HeArt Attack
December 21, 2008

When I was in college, apart from being an incompetent NyQuil binged bum who spends his days aimlessly dragging himself around campus only to leave halfway through classes and his nights enjoying the dreadful humor of Late Night with Conan O’Brien while stuffing his face with endless bags of Cheetos, I was an engineering student.

A struggling one that is.

But everytime my effort in completing a homework is being put to a halt, before I proceed with the human-xeroxing of my friend’s paper, I constantly remind myself,

“Don’t worry. It’s not your fault that you couldn’t figure out the central algebra extension of a circle’s diffeomorphisms which iterates how f(x) will eventually reach 1 for any initial value of x. You weren’t born to do any of these stuff... you were born for the arts! You’re an artist!”

And I've held a strong grasp onto that belief. It played a key role in motivating me to face the challenges throughout my four years in college. Until I finally manage to graduate.

Last week though, marks the end of my devoted confidence in it. A bond of trust that has been fostered for years was shattered through the flip of a few pages. For I’ve found, hidden deep beneath the trenches of the sea of socks in my drawer, my secondary school art folio.

And if images are anything to go by, the following pictures are worth a few thousand words... most of them profanities.

I’ll start with the mildly eye-soring ones first. We’ll build up from here.

Warning: Some images are of graphic or objectionable content. And I’m talking Drew Carey in the shower objectionable.

Our first class project was the folio, for us to keep our upcoming projects; for easy reference maybe. And aptly enough, this intricately designed tie-dye cloth on paper file tragedy became the home to many more disastrous artworks for years to come. Yes, I took the papers out of my dad's work file and used it for this precious archive instead. (14/20)

No, those are not spiderwebs in the middle of the card. I thought the typography on this one wasn’t too bad. Sadly though, the placement of the words was a bit off. A glance at it and the card reads "Selamat Maaf Hari Zahir Raya Dan Batin". There goes the possibilities of me ever working for Hallmark. (18/30)

The teacher was a bit too harsh on me on this one. The poster seems to deliver its message very well despite lacking in visual aesthetics. You can see the nonchalance of the briber, whistling away as he hands the ‘blank checks’ to the guy with the imaginary devil horns. You simply can't be more subtly descriptive than that. (37%? You gotta be kiddin’ me Pn. Jamilah?!)

Now I’m not a man of unnecessary arguments but I couldn’t figure out any part of this masterpiece that is not adhering to the instruction (Draw a kite). Not only that, I should’ve been given some extra credit for having a gleefully smiling -- hang on -- corn somewhere in there. Isn’t randomness a part of art? Does it really matter that everything is white in color? It wasn’t my fault that I accidentally splurged my pocket money on a Tamiya engine instead of the water color set. (27/50)

Well apparently, I wasn’t the only ‘retArt’ back in school. Trapped in between the pile of junk was this gem; an epic embodiment of a beach scenery through the eyes of my good friend, Saad. I have a good feeling that he wasn’t around when our teacher returned this assignment so she handed it to me. My gut feeling is telling me that I somehow kept this particular piece to remind myself sometime in the future that, I wasn’t alone. (23/50)

You could tell from the colors used to bring life to the sun, that the objective of this assignment was to cause cataract damage to anyone who views it. I’m kidding of course. Its goal was to encourage us students to appreciate the value of different color tonalities in the formation of an art piece, in the pursuit of highlighting the different moods of the subjects in it, to entice feedback from the observer; which is in this case, a raging urge to burn the painting immediately. (17/30)

Animals seemed to be a popular subject that time around. By the virtue of tracing as my forte, I’ll have to shamelessly admit that none of the animals in this piece was the result of my own creativity. Every one of them was traced meticulously from different Ujang comic strips. Hence the impressive figures in them. Nevertheless, I still couldn’t tell what type of mutated marsupial that creature in blue is. (27/30 -- thanks Aie!)

So what if my artworks are cancerous when it comes to paintings. I thought I wasn’t that bad with pencils (as mentioned earlier, on my tracing). And this drawing of a tree could well be a strong evident of just that. If it weren’t for the annoying kid swinging on the branch, I would’ve easily gotten a full mark on this baby right here. No apologies for the sweating sun though. (23/30)

Again, what do teachers have against all-white drawings anyway. You don’t deduct 10 points just like that only because the student ‘chose’ to express his art without the usage of colors. Do I really need to stress that apart from Tamiya engines, X-Men action figures take precedence over the water color set in a 13 year old’s priority list. (20/30)

If you do get to this point, you know you could damn well brag about your optical strength to your friends now. But I’ll spare the agony of suffering any more tormenting works of from the Asrif Yusoff Gallery of School Artwork Disasters and leave you with this generously handcrafted colored paper weaving on sugar paper, from hell. (17/30)

Sudin II
December 12, 2008

Sudin I can be read here.

"It’s right in front of the bank. The Steak Shack! How many times do I have to tell you?! What planet are you from?! Zantar?!"

My voice could be heard from across the mall. Tears of sweat fall down my temple as I walk around rather anxiously, frowning in anger with my phone in one hand and my waist on the other.

Friends. If you think you’ve seen the worst of them, you haven’t seen mine. Time, date, location, reservation... they want it all ready with minimal to zero effort. And me, I just can’t stand witnessing plans falling apart right in front of my eyes. I don’t want to be like them; refusing to make decisions only in fear of being blamed for any screw ups. I want to make things happen.

Well I lied there.

More often than not, I’m with them when it comes to planning for events. The sheer joy of being a backbencher who adds no value to the fruition of the event yet savor the same amount of enjoyment, while holding the liberty to blame the organizer should things don’t go as planned, is something no amount of money could ever buy.

But not this time...

For it is, Lisa’s birthday. The girl who had me cutting my own finger when she entered the room in the middle of Art class. I wasn’t even in the slightest of pains though blood started dripping off my fingers as she introduced herself to the class. Little that I know, it was the beginning of an infatuation like no other.

We grew up together, Lisa and me. Though, I can’t recall the distance between us ever being any less than a few yards. She was never out of my sight, nevertheless. I could be in the middle of the court playing soda can football with my friends during recess and I would still literally freeze upon seeing her emergence from the canteen. Until gravity gets the best of me shortly after the soda can shoots right into my crotch, putting my manhood in jeopardy.

Lisa was the ‘it’ girl at school. The teachers liked her for her good grades and politeness. The girls fancied her as she was the nice, smart, friendly, outgoing girl who’s always active with the clubs. The guys, just as myself, adored her for the sweet smile that has always complimented the bewildering mystery of her oh so beautiful eyes. Though she wore pinafore for most of the week, I enjoyed seeing her (from afar) the most on Fridays, as she’ll be in her baju kurung. And words couldn’t do justice in describing her mesmerizing, wavy ponytail.

Who was I, though, to even dream of ever going out with her? As I could only look from the end of the corridors, seniors flocking around her, doing all they could to impress the school’s heartthrob. The jocks of the Malaysian schools are no different from the ones anywhere else around the world. Teachers love them, they hold positions in the clubs, they represent the school in sports. I was basically nowhere near these guys.

I ended up spending the next few years writhing in agony everytime I see Lisa walking alongside different guys. Be it the school compound, the lake, the mall... I saw her walking with guys all the time; at times, hand in hand. And every occurrence hurts me down to the veins. Suffice to say, if it wasn’t for my good friend Ajis, I could’ve been the first student to ever die from shoving a handful of litmus paper down his own throat.

The times, they are a-changing. Those were the days. We’re in our first year of college now and I was lucky enough to be accepted to the same college as Lisa; doing the same course. I’ve somehow warmed myself up to her, if you will. For we are now good, if not the closest of friends.

Today is the acid test for me. It’s make or break now. I’ve been planning for this day for the past two months now. Calling restaurants, e-mailing people, making reservations, checking menus, confirming attendances, preparing maps, distributing directions, answering calls, taking RSVPs, cancelling RSVPs, checking the weather... all in the spirit of making it the best birthday bash ever for Lisa, the love of my life. Perhaps all that I’ve done to make it ‘the’ party for her would soon pay off.

Hurrying back into the restaurant, sliding my phone into my jeans, I tried to catch some breath and mended my hair; gotta look sleek for Lisa tonight. I could see glimpses of the attendees arriving from the mirror. The ladies hugging each other, exchanging kisses on the cheek as their boyfriends calmingly stood there snickering away. Could I care less about them? Doubtlessly.

I scanned through the crowd. Familiar faces, new faces... none of them even close to Lisa’s, the one that could bloom a hill full of Marigolds just like a Sunday morning sun. My head was everywhere as I shook hands with everyone, not getting any of their names right. One curious glance after another, time stood still all of a sudden.

There she was, I could already see from a distance (as I always did back in school). Clad in her favorite white blouse paired with her stylish denim pants; my eyes could never quit indulging into Lisa’s elegance while maintaining her simplicity. Parts of her hair was covering her forehead. Will there ever be a day for me to slide my hands in between your gorgeous hair, love?

I made my way straight to her direction. Who better to welcome her into this celebration of her life’s anniversary than the man who had worked so hard to make everything happen. And I barged through the bodies blocking my way, drawing the biggest smile on my face. Anxiety was in the driver’s seat, my heart was beating faster by the second, accelerating my way towards her with one hand in my pocket and the other on my forehead, trying look cool despite my fingers blocking my view.

Before I moved my hands entirely for everything to become visible and witnessed a sight that could forever banish the enormous hope that I’ve built all these while. Strong in the grasp of Lisa’s hand... was the hand, of a man. The horrid memories of my schooling days started to haunt me right away. Yet again, I froze.

"Hey Kudin, you’re here too! Sorry I’m a bit late. Traffic was really terrib..HEYYY GIRLS! Come baby I want you to meet the girls. Okay Kudin, catcha later!"

I could hear them cheerfully greeting each other from an audible distance. Sounds of "Oh, I’ve heard a lot about you!" and "So you’re the ‘hunk’ Lisa’s been talking about eh?" made their way into my ears. Even the poke of a flaming skewer would’ve been less painful. I did not dare look back.

"Excuse me sir, Mister... Sudin, right? Can I have you sign the bill here for some deposit before we start off with the event?" said a waiter as he stood beside me with a huge smile; my own smile, faded away seconds ago.

My hand was shaking as I signed the bill and passed it back to him.

"Alrightythen Mister Kudin! We shall proceed with Ms. Lisa’s Birthday Bash now! All excited about your girlfriend’s birthday party now sir?! Surely you’ve done quite a lot here?!"

"My... name... is... SudiiiIIIINNNNN HIYAAAARRKKKHHHHH!!!!!!"


"Hang on now... let me get this straight. You organized this birthday party for this girl you’ve been crazy for ages. Did the planning for two months. Got it all sorted. She came with some guy, got your name wrong. Before you assaulted a Steak Shack employee for getting your name wrong as well... and got yourself arrested, ending up here in the lock-up with us?"

"Yeah, that’s pretty much it."

"Well, buddy, I gotta say... that’s some pretty messed up shit right there."

"You think so? Wait ‘til her next birthday."

I Used to Believe
December 01, 2008

This one looks fun. I found it via NYTimes.com's Laugh Lines, which is also your best source of talk show monologues, by the way.

IUsedToBelieve.com is a website for people to share their childhood beliefs. Tom, for example, once believed that, and I quote, "All babies came out as girls and later on in life some of those girls turned into boys."

I just had to read on further, until I was intrigued to write down my own list... as follows.

Belief 1: I used to believe that professional wrestling is real.

Of course I'm totally kidding here. Of course professional wrestling is anything but fabricated. Of course Kane is The Undertaker's younger brother who got scarred for life after their countryside house burned down back when they were kids and he got left behind to suffer a torturous life of humiliation and anguish in living behind a mask before coming back to take revenge on his brother at -- of all places -- WWE's Badd Blood: Hell in a Cell, live from Madison Square Garden, available on Spike TV's pay-per-view just for $9.99, check local listing.

Couldn't make that one up. Moving on...

Belief 2: This one is rather obtuse, to say the least. I used to get real confused by the word condominium, and its abbreviation. Apparently, I didn't know that while 'condo' is the right short form for 'condominium' (a type of high-rise property building), 'condom' may not necessarily have much to do with high-rise properties; possible, but not always. Good old pea-brained me thought that they both mean the same. Explains the look on my friend's face when I asked him, "So your family lives in that condom nearby the lake, eh?"

Belief 3: Black and white films. We've all been fooled by them. As a kid spending countless hours going through his grandpa's P. Ramlee videotape collection, I used to believe that, as in the movies, the real world was all black and white before the 1970s. So if you're a male parrot and you look at yourself in the mirror at 11:59pm, 31/12/69, you'll be freaking your ass out a minute later as you see yourself turning into this tangy colored bird all of a sudden. Consequently, you'll stay in for a few days in fear of being called a homosexual by the other parrots (who incidentally flew nowhere as well).

Belief 4: To save me from the horror of circumcision at an older age, my dad had me circumcised at the tender, very tender age of 3 days old (I know, hello ladies...). Perhaps this was the reason behind my rather straightforward approach towards the girls I liked as a kid; as explained in the previous post.

While I grew up constantly feeling a wee bit manlier than my peers, I was made the subject of derision by my uncles and cousins whom, without the backing of any scientific research whatsoever, continuously scared the shit out of me by telling me that I have to be circumcised again, simply because the one I had back then "didn't count".

While time doesn't seem to slow them down, at 25, and with a better sense of logic and common sense, I manage to handle the pressure they enjoy putting over me. And I know you guys are going to back me up on this one, right? It doesn't matter at what age you got it sliced, right? You only have to do it once, right? RIGHT?!

I guess that's as many as I could recall. Post yours!

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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