Sunset Dreams

Standing on puddles,
You were certain you were alive,
Delivering angles of truth,
You welcomed challenges
As if they were your best enemies.

Yet, you feared the slight whisper
That kept you awake and drained,
Forcing you to lose your victory,
Letting you watch the wrong scenes
In your head, your room and the old streets.

Unaware and aloof,
The space invited a spur of noises,
You thought you were fighting them
But you caressed them with your silence,
And you tore up the torn walls.

Forever became the moment,
You were like a runaway patient,
Going through different circles and taxis,
Trying to dismember any bad memory
That was never made, only structured.

Sunsets called over and made you rest,
You confronted your blues and whites,
While the certified driver was proud to announce,
That people’s flaws were due to their nature,
And skins and cultures were all that matter.

No way that thoughts could mean facts,
Oh, but what a way to express a discrimination!
You remembered your faraway dreams,
Perfection and globes climbed up to your mind
Again, you breathe and slowly you feel

The rain, not the puddles,
The wind, not the heat,
The light, not the fire
The will, not the blood
The signs everywhere

And the limits you put
To yourself,
Forever becomes
A wonder
Once more.

Maximum

Panic overruled diagnosis
Science invites chaos
Testimony scars visions

What a being
Without knowing how
The earth spills

Everything that shines
Every worm bites
Every dice turns

Every word freezes
When you slither
Front and back

Momentarily
The trees speak
Anguish sends storm

Curiosity creates litmus
Acids intensify mimes
Air reminisces rains

Taints and fevers
Covering the veins
Simmering the pride

The pendulum sways
Knocking the hues
Of the imminent

Were you needed
Before
or ever?

Century

Indifferent spelling
Wasteful
Signs
Breaking white
Noise

Withdrawing
The blinds
Seen from
The tame
Eyes

Old age
Is old
No matter
What
They feel

Twenty one
Is forgotten
While
News
Is forever

Right now,
Absence
Makes
Everything
Sound

As if
We are
Complete
When we
Triumph

Over
The hills
That were
Never
There

When we
Were
Born
In a different
Era

In a different
Volume
And
Space
And crowd.

Cardboards

Truth is like an old man,
whom you’ve seen before,
with his ragged, filthy clothes,
Often alone, at the side street,
sitting on cardboards
and surrounded by plastics and sheets.

You feel like you want to help him,
but you can’t decide, instead
you pray someone else will,
As a way to redeem your conscience,
As a way to soothe your soul,
You close your eyes
while you try to breathe normally
and bite the tears,
The pain is gone but only temporary;

You see other people do the same,
You curse and condemn them,
You forget your own doings,
You forget your own ignorance.

Your conscience directs you and you depend on it,
But your heart is screaming out loud,
You lie to yourself, you become a mask,
A hideous one who pitifully cries
and scorns no one but itself.

The old man walks away
as he picks up
his cardboards
and coins,
You see his back, you stop crying,
You follow the old man with weak
but careful steps.

You finally approach the old man,
and the old man stays silent,
You speak to him with an awkward laugh,
asking ‘how do you do?’
The man remains quiet, and doesn’t show any move,
You talk to him until you are out of breath,
with polite gestures and random jest,
which you try to make them appear
as real as possible.

You laugh again, with sweats,
when the old man doesn’t say anything,
You murmur ‘sorry if I’ve offended you
in any way, I only wanted to talk’,
And every now and then,
the alley dims and blinks
thriftily, ruefully,
like a slow heartbeat.

You feel strange and you grow scared,
You don’t know what this fear is,
Yet you don’t move an inch to get away,
While the old man seems to drown
His head in his dreams of the sea.

You want to say something again but your mouth is dry,
You feel constrained as the crowd is getting bigger,
You cry ‘help’ desperately as you kneel down
and grab anything that is near.
You feel a rough feeling in your hand.
It’s something nostalgic
that belongs to the old man,
You don’t know what happened,
But –

The old man has fled,
leaving only the cardboards,
and scribbles written on them,
where they appear absurd
to the massive crowd
that forgets to see
the truth –

like the old man.

A little bit of reflection on Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

13013348

“But sir, how can a man of your intelligence, a professor of history, who knows the value of thorough research, come here from Harvard and attack the Black Muslims, basing your conclusions on one small article?”

That quote right there, was one of the reasons why I wanted to read this book. Presenting logic and facts in an eloquent manner in his speeches, this guy was a great orator and a most determined individual, fighting for the rights of the black population in the US. I simply wanted to know more about Malcolm X. Another biography is another/a further insight on his thoughts and journey as a Black Muslim leader & human rights activist.

However, the first quarter of the book was a bit difficult for me to read. Marable made it clear that he wanted to challenge the popular and widely accepted notions on Malcolm X, both positive and negative. He wanted to go beyond what other people have done including Alex Haley, whom he thought had his own agenda. The result was a much more comprehensive and explicit work than The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told to Alex Haley. Marable’s dedication to write this book is no joke. It took him years and despite his illness, he still went on. So I admire that and respect his decision to present certain points and arguments in order to show to people that Malcolm X was indeed amazing, but not without faults. He chronicled Malcolm X’s life from a young age to the day of his assassination and even after that with great detail. He gathered points and evidences to portray the different sides of Malcolm X and the other truths of what have occurred. He was also not afraid to criticise Malcolm, his ways of dealing within his former movement, Nation of Islam (NOI) and his position in trying to solve problems facing the African-Americans in the 1960s.

As someone who looks up to scholars and researchers, there is no doubt that I was impressed, thinking about the great lengths and depths Marable has gone through to do this. Personally though, it was a bit too much sometimes. I don’t think I need to know everything about a person, because you’ll tend to find things that would make you feel uncomfortable and difficult to accept. There were things like that in the book but it wasn’t just this that made me feel uncomfortable. It was how Marable interpreted or suggested based on those details. I started to wonder if I was just too stubborn to admit the possibilities that were drawn by Marable. And then I wondered, ‘What is Marable actually trying to do by saying this stuff? Accusing others like Alex Haley’ Then I also thought, perhaps objectivity and subjectivity could exist together…whatever that means.

After going through the pages through gritted teeth during the first quarter, things got better. I was glad that I reached to the last chapter where I realized that this book was a biography after all, not ‘The Complete Life of Malcom X’. It was Marable’s take (with the help of others) on what he believed to be important factors and events surrounding Malcolm X’s life. It was his perspective, his understanding of what would be the best portrait of the man who was a hero to many, but who also had his merits and flaws. For his efforts of avoiding hearsays and attempting to make a broader and more critical picture, I truly appreciate his work, all in all.

Weird or Just Different? – Reflecting on Stillman’s Autism and the God Connection

“Always presume intellect” – William Stillman

Despite my mixed feelings towards Stillman’s book, Autism and the God Connection, I’m inclined to say his main message is bountiful to share. Being a person with an Asperger’s himself, I feel even more touched and impressed by his brave decision for coming forward and clear some smokes and misunderstandings on autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Regarding spirituality and religion which are also discussed – those are separate issues and beliefs to be discussed, I suppose. There are times where I feel a bit detached reading the book but this is probably (I found out later and there was a similar experience when I read James Baldwin’s Go Tell it to the Mountain) because I’m not familiar with the bible language or bible passages.

Yet, it doesn’t stop me from admiring some of his wisdom. The above quote, in which Stillman claims to be his daily mantra, has definitely left a meaningful impact on me. The idea is basically similar to the Golden rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. It’s simple, treat others as you would want others to treat you. I’d probably say with respect because I’d want to be treated that way and as I believe, no matter how flawed I am as a person, I’d like to think I’m worth something as a human (dignity etcetc).

In this case, where autism and Asperger’s are discussed, Stillman believes that presuming intellect is the best way to do when it comes to people with ASD. He explained that some who have low-functioning autism, are not able to express verbally (they use other communication aids e.g. communication board). However, just because they’re not able to speak i.e. the common and ‘civilized’ way of communicating with people, this doesn’t mean – to put this in a plain way – they’re dumb.

Sure, they’re different from us ‘neurotypical’ people (In Stillman’s words: To those unfamiliar with autism, it is, from a clinical perspective, a neurological difference in how the brain is “wired.”) but apparently some people can’t stand the word ‘different’. Sigh, people. As if superiority and superiority in which is so highly regarded in a society, means everything to bully and abuse someone in order to claim for it. As if human’s worth and dignity can be totally measured by perceptions and a bunch of stereotypes.

Anyway, (before I could rant further) it seems clear for me that Stillman believes, whoever you are, one has a heart and has the right to be treated properly and justly. Presuming intellect is said to be the best way in dealing with ASD, I think, is because we shouldn’t judge that their ability that also significantly defines them, based on what is usually thought to be the normal methods of claiming someone as intelligent or able. There are other means where they can express themselves and establish themselves as a “person” and I think we tend to forget that and get sucked in the normal way of understanding and judging people.

What I’ve understood about ASD is probably limited. But I know that in the end, we’re all just human beings, no matter what ‘disorders’ and problems we have. The book is a good one to reflect important social issues and how important it is to understand that disability is often flaunted around when we come across something or someone different. I think beyond this, the above quote also lends me some advice on the outlook of life as well. It’s very much more liberating and healthier to think the best of people.


*Posted this before in FB but just thought of sharing here (plus I’m currently having similar feelings that I’ve stated/described here)

Cheers!

Premature Lights

The crowd was so sure that I wouldn’t find you there no matter how desperate I am or how long I’d look for you. If I’d ever noticed you there, it was done intentionally as to avoid ordinary people like me approaching you. It was the crowd with him or him in another planet. Yet, even the sight of your shadow would overwhelm my existence. I’d run, I’d persisted, I’d fallen and I’d gone in circles with ideas of seeing you and listening to your voice, in which, would slowly be torn by pieces. It was a loss cause that I’d find difficult to embrace.

I was afraid, you see – I wasn’t expecting to discover personal things about you and would still admire your artistry after that, or even gain the curiosity of interacting with you. Initially, it would be fine to imagine the philanthropy work that you’ve done was due to your own sentiments and thoughts. It would be simply satisfying to hear you argue against the oppression being acted upon the forgotten nations that was denied by the majority. I didn’t want to dream more than that but someday just became a hopeful day to me. A little too hopeful, unfortunately.

I was cold and had been cold plenty of times, before in various ways. You don’t know this but your presence had helped to ease those unwanted feelings. Your words were warm, so soothing that I thought you’d understand the pains of the restless group. Your tone was indiscriminating in which I felt safe. Your stance was firm but not imperfect. I liked that it was unapologetic, yet empathetic. I grew keener to know your approaches to things in general and things in particular the more I witnessed your skilful and elegant performance.

That’s where it went wrong, I suppose. Loving the idea of ideas of the embodiment of an individual. I so always forget that characters are backed up by beliefs and actions that are demonstrated in different circumstances. I kept focusing on, instead, the richness of the language that was elevated by the privileged experience. I believed that was an advantage that only added to your greatness, not arrogance. I gave far too much praise for the apparent figure whom I failed to claim that his traits were beyond my knowledge. Far too obsessed in my own thought…

I respected you not as a person, but as someone above that.

That was the careless mistake.

You were amazing, yes (and probably still is) but I shouldn’t have decided to put things and things together as if I knew what I was doing. I was simply creating my own globe that included you as someone pragmatic, yet sensitive, intelligent beyond words and gentle by nature – a truly idealistic role model.

Perhaps, you did have those values and perhaps you were that person (who I am to judge, anyway?) but most likely, it was unlike my imagined reality that heightened those abilities and strengths.

I thought I was at least, mildly aware that I was merely longing and not seeing a person. Even if I didn’t see you as a star, you were glowing to me, brighter than the so-called stars. I should’ve stopped myself then, should’ve taken a step back where the imaginary globe would cease by time and I could’ve just admired what I’d seen and not gone deeper if not for my undamped and daunted curiosity.

As the world spun, I started to wonder if I was wrong and then I didn’t mind that I was. ‘Nobody’s perfect’ became a chant in my mind. As I tried to understand your philosophy, I found out more things again (when I should’ve stopped, again) and I didn’t know that my heart was breaking. Your words were as impressive as I hoped to be, but your views were confusing as they contradicted to the nature of who you were supposed to be in my mind. Opposing opinions was not the problem. What shocked me the most, however, was the discrepancy that can be figured out by anyone – not by the qualification of your education or superficial intellect, but by the heart and mind of a human being. Your words sent warnings to the victims. Not out of comfort, but of prejudice.

Still, I believed.

Still, I hoped.

Still, I waited.

But eventually, I had to ask myself: What happened?

That incident revealed your position that I desperately wanted to believe it was not your true nature. So I thought about it again and I managed to console myself that it might be true. No one can know the whole truth anyway. Little basis, but I was clinging to it.

Yet, I didn’t like the feeling that I couldn’t explain. What was it, the truth that I couldn’t comprehend, or the truth that might be true or false? The truth that I was looking in the wrong directions, looking at the wrong lights? Was there even something there, in the beginning?

It was disheartening to try and see the cracks. I realized I was disappointed, perhaps not in you but more in myself. The start of all of this. The self-proclaimed impartial attitude towards people. The severe compliments to logic. The endless appraisal to the one portrayed in the media based on a small prism. The eagerness that overlooked the signs.

The crowd probably didn’t know what they were doing. You certainly had no idea what I was feeling and that I was there. In any case, in any way, I was grateful for the stop. Still mended by the tunes of nature, I do sincerely hope for…the best of you. For the people who are beginning to seek for whatever light that they’re searching for, I hope that you’ll go through things that might break and hurt you, and that you’ll be able to rise in spite of all that.

Better be oblivious, than be fazed by the faux.

Better be truthful, than be crushed by lies.

Better be yourself, than be others.

Reading Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

I’m currently reading Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable and I’m already thinking:

  1. This is definitely a critical work & research on Malcolm X’s life, at least more than what I’ve read. Marable isn’t afraid to point out things that are not aligned to the popular notions of Malcolm X and for that, I appreciate his immense effort and hard work of creating another insight on the amazing black nationalist leader/human rights activist.
  2. I’m also feeling reminiscent of one of my favourite books, The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told to Alex Haley. A lot of quotes are taken from the former and I just miss reading Malcolm’s story from his own mouth (and imagining his charismatic tenor voice in my head)
  3. I’m feeling a bit conflicted with the way Marable describes the possibilities of other truths, the ones that Malcolm X ‘exaggerated’ or didn’t mention. E.g. ‘almost certainly’ or ‘probably’. Do I wish for him to keep some of his thoughts and assumptions of the late Malcolm X to himself? Probably.
  4. It’s pretty difficult for me to take some of this stuff since I’ve long admired Malcolm X. I’m starting to question, is there some kind of validation that Marable wanted to find? Or am I just being defensive about this? Maybe. I’m still reading. (I have to keep reminding myself that Marable was a historian and these are not mere assumptions)
  5. Reading at the part where Malcolm finally got out of prison. Things seem to be more interesting as the last paragraph ends with ‘He would see more, would travel, and he would seize the time.’

Well, I can’t wait to read more.

Crying and Laughing Together

We were teenagers, there was nothing to worry about. We were just doing what we were supposed to do. The others would do their job, and we would do ours. We were teenagers, we didn’t mean any harm to anyone. We were simply goofing around, trying to feel and savour every moment in our lives like there was no tomorrow.

We were young, we only wanted to have fun. We were curious about a lot of things and sometimes got into trouble because of that. We laughed about how we managed to get away from those troubles every time we did. We were young, we absorbed things that we only wanted to take, hear and see, and we shunned everything else that we considered unimportant and boring. We were young, we thought we could create our own world, rule there and forget about the reality.

We were friends, we were singing and laughing together. We weren’t really doing anything wrong, we were just expressing what we felt about the world. We believed nothing could go wrong. We were friends, we thought we knew what we wanted. We fought from time to time and refused to talk to each other for a long time. We were proud, we didn’t expect things to go this way and eventually went to separate paths.

We were young, we’d forget that. We began to see and hear things we didn’t want to before. We were friends, yet we were so distant. Some challenges in life broke us so hard and made it difficult for us to swallow the bitterness. We were lonely, we screamed for help desperately and tried to shed the tears with our own hands.

We were afraid, we couldn’t sleep well. Nights became darker and days were even more obscure. We thought we couldn’t live again. We missed how we played in the rain and talked about dreams and wanting to change the world. We were afraid, we finally saw each other. We stood silently at first. There were no words to describe the emotions perfectly, and we forgot why we fought in the first place. We were just happy. As soon as one of us smiled and cried at the same time, we understood each other. To be honest, I hadn’t felt a warm hug for so long.

We were teenagers, we told ourselves that. There were moments and memories that we wanted to forget. We’ve made so many mistakes and wrong decisions that we wanted to hide. We were young, we failed a lot of times. But we grew, and it was good that we had each other at that time.

We were young and we were just beginning.