Turning 30
April 11, 2013

When I turned 27 three years ago, I wrote down this list of things I want to do before I’m 30. The list read, 1) Publish a book 2) Produce a record 3) Write a play.

I turn 30 today, and out of the three, I’ve achieved a grand total of zero.

Well I do have a manuscript drafted, about one and a half pages long. I did manage to cut a few tracks with my band, none of whom know where the CDs are now. And I did submit an entry to this theater festival. I believe the papers are now on the judge’s fridge at home, at the back of his kid’s drawings.

But yeah, I guess none of those count.

Looking back, maybe I was a bit too ambitious. I knew the things I wanted require patience and hard work. Both of which, I immensely lack. But I had so much belief. I was convinced that three years was a fair timeline to realize my “Before 30” bucket list. 365 days for every goal. That’s not too bad. Taylor Swift can survive 13 relationships in one year.

Interestingly, despite this shortcoming, I feel content. I have a car to drive in, a company to work for, and a family to come home to. As elementary as they sound, I’ve come to realize that these things are all I ever wanted in life anyway. And attaining them is not as easy as it sounds.

Maybe I was under the impression that getting a job and building a family are part and parcel of life. You’ll get there someday. They’re the basics. Everybody’s doing it. And you should too. Hence my Before 30 list consisting of stuff I wanted over and above these fundamental needs.

As you grow older, however, you begin to appreciate the effort it takes to earn an income and run a family. Through experience, you start to encounter the obstacles and learn your way around them.

The other day for example, I spent a good half an hour staring at this lawn mower I had just bought. To me, buying that piece of machinery was a symbol of my transformation into a responsible adult. I was starting to care about the length of grass.

Turning 30 is quite a milestone for me. And I’m sure, it is for some of you too. Football players aren’t older than we are anymore (except David Beckham). Some of our peers are starting to get into politics (albeit mostly on Facebook). And the majority of criminals we see on TV are from our age group (except Lindsay Lohan).

Nevertheless, I’m excited. And I look forward to embark on this journey into my 30s. It will come with all the trials and tribulations of aging. But we’re not talking waking up to uncontrollable bladder overnight. I’ll try to embrace growing older and while I’m at it, maybe put out those books, records and screenplays I’ve always wanted.

Okay, maybe screw the screenplay.

Animal Welfare, Our Affair
April 01, 2013

What a weekend.

On Friday, I came across a Facebook post about a litter of six newborn kittens abandoned in front of a vet. They were left in a box with their mother nowhere in sight; helpless, and aimlessly looking for comfort. The poster was looking for a mother cat to nurse the kittens. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard of such a request, but the first time I was able to help.

The next morning, we brought our foster cat Tanjung over to the little guys and by noon, their rescuers managed to get her to breastfeed them all. Tanjung had actually just finished nursing her own litter of four and was still lactating. We brought her home two months ago after she’d just given birth at a nearby Restoran Tanjung. The mother cat before her was called Speedmart. Go figure.

So in total Tanjung has now nursed 10 cats in two months. This lady deserves an island vacation once she’s done.

On Saturday afternoon, I was at the vet to send our own cat for a check-up. Not too far from the waiting area, was a dog staring into space, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings. Which was rare. Dogs usually see me as a fire hydrant. They have the urge to bark at me incessantly, and give me a golden shower.

But not this one. He was like Napoleon Dynamite.

I soon learned that he’s an aging dog and was losing his sight from it. And he was there not because his owner sent him for treatment, but because the he was left inside a box with a hole for breathing in front of the vet.

A hole for breathing? How about an a-hole of an owner.

A local temple will be taking the poor fellow in soon.

On Sunday, at an empty shophouse nearby, I stumbled upon a family of three -- a mother and two kittens. The look on their eyes was one of fear, panic, distress, and anxiety; trying to squeeze as tightly possible with each other. Which could only mean one thing: they’d never been outdoors, and had just been dumped in the middle of nowhere. Looks like someone conveniently decided to not have pets anymore.

I’d just come back from the vet to have the mother spayed and kittens de-wormed at this point of writing.

As I was saying... what a weekend.

And what I had gone through was probably just a fraction of what the real rescuers out there do. I’m talking people who actually look for ailing animals and open their homes or create new spaces to provide them food, shelter and medication while they find them a new home. These people do all they can to source funding and support to ensure that animals out there get the care they need.

Nevertheless, these people can do so much. In a perfect world, everyone does their part. Pet owners spay and neuter their pets to control the population. The public intuitively show love to stray cats and dogs whenever they cross paths. And animal abusers are sentenced for castration without anesthetics.

But we live in a world where more money is spent on political flags than animal welfare. So let’s do what we can with our God-given mind to protect these defenseless creatures. That’s what we’re here for anyway.

I’m not trying to shove ideas into anyone’s throat. I’m just pleading ourselves to care a bit more. It’s not an overnight thing. I’ve never had this much awareness before. Heck I couldn’t even get near a cat once. But that’s no excuse to not change. We don’t have to snuggle cats to show we care. In fact, they hate that. I have the scars to prove.

Support animal welfare groups. Donate. Feed the strays. And teach our kids to do the same.

The little that we do means the world to them.

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

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