Friday, January 1, 2010

The Truth: 2009

Well. That was it. 2009. That's all she wrote. Goodbye.

I remember, Dec 31 2008. I was coughing up blood. Alone. In a 1440sqft apartment in Bukit Jalil. Four rooms.

I was smoking four packs a day by that time and was due for my next bout of bronchitis.

It was the last day of my previous job. I was co-heading a creative department in Astro. Was responsible for over 3500 hours of content a year.

I knew my contract was up, ending on Dec 31. I spent the last months I was there making sure that other people in my outfit could either stay on working there in whatever capacity, that they kept their jobs. The rest whose contracts were up as well, I tried very hard to get them jobs elsewhere.

I wasn't being noble or kind. It was the decent thing to do. The human thing to do. My loyalty was with my people. I need to be able to sleep at night. And if it meant being stupid or starving to death, then so be it. I have had many bad experiences with people who like to be 'smart about things'.

On Jan 1, one of my bosses called me up.

I was sprawled on my bed, coughing my lungs out. Coughing out brown phlegm. A level over green.

"Hey Amir, I got some good news! Your contract is being renewed!"

Somehow, I had a feeling that life was going to take me elsewhere. So I said, that's great, hooray, and never pushed for it ever again.

I haven't lived for long, but I have learned one thing - always trust my instincts. The times when I disregarded my instincts, I landed flat on my ass.

My pimp senses were telling me that I had some other thing to do.

So I stayed home for two weeks. Just stayed there. Slept. Watched TV. Went online. Did nothing. Oh yeah, I went to Phuket - the source of all power. Got my fill for perhaps the last time. Thailand's last lesson for me was to live without Thailand.

True freedom is when you can live without anything. When you are truly independent.

I came back and called up some friends. Bless them, jobs came pouring in. I have always been lucky with this kind of thing. There are always lots and lots of jobs for writers. The tricky part is to arrange for the other things like contracts and payments, but those can be sorted out with a level head and professional demeanour.

So anyway, I wrote scripts, freelancing full time for a while. Paid the bills. And then the rumours of an offer came. There were some rumblings about my old company, The Malay Mail.

I got the offer, accepted it, and was back at my old desk. A desk I left three years before.

I honestly never believed I would be doing journalism again. I thought those days were over. But there you go, and here I am.

Six months was a time to build foundations. You can only push for greater things when you have a solid base to jump from. Truthfully, I am happy. Some things took longer than I thought - is taking longer. Others, were amazingly fast.

Six months was a beginning. We shall see what unfolds from here. I do not know what the future holds, and am sick of worrying about it.

They said last year that 2009 will be a year of beginnings, and they were right.

On other fronts, my first movie was released on Dec 3. MySpy. For a while, I was scared that it would be so bad that I would never write a movie again. After watching it, I am okay with it. Most of the jokes I wrote were in! Wow! The cast and crew and director even added some of their own, which I think is cool.

I'm gonna make more movies, that's for sure. Check out two more coming out next year. Oops. THIS year. Muahahaha.

I think 2010 is going to be a great year. I don't know why. I had a feeling that 2009 was just going to be an average year, and it was better than I expected. I feel that 2010 is going to be a good year, so it's going to be fantastic.

This year, I lost a dear, dear friend. Yasmin Ahmad. I spent some time with her before, because she loves to spend time with people. She would talk with any Tom, Dick or Harry. I was Dick.

I asked her before, "Why do you talk to me?"

"Because you talk to me," was her answer.

Some people said some really nasty things about her after she died. After she couldn't answer any allegation. I think after I die, people who have enough spiteful energy will say bad things as well. Hell, even when I'm alive, they say hateful things.

Fortunately, 2009 was also a year of spiritual awakening for me.

Since I was very young, I went through a phase of finding my religion, my system. I studied - informally - Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Sufism and whatever else to augment my formal education in Islam.

2009 was the year I found my religion - "Not a devout Muslim". I'm not an atheist, as some people have judged and sent me screeching emails about how I'm going to hell.

Hell? Heaven? One Thai hooker told me, in a back alley somewhere in Bangkok, "Heaven or hell, if it exists, is not our business. Our business is living the best life we can. Let God decide whether we go to heaven or hell. It is beyond our control."

My spiritual search found a milestone in the discovery of the ego. I have known for a while that I have a big ego. This year, I found the tools to accept and ultimately neutralise my ego. I feel free, unburdened and for the first time ever, not needy.

I wish to share that with everyone - without any desire to be told that I am right or to augment my belief in the ego thing - but there is no way for me to do that without getting preachy. Oh well. I guess everyone has to walk their own paths.

Just don't get in my way.

My family's going through stuff. My father is sick. He's old. Old people get sick. Young people get sick too. Oh well. I'm just glad my father is not one of the people I love who died in 2009. I'd be really pissed off with 2009 if that happened.

The doctors, by insinuation, gave him only a few weeks left to live. He shrugged off his fourth stroke like like it was a flu.

So, anyway, the haul for 2009:

1. Spiritual stuff

2. My first movie

3. Going back to The Malay Mail

4. Other stuff

Not bad. Let's see what 2010 has to offer. Maybe an award or something. Oh well.