Monday, 29 May 2017

#musicmonday: Tea and Sympathy | Jars of Clay

Because it came up on the Jar of Gems CD.

And I've been thinking about tea.

So maybe you should submit something.

---

So fare thee well
Words the bag of leaves that fill my head
I could taste the bitterness and call the waitress instead
She holds the answer, smiles and asks one teaspoon or two

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Saturday Setlist



The shout of the King is among us
God lives here in our praises

Our God is a lion
The Lion of Judah (praise)
He's roaring with power
And fighting our battles
Every knee will bow before Him

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith would be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want

And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Friday, 26 May 2017

#Fridayflash: Accelerando (Another #Dongeng excerpt)

The house is quiet. His son and daughter-in-law have gone out somewhere—he does not know where, does not ask. They are adults, after all, and he is merely a visitor—and the boy is most likely still asleep. He lingers at the dining table, still sipping at his cooling coffee when the front door opens and the boy walks in.

“Morning, ‘tuk,” the boy mumbles. He looks restless, antsy.

“Where did you go so early in the morning?”

The boy sighs and slides into a chair, leaning slumped over the table. “What if she doesn’t come back?”

Fear grips his heart. “Why wouldn’t she?” He’s not sure if she refers to the girl his grandson has been seeing or if it’s someone else—if it’s that someone trying to seduce him. The enemy of my enemy…

“I don’t trust him.”

“Him?” He cannot read the boy’s mind, but it’s clear that he’s jumping from thought to thought, sowing marbles in their houses, calculating with each click to see who will end up with the most seeds in his store. Who is he playing against and what’s at stake? “You should never trust Putera Aria.” He speaks from bitter experience. Not Putera now—Raja. He doesn’t correct his mistake.

“Who?” But the boy doesn’t wait for him to explain. “Garuda. Can I trust Garuda?” he asks, looking up with an expression that is all at once desperation and fear and worry and calculation.

He wonders what his grandson has become, even as he nods once. Garuda can be trusted. The kings of old—the kings of men of old—had trusted him. Garuda is honourable even in his pride and foolhardiness, is said to be honourable even to the point of death. If Garuda is on their side, at least he knows truth will be upheld. “Where is she?” he asks, although he already knows the answer.

“Alam Dongeng. This morning. I went to see her off.”

Pain and sorrow pierces his heart. He doesn’t speak of it, and the boy, caught up in his own misery, doesn’t ask.

---

Several important things:
1. Coexist is now retailing at $0.99 permanently.
2. Dongeng is now up for pre-order at a special launch price of $0.99. Price goes up to $2.99 on June 6. So grab it quick!

Check out the landing page here! :)

---

Super lovely cover commissioned from Charis Loke features Sara, Helmi, and Garuda. Check out her site if you want to commission her art.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

#bookreview: Seeing Red | Lina Meruane

Seeing RedSeeing Red by Lina Meruane
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When the veins in Lina's eyes burst, filling her sight with blood, she struggles through months of blindness, wavering between attempting to be independent and being reliant on her partner, Ignacio, and her family.

In Seeing Red, she narrates her experience, filled with asides to Ignacio. It reads like part-diary, part-rambling, an autobiographical novel of a writer's relationship with sight. It's one of those books that need to be read in one sitting--not because it is particularly enthralling, but because the webs that she spins and the tangents she veers into in her narrative are easily lost once you take your eyes off them.

There's a taste of her Hispanic background that rolls off the page in the words used and the way she phrases her thoughts; the story starts in New York but soon steps into Santiago, Chile, where she explores her family dynamics and prods at the differences between her Chilean self and Ignacio's Galician background, ending back in New York where her eyes are operated on by Doctor Lekz, a Russian doctor born in Galicia who forgets Lina's name every time she comes in but remembers the state of her eyes and what's wrong with them.

It took some time for me to get into the story--I started it twice, pushing through past the 25% mark until I reached a point where the narrative emerged strong enough to pull me along its very scattered path.

Note: I received a review copy via Edelweiss.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 21 May 2017

North Star

Sometime in the distant past, you've fixed your North Star; in your heart, your mind, your soul. Every fibre of your being knows who it is--but somehow you've lost sight. Your compass broke. You don't know where true North is anymore.

And you don't know if you should care.

But you do.

---



---

So you run.

You run because nothing is as it should be, nothing is as you thought it would be, nothing is. Everything is ashes. Ashes and smoke. The bitter tang of defeat.

Because one day you woke up, and everything broke.
You made choices. The choices you felt were right. And are right. Maybe.
But your choices rub it in over and over again.
So you push yourself. Get over it.

But you can't.
I can't.

---

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

---

And you fear you will always be alone.
As you watch everyone moving on.
Building a life you will never see. You know not to hope.

Yet it always comes back to that one question, doesn't it?

---

Why am I always alone?

---

On your lips; you mouth: further up and further in!
In your heart, you dig in your heels.

---

You've forgotten what he looks like, that North Star of yours, for all that you say you pursue him. You forget why you chose him, what resonated when you sealed the deal. So you wander, your restless heart leading you, searching but not finding. Looking but not seeing. Listening but not hearing.

So your compass spins.

Friday, 19 May 2017

#Fridayflash: Dongeng (an excerpt)

... when Sara woke up early one Sunday to find a bird perching at the foot of her bed, she was shocked. She stared mutely at the animal, wondering how it had gotten in. It wasn’t any bird she remembered seeing before; pigeons and crows were what she was used to, not great big birds in bright golden plumage with a flaming horn.

“Hai, Penglipur Lara,” the bird said.

“What the—” She bolted upright. Rubbed her eyes. Stared.

“Yes, I’m here.”

“Who—what—”

The bird chuckled. Sara slapped her face lightly, wondering if she was awake.

“You’re awake, Sara,” the bird said. “Let me introduce myself. My name is Garuda. Ah, I see a spark of recognition there. You have heard of me, yes?”

Sara nodded mutely. Why is this happening? She tried to pinch herself.

“I am a legend. Everyone knows of me. Which is why I have been chosen to come and speak to you. Again.”

Sara pulled the blankets up around her body, as if building a wall between the mystical bird and herself. “Again?”

“Well, the Orang Bunian tried—and failed. Thus, again.”

Realisation dawned upon her. “Oh!”

“Right now, I deem that you are not sufficiently awake. If you could wash up and maybe make a cup of your preferred caffeine fix, that would be great.” He started to fly off, then settled down again, staring at her with piercing eyes. “I assure you I am not a dream.”

Garuda flew out of the room without a backward glance leaving Sara staring at the open door. In a daze, she stumbled out of bed and into the shower, where she took an extra-long, extra-hot shower. She left feeling refreshed and comfortable, having quite forgotten about Garuda. She was boiling water to make instant noodles and tea when Garuda re-materalised and perched on one of the dining chairs. Surprised, she threw the hot water at him, screaming.

“What was that for?” Garuda said in annoyance as he flapped frantically out of the way.

She stared at him. “You’re not a dream!”

“I told you that already,” he huffed, settling on a dry chair.

“Okay. Yes. You did. I forgot. Sorry.” She hurried to wipe up the spilt water and then stopped to stare at the bird.

“Go on, you were in the middle of making breakfast.”

Sara opened the packet of Maggi Kari, noting distractedly that her hands were shaking as she poured the flavouring powder into the bowl. She managed to pour hot water into the bowl and into her tea cup without spilling anything. When she was finally settled at the table with food and drink, she took a deep breath, grateful that she hadn’t dropped anything.

She looked expectantly at Garuda. “So…”

“Go ahead,” the bird said politely, cocking his head to one side. “I’ll talk while you eat.”

He waited until Sara had started eating before he cleared his throat. “You read fairy tales, don’t you?”
Sara looked up at him and nodded.

“And you know Tinkerbell’s story.”

“The Barrie version or the Disney version?”

A smile crossed his face. “Ah, most people would not even think to ask that. The Disney version.”

“Well, yes.”

“At that tragic moment when Tinkerbell is dying and Peter is trying to save her, what does he do? He asks all the boys and girls in the world to clap for her. The more that clap, the more that acknowledge her existence, the faster she recovers. It’s the same thing. Your belief and your stories fuel our continued existence.”

Sara swallowed. “The NeverEnding Story.”

“Ah yes, yes, something like that.”

“So, you are being forgotten and you want me to be like him and save your world?”

Garuda’s grin looked almost mischievous. “Yes and no. You see, we’re in this unique position of being part of stories told in a language that is confined to these borders. And as much as we can try to keep ourselves alive in the Kisah Dongeng, hikayat and folklore of these people, we won’t get very far. Once our language dies out, we will die too.”

“Your language? Dying out? Malay is the official language of Malaysia. It’s not going to die out. Not like all the other little dialects and tongues used here. I mean, if you were saying that Iban legends or Dayak legends were dying out, I’d believe you. But Malay? I mean, everyone in this country of 30 million people knows the language.” It was true. She spent eleven years in school learning it. She may not be fluent… but at least she knew it.

---

Dongeng is now up for pre-order! Check out the landing page here! :)

---

Super lovely cover commissioned from Charis Loke features Sara, Helmi, and Garuda. Check out her site if you want to commission her art.