasionally peeping in – but we only witnessed the partial eclipse on our balcony, equipped with my shoebox camera obscura (pinhole camera) that I had made specifically for eclipse viewing. I had one hand on a laptop which was showing the live coverage from Sumatera and virtually experienced totality with the excited observer crew across the straits.

My parents watched the eclipse downstairs in the garden with our kitten friend, Tris, who was just thrilled by all the excitement we’re all expressing. As we were approaching maximum obscurity, a team of roadworkers stopped in front of our house and asked my parents if we wanted our driveway resurfaced. Noticing their curiosity (how could they not when we’re all staring up into the sky), my father told him about the eclipse. For the next few minutes, they were all climbing up onto their lorry, exclaiming with delight and tried to convince other passer-by to witness this amazing phenomenon.

Had my map also gave a list of annular solar eclipse, I might have noticed that one would be making its way through the southern-most tip of my own country on the coming 26th of December. I might have also made plans to drive to Tanjung Piai and experience the eclipse on the jetty of the Tanjung Piai Resort. But I only found out about it when I looked up the list of solar eclipses of 2019 earlier this year and I’ve long abandoned conscious dreaming as nothing but a call for possible disappointment.

The way my father explained solar eclipse to me and my sister was by bringing two balls and a flashlight into our ‘play-room’ and had one of us to hold the ‘Earth’ ball, while he held the moon between the Earth and the Sun (the flashlight). He explained to us that the eclipse happened because the sun is behind the moon for a brief amount of time. The Sun was still there, you just couldn’t see it because it was hidden. Nevertheless, it had been revered, feared and even celebrated through many events across our history.

As I grew older, I think about how intertwined are my thoughts on eclipses and dreams. To witness an eclipse was one of my most long-held serious dreams; I was in my late teens when I began to admit that it was probably out of the realms of possibilities. And as much as I insist on not wishing to dream, for fear of being robbed of the belief in a deceitful imagined future, I still have unconscious and unsolicited dreams because it’s impossible to remove the Sun by hiding it behind a moon.

I am trying hard not to place even the slightest bit of excitement in my mind for this coming eclipse but I’ll be a fool to think that no part of me still dream of somehow finding a way of getting to Tanjung Piai’s jetty to watch the eclipse with the man who taught me all about the it. I can try to cast out all the dreams in my heart in the same way I’ve contemplated destroying past pains and yearning by burning old letters and diaries but just because I’ve made it impossible to physically see something does not mean that it no longer exists -it is only hidden like the eclipsed Sun.

Grammar Discourse


The other day, I was talking with my sister when she said “it had shrunk”.

“Shrunken,” I corrected.

She paused and gave me a puzzled look. “No, it’s ‘shrunk’.”

Had shrunk. Past perfect.”

“But… ‘shrunk’ is the past perfect. The simple past of shrink is ‘shrank’.”

My mind went blank with confusion. When looking for the correct verb according to its proper tense, I usually refer to what sounds right to me and almost always it has served me perfectly well. However, now that my sister had mentioned it, my inner tenses directory did indeed agree with my sister. Shrink, shrank and shrunk.

“But why is the movie titled “Honey, I shrunk the kids?”

This little intermission in our small talk lead to a Google search that brought us to a page that listed the “10 grammatically incorrect movie titles” which indeed listed the movie “Honey, I shrunk the kids” as one of them and the discourse was settled – ‘shrunk’ is the past perfect tense of shrink. Had I not interjected and attempted to correct my sister’s perfectly correct tenses, I would probably still be using shrunken and be none the wiser.

In our casual conversations, everyone in my family is under constant grammar (and at times, pronunciation) scrutiny. We’re all acting as unsolicited grammar polices which, at times, can be incredibly frustrating when you have a good flow in your dramatic retelling of the previous day’s events and you are interrupted by “he has, not ‘have’.”

On the flip side, however, this attitude had been ingrained in our familial culture for so long that such corrections are, for the most part, taken without a negative perception or ill feelings which has created an environment that promotes and encourage constant improvement in our use of the language. I remember being constantly corrected for my tenses as a young child, doing the same to my siblings and now even have them correcting my mistakes. Speaking personally from my point of view, I correct other’s mistakes because I want my own mistakes to be corrected as I don’t know what I don’t know.

This is why I feel really strongly about correcting someone’s grammar whenever I catch someone using an incorrect term.

At the same time, I am fully aware that grammar policing is generally frowned upon as a ‘prescriptivist’ approach towards language by linguistic aficionados while the rest of the society often view it as being rude. Thus, it bothers me when I go to various places and notice signs which are misspelled or are grammatically incorrect and I have no acceptable way of letting the owners know and giving them a corrected alternative. If the place has a suggestion box lying around, I could simply write a note and hope that it would be taken seriously by the person who is going through the forms and that they would act according to the manager’s wishes.

I am not strictly a prescriptivist when it comes to my approach to language (I might write on my approach to language someday) but I do know that there are many people who are eager and willing to improve their proficiency but are either not given the chance to, or are simply afraid of being perceived as a bad speaker of the language. I myself might feel a little uncomfortable if a stranger decides to correct my grammar simply because I am aware that in our society today, such acts are often considered as distasteful and I could never tell if it was meant as an honest correction or a thinly veiled insult.

But as strongly as I feel about having the capability to use good the ‘standard’ version of a language, I don’t feel the need to force it down throats that does not wish to swallow it. I am sure that some people are perfectly contented with speaking a language at a basic comprehendible level even if they only use a single verb for all of the tenses. If it isn’t detrimental to their own chosen paths, that’s perfectly fine with me. It’s just unfortunate that those who are struggling to improve their Standard English proficiency are not able to get easier access to as simple a help as a gentle correction or even a lengthy discussion on why a word is used in a certain way.

I believe that if we wish to improve our language proficiency as a group, be it a community or a larger society, we should adopt a more receptive attitude towards corrections. However, it is just as important for those involved to not abuse this accepting nature by hiding behind disguises of superior grammar to throw insults and win petty arguments (as witnessed by anyone who is familiar with the comment section of YouTube videos or any posting on the internet in general). This attitude of mutual correction should be used as a means for growth and improvement and remarks should be made politely with the intention to help and not to scorn or belittle.

And don’t be ashamed to ask for corrections or guides either. If you have a disagreement the way my sister and I did, have a discussion and search for more information. At the end of the day, everyone would be learning something new about the convoluted system of English grammar – or any other language of your choice.

If we all work together to guide each other, it would not only help to improve our capability to use language in both writing and speech, it would also create an environment that promotes an open approach to learning and growth, where a curious thought is not dismissed by embarrassment but developed by discussion, research and voluntary study.

Speaking Spanish


When are you fluent enough to be able to say that you are a speaker of a language? In my case, I can confidently say that I am an English speaker as it is the language that I generally write and read in. I can also claim to be a Malay speaker with Malay being my native language. But even between those two, my fluency in different registers (levels of formality), modes (mediums of communication be it written or spoken) and social contexts vary. As I have written in a previous post, I had quite a challenge sitting for the Malay oral exam even though I use colloquial Malay in my everyday speech without hesitation. Similarly, I have had moments during a strictly English conversation when I wanted to voice a specific thought that comes to my mind in Malay (or even worse, Terengganuspeak) but I had to quickly rummage for an English equivalent as there is no perfect substitute.

And these situations often makes me wonder, had I not taken most of my vocabulary from the English dictionary and had Malay not been my mother tongue, would I be confident enough to call myself an English or Malay speaker?

These questions are bothering me off-late because I had just been working on a video project with my brother where I teach Spanish through songs for Utusan’s freshly launched youth section, Upster. I’ve received surprised comments from people I know that they never knew that I could speak Spanish. Which makes me wonder, could I?

Several years back my siblings and I were on TV Al Hijrah’s morning talk show, ‘Assalamualaikum’, where we talked about our attempts at learning different foreign languages. We mentioned that we have a WhatsApp group where we all typed in the basic form of our respective languages with creative combinations to make up for words that we did not know (I, for one, had used ‘piscina grande natural’ to describe a lake).

And although we hadn’t done that for a while, my sister, Anisah, who studies Portuguese, and I still do speak a bit of the languages we learn with each other for practice. My mother would excitedly answer “Sí, claro,” whenever I ask for a ‘tenedor’. And since I had often offered to fry eggs for Ali, he now hears ‘huevo’ in everything that I say. While doing chores, I turn on Pocoyó en español or Plaza Sesamo. Sometimes I even watch shows in Spanish without the subtitles and while I am not at the point where I can understand everything, I can definitely get most of what is going on. And of course all four of us still do our Duolingo practices.

As of now, I don’t think I am close to being able to call myself a fluent Spanish speaker but I am decently confident that if I were to be dropped in the middle of Mexico (for my Spanish resources are usually based in Latin American Spanish), I can understand and make myself understood well enough. My conjugations are incomplete, I’m still not completely sure when should I use the subjunctive mood and my Spanish vocabulary is like the nursery of a newly expecting mother, still somewhat bare; but new things are constantly being added in and every visit is accompanied by a flurry of excitement.

I hadn’t been the best of learners. I started dabbling in Spanish when I was very young. The first word I remember learning was ‘fin’ that my mother taught me before I even went to school. When I was ten, I fluttered about the US airports with a pen and a notebook, busily copying the bilingual signs I could see. I still have my notes from my Dora The Explorer and Barney days, with entertaining spellings, like ‘komotiyama’ (como te llama – what is your name?) and ‘elargoiris’ (el arco iris – the rainbow), and when I was fourteen, my mother bought me a book on the basics of Spanish and I was ecstatic to find that I had been reading Spanish correctly even before I knew the hard and fast rules on where and when to stress a syllable.

But even after all that, whenever I am alone in my room and I want to speak the little Spanish that I know to myself, I’ll often repeat “Espérate, necesito tiempo para pensar,” – wait, I need time to think. I know that I’m butchering my preterit and future tenses (let’s not even talk about participles) and I still mix and match different words to talk about things I hadn’t learned.

There’s a part of me that often gets upset with myself as throughout this time, I could have been much better at my Spanish. However there’s also a side that is proud to know that even though I hadn’t done my best, it’s something that I still keep close and visit often unlike some of my interests that I’ve picked and dropped throughout the years. And one day, I’d like to be able to speak well enough to understand the nuances that comes with learning a new language and see the world through the lens of el idioma español con toda su cultura.

But until then, I’m perfectly happy with saying, “Necesito un bolígrafo nuevo, este no funciona,” just to hear Ali’s confused voice asking me “You need eggs?”

You can watch my ‘Kelas Bahasa’ video on Utusan Upster here.

Friendship


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Back in 2008 when I first started this blog, I wrote an article about ‘Emotions’. Back then, I was far less adept at expressing something so intricately woven in my head by penning them down into words. I was explaining how I saw my emotions as liquid dripping into separate bowls, each with their own dripping and evaporation rates. Some of my emotions like joy and anger filled up their respective bowls faster but evaporate just as quickly while others like sadness and yearning dripped ever so slowly but when the other bowls have all dried up, trickles of sadness lingered still at the sides of the bowl.

However everything was fine as long as my emotions were contained within the bowls but as they fill up, I had a harder time balancing my actions. It also wasn’t helpful that some bowls were smaller than others and when I assumed that I still had space to contain them, they started spilling over and an emotional flood is something I wanted to avoid.

My mother didn’t understand what I was talking about but she figured perhaps I could do it better in writing and suggested it as a writing assignment for my blog but it was just as convoluted and confusing so instead I did a simpler writing on my emotions. Even there I talked about my struggles with managing my emotions but there is a lot more to it than just the basic emotions. I have a rather idealised and romantic side that tries to collect and understand the complexity that is human emotions and my journals are often witnesses to my desperate scramble for emotional intelligibility. And one of the emotions that often haunted me was friendship.

When I first went to school, I amused my parents by announcing the number of friends I then have by the end of the day and listing them all, one by one. My definition of friends then was what I would now call acquaintances, people I know and can recognise by face and by name. Throughout my early school years, that soon evolved into people I enjoy being with and spend time with and being the excitable child that I was, I had a lot of people whom I called friends.

Friends, friendship and social circles were topics that often popped up again and again throughout the school year. “Who’s your best friend?” was one of those generic questions that is thrown without a second thought. Arguments often come with threats of breaking friendship ties and who you associate yourself with could potentially affect your relationship with others. It’s nowhere as vicious as it could get later in secondary school but the beginnings of politicking had started to show with some kids grasping the concept, and starting to manipulate it, earlier than others.

However at the same time, everyone is talking about how friendship is a selfless act of love and care. That a friend is someone special you care for through thick and thin. The term ‘BFF’ or ‘Best Friends Forever’ expresses the everlasting nature that friendship is supposed to be. Teachers would remind us that “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. And throughout it all, my mind collected the many facets of this beguiling word and kept redefining what friendship meant to me.

When I first moved school, everything was turned onto its head. While some students come and go and my social circle evolved with them, I had never considered the fact that I would instantly be separated with those I called my friends. I had no problems with making new friends, I always had room for more fun but I felt like a traitor to those I left behind. Isn’t friendship supposed to persevere through anything and everything?

I kept in contact with my previous classmates through letters passed through mutual friends and once I started homeschooling, we moved to email. However just as time salves wounds, time too blurs the images of the past. I adapted to my new life and learned to understand my siblings whose characters are different from my own in significant ways and I had that relationship to entertain my thoughts. I compared it to the friendship I had with my friends back at school – or at least the shadow of it.

Because even as I stubbornly held to the strings that once tied us together, the correspondence began to trickle out. The innocent blank minds of a child could find connections through everything but as they grow older, their own individuality carve out different people and unfortunately sometimes you find yourself staring into the eyes of a stranger – and that broke my heart but I could not rationally explain why.

It was during these years that my journals were filled with my questions on what it means to be a friend. If it is all about love and care, what difference does it make for if you could no longer get along with someone if it is what is best for both of you? If I do love them, why does it hurt to let them go when they need to?

During one of my ruminations, I was reminded of the day when I stared at the red tendrils of the sun’s rays creeping up from beneath the horizon. Both of my hands were pressed onto the window as I watched the glorious sunrise from the plane with my family as we soared into the sky. I remember my eleven year old self wishing that I could have my friends with me as well so they too could see. And I understood that all along, a friend to me was someone I wanted to share things with and someone who would share things with me. Someone who was a bit like a home that I can turn to when things feel off. Someone with whom I felt like I belonged.

And that revelation came with a shocking sub clause – friendship to me was selfish in an altruistic coat.

After all, aren’t history and legend both full of tales of friendship being broken because of what could be seen as selfish reasons? If a friend you have borrowed a book you love and returned it to you, half ragged, doesn’t that feel like a betrayal of friendship? If your friend knowingly hurt you, won’t the people around you advise you that the person is “not truly your friend”?

But is it really wrong for it to be so? To be a friend to someone but only because that the person would do the same to you? To care for someone but only if they reciprocate that care too? Does the Malay proverb “berbuat baik berpada-pada, berbuat jahat jangan sekali” (be sparing with your kindness but never be malicious) support this?

And is it wrong to have a different base for your friendship, a different view and intention? To be there for someone always without expecting a return in kind? To love and care for someone for an altogether different reason and assume no gratitude?

Several years back, a good friend of my father’s, Uncle Nisar, came to visit us here in Malaysia. My fondest memory of Uncle Nisar was when he shared his house with us for a week both times we were in California. We were ecstatic that this time, we get to be his host for his special visit and we tried to make it a memory for him to treasure.

Before he left, Uncle Nisar gave my dad a heartfelt thanks to which my dad laughed and said that it was nothing more than what he did for us. And the reply he gave my dad was that what he did was sincerely because he wanted to give us a pleasant experience, that whatever happens after, it wouldn’t matter and he did not expect anything in return. And that really stuck with me ever since.

For me, I believe the best friendships are those guided through one’s love for Allah and anything else is far above me to say. I mull and muse over them and I think I would always be on the lookout for the many ways a bond is forged but if the steps you take are backed by faith in Allah Almighty, I am sure that in the biggest picture that stretches beyond our sights, your friendship is be a beautiful one.

And to all of you who share such wonderful friendships with those you love, I wish you all a Happy Friendship Day.

 

Oral Exam Adventure

Oral Exam Adventure


This would be a light post, akin to what I used to write when I was younger (and to be honest, had missed writing them here) but I like to bring home funny stories of the things that happened to entertain my mother and my adventures, experiences where I go out with high hopes and no expectations, are often the best stories to tell. This is not an in depth writing on my experience but simply a break for myself and I hope for you as well.

Recently my sisters and I sat for our SPM Malay oral test (ULKCP BM or Ujian Lisan Khusus Calon Persendirian Bahasa Melayu) at a public secondary school. The only oral tests I remember sitting was for hafazan (memorising Quran and du’as) and qiraat (reading Quran) exams back at primary school so I have no idea of what was to come. I tumbled into cycles of panic and equanimity. The research I conducted was of little help as there was not much help available on the internet for someone who homeschool as I do and don’t even know the basic format of what to do.

And as always, this adventure is no less rich with unexpected experiences and lessons learned.

Mangga-steen/ Buoh smete

Mangosteen

I walked into the exam room expecting to find myself getting into trouble with some of the more specific words in my less developed Malay lexicon – and I did. I have gotten used to having a wide range of words to choose from when speaking in our mixed brew of Malay and English at home (with a sprinkle of random foreign words just for the fun of it), restricting myself to one language can leave me at lost for words from time to time and it is much more apparent in Malay than in English. And during the oral exam, I was restricted to a high register, Melayu Baku, and although I tried to think in Melayu Baku, I also had to filter everything that comes out of my brain, just in case.

But to our greatest surprise (and my mother’s mirth), the word that both my sister, Aeshah, and I got stuck with was mangosteen or ‘manggis’ as we call it in Malay. Never did I imagine that I would remember ‘buoh smete’ (mangosteen in the Terengganu dialect) over ‘manggis’. And we were taking the tests simultaneously in different rooms so there was a chance that we got stuck at the same time. However since we both have experiences with interviews and speaking on stage, we both discarded our attempts and looked for a different word instead.

Introduction

Introduction

So here’s a funny story: I spent my ten minutes of preparation constructing the backbone of my response, developing each of their content and sculpting my opening paragraph. The instruction was for me to describe the education I received. I was going to bring up how my education began informally the moment I was born, making a point on how education is not simply restricted to what is generally described as schooling.

I thought that my opening line would bring a good first impression but instead, I forgot to introduce myself and that was definitely the most difficult part of the exam for me. Being asked to introduce myself feels like being told to say something in a different language, there’s just so much that could be said and yet nothing feels relevant or appropriate. It is the one thing I really should have prepared before going in and it really threw me off. I left the entire informal education angle up until the end of my discussion as if it was a minor sub-topic.

Coffee Jitters

Coffee… my dearest friend and companion. Coffee was my wingman when I was nervous for the late night radio interview “When The Night Falls” several years back with DJ Nizal Mohamed. I was just there, in the moment, having this conversation with my father’s friend. It didn’t matter that there are people listening in or that we have bulky equipment all around us. I was an open book; I voiced out opinions, which were so close to my heart, even my parents had never heard of them.

I couldn’t sleep the night before my oral exam and when I did, I had nightmares of receiving odd questions which simply have no right or wrong answer. I woke up sleepy with my mind wandering in and out of my head and wondered if coffee would help wake me up a little. I was only worried about coffee making me say things that I wouldn’t feel comfortable otherwise – which was exactly the problem I had, just not in the way I expected.

My mother trained me for public speaking since my primary school days and she had drilled into my head that I should limit my fillers like the ‘err’s and ‘uhm’s. I am not perfect but I believe that I could limit them most of the time or use them in a way that doesn’t seem too off-putting.

However, with the introduction mishap and my constant worry of how formal my language was, I was pausing a lot and I peppered my ‘err’s all throughout the session. Even as I said them, I told myself not to… which distracted me from thinking of my response and made me pause with another ‘err’. In the end, I simply threw the whole effort out of the window so I could focus on saying things that actually mean something.

But despite all of these fun stuff, I think I did alright. I would have liked to do better and had I known what I was walking into, I would perhaps have done a little better.

I enjoyed our group test as well as all four of us have our own unique ideas and approaches to most of the questions given and it was just fun to pretend like we’re making a pitch of some sort. A lot of my nervousness seeped out of me as I listened to others’ views. Our planning wasn’t as in-depth as I would have liked it to be but we were only given ten minutes and I think all of us winged it pretty well. My sister, Anisah, was assigned to the same group as I was and when we gave our initial presentation, everyone had accidentally presented all of the points we discussed before Anisah had a chance to say. Without missing a beat, she summed up all that we had discussed into a neat conclusion with a note on what we should do moving forward and I was really impressed by that.

Whatever the results (though I dearly hope that all three of us passed), it was an experience I would treasure and the events that took place would probably stay with me for a long time. And I probably would never be able to eat a mangosteen in peace ever again.