Friday, August 24, 2012

Everything does matter.

Everything does matter. 

Its funny, you start medical school thinking you are going to matter. That’s why we do it right – we want to matter in this world. We want to matter to our family who are so proud, to the patients, to the patients’ family. We think what we will do as a doctor will matter. How can it not?

Then throughout medical school, you are bombarded with cynicism, some deserved, some undeserved. Your idealism is seriously challenged, but most make it through, holding strong to those simple, quite normal values a layperson would have. Treat people well, be ethical, do your job.

You start work. You start complaining about how many patients you have to see, whether it is 3 at a poorly attended clinic, or a patient suffering from chest pain at 2am. The family members are a pain in the ass.

The glory of medicine, you realise, does not exist. By the time you are re-writing you 400th medication chart, prescribing lactulose or yet another goddamn discharge summary, you start to think- nothing you do really matters. So why be extra careful? Why put importance into a job where you are a mere paper pusher and your consultant makes all the calls. Nothing you do really matters.

No one notices your mistakes. That missed ECG finding – that patient was probably going to die anyway. Gave that patient his warfarin when he had an intracerebral bleed, but luckily nothing happened, so that doesn’t count as a mistake. Millions of excuses so that we are not made to feel guilty for our actions, whether they have consequences or not. Nothing you do really matters.

Suddenly you are resuscitating a patient. You are confused. She has been here a long time. You saw her every day. How did this happen? Im sure I did nothing wrong right? This isnt my fault? And the classic go-to consoler- “she had a poor prognosis” anyway. Poor prognosis only should console when the patient dies from her illness, not from something you have created by being careless.

Everything does matter. Watch your pen, its your greatest weapon. Watch your words, it can make or break the way a  patient or their family cope. Watch your knowledge, we all have gaps and we all forget. Watch your patient, she or he may be dying in front of you. Being a doctor may not be glorious, but it could be.   Everything does matter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I love how

I love how

Coffee swirls

In my mouth and in my head

Words dance through the air when I look at you

The cold of the glass feels when I press it against my lips

I can hear the rain outside my closed eyelids

The triple tone gives me happy words

Your eyes sparkle when you are excited

Infectious love is

Everything, now,

Feels like something

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Reality

I want to drown myself in a pot of tea

I want it to rain and rain

Ideas and words

Poetry and metaphors

I don’t want the worlds’ reality

Awkwardness and monotony.


Nervous laughter.

I want coffee with friends


Thoughts and tears

Creating outlines of brilliance

I want my reality

And I will get there.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tanah Air

Bumi yang tiada rimba

Seumpama hamba

Dia dicemar manusia

Yang jahil ketawa

I open my eyes

Rub the routine out of them

The same four walls

The same surrounding hills

I sit up

Its tomorrow

And I’m closer to home

Bumi yang tiada udara

Bagai tiada nyawa

Pasti hilang suatu hari

Tanpa disedari

I turn the shower on

The music urges me on

Ill get there soon

Its not that long

Its not that long

Time will fly?

I’m closer to home

Bumi tanpa lautan

Akan kehausan

Pasti lambat laun hilang

Duniaku yang malang

I walk to work

The same old route

People horn in recognition, and wave

It should fill me with familiarity

But each day I’m less familiar

And each day

I’m closer to home

Dewasa ini kita saling merayakan

Kejayaan yang akhirnya membinasakan

Apalah gunanya kematangan fikiran

Bila di jiwa kita masih lagi muda

Dan mentah

Ku lihat hijau



I turn the music off

And I tell some one

I’m closer to home

Bumiku yang kian pudar

Siapa yang melihat

Di kala kita tersedar

Mungkinkah terlewat

I walk home

The song plays again

Another day is over

I’m closer to home


tokleh meghaso mandi laok

Besaing,maing ghama-ghama

Ale lo ni tuo umurnyo bejuto

Kito usoho

Jauhke dari malapetako

Im on the dance floor

And the band plays the song

And I close my eyes

No more countdowns

No more farewells


tokleh meghaso mandi laok

Besaing,maing ghama-ghama

Ale lo ni tuo umurnyo bejuto

Kito usoho

Jauhke dari malapetako

I’m home.

(song lyrics from Zainal Abidins' Hijau)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I’ve been away a long time. Every Merdeka Day, I would make a big deal about it. When I was in University I would carry a flag in my backpack, and so people would ask me why, and then I could tell them all about Merdeka. I would have dinners and invite all my Malaysian friends, I would totally go the distance to make sure that I was celebrating Merdeka to the max, even though I was not home. I was always infused by this patriotic emotion that I wanted to share with everyone.

This year, I AM home, after years of struggling to get here.

And this year, I don’t feel much different on Merdeka day.

I couldn’t figure out why this was. Since I have been home, I’ve met amazing people, had great opportunities and experiences, all of which have only reaffirmed why I have come home. I thank god every day when I wake up to pink skies and the azan. I’ve started everything that I have put on pause for years now.

I realise I used Merdeka as a vehicle to harness all my sadness and my passion for coming home. I realise I don’t need that anymore. Right now, every day feels like Merdeka. Every day I get to celebrate what is Malaysian, talk about Malaysian issues, and exalt in being part of a Malaysian future. I’ve been liberated, when I never knew I was trapped.

I’m finally home, I want to be part of the change I know is happening, I want to be part of the solutions I can feel forming in the minds of the brilliant people around me, and I want to be part of the ideas that shape the future of this nation. This is going to be a great year.

Selamat hari Merdeka!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Freedom From Fear

“ The only real freedom is freedom from fear”

Aung San Suu Kyii

I watched Low Wei Yans youtube video, and I liked what he had to say. But I do feel differently about one thing. I am afraid to walk on July 9th. At this stage, I am going, but not because I’m brave. I’m not. I don’t want to be tear-gassed, I don’t want to be manhandled, and I certainly don’t want to argue with police officers in my questionable BM. I spend my free time eating cupcakes at Bisou at Bangsar Village, I would do poorly in prison. There are probably cicak there and stuff.

I wondered when I watched this video, or when I read RPKs article, or read the countless articles/blogs on why this protest is important and almost, unavoidable for the progress of the country - What are the ethical implications in us encouraging people to attend these demonstrations/protests/walks? Is it not fact that the Malaysian police are a trigger-happy lot, that there has already been disclaimers made, and certain communities being targeted? There are plenty of human rights violations waiting to happen here.

I’m not suggesting that the bloggers, activists and people who are encouraging attendance are being inappropriate or irresponsible. I think it is an important cause and I want a good turnout as well. And in fairness, most people take a personal stance and explain why they are walking, rather than blatantly spreading glorified propaganda. This is a personal conflict I have which I have been thinking about, the more I read, the more I talk to my friends about whether to go, and the more I think about the risks involved.

I think I would feel somehow responsible for any injuries, or, god forbid, deaths that could result from this protest, if I encourage others to go. Although I share information regarding the event, I don’t think I will encourage or suggest others to attend this. It’s a decision to be taken seriously, and to be taken as an individual.

If you do decide to come, come with the knowledge that you could be arrested, tear gassed or water cannoned. You could be trampled and you could be abused. These risks are part and parcel of why this event is important. In principle we are walking because we want clean, free and fair elections.

But in my mind, we are also walking for the right to be heard, the right to not be afraid to take to the streets in peaceful protest. That is the Malaysia we are fighting for, and the Malaysia we believe can exist. We are fighting for our right to vote in elections that are fair, for the politicians who can make this happen. And if they don’t do it, the same right will allow us to replace them with those who will. And so on, and so on.

We are walking to say hear us, the rakyat are in charge. Walk if you believe in that , but with the knowledge that the fact that we have to walk for this cause at all means that the Malaysia we hope for is within our grasp, but unfortunately is not the Malaysia we live in yet.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Race Rhetoric

“There is no restriction in law. In our constitution there is nothing to stop a Chinese or Indian from becoming a Prime Minister. What is needed is support from the majority. If the majority agrees, there is nothing we can do”

Tun Dr Mahathir, Prime Minister of Malaysia 1981-2003

This exemplary description of what is really the basic principles of democracy was uttered by our ex prime minister as a poisonous warning. He wasn’t hiding the fact that it was a warning. That was quite clear. The poisonous part however, he didn’t have to say but I’m sure most of us heard it, if not, felt it.

I can imagine the multitude of responses to this statement, from different kinds of people within different races. I don’t think each race would have responded homogenously, it just depends on the type of person you are. There would be anger, disappointment, vigorous nodding of heads and many other negative emotions. Great start to the next election campaign.

More disharmony, more conflict, more racist intonations. We have already had so many displays of racism , from educators of the next generation to the rappers (who the next generation listen to). Way to move forward, Malaysia.

Which other countries have a race restriction on their prime ministership? Can you imagine if Australia, or India came out tomorrow and said “actually only white people, or only Hindus, can be the prime minister? “. The world would laugh them off the stage. But in Malaysia, this kind of statement and rhetoric could possibly win the existing federal government their next election.

Let us go back to the last sentence “What is needed is support from the majority. If the majority agrees, there is nothing we can do”. The majority represents the rakyat. I wonder who Tun means when he says there is nothing “we” can do. Who is we? The way I look at it, if a majority votes someone in for PM, no matter what race they are, that means there are also many Malays voting them in. And if the PM is not addressing issues of concern, they can vote them out. That is all a democracy is about.

No Prime Minister of Malaysia, no matter of what origin, would be able to ignore the plain truths - The majority of the rural and urban poor, those having difficulty accessing health and education services, those suffering from preventable illnesses - these would be Malay people. This is not a Malay issue, however, it is a Malaysian one.

These are issues that deserve attention from politicians and the rakyat not because these people are Malay. Not even because they are Malaysian.

But because they are people. You do not have to be a Malay or Muslim prime minister to care about the people who are suffering or have less in the country you share with them.

I love my country in a way that words fail me. If you know me, you will know that is some serious love. And as long as BN runs the country, I will never be able to vote directly for my Prime minister, even if I joined BN! For 3 reasons – I am a woman, I am Hindu and I am not Malay. Does this make sense to anyone? If it does, please explain to me, because I am ready to try to understand.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


The sun slips into its envelope of grey cloud

This perfect circle of red

Mocking the imperfections of humankind

I watch it fall

Painstakingly slow into the horizon

Away from my grasp,

Away from my presence

I know it will be back

And I know I will see it again

But it doesn’t make a difference

Because it still will be dark until tomorrow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Difference in Opinion, A Difference in a Dream

Last night, I met a young Malaysian gentleman, who was a friend of a friend. As is well known to most, I am passionate about overseas-educated young Malaysian professionals returning home. This young man (we will call him Dinesh) is one such example. Much to my pleasure, he had recently returned home after studying in Australia. I asked him three questions. Each answer increasingly surprised me, both pleasantly and otherwise.

First question: What draws you to coming back home?

He answers. Well, to be truthful, I want to go into politics.

Second question: Which political party do you support?

He answers. Barisan Nasional.

Now, when people tell me they support BN, I always respond with a mixture of fascination and curiosity. I suppose I surround myself with people of similar ideology, okla left wing hippies, but those who share my beliefs. So when I meet a right-winger, and someone who in my view goes against the tide, I always want to know – why? We engaged in pretty lively debate (which I think I won but I perhaps have the upper hand here as I am writing this) about BN vs PR. I tried to explain that I supported certain PR politicians and policies, but am always worried about supporting parties wholeheartedly and with blind faith as of course their course may run awry. I also stressed that I do not and will not support BN until their fundamental structure of their coalition changes. i.e no more race-based parties. I, like many, think there is no place for that in our political environment any longer. He was of the opinion that PR would become race-based eventually, and shared the understandable fear that all the parties have their own agenda. Fair enough, we agreed to disagree and move on.

Third question: Why do you want to be a politician?

He answers. I want to help my people.

His people. At first I was a bit confused, because I didn’t know who he meant. The penny dropped quite quickly, I can’t claim to be that naive or colour-blind. He meant Malaysian Indians. Which is completely fair, Malaysian Indians are a group that there suffer from discrimination in Malaysia (among many others). I wanted him to be different, I wanted him to say he cared about all Malaysians. Like many in my solidarity hub of a Twitterverse.

I wished I had asked him this question before the one before, because if I had known his political aspiration, I could understand his decision to support and be a part of Barisan Nasional. It would likely be easier to support and work on policies to support Malaysian Indians from a party representative of Malaysian Indians.

I wanted to tell him that racial politics was a thing of a disappearing past. That we vote for non-racial agendas and along non racial lines. I was all ready to start citing examples of politicians, activists, friends, lawyers, doctors, tourist guides in Kelantan that believe that. I remember speaking to a senior BN guy, who told me he didn’t believe there should be a 1Malaysia, that Chinese didn’t want to be Malay and Malay people didn’t want to be Indian, and Indian people don’t want to be Orang Asli. He says we are all equal in Malaysia, fundamentally because we are all Malaysian, as per childhood, as per passport, as per birthright.

I wanted to convince Dinesh, that ‘his people’ were all Malaysians that were discriminated against, all Malaysians that were poor, all Malaysians with no access to health care or education and all Malaysians that needed a young voice to support them.

But then, I stopped myself. I realised that I was upset, not at Dinesh, but at the fact that he might be representative of a young population that I didn’t want to know still existed in Malaysia. I wanted the next generation of young politicians to be Eli Wong-Sivarasa types. Because they believed in what I believed in. They want what I want for Malaysia and future Malaysians. But, I stopped myself (which is amazing for me!).

Because, Dinesh is allowed to have different dreams for Malaysia. What is significant is that he HAS dreams for Malaysia. He has the opportunity for a easier, more convenient life and he chooses to come back home and make it better in the way he believes is best. A young Malaysian who can vote is hard to find these days, but a young Malaysian who wants to make change for our country is rare and should be appreciated, no matter what.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Sure Escape (fictional)

It was a good house, with a bad idea. She could see it on her skin, she tried to scrub it out in the shower. She could feel it in her eyes, and she tried to wash it out with her tears. She stretched in out in her false smile to her friends, and she hid it deep in her laugh. It was morning when she stared at the pink marker on the test strip. She realised that what she had feared would be her trap was her sure escape. She closed the door. She realised it had only been her holding it open, and he had been gone a long time. She leant against it, and breathed a sigh of pained relief. It was finally over. Now what? She looked at the couch in the living room. It couldn’t be back to normal yet, not just yet. She sat carefully on the edge of the couch. She turned on the TV to Gossip Girl, where Blair was once again being outshone by Serena. She smiled.