Friday, April 15, 2022

 Bismillah-hir-rah-man-nir-rahim (in His name, I begin my journey).

This year, to be honest, Abang was actually very afraid to have any form of high hopes, given the crazy roller-coaster ride we all were forced on for the past two years. Abang was afraid to be disappointed. Abang was afraid that Abang would have to face Abang’s anxiety again, which previously took months for Abang to recover. When the open call for Tunjuk Arah was posted up, Abang took hours… not to fill up the application forms. The filling up of the application forms was quite straight forward. Abang hesitated because, Abang wasn’t sure if Abang was ready. Abang wasn’t sure if Abang would even be a good enough participant. Abang looked at the list of invited speakers and facilitators-- Alin Mosbit, Edith Podesta, Wong Chee Wai, Fezhah Maznan, Fasyali Fadzly, Tracy Pang … these are people with a wealth of experiences and knowledge and Abang knew it would be stupid for Abang to not even try to apply for the workshop. Abang took a deep breath, filled up the form and pressed the sent button.


Days later… a response. The mail started with a thank you and as Abang read on, Abang was ready to come across phrases such as “We received many applications” and “we are sorry we’d have to turn you down for this iteration of the project”. However, Abang was surprised that the mail continued instead with a “we are very excited to welcome you on board”. Abang remember tearing after receiving the mail. It was the first time Abang received such a happy news in a long, long while.

Many months later, Abang’s heart and mind was filled with the warmth and knowledge by the different invited arts practitioners, and the people who have worked tirelessly to put this together. Abang got the opportunity to work with Suzana Salleh and Wan Haddad, who had patiently and creatively contributed to Abang’s project.


Weeks later, today, Abang still feels humbled, thinking about the generosity and the love given by the people involved in the Tunjuk Arah workshop. Abang is so, so thankful!

Before this workshop, to be honest, Abang was riddled with anxiety and self-doubt. Abang was forever insecure with the work that Abang was putting up. While Abang tried to be positive and accept all kinds of criticism towards Abang’s work, Abang could not deny that some of these criticisms were slowly tearing away Abang’s sense of confidence and self-worth. It caused Abang to have a meltdown in 2020.


For months, Abang just could not work. Abang doubted Abang’s own work, feeling that they were not good enough. Abang stopped writing. Abang stopped producing any form of creative works and even contemplated getting a full-time office job.


Abang still remember one of the comments from the organizer of the Tunjuk Arah workshop. She asked how Abang has been because it has been such a long time since she saw Abang putting out any work. And she was right. Abang stopped putting out work since 2019. Between 2019 to 2021, Abang just focused on getting a Master’s in Education, hoping that Abang will come across a new knowledge or some form of breakthrough that would help Abang to heal. Through these years, Abang was also forced to face and come to terms with the many years of past traumas that came way before 2019. At times, the experience was so painful. That was when Abang also realized that it would have been so easy for Abang to lash out and blame everything on the world. It would have been so easy to attribute all of it on how life is unfair… of how, He is unfair. Abang is glad that through all these years, Abang is granted the patience and the wisdom to realise how lucky Abang has been. 


Through all these difficult months and years, Abang was really thankful for the friends that have reached out to help. Abang was thankful to have met a family that took Abang in and treated Abang as part of the family member, with no questions asked. Abang was really thankful that despite the lack of money, Abang was still showered with love, and Abang was provided with a roof to stay in. It took Abang a long time to heal. 


It is now 2022. Abang am not sure if Abang has completely healed, but Abang am quite sure that Abang is way better than how Abang was in 2019. With the new knowledge gained from the Tunjuk Arah workshop, Abang hopes to, finally, put out some new work. Abang is keeping Abang’s fingers crossed. Do keep Abang in all your prayers.


Photos are courtesy of Irfan Kasban.
Venue of performance courtesy of Centre 42.
This programme is under Tunjuk Arah/Iyahkkunar, jointly organised by Fezhah Maznan, Centre42 and Teater Ekamatra.