Miss Aida
I've been travelling. It's been hectic. The itenarary in my head keeps getting readjusted, rescheduled to fit and accommodate the new plans we keep coming up with. We've been trying to squeeze in what we can in these few last days before I finally return to Melbourne. My last bid at seeing all I can see in the limited time I have left. The days are closing in.

We drove down to Kuala Selangor to check out the fireflies. I ended up driving, which was... interesting, to say the least. Five of us piled in a car. Me, Nat, Nik and her aunt and Sam, crammed in my dad's beat up old Ford navigating down unknown, less than well-built roads. I routinely tensed up whenever a truck veered much too close to my car. At one point, the road width barely accommodated the width of the outer rims of my tires. A larger car would not have made it. Tensions were high at times, and tempers were lost. However, when we stepped into the little boat and were paddled down the still river, taking in the amazing sight of the fireflies lighting up trees all along the banks, it was all worth it. It was like fairy lights. Magical.

Genting was another road trip all together. We had the run of Nat's aunt's apartment, and Nat, Hafriz, Azreen, Sam and I bunked there overnight after a full day at the theme park. We had to take the cable car up, which freaked me out to no end, consdering my healthy fear of heights. The outdoor theme park was great fun, despite the fog that descended. We ran around screaming like little kids, went on whatever rides that caught our fancy. The spinning teacups really and truly did me in, we spun and we spun and we spun, and when Hafriz and Nat decided to stop it suddenly and turn the other direction, I felt like the world had started spinning off it's axis. Vertigo. I ended up missing out on the major rollercoaster: the Corkscrew. Oh well.

When we finally ventured indoors, we went on the bumper cars countless times. The indoor park was so incredibly tacky. It was so tacky, it was almost cool. Where else could you find the Statue of Liberty on a motorcycle? The lights, the dazzle, the colours! There were gondolas with wooden gondoliers dressed in Converse. Replicas of the Efifel Tower, Big Ben and other countless famous historical monuments. On the way back, Hafriz and I got distracted by the music playing in one of the nightspots, and it was only by general votes that we reluctantly called it a day. However, when we finally reached the cable cars, they were closed and we had to hail a cab. I can't say I wasn't relieved.

Nat and I braved the cold waters of the swimming pool up in the apartments the next morning, despite the fog and low temperature of the mountains. I think Nat might have regretted our rashness because she came down with a cold slightly after, and I had to drive back.

It was going to be raya haji the next day; my parents had invited Sam to come celebrate with us at my grandmother's house in Muar. It must have been very different through a foreigner's eyes, the wooden houses on stilts, the mosques, the Muslim graveyard. My grandmother, who cannot speak any English, who could only smile and gesture at him. The unbearable heat, as usual, but to my relief there was a bit of a breeze. When we met up with a former college friend, Pin Jun later on, he took us to the riverside, and the town, and then we had a bit of time with the monkeys. It's one of those local areas where monkeys happened to inhabit and people got into the habit of feeding them, so they never quite left. They're now so tame that they walk up and take food right out of my hand! I think we must have come by right after season, because there were all these baby monkeys playing around!

It must have been slightly intimidating for Sam to meet all the family at one go like he did, as well, the 15-odd people rocking up at one go. He wondered about the azan, the call for prayer that must have been strange to his ears, being repeated five times a day. My mum kept making jokes about making him catch some chickens for dinner, a reality in our family, because of the chickens my grandmother rears. The next day we even managed to squeeze in a trip to Gunung Ledang, a mountain with a waterfall. I was reminded about the local legend of the princess of the mountain, a reminder of the rich culture and traditions of my country, as I let the cold mountain waters envelop me.

Going back to my hometown always is nostalgic. Sitting alone outside, bathed in darkness save for gentle moonshine and the light from the stars, I have time to think. Time taken off to rediscover myself. Ever since I've returned I've had to put up with questions about my future and well meaning advice. The underlying concern is understandable, but when I've heard the same old spiel from the same relatives again and again, it's hard to separate concern from everything else. There, underneath the silence of the stars, I can think again.

Wonder if the happiness I feel truly is happiness and content, or a mask I wear to ward off the emotions of others. Or perhaps I am merely being worn down by the cynicism surrounding me. I truly believe in inherent goodness and God and all things beautiful, in idealisms, and I can smile and be content and happy because of my beliefs. It is hard, however, debating on the darkness and injustices of society, and arguing with those who do not have faith. Difficult, because there is no use arguing my beliefs with someone who does not believe in what I do, because they argue merely for the sake of arguing, and not to listen. And sometimes I feel that optimism of mine being chipped away. Bit by bit. As much as I know the world has it's vices, I believe that goodness does exist in this world as well. It is not such a bad belief to have, after all.

At times like these, darkness is my friend, and I am freed from the shackles and opinions and beliefs of others, and once again I can re-evaluate myself. Realise how different I have become from the person I once wanted to be. It was something that I could not have been told but I needed to discover on my own. Shocked into seeing the path I have taken; a path not entirely wrong, but one which veered away from the responsibilities of my life. I think I've woken up to the truth now.

And it was the silence at the end of the day that helped me realise that.
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