BOH

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Sometimes, I dial my abah’s old number just so I could see this pic pops up on my phone screen. The person I miss the most. The first selfie I took with him, and the last too. My late abah hated taking pictures. He rarely smiled. He was actually grumpy when I wanted to take this, but I told him ‘you must smile’ and he did. And who would have thought, it has now become a very precious photo. I didn’t have a copy of this pic, I couldn’t find it anywhere except for when I dial his number.

My smiling, grumpy abah. My world. It pains me so much. So much. More than I can ever put in words. My chest hurts because I miss extremely miss him. His voice. His laughter. Even his scoldings become a painfully wonderful memory now.

These days, I don’t really expect much out of myself. I’m just trying to survive.

Boh, when you were still alive, I didn’t even buy you anything. Not a pair of shoes, not a single clothing. When I paid for your lunch, you questioned from where did I get the money because I was still studying. Up to the very last month you were still breathing, you were still very worried of me–of whether I had enough money for food, my study, my health. Boh, you wore an old pair of slippers and a very simple tee most of the time. You lived your life always worrying about us. You never allow us to starve. You provided us very well, boh. You worked hard for your family. I am, forever, indebted to you. You boasted about you job, and I really hate it when you did. But you told me, it was to remind you to feel strong. You came from a humble beginning, boh. You went through so much since you were little to get to where you were. And one thing I would always remember is when you said you worked very hard your entire life so your kids won’t have to suffer. You worked very hard so your kids won’t have to starve the way you did. You cried under a tree watching your friends ate their food when you were in primary. You were hungry but you didn’t have money for food. You didn’t have ,money for school books so you stayed up the whole night copying your friend’s. You suffered so much, boh, but you made it. And I am proud of you. And I truly miss you and your wisdom, boh. You were my best friend, and we were so close. And I hope we will see each other again in a better place.

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RAINY DAY

It’s raining right now. It’s the rainy season in Penang. Days become cold and gloomy. The sky a constant grey. This brings back my memory from when I was 9.

It was a rainy evening. My little sister who was 8 and I had school till late evening. I remember feeling so worried in class. When it rains, how could my sister and I walk to our school bus later? It was a heavy one, and we would be soaked. The bell rang, it was time to go home. My class was on the third floor and my sister on the second’s. I waited for her at the staircase and we went down together with hundreds of our peers. I was still worried.

And then I saw her, amongst the crowd of committed parents waiting for their kids with umbrella right in front of the staircase at the ground level, stood my beautiful, amazing mother. I was so relieved.

My mom, did not want us to get wet, carried us one by one in her arms. The rain was so heavy, it was ankle deep for her. Her shoes and clothes were soaked, but it didn’t matter, as long as we stay dry. I remember feeling so happy. My mom, carried me and put me down at the canteen. All three of us then walked to the other side, and if I’m not mistaken, she brought us one by one under her umbrella to our car, where my dad was waiting.

It was very rare, to have our abah pick us up from school. Abah was always busy, working his bones off to feed our big family. But that evening, both my parents were there.

This is one of the many fond memories I have growing up. I didn’t want to relive my childhood, it wasn’t amazing at all. But some fragments involving my parents, I keep very close to my heart.

I finished watching Reply 1988; a series with family, friendship, love and life values all together instilled in its 20 long episodes. I can’t help but cry so much today, feeling a very close connection to the story. And I can’t help but to cry for my parents.

Parents.. the moment their first child is born; their energy, their money, their time, their sacrifices–all devoted to their kids. They become selfless. They want us to be happy and healthy and if they could, they would trade places each time the kid gets sick. Parents are our ultimate blessings in this life. Their wrinkles tell stories of their hard work. Their deep, swollen eyes tell memories on their struggles. Their children’s well-beings become their priorities. They forget about their dreams as long as their children can live well. They might not have much but they wouldn’t hesitate a bit to give whatever they have. It must have been very painful, but for a parent, for the sake of their child, they can even move mountains.

My heart breaks a million pieces thinking about this. Oh how I miss my parents right now. How I miss my late abah. I tell my parents all the time I love them, I desperately hope they feel it in their hearts.. that they’re truly loved by me, and they are such rare gems, and there’s nothing more that I want in this life than for my parents, wherever they might be at this very moment, to be happy. 

I regret growing up with so much hatred inside me. I regret growing up talking back. I regret those times I wasted being an ungrateful child. I regret the moments I hurt my parents with my words and actions. I regret them all.

But I don’t want to live like that anymore. My goals for 2018 are to work hard, pay my loans and spoil my parents. I would like to keep it as that, and I would try my best to reach them all, InsyaAllah.

One rainy evening seventeen years ago, I realised there was nothing that could beat our parents’ unconditional love for us. It was a very simple thing, but for a 9 year old me, that was truly wonderful. My parents picked me up from school. My mom carried me  and my sister with our heavy school bag. My mom was (and still is) amazing.

Signing off, on a rainy evening seventeen years later, a lonely soul missing my parents, with swollen eyes from crying too much. Boh, I hope you’re doing great over there. Someday we will meet again. Ma, you are, and always will be, the one I love and want to cherish forever. You are so, so strong Mama. I couldn’t even be 10% of what you are. Thank you, I love you and I’m sorry.

‘When are you going back to school, Kiah?’ my dad asked.

School? I’m in a university now, Boh. Not in school anymore.’

‘Oh yes. I forget. You have grown up now, Kiah. How time flies. I always feel like you are still a little kid.‘ He said with a smile on his face, but a sad tone in his voice.

And before I even finished my master, he passed away. Someday, Boh. Someday we will all meet again, in a better place InsyaAllah.

TWENTY SEVENTEEN

You were such a tough, horrid year. You weren’t very kind right from the very beginning. Let’s recap a bit. I started 2017 with an infection which was extremely terrible. My morale was so down. I was also freaking out for thesis submission. I didn’t have enough money and I kept burdening my parents and Oniechan. My dad was in the hospital for heart issues. Life wasn’t exactly bad but it wasn’t fine either.

I submitted my thesis in april knowing viva would suck because no last minute, rushed work can fully survive on such a grand scale. In May, I went to shell’s fuel launch held in a prestigious hotel which I don’t think I would ever step in and I was so happy. Also in may, I lost my darling aboh. He collapsed right infront of me–before I could even say ‘I’m here, boh’. It was the most surreal thing, witnessing the passing of your beloved; the darkest day. It wasn’t so painful the night it happened, but right after you were buried boh, I’ve lost count on the nights (and afternoons) I cry myself to sleep (still do).

In june, we celebrated our first raya without you. It was simpler fasting this year because you were the fussy one, but it wasn’t nice boh. House was crowded but my heart was empty. In july I had my viva. It was horrid and I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Nothing significant happens since. Life was monotonous. (Except for the reunion I had with my best friends, that felt amazing too. And oh, the epic field trip. It was legit fun as well.)

Before this, I experience occasional sadness. A feeling rarely visiting because in general, I’m an okay person. I don’t always feel extremely happy nor sad, I was normal. But these days.. these days I laugh louder than usual when I get the chance. I talk more when I feel like it. I eat plenty when the appetite is there. Because now, these are the rares. Happiness becomes occasional. Gloomy weather makes me gloomier. Even when the skies are clear and blue, I can be sad. Even when I’m in a crowd, actively participating, my thoughts go out to the days when I still had my father.

I do not know when this phase will pass. Hopefully soon. But for as long as it’s here, I will learn to live with the scar. I don’t know how to mend myself, and I don’t think anyone can mend me either. I shuh people away for forcing. Time heals I’m sure, but times needs time, and I’ll be okay.

Only a parent knows how it feels like to bring a child into this world. Only a mother can fully understand the birth pain. But even then, our pain is specific. The depth varies.  And only those who have lost their loved ones know how it feels. It’s like a dream, one you wish to get out from. One you thought to yourself would be over once you open your eyes.

But it didn’t happen that way, it won’t.

I know it too well that life is temporary and it is only this meaningful because it has an end, and everyone will eventually leave one day. I know that no matter how much we love something or someone, nothing stays forever. One day, I will go too. But sadly, despite knowing and reading the Quran on how dunya is only like a blink of an eye, and how the hereafter is where we’re all heading to, I would also like to say that it would still be painful. Even our beloved Prophet SAW was in despair on the passing of his beloved Khadija r.a. It is indeed okay to feel sad, and insyaAllah, with prayers and hope, the rain will feel like the rain you missed, not something that makes you gloomy.

Ya Rabb, showers upon my father your blessings, forgiveness, rahmah and protections. Increase his rank, ya Rabb. Place him amongst those You love. Showers upon my mother the same too. And with your guidance ya Rabb, with your mercy, I pray I will be reunited with my parents (and moksu, too!) in a better place someday. Protect my loved ones, protect me. Ameen.

ps: And boh, your son in law graduated his Phd!

WHEN TO FINISH? NOT YET DONE?

Anddd suddenly, there’s no Oct part 2 bahahaha. I’m home. And home, you’re too busy doing you’re not sure what and don’t have time for blogging. I actually love blogging the most compared to other social media platforms because there’s no word limits and I can write whatever I want. And here, you have to know my link. You’re not like have to  see/read my updates, unlike FB or IG. Of course you can choose to hide/unfollow/block whatever, but maksud I, kalau you nak baca baru you buka. So if you’re annoyed with what you read, you can’t blame me hahaha.

Anyway, people’s been wondering why I haven’t finished with my thesis corrections yet. It’s been months since viva, and I’ve only started with repeating some of my lab work late august. Let me list it here so that you (and probably me too) know why it’s not as easy as you (or I too) thought and why it took so long. Of course some of them was my own fault, but that happened two years ago. I only learn of the effect(s) now hahaha padan muka. Here goes;

  1. I passed on a scale of 3. Major corrections with a given 9 month to submit my final hard-bound, 50k worth of thesis. Or maybe 60. Why?
  2. I started with six isolates, and went to clone Isolate B1 for the first two years of my master and failed. It wasn’t successful, and it consumed so much of my time and money and energy and moral.
  3. The thing is, you can’t simply just change your sample or re-start with something new. You have to prove that it wasn’t working and to do that; I did every-single-thing I could.
  4. So eventually B1 didn’t happen. I finally got the green light to proceed with B10.
  5. B10 was alright. Took another three semesters to clone, express and purify. Also wrote my thesis and submitted the ten copies at the very last minute. I didn’t want to proceed, but my sv was afraid I won’t have much data to put. Might jeopardise the whole thing so I kept doing more work. Did my assay a week before I submitted my draft.
  6. I ended up putting results for both B1 and B10. Also included all six which I began with. And all unsuccessfulness for B1 was there as well. I didn’t want to walk in and got ‘you don’t have enough data’ as to why I put results for both.
  7. Viva was horrid.
  8. I was asked to pick one.
  9. Or retain both but add more supporting references.
  10. Which is not available because cloning apparently is super easy to many and no one reported on failures before.
  11. So I chose to stick with B10 since it was successful.
  12. But I didn’t manage to purify B10 because the proteins got washed out in the columns and didn’t bind to the resin. And I was already into my eight semester I don’t have time/money/energy to continue. I’ve reached the maximum candidature limit.
  13. So my ultimate objective was not achieved.
  14. And my whole project will be deemed as a failure. (The examiner actually wrote this you know)
  15. So I have to change my title.
  16. And my objectives. And discussions. And conclusion.
  17. And must include all sorts of photos.
  18. I’ve picked only the best to put in my thesis.
  19. But some were unnecessary -_____-‘ because they’re a negative.
  20. And the ones I have to put, I no longer have.
  21. During my 3rd sem, I lost all my data due to some silly incident/accident.
  22. Haven’t had the time to repeat.
  23. Must repeat now.
  24. Already repeated and spent one and a half month doing that.
  25. Because psychrophilic/psychrotolerant bacteria from Arctic took a veryyy long time to grow.
  26. Weeks.
  27. And now I’m looking into adding moreeee discussions since I chose to stick with B10.
  28. I have to add and remove a lot. A lot.
  29. I have to make amendments cover to cover, literally.
  30. My references suck big time.
  31. Already settled that.
  32. Now to adding more supporting statements and formatting.
  33. And basically dying a little inside.
  34. The end is so near but also very far.

I guess that’s enough. The summary of my journey. I know no one can help me with this, but your prayers. Your prayers will, InsyaAllah.

Till then, ask me again in December okay? Late December. Thank you.

Eyhh, other people one and a half year already graduated. You so long?! 

ps: And if you were to ask me ‘should I pursue, Kiah?’, my honest answer is ‘Sure. Kalau you kaya. Atau pandai gila dapat biasiswa.’ Jawapan positif sikit ‘Of course caaann, if that’s what you really want.’

My friends and I, those who have made it or those who don’t, share one struggle in common. Money. In the end, we’re all rushing and feeling down because our financial was critical and fees must be paid, rents, bills, food. We have loans circling our waist, and stomach, and head, let’s just say we’re a walking mummia of loans hahaha. But all in all, we… survived. Thank you, everyone.

OCTOBER

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October was a tad mad. I was supposed to leave Penang and went home by end of Sept, because I don’t think my mom is happy with her account balance now hahaha but I was offered an opportunity to join Bioblitz at Penang Hill, basically an international program on Forest Conservation and Canopy Science, organised by The Habitat Foundation in conjunction with so many other contributors including Penang Hill Corp.

I am a molecular person. My master was in Molecular Biology + Biotech + a lil bit Microbiology. I don’t go out. Lab was my life. Lab was my wall. Lab was my roof. Lab basically shared 1st home title with my actual home. I’ve been to a field trip once last year for 2 days 1 night, it was nice. I became like a little kid, exploring.

So naturally I would say yes to my SV’s offer. But this time, it lasted for ten days. I got super tired end of each day, but super happy also. We got to meet with variety of people from USA, Australia, The UK, Hong Kong, and of course, our local researchers as well. It got to me when they call us scientist, cause I am pretty sure I am not near that title at all hahahaha.

Eh suddenly got werk to do later I’ll update October part 2.

FIELD TRIP FIELD TRIP!

Oct 16th-27th, I will be on my second field trip to Penang Hill, where I would collect soil/water samples around the hilltop for microbial diversity studies. We’re basically doing a Biodiversity Study up there, covering all sorts of layers from microbes, plants to animals. Field trip excites me. I did this once last year, it was tiring, berlemuih but fun. And my face of course hanguih lagi. I guess because I come from molecular background, and my working space had always been IN the lab instead of OUT, I find this kind of event thrilling.
Comparing my project to my friends’, I have it so, so, so much easier I tell you. I collect soil. I only need to walk/hike/climb and dig and store and label them coordinates. Wet lab work I might or might not be involved. I went with my friends last year, they were doing a study on mosquitoes. And THEY HAD TO USE THEMSELVES AS BAITS omg it was sooo itchy by just looking! They were so cool and steady and there I was, frowning… why on earth… why on earth would you guys do this??? Their skins were red… I left after 30 minutes, they were there for hours. They had to go out and set their traps, and went to collect them again at wee hours. We had our hot choc by the Sky Terrace, it was almost midnight when we went back to our hotel when we saw the Bat group leaving with their traps. Oh, such glamour. I went to deliver some field stuff yesterday, and there were at least 40 cages for rats….. Rats…. I would run away at the sight of its tail, and one of the groups is going to conduct a study on rat’s population up there. I was very bad with mosquitoes, caused so much hassles hahaha. I am thankful for my friends who didn’t shuh me away. They even accompanied me to collect my samples too. If they were doing on rats back then, I would have just bid them goodbye and go straight to the room. 
Field trip is fun, but of course it’s work, and it’s not free and easy. You have to collect and process your samples, make a report and the wet lab work will proceed soon. But there are lots of pros so I am going to enjoy myself. I get free train passes and free access to places others have to spend money on, I get to explore. There will be collaborators from foreign countries, I will get to learn new things as well. I used to get scared a lot from having to do things out of my comfort zone, but aah, exciting things always happen outside of your zone anyway. I won’t be having a group, I’ll be on my own. But Kiah is always fine on her own, InsyaAllah. (Might or might not menyelit group orang lain for fun. They’re going to catch all sorts of animals and identify plants! Saya penakut tapi saya mahu join). And the best thing of all in this trip is when I see this one short sentence in the tentative;
 
LUNCH AND REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED AT THE COMMAND CENTRE.
#priorities
Here are some of the photos I took from last year’s trip, some from the hilltop areas and most were from The Habitat. The place was still under constructions last year. It breaks my heart then because it was so loud and I was sad for the animals..) It’s amazingly beautiful now, they even have a viewing deck! (Haven’t gone in, saw photos only). So lucky I don’t have to pay the entrance fees ngehehe. This year’s trip will cover a much bigger sampling area though. Can’t wait! Spent so much money on buying clothes, socks, sunblock, rubber shoes are cheap so it’s okay, because heck I didn’t bring suitable clothes for outdoor, this was adhoc decision anyway. But I received allowances so still fine phew. Will share new pics when I get there next week, InsyaAllah. Looking forward for this year’s trip yayyy. #cannotsleepin #thestruggleisreal
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The most important question now is..

dekat mana I campak beg galas tuuuuu. Beg I sekarang tidak field trip friendly!