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A question that played inside my mind for so long; how does an artist feels when his or her artistic works are being misinterpreted? It was not until a few months back (a year perhaps) did I get a satisfying answer. Pak Usop the painter told me that Latif Mohidin once told him, “An observer’s point of view on other people’s writings or even paintings are art forms by itself. Sure, an artist produces an artwork but it will spawn more works of arts each time a person interpreted it in his or her own way. Hell, copy my poem and write it exactly the way it is in a situation you deem necessary, it’s then your own work of art.”

*****

A sudden bark of tone broke the silence of the night. It was a friend. “Buat apa kau baca Tagore? Bukannya kau paham pun apa yang mamat Bengali tu cakap.” I smiled and kept myself in silence.

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I first heard of him as an ex member of a then defunct hardcore band called “Walls Crumbling”. Old school hardcore as we may say here was known as just punk in the US scene circa early 80s. Walls Crumbling’s sound was analogous towards the sounds of Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today with a little of Minor Threat’s angst. Not as melodic as the now-popular Klang based Second Combat.

Then there was this zine he edited. “Out of Step”. The zine that became a significant reading material for youths in the mid 90s underground scene (how I hate to use that term!). Although the zine was short lived, the content was provoking and blatant, the kind of stuff young people like to absorb. Articles on comparative ideologies, DIY ethics and of course music became instant favourites. He became a controversial figure in Seremban, with balanced rate of aficionados and as well as full time haters.

In 1997, I met him personally after the dissolution of the zine. I was 16 and he was in his early 20s. We usually talked about stuff that he would write if the zine was still alive. A self proclaimed straightedge, he doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t fuck and he carries a kain pelikat in his sling bag all the time for prayers purposes. I myself had reluctance in untying my 12 holes Doc Marten’s and changing my tight jeans for prayers at that time. My admiration grew towards him. To me he was an icon, the MAN.

Approximately a year later was my last meeting with Mai. To my surprise, he was highly intoxicated! With a Carlsberg pilsner bottle in his right hand and a lit cigarette in the other, he was pissing off people around him. Slowly, I approached him. When I asked him what the fuck happened to him, he replied, “Fuck you!” He has since disappeared from my life.

*****

3 days ago, a friend emailed me a link to an entry of a blog. An entry the blog author dedicated to Mai. I realized that Mai didn’t disappear completely from my life. It’s just that he uses his own name now and his medium of thoughts sharing is blogging and I’ve been reading his blog for about two years now. Maybe that’s why his face in the blog seemed familiar. His thick black rimmed glasses blurred my memory of him. His words were still in the same provoking and blatant style, with more excerpts and application of western avant-garde literature. Unfortunately, with my sane mind, I read his blog to detest.

He’s a celebrity now. Idolized by angels and demons. Maybe that is what he’s looking for in life.

Out of step with the world,
Tripped and fell in grief’s furnace,
Screaming at the burning red wall,
Sold as a slave by the broker of hope.

Khayyam versus MacKaye, whilst reminiscing Mai, Seremban in the mid 90s

Of all the bad things people say and predict, I really hope it will not happen this year. Amen.

People talks.

They are a bunch of liars. Why should we keep on dancing? Afraid are we? To stop. Enough. Change!

Fragments of sunlight slip through the crack of my bedroom window, and onto my face in the morning. Should I feel good to have finally equalized? By lifting the lid of my eyes?

*****

Just like always, the open road is ahead and you’re at the wheel. If we have the chance, just tell me, tell me how does it feel.

Imagine how debased our thinking has become that we are afraid of hunger. What may happen, at most we will die.