Youngest kid of six with an inferiority and black sheep complex, but determined that God saves not just his soul to heaven but the remainder of his manic-depressive life, so others won't say he became a Christian and remained a jerk.
i won't be transparent before i'm opaque. and you'll get to know me starting from the small things: who my favourite bands are. what kind of movies i like. who are my heroes.
I’m convinced that when confronted with sincere, real love, the Jesus factor will become obvious. But let’s not plant the cross before we carry it. I’m not trying to con you.
Some dreams are meant to be achieved. I know that. But maybe other dreams are meant to drive us, privately. Never known to anyone but ourselves.
It is a sadness that, when choosing between crying and sighing, will choose sighing. I'd almost say that melancholy is being sad about sadness itself.
On memory and nostalgia
It saddens me when life moves forward and people decide that certain things are worth forgetting.
I've learnt that the word irregardless is filed as a non-standard word in the English language. That's a lexicographer's way of saying it's not a real word.
Crowds are fickle things. So when we stand in the thousands and cry against the present government, do we know who we're actually crying for?
People always want the best for themselves. But I want to sometimes take second or third or fourth best, just so that the loser down the road doesn't always have to come in last. It must feel like shit to always come in last.
On growing old
Leasehold property make me feel sad. It doesn't matter how old the family photos are that you put on your wall. It's your family but it's not really your wall.
I ask you, if God loves everyone, and if God is also incapable of loving evil, how can there be such a thing as an evil man?
On a daily basis
One line quips, like this.
Friday, December 31, 2004
NEW YEAR BECKONS
it is a strange time to be talking about new years when natural disaster
Labels: death, happenings
2:43 pm ]
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
POKER WITH THE DEVIL 5/6 Eight of spades.
He's got the queen of diamonds. The devil throws in another forty dollar chip and I go in. He deals the next card.
I get six. He gets the queen of clubs.
Now, I'm thinking about his jokes about the queen of hearts. Did he really have it or was it all a big show? So far, I've got nothing. He could already have three queens.
(now, if you ever play poker with friends, and you don't get any dramatic hands even after a few weeks, it's not because you're not lucky. It's just that the devil has a penchant of spicing things up.)
One more bet. Eighty more from each in the pot. He gets a two, and that annoys him somewhat. I, on the other hand, get a four.
Last card. A hundred and sixty more in the pot. I can tell he's dying to raise and reraise, but I'm not opening the bets, he is. That annoys him even more. Now, listen to this: it's the last card. He gets his third queen, the queen of spades. Now, I'm thinking that I'm done for, because if he has that queen of hearts in his hand, that's all four ladies. He talked about her. He's always talking about her. Making rude jokes about her. And now, he's got all three other queens. Why would he do that? Talk about her?
Then my card comes gliding in. A five. Is that my money card? 4568. I'm wearing a face like I have no faith in the world but in my heart, I'm grinning from ventrical to ventrical. I look up and the devil's got his eyes on my cards.
"Your grandfather had that hand!" he speaks up. It is only now that I realise how quiet the whole game has been. It's never like that. He's always talking about one incoherent thing or another. "Yes, he had that very same hand. His five was a spade but the rest were just like that." He looks at me and grins. "How intriguing!"
What was his pocket?
He bursts out laughing. I cringe inside - a mistake.
"You can't seriously be asking that, can you?" he settles down in his laughter, shaking his head from side to side. "I've told you, your kind really depress me. You should have seen his face".
I've lost all mood to talk. I've almost lost all mood to play as well. I have a good mind to get up and leave, if not for the five hundred and sixty in the pot. I know my grandfather lost, he lost it all. He probably had a pocket two. Or three. Something miserable and useless. At any case, he never got his seven.
"But for you, my old friend", the devil starts, "I'll let you in on it. Actually, before I tell you what he had, let me first say that your father asked me that same question. I didn't like him. Pompous old man. But I like you. So I'm going to tell you what your grandfather had in his pocket.
I don't really want to know anymore. It doesn't matter.
7:09 pm ]
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
GOD THE GROCER?Do we usurp God? sometimes, i think i do.
you know, i - probably like lots of other christians - find it hard to draw the line between praying for things for myself and a) letting God provide, and b) praying for others' needs. especially the latter, i find myself still very infantile in that when i seek God, half of what i tell Him (if not well more than half) is about what i want, what i need and how i wish He can go about providing it. how self-centred! it's shocking, really.
when Jesus fed five thousand with a couple of loaves, he went away and joined his disciples in Capernaum. the five thousand followed him the morning after and caught up with him. but you know what Jesus said?
"I tell you the truth, you did not look for me because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill."
is this what i am? am i looking for God because he provides for my needs? am i chasing the gift and not the true miracle that is the Giver? have i been coming to God as if he were my grocer and i needed a topup on the latest batch of barley loaf?
but surely, God is our provider. He gives us all things. He is our doctor and lawyer and shrink and teacher. He is our manager. i heard a speaker the other week say he is our matchmaker. and more! our bus driver and policeman. and yes - our grocer. surely, it can't be dramatically wrong to go to him for food, is there? is there?
it hit me this morning - it's not that God isn't our grocer. He is and will be. but when we approach Him, don't approach Him as a grocer. approach Him as God. and all our grocery needs will be met. i know, when i pray, i ask for lots of things. it's normal - humans have a self-centred streak that takes lots of transformation to get rid of. but i must always remember that He is God. though He plays that role in my life when i need it, it must never superseed the fact that He is ultimately Lord the Most High and i must never commodify Him by walking up to His throne with a list of provisions. He will be my grocer when i need one but He is GOD. Fullstop.
6:57 pm ]
Monday, December 13, 2004
POKER WITH THE DEVIL 4/6 My turn.
I exchange a portion of that money for a thousand dollars worth of chips. I'm sitting there, across the table from the devil. He's got his eyes closed. He starts sniffing the air in front of his face and starts talking.
"I know you. Always folding though you've got the king"
Then he opens his eyes and sees me. A regular. A regular loser. I almost feel like telling him I know him back: always full of jack. But I stop myself.
"You play a twenty-forty game," he looks for a twenty dollar chip from the city of chips before him. And plops it onto the middle of the table.
"No," I say. "Double the blinds."
The devil looks up, as if caught by surprise for a fraction of time, and then he breaks into the biggest smile ever. "All the more for me, then!", as he plops in another twenty without looking.
I put in my starting bet and he hands me the deck of cards to be cut. There are two things you should know when you play poker with the devil. One, always insist on a fresh deck. I've seen men play away all their chips on 51-card decks. Two, always insist on cutting the deck. He shuffles funny.
So I cut the deck. And he deals me my pocket. As the card glides from his end of the table before me and stops just where it should, I think about the thin man and I look up. There the devil was, turning his pocket card, mulling over it and making rude comments about queen of hearts. He does that all the time. He's dealing, so I'm opening the bets. I put my left hand on the table, next to the card. I put my right hand on top of my chips and I wait for him to quit acting like an idiot. Eventually, he stops playing around with his pocket card, puts it back faced down and notices that I haven't touched mine.
"Not about to sniff your queen?"
I'm not listening to him today. He's always making rude jokes about the queens. And in my head, I keep trying to think of the thin man but for some reason, nothing is coming into my head. I try to imagine his face, but no face comes to mind. So I start to think of the man who came in and played no-limit poker. I have no idea what he looks like, I don't even have proof that he exists - except for the fact that the devil before me has nothing to his name.
I pick up a forty dollar chip and toss it on the table. I have not seen my pocket. The devil lets out a big sigh and shakes his head.
"Another one of his disciples..." he starts to grin really big again. "You fellows depress me. Just ten minutes ago, this man comes up to me and decides to do it like you're doing it. He had six hundred with him. Spent it all in one hand. Reraising and reraising. Lost it all! Six hundred. One hand! It was so depressing. His pocket was nothing he expected." Now, his big grin is a big chuckle. "You should have seen his face. You depress me".
"At least he had six hundred. You've had nothing for years,"
And for the first time, the devil's fraction-of-time surprise takes a bit longer in recovery.
"Just deal me my card."
11:37 pm ]
GUILT IS A BAD BAD THINGYou know, i was up today confessing my sins while walking to the station. and i was just struck so hard by some of the things i'd done which weren't so right or noble or whatever you wanna call it. and i felt so responsible for it. which is a good thing if felt in moderation. i told Father that i wanted to claim 1 John 1:9, that if i confess it and lay it on the cross, He justifies me and lets me go on guilt-free. but i couldn't go on guilt-free.
i also know that when you talk about spiritual warefare and stuff, for every sin God wants to forgive and forget, the devil wants to rehash and make you feel like a black sheep that's limp and ugly and stupid all at the same time. it was exactly like this. i knew - all too well, i knew - that on one hand, there was my all-loving God saying "it's ok. you've made a mistake, now you've asked for forgiveness. all is forgotten. go have a smashing day"... and there was the evil one on the other going "how could you? i think you really went too far. after all that God has done for you, you still act like that?". wahoo! real life angel-&-demon-on-shoulder action. and a very real one too.
it happens to the best of us, much less the ordinary. i really struggled hard this morning trying to forgive myself over what was actually nothing too collosal. but it's like that. guilt trips are bumpy and no matter how many times you deal with them, when they strike, they have a way of striking. i just wanna encourage anyone reading right now who might be feeling really bad about something they've just done. or maybe it's something they did a long time ago that was never resolved. it could even be something that has already been resolved but you're still punishing yourself over it. to you, if the case may be, i want to remind you that God loves you too much to see you beat yourself over this. it is not worth it and it was never how He wanted you to respond to this situation. every minute you continue to blame yourself and hate yourself and live in a shell because of something wrong you did is a minute spent inflicting wounds in God's heart. he wants to forgive you and give you a life. he wants you to get over it because until you do, He can't love you the way He wants to.
1 John 1:9
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
if you're feeling like crap today because you really messed up, then this is the God you need. the kind of God who's not like the harsh and unforgiving world, who's not like all the people out there who will lynch you over and over again for the same thing. this is the God who wants to accept you and make you feel more loved than you've ever been. this is the God who wants to forgive you. and He has. He's already forgiven you. you just need to claim it. how do you claim it? just tell him you're sorry and leave your wrongdoing on the cross. walk away clean because you have exchanged a curse for a blessing. do it for yourself and do it for the God who loves you too much to see you hurt all day.
4:14 pm ]
Sunday, December 12, 2004
POKER WITH THE DEVIL 3/6 A year later, when I started to consider borrowing money to keep playing poker, I met the thin man again. We were waiting for the table to clear. So I say to him, "Mister, that first time you came in here, and you set him back thirty thousand in five hands. How did you do that?" And he says to me, "Son, do you not know that the devil is bankrupt?"
I'd forgotten about that. I told the thin man I wasn't sure. "That thirty thousand doesn't belong to him. Some of it belongs to a cousin of mine, some of it belongs to my brother-in-law, and some of it belongs to you". He pulls out a roll of dollar bills. "Fourteen thousand. It's all you've ever lost since you were ten". He puts it in my hand. "You never should have lost it".
I was confused. What do you mean I never should have lost it? The thin man says to me, "Son, the devil is bankrupt. He has no right to play with you. But somehow his licence to keep this joint open keeps getting renewed".
So, none of us should be playing with him?
"All these guys, what do they know? They play poker with the devil to enrich themselves. Your grandfather, he did that didn't he?"
Yes. I think he did. So, it's not ok to play poker with the devil to enrich yourself?
"Son, if I have to tell you one more time that the devil is bankrupt, and has no ability to enrich anybody, I'm gonna first have to slap you across the face".
I was was struck by a strange fear, so I decided to think to myself while the thin man got caught in a conversation with someone else. One, the devil is bankrupt. Two, it's wrong to play poker with him to enrich yourself. Then I remembered the roll of fourteen thousand dollars in my hand.
"Mister," I tapped on the back of the thin man. "I lost this fair and square. I'm really thankful I got it back, but technically... isn't it unfair?"
"Son," and I don't know why he keeps calling me that, but he says, "do you know how the devil got bankrupt?"
"Yes. A man came in one day and played no-limit poker with him. And won everything."
"Do you know if the devil has paid up this debt?"
I wasn't sure. So I didn't say anything at first. Then, I remembered a neighbour of mine, who went bankrupt when I was a child. He lost his shop, his house and all his possessions. Even his wife left him, but I know that doesn't count. He couldn't have a title to his name.
"He hasn't paid up his debt." I answered, like a schoolboy. "If he did, he would no longer be bankrupt".
So the thin man says to me, "This fourteen thousand in your hand. All these 22 years, who owned it?"
Not me. I lost it. I lost it to the devil.
(But he cannot have a title to his name!)
"Son, wise up. The devil is incapable of ownership. It goes against his nature, ever since that man walked in and played no-limit poker and won it all. This we know. That fourteen thousand dollars has been withheld from you."
Withheld from me?
"It didn't belong to him. He just withheld it from you. You allowed him to take it, so he took it. You allowed him to hold it, so he withheld it. As for me, I play to claim back what he has withheld."
I thought about that. The thin man was really good at poker. He never had to open his pocket cards! How could he have anything to claim. Then, again I remembered the fourteen thousand rolled up in my hand. And more of it belonged to his brother-in-law.
"I'm up next, son," he says, patting me on the shoulder as struts up.
Wait. Wait. "You get up here every night," I start. "You never open your pocket. You never lose. How do you do that?"
The thin man, he turns back just as he is getting pumped up to take the table. And he is standing about five feet from me already, but all of a sudden, he is holding me by the shoulders, and his head is pressed against the side of mine. And he speaks into my ear, saying, "One, don't ever play to enrich yourself. Two, know that the devil is bankrupt. Three, play by faith and you will get the cards."
Faith in what? I was trembling. I didn't need to tremble but I was trembling.
"Faith that once, a man walked in here and played no-limit poker. And bankrupted the devil".
6:56 pm ]
Thursday, December 09, 2004
PETALING STREET FASHIONWhat's wrong with the way i look?
you see, i was in petaling street the other night. me and a couple of colleagues were out bringing our aussie trainer for a night of shopping and fun. we had gone straight from work too, so there i was in my long sleeves tucked in, carrying a nice bag - all in all, i thought i looked real "working".
it therefore zonked me to the collarbone when this man, a fellow shopper, came up to me and asked me how much one of the items for sale was. "i don't work here", came my quip and he noticeably felt embarrassed at his mistake. now, somedays, these mistakes are forgivable. but did i look like the petaling street shop seller kind? do you pick me out of the crowd and say "fake watch, lewd t-shirt and funny hair colour"? hey, maybe we all look like something dodgy, just that we don't know it.
now, i said earlier that some of these mistakes are forgivable. it's true. in fact, just last night, i was at One Utama browsing with ernest in zara. good shop you know. and this guy wearing a generic white shirt - no different from the actual staff there - carrying a few clothing items stands at the counter. i approach him from the back and i ask him where the changing rooms are. "i don't work here", came his quip. right. dodgy me. the girl at the counter had a big glee on and to mask my redface, i just wore one back and laughed it off, apologising to that dude twice. point of the matter is, my error - i argue - was more reasonable. i mistook him for someone working in a boutique that sells RM199 shirts.
back to the plot - petaling street. so it was within ten minutes of being mistaken for an ah beng that this guy stood right up to me while i was walking and whispered urgently in my face, "Porno, 5 star, 5 star!". Oh no! do i look like the porno type of guy too? what's wrong with this place? or better yet, what's wrong with me? why do i look so dodgy today? "You must be kidding me" would have been my growl if i knew the guy would get it, but i didn't think so. i just held my hand up, said no and walked away half a stride faster. porno 5 star. what was he thinking.
good golly, now google is gonna pick up my blog when people run dodgy web searches.
so i was in one utama last night specifically to buy clothes to go to work in. what better person to bring along than ernest my brother the guy who buys Folio magazine to get clothing ideas? along the way, i pick up a really cool Topman shirt. i liked it from the outset, but never being the beautiful boy, i had my question marks. "Does this look gay" was my question. "no" was ern's answer.
so today, my shopping trip paid off when aris, the office segak guy, asked me if i bought my shirt from raoul (raoul, ok! RM300 shirts ok!). he also asked me if they had it in other colours. what a delight. compliments from some guys just sound better than others. or girls for that matter. so, decked out to my nines, i walked home today looking into all the car windows. a million bucks. i feel a hundred miles from "porno 5 star".
7:08 pm ]
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
POKER WITH THE DEVIL 2/6
So, I kept on playing till I was 21. Around that time, I started hearing stories of this guy who played no-limit poker with the devil. I thought, no-limit poker? With the devil? You must be kidding me! How much did he lose? My friends told me he won everything. That somewhere along the line, he bankrupted the devil. I didn't think much about it, but after a while, the story about the devil being bankrupt started getting around. I started to think that maybe it was true. But still, he kept on winning. Every night, rows of men would file into his den and play cards with him. All of them would lose. The devil can't be bankrupt, I thought. He's like the casino. Every night, he wins. Every night, he's paying you with another man's money.
At the start of the hand, when you get your first card, the pocket card, some people don't look at it immediately. Some will eye their opponent, trying to intimidate them. I've seen men stare each other down for minutes before either took a glance at their card. Others like to steal quick looks. I've seen some perform rituals that involved every totem in the world. One day, a bad day, I decided to stay back and watch some guys play. I had to learn from somebody, or else, I was gonna end up like my father and my grandfather before him. Broke, in my 20s.
The guy who took over the table played a 100-200 game. He was extremely thin, so I'll call him the thin man. But 100-200, that's a lot of money. It was like, the first anyone had seen of him. And this, this I'll always remember. The devil hands the deck to the thin man to be cut. So he cuts the deck. The devil deals the first hand. And the thin man doesn't look at the card. He's playing blind! He just looks back at the devil and pops a hundred dollar chip on the table. All of us thought, "A madman. He's gonna be dried up under ten hands. Playing 100-200, no less! And every time he threw in another chip, I secretly expected him to peek at his pocket card but he kept it faced down. Didn't even want to touch it. His left hand was placed on the table, his right hand on top of his chips. Like he couldn't wait to pop another piece into the pot.
What happens is, when the devil lets people hang around to watch him play, you don't get to stand right up there and see the cards. Everyone stands a few feet from the table. All you see is where the money goes. But we could all see what the thin man wasn't doing: he wasn't looking at his pocket card. So, as the first hand draws to a close, there's a thousand four hundred in bets, plus two hundred in starting bets. All the cards are dealt. Still, the thin man has not peeked at his pocket card. He throws in another two hundred dollars to see the devil's hand. The devil follows in. Two thousand dollars on the table. They pop open their pocket cards and none of us can see what's going on. Actually, no. All of us can see what's going on. The devil smashes his fist on the table, and starts cursing at the thin man. Every curse in the book, in every language.
We all laughed! I don't ever remember anyone laughing in that place, but everyone, all the guys like me who lost, we all started laughing and cheering on the thin man. For some reason, the devil allowed us to keep hanging around. I think he wanted to show us he could turn it around. He couldn't. In five hands, the he lost close to thirty thousand; the bulk of which came in the last hand, when the devil and the thin man kept raising and reraising each other. It was crazy. After that, they closed up for the day. No one else got to play until the den reopened a week from that night.
That was the longest I ever went without playing poker with the devil.
7:20 pm ]
POKER WITH THE DEVIL 1/6I'm gonna go ahead and do this before the poll results come in conclusively. always being a self-conscious blog, i have been aware that this place has seen more narratives about my criminal exploits and whatnot than that of a struggling christian. i disappoint myself sometimes that this blog veers to very worldly themes for long stretches.
on top of that, i've been finding it hard to put together well thought out, cohesive and properly written blogs of late. so, as you'll know, this place has been patchy at best in its updates. i'm thinking that if there's something new to read - regular blog or not - it's better than nothing! right?
now i've never been very protective over my prose/fiction. maybe it's because i never fancied myself a fiction writer and so i'm quite loose with showing them around. besides, i could always do with feedback.
so i'm gonna post a short story i wrote called Poker With The Devil, which one might find more faith-inclined than a lot of the rubbish i stash on here in the name of human interest. the piece will be divided into 6 parts. here's the first. enjoy.
POKER WITH THE DEVIL
Every day, I sit down and play poker with the devil. I don't really like it, but I don't have a choice. I remember playing poker with him since I was ten. I used to play with five cent chips, now I play a twenty-forty game. But I still play with limit. It's hard to play no-limit poker, especially with the devil.
I play with him because a long time ago, my grandfather used to play with him. My grandfather played poker with the devil every day. And every day, he would lose. Yet, the thing about my grandfather is that the more he lost the more he went back in to play. He lost everything. My father made some money on his own and went back in to play with the devil as well. He lost everything. His brothers, they went off and studied their poker. They lost everything. All their wives would keep saying, poker is a lying man's game. Of all people, don't play it with the devil.
I remember being brought to the devil's den. All my uncles and aunties and my dad would go there. For some reason, the women never went in. They would see their husbands off at the door and go home. I don't think women weren't allowed inside because there were always a lot of women inside. I don't remember them playing cards with anyone, but they were always there, drinking and talking among themselves. I used to go in. Like I said, I've been playing since I was ten.
The first time I played, I lost the first ten, maybe twenty hands. Then, I won a couple of times, and then came this hand that I remember till this day. I had open kings, and the devil had open jacks. I put in my five cent bet, and the devil saw it, then raised it. At that age, I saw no reason for losing the hand. I had the stronger pair and another five cents to be won. Besides, I was on a roll. Three wins in three. Then, against the custom of things, an uncle standing behind me started hissing softly, "he has another jack, he has another jack". I looked at my pocket - no third king. "He always has another jack".
Someone must have removed that uncle of mine. At any case, I folded. The devil didn't have another jack. I lost. I should have been going home with a brave victory, but I folded like the child I was. To what? To a six of clubs. He didn't have to show it to me, but he did. Until this day, I don't know why he revealed that six of clubs, cos you and I both know, you don't reveal your bluff card if you don't have to. I used to think he did it to make me feel stupid. Nowadays, I think maybe God compelled him to.
2:44 am ]
Monday, December 06, 2004
It's only love and that is all
Why should I feel the way I do?
It's only love and that is all
But it's so hard loving you
2:28 pm ]
Sunday, December 05, 2004
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND SUFFER
"What do you hold on to? what gets you up every day?" i told gordon that
2:27 pm ]
Thursday, December 02, 2004
I'M A THIEF!
I'm a thief! it started when i awoke at 8am this morning. that, if you do
2:26 pm ]
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
SCENES FROM THE TAIWAN PARLIAMENT
Seeing as i'm incredibly busy right now, that's one, my last few posts have
2:25 pm ]