Of The New Chapter In My Life

BY RUBY GEGE

Phew, I finally have a few hours to breathe. For the past few weeks, my life had been nothing short of crazy. And when I say crazy, I did not mean that I was too busy or anything – cause God knows I was not, I slept for 8-9 hours per day like a comatose patient. BUT I had been making some big decisions on my own, changing my life’s whole direction in the matter of a month. Or… let’s say three weeks.

The last time I wrote, I was trapped in a miserable job as a trainee lawyer in a law firm. After weeks of consideration, I decided to quit the firm. At the same time, I wondered whether I should attempt to continue being in the legal practice and decided, after a lot of thoughts, I don’t want to belong there at all. People may think that I’m suited to be a judge or a lawyer but in the end, if my heart does not want it, then there is no way I can ever be successful in being the person I don’t want to be. 

However, the thought of unemployment scared the shit out of me. My family would never be able to accept it – my mom, especially. Then, I applied for a teaching job somewhere in Kuala Lumpur, got it and started my teacher-training right away after I left the law firm. Suffice to say, I had zero break/rest to just ponder about life and spend weekdays reading and roaming around KL like a tormented youth. 

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And my new job (I just started two days ago) is crazy as shit – in a superbly awesome way. I am awkward still, with teaching, children, reading storybooks, playing games and literally everything that has to do with encouraging them to love the language. In the centre I am working at, teachers are called ‘Mentor’s and the children address us as ‘Auntie’. And I am ‘Auntie Ruby’ – something I am still trying to get used to. Thankfully, despite my disastrous interaction with the children, my senior mentors have been very kind and helpful. The first half of my first week is a journey to know children in general and their learning process aside from exposing myself to the nature of being a Mentor. 

Hopefully, I will be able to gain the skills required to be a great Mentor. I love the elements of the job which includes spreading the love of reading and writing to children. I am extremely lacking in that department – I am not children-friendly BUT I hope that I would be able to guide them to love everything about language that I love. 

My family has yet to find out about me changing jobs. I’m not sure what is stopping me from telling them, especially my mother. Only my little sister, being the secret keeper of the clan, knows. I am waiting for a few more months to pass. Only then I’ll tell them, I think. Just to make sure that I’m a bit more settled with this job, able to move out of the family home and live on my own. Somehow, I feel the need to justify to them my unexpected choice to leave the legal field (albeit temporarily. I still want to continue my studies in a few years). And the only way to prove to them that I’ll be okay is to make sure that I am okay ie independent, financially secure, not as messed up as I am currently. 

It will be one hell of a roller-coaster ride. Grrrrr

FYI, two children called me fat. One said I came from planet watermelon. One pulled my shirt.

Hmmph, children. They do those kind of things….

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“An Ideal for which I am prepared to die” – Nelso Mandela

by Ruby Chingu

Nelson Mandela died yesterday. Like millions of others, his death was sort of expected, considering he had been ill for so long, struggling with old age. I haven’t read his books. Now that the news of his death are everywhere, many people around me suggested some titles, which I am planning to buy.

I admire Mandel for his belief and conviction in democracy and a harmonious and just society. I think not many leaders believe in that.

The other day in my constitutional law class, my professor said something I disagreed, or chose to disagree, considering my opinion could be wrong. He said something like, “democracy is supposed to bring changes, not radical or fundamental changes”. He sounded a bit pessimistic, being such a renowned thinker in law and politics. Perhaps, he, too, like so many Malaysian intellectuals, is disappointed in Malaysian political scene. Honestly, it is quite a circus. Racism-based arguments still sell, religious supremacists rule the day, so many irrational fights are based on emotional and lame reasons. And local newspapers are such a joke with a few notable exceptions.

He has seen about 40 to 50 years of Malaysian politics. I have seen about 5. Maybe I have yet to be crushed by the harsh reality and still retain some optimism and idealism in me to think that democracy is not supposed to bring changes – small or radical. Democracy, for me, is the change. It is not a thing, not a political medium. It is a political belief that one lives by.

My thinking, though, may change in twenty years. Instead of aiming so high, I would most probably end up like so many other Malaysians, quite disillusioned with Malaysian politics that still differentiate Malays, Chinese, Indians, natives of Sabah and Sarawak etc etc.

FYI, Malaysian government, there is not such thing as an Indian race. I’ve seen hundreds of Bollywood films and not once I heard Shah Rukh Khan or Aamir Khan said that they are of the Indian race. They are of Indian nationality. They have Indian citizenship, that is why they call themselves Indian.

But of course, what are we Malaysians without the habit of stereotyping others…?

There is a a paragraph from Mandela’s speech I find to be very inspiring. I shall put them here because I want to read them again and again.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” – A statement to the court during the Rivonia trial, April, 20, 1964.

Our Dreams to be Academicians

BY RUBY CHINGU

If there is one thing Palah, Fatma and I share in common, it is our dream to teach.

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I have just returned home from my faculty after saying goodbye to a lecturer I love so much. Her name is Miss Ummi and she taught me International Law, Industrial Law and Mooting. She is a great and spirited lecturer, always passionate about the subjects she is assigned with. I received the news last Tuesday that Miss Ummi will be leaving Malaysia this Sunday to pursue her PhD in the United Kingdom.

Miss Ummi is one of the many law teachers that have inspired me throughout my years in law school. They have inflamed my desire to be passionate about what I do and to spread the passion and appreciation of the subjects that I love.

I am not alone in this. Us three chinguz met when we were still not-so-innocent young optimistic souls wandering in the strange town of Shah Alam to do our Foundation in Law. Immediately, we became best friends. It took us a few years to actually realize that we also share the same dream, albeit to teach in different subjects. Palah, I think, wants to specialize in politics, human rights and Middle Eastern studies. Fatma wants to specialize in criminology, cultural studies and perhaps one day write a screenplay. As for me, constitutional law and international law are the loves of my life and hopefully one day I’ll be able to academically explore the world of literature as well.

Since the learning culture in Malaysia (this is solely my own opinion) is restricted still in some ways, our dreams to teach seem to be a bit distant from where we are now. I am doing my Master, then I plan to enter the legal practice for a few years. God permits, I will come back to school and pursue my PhD. The journey could be years, even decades. Will I still maintain the same degree of passion and optimism then? I do not know. Hopefully, I will not give up on my dream.

People keep rushing to be rich, to start a family, to own a house etc etc. Somehow, we don’t really fit in that bill. Knowing what you love and how you want to spend your life is wonderful and troublesome in a way. It is wonderful in a sense I wake up in the morning with a purpose in mind. Obstacles may come but at least my dreams never leave me. It is troublesome in a sense that I have to disappoint the people I love who want me to be somebody I don’t want to be. To see their dejected faces when I told them ,”no, I don’t think I’m going to stay in practice for more than ten years” or “no, I don’t think being a judge really suits me”, can be quite sad. But I am quite stubborn and unless situation necessitates it, I try to prioritize my desires than what other people expects me to do.

Life is a long journey. Might as well enjoy it while I can.