Friday, May 2, 2014

Through the Looking Glass

"When you're blind, you loose your sight, but what's more worse is when you loose your vision"

I opened my eyes as new found light entered into my sight, the vision I now have was totally different than what I was used to. I tried looking around my surroundings. the world clearly felt weirder. Weirder in a sense that was hard for me to comprehend. the world seemed right, maybe a bit too right. Everything was sharper, the rays emitting from light sources were dimmer, everything seemed magnified.

I took off my new pair of glasses, not being able to bear the difference it made. It was truly scary. for me, someone who has been dependent on his sense of sight and sense of hearing for as long as I could remember, having to totally change that sense so abruptly almost caused me to faint due to the fact that I wasn't use to the sensation of "better" sight.

Putting back the glasses, I tried walking as the optometrist advised. I wobbling for the first few steps, and incredibly, even to the surprise of my optometrist, I actually fell.

She chuckled. I guess it must have been a first time any of her customers actually fell the first time they wore spectacles. I told her how my vision was completely different when I tried to move. It was like everything seemed so unreal, virtual. The hands I was looking at didn't feel like the hands I normally had, my legs felt as if they were different, even the size seemed odd from where I was looking, I even complained how the world seemed darker, with less light.

Her response: was that I was over-dramatizing.

I may have to agree to some point, maybe I am a bit over-dramatic. but who wouldn't when their sense of sight was changed 180 degrees in just mere seconds?

To me, my sense of sight was one of the most important senses I hold dear. Would I have been able to type on a keyboard or write codes if my eye-sight was bad? would I be able to read the articles that was posted on the internet that I so-long waited? Would I be able to shoot with my bow in this condition?

All these questions kept me preoccupied as I calculated my next course of action on how to overcome my dependency on an item called glasses. Clearly, this would be my biggest obstacle in my life so far, since it will effect the whole statuesque of my life.

I mentally visualized it in my mind. With glasses, the moment I woke up from bed I would have to search for it, then I would have to make sure it was spotless and clean, this in essence could become a problem, with how dark my room is usually during mornings and how groggy my eyes will be when I've just woke up. Then there was the problem of eating. If I slurp my favorite Mi Goreng that my mum makes too quickly it will stain my glasses, thus taking up time to wipe my glasses while eating and repeating the process all over again, what about with my favorite Kuew Teow Sup? If I sip a bowl of sup will it damage my glasses when the hot water hits it? If it rains will my vision be blinded by the droplets of water covering my glasses? Would I need to wear my glasses while I'm driving as well? what happens if I misplace or broke my glasses? will it mean that I will be at the mercy of whoever is kind enough to lend me a helping hand and guide me?

So many questions......... yep, I was over-dramatizing.

I started wondering, how in the world does everyone else does it? do they just start wearing a pair of transparent silicons over their eyes, knowing full well they will be at the mercy of such a small object and walk out the shop just like everything is ok? can people really do like that?

Placing two of my fingers on my temple in a thinking posture....... I begin to to think, and the only logical conclusion was that, yes, it seemed that people were ok to put their lives at the mercy on element 14. I'm assuming that not being made of element 13 and when divided by 2 which equals to lucky number 7 has it pros on the psyche of the average human mind. Further more, it may just be too much of a  coincidence that the symbol for Silicon (Si) can literally be pronounced as "see".

Hmmm, yes, maybe that is the reason, I thought to myself (again I'm over-dramatizing but bear with me), well I guess this will have to be a new chapter for myself, it wasn't like that I wasn't use to the idea of putting myself at the mercy of such mundane everyday objects, which reminded me of instances of me misplacing my handphone or when my inhaler was out of juice, yes, I told myself, this was just another wall to climb on, another problem to be solved.

This will be another chapter of life, I thought to myself. Unknowingly, the shop attendant who was sitting over the counter was quietly looking at me and how weird I may have seem in general. Nevertheless, this was a new chapter, I concluded, and the pages that I will write will hopefully be better than ever. Just to stress on my determination and my will, I placed my hand on my new pair of glasses in a pose to adjust it with my eyes closed which prompted me to say aloud: "This will be a new chapter indeed". Clearly I was over-dramatizing it, all the other people in the shop were looking at me confused as I exited.  

The first thing I did when I've reached my room was to draft a new course of action that I needed to make into a habit while living under the dependency of these new pair of glasses. New habits must be made, others must be destroyed. Contingency plans must be prepared if ever something went amiss, friends must be told and be made aware so they can act as well.

With a plan made, a draft set, close friends contacted telling them of these ill news, I laid down my pen and pencil for the last time, for the next time, next morning to be exact, will be a new chapter, I have a plan, and hopefully it will succeed.


The first picture of me with glasses taken by my little brother Aziem
This was basically how it was the first few days when I was trapped with my spectacles. That feeling of over-drama, the blindness when you wake up realizing that you have to find your pair of glasses first instead of making sure your alarm stops ringing.

Looking back at how I was in these first few days, I have to admit, I clearly was (and you'll hear me say this often) over-dramatizing.

Now Alhamdullilah, life has been easy on me. with the guidance of family and friends, this journey of getting use to a pair of glasses on my head was overcome, quite easily if I might add, considering all the crazy possibilities that I had come up if anything went amiss.

In all my years, I never expected to wear glasses. I always thought that I could have kept my sight as good as it was, but I guess that's wishful thinking considering the fact that I am taking a degree in Computer Software Engineering and almost 90% of my waking hours is spent in front of the computer. Wearing glasses was inevitable.

As I pondered back the story of my glasses, something made me realize, that no matter how much our sight is obscured, our vision must be clear. Even now as my sight changes, becoming much more sharper and if I could still add, more virtual, my goals and visions won't change. I guess that, even with the glasses on, I'll still be the same old quirky old person I've always been, just maybe a bit different while the glasses are on. I'll have a new pose for sure, now that I could pose as the professor or the Maven while reflecting light from my glasses with a smirk on my face, but........ my dreams will still be the same.

Something about eye-sight came into my mind, it was an advise from one of the early Muslim Scholars, I couldn't recall who (I tried performing my all-knowing professor pose but it still didn't come to me), it went like this:

A blind man stumbled upon a scholar and asked him: "What could be worse than loosing your sight?"

The scholar replied: "Loosing your vision"

I pray that no matter what changes I'll go through, I'll still hold firm to the visions I've placed myself on, blinded or otherwise.      

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Songs and Syntax's

“I knew that I was greedy……maybe even beyond greedy. I wanted it all: the money, the fame, the popularity, the glory. But what I wanted most was the ability, the ability to do it all and not be dependent on any living force, and that’s when I knew….. I wanted the world”

I flickered my fingers through the keyboards of the piano, testing the sound of each keystroke. As an aspiring undergraduate in engineering, this was new territory for me (I didn’t even know if the buttons on the piano are called keyboards or something else entirely). I’ve never in my wildest dreams thought of doing this. The sounds each key made was different than one another. My scientific mind wondered how in the world such a regular tool that almost everyone on earth knew its sound could be so complex and awe-inspiring.

I had to acknowledge the fact: that learning how to play the piano was harder than it looked. It wasn’t just a simple flicker of the hand or randomly pressing on the buttons (if that’s what you call it). There was a skill in it. A skill that mesmerized me the moment I bought my first mp3 back in my high school days and downloaded all the pirated songs my friends would endorse me to listen. The reason why they recommended such songs was because they themselves wanted to listen to it during their leisure time, knowing full well that I wasn’t one to bother to such music especially when the popular genre during that time was still the hard rock-n-roll or the ohh-so-awful romantic love songs. They were noise pollution to me and I would rather prefer the songs of nature, quiet, tranquil and relaxing.

It was when one of my friends suddenly uploaded a type of music that changed my perception towards it: instrumental or commonly known as minus one. He wanted to do a karaoke for a certain song so uploaded the minus one into my brand new 2GBs mp3 (during my time 2GBs WAS a big deal). He wanted to sing-a-long-the-song without the interference of the original singer but still wanted to hear the rhythm and the beats the song produced. Ever so curious, I plugged in my headphones and listen to what was so exciting about this ‘minus one’ music. It caught my attention really fast. The name of the song the instrumental came from was called “Itminna” (I forgot what it actually meant). To me, the song was an ‘ok’ in my book. Not too shabby, not to over the board or anything. But what caught my attention was the music playing in the background. It was the sound of a piano.

I was encapsulated by the rhythm that was played, the only way I could describe it was like: wow. And well after that, I kept on rewinding the music over and over again till I could actually create a scenario in my head where the music could be well used for in a video (another skill I was going to learn). There were even moments that I wanted to cry while listening to it. But that’s just me and my ridiculous fantasies I suppose.

After that moment, I made it a hobby to myself to search for really good background music or as it is commonly known now: soundtracks. Listening to soundtracks was to me, better than listening to songs sung by artist because there really were no words to describe the feeling while listening to it (they didn’t had any if you’re wondering). But during my high school days, I was more focused or I liked to think that I was more focused on my studies and anything related to it than music, my number one hobby during that time was still and will always be on computers, which now brought me on the path as a computer software engineer.

In order to play the piano, all five fingers and both hands had to be used, simultaneously, while looking at the notes and sometimes your feet also will have to press something as well. There were a total of 7 letters that I’ve learnt so far in the world of music. Starting from the right thumb: C, D, E, F, G, the on the left hand starting from the thumb to the left: C, B, A, G, F. I know there are more than just these letters in the music sheet ( there’s also the black buttons besides the white ones) and I’m just starting at the middle C, there’s another two dozen keys to go, and I’ll need to memorize the sounds of each one if I want to compose my own music.

When I started to press the keys as per-instructed by my piano teacher (mind you he’s 3 years younger than me) I jolted at the sound that I just made. I was awesomely intrigued but what has just transpired. This was different than the sensation of writing a program on a computer or writing a short story with pen and pencil. Each press of the button was to me an achievement. There was a rhythm to it, a flow, a journey. I couldn’t stop my hands from continuing. It seemed that I was totally in love with the piano, even with how horrible my playing is presently.

The difference was so apparent to my other hobbies. If I wrote programs more often than not the thrill was being able to solve the equations and create complex algorithms with the right logics and syntax and finally execute the program, there was an end goal, a solution to a problem, and it was important to get to that ending as simple with as few complications as possible. Whilst writing, it’s more of the opposite, you have plots, climaxes and endings stringed up together to create a cohesive story retelling an idea, a message which you felt was important, people, both the writer and the reader would want to know how it ended, what was the end and why it ended like that.

In music, it’s quite different.

There doesn’t seem to be the end.

I don’t actually think we listen to music to listen to the end parts and know how the ending was, we hear it because of its entirety. It’s an infinite loop where you want to hear all parts, and you’ll never know when the end is.

When I started playing the piano I didn’t wanted it to end. I wanted to continue to press on the keystrokes, try different rhythms, learn new songs and listen to new music. My eyes were darting from the music sheets, to the keys that I was pressing back to music sheets over and over again and then finally looking at the clock hanged on the wall. My heart was pounding with exhilaration as I pushed myself to get the rhythm’s right and get the right tempo. I could feel my hands shaking as I fumbled in finding the right keys to press. It felt like I was learning how to drive all over again.

That feeling where your whole body is entrenched in that world and you feel one with the things that you are doing. Your body is sweating, your pupils are diluted, your heart is racing with excitement wishing that this feeling would never stop. It was the same feeling when I was writing a long story with over twisting plots that literally would get people to read and hold on to their chairs or when I was writing a program and the algorithms went all wrong when you executed and then able to rectify it in a matter of minutes because the logics of the program had just hit you like a watermelon crashing into a stone wall and smashing into a million pieces. It was the same feeling when you saw a motion, and you knew this one brilliant idea which you also knew was totally outlandish yet ridiculously cool and couldn’t take a break and stop to tell your teammate about it or the feeling when you start to knock your arrows and your heart pumps as you pull the string and the whole world just becomes silent as your heart races in exhilaration.

“Ok Fakhry…… I think that’s all for today,” My teacher caught me off guard. My hands didn’t left the keys yet. It seemed that I was doubting his words for the moment, however when I glanced back at the clock, then my doubt was gone, truly enough time was up.

I stood up, shook my teachers hand and promised to come back next week. I was silent throughout the whole time I was heading back home, driving. My mind was still in its own utopia of symphony, of the sounds of keys being pressed, of music.

And that’s when I realized:  I was in love with the piano as much as I was in love with writing, programming, debating and any other activity I put my heart in it. And I wanted to know more about it, I didn’t wanted it to end here.

I may be an engineer if you look at my degree, but that doesn’t mean I can’t play the piano.