What I talk about, when I talk about a wonderful year


It’s the time of the year again. While driving back from Kuala Lumpur, I was having a rare and precious private moment in my car. No human, no sound of clicked keyboard.

January, Spring. It’s finally blossoming. Thanks to the Volunteering for International Professionals, the homeless community were lucky to have met three amazing fellows. Ubuntu Malaysia was finally introduced as a non-profit organisation to the community in Chow Kit and Pudu. I was juggling between a project assistant job with the UN and a newbie founder. But the margin for fumbling at the founding stage was minimum. My 9-to-5 was spent in the Prime Minister’s Office, working on meeting minutes for the research on affordable housing. When the sun went down, I started to prepare for outreach in the community and working with my fellows on Ubuntu’s foundational programmes.

It was tough. I could feel my teeth clenched as I rushed through my office tasks. Then I dragged my exhausted body to the community. By then it was mood-lifting. We got to sit with the people on the pavement at Chow Kit. We bent to speak to kids who were always running around us, cheering for food they received from the soup kitchens. Sometimes we heard our heart skip a beat, listening to hardship and disappointment from the people.

In April, spring started to leave while summer of freedom set in. It was bright and liberating. I stopped working and receiving life-saving salary. At that point, it was a decision by default. I don’t know why but I thought the time has come that I needed to give my 100 per cents to the community. It was Now or Never. Quoting from Jane, I was all-smile all the time. From there onwards, I had a few months of dictating the rhythm of my life. I would wake up at 6am and completed a daily run from seven to nine. Two hard-boiled eggs with a cup of hot drink. Then I continued to prepare my lunch that was usually chicken, greens and rice. Cooking in those days was just a way to practice mindfulness. The flow of water from the tap and the pan sizzling worked well to give me at least two hours of focus on light-hearted chores. When afternoon set in, I moved myself to the living room and started working. The type of work ranged from writing letters to governmental agencies to ask for permissions or social assistance for the community, volunteers’ workshop deck preparation as well as responding to the potential partners or sponsors. It was followed by outreach at night in the community I was attached to. Things were vibrant but slow. Voices were loud. I could see myself in it. What’s life when it doesn’t ask you to pay for it?


At this point, you would have thought, what’s next?

Everybody is made up of pieces of flashback.

I do. And what you’ve been reading so far, above, was just a snapshots of what I’ve been through before I reset my life as a professional-cum-secured life-changing consultant.

In my library now, there are many writings like this one – the “drafts” which keep reminding me who I was and how much I would have done to reach my goals. Our goals. It seems like they are long-forgotten but they are not.

It is a book, half-read and half-written. When the wind evokes the dusted memories, there I will be again.

To come back is never easy.

And expect everything worthwhile to take a long time.


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