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C

Q
#5 | AN INDIE POWERED PUBLICATION!

BLANK SPACE
An in-depth look at the writers block!

INDIEPRETATION
Malaysias indie publishers speak out

LEFT SPEECHLESS
A moment in New York!

FOUND IN TRANSLATION
The trials and tribulations of translating texts!

WAXING LYRICAL
The rhythm and hues of lyric writing!

STRUCTURING STORIES
Usurping La Usurpadora

LAUNCHING RPG
Interviewing the creators of Missing Seasons!

SELAMAT PAGI, CIKGU


A chat with Hassan Muthalib

BEHIND THE SEEN"


Four film writers discuss the scene in Malaysia

RAWK AND ROLL


We trawl through Banana Punk Rawk Trails

MIGHTIER"
THAN"
SWORDS
THE POWER OF THE WRITTEN WORD

#2 | CQ MAGAZINE | 29

EDITORIAL NOTE!
Editorial Board
Where else to begin but
at the start?

My father always said that there can be
no writing without reading.

The themes we come up with for each
issue of CQ can be little more than
nomenclature that serves as a guiding
light for those who need it; there will be
articles related to them, but thats not to
say that we would completely discount
something that doesnt overtly fit in.

Covertly, though, writing is a theme that
encapsulates all. When we write, we are
essentially mirroring our thoughts on
paper (or screen). This process is a useful
one, something that helps to remind us
how we are communicating not only with
others, but also with ourselves.

Going beyond its linkage to the thought
process, it is also the starting point for
almost everything. The essence of films,
for example, can certainly be traced to
the written word found on the script. At
the same time, music and lyrics are
difficult to replicate in time and tune,
without relying on notations made on the
music sheet. Even in less obvious
scenarios, writing remains integral to
many things, from cooking (wed be
eternal guinea pigs without recipes) to
the formation of buildings (its difficult to
build them without blueprints).

In this issue, we present to you a diverse
world of words, ranging from
submissions on the importance of lyrics
to the tough task of translating different
languages. We have interviewed not one

or two, but five different film writers, all of


whom have valuable perspectives on the
Malaysian film criticism scene.

Theres also an interview with the
creators of the visual novel Missing
Seasons. A new contributor digs deep
into her past, tracing the starting point of
her love for the artist who painted millions
of words, Affandi.

Speaking of the past, we also tracked
down a recording of a discussion on
independent publishing in Malaysia.
Though not exactly new, the concerns
and issues for alternative book publishers
remain fresh and current. Of course, our
staple diet of short stories and poems is
also here. And I havent even mentioned
the piece on the infamous writers block,
as well as the 13 writers who unblock it in
their own ways.

All of this adds up to our biggest issue
yet, with over 60 pages packed with
quality. If it is true that reading begets
writing, it is my sincere hope that not only
do you do justice to the efforts of the
writers here by reading them, but also by
expressing your own story, regardless of
whether its with the written word or not.

Let the ink flow, people.#

FIKRI JERMADI
EDITOR IN CHIEF

EDITORS IN CHIEF
FIKRI JERMADI
WANI ARDY

EDITOR AT LARGE
EZZAH MAHMUD

SUB EDITORS
AISYAH EZRAL
AMANDA HO SZE YIN#
DEA ISHAK
JAZELIA JASMENE#
NURUL ISMAWI
SHEMSI ELSANI#
SITI NOORAIN

CONTRIBUTORS
ASTRID BESTARI#
EMILLIO DANIEL#
EZZAH MAHMUD#
HASSAN MUTHALIB#
MAYA SAPIURKA#
MEERA SUPRAMANIAM#
NATALIE CHIN#
NAZIRA ZIYANA#
NURUL ISMAWI
SABAH CARRIM#
SHEMSI ELSANI#
SITI NOORAIN
TANG MEI SAN#
WANI ARDY#
ZAIDAH Z#

LAYOUT DESIGNER
ADI ISKANDAR

FRONT COVER
TOSHIYUKI IMAI / FLICKR

CQ Magazine is an indie powered e-publication for creative explorations adhering to a high standard
of professional writing and journalism. The opinions of contributors do not necessarily represent the
views of CQ Magazine.

Design inspired by Swedish Film magazine.
Licensed under Creative Commons.

cqmalaysia.blogspot.com

@cqmalaysia

cqmalaysia@gmail.com



#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 1

CONTENTS!

IMAGE: EAST-WEST CENTER / FLICKR!

48
IMAGE: MARK NOTARI / FLICKR!

15

52
IMAGE: PHOTOSTEVE101 / FLICKR!

33
IMAGE: A.OTGE / FLICKR!

IMAGE: ELVIS KENNEDY / FLICKR!

24
2 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

8
IMAGE: WAZARI WAZIR / FLICKR!

3 THE LONG HUG MEERA


SUPRAMANIAM!
4 WET, WILD AND WONDERFUL
WANI ARDY!
8 CANVASSING EMOTIONS
ASTRID BESTARI!
!
11 A SAD LITTLE BOY SHEMSI
ELSANI!
12 ON REALITY SABAH CARRIM!
15 MAINSTREAMING THE
FRINGE ADI ISKANDAR AND
ZAIDAH Z!
!
20 NARRATOLOGY AND
STRUCTURE IN LA
USURPADORA NAZIRA ZIYANA!
24 WRITTEN SOMETIME IN 97
MEERA SUPRAMANIAM!
26 PLAYING THE GAME EMILLIO
DANIEL AND NATALIE CHIN!
!
30 FROM ACADEMIC TO EPIC
NURUL ISMAWI!
33 LIRIK MENYELAMATKAN AKU
WANI ARDY!
37 ADA APA DENGAN
PENTERJEMAHAN EZZAH
MAHMUD!
!
40 WRITERS ON WRITING FIKRI
JERMADI!
44 REAL FILM CRITICISM
CANNOT BE TAUGHT HASSAN
MUTHALIB!
48 BEYOND WORDS TANG MEI
SAN!
!
50 COMING UP BLANK MAYA
SAPIURKA!
52 ATTACK THE BLOCK
COLLAGE!
56 SHIBBOLETH SITI NOORAIN!
!
60 HOPELESSNESS SHEMSI
ELSANI !

POETRY
MEERA SUPRAMANIAM

The Long Hug


TEXT: MEERA SUPRAMANIAM!
IMAGE: ALLAN BERGMAN / FLICKR!

The long hug,#


Of forgotten memories,#
Reawakened,#
The sharing of the missing,#
Of the years that have gone by,#
Of the gladness of the meeting,#
Of the why havent we done this sooner.#
#
Its so good to hold you now,#
To know, were here... today.



First published on 12 July 2008 !
(areem-12july2008.blogspot.com).

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 3

REVIEW
WANI ARDY

Wet, Wild and


Wonderful
The Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon at Sunway Lagoon
reconnected Wani Ardy with her childhood
IMAGE: WANI ARDY!

The last time I went to Sunway Lagoon was


probably when I was 15. Growing up in
Subang Jaya, it had always been the place
where my friends and I would spend our
school holidays at, and also where I would
bring my cousins to when they came to
visit. Basically it was one of those ways for
me to look cool and to impress my relatives
so that they will have something to brag
about when they balik kampung.

Then years passed by, and this Subang girl
slowly turned into a busy woman, tied to
responsibilities and commitments. I am
lucky, though, as I am married to a guy who
is forever young at heart (in the sense that
he watches cartoons almost every night!),
and my son Ikhlas is just one super active
boy who does not stay put. So imagine our
excitement when we found out that Asia's
first Nickelodeon themed land has opened
at Sunway Lagoon. Time for us to have fun!

We arrived early evening when the weather
was hot and sunny. Surprisingly we didn't
feel as hot because the lagoon was full of
shady trees and monumental stones. True
to its name - the Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon
- this hidden ten acres of lush tropical
sanctuary is a perfect one-day getaway for
our family from the hustle bustle of the city.
It has everything from waterslide rides,
retail shops, games, food service
establishments and more. You know how
huge Sunway Lagoon is; there's no way
you can experience all attractions in a
single day. So I simply love the fact that it's
realistic and possible for me to cover
everything at the Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon.
Money-worthy! Needless to say, the
Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon became my
favourite section of the theme park. We
didn't need to go anywhere else! We

actually took the little train twice to check


out other sections but we went back to the
Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon because it was
more fun and less crowded!

Based on first impressions, the
Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon has already won
the hearts of my family. With famous prime
characters such as SpongeBob
SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it's no
wonder that my boys loved it in an instant.
My husband has always been a big fan of
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since he was
a little kid, while my son just adores
SpongeBob SquarePants. I bet if I had a
daughter she'd love Dora the Explorer!
Okay, fine, that's another story.

My point is, there's something for everyone.
The Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon turned out to
be not just another kiddie pool. Thank God,
because honestly in the beginning this was
my worry. Instead, it caters to all ages, and
has a lot more to offer. If you're not a fan of
cartoon characters, the attractions are still
awesome for you to explore.

Being a parent, I've always felt
disappointed going to theme parks (or
funfairs, or carnivals) because the majority
of the rides are either suitable for adults or
kids. The Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon,
however, has a nice balance of both, which
I think is important so that nobody feels left
out.

We managed to try every single slide there
was, from the Jungle Fury, a ride which fit
our whole family, to the Primeval, which
brought us sliding through the sights of
nature. The Monsoon 360 gave my
husband and I a great adrenaline rush,
#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 5

I should thank my
son. If it wasn't for
him, I wouldn't care
about chilling out

REVIEW
WANI ARDY
before we experienced the drop-andreverse free-fall that is the Kubarango.
Finally, the Wild Chase Coaster took us on
a speeding-twisting-turning journey before
a final big whooping splash. Slides and
coasters are my favourites forever, which I
secretly took pleasure in a little bit more
than my screaming boys!

Don't fancy intense rides? Don't worry,
there are lots of beautiful attractions and
interesting adventures in the rainforest
surrounded by relaxing waterfalls, ponds,
bridges, rivers, hills, and trails. Hippo Valley,
Marimari Rapids, Moolalah Adventure River,
and Explorers Trail are safe and suitable for
visitors with different preferences. My 4
year-old had the best of his time at the
SpongeBob Splash Adventure and the
Splish Splash. It was where most of the
children were playing.

This massive tribal fort of SpongeBob

SquarePants seems to be the centre piece


of the lagoon and is packed with soaking
slides, wild showers, and water cannons,
making it the kids' favourite. I was
surprised by how much I actually enjoyed
riding every slide here with Ikhlas! Not your
typical, boring kiddie pool indeed.
After about five to six hours of fully-loaded
amusement at the Nickelodeon Lost
Lagoon, we all went home smiling and
satisfied. Tired but very much contented. It
was a great outing for our family and I
haven't felt that way in such a long time.

To be frank, I used to love cartoons. I lived
for Saturdays, even if it meant getting a
spank from my mom for watching the telly
instead of completing my homework. I
used to love going to parks and having a
good time in the pool. I was a water baby. I
could swim before I could walk. I don't
know where did that part of me gone to.

I should thank my son. If it wasn't for him, I


wouldn't care about chilling out, about
taking some time off, about doing fun stuff.
It's like being reborn, you know? Or if that
sounds too dramatic, it's like rediscovering
yourself. Rewind and reflect. It's amazing
how sometimes I think I'm going insane
being a mom and trying to achieve all these
ambitions in life, but at the same time being
a mom also ensures that I stay sane. I
guess my son is my teacher in so many
ways.

I am blessed.

Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon opens to the
public on 3 February 2016. Enjoy the many
attractions on offer at RM150 for those
aged 12 years and above, and RM120 for
those below the age of 12 years. More
information can be obtained at Sunway
Lagoons Facebook page (fb.com/
sunwaylagoonmalaysia).

IMAGE: WANI ARDY!

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 7

FEATURE
ASTRID BESTARI

Canvassing "
Emotions

Astrid Bestari connects with the emotional bond #


found in the works of Indonesian artist Affandi
IMAGE: EAST-WEST CENTER / FLICKR!

When I was 5 years old, my mother


introduced me to the world of paintings.
She had art collector friends and would
occasionally take me along with her to visit
museums and art galleries. These events
made me fall in love with the world of fine
art, as I came across various painters
ranging from the likes of Don Antonio
Blanco and Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur to Van
Gogh and Monet. Few can compare,
though, to the moment I saw Affandis
artwork.#
#

Affandis actual journey in becoming a


painter started right after he joined
Kelompok Lima Bandung, a collective with
other Indonesian painters such as Hendra
Gunawan, Barli Sasmitawinata, Sudarso
and Wahdi Sumanta. He studied art at
Tagore University in Shantiniketan, India,
with another Indonesian painter named
Rusli. They practiced and studied together
to become painters. Impressionists and
renaissance artists, such as Sandro
Botticelli, Francisco Goya, and Edvard
Munch, influenced most of Affandis
artworks.#

I could not recall the name of the auction,


but I remember falling in love with Affandis
work at first sight. I was amazed by the
combination of colours, instantly touching
my soul. I find joy in seeing paintings that
are hard to understand; the viewer would
need a moment to translate what the artist
is trying to express. Affandi painted things
that were difficult for people to translate
visually.#
#

However, Affandi created his own mark on


his paintings, known as suffering. He
preferred painting suffering objects than
beautiful ones, like a half-starved, halfnaked old woman, or a black mountain.
Why? He wanted people to learn
something from his works, and he painted
suffering to describe what is really going on
in real life. #

Born in West Java in 1907, Affandi


Koesoema is an example of the brave
person who chose to follow his passion.
Although his father wanted him to be a
doctor, he dropped out of school to
become an artist. At first, his approach was
as a realist painter, where his paintings can
be easily understood, like a picture taken
with a camera.#

He had a unique method of painting, which


was using the back of his hand. He actually
discovered the technique by accidentally
squeezing the paint from the tube onto the
back of his hand when his brush was
broken and he was unable to paint curvy
lines. His technique is one of the reasons
why I adore his paintings, because that
means every line on his paintings is
produced directly from his hands, with
nothing in between.#

It was in one of his realist paintings, SelfPortrait, that the seeds of his expressionist
ideals can be seen. Painted in 1944, that
was a moment when he reflected unto the
canvas his emotions. He did not just show
his ability with visual impressions, but also
mastered the art of pouring emotion and
aesthetics to his paintings instead. #
#
8 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

#
After seeing Affandis works, I realised that I
fell in love with expressionist paintings
because I am a firm believer of emotional
bond. Expressionist paintings reveal the
emotions of the painter on canvas. Even

IMAGE: ANDY NELSON / FLICKR!

FEATURE
ASTRID BESTARI

when they didnt paint the objects clearly, I


feel connected to them emotionally after
that first time seeing them. #

exhibitions in Europe, such as in England,


the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy. #

His major success led to his appointment


by the Indonesian government to represent
Indonesia in the Sao Paulo Biennale in
1953. He also visited the United States,
taught at Ohio State University and was
appointed as an Honorary Professor in
Painting. Additionally, he painted a mural in
the East-West Center, Hawaii, and later on
received a Grand Maestro title from
Florence, Italy. These achievements verified
him as the most important figure in the
Indonesian art scene, and showed that
these countries really appreciated his
talent. #

Affandi wonderfully painted his objects


without needing to actually reveal the
object clearly. Pouring his emotions
towards the objects instead, he used
various colors and mixed it into a work of
art. His works affected the way I interpret
paintings. It was like a wake-up call I
finally understood how to appreciate art, by
feeling how the pieces speak to me. #

#
After that, I am no longer attracted to works
of art that did not communicate to my soul,
works of art that only attracted the eyes.
These works of art do not represent
emotional bond between the artist and his
or her work; rather, they were made for
commercial purposes, to conform to the
market. #
#
He might not be the only Indonesian who is
involved in modern contemporary art, but it
is safe to say that he was the first
Indonesian painter who dares to paint
things in a different way during his time,
without paying attention to what others
might think. Although most Indonesians
back then had difficulties grasping the idea
of his paintings, Affandi successfully
attracted the worlds attention through his
10 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

museum complex in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. #



Affandi was a fighter, a man who truly
dedicated his life to art despite the
obstacles that came along his way. His life
journey showed how much he stood by
what he believed in, whether people liked it
or not. Limitations did not stop him from
learning or from pursuing his passion as a
serious painter. He painted suffering on
canvas where people mostly expected
beautiful objects. He intended to make
others learn a little from his work, a risky
choice that very few would understand. #

#
Today, his paintings are displayed in his
own museum in Yogyakarta. It displays 250
paintings by Affandi that are not for sale.
Unfortunately, due to the humidity and
temperature of the country, as well as a
shortage in funds and revenue at the
museum, they could not take care of the
paintings properly causing concerns
regarding the condition of his paintings.
Hundreds of his paintings are being sold to
art collectors by prominent international art
dealers, such as Jimmy D. Robinson, Inc.,
as well as international auction houses like
Christies and Sothebys for millions of
dollars. He is now buried at his own

#
Im not saying that Affandi is the only
Indonesian painter who should be
appreciated. There are many other
Indonesian painters nowadays whose
works are as meaningful as Affandis.
However, Affandis journey to become an
internationally-acclaimed painter, with what
most Indonesians would call bad
paintings which they could not
understand, should be a reminder for those
in our generation to keep producing
artworks without thinking about what
others will think. It may not have been his
direct intention, but I learned that rather
than producing works for the sake of being
liked, creating art to make others learn is
what really counts in the end.

POETRY
SHEMSI ELSANI

Beyond those haze, there he was, sitting alone


Loneliness was with him, like an obedient companion
Understanding and being understood, like those clouds and the rain
Different yet connected

Those big brown eyes, blinking, as if tried to shake out reality
Staring farther away, beyond the haze
Wondering what would be there, behind those curtains of particles
Would there be happiness?

He was all alone, listening to the rhythm of nature
Neither hurting nor entertaining
Like those clouds swept away by the wind
Away they go as the wind blows
Those clouds are neither happy nor they would be sad
They wouldn't, he thought

He felt the wind blowing
Brushing his delicate skin, caressing it like he was theirs
He would smile, imagining what it would be like to be loved
That wind wouldn't say a thing to him, yet he heard their whispers
As if they were trying to reach him
He thought they were

That stone he was sitting on, felt cold
His bare skin flinched reluctantly
Yet he sat on it like it was a soft comfy chair
He had nowhere to go, nor anyone to care for him
That cold stone, those loneliness were all he ever had

A Sad Little Boy


TEXT: SHEMSI ELSANI
IMAGE: FFION ATKINSON / FLICKR

10 | CQ MAGAZINE | #3

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 11

SHORT STORY
SABAH CARRIM

On Reality
TEXT: SABAH CARRIM IMAGE: ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK / FLICKR!

A cynic is a disillusioned idealist.



How much does it cost? asks David.

About 400 per assignment, answers
another voice.

A business transaction is obviously going
on. We are in the cafeteria and David and
the other person are sitting a few steps
away from my table.

Marks guaranteed? David asks.

Of course. Nothing less than an A, is the
reply.

What if I get a B plus or a B minus for it?

Not my fault, man! Its the marker, the
examiner who is screwed up.

How can you guarantee standards?

They are silent for a while but I reckon after
the shuffle of bags and documents that I
overhear, something is handed over to
David.

Proof of my former customers marks after
I did their assignments, says the voice.
Names highlighted.

Yes, but I dont have proof that you did
their assignment.

The tone of the other voice changes:

Listen, you want it or not, man? Its fine if
you dont want me to do the work for you. I
dont need your money.

Ya...Ya... OK. What the hell. Ill give you the
12 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

cash once the work is done, says David.



The deal is you pay me half now and half
after I submit the work to you.

Okay. See me tomorrow at 2 pm for the
money.

A few seconds later, I see the face of the
other person who was with David.

He looks familiar. He walks in the direction
of the exit.

David gets up from his table and moves to
mine.

You heard right? Listen, I know you and I
know you can keep your mouth shut, so I
was not worried. This stays between us
two, you hear?

Of course. So you were getting him to do
your assignments. Who is he?

One of our seniors. He hardly comes to
class but he is a smart ass.

Have you always done this?

What?

I want to say Pay someone to do your
assignments. But I am trying to be tactful
and dont want to jeopardize the trust he
already has in me.

Ask someone to do your assignments? I
say.

Yes, I have always done that. Why bother
slogging when you can pay to get the work
done by others? If youre already forking out

so much from your pocket for a decent


education, you might as well pay to make
sure the end product is decent too. Its all
about a damn paper, right? And we need
papers to pass fucking job interviews.

But...

But what?

Well, prospective employers dont only
look at the paper - the certificate - because
they know that it doesnt necessarily define
who you are.

David sneers. Really? he asks looking at
me disbelievingly.

Well, yes. Id think so.

Nonsense. Its all about pretences and
appearances. You think they wont judge
you by virtue of that paper you carry
around? The only recipe for success, that is
if you are a smart ass and a good actor and
confident enough about who you are, is in
your ability to fake it all the way. We are all
fake people anyway. What does it matter if I
put in extra effort to be more fake?

David continues after a pause of a few
seconds. You remember Adam, that chap
who used to ask questions all the time?

Adam?! How do you know him?

We went to the same secondary school.

Oh, and how did you know I knew him?

He used to talk about you all the time. He
was my neighbour. When I saw you in
college, I remembered.

I am from a
country previously
colonised by
barbarian sailors
and hardy soldiers
from Europe. In
other words they
were all white men

SHORT STORY
SABAH CARRIM
I am surprised. I didnt know that David
was Adams neighbour.

David continues. I dont want to end up
like him, man! The problem with him was
that he expected too much out of the
world. That honesty he carried about him,
which made him want to get to the bottom
of every damn situation, did him more harm
than good. He was a bag of
disappointment. You shouldnt believe too
much in the world, in its goodness, in its
sincerity. Because when you do, you end
up either like Adam or you end up like a
damn bitter gourd.

I peer at David silently and think about how
refreshing certain encounters can be, no
matter how often I choose to be in my own
company.

Its time for class. Surprisingly, David
doesnt accompany me but says he has
some work to do. We say goodbye to each
other.

I walk slowly towards the staircase, mulling
over my interaction with David. He is
probably right about trusting me to keep his
secret.

I dont think what he is doing is wrong. His
action is the inevitable result of a system
that has its own share of disbelievers who,
in order to play along and get by in life,
have to come up with smart ways to beat it.

Ive decided to take the lift to class today.
Is there a particular reason? Not really. I am
waiting on the floor labelled G and the
dean, Mr. Nathan, as well as a seriouslooking white guy are both standing next to
me.

I am from a country that was previously
colonised by a bunch of barbarian sailors
and a few hardy soldiers who came from
Europe. In other words they were all white
men. Ive been programmed to think that
they are superior to us. Its the media and
the history books that were part of our
schools curriculum. I had to shake the
feeling off for a long time and I still need to
remind myself to do it time and again.

My solution is to imagine the white guy with
a tan that makes him so brown that he
looks Indian. That way the white man looks
quite ordinary and more relatable. He can
now be my father, my cousin, or just any
ordinary man on an Indian omnibus.

Im eavesdropping on their conversation
and I am pretending that I am not by staring
placidly at the floor, lost in my thoughts. I
gather that the white guy is an external
examiner from a prestigious university in
the United Kingdom. I am guessing that its

either Oxford or Cambridge because our


college has entered into certain agreements
with them. Mr. Nathan seems to be
complaining about the academic standards
of the students.

Our students, I tell you, are terrible. Their
standards are so low. They cant even write
English properly. Forget that; they cant
even think, Professor Richard! Its our
system of education that is a problem. It
teaches people to memorise everything for
exams. There is no thinking involved, no
creativity whatsoever.

The white guy seems to be listening intently
but I can tell that he is not too happy with
Mr. Nathans comment.

Mr. Nathan...

Oh dont call me Mister Nathan. You can
call me Nathan. You are a professor, I am
just an ordinary guy. Call me Nathan
please.

The white guy frowns.

Well, Nathan, Ive just returned from
Madrid and its the same there. Students
memorise everything. Its not just the
system of education in this country that
ought to be blamed. Trust me on this.
#
Mr. Nathan is quiet. Im looking at the grey
hair at his temples. I wonder how easy it
would be for him to reconsider a belief that
he has been holding on to for so long with
so much faith and conviction. The lift
appears. We walk into it.

Mr. Nathan presses number 4. He turns to
look at me and says, Girl, which floor are
you going to?

I dont like being addressed as Girl. There





















is a hierarchy that annoys me: Professor


Richard, Nathan and Girl. Its utterly
disrespectful, but of course I keep this
thought to myself. The same floor as you,
thank you, I reply. The door closes.

The conversation between them continues.
Mr. Nathan insists, My niece Alia studied in
England and she says the education there
is definitely better. The white guy doesnt
reply. I think he doesnt want to engage in a
debate when he has said what he needed
to say. Not every battle should be fought.

Mr. Nathan has a sudden epiphany. You
must meet her, Professor. She is a
wonderful girl. She is so brave it drives me
to tears when I think about it. Do you know
what she does? She teaches small children
how to speak English. They have that
disease. Whats the name again? I forgot...
Mr. Nathan is pointing his finger at his arm.
His head is bent as he is trying to recall the
name of the disease. AIDS. AIDS! Yes
those small children have AIDS. I warned
her to be careful that she might catch the
disease by being there but she wouldnt
listen to me. She is very stubborn; she
wont listen to me, but she is very
courageous Professor...

I observe his brown wrinkled skin as
teardrops roll down his cheeks and stick to
the sides of his chin. This is unbelievable.

I cringe. I wince. This cant be possibly
happening. How badly does it reflect on
who we are and how we identify ourselves!

The lift stops rattling. The door opens.
Nathan makes way for Professor Richard
and then Girl has to wait to walk out last.

Sabah Carrims second novel, Semi-apes,
can be purchased from Amazon.com.

IMAGE: CINEFIL_/ FLICKR!


14 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

FEATURE
ADI ISKANDAR AND ZAIDAH Z

Mainstreaming the Fringe


Zaidah Z and Adi Iskandar reported on three independent publishers who shared their
experiences and ideas of the Malaysian alternative books scene.
IMAGE: SHAM HARDY / FLICKR!

Bring up the issue of independent


publications in Malaysia, and chances are
there will be more than a few heads turned.
Many such books have been branded with
varying degrees of controversy, with eyecatching titles deemed unsuitable by some
for many. Though some publishers actively
court such attention, its not fair to tar
everyone with the same brush.

Aloy Paradoks of Selut Press certainly felt
that way. Citing the example of Fixi, he
stated that some publishers aim for such
material. They encourage slang language.
Thats how they market themselves. A
number of others take the same approach,
and before you know it, everyone thinks
that it is the same for all publishers.
Absolutely not! I dont publish such
materials.

Delving a little deeper into who does what
also necessitated the question of what
being independent means. Merpati Jinggas
Faisal Mustaffa believes that such a
question is worthy of greater consideration
before falling back on general forms of
categorisation. What is your definition of
independent? Since I have received funds,
does that mean I am truly independent? We
got some funding from the Krishen Jit Astro
fund to publish Hassan Muthalibs
Malaysian Cinema in a Bottle. Do I consider
myself as an independent publisher?

Whether theyre independent or not, Fikri
Harun considered the telling of truths to be
of paramount importance. In my book, I
wrote that sex is not a sin. Talking about it
is not a sin. Even doing it is not a sin. It is
only a sin if you misuse it. The logic of
stirring that pot in Malaysia made some
students shift uncomfortably in the hall, but
#

the head honcho of Buku Hitam Press


continued. Why should we be so afraid or
afraid of sex? That is a gift from God. We in
Malaysia regard sex as taboo. #
I relate religion to sex as something that is
not taboo, he continued. That is why we
encourage people to write about politics,
religions, sex and society. A pause, then
he shifted his attention from the moderator
to the audience. You guys will know when
you get married. Its going to be incredibly
awkward, precisely because you didnt
have sex education.

How important, though, is having a formal
education in the field? After all, Aloy himself
didnt finish his studies at Universiti
Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and Akademi Seni
Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan. He did
not, however, allow that to be a hindrance.
What I wish to emphasise here is when we
believe that we can do something, there are
many ways we can attain that knowledge.

He certainly attained something, being
enterprising enough to find ways to make
his first zine. The first time I wrote in a
zine, it was a cheap thing we photocopied
for RM1, and sold for RM5. That profit
margin came about in spite of the quality of
the product. Honestly, the book wasnt
very good because there were typos,
spelling errors, and incomplete grammar.

The cover was awful, the quality was
terrible. I didnt know how to do the layout,
he continued. What he did know was how
to make it work, even if it was a little
primitive. I typed, before printing it and
cutting up, then I pasted it inside the book.
I made copies of it to be sold.

From such acorn seeds do great oaks


grow. With RM200, I established Selut
Press and published the first book, entitled
Jiwa Berontak by Khalil Gibran. With the
copyright having expired, he rewrote the
entire book in bahasa Melayu, to fit the
target audience. Aware of his financial
limitations, he printed only 30 units at a
time, a method called print-on-demand.
That sparked the growth of both Selut
Press and Sang Freud Press.

Merpati Jingga had an altogether different
start. Around 2002, blogs became an
important medium of expression, Faisal
began. At the time it was also used by the
Reformasi-era conformists. I had my own
blog and became an influential blogger.

An equally important factor in his transition
was his relationship with the actor Zaharil
Adzim. He said, Why dont we publish the
articles we wrote on the blog? He needed
someone to manage his writing in a more
organised manner.

Fikris own origin story is not entirely
dissimilar, even if the actual location may
be vastly different. Having started up his
own blog, it was a trip to Brunei that lit the
fuse. That was when I started my toilet
notes. I would write and then post straight
to the blog. The comments and critiques
would come in, and thats how the blog
became popular.

Though unconventional, he claimed that the
toilet is the best place to get ideas. It even
became the inspiration for the title of his
first book, Bukan Dari Jibril. The
aforementioned blog posts were collected
and curated, to be presented in a single
book form. Jibril was the angel from whom
#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 15

If anyone asks
what the
difference is
between the
alternative and
the mainstream, I
will say only one
thing: filter

FEATURE
ADI ISKANDAR AND ZAIDAH Z
life again. No one was publishing poetry,
noted Aloy. This was not a surprise, given
that poetry didnt usually sell well; even
internationally recognised poets have
trouble making ends meet, but Aloy wasnt
about to be put off. The success of Langit
Vanilla by Wani Ardy (CQs editor in chief)
and Fazleena Hishamuddins Seksi Ovari
were the two hits in a sea of misses kept
Aloy afloat.

Standing out from the crowd is something
Faisal himself strongly advocated. In
economics theory, we look at supply and
demand. We see what is in demand. Using
films as an example, he illustrated the
tendency for such demands to trend for
certain periods of time. We watch a
vampire film, then everyone will want to
make one. The same goes for comedies.
So we asked the questions, Who created
that demand? Isnt it you yourself? He
paused. We are the supplier, and we are
the customer.

What makes Merpati Jingga special, then?
The genre or niche I prioritised then is that
the publication must be based on a true
story, or something inspired by the authors
real life, he explained. When you publish
a true story, there must be an interesting
story there. That can become a lesson to
us all. I do it as a form of corporate social
responsibility. I know it may not sell, but I

want to publish it.



Fikri takes it one step further, emphasising
not only on niche but also branding that
niche. He cited the example of Tony
Fernandes, rarely seen without his nowubiquitous red AirAsia cap, before recalling
the first time they sold their books at
Frinjan, an event organised by the
eponymous arts and culture collective.

We went there with two books, and I
managed to ask my friend to make Buku
Hitam t-shirts, he smiled. That night, we
managed to make nearly RM2,000! The
most important thing wasnt the stage, but
the fact that I planted two huge buntings
with the Buku Hitam Press logo as big as
possible. Thats branding.

That same night also gave us a deeper
insight into Fikris perspective as well.
When we edit, a lot of the problems we
have are related to grammatical issues. The
minor typos, we allow for that. Thats not
to say that he doesnt care. For me, being
particular is not the same as being a
perfectionist. If youre a perfectionist, it can
kill you.

This eye for particularity was useful that
first night. For Frinjan, the books arrived at
night, with the glue marks still on the
spine, he revealed. We looked at it, and

IMAGE: WRITING FITA!

Nabi Muhammad received his revelations.


What I received in the toilet, for sure it was
not from Jibril!

The scene, however, not limited to the three
of them. In fact, it mushroomed a lot earlier
around 2008. That was when Sang Freud
Press was founded by Sufian Abas,
explained Aloy. At that time, Fixi wasnt
around yet. Amir Muhammad had
published books, but it was under a
different moniker, Matahari Books. Amri
Rohayat was also on the scene. They were
the early pioneers of alternative books at
the time.

It was Amirs later effort, Fixi, that had a
bigger correlation with Selut Press fate.
Not only did they register their companies
on near-identical dates, Fixis efficiency
was something Aloy used to motivate him.
While I was still editing at home, Amir
already published two books, he recalled.
I felt challenged by this, so I released mine
a month later.

He was also more than happy to clarify the
connection between Selut Press and Sang
Freud Press. At the time, Sang Freud
wasnt doing very well, he said. Having
mutual respect with Sufian, he suggested
they collaborate. Sufian eventually agreed,
shutting down Sang Freud Press.
A gap in the market that brought it back to

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 17

FEATURE
ADI ISKANDAR AND ZAIDAH Z

18 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

He said, These books will mislead


people. I asked him whether he has read
them. He said he didnt have the time to
read. He just looks at the title.

Faisal went on to explain such titles are
merely used to attract attention in a
crowded marketplace, not entirely untrue in
and of itself but certainly inaccurate if taken
at face value. In Bogel Menuju Tuhan was
there any nudity in it? Anyone naked in it?

Though the case was eventually dropped,
the experience was not without its scars. I
was still affected by it, because I have to
clear my name, my familys name, my
companys name. The one silver lining was
the indication that Faisal is on the right
path. I felt it was a positive sign that were
being known, and that we managed to


























challenge the bigger publishing
companies.

Aloy concurred as he interjected his own
experience at the International Book Fair.
At the time, people thought, Lets stick
the independent kids beneath the
escalator. That didnt hinder them from
attaining a high sales count, to the point
that some of the more established
publishers began to complain.

By the time the next event rolled around,
they were placed inside the main hall. Now
the independent kids have to come into
Dewan Tun Hussein Onn at Putra World
Trade Centre. He smiled. What they want
is the crowd. With a lot of people lining up
at our booth, they want people to enter
their booths as well.

Though satisfied with this success, resting

on their laurels is not a tactic Fikri hoped


many will adopt. Dont just focus on
books, if you really want to succeed in this
field. If we want to make it as an industry,
we need to diversify our business, he said.
The best example in this industry is Lejen
Press, which have many diversified
business interests.






































It is something Merpati Jingga is
experimenting with. Now were venturing
into e-books territory as well, even though
Im not entirely sure how popular this will
be from a sales perspective, Faisal
admitted. People dont read books on
tablets. They still want to touch the paper
and smell the ink.

Speaking of sales, another aspect of the
industry that requires change is the chain of
distribution. Fikri claimed this as the
biggest drawback for publishers without
deep pockets to begin with. Having printed
the books, theyre then passed on to the
distributor, who will take a 50% cut of the
price. If the price of the book is RM20, the
distributor will pay us RM10 for them, he
explained.

The disruptive cog in this well-oiled
machine is the book shops. They pay the

Who created that


demand? We are
the supplier, and
we are the
customer

IMAGE: WRITING FITA!

we can say this is art, but my principle is,


We cannot be perfect. This glue mark
reminds me that we are not perfect.

Imperfect, financially unsound, and
potentially faced with many rejections.
What makes the alternative book scene so
attractive, though? Given the struggles of
those present at the start of their career, it
hardly seems like the best advert for the
industry. The panelists, however, promoted
its advantages.

If we compare to the mainstream
publishers, there will be all sorts of
procedures and levels you have to go
through, said Faisal. You have to send to
this department first, who will present it to a
panel, wholl discuss once a month, and its
only then that you might be called back. It
takes months, and its this process that
people dont want.

He used Haliza Misbun, the author of Cinta
Rimau, to illustrate his point. When Haliza
feels like she has a story, they tend to be
controversial, like incest or sexual freedom.
These things do happen, but Karangkraf
would have problems with it. Pitching her
idea to Faisal instead, she found a more
receptive audience. I give freedom. That
freedom, a lot of them dont have it in the
mainstream. Fikri agreed. For me, if
people ask whats the difference between
the alternative and the mainstream, I will
say only one thing: filter.

He was at pains, however, to enumerate
that it did not mean total freedom. It
doesnt mean that we are free from
responsibilities. We are only free from the
barriers to tell these stories. This is the
main reason behind Buku Hitam Press
policy of using the authors real names.
We want them to be responsible for their
own writing.

However, others may have different ideas
about such responsibilities. Faisal still
seethed as he recalled an incident with the
Selangor Islamic Department (JAIS). When
JAIS turned up, at first we thought it was a
Wakenabeb type of shoot, because they
brought cameras with them, but it turns out
to be the real police force, he
remembered. I see the books being taken
away, the quantity, and then I waited to be
summoned. I actually produced an invoice,
saying that they have to pay for the books
they took. The officer in charge said they
have a right to grab anything under
warrant.

The titles grabbed included Bogel Menuju
Tuhan, Syurga Yang Hilang and Aku
Manusia Berdosa. Faisal protested his
innocence to the officer in charge, claiming
that theres nothing unIslamic about them.

FEATURE
ADI ISKANDAR AND ZAIDAH Z

IMAGE: WAZARI WAZIR / FLICKR!

distributor using credit, which means that


they will only see the money six months
later, he lamented. What of the
publishers? If this is not changed, the
industry will die. The bookshops are the
troublemakers.

Trouble will also come to those without
enough knowledge. There can be no writing
without reading, and Faisal himself
reiterated Islams stance on this. Islam
asks us to read. Read and study all the way
to China. Fikri concurred, stating that
greater research is always required. You
probably think that your idea is the best,
when in fact others have done it better.
Thats why we need to read.

Getting an early start is also important. Aloy
strongly promoted the idea of planning
ahead. Make art, write, do theatre outside
of university, from your first semester, he
advised those in attendance. More to the
point, its important to make these activities
known from the start.

He recalled the struggles of his friends,
superstars in schools, from whom entire
faculties would support and celebrate. But
when they do it outside, no one came to
watch. Why? Because they didnt brand
themselves from the first semester. In the
end, that disappointment may well cause
you to give up.

Not giving up is important, because
evolution is always required. Aloy believed
that there will be a new generation of
writers who will come to usurp them one
day. It is a pattern noted in many industries;
the legendary director Akira Kurosawa may
be celebrated today, but the generation of
Japanese filmmakers immediately after him
derided his groundbreaking films as
cliched, having been used to the different
as the norm.

There will be a new wave of writing that
will appear. The ones who produces zines
will have their own company. They will say
Buku Hitam, Merpati Jingga, Selut...they
are all cliche. Poetry is no longer relevant.
The time will come when they will compete
against us, he concluded, looking at the
rest of the panel. We will be old by then.
Without the young, there will be no change,
and without that...art will die.

Indiepretasi: Penerbitan Buku Alternatif di
Malaysia was hosted by the Creative Writing
Programme of the Faculty of Film, Theatre
and Animation, Universiti Teknologi MARA
in November 2013. You can watch the
entire session on the Writing FiTA YouTube
channel.

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 19

FEATURE
NAZIRA ZIYANA
Television shows around the world are
abound with genre and narrative forms.
These include the likes of action, film noir,
history and even soap opera. The
narratology or narrativity of these shows
depends heavily on the genre. Thats not to
say that only the bigger shows, like mini
series or made-for-TV movies demonstrate
narrative mannerisms. Simple clips such as
music videos and advertisements also tells
the audience a story. Gaby Allrath said that
music videos frequently enact the theme
and storyline based on the songs lyrics,
while a commercial endorsing pain relievers
may rely on argument and comparison of
products.

Besides narratology, broadcast television
also possessed an extensive range of
styles, positions and structures. Tony Bates
stated that he believed in variety of style
and structure in each genre of shows
produced. As such, an educational TV
programmes structure cannot be the same
as a soap opera. The style and structure
are part of the crucial elements in bringing
the audience to love the show and
understand what they are watching. When
it comes to soap operas, many of them are
written in five, or recently, six acts. In
between these acts are commercial breaks,
placed with a certain purpose in mind.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, nonWestern soap operas from the Philippines,
Indonesia and Latin America conquered the
flow in mediascape, providing a bulk of
such cultural texts available for
consumption in Malaysia.#
#

As Md Azalanshah suggested in a 2011


article published in the Malaysian Journal
of Media Studies, the attentiveness and
devoutness of audiences who watch these
soaps are quite astounding; the daily
routines such as cooking for the family,
doing the laundry and other social activities
are planned not to collide with the show
time of the soaps. Its therefore pertinent for
us to dig a little deeper on the narrative
side, to understand why this was and still is
the case.

Genre and Ideology of Telenovela
Simply put, soap operas can be
categorised as audio-visual media
broadcasted on television. One of the
must-watch texts of the time was La
Usurpadora (The Pretender). Known as a
telenovela, they are acutely described as an
on-going television show, presented
through multiple episodes in any given
week. Laura Stempel Mumford considers
the narratology as being composed of
interlocking plots and theme, focusing on
the specific community of characters.
Certainly, there is a clear community of
viewers as well, largely composed on
20 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

Narratology and
Structure in
La Usurpadora
TEXT: NAZIRA ZIYANA!
IMAGE: DAVE BLEASDALE / FLICKR!

IMAGE: EUGENE SMITH / FLICKR!

IMAGE: NAZIRA ZIYANA / FLICKR!

FEATURE
NAZIRA ZIYANA

women, primarily housewives who are


relaxing in front of the television when the
shows are aired in the afternoon.

The show itself focuses on the Bracho
family who owns a ceramic factory. As a
serial soap opera show, the conflicts in
each episode were bring forward to the
next episode, sometimes even continuing
until a few episodes after that. The
presentation of family bond and romance
(especially of that between Paulina and
Carlos Daniel) certainly supports the
narrativity theory mentioned previously by
Mumford. Additionally, the criminal acts of
Paola Bracho certainly helps with the
intrigue.

Watching the series, the key ideological
issues noted are sexuality, family and class.
The Bracho family is seen to be in high
social group of people as they live in a big
house and own a successful ceramic
factory for three generations. On the other
hand, one of the main characters, Paulina,
originated from a small village in Cancun
where she lived in a small hut by the sea,
with her sick mother.

An example of sexuality as a site for
conflict can be seen in the 21st episode,
where Carlos Daniel is unhappy about
Paola taking over the management of the
22 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

factory. He mentioned that no woman of


Bracho has worked before, and that she
should do the same. Only men should get
involved with the business while women
should stay home, go on vacation or go
shopping if they wish to.

According to Allrath, narrativity of soaps
comprises of two major characteristics that
contribute to a successful TV show which
are the visual channel as well as the audio
channel. The visual channel can be further
breakdown into categories such as nature
of image and treatment of image. As seen
above, treatment of image is the mise-enshot as it deals with the behind-the-scene
works, such as cinematography and
editing. These works will then produce the
cohesiveness of the narrativity of each
episode, and details how viewers see each
acts in the soaps. The nature of image is,
however, often described as the mise-enscene of the show which involves the actor
cast, props used and body language.

Visual Channel"
In the final episode of La Usurpadora, when
Estefania Bracho confronted her real
mother after getting to know that she was
actually adopted into the Bracho family, the
camera focused on her face to get a closeup shot. This shot was meant to get the
viewer to be immersed in the mood of the

act at that point of the drama. The camera


was also tilted upright in the same scene as
she was sitting down and looking up
towards her mother while crying. This may
also symbolise Estefania as emotionally
and psychologically weaker than her
mother, as she was crying from not having
a mother figure to lean on when she went
through difficult events throughout the
series. Whenever the whole family were
present in a same place, a wide shot is
used to include everyone in the frame.

Its also worth considering the actress
behind the character. She is Gabriela
Spanic, a former Miss Venezuela in 1992.
Here she played two characters, the twin
sisters Paola Bracho and Paulina Martinez.
This choice of casting was to attract a
specific audience to watch the show. The
beauty and fashion sense of Gabriela
Spanic may attract female viewers to watch
La Usurpadora. In order to differentiate the
twins, the characters put on different make
up and dressed differently. Paola wears
heavy make-up and painted dark or bright
coloured lipstick on her. She also wears
sexy dresses that portray elegance but are
also seductive as she plays the role of
having relationships with a number of
different men. Paulina on the other hand
has a more respectable and natural look,
both with her make up and clothes.

FEATURE
NAZIRA ZIYANA
Paulina went back as Paola, nobody would
acknowledge that anything was different,
for they thought she was Paola. Was there
a disruption here? Perhaps, but that
recognition did not come to the fore.
#

Maphosa also said that the disruption to


this equilibrium can happen many times,
lasting for a number of episodes. This
disruption happened when Paola decided
to leave her handicapped boyfriend and
went back to her house after a year of
Paulina staying there. Paulina made a lot of
changes while she was there, and helped
the family a lot with their business by
gaining funds to improve their status as
well as aiding the recovery of Mrs Bracho.
These were the things Paola never cared
much for. In fact, for the most part she had
only ever been interested in money.
Returning from her holiday, everyone in the
house had known of the pretender that had
replaced her this past year. They despised
Paola, including her husband who adored
her all this while. This can be categorised
as the recognition of that disruption that
went unnoticed earlier.
#
After numerous episodes of crime
committed by the devil Paola, she ended
up dying from being critically injured in a
car accident. Before she passed away, she
tried to repair the damage she had done by
agreeing to let Paulina and Carlos marry
each other and live a peaceful life. She
herself wished to repent for all the mistakes
she had done by apologising to everyone.
Having repaired the damage, this new
equilibrium state is confirmed in the final
episode of the telenovela, where Paulina
wed Carlos. They are inferred to continue
living a peaceful life with his two children
and other family members. Finally,
everyone is happy and content with their
lives.

Conclusion
In the end, it is clear that the narratology
and structure of La Usurpadora was made
up of the elements from a typical soap
opera. The narrativity of continuous
conflicts in few number of episodes fit in
with the theory of drama soaps genre. The
auditory channel consist of both diegetic
and non-diegetic sounds, whereby nondiegetic sound helped in improvement of a
particular scene for viewers. Mise-en-scene
and mise-en-shot were the two elements as
the fundamental of visual channel. Just as
importantly, it can be seen how Todorovs
theory of equilibrium aids an understanding
of not only how this particular telenovela
has reached its conclusion, but also how
other television shows attain their own
state of (happy) endings.

IMAGE: QUENTIN THEURET / FLICKR!

Furthermore, since the telenovela revolves


around the life of the Bracho family, the
most used location in the whole show is the
Bracho residence. Its a big house with
facilities such as a gymnasium, swimming
pool, spacious garden, including garage
was used to portray the social class of the
family. #

Auditory Channel
Sound is an important element to a
narrative television style. In order to spice
up the soap opera, non-diegetic sound is
edited into the frames to provide the
viewers the sense of suspense, happiness
or sadness. An example of non-diegetic
sound is background music. This element
is often used in all types and genres of
television shows, as well as films.
Interestingly, Paola Bracho has her own
background music for every scene she
makes appearance in. The score, La
Usurpadora Capitulo 37, is one example of
non-diegetic sound being put in to scene in
order to provide a dramatic act of the
character. We can hear her so-called
theme song playing in the background at
the beginning of the episode, when Paola
make her big entrance to meet her husband
and in-laws. Being non-diegetic in nature,
this is not heard by them then and now. An
example of diegetic sound would be the
dialogue between the actors, as well as
monologues spoken out loud by a
character. In contrast, the monologue heard
from an actors mind, when he inaudibly
converse to himself is categorised as nondiegetic sound.

Tzvetan Todorovs Equilibrium Theory
Todorovs Equilibrium Theory is divided into
five stages. According to Yvonne Maphosa,
it consists of the equilibrium state, the
disruption to this equilibrium, a recognition
of this disruption and the attempt to repair
it, before a new state of equilibrium comes
into being. #

In the first episode, the main characters
Paulina Martinez and Paola Bracho
accidentally meet in a club and realise they
look so much alike. Paulina works there,
while Paola was there to socialise. Paola is
married to Carlos Daniel Bracho but she
also has many secret affairs with other
single and rich bachelors in Mexico. Life of
the Bracho family was briefly broadcasted
too, to provide an inside look of the familys
daily routine for the viewers. #

The third episode showed how Paola, who
loves to travel and enjoy life outside of the
Bracho house, decided to frame Paulina, so
she would pretend to be her and go back
to her house. Based on Todorovs theory,
these two episodes are categorised as a
state of equilibrium, where the characters
are living their usual everyday lives: even if

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 23

POETRY
MEERA SUPRAMANIAM

Written
sometime
in 97
TEXT: MEERA SUPRAMANIAM
IMAGE: ELVIS KENNEDY / FLICKR!

Ilove trees.#
There is a path I take to school,#
Where trees line the lane,#
I dont know their names,#
#
But I know their little leaves#
that flutter down on windy days,#
#
And I know the light yellow#
carpet of leaves which they make.#
#
And the sun that passes through the leaves,#
making little shadows on the little lane#
I take to school.





First published on 12 July 2008
(areem-12july2008.blogspot.com).

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 25

INNER VIEW
EMILLIO DANIEL AND NATALIE CHIN

Playing the Game


CQ discusses the visual novel scene with Emillio Daniel and Natalie Chin,
whose Missing Seasons visual novel will be released soon.
IMAGE: EMILLIO DANIEL!

Hi guys! Lets start at the start: who are


you and what do you do?
Emillio: Hi! Well, Im Emillio Daniel, the
director for the Missing Seasons visual
novel project. I overlook the creative
direction, story and overall business side to
the project.#
Natalie: Im Natalie, the lead writer for this
project. I assist in overlooking the story and
proofreading. I also fix his typos; Emillio
never fixes his own typos when writing!

What was it that kick-started your
interest in this area? Was there a
particular Aha! moment you can
identify?
E: Leading up to the start of the project, I
got tired of how static my company was in
the last year. I felt I needed things to really
pick up in life, and making a visual novel
happened to be at the top of my bucket list.
Its pretty much the thing I wanted to
happen the most before I die.

How did you guys get together to create
Missing Seasons?
E: I basically asked around within my
contacts for a potential hire for the project,
someone who understood the Anime,
Comics and Games (ACG) community
enough and could relate to the writing we
would be doing.
N: One of my lecturers emailed me one day,
informing me about one of his students
who was on his way to starting a visual
novel. He said he needed more people on
the team who were familiar with the genre.
Apparently, I came to mind because I
cosplay.
E: Its surprisingly hard to find someone
who understands the community and our
culture, on top of being able to write. As
such, Natalie was perfect for the job, really.
26 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

N: I was really honoured! I still am, actually.


Being on this project was extremely fun and
fulfilling.

At this stage its probably best to lay our
cards on the table: what is the Missing
Seasons project? "
E: The Missing Seasons project, when
addressed that way, mainly addresses the
plans for an entire franchise based around
the world of Missing Seasons that will be
introduced through the visual novel we are
currently working on. I like to refer to the
visual novel were currently making as
ground zero, the place where it all begins.
N: Think of it as an e-book with pictures,
one that gives you the ability to make a
choice for the main character in the story at
certain turning points, and change the
outcome of the story based on your
actions. Its meant to immerse the player, to
be the main character, as opposed to
reading their story as the third-person. This
also gives it a game element.

In more general terms, what is the scene
like for visual novels in Malaysia?
E: As far as Im aware, there are only two
developers in Malaysia that make visual
novels. However theyre both small-time
independent studios. I believe Zeiva Inc. is
one of the developers; theyve made
appearances at Comic Fiesta before. The
other is an Otome game, a visual novel
specifically made for ladies. In general,
there isnt really much of a scene for it in
Malaysia that people would point to this
country when speaking of the genre.
However, I wouldnt take my word for it. At
the initial planning stage, we didnt really
put the Asian market as our main target.
Were not saying no to readers here, but
were specifically targeting the United

States. As it turns out, they have around


30% of the English language visual novel
market.

What is the story about?
N: Well, basically it focuses on a girl named
Elena Escarra who lost her mother at a very
young age. She was raised by her dad, who
did not pay much attention to her due to his
job. Not given much of a chance to make
friends, she grew up with very low selfesteem. As the story progresses, she opens
up after meeting other main characters.
Without going in too deep, lets just say all
of them have very, very unique
personalities. I am betting my bottom dollar
that everyone who is willing to take time to
play this game seriously will definitely get
attached to them.

On Facebook, Emillio mentioned the
storys layers as its foundation.
Intriguingly, you also said this: The first
layer is the most basic way Visual Novels
are, in which you play a character that
goes about their life. What does that
mean, play a character?
E: We refer to it as play to make the
connection; a visual novel is still considered
a game despite the lack of traditional
gaming elements. The programming behind
all the choices that the player can make
definitely works on a similar score-based
system as how other games operate, giving
you a win or lose scenario. In terms of
what it means to play the character herself,
its just a way of putting the player in the
shoes of the main character. In our case,
this would be 16-year old Spanish high
school girl named Elena Escarra.

16 year old girl with a less-than-stable
personal life: it seems like a universal-

INNER VIEW
EMILLIO DANIEL AND NATALIE CHIN

IMAGE: EMILLIO DANIEL!

enough theme. Were there any


inspirations from other sources that
helped to give a certain focus to this
characters development?
E: Anime. A lot of anime! This is pretty
much the staple of anime. Plus, from a
marketing perspective, its easier to sell a
young girl rather than an older one. Even
when they were developed in writing first
prior to being handed over to our lead
character artist, there was a strong
aesthetic approach to their development.
We get inspired by fashion in this regard.
What someone wears often tells us a lot
about themselves, after all.

It is set in an alternate world, in which
Hitler was executed by Japan and Spain.
How did you decide which bits of our
real world to keep or modify?
E: Im a bit of a history geek, so I enjoy it a
lot. Ill proudly say that I got an A+ for it in
my SPM exams back in school! When I was
deciding what to keep and modify, a lot of it
had to do with trying to plunge the world
into as much chaos as I can due to Hitler,
enough that it gets the world to unite
against him. This was done in order to have
a post-war world that looks at patriotism in
a different way; to the people of this world,
its better to be proud of the reasons for

28 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

fighting instead of the country of origin. I


wanted to break the borders between
nations enough that sharing countries and
diversity in one country is seen as a show
of love and care, of unity. I wanted to mirror
our own world in a very different way.

Love is a central theme in the story, with
angels playing an influential role. It
definitely strikes an emotional and
spiritual tone. How deliberate is this?
N: Its designed to evoke that rhetoric in
people, to evoke a specific pathos that
speaks for the importance of whats inside
when you make a decision in life, instead of
whats merely on the surface. However,
without giving spoilers, just have a heads
up that not all angels are good in this
story. We play very strongly with the idea of
the love that humans have and the one
that angels are supposed to have. We sort
of tip-toe over the morally grey area of
questioning what might be going on with
the world of angels and demons, we know
so little of it despite what religious books
may teach us. We basically filled in the
blanks with science and other lore-centric
things.

Just going over the overall synopsis, it
seems clear that this is more akin to

world- and myth-building, rather than


just telling the story of a young girl. How
did you go about doing this? I imagine
meetings where basic rules of
engagement are set up first, rather than
developing the story of Elena
E: I actually developed much of the lore
earlier before Natalie came on board
through an experiment I conducted. I
created a Minecraft server that had around
20 regular players in it, and started a fake
religion and slowly started building the
story of that religion in response to how the
players live in the server.
N: Sounds like fun!#
E: It was! When Natalie came on board, I
pretty much just ran the basics by her and
continued working on it in parallel with the
main narrative. It wasnt too complicated
since the world operates behind the story. I
specifically wanted the world to seem like a
character of its own, in which I take a cue
from postmodern fiction, of breathing life
into a world slowly plunging itself into
dystopia through a polemic beyond the
characters control. In this sense, Elena is
kinda just stuck with whatever shes being
given as the world slowly makes itself
known to the player through subtle cues on
its culture and how it looks.

INNER VIEW
EMILLIO DANIEL AND NATALIE CHIN

IMAGE: EMILLIO DANIEL!

























While were here, explain to us the
process of writing this. As I understand it,
theres a team of writers working
together. How does it work?
E: Its actually mostly just me and Natalie.
We had a third writer on board, but I fired
her within a month because I didnt like her
work.
N: This is what we do. Given that Im
situated in Johor and Emillio is in Kuala
Lumpur, we dont get to meet very often.
Weve only had one face-to-face meeting so
far. Hence, we make it a point to hop on this
desktop application called Discord once
every other week to discuss the progression
of the story and characters. Well have
Google Docs open on another tab and the
next two to four hours will consist of us
brainstorming in front of our laptops. The
whole Discord meeting is usually really laid
back, but we always get a lot done!

Emillio, you have a bit of a background in
music production. What kind of influence
did that have on this project?
E: It made me feel a little bit like Quentin
Tarantino on the project! Music is very
important for this visual novel. Theres over
30 tracks already confirmed for this visual
novel. The direct and obvious influence is
that I knew exactly how I wanted things to
sound. Even though theres a vast variety of
music in there from Shoegaze synth music
to 40s Jazz, everything kind of fits together
somehow in response to the narrative, so its
not too jarring. Every character in the visual
novel has their own genre of music
attached to them. So if you play through the
visual novel multiple times, its likely itll
sound different for you depending on what
you choose in the story. And heres a fun
fact: Tarantino and I share a birthday!

Nice! Switching from a primarily auditory
platform to a more visual one cant have

























been easy. What kind of challenges did
you face in doing so?
E: It wasnt that hard actually. Ive always
been closely linked to visuals in my work, so
making the shift was just a matter of thinking
in terms of visuals-to-music as opposed to
music-to-visuals.

Natalie, youre known as a cosplay
performer. What inspired you to develop
that interest further?
N: Being a cosplayer is another way of
saying I'm a sucker for fictional characters
so much so that I feel happy dressing up
and pretending to be them for a day. In
cosplay, you're really just portraying an
existing character - their expressions,
gestures, and habits. But writing a visual
novel is a completely different thing
altogether.

How so?
N: All the characters are written and created
by you. Now, you're in charge of their
existence what they say, what they like
and hate. I guess in a way cosplay helps me
connect more with the characters I'm
writing, to see what it's like to literally be in
their shoes. When I'm creating or expanding
each character, my experience helps me
make sure whatever they're saying or doing
is grounded to their personalities and quirks.
I'm able to "keep in character" when I
visualise them.

Is this a step forward for you, moving
above and beyond cosplay?
N: I don't think joining this project acts as a
step forward, more like an extension of my
cosplay hobby. I never thought I would be
given the chance to take part in the making
of a visual novel, to be honest, but I
definitely wasn't going to let the opportunity
slide!

I understand that you have partnerships


with U.K.-based Cult Classic Records and
Hoax Music from Malaysia. What kind of
contributions do they bring into the mix?
E: Cult Classic Records lends us much of
their discography free for us to use, and as
its a hip-hop centric label, you get this really
cool feel to the visual novel right from the
start, a sort of Nujabes chill on a Saturday
afternoon kind of thing. I specifically wanted
the music from their label as it generally has
a Jazz-hop feel to it it was cool but slow
enough to register in the background. Hoax
contributes specifically two of their artist:
Zysia and Viktoria, whose music from their
Saccharine EP we used for one of our main
characters. It has a very sexy femme fatale
feel to it, like a modern take on film noir.

Theres also a link established with
Phyrnna Zorich. How did that happen?
E: Phyrnna and I go way back. We met
around seven and a half years ago through
an online community called Newgrounds.
Shes actually the person who inspired me to
take up music production. Were very close,
so when I was talking to her about the visual
novel I wanted to make, I figured we could
just use her character in the story and the
persona she already portrays to her fans. I
always thought itd be cool to see an actual
story given to her character that her fans
could take in. Shes a darling; do go check
out her music! I dont think were going to be
using any of it in the visual novel itself, but
who knows?

Whats the barometer for success here?
Is there a certain threshold youre aiming
for that would be a mark of satisfaction?
E: A really fat bank account.
N: Amen!

Whats next for the both of you?
E: With the writing being mostly done and
character concept art ready, Im trying to get
a RM300,000 funding grant for the project to
really push the development forward. We
just need to hire the rest of the team, such
as programmers and our lead artist on a fulltime basis to get this show on the road.
Hopefully thatll come soon!
N: At this point, I just really want everyone
who plays Missing Seasons to love it as
much as I do!#
E: Oh, and we also have a trap character!
Shes cute! Play it for her if nothing else!

Thats it for now. Thanks for your time!
E: Youre welcome! It was our pleasure! Nat,
say something nice!
N: No! Okay, just kidding. Thank you so
much for being interested in our work!

Follow their progress on Facebook at
fb.com/missingseasonsvn.

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 29

Would you expect


an expatriate to
know more about
the country you
are living in than
yourself?

REVIEW
NURUL ISMAWI

From Academic to Epic


Nurul Ismawi explains why Marco Ferrareses Banana Punk Rawk Trails has it all.
IMAGE: MARCO FERRARESE!

Would you expect an expatriate to know


more about the country you are living in
than yourself? If you have the names of
social scientists in your mind, you would
probably answer the question with a yes.
But what if we are talking about our
underground scene, the music and cultures
derived from foreigners? We may think we
know our own versions of underground
well, but Marco Ferrarese may get you
second-guessing.

Come In From The Cold. Literally
Tucked in among the wide array of events
in the Georgetown Literary Festival 2015,
the Banana Punk Rawk Trails book
launching had me thinking, Did SIRD, that
publisher which publishes real smart things,
really publish this book? SIRD do punk
now? Formally known as the Strategic
Information and Research Development
Center, is an independent publishing house
in Malaysia that tends to focus on more
scholarly endeavours.

It was a gig. A smoke-filled, mosh-pitting,
ear-aching gig. Before the launching,
another book launching, also published by
SIRD, took place at the same venue.
Ferrarese warned the audience, including
the ones that came for the previous book
launch, that it will be very loud. To my
surprised, they stayed and left only
because it was getting late. Apart from
those who belong in the scene, there were
scholars, publishers, writers, readers,
tourists, and even your ordinary mak ciks
and pak ciks nodded along to the songs. A
few aunties stood at the front to check out
the bands.

Ferrarese left Italy to teach languages in
China. After travelling far and wide, he

finally set his anchor in Penang. The book


contains excerpts from his PhD thesis,
which explains how I sometimes feel like I
was deported into a realm for the
intelligent. But dont let me give all of him
away here. I bumped into him a few times
and I cannot believe this guy is a wholly
different person on stage.

Destroy the Template
It is about time when the local metal punk
scene gets something written about it.
Arent we all tired of misspellings and
grammatical mistakes in zines? Some
people would dodge the bullet by saying,
This is punk, no one cares about spellings
and grammar mistakes. It is supposed to
be dirty. However, to an outsider, petty
mistakes are unacceptable. Those typos in
the zines are not going to take you
anywhere, and I believe punk is much more
than just music and doing things DIY.
Ferrarese has taken the readers away from
the usual anti-capitalists, screwing the
police theme templates.

And hey, no typos! None that I can recall, at
least.

The eighth chapter, entitled Western
Dreams, Brutality and Bloodshed For All,
spoke out to me the loudest. Being the
white guy has given Ferrarese a different
but neutral eye on what we see as dogmas.
We pay a months worth of rent to see a
Western band play in the country. Given the
tiny amount of salary that we earn, a ticket
worth a hundred is mind-boggling and for
the author, rather startling. Lets face it, we
tend to involuntarily worship whatever that
comes from the West, hence the amount of
money we pay to see some white guys
playing on stage. Malaysia is easy money,

but not for the local bands.



With the race card being so cheap in the
Malaysia (allowing anyone to play it), the
Malay Nazis are mentioned in the book.
You read that right; Hitler would be so
confused. Malay Nazi contradicts the idea
of Nazism itself, which amuses the author.
He talked to a few guys from SHARP
(acronym for Skinheads Against Racial
Prejudice), but it might have been more
enlightening if he had a few interviews with
the Nazis and see if he would get beaten
up by those guys. Dont worry Marco, Ill
call for back up.

Apart from his critical thinking, Ferrarese is
indeed very witty. He has got me hooked
even from the preface. I am not going to
comment too much about this, for youll
have to get the book and read for yourself.
Spoiler alert: he used good metaphors. I
am not even half-joking when I tell people
that this book has put me into laughing
coma not once, but a few hundred times at
the most random parts of the book. His
creative words make the serious matters
written adaptable, even for those who are
strangers to the scene.

Keep It Or Trash It?
Keep it. Treasure it.

Take it from someone whos a lesser punk
than anyone who has written a review on
this book: this book is a monster. A good
kind of monster. Taboo topics are raised,
but debated fairly. The author had cut
himself in half to debate his own topics. I
dont know for sure, but he does not
appear to be biased in his writings and that
makes him a good writer. But what makes
him great? What was it that made me read
#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 31

REVIEW
NURUL ISMAWI

32 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

IMAGE: MARCO FERRARESE!

this book cover to cover? It is the fact that


he has never left me reading alone.

It was as if he held out his hand and takes
you on journeys that he has known so well,
but unknown to many of us. Things are
pictured in detail and often in the shape of
narratives. And when you are not busy
listening to his stories, you would be sitting
in a classroom where the air is thick with
curiosity, full of questions and everything
that you need to know. Ferrarese has the
answers.

I like this guy. I like this book a lot. I wish
people, especially the locals from the
scene, made the effort to discuss and write
a book like this. He came from Italy, wrote
456 pages about us, got it published by
SIRD, which means there are important
things worth talking about in this book.

RM48 for 456 pages and a CD hidden at
the back sleeve? This book is a steal! Dont
worry if you are not involved with metal
punk in anyway. If you want to get to know
the scene, get this book. If you want to
know more, get this book.

If you suspect that your kid is a punk or a
metalhead, get this book and see what your
kid has been up to.

Banana Punk Rawk Trails is available online
from Gerak Budaya. You can find out more
about the book at
bananapunkrawktrails.com. Follow Marco
on Twitter at @monkeyrockworld.

FEATURE
WANI ARDY

Lirik Menyelamatkan Aku


Wani Ardy berkongsi peranan penulisan lirik dalam hidup dan dirinya
IMAGE: SODANIE CHEA / FLICKR!

"...Ketika itu di nusantara


Ada seorang anak pemuda
Berhemah tinggi tekun berusaha
Sedia berbakti berbakti untuk negara

Pemuda gagah kulitnya gelap
Sering harung ribut dan taufan
Seorang pelaut yang amat cekap
Luas lautan menjadi mainan

Telah dibawa oleh penjajah
Sebagai kelasi di atas kapal
Lantas mencipta satu sejarah
Kisah panglima yang berhati cekal

Belayarlah dia mengembara
Ke Eropah dan (juga) ke selatan Amerika
Panglima Awang masyhurnya nama
Manusia yang pertama mengelilingi dunia..."

(Al-Kisah, Cahaya Pena/Feminin, 1993)

Lirik menyelamatkan aku.



Aku sering fikir aku bodoh. Dan iya, aku
masih bodoh. Namun dahulu hakikat
kebodohan yang membelenggu fikiran aku
adalah terlalu jelek sehingga aku benci
terhadap diri sendiri. Malu untuk wujud.
Tidak membanggakan sesiapa.

Yang markah ilmu hisabnya dua puluh tiga
per seratus dan markah ilmu geografinya
empat belas per seratus - itulah aku si
murid dungu. Apa yang aku gemar selain
bercerita melalui matapelajaran Bahasa
Malaysia dan sejarah?

Aku suka menghafal lirik dan menyanyi.

Biarlah lunyai lembaran senikata yang
tersisip dalam kaset album Feminin, KRU,
Ideal Sisters, Iklim, dan Sheila Majid,
asalkan jangan terkoyak. Kalaupun
terkoyak - The Beatles, The Carpenters,
ABBA, Bee Gees, dan Cat Stevens semuanya sanggup aku pitakan semula,
elok molek seperti baru.

Dalam bilik mandi, sebelum tidur, sambil
berjalan ke sekolah, sambil menyiram
pokok bunga, malah menangis memegang
beg memikir patut tidak patut lari dari
rumah juga bibir aku ralit menyanyi
menenangkan hati. Lagu-lagu adalah
candu yang mendamaikanku, begitulah
barangkali. Bukan aku tidak cuba untuk
mendalami congak dan sosok sains - aku
cuba, tetapi ia menghakis jiwa aku untuk
berdegup. Aku tidak mampu. Dan ini aneh
sebenarnya, mengenangkan bagaimana

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 33

FEATURE
WANI ARDY

aku fasih mengingati beribu ribu perkataan


dalam beratus ratus lirik, namun baru tiba
sifir tujuh, kaki aku sudah menggigil kerana
aku tahu pastinya rotan bakal menyinggah
tubuh.

Fanatik, KRU, 1997.

Seni adalah remeh pada mata majoriti di
mana aku dibesarkan, maka minat aku
dilihat sebagai tidak lebih daripada hobi hobi picisan. Ibaratnya, cita-cita doktor dan
peguam saja diambil serius. Penyudahnya
aku turut terpengaruh dengan mentaliti ini,
lalu tidak memandang diri sendiri sebagai
manusia yang mampu serba serbi. Aku
tidak berani. Aku hanya mahu berada di
tempat yang ku rasakan selamat. Dengan
keputusan PMR dan SPM yang
mengecewakan seluruh semesta dunia
yang selama ini aku kenali, aku melangkah
pergi, mencipta sebuah dunia baru, satu satunya dunia yang aku tahu dan mahu.

Dunia penulisan kreatif.

"...Di dalam keayuan Wanita, Sheila Majid, 1995.
Ada kekuatan
Engkaulah racun Selingan:
Kau penawar insan Manis sebenarnya perkongsian lirik yang
satu ini kerana bulan aku menulis warkah
Bagai dermaga di pelabuhan ini adalah bulan termaktubnya Hari Wanita
Berdiri gagah sendirian Antarabangsa. Dalam ratusan lagu-lagu
Hadapi gelombang kehidupan tempatan yang mengangkat darjat wanita,
Engkau memberi menerima lagu dendangan Sheila Majid adalah yang
Menempuhi segala dengan rela..." terpaling menyentuh hati. Lembut pada
senandung, tegas pada lirik. Tidak sukar
(Wanita, Sheila Majid, 1995) menghakimi sebuah lagu semata atas
melodi. Namun melodi cuma kulit buku.
Lirik adalah sendinya, uratnya, darahnya.

Dan hei, siapa kata lirik yang bagus pasti
akan diiringi irama yang bosan?

Berbekalkan cinta terhadap sastera dan
muzik, aku melanjutkan pengajian,
mempelajari seni persembahan dan
teknologi kreatif. Kembara seronok dan
sakit ini tidak tamat di peringkat diploma
dan sarjana muda; Maha Pemurah terus
meminjamkan rezeki ke tahap pasca
graduasi. Proses persekolahan aku tidak
terbatas antara empat dinding; turut ku
kutip pengalaman jalanan dan kawankawan karyawan. Menulis atas meja dan
atas rumput. Menyanyi di pentas gah dan
kaki lima. Bermain muzik di studio dan
ruang-ruang terbiar. Lokasi tidak menjadi
soal, yang penting akal dan jiwa aku mula
terisi, terubat. Buat pertama kali dalam
hidup, aku telah berjumpa rumahku dan
tujuanku.





34 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5







"...Kini irama bertahta membina empayar
Program utama untuk menakluk dunia
Tak gentar dengan misi walaupun
kontroversi
Aku rela mati dari hidup penuh hipokrasi

Setengah dekad daku mengembara
Setengah nyawa telah diduga
Namun tetap teguh bersama

Iramaku tak akan mati
Selagi membara semangat ini
Ku laung ku kibarkan panji
Semua punya misi sendiri

Antara permata dan kaca
Terpulang pada penilainya
Namun satu seni itu
Subjektif pada individu..."

(Fanatik, KRU, 1997)





IMAGE: S. PARKER / FLICKR!

FEATURE
WANI ARDY
"...Everything I want the world to be
Is now coming true especially for me
And the reason is clear; it's because you
are here
You're the nearest thing to heaven that I've
seen

I'm on top of the world
Looking down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found
Ever since you've been around
You love's put me at the top of the world..."

(Top of the World, Richard Carpenter/The
Carpenters, 1972)



















































Top of the World, The Carpenters, 1972



Perlahan-lahan aku sedar signifikasi
seseorang manusia memahami matlamat
kewujudannya. Mungkin aku tidak merawat
orang yang sakit tenat, tidak memandu
pesawat yang hebat, tidak menyelesaikan
kes-kes jenayah berat, dan tidak juga
mencipta jentera tahan karat, tetapi apabila
aku merenung mata anak-anak muridku
dan para penontonku, aku bersyukur atas
kebarangkalian bahawa karyaku
membuatkan manusia berfikir dan merasa.
Berfikir dan merasa. Di era yang sarat
pendustaan dan kekerasan yang
membutakan kita, aku percaya peranan
seni dalam memanusiakan manusia.

Aku tidak pernah setuju bilamana dikatakan
seni itu melalaikan dan menjauhkan kita
daripada Tuhan. Sedangkan ia tertakluk
kepada bagaimana kita memandu diri kita.
Bagi seorang kecil aku, setakat berbelas
tahun usia mentah aku dalam bidang ini,
seni membawa aku lebih dekat kepada
Maha Pengkarya. Semakin hari aku berasa
semakin kerdil dan semakin kagum dengan
ciptaan-ciptaanNya. Jika kita manusia
mampu berkarya sejauh begini begitu,
bayangkan Dia, yang kuasaNya tiada batas
walaupun sekelumit satu.

Dan tentu sekali aku sudah belajar untuk
tidak bersetuju bahawa seni itu tidak
sepenting sains dan matematik. Kita tidak
lebih penting; kita sama penting. Kanakkanak boleh mati, jika tidak jasadnya,
jiwanya, tanpa bermain. Dan dalam diri kita,
bagaimana keras pun, ada seorang kanakkanak yang hidup. Dalam konteks aku yang
tidak bernyawa tanpa seni, mungkin
bermaksud kanak-kanak dalam diri aku
lebih besar daripada diri aku sendiri.

Where do the Children Play, Cat Stevens,
1970.

Ada yang mendakwa, lagu-lagu zaman
dahulu, liriknya lebih bererti berbanding
lagu-lagu zaman sekarang. Pada
pandangan aku, ini tanggapan yang terlalu
mudah. Sebetulnya dahulu atau sekarang,
kedua-duanya mempunyai culas dan cerdik
yang tersendiri. Bezanya, dahulu media
suka untuk menegaskan dan
mengedepankan lagu-lagu yang bermakna.
Hari ini, media memilih untuk memutarkan
dan mengulang-ngulang lagu-lagu yang
kurang kandungan, asalkan ianya popular.
Dahulu media membentuk pemikiran
masyarakat. Hari ini masyarakat
membentuk pemikiran media. Tiada lagi
"apa kita mahu audiens dengar hari ini ya?"
tetapi "apa audiens mahu kita mainkan hari
ini ya?" Maka kelihatanlah seolah-olah yang
wujud hari ini hanya lagu-lagu tin kosong
saja. Walhal itu tidak benar. Lagu-lagu yang
berintipati dan bercerita masih ada. Kita



























IMAGE: SANDER VAN DER WEL / FLICKR!


















"...Well I think it's fine, building jumbo
planes
Or taking a ride on a cosmic train
Switch on summer from a slot machine
Get what you want to if you want 'cause
you can get anything

I know we've come a long way
We're changing day to day
But tell me
Where do the children play?..."

(Where Do the Children Play, Cat Stevens,
1970)






#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 35

FEATURE
WANI ARDY

36 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

IMAGE: A. OTGE / FLICKR!

perlu lebih peka dan terbuka.



Lirik menyelamatkan aku. Aku yang dahulu
seorang budak tolol, yang sekadar tahu
menangis, menyanyi, dan menulis. Sejarah
telah membuktikan bahawa bukan aku
sahaja, malah ramai lagi manusia yang
pernah diselamatkan oleh lirik, lagu, muzik,
dan seni secara amnya. Apabila kau
merindui wajah yang sudah berkubur,
apabila kau berpijak atas kerusi tempang
memegang tali gantung, apabila kau
merasa keseorangan putus harapan,
bukankah ada lagu yang menemani kau
menangis dan memimpin kau kembali ke
landasan?

"...Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one...?

(Imagine, John Lennon, 1971)

Bait-bait kata dalam lagu kegemaranmu
bukan sekadar puisi beritma atau nyanyian
yang termasyhur di corong-corong radio.
Ianya lebih daripada itu. Ia suara yang
terluah bagi pihak bibirmu, dan ia tulisan
yang tercatit bagi pihak hatimu. Ia adalah
surat darimu, sama ada kepada Tuhan,
atau kepada diri sendiri yang tidak kau
akui, atau kepada seseorang yang tak
tercapaikan.

Buku terbaru beliau, Mesin Cahaya Masa,
diterbitkan oleh Sang Freud Press.

FEATURE
EZZAH MAHMUD

Mengenang kembali
penterjemahan buku
Reclaim Your Heart,
Ezzah Mahmud membuka
hatinya untuk berkongsi
pengalaman tersebut.
IMAGE: JERZY DURCZAK / FLICKR!

Ada Apa
Dengan

Saya rasa kamu patut terjemah buku ini.



Inilah salah satu baris ayat yang tidak
mungkin akan saya lupa selama hayat saya
dikandung badan. Kenapa? Sebab ayat ini
secara langsung telah mengubah
paradigma dan perspektif saya terhadap
kerja penterjemahan dan karya
penterjemahan. Penekanan terhadap
perkataan patut, terjemah dan buku
juga.

Semuanya bermula sewaktu saya pertama
kali ditawarkan untuk menterjemah buku
bestseller karya Yasmin Mogahed berjudul
Reclaim Your Heart. Buku motivasi Islamik
ini adalah sebuah buku yang disayangi,
dicintai dan dihargai sebesar-besarnya oleh
para pembacanya yang terasal dari seluruh
pelosok dunia. Saya juga tidak terkecuali.
Mengimbau kembali perbualan saya dengan
penerbit buku ini, saya masih tidak percaya
yang saya telah berjaya menterjemah,
apatah lagi menyiapkan projek
penterjemahan buku Reclaim Your Heart ini.
Buku ini, andai ditelusuri, bukan sahaja
mempunyai nilai dan ilmu Islami yang tinggi,
malah sangat puitis kerana ia terdiri







































daripada lenggok bahasa yang indah dan


memikul makna yang bukan sahaja dalam,
malah berlapis-lapis.

Ish boleh ke nak terjemah ni.

Saya yang waktu itu baru sahaja memasuki
semester akhir Diploma Penulisan Artistik di
Fakulti Filem, Teater dan Animasi UiTM agak
kurang pasti dengan tanggungjawab dan
kebarangkalian yang akan saya tempuh
sewaktu menterjemah buku ini. Bising-pekik
yang ternyata hadir daripada suara kecil
syaitonirrajim buat seantero saya rasa tidak
layak, tidak mampu dan jelas tidak cukup
ilmu untuk menterjemah. Tetapi selepas
diyakinkan oleh penerbit, dengan apa yang
buku Reclaim Your Heart versi bahasa
Melayu ini bisa lakukan kepada anak watan,
kepada ibu-ibu, bapa-bapa dan warga
Malaysia dan Indonesia, dan sesiapa sahaja
yang faham bahasa Melayu boleh dapat
apabila membaca buku terjemahan saya
kelak, terus, saya gagahkan dan kayuh asa
saya untuk setuju dan mula menterjemah
buku ini.

Di dalam benak fikir saya waktu itu, orang
pertama yang saya kira boleh saya berikan
buku ini untuk dibaca, ialah mak saya. Mak
saya tidak begitu fasih berbahasa Inggeris,
tetapi mak saya jugalah yang
bertanggungjawab mendidik dan memupuk
semangat membaca di dalam diri saya.
Kalau bukan sebab mak rajin bawa saya
dan kakak ke kedai buku tatkala ada rezeki
lebih untuk dilaburkan ke buku, saya tidak
mungkin akan jadi saya yang sekarang.

InsyaAllah, saya akan cuba.

Jawab saya, tenang. Waktu itu juga, saya
fikir, saya sememangnya perlu
menyumbang kepada buku karya
terjemahan di Malaysia. Adalah sangat klise,
andai dikhabarkan perihal rakyat Malaysia
malas membaca, dan secara stereotipikal,
sangat lekas kita menghadirkan konklusi,
membanding-banding rakyat Malaysia
dengan rakyat negara-negara membangun
lain perihal kadar pembacaan. Mungkin ada
betulnya, tetapi, saya yakin dan percaya,
(dan saya petik kata-kata ini daripada
penulis buku Harry Potter, J.K.Rowling)
orang yang tidak suka membaca ini,
mungkin dia belum ketemu sama buku yang
sepatutnya, buku yang boleh buat dia jadi
pencinta buku. Saya harap, buku
terjemahan ini mampu jadi buku yang
mungkin dapat membuatkan pembaca jatuh
cinta dengan ilmu dan bahasa, sebab
sungguh, inilah antara perkara yang
mencanting batik identiti kita sebagai
seorang individual.

Bermulalah episod suka duka saya sebagai
penterjemah. Andai dikisahkan secara teliti
mengenai bagaimana saya terjemah buku
#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 37

IMAGE: SHANNON KOKOSKA / FLICKR!

FEATURE
EZZAH MAHMUD

ini kepada bahasa Melayu, mahunya


sebuah buku baru boleh saya tulis. Tetapi,
akan saya cuba tamsilkan apa yang berlaku
di dalam artikel ini. Buku Reclaim Your
Heart yang versi bahasa Melayunya
berjudul Hati Ini Milik Mu ini akhirnya
diterima oleh pihak penerbit hanyalah
selepas saya selesai menulis draf keempat.
Ya, benar, draf keempat. Dua draf pertama
saya ditolak, dan draf ketiga pula, saya
padam (saya akan kisahkan perihal ini di
bawah) dan Alhamdulillah, syukur kepada
Tuhan, draf keempat saya diterima.

Sewaktu menulis draf pertama, saya ambil
masa setengah tahun. Menterjemah/
menulis sambil menyiapkan tugasantugasan semester akhir sebagai pelajar
Diploma Penulisan Artistik. Saya baca dan
tulis, baca dan tulis, baca dan tulis. Waktu
itu, ada dua cabaran yang sangatlah
menggerunkan. Pertama, saya sangat takut
sekiranya apa yang saya sedang terjemah,
dan akan terjemah, ini tidak membawa
konotasi yang serupa dengan apa yang
penulis asal cuba sampaikan, makanya
saya terjemah serupa dan secara literal apa
yang ditulis di dalam buku itu. Pada saya,
saya ini penterjemah sahaja, bukannya
penulis. Buku ini akan dijual sebagai buku
Yasmin Mogahed, bukannya Ezzah
Mahmud jadi saya perlulah mengYasminMogahedkan buku ini. Kedua, saya dapati
38 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

saya dikerumuni oleh rasa tidak cukup kosa


kata. Terjemahan bukanlah kerja senang.
Saya sedar perkara itu, tapi tidak pula saya
sangka ia akan jadi sesukar ini.

Perkara paling sukar adalah mendatangkan
makna suatu ayat bahasa Inggeris itu
kepada bahasa Melayu sambil memastikan
ia membawa maksud yang sama, dan, dan,
dan masih mempunyai laras kepuitisan
yang tinggi. Seiring dengan apa yang ditulis
oleh Yasmin Mogahed. Aduh, gundah
gulana saya dibuatnya! Bagaimanamahu
terjemah love is in the air kepada bahasa
Melayu? Cinta. Di. Udara? Hnnph! Memang
letup pecah jugalah kota fikir saya sewaktu
cuba menterjemah, tetapi yang pasti saya
berjaya siapkan draf pertama.

Saya berikan kepada penerbit. Selepas
penerbit membaca muka surat pertama,
terus saya disuruh untuk mula menulis draf
kedua. Memang, saya sendiri percaya saya
perlu tulis draf kedua. Saya sendiri pun,
walau usai dikumpul asa dan ditembokkan
muka, mahu buang draf ini jauh-jauh dan
siapkan draf kedua.

Saya mula tulis draf kedua. Kali ini, saya
ubah teknik penulisan. Daripada mengikut
sebiji-sebiji apa yang ditulis di dalam buku
Yasmin Mogahed, saya lebih relaks dan
menulis berdasarkan apa yang saya faham

tetapi masih berat mengikat diri saya


kepada karya asal. Saya ambil masa tidak
lebih 5 bulan untuk menyiapkan draf kedua.
Saya lebih yakin dengan diri saya dan saya
cuba sedaya mungkin. Kali ini, makantidur-terjemah-tulis adalah rutin saya
sehari-hari kerana saya sudah selesai
diploma dan hanya fokus dengan
terjemahan. Cabaran masih serupa dengan
draf pertama, cumanya kali ini saya tahu
apa yang boleh saya ubah dan perbaiki.
Selepas selesai menterjemah dan menulis,
saya berikan draf ini kepada penerbit.

Masih, draf kedua ini juga ditolak, cumanya
bukanlah bulat-bulat persis draf pertama.
Draf kedua saya penerbit baca lebih
daripada satu muka surat. Antara komentar
yang diberikan ialah tidak cukup warni dan
tekstur. Belum boleh dinikmati oleh
pembaca Malaysia. Draf kali ini masih
terasa persis diterjemah. Saya kira, antara
sebab buku terjemahan ini tidak digemari
oleh pembaca ialah pembaca dapat rasa
ianya persis diterjemah.

Buku terjemahan yang tidak baik, tidak bisa
buat pembaca kembali membacanya
seperti kali pertama, kerana ianya jelas di
tulis semula dan diterjemah semula dan
pembaca sudah jadi pembaca sekunder,
dan mungkin agak jauh daripada apa yang
sepatutnya pembaca rasa, seperti

FEATURE
EZZAH MAHMUD
saya gunakan ilmu dan lenggok bahasa
yang saya faham dan kenal, bahasa Melayu
yang saya rasa menarik untuk dibaca, yang
saya, sebagai pembaca, mahu baca. Saya
cuba sedaya upaya untuk menghasilkan
buku terjemahan yang andai dibaca, tidak
terasa bagai diterjemah. Terasa seperti
ianya ditulis di dalam bahasa Melayu. Saya
seronok menulis draf keempat. Saya baca
semula draf ini sebelum dihantar kepada
penerbit.

Draf keempat saya diterima!

Begitulah sedikit sebanyak apa yang
terjadi, proses yang saya lalui untuk
menterjemah. Selepas beberapa bulan,
buku Reclaim Your Heart versi bahasa
Melayu, Hati Ini Milik Mu selamat dicetak
dan boleh didapati di kedai buku seluruh
Malaysia. Sewaktu buku ini dilancarkan di
Pusat Konvensi Putrajaya (PICC) oleh
penulis asal, Yasmin Mogahed, saya hanya
mampu menonton siaran lintas langsung
melalui internet kerana saya sudah
memulakan Ijazah Sarjana Muda di United
Kingdom. Namun, hanya Tuhan sahaja
yang tahu betapa saya sangatlah bersyukur
dan gembira untuk akhirnya melepaskan
buku ini daripada dakapan saya untuk
dibaca oleh sesiapa sahaja yang faham
akan bahasa Melayu.

Kini, saya gian mahu menterjemah buku.
Bersungguh saya usaha dan usaha untuk
mencari ruang dan peluang menterjemah
buku bahasa Inggeris ke bahasa Melayu.
Bagai bulan jatuh ke riba, saya diberi
peluang untuk menterjemah buku yang
sangatlah dekat dengan diri saya, serta
salah satu yang paling banyak diterjemah
kepada bahasa asing, Le Petit Prince karya
Antoine De Saint Exupery. Buku kanakkanak (sesuai juga dibaca oleh orang

dewasa sebenarnya, kerana mesejnya yang


universal) paling popular ini walau sudah
diterjemah ke dalam pelbagai bahasa,
belum lagi diterjemah ke dalam bahasa
Melayu.

Oleh itu, saya bingkas manfaatkan peluang
ini untuk sekali lagi menyumbang ke
bilangan buku terjemahan di Malaysia. Kali
ini, proses penterjemahan jauh lebih mudah
kerana saya sudah punya keyakinan itu,
saya lebih matang dalam memilih
perkataan dan teknik yang saya aplikasikan
untuk memahami maksud yang ditulis agar
karya terjemahan saya itu sama tinggi nilai
maknanya dengan karya asal serta menarik
untuk dibaca.

Ternyata, kerja penterjemahan ini bukanlah
satu kerja mudah. Seseorang penterjemah
itu perlu menguasai kedua-dua bahasa,
dan mempunyai pemahaman yang dalam
dengan konteks ayat dan makna tersurattersirat yang mahu disampaikan oleh
penulis asal. Saya impi agar saya diizinkan
Tuhan untuk menterjemah lagi karya-karya
unggul agar boleh rakyat Malaysia yang
faham akan bahasa Melayu baca dan
nikmati indah hebat karya-karya bahasa
lain yang wujud di muka bumi ini.

Saya berikan kedua-dua buah buku ini
kepada mak saya. Saya rasa, frasa patut
terjemah yang saya bumikan di dalam diri
saya, awal-awal dahulu, sewaktu saya
setuju untuk terjemah buku pertama, kini
sudah bertukar menjadi wajib dan mesti,
kerana karya-karya ini bukan milik saya,
milik kita semua. Saya hanya pena yang
menulis semula.

Hati Ini Milik-Mu boleh didapati di kedaikedai buku berhampiran anda.

IMAGE: KATE TER HAAR / FLICKR!

penerima alkisah yang primer. Saya pun


kemudiannya mula menulis draf ketiga.

Draf ketiga berbeza dengan draf pertama
dan kedua, kerana draf ketiga tidak berjaya
saya selesaikan. Draf ini saya padam
sewaktu ianya 70% siap. Ya, memang luar
alam juga saya kira. Tetapi waktu itu, saya
memang dalam kondisi yang tidak begitu
kondusif untuk menulis. Saya tertekan.
Saya stress. Dan saya fikir ianya hanyalah
satu fasa, hormon mungkin, tetapi saya jadi
pegun dan tidak bisa menulis dan
menghasilkan. Otak beku. Membatu. Khali.

Selepas itu, mahu saya perlu berjawab
dengan penerbit. Alhamdulillah, syukur
penerbit sangat memahami. Saya jelas
telah terlepas tarikh untuk saya hantarkan
draf ketiga kepada penerbit dan saya sedar
saya tersekat dan tersangkut dan hampir
lemas dalam tekanan. Langsung, saya
berhenti melakukan semua kerja
penterjemahan, ambil cuti, rehat, tidak
pandang langsung buku itu, rehat dan rehat
dan relakskan minda. Syukur, selepas
depresi selama tiga minggu, saya sedar
yang saya perlukan rehat ini.

Saya mula menulis draf keempat. Akhirnya,
selepas jerih, payah, darah, luka, jatuh,
bangun, jatuh lagi, bangun balik, saya
sedar yang selama ini teknik saya tidak
begitu efektif. Saya mula membaca semula
buku Yasmin Mogahed, khatam tiga kali,
dan setiap kali saya menterjemah sesebuah
artikel, saya akan baca dan faham
sesebuah petikan, dan kemudian menulis
dengan apa yang saya faham daripadanya
sambil memastikan konteks yang ingin
disampaikan sama. Saya kekal positif
sepanjang proses penterjemahan. Saya
masukkan saya di dalam penulisan ini.
Maknanya, apa yang saya lakukan adalah

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 39

FEATURE
FIKRI JERMADI

Writers on Writing
Fikri Jermadi talks to four writers about the Malaysian film writing scene.
IMAGE: KENNETH LU / FLICKR!

Ive always followed, starts Aidil Rusli, a


columnist for the Malay Mail, or tried my
best to follow Robert Warshows famous
words: A man goes to the movies. The
critic must be honest enough to admit that
he is that man.

Writing about films for any given audience
can be a tricky thing to do. Its a balancing
act few can pull off to satisfy all. Have a
critical view, and chances are there arent
many who will take to it. Be too kind, and
you may well be accused of having a
vested interest yourself.

For Fadli Al-Akiti of the Tonton Filem
website, there are two different types of film
writing in Malaysia. There is the
mainstream form, which can be found in
newspapers or magazines, he says, or
the digital form, a field to which I
contribute.

For many years, though, the only stream
was the mainstream, a singular mode of
expression through which writings on films
could be found. Fadli lists Ku Seman, Raja
Uda in Utusan Malaysia, Hizairi Othman in
Massa and A. Wahab Hamzah as writers he
would look up. Even though his final
reviews were a little too pandering for me,
after A. Wabab Hamzah stopped reviewing
films, it felt like the world of Malaysian film
criticism in Malay had stopped.

Going beyond Malaysia, Leonard Maltins
book Rating the Movies was a particularly
inspirational point of reference. That book,
as well as a number of other titles, was my
guide at the Laser Disc shop in Bangsar
Shopping Centre at the time, Fadli recalls
fondly.

40 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

Someone who got his start in the more


traditional media was Allan Koay, who now
runs The Storyboard. I was formerly a
journalist, and I covered a lot of
entertainment and film stuff, says Allan,
so I was always writing about films
anyway. Having left his job, he is now able
to focus on the website. I already had it
since 2007, but left it stagnant due to my
day job.

Combining both the old and the new is
Kr8tif Express, an initiative that focuses on
news about the creative industries of
Malaysia. As we are working together with
the National Film Development
Corporation, writing about film is definitely
a priority for us, says editor Amzar Anizam.
However, we strive to write more than just
about the film itself. We want to explore
more on the up and coming talents, crews,
directors and producers. We want to look at
their struggles, the production journey and
eventually the success of the film.

They appear to be doing it at the right time.
I think we are at an interesting time in
Malaysian cinema, says Allan, especially
after the success of The Journey in 2014, a
largely Chinese-language film that became
the biggest Malaysian film at the time.

If variety is the spice of life, Aidil is equally
keen to note how spicy things will get.
Like everything else local and artsoriented, theres a chronic lack of
documentation, archiving and opinionmaking on Malaysian films, so I just thought
itd be fun to at least do my share, even if
the things I write about them are not always
positive.

That lack does not necessarily equate to an

absence of interest, just not of the creative


and constructive kind. It is a trend Aidil
notices. Unfortunately it is true that
Malaysians just love gossip, which explains
why shows like Melodi and Meletop are
watched by millions.

Amzar agrees, albeit with reservations on
that assessment. I can see that nongossip film websites and blogs are getting
more attention today than the same old
gossip portals. For Allan, he
acknowledges that such interests may not
necessarily be all that sincere to begin with.
Those who are into the personal and
private lives of stars are not really
interested in films.

Thats not to say that their word of mouth is
any less effective. Fadli cites Syamsul
Yusofs latest film Munafik, which made the
majority of its RM13 million collection (at
the time of writing) after its initial week of
screening. The reverse was true for another
film, Penanggal. A lot of people watched
Penanggal in the first week, he recalls.
However, the second week numbers
dropped like a stone, because the friends
or family members who did see it did not
like it. There were those who didnt
understand it, and those who did found it
boring.

When such opinions bleed online, it can be
difficult to separate the wheat from the
chaff. Platforms such as Internet Movie
Database, Amazon and Facebook are
common ground for many to stand up with
their opinions. Whether they can be
regarded as critiques, however, is probably
another story. Tweeting Boboboi 8/10 is
regarded as a critique for some members of
the audience, Fadli laments. Even worse,

Social media can be


a good thing for the
industry, as there is
an avenue for the
filmmakers to listen
to the audience

FEATURE
FIKRI JERMADI

IMAGE: WWW.HAAIJK.NL / FLICKR!

in Western media, their promoters would


use such sources as abridged quotes
without context on film posters and
promotional materials everywhere!

Aidil agrees. Most of the time, its just
people summarising the films without
actually giving their opinion about them,
he says. It is a shame, as quite a lot of
these blogs have really high traffic.

How much of that traffic impact these
writers? For Allan, given the wide reach of
the Internet, he considers the extra
information his potential target audience
may require. I still write with Malaysian
readers in mind, but whenever I can, I do
try to give context so that overseas readers
can also understand. Ive had friends
abroad saying they get a better picture of
Malaysian cinema through my writing.

Amzar himself believes in painting a more
optimistic picture. I believe with the
advancement of technology, such as social
media, people are more expressive,
opinionated and critical of their writing and
reporting, he says. This can be a good
thing for the industry, as there is an avenue
for the filmmakers to listen to the
audience.

Relative to the others, Kr8tif Express has a
more niche audience in mind. Our primary

42 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

target readers are the creative industry


players, Amzar continues. While they do
not discount those foreign to the industry, it
does mean that their articles are based on
business and commercial angles.

That approach is not without its own
problems. As our content is based on
facts and figures, the most difficult part is
to ensure we did not misinterpret or
misreport them, he admits. Thus, before
publishing the article, we make sure that
we verified the information and the source
correctly.

Fadli identifies the same reason for his
biggest challenge. The most difficult for
me was a paper I had to prepare for
Mahrajan, an international seminar in
Sabah. It was about the cinema of Rahim
Razali, which I connected with the
discourse of Islamic cinema.

Its also uncomfortable having to ask
yourself whether youre willing to stick it to
your friend. Aidil concedes as much, when
asked about the difficulties he faces in
writing such articles. I guess the most
difficult pieces are when I personally know
the people involved in making the movie.

For Allan, the trickier part is the thinking, a
process that can be made smooth by
watching a cornucopia of movies. Watch

as many different kinds of films as you


can, he says, considering the ways those
who are interested can move forward with
their writing endeavours. Make it as
diverse as possible. Include even the stuff
you hate.

Going beyond watching, reading and
writing are key for Amzar. If you want to be
a writer, you have to prepare yourself to do
a lot more than just writing, he advises.
Writing is a process. A lot of research goes
into one article, and this does not include
the revisions and such. Reading is the key;
offline or online, it will definitely help you.

Aidil adds that passion is important. It is the
key to satisfaction, which is crucial for the
job. Just do it out of love and youll be
happier for it. Fadli agrees. We need that,
without needing to care much about what
others might say. Just do it.

At the end of the day, it is the watching of
films that makes for an informed audience.
In order for the critic to admit he is that
man, he must first go to the movies.
Opinions may differ, but if reading is the
fuel for writing, then watching is the
plutonium of film writing. As Fadli says, it
is only when we dive into the ocean that we
truly understand the different sweet and
salty tastes of the water.

INNER VIEW
HASSAN MUTHALIB

Real film criticism "


cannot be taught.
CQ Magazine spent some time with Hassan Muthalib recently, talking to #
the guru about the art and scene of film writing in Malaysia.
IMAGE: HASSAN MUTHALIB!

Greetings Encik Hassan! Thank you for


your time. Lets start at the start. What
motivated you to start writing about
Malaysian films?
Well, I had been compiling material on
Malaysian cinema since the 1980s. But it
was only in 1998, after my return from jury
duty at the Pyongyang International Film
Festival, that I wrote my first piece.

What was it about?
I did two articles in the form of a dialogue
between two persons (see page 46). It was
a humourous critique of the Malaysian
delegation that attended the festival. It was
accompanied by two cartoons that I did of
the jury proceedings (see page 47).

That sounds sensational. After all, you do
have a strong background in animation.
True. My first real writing only came about
when I was the coordinator for The Film
Forum of Kuala Lumpur that was set up in
the year 2000 by Dr Anuar Nor Arai. He was
a film lecturer at Universiti Malaya, and he
wanted to seriously talk about cinema. More
importantly, he made sure that we had our
talks in writing so that it was a record and
could also be published.

What kind of role did he play in your
career?#
He became my unofficial mentor wherein he
critiqued my writing. I also learnt from the
way he wrote and presented his papers. In
fact, he was the first person to motivate me
to talk publicly on film. In 1985, he invited
me to debate his paper at his university. I
was thrown into the deep end of the pool
for my first ever presentation!

Every writer remembers that first time
they were published. Tell us about yours.
44 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

My first article for publication only came


about when I was asked to write for the
book Being and Becoming: The Cinemas of
Asia published by Cinemaya in India in
2002. That was when I began to be serious
about writing critically.

Speaking of critical writing, how critical
were writers on films and filmmaking
back then?
I think the only real film critic was Anuar. He
was looking at film as film, not looking at it
from the perspectives of communication,
cultural studies, psychology or
anthropology. I, too, am interested in the
cinematic aspects of film how technique,
in fact, is narrative. This is not found in the
articles of all those who have been writing
on film, and those who have the temerity to
call themselves film critics! #

How would you categorise them, then?#
Most of them are no more than film
reviewers. Most speak outside the text,
rather than sticking to what is in the text.
Others are in love with what they write and
so become pretentious. What comes out is
not what they are saying about the films,
but more of how they are knowledgeable
about films, which can actually amount to
very little. These are, in the words of Dr
Anuar, Internet Critics. They pick up bits
and pieces of information from the internet
and piece them together.

How should such criticism have been
presented, then?
Real film criticism should come from the
mind and feelings of the writer, something
subjective that is ultimately put across
objectively with sound arguments,
references, and also intertextuality, where
necessary, that comes from a wide range of

disciplines that include, among others,


literature, theatre, music and philosophy.

When it comes to intertextuality, though,
I suppose a fair amount of interest in
films is driven by off-screen gossip
There has been no proper film culture and
film criticism in Malaysia. In the 1980s, a
start was made, spearheaded by Anuar and
Johan Jaafar, a literary and theatre stalwart.
The group included myself, Nasir Jani,
Mansor Puteh and a few others. Articles
came out in the papers written by Anuar,
Hatta Azad Khan and Nasir. But it fizzled
out, as did The Film Forum of Kuala
Lumpur. We still do not have a proper
movement like Cahiers du Cinema as
envisioned by Anuar.

Cant I argue for the case of mainstream
newspapers here?
The mainstream newspapers mostly accept
articles that are light, written for a working
class audience, and slanted towards the
popular actors and directors. And when
theres some controversy attached to the
film, the creatives, actors or crew, the
newspapers then go to the town with it. Its
all about selling newspapers and
perpetuating a horizontal film mentality.

There is that history, though, of space
given for film criticism. You mention the
likes of Hatta Azad Khan and Mansor
Puteh. I raise you Dr Norman Yusoff, who
wrote recently about Indonesian cinema
for Utusan Malaysia.
Even Utusan Malaysia, which has been
supportive of serious writing, sometimes
does not publish or edits articles that are
too critical. The Star, I think, provides more
in-depth writing but it is still not film
criticism in the real sense of the word.

Real film criticism


should come from
the mind and
feelings of the writer

As for Dr Norman, he is one of the better


writers on film. He has come very close to
film criticism but I would like to see him go
further into how the director uses his miseen-scene to present his thesis or ideas.
This is where you realise the true intentions
of the director. As Ingmar Bergman has
said, If you want to know what a filmmaker
is saying, look at how he is saying it. The
how is the least explored aspect of film
criticism.

Going back to the Internet, what kind of
role do social media play here?
I think social media is playing a big role in
bringing about a film-literate audience.
Theres a number of blogs and Facebook
sites which have serious as well as general
discussions and reportage on film. But still,
most are not knowledgeable enough about
what is cinema. Its a start anyway.

46 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

Could this be because theres less


happening on the ground, relative to
other nations?
I dont think so. There are frequent film
screenings after which discussions are
encouraged. I think all this is generating
interest to see film as film, especially in the
last two years when a number of well-made
alternative films have come out. The
resultant comments herald something
positive: celebrating cinema that will not be
seen in racial terms, that it is a Malay, Tamil
or Chinese movie, but a Malaysian film.
Good examples are Jagat and Ola Bola.

Who do you write for?
Personally, unless its for an academic
journal, I never have a target audience in
mind. Most of the time, I write depending
on the mood I am in at the moment of
writing. I do not explain myself as I expect
my readers to be knowledgeable enough to
#

understand what I am saying. And when I


critique certain people or the
Establishment, I try to use wit, comedy,
parody, satire and irony. But, of course,
most of it goes over most peoples heads.

As a critic, what is your role, here? What
is it that you are supposed to do?
A film critic should not write so that it is
easy to understand. That means bringing
yourself down to the level of your reader.
The critic should maintain his or her status
as someone who knows more than the
reader, specifically about the cinema. The
arguments, based on the film text, should
be intelligible enough that it forces the
reader to do some thinking and create the
aha! effect, and maybe even have them
reevaluating their earlier stance on a
particular film.#
I also do entertaining film criticism by

IMAGE: HASSAN MUTHALIB!

IMAGE: MARIUSZ KLUZNIAK / FLICKR!

INNER VIEW
HASSAN MUTHALIB

INNER VIEW
HASSAN MUTHALIB
When all the parts of a film are structured,
patterned and organized well, the good
gestalt will emerge and make it a film worth
writing about. There are no two ways about
it. Thats the secret to truly understanding
film and the filmmakers intentions. Your
writing will then be on the ball

Hassan Muthalibs book, Malaysian Cinema
in a Bottle: A Century (and a Bit More) of
Wayang, is available in all good bookstores.

I write only about


the good films. I
dont talk about the
bad ones. No point
in flogging a dead
horse!

IMAGE: HASSAN MUTHALIB!

having two characters talking. This is


parodying the form of a film script and film
dialogue. Based on the feedback I receive,
this has become popular. But even though
it seems humourous and very down-toearth, there are many allusions and hidden
barbs aimed at certain people,
organisations and the Establishment. I also
include many elements that are topical,
using it to make fun of some of my friends.
There are some who say they disagree with
what I have written. I ask them if they
understood what I was saying. That usually
flummoxes them!

Perhaps they were flummoxed by the
term flummox. Whats the most difficult
piece youve written?
The difficult ones have only been those for
academic journals and some overseas
publications, where I have to do a lot of
research and give references. Actually, I
hate doing that but its a necessity. I like to
sit and write and finish in one sitting. If I
leave it and start again, its not the same
feeling anymore. If I do, its mostly editing
that is involved, with some minor revisions.

How do you decide which films to write
about? Theres plenty to go around!
I write only about the good films, that which
show potential and those that I like. I dont
talk about the bad ones. No point in
flogging a dead horse! Also, you will be
giving them undue prominence.

My father said that without reading,
there is no writing. How much do you
agree with this statement?
Yes, indeed! I recommend lots of reading,
both fiction and non-fiction, especially
autobiographies.

Theres been plenty of stinging words
delivered in this interview. Any kind ones
that might encourage people to explore
this field further, either as a writer or
reader?
Real film criticism cannot be taught. You
can only learn some rules, but true writing
comes from within you. You may be wrong
sometimes but if you are sincere, it will
shine through. You can get personal but
when you do, use parody, satire and irony.
People will be confused at what youre
trying to say. And thats where the fun is!

Its good to watch the classic films,
especially of the 1940s and 50s, a time
when innocence and naivet were still
around, but were being edged out by a new
and volatile era. Do travel a lot and meet all
kinds of people and cultures, and be
around people who are better than you are.
All this will have an effect on you and make
you a better writer.

Above all, look for gestalt, or form, in a film.

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 47

FEATURE
TANG MEI SAN

Beyond
Words
TEXT: TANG MEI SAN!
IMAGE: MARK NOTARI / FLICKR!

She came in, quietly but swiftly, and


shuffled through the not so crowded
subway car. I did not even notice her
presence, not until she walked past me and
quickly dropped a little strip of paper on the
empty space next to me. I lifted my eyes
briefly from Thomas Pikettys Capital and
saw that she was doing the same to
everyone else in the car -just dropping the
same paper strip to everyone else in the
car, not saying a single word, not asking for
anything. I took a quick glance of that
paper strip and noticed that it was about
the mute and deaf. It aroused my interest
and I was very tempted to pick it up, but for
some reason, I hesitated. I thought,
perhaps, it would be best for me to do so
after this little old lady has left.

Why did I feel that way? Was I afraid of
picking up that little piece of paper? Was I
afraid of being seen by this little lady, or
was I afraid of being seen by others in the
car? The truth was, every other passenger
seemed to have maintained a level of
indifference to this quiet figure that was
passing by us. Most of them had their
headphones on; some with their eyes
closed, some with their eyes fixated on
their phones; some just maintaining a blank
look. Were these efforts to focus on their
own tasks at hand, or simply efforts to just
ignore another person that is trying to make
herself heard by us?

The television series Touch tells the story of
an autistic young boy, Jake Bohm, who has
never spoken a word since birth, but tries
to communicate with his father, Martin
Bohm, through means beyond words. In
one of Jakes monologues, he observes
and reflects on how human beings are
always obsessed with communication
technologies. It is a reflection of our human
desires to want to send out signals
constantly; it is within our human nature to
want to be heard. Our thoughts and ideas
define us as human beings; they define our
variability and diversity as a species
collectively. Therefore, it is only natural for
us to want these ideas and thoughts to be
48 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

FEATURE
TANG MEI SAN

heard and shared by another human being.



But why was I denying this lady of her
privilege to be a human being? Was it
simply due to her unconventional way of
communicating? Was she not deserving of
being heard, simply because she and I did
not share the same way of communication?
Could I not look and listen beyond the
surface of words? It was an irony for me to
be reading Pikettys work and his ideas of
social inequality. How close would we ever
come to achieve social equality, if our
decisions and circumstances in life have
already largely been predetermined by what
the majority deemed as conventional, if
there was no way of seeing past these
constructed conventions and accord the
outliers in the society, which they deserved
its privileges?

The train announcement for the next stop
was made and the lady quickly made
another round through the car, this time to
pick up all the unattended paper strips. She
came past me once again and picked up
the paper strip left next to me. The train
stopped and the car doors opened. I
watched her left and felt a surge of
disappointment in myself.

Later that evening, as I walked towards the
train heading home, a lone figure walked
past me in the opposite direction. A slightly
stooped figure, carrying two huge bags,
presumably one of the many homeless
wandering the city. I did not remember if
our sights met, but it was not before a few
more brief steps, that I heard a voice
behind me, how are you doing this
evening? In just a split moment, I stopped
briefly and just turned around partially,
seemingly to decide if that question was
directed at me, or if I should even be
bothered. It was not long before I decided
to resume my walk towards the subway
station, but at the same time, I responded,
Im good, thank you.

I could not decide if my response was
merely loud enough for myself, or was it
audible to that figure behind me. Whatever
it was, I heard a response, Have a good
evening! I let out a quiet laugh and headed
towards the subway station.

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 49

FEATURE
MAYA SAPIURKA

Coming Up"
Blank























50 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

TEXT: MAYA SAPIURKA!


IMAGE: DREW COFFMAN / FLICKR!

One of the most interesting and


entertaining parts of following my favourite
authors on Twitter is witnessing a little bit of
the writing process.

Getting a peek into how my favourite books
are written is like watching a real-time
behind-the-scenes DVD featurette. But not
every update is a positive one. Theres
something that haunts all writers, be they
professional or amateur: writers block.

Writers block can be difficult to define,
because no two people share the same
experience of it. Probably the simplest and
most straightforward definition comes from
Dr. Patricia Huston: a distinctly
uncomfortable inability to write.

But what could be the cause of this vaguely
described problem? Has a writers Muse
simply deserted them, or can we find an
explanation hidden somewhere in the
brain?#

When we speak of writers block, we may


actually be talking about a creation
block.M Yashna

#
The location of language
While there havent been any published

FEATURE
MAYA SAPIURKA
strong increases in brain activity in the
frontal lobe, particularly in the language
areas.

In the brainstorming condition, the
subregions involved included those
associated with planning and control,
whereas many of those regions involved in
the creative writing condition were
involved with memory and the motor areas
related to the physical act of writing.

So when we speak of writers block, we
may actually be talking about a creation
block the inability to make the
connections and the plans that allow
creative writing to occur.

So weve got an idea of where writers
block is happening but what can you do
to fight against it? Theres no pill you can
take to make it go away, but there are some
simple things that you can try to loosen up
your frontal lobe, all recommended by Dr.
Huston in 1998:

1. Read someone elses writing. Studies
haveshown that people are more creative
when theyre exposed to the creative ideas
of others. Just make sure youre only
inspired by their writing and not copying
from it.

2. Break the work down into pieces. If you
cant get the introduction to flow the way
you want it to, try something in the middle.
Check off each part as you finish so you #

can get an accurate sense of how much


youve completed.#

3. Write without stopping. Try writing a
whole draft without going back and rereading what youve written. Some of it
may not be great, but I bet a lot of it will be
usable. At the very least, it will give you a
place to start.

4. Plan breaks into your writing schedule.
Many swear by pomodoro technique, but
find a rhythm that works for you. Go for a
walk or grab a meal with friends or watch
that video of the puppy that cant roll over
(a personal favourite). Relaxing will make it
easier to get back into the writing spirit.

5. Dontprocrastinate. The more you put off
what you have to write, themore anxiety
youll feel. This is always my stumbling
block (and why Ive watched half of the
second season of Fringe while writing this).

Ultimately, be kind to yourself. Youre not
the first to go through this and youre not
the last. Being stuck doesnt make you a
bad writer or a bad person. It makes you a
human being with a flawed (but marvellous)
brain.

Maya Sapiurka is a graduate student of
University of California, San Diego. This
article was first published on The
Conversation, an independent source of
news and views delivered with academic
rigour and journalistic flair.

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IMAGE: DATABASE CENTER FOR LIFE SCIENCE!

scientific studies on people with writers


block, we can take a few different avenues
to try and determine what parts of the brain
may be affected. One of those is looking at
where words come from in the first place.

Language has traditionally been thought to
be one of the few skills found in a very
specific location in the brain: on the left
side of the front part of the brain, fittingly
called the frontal lobe.

This is called Brocas area (see image),
named after the scientist who first reported
that damage to this area led to the inability
to form words, called aphasia. Since
writers block is, fundamentally, an inability
to write down words, this makes the frontal
lobe an excellent place to start in
researching the underpinnings of writers
block.

We can also look at writers block as an
inability to come up with a story, be it
fiction, non-fiction, or the story of how to
program your remote. Most who
experience writers block arent having
trouble producing words they simply cant
figure out what should happen next.

A small number of studies have looked at
the concept of story creation and what
areas of the brain might be involved. In one
study from 2005, participants were
presented with a set of three words and
asked to create a story based around them.

On some trials, they were asked to be
creative and on others to be uncreative.

When this task was done in an fMRI
scanner, which measures blood flow to
different regions of the brain as an indicator
of increased or decreased activity, there
was a significant increase in activity in the
prefrontal cortex.

This increased activity was seen not just on
the left side, where Brocas area is located,
but also in the right prefrontal cortex. Some
of these areas, such as the anterior
cingulate cortex, that are associated with
making associations between unrelated
concepts a critical skill for a great writer.

In another study, from 2013, participants
were asked to actually write a story while in
the fMRI scanner. They were given the first
30 words of a familiar text, asked to
brainstorm a continuation of that text, and
then given two minutes to physically write
out their story. These stories were then
scored based on creativity and measured
against the brain activity data generated
while in the scanner.

Both the brainstorming and creative
writing portions of the experiment showed

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 51

COLLAGE
WRITERS BLOCK

Attack
The
Block

13 writers discuss
how they overcome
the writers block
IMAGE: PHOTOSTEVE101 / FLICKR!

52 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

Azmyl Yunor, musician


Writers block isnt like a flu to me. I dont
overcome it; I tend to allow it to happen if it
comes my way; I just use it as a downtime
opportunity to reflect or catch up on other
things in my life that I might have
overlooked. And surprisingly by not paying
attention to the block, you tend to find
yourself back in the groove, although it
might not be the groove you had in mind
the first time around, which to me, is the
basis of the joy of writing in all its forms.

His latest album, Was Was, is available now.
Find out more at azmylyunor.com

Pak Agi, poet
Whenever I face writer's block, I always go
back to myself. By being myself I get new
creative ideas overcoming my writer's
block.

Apa Kata Orang Tentang Agi, co-written
with Shahanz Akbar, is available in
bookstores.

Bernie Yeo, writer
Whether or not you call yourself a writer,

you ought to know how this feels: sit down


to write, stare at the screen. Get up for
some air. Sit down. Stare at the screen
again. Get up for a snack. Sit down and
stare at the screen. You are yet another
victim to the vicious cycle of caffeine,
calories and anguish known as writer's
block.

Much to your dismay, your muse has
abandoned ship and you've depleted your
emergency stash of creative juices. What
do you do? What can you do? Talk to an
invisible friend (maybe someone might talk
back). Watch a horror movie (maybe it
might shock your brain out of its stupor).
Drink more coffee (caffeine helps, says the
person who doesn't even do java) advices
are plenty.

At depressing times such as these, I find
myself reaching for my colouring book and
coloured markers a recent upgrade from
colour pencils. A dose of colours, as I find,
is a formidable cure for writer's block.

Other times usually when nobody is
watching I give in to my obsessive-

IMAGE: HENRIK JOHANSSON / FLICKR!

Kalau konsep dah


ada tapi idea tidak
ada, saya biasanya
akan berjalanjalan sekitar kota
dan memerhatikan
orang sekeliling

COLLAGE
WRITERS BLOCK
compulsive tendencies and go rearrange
my bookshelves. By first name, by last
name, by size, by colour who cares. You'd
be amazed at how much wisdom you can
glean off the like of Michel Foucault, JK
Rowling and HP Lovecraft in one setting.

Astelier is the only magazine distributed to
the most preferred banking clients, World
MasterCard members and Platinum
cardholders in Malaysia. Find out more at
asteliermagazine.com.

Syahrul Musa, playwright
Usually when I'm having writer's block, I will
do something else which is not related to a
subject I write but can give great inspiration.
Its kind of like a refreshment to your brain.
It could be something that you love to do.

As for me, I would watch a live performance
such as a musical concert or theatrical
performance, or maybe watching a live
football game at the stadium. Traveling to a
new place also can give great inspiration
when you have a mental block, but you
must bring some material, maybe to read or
a small notebook to scribble in.

Syahruls play, Gugurnya Kopiah Putih, was
staged last year at The Experimental
Theatre, Universiti Malaya.

Budi Citawan, general manager
Hot choco, and lots of marshmallow.

Budi is the general manager of the Tun Siti
Hasmah Foundation. Follow her on Twitter
and Instagram: @BudiCitawan.

Lee Seng Foo, managing editor
I try to overcome writers block by listening
to music that is relevant to my articles.
When I got stuck writing my story about
Australian-born Malaysian footballer
Brendan Gan, I played a bunch of Australian
songs like Men At Works Down Under and
Peter Allen's I Still Call Australia Home. Or,
when I was writing about Johor Darul Tazim
FC, I looked up for chants like Ayuh Johor
and Hidup Mati Johor on YouTube and
listened on repeat. This method usually puts
me in the right mood to finish my articles,
but the downside is I often get earworms for
days!

The football magazine FourFourTwo is
available at all good bookstores.

Winaldo Swastia, artist
Stop writing, do something else or go
somewhere, then observe. Restart in about
six hours.

Sometimes its different. My book is a short
story compilation. I always write shorts no
more than three hours. As I start, I wont
stop until its done. I tried writing novels
54 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5












































about two times, and I cancelled it. Maybe
someday Ill continue, but I believe that the
story doesnt to be unfolded yet. Ill wait for
it to change its mind.

His book Memorabilia 8 Februari can be
purchased on Gramedia.com. The film
Aach Aku Jatuh Cinta was recently
released in Indonesia, and will be released in
Malaysia in 2016.

Tan Su Fen, journalist
Read, whether its articles or short stories,
and hope itll spark an idea or two. If the
block persists, then walking away from it for
a while might help. Coming back with a
refreshed mind can sometimes do wonders.

Buro 24/7 is an online magazine covering
issues in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Mahadi J. Murat, filmmaker#
My writing approach is a take-off-light
writing style. What I did or prepared initially
was only for the purpose of helping me to

The completed first


draft becomes
everything to my
actual writing. It is
the booster, the guide
and inspiration for
fine writing

COLLAGE
WRITERS BLOCK

IMAGE: SHAM HARDY / FLICKR!

Malaysia may not


consider me her
son, but in more
ways than one,
she's my mother

When I was writing


about Johor Darul
Tazim FC, I looked
up for chants like
Ayuh Johor and
Hidup Mati Johor
on YouTube and
listened on repeat


IMAGE: INCESSANT FLUX / FLICKR!










































enter into the first draft stage in a light and
easy-to-go manner of putting of words on
paper. This will reduce the probable
potential of the writers block.

The approach also creates a situation of
being able to write anywhere any place,
anytime, whether in a quiet or noisy place. I
normally make short sentences, with few
words as the point. This is the outline for the
purpose of a free flow of words and
sentencing draft.

The objective is to be able to write
consistently and arrive at first words on
paper draft as soon as possible. The
completed first draft becomes everything to
my actual writing. It is the booster, the guide
and inspiration for fine writing. If I encounter
the so-called writers block along the way I
just move on to the next point, because I
know I am still on track and on course with
my objective.

The part that stumbles, blocking my work,

finally become a plot point that makes my


writing stronger and more meaningful. This
makes writing an enjoyable journey of being
a writer.

The feature film Luqman will be released
later this year.

Liyana Fizi, musician
By doing anything and everything besides
music, and doing that until Im tired and
miss writing music again. Driving around,
eating out alone and watching people helps
too.

Liyanas song You Know is available on
iTunes. Her new single will be released soon.

Chen Yihwen, journalist"
I usually travel (alone is good) to just look at
things, talk to strangers and experience new
cultures. I also go for long hikes, runs or
rides - activities that not only push my
physical limits, but also my mental strength.
I do all these with the aim of emptying my
mind to start again on a clean slate with a
new perspective. "
"
When all else fail, I talk to like-minded
people that I trust."

The Star is Malaysias leading Englishlanguage newspaper.

Nami Cob Nobbler, penulis
Apabila saya dapat writer's block, perkara
pertama ialah saya cuba kenal pasti writer's
block itu berkenaan idea cerita atau konsep.
Kalau konsep dah ada tapi idea tidak ada,
saya biasanya akan berjalan-jalan sekitar
kota dan memerhatikan orang sekeliling,
atau memerhatikan benda yang viral di
media sosial, atau memerhatikan pop
culture. Saya juga akan menonton filem atau
mendengar lagu untuk mendapat idea atau
konsep. Kalau nak dapatkan maklumat
tentang konsep, biasanya saya akan mula
membaca dan mendapat gambaran awal
dari Wikipedia atau Google sebelum cari
lebih dalam di dalam Reddit atau forumforum lain.#

Namis latest book, Awek Chuck Taylor 1:
Kapsul Masa, is published by Lejen Press.#

Ehsan El Bakri, author#
How do you overcome writer block? First of
all, ask yourself what the fun things are that
appear in your mind. If you have any ideas,
write them down. Dont care about how bad
it is. Secondly, read it. After that, chat with
your friends, asking them about the best and
worst experiences in their lives. Finally, add
their experiences in your writing. You can
change it a bit so that it will fit the points.#

Infeksi and Psiko are available now.

#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 55

SHORT STORY
SITI NOORAIN

Shibboleth
TEXT: SITI NOORAIN IMAGE: SADIQ ALAM / FLICKR!

It was not my first time driving my car and


myself to this place. Its a roundabout-like
square, and surrounding it are numerous
and humongous buildings, roads and
bridges; a mediocre-looking lake can be
seen even from afar.#
#

a street food vendor. I was famished. I had


not eaten anything since lunchtime. I
walked, and sometimes skipped some of
the tiles plastered on the pavement, just to
kill my boredom. My attire looked quite
immaculate, the hem of my shirt still tucked
inside my pants, and the buttons were all
still intact, except for the upper one near
my neck.#

The time was almost 6.30 p.m. and I had


not had the urge to go home yet. Thus, I
drove my car all the way to Putrajaya. I did
not have any plans about coming to this
province. Hence, the stop I suddenly yet
leisurely chose was Putra Square, at
Precinct 1.#
#

A few steps ahead, I stood in front of a


pickup truck food vendor that sold kebabs
and mineral water. I bought a chicken
kebab and a bottle of mineral water for
myself. Then, I scanned around and
continued walking.#

#
Since it was very late in the afternoon, the
parking lots were already almost full.
Humans were scattered around, not only
people who came back from work, but also
people who did not go to work at all. There
were also toddlers and kids, walking and
holding hands with their parents, who
obviously did not go to work that day.#

***#

***#

I mentally slapped myself for forgetting the


existence of this place. I knew it had a
number of restaurants, thus I would not
have to buy the kebab if I had not forgotten
about this place. However, it was the right
decision for me to buy my food from the
food vendor, because immediately after I
arrived here, most of the shops were
already closed. Only a few were still open
for business, and I could have counted with
my two hands how many people were
waiting to be served.#

It was a serious pain in the ass to find a


vacant seat to settle myself down around
Putra Square. The place was undeniably
big, but it was so hard to find even a small
place for me to enjoy my kebab. The kebab
itself slowly lost its heat, reduced to the
standard room temperature because of my
own warmth. My mineral water started to
sweat (or bleed, as I always call it),
indicating the coldness thats slowly
seeping away. #

I drove three times around the roundabout


just to find a vacant parking lot. After swiftly
but carefully reverse parking my car, I
turned off the engine and got out. The
environment that hit me totally reflected the
activities that were being carried out
around the square. It was stuffy, smelly like
a dirty damp cloth, as the air suffocated
me. Not literally, but the smell and the
feeling of the surroundings made me want
to lock myself inside my car and watch
everything from inside.#
#

I walked until I reached the i-Centre, a onestop information point for visitors who have
any inquiries regarding Putrajaya.
Surrounding the centre was a bunch of
umbrella-lookalike Arab camps; beneath
them were seats for visitors and tourists to
rest. I looked at each one, searching for a
free spot as my stomach angrily grumbled,
asking to be fed. I found one, but with not
enough space to put down my ass and eat
my kebab.#

56 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

It had been ten minutes since I got here.


With the thought of fighting off the massive
traffic jam and super powered heat from
the sun, I decided to stay, albeit in the
stuffy, smelly, damp air. I walked towards
the sidewalk across the road, searching for

I looked at the people near the spot, hoping


they would understand my telekinetic stare,
but to no avail. A man who accidentally
read my look immediately called his son
and forced the boy to sit there. The boy
shook his head, wailing his voice off stating
that he wanted to play ball. Suddenly, a
male Caucasian tourist came near the man
and asked for a seat. The man
unashamedly gave the tourist a big crooked
smile and patted the spot, his gesture
screaming the action of him forcing the
tourist to sit. I looked at the man and
smiled at him, and continued walking until I
found the stairs to Souq Putrajaya.#

Even if that wasnt the case, I would still


feel my decision of buying food from the
street vendor was right, because the prices
for the food at those restaurants were
insanely expensive! Although I worked for a
private company, this was out of this world;
how the hell can nasi briyani cost up to
RM20? A glass of teh ais cost more than
RM2. I was lost for words and facial
expressions. I decided to climb up the
stairs and walked towards the concrete
barrier near the lake.

This was when I was


lost in the ideas of why
Dataran Putra was made
with all those buildings
and places"

SHORT STORY
SITI NOORAIN
Finally, I put down my ass and started to
chow down my kebab. It tasted just okay,
with the heat totally gone by now. It was
like eating cold rice with chicken. Taking my
final bite, I opened up the bottle of mineral
water. Before drinking, I wet my hands with
the sweats dripping off the bottle. I took off
the cap and gulped down almost half of the
bottle. Yes, I was that thirsty. Then, I drank
the rest of the water.#

my shoes and went straight to the toilet. I


went for a pee and had my ablution. From
afar, I could see the Imam had already
started the prayer, and jogged towards the
saf, joining the others.#
#

After only fifteen minutes, I finished my


prayer and concluded my doa. I had not
expected the Imam to read two whole
intermediate-sized surahs for the prayer. I
crossed my leg on the carpet and let out a
long sigh. A late thought came through my
mind: I should have prayed alone. I should
not have followed the Imam.#

The time then was 7.10 p.m., and the sky


was slowly covered with darkness, little bits
of orange and red rays in between the
clouds. The moon already appeared, its
surface bright but uneven. The sun was
already gulped down by the clouds.
Mosquitos started to circle the darkness, or
anything that was dark, like my hair and my
pants. Feeling irritated, I immediately got
up and walked away.#
#

In under five minutes, the azan for Maghrib


would be heard all across Putrajaya.#
#
This was when I was lost. Lost in the ideas
of why Dataran Putra was made with all
those buildings and places.#
#
I brought myself to the centre of the square.
At the centre, there was a very tall and big
flagpole, holding up the Malaysian flag. I
could not be bothered with the pole
actually, but I stood next to it. I looked at
my surroundings and I started to walk
around the flagpole. I steadied my pace
while looking at the people and the
activities they were doing. In general, there
were families, Muslims and non-Muslims,
lepaking and hanging around. #
#

While I was walking around the flagpole,


the azan was on but it could be clearly seen
that the call was being ignored, especially
by the Muslims. Mummies and daddies
were busy playing with their children;
teenagers interlocked their fingers together
as they swing their hands and enjoyed their
little stroll. Kids were shouting, wailing,
giggling, laughing, snorting and running
around like the square was theirs. #
#
And there it was, Masjid Putra, in its pink
colour, standing grandly with awe, waiting
for those people to come inside and
perform their prayers. All I could see was
people, coming from nowhere, parking their
vehicles near the mosque before entering it,
probably to perform their prayers. The rest
were still busy with their own activities. #
#

***#
#
I decided not to be like those who were
immensely enjoying themselves at the
square. I brought myself to the mosque. It
was a huge, beautiful mosque; the pink
colour gave a soft yet steady look. I took off

I only had the liberty of taking a short nap


for less than ten minutes when a man came
along and woke me up. Feeling groggy, I
immediately sat up and opened my eyes. I
set my eyes straight to the man who was
on his knees, as my telekinetic look shot
him whats wrong? look.

Maaf, ye. Kamu tak boleh tidur sini, the
man stated matter-of-factly, objecting to
my nap.#

I was not surprised to hear his words. I
knew that he had already encountered a
number of such incidents throughout the
day, and thus already knew what he had to
say.#

#
Letting out another sigh, I stood up and
walked towards the end of the building. I
plumped my ass down the carpet and
started to stretch my legs. Feeling
comfortable, I laid down and shifted into
the foetal position, clasping my fingers and
putting them below my head.













































58 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

IMAGE: BOON CHUAN LOW / FLICKR!

#
I put on a little smile, asking for a short
respite while waiting for the next prayer
time. Baring kejap pun tak boleh ke,
bang? Saya nak tunggu Isya terus. My

SHORT STORY
SITI NOORAIN
expression indicated that I was tired and
needed a tiny nap. #

rule.#

***#

put the filter in between my lips. I breathed


in a long breath and slowly let out the
smoke.#

The man smiled and nodded, even as he


rejected my request. Tak boleh. Nanti Tok
Siak datang pun dia cakap benda yang
sama. Lagipun kamu mesti dah ubah
kedudukan duduk kamu. Nanti kena ambil
wuduk lain. So, eloklah kalau kamu bangun
dan duduk di belakang. Atau baca AlQuran.#

#
I decided to kill time by walking, again.
Thus, I put on my shoes and went to the
centre of the square. I thought that some
people had already gone home, but I was
wrong. Cars were busy circling the road,
trying to find vacant parking spots. Some
drivers even double parked their cars, in
what I would consider as a totally douche
move.#

***#

#
Scattered around the square was a bunch
of street sellers, selling kites, toys and
whatnot. When the air suddenly became
too stuffy, I made my way to the seating
area near the i-Centre. I found a vacant
seat and immediately put my ass down. I
let out a sigh, took off my shoes and
crossed my legs onto the seat. From my
position, I could see people who were
enjoying the night cruise at Putrajaya Lake. #

I was taken aback. My mouth was gaping


open as my cigarette continued burning.
My mind was somewhere else as my right
hand handed out the pack of cigarettes
towards the old man. The old man smiled
again and shook his round head.#

#
I let out a small laugh. I wondered how
many mosquitoes were with those people
on the cruise, since it was almost pitch
black, with the exception of the lights glued
to the boats roof.#

I smiled insincerely, and automatically my


right hand turned into a fist upon hearing
his voice. I slowly shook my head and unfisted it.#

The man stood up and smiled, again. Over


time, he looked like he was going to shout
at me with his facial expression that slowly
reminded me of The Joker in Batman. I
stood up, straightened my pants and made
my way out of the mosque. #
#
A question came out from my mouth.#
#

Since when people are not allowed to


sleep in a mosque? This must be a new












































Suddenly, an old man, looking


immaculately dressed in his black suit, took
a seat beside me. He let out a short sigh,
his hands placed on his knees. Looking
down at the space in between his legs, he
let out another sigh. Slowly, he sat straight
and greeted me with a smile. #

I dont smoke. See. My lips are still pink in


colour. He spoke with low tone, his white
straight teeth showing.#

Oh. Im sorry. By the way, what are you


doing here, Datuk? Havent gone back
home yet? I retorted when the shock
cascaded. I took a small puff from my
cigarette, and put out the fire on the
concrete coated seat.#

I turned my sight towards Perdana Putra. It


is the primary building for the Malaysian
Prime Minister. It looked so freaking huge
from my seat. The big green dome was
visible at its centre, with numerous
windows and stairs. If I was not mistaken,
visitors are not allowed to come near the
building at night. Im not sure if they and
tourists could visit the building during the
day. At night, though, its just a green and
beige building, with a huge dome at the
centre of it.#
#

Nah. Actually I wanted to have some fresh


air after being locked up in my office since
this morning. But, I made the wrong move.
Why are all these people still here? Its late.
And tomorrow is Friday. The kids have
school, the old man rambled matter-offactly. #

Why put the building near the square if


visitors could not take a closer look at it at
night?#

#
***#

Well, Im lost for words as to why these


people are still here. I snorted, putting my
pack of cigarettes into the pocket of my
pants.#

Since I did not want the situation to turn


into silence, I replied.#

Feeling bored, I stood up and walked again.


I followed the pavement made for
pedestrians and runners, and I walked.
Sometimes, I skipped some of the tiles.
With both hands in my pockets, I continued
until I realised that I had circled the square.
I found myself standing in front of Perdana
Putra. The building was gigantic in size. I
wondered just what they do inside the
building. It was so massive that I felt my left
knee wobbling just by looking at it. #
#

Well, then, I am lost, too.#


#

That was probably the first time I heard the


Prime Minister of Malaysia said, with full
honesty, that he was lost.#
#
Lost in his own kingdom and people.

#
I found a seat and settled there. I decided
to face the square, just to laugh at those
people who had not gone home yet after
spending two to three hours at the square. I
took out a pack of cigarettes and pulled out
a cigarette from the box. I lit up the end and
#5 | CQ MAGAZINE | 59

POETRY
SHEMSI ELSANI

Hopelessness
TEXT: SHEMSI ELSANI
IMAGE: FUMIGRAPHIK-PHOTOGRAPHIST / FLICKR

In the darkness, so sad and horrid,


Being pushed and pumped upon,
Beat by beat, torn and castigated,
Left to the emptiness of time.

For so young it hurts,
So deep inside, unbearable pain,
Keep fighting, loud and noisy,
Screaming the muted voice.

Reaching for help, yet to come,
Beyond the horizon far away,
Where the eyes failed to see,
Holding tightly upon the faith.

So alone in a crowd,
Being betrayed by the blood,
Only blackness seeping in,
For the happiness is just a myth.

60 | CQ MAGAZINE | #5

#2 | CQ MAGAZINE | 29