Monday, February 15, 2010

Uwem Akpan - Say You're One of Them

My Book Club Selection for February 2010

About the BOOK :
Each story in this jubilantly acclaimed collection pays testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.

A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family’s struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle’s attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees—a microcosm of today’s Africa—a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.

Uwem Akpan's debut signals the arrival of a breathtakingly talented writer who gives a matter-of-fact reality to the most extreme circumstances in stories that are nothing short of transcendent.

My Views :
There are 4 amazing stories in this book. And each story left me in tears. I felt the pain and suffering of these children. It is so real. Its as if the characters are alive and you feel them right in front of you. You want to help them but how? I cried after reading this book. From the first page till the very last page. I feel blessed that I'm in a safe place and that I never had to endure this pain. But what about the children in this book? It made me wonder, if the characters were real, then where are they today? How are they? Are they still alive? These questions have been haunting me for days. Is Maisha still a prostitute? Or has she found her freedom? Are Hadiya and Selam still friends till this very day? Would it have a different effect if the narrator was an adult? I mean, these stories were written from a child's point of view. Some questions left unanswered...

But this book is a MUST read for all booklovers. Its also Oprah's Book Club Selection of 2009 and also one of NY's Best Sellers. Its on sale at MPH Bookstores for RM59.90 only.

A New Man in My Life..Tom Apotolaski

I had the best V-day ever this year. Its not about the flowers, presents or expensive meals. I hate those kind of stuff. To me, its like, every day could be V-day. So why should you spend extra on the same thing when you can get it the next day. Its so geeky. I mean, if the guy were to buy you something expensive on V-day, does it mean he will not buy you anything else of the same value throughout the rest of the year? What is so special about V-day anyway? Well, V-day is all about love. So, why don't you just spend the day with your loved one rather than spend unnecessary money on flowers,which will die eventually. Or even gifts, which will break of spoil in time to come or even expensive meals, which will be flushed out of the system the next day. Why not give her memories that she will never forget for the rest of her life? But I don't mean to give her what Brian had given me,just two days before V-day but that will leave a scar in me for the rest of my life. But you know, something romantic and memorable.

I had my share of good V-day last night. Being all alone here in Athens, I thought it'd be just an ordinary day. But it started off slow alright. I spent almost two hours getting dressed that morning. I didn't know why. The outfits just didn't match, that's all. It was a slow slow day and I can sense it. Then I spent the next hour checking my e-mails and facebook before Irene came knocking on my door. She told me that she had to pick her cousin up from the airport later that evening and that I had to tag along. But she did miss out something pretty important. That her cousin was MALE, in fact, a good looking one, I must say :P

Tom Apotolaski, ahh..such a charming man. Only thirty-two, the perfect age for my dream man, currently working and residing in New Zealand. My gosh! The sound of New Zealand made my day. I mean, thats the place I want to spend the rest of my life in, if I could. The green green grass of NZ, the cows and the cool breeze would be the perfect spot for my writing. And most importantly, he's SINGLE!! Maybe it was Irene all these while. She had wanted to play matchmaker, I guess. But I wouldn't mind at all if he wouldn't mind it himself. At one glance, he was perfect. No complaints. But I guess, I'm not going to rush into making any stupid decisions again after what happened. But come to think of it, what if I lose him? coz of my laid-back attitude? Let's not think of this coz its just been like less than twenty-four hours since I met him. How could I have fallen in love with him so fast? I just don't want to sound desperate or look pathetic. Let's just say, I played on for the rest of the evening.

So, we brought him to his hotel, which was across the street to my hotel. I really didn't expect much from him. Probably coz I was amazed by his appearance or the way he carries himself. But there is one thing that gave me the WOW effect. It was his affection towards children. He loves children. I can see it through his eyes and the way he treats Danish, his nephew. So much love. So much attention. I just loved it. It made my mind wander a while. Reality check!! Hello..this guy hasn't even made his move, and here I am dreaming of our wedding and our family. So after Tom got his room keys, we both left the hotel. Irene had walked me back to the hotel and asked if I would like to join her for dinner. Remembering that it was V-day, I said no. I didn't want to disturb her date with her husband. No way. I'm just too shy to dine with them. So, we parted for the night and she said she would pick me up at 11am the next day, where we would be heading to Santorini Island.

After we parted, I got back to my room, showered and went down to the supermarket down the street to get some food for dinner. You know, being single and alone in a stranger's land, what else could I expect? Tom to suddenly appear right in front of me and ask me out to dinner that night? This is so insane. But lets just say, I did bumped into Tom at the supermarket. My face was as read as the chinese lantern hanging at the door of the supermarket. I have never felt this way before. But you may never guess what followed suit. Tom has asked me to dine with him. But, in the hotel room. And obviously, I chose my room coz it was overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and that we can hear the cool breeze and the sound of the ocean at night. So the date was set. 8pm. My room at the Hilton Hotel.

It was the perfect night all right. We both sat on the floor at the balcony, having takeouts and wine. Chatting away, talking about our miserable lives, and enjoying the sounds of the ocean. Mind you, it was so romantic and relaxing. And of course, I had chosen the perfect music to set the mood. Piano love songs. Doesn't it set the mood? Its like those music played at hotel lobbies. Really relaxing tunes. And whats more comforting than sitting in your room with a stud beside you? The party ended close to midnight and when Tom left the room, I could sense loneliness all over again. Its as though the room needed someone like him to cheer things up. Or at least to cheer me up.

I stood by the balcony that night all alone, thinking of what I've achieved with Tom. I know Tom a little more now and he knows a little about me now. So, where is this all going to end? Marriage? Happy thoughts all the way that night until I received an e-mail from Brian Anthony. As usual, he kept saying that he was sorry and that he had some issues that he couldnt relate to me now but will do so soon. The last sentence caught my eyes though. "I would appreciate it if you could return me the engagement ring, by post or by hand". That really angered me. Yes, I've brought the ring along for I thought that we would be together right now. But,that last sentence really annoyed me so very much that I grabbed the ring from the drawer and tossed it out of the balcony and I believe it landed in the ocean. I just couldn't stop myself from doing this though I did regret my actions. I should have just sold it for cash. But then I thought, the money I get from the sale would remind me of him. So, it's best that I just throws the ring away. Forget the past...and start anew.

I'm actually excited for tomorrow. Firstly is bcoz I'm heading to Santorini Island. And secondly is bcoz Tom is coming along!! Hurray!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sorry? Is that all you can say?

Sorry...sorry...sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm really sorry. Whats the difference anyway? Its just SORRY. 5 letters says it all. Is that the only word you can say? Is that the only word you can think of right now to say to someone you've hurt so badly? I just don't get you. You seemed so different from the very first time I met you. You were so talkative before. You had more that just a mere SORRY. What happened to the man I fell in love with? The one I got engaged to? The one I planned to marry? The one I was going to build a family with? What happened? Where is he now? Has he forgotten himself? You don't just go around sending me messages or appearing on facebook, telling me how sorry you were and expecting me to forgive and forget the past and to accept you back in my life. You can't do that. You simply can't. It's so unfair. It's so so unfair to me. What have I done to deserve this misery and pain? It is so unfair. Why do all the bad guys get what they want and the good guys suffer in hell? Like I said previously, I will not forgive you this time. You have just gone too far. You don't deserve my forgiveness anymore. I can't bare to see you anymore. You're such a loser. Such a miserable man. You want the world to feel miserable just like you.

Don't think you can hide anything from me anymore, Brian. I spoke to your sister oday. She told me all about you. She did. Everything and anything. I felt that I didn't even know you during these 2 years of our relationship. But she managed to sum it up in just 15 minutes. All about you. You've been miserable all your life, ever since you were born up till today. But you never seize the opportunity to make those around you as miserable as yourself. You hurt people along the way but does that ever bother you? Do you look back sometimes and gave thought to what you've done or what you've said that may hurt those around you? I guess not. Since you're daring enough to pull such a trick on me. I've closed my heart when it comes to your love. You're no longer a part of me now. I'm free..

P/S : I know that you're reading my postings up here. So if you do read this, please, do not send anymore text messages to me. Spare yourself the trouble of doing so. And moreover, spare my life, will ya?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A New Place to Fill the TUMMY...Yummy!!

I've asked Jim to send some pictures of the new restaurant to me, just to have a look at it of course and obviously to see what he's done with it ever since James left it to us. Well, he's decided to change the name to an easier one, unlike the complicated French name. And I kinda like what he's done so far. Very neat and nice and classy. Well done to Jim! I'm sure James will be very proud to see what has become of his restaurant today and to know that its been taken care of would definitely make him happy and well rested. Jim had asked me on the food selection as well. Well, we both thought its time to change the menu and spices things up a little. Instead of the old and boring french cuisine thats been served for the past 4 years, we've now decided to come up with something more saucy. Jim has already started on the italian cuisine and a bit of everything of europe. And I've come up with the idea of baking cakes and pastries. And to make things a little different, we're now also thinking of serving malaysian food and indian food. You know, like Nasi Lemak, Beriyani Rice, Satay and stuff. Its still in the early stage of course coz we still need to run the survey on the consumers first but I really hope that it will happen soon.

Anyway, here are some pics. More to come soon...

Its OVER..

I cannot stand another moment thinking bout you. Thinking bout the promise you've made to me. Thinking of the phone call you made last night. And the thought of your last sentence gives me shivers. "I'll see you honey. I love you." Oh god!! It gives me shivers down my spine now that I gave thought to it. But at that moment when you said it, it felt so good. So darn good. It gave me hope. It gave me security to know that you will come and join me in this adventure and that we will rekindle our love and to renew our faith in each other. I thought there was love. I thought I could trust you. I had faith in you when you asked me a second chance. I forgave you for something I shouldnt have. And now, I regret my decision. I regret that I've trusted you. I thought you would be fair to me, you would come and be with me and we could work things out again. Just you and me. But now, you prove me wrong. Oh, so wrong!! I hate myself for this bad judgement. I hate myself for the decision that I've made. Why oh why did I ever forgive you? Was it your looks? or charms? or money? or was I just taken in by your sweet talk? Those sweet words of yours made my heart stopped. It did. It stopped for a moment. I was lost by the words spoken. I couldn't think at all. My brain froze all of a sudden. My heart skipped a beat. I was just paralyzed when you said what you've spoken. But now, I can see clearly that its just a bunch of lies. Its just hoax. Its just you trying to impress me and trying to show the world that you can get what you want, play it all out and then leave. Do you think you're great? Do you think you've won the battle? You're so wrong, Brian. You will never win this battle against me. Never ever in your life will you expect to win this battle.

I can't help but thinking of my bad judgement and horrible decision. Why was I so stupid? Why didn't I see through your bad intentions? Why was I so blind? I guessed you have planned this right from the start. It was just a great lie after that. You said that you couldn't let me go? What a piece of shit! Nonsense! You're just so selfish. You're just afraid that I might find someone new and that you'll be left all alone. That is why you did this, didn't you? You didnt have Greece in mind anyway. You just wanted to play it out. Go on, play along with her and leave her at the very last moment to struggle. Hah! Guess what, I didn't struggle at all. I had tons of fun with my Arab friends in Dubai. They came after just 1 call. Unlike you!

I hate you. I hate you for doing this to me. I hate you for blinding me with your words. I hate you! I hate you! And I will never ever forgive you in a million years to come, even if you were to beg me for forgiveness or give me your life. I hope you're miserable now. All alone and miserable for what you've done to me. And miserable enough to know that I'm happy and enjoying myself in Athens with my best friend. And who knows, I might just meet someone more capable and trustworthy than you. You're just a useless freak now. And to me, you're just as good as dead!

I do not wish to speak to you. I do not wish to see you and I do not wish to hear about you anymore. You can just go to HELL! Go F*** yourself! I hope you're in pain right now. I hope you're in misery now. You deserve it very much.

And one last thing, ITS OVER BRIAN!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

a Thank You note

Dear Friends/Family,

I want to express my sincere gratitude for the thoughtful gifts you sent. The flowers and plants truly brighten the room and lift my mood.

I know James would appreciate your kind gestures. He spoke often of his friendships with his many co-workers; I know you all meant a great deal to him. Many of you expressed such beautiful sentiments that I have no trouble seeing why James enjoyed his work so much. Being surrounded by people like you was a large part of why James looked forward to each day.

Thank you all so much for your kind words, your generous gifts, and most of all, for your friendship with James. Knowing you will miss him too makes my burden a bit easier to bear.

Sincere Regards,

Daniel Guard
Trinity Tan
Jim Brennan & Family