This is the speech I gave this morning at the release of our Women’s Issue of Inspire magazine. It is also a speech written for my daughter when she is old enough to understand one day. Hope she will find her purpose in life and make a difference; just like the 50 women (and some) featured in the magazine. But whatever she does, I hope she knows that there is nothing more she can do to earn our adoration, approval and unconditional love for her. Lisa Ibrahim will understand.
I found myself repeating the same story many times a day. All of which are to the people who are genuinely concerned about our well being and have sympathy for my family and I.
As a company man, I thought that it may be more efficient in documenting the FAQ (Frequently asked questions) online, so that my friends near and a far could find out first hand information about our situation.
If you see me in person in the near future, you could let me know that you’ve read my blog so I would not need to bore you with the details.
For a few days, our little incident seemed like the biggest news that matters, at least to us, and our close friends. But really, there’s so much more important things that deserve your attention and help. We hope you’d learn from our experience and find strength in confronting whatever challenge you have ahead.
I left for my foreign studies when my sister was about 4 years old. Even though we did not spend a lot of time together, our relationship has always remained very close. Janet, being our youngest and only sister, meant that she was always being extra protected, and at the same time, being spoiled a little too much by the three brothers.
Janet was a child who grew up too early, too soon, acquiring the good, bad and ugly from all three of us, not to mention mum, dad and our aunt, Cik-E (more on that later). If you know her well, you would be able to get a sense of the three brothers’ characteristics through her.
Janet is immensely organised; better known as Kiasu in this part of the world. She plans everything 6 months in advance, holding a diary on her hand at all time. It is impossible to make an appointment with her without a 2 weeks notice. More, if you’re not any of her brothers (I’d love to think).
She is also very good with money; probably the most loaded amongst all of us, despite being the youngest. A trait that is so unlike me and my mum – all these, perfectly identical to her third and closest brother, CY, thanks to the disciplinary upbringing of my Cik E.
Whenever I’m in an awkward silence position among friends and strangers, I would pull out my iPhone and start a conversation. It almost always breaks the ice, because I’d have a talking point for an App for every demographic group. If the person doesn’t have a smart phone, I’d still be able to engage them by showing the pictures of my kid on the phone. With children – I’d hand them over the phone and turn them into my best friends. Instantly.
I had my first iPhone roughly 3 months after my daughter was born. I’ve taken over 15,000 pictures to date. Most of them are of my daughter and my dog. My daughter is now 2 years old.
If you are in my Facebook circle, you’d have seen tones of pictures of my daughter with lots of funny captions. A reason why I like posting her picture is that, statistically, they score the highest number of ‘likes’. On a good day, her picture commands 50 likes. 10, (I’d like to believe) when the Brunei’s internet is not working. Pretty good stats, considering that I have only about 300 Facebook friends.
My phone sends me a notification each time I received a ‘like’ or a ‘comment’ (you can tell why I’m so hooked to it). Sometimes to appear not so desperate, I would wait a good half an hour before I respond to a comment. How insecure? How superficial? I know.
For the lack of a better way to sugarcoat this, Facebook is screwing up my self-esteem. I have given up my happiness to be dictated by the approval of most of the people whom I don’t even know!
While I was busy with my iPhone, my iPad has taken over my role of teaching my daughter alphabets and the names of animals; Youtube has disrupted my daughter’s gracious ballerina move (Gangnam Style) and the Baby Sign App has replaced me in the cool action moves I saved up for her.
At what cost?
I’m not a sociologist or a psychologist and I do not know what the long-term implication of this would be, but I do believe that education should be passed on, human to human.
The other night, my wife who was sleeping beside me, ‘What’s-App’ me the picture above, followed by this:
:* Gd Nite.
I could hear her silent protest, out loud, on my iPhone.
Just then, it occurred to me that I had been sleeping with my iPhone for the past two years.
LOL! But this isn’t funny.
10th March 2013, Sunday 4.30pm. Waited 30 minutes for my wife while she was judging for a singing competition.
Watched at least half a dozen performances, which were all pretty good. One of them stood out at the end of the day, as I recalled commenting at length about her as we drove off.
I remember this very young participant, (must have been in her early 20s) not for her extraordinary vocal ability, but the way she was dressed (White glove, pink outfit with tight purple singlet. Flat chess, no bra!) and the lack of self restraint in everything about her performance.
I later on understood why, as my wife clarified that she was actually a ‘he’.
No wonder he raised a few eyebrows and drew smirks on the audiences’ face during his audacious endeavor. I too, was indulging in the mockery at his expense on the way home.
Nonetheless, the guy got through to the next round.
Monday, my wife received a text message stating he’s been withdrawn from the contest, as he was killed the night before, in a car crash.
Shocked, saddened and dumbfounded by the news, I also felt trivial by my very own immature reaction to what was to be the man’s last performance.
I spend the next two days trying to make sense of the news. What would I have done if I had known? Applauded louder? Shared the gospel with him? Not judged?
Not that I had it figured out, there’s absolutely no sense with dying young, but here are some of the lessons I derived from it:
1/ Life could be taken away. Anytime! Treasure those you love and be kind- even to strangers. You may never get a chance to say thank you or you’re sorry.
2/ Embrace differences. Respect!
3/ Courage. The guy stood up for his belief, and pretended to be no one else but himself. He gave his very best as if it was his last performance, with conviction and absolute passion.
All, at the risk of being the laughing-stock. He didn’t care a bit!
This gentleman was probably the boldest, bravest man in the entire mall that day.
Why didn’t I see those quality when he was still alive?
I’m an interview show junkie. I love watching and listening to talk-shows and Podcasts. We often neglect the importance of a great interviewer that makes a successful program, as the emphasis are often placed on the interviewees, who are the stars.
Below are some of my favorite interviewers. Their style couldn’t be more distinct from each other. Yet, they hold much common grounds (such as what’s been pointed out above). I bolded 3 points that I thought were the most important.
Oprah Winfrey, Larry King, Piers Morgan, Ru Yi (Phoenix TV), to the lesser known in this region, Rove McManus (Channel7 Australia), Dick Gordon (APM- the story) and my super favorite George Stroumboulopoulos (The Hour- CBS).
I’ve just watched a superb interview on Tom Cruise. And thought, part of what makes it so interesting was the guy named George.
Being an editor doesn’t make me an authority in writing. I’m sharing this information from the perspective of a reader.
As an avid reader, I can tell how an article makes me tick, and why? This is the premise in which I start all of my writing. I hope it works for you too.
1. Why is this story Interesting?
Start your writing by asking yourself the above question. A good write up may not necessarily always be beneficial or even informative. But it certainly connects, triggers your emotion and touches your soul. For the lack of any tangible benefit, does your writing at least give your readers the pleasure of reading?
If you can’t convince yourself that your article is interesting, choose a topic you’re passionate about. Tell the story as if you’re talking to your best friend. Passion radiates!
Part of what makes a story interesting has a lot to do with the packaging of the essay. I.e the Headline, the Picture and the Length of the article – do not neglect these simple but crucial elements.
2. How is the article Relevant?