Saturday, March 10, 2018

Our own YouTube channel

Besides publishing non-fiction books, Helang Books publishes high quality, award-winning children's books. We don't just create content, we do research and development, and incorporate innovative technology into our publications. We are committed to providing our children with good books that are imbued with values and life skills. We hope to inculcate a culture of care and grow as an emphatic society. Support us!

+Check out Helang Books on YouTube.

*Thanks 'No Average Joe' for producing this video!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Harvard came in a dream - Part 2

I had given up on Harvard Medical School (HMS) after getting rejected. I even hid all my MCAT notes and books in a place far, far away. Going to HMS seemed like a crazy thing for someone with pathetic MCAT scores. I deleted all traces of HMS from my phone, laptop, threw away the HMS diary, lanyard etc. I have tried so hard to enter HMS; I even ignored the nasty comments by naysayers and haters. I know that it was my late mum's dying wish for her daughter to go to HMS. As of now, HMS est un rĂªve (is a dream).

Some years later, a good friend of mine, T, before leaving for the UK for his Masters, asked me to join him at this London university which is quite good. He said that they are scholarships for PhD students like me. He made me promise to apply. I said that I would take a look at the programme website.

Then, I had a dream.

I dreamt that I was filing up the application form, excited at starting the PhD at T's university.
Suddenly, a voice boomed out. It was a strong voice. Powerful but not scary.
Voice: “This is not your dream.”
Me: “What is my dream?”
Voice: “Go to medical school.”

Suddenly, there were loud claps of thunder and strong flashes of lightning. I closed my eyes in fear. When I opened my eyes, I was standing in front of... 

I woke up in sweats. It was dawn.
I whispered, “Allah, was it you?”
But I thought, how could we mortals hear God's voice?
Could the devil be messing with my mind?
Surely the devil won't want me to seek valuable knowledge to help mankind, right?

Anyway, I didn’t tell T about the dream. I simply told him that the courses at his university didn't interest me.

Oh my Harvard. What am I supposed to do?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Harvard came in a dream - Part 1

I remember the time when I started work after graduation. I loved my job as a producer! A few years later, I felt restless. I wanted to intellectually stimulate my brain. What could I do? My father had never supported my educational aspirations. I have been struggling on my own since school days. The irony is that my father gave money, effort and words of encouragements to his 5 nieces and nephews (they are now millionaires, thanks to their wealthy late father) who don't even bother visiting my 84.5 year-old father, even on Hari Raya. But that is another story.  

Anyway, I wanted to go back to school. Take a break from work and study again. But study what? I heard there was this Masters of Strategic Studies course at the local university that sounded interesting. As I had studied political science, I thought it would be a good follow-up course to pursue. Plus the fees were not expensive. So, I called my professor to ask if he could write a good reference. He said, "Of course!" I happily completed the application form.

One night, I had a dream. I dreamt that I was in a bus going to the university. Suddenly, the bus conductor accused me of not paying the fare and asked me to alight in the middle of the journey. I protested. But no one in the bus believed me. I had to walk around the extremely huge campus trying to find the department so that I could submit my documents. I asked people for directions but they were rude and weren't helpful. It was very frustrating. There were no discretional signs and buses in sight. I walked around for hours on end. It was scorching hot and I was drenched in perspiration. I wanted to rest for a while so I sat on the pavement by the roadside, tired and upset.

A gentle breeze blew past me. I smiled, thankful for the short respite. As though I was bewitched, my eyes 'followed' the breeze and looked up at the bluest sky above me. There were no clouds. Strangely, there was a large crimson cloth flapping in the middle of the sky. The letter 'H' was emblazoned across it. I uttered, "Harvard".

I woke up.

What was that dream about? So strange! Why didn't I think of 'H = Hidayah'? Why Harvard? I had not been thinking of Harvard at all. I didn't even know what the Harvard icon or flag or colour was. Maybe when I was in school, I never thought of myself as smart. None of my teachers had ever said that I was good enough to enter the best universities in the world. 

I called my professor to inform him that I would not be applying for the Masters in Strategic Studies. I apologised for making him write the reference and told him that I needed to rethink my study plans.

Harvard came in a dream. I am glad it did. Because it pushed me to aim higher and dream bigger. And ultimately, I got the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. However, I didn't study at Harvard when I was on the Fulbright. But, that is another story for another day.

I think Harvard is still waiting for me. I am not sure if we will ever meet...

- - - - -
ps. After dreaming of Harvard, I created this email account to push me to make that dream come true:
I figured that it could be like how I created when I was studying at Sciences-Po Paris. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Maktoob : Destined

I'm in a sentimental mood especially after hearing this 'new' song by Iskandar Ismail. And since I'm an imaginative person, I imagine the next best thing that could happen at my forthcoming book launch... 

MAN has a meeting at Duo Residences in Bugis. But that meeting is cancelled last minute. MAN decides to go to Kampong Gelam for some murtabak. As he finishes zuhur prayers at the Sultan Mosque, he meets Ibrahim from Wardah Books who mentions that he’s going to my book launch. MAN decides to attend--he’s free anyway, and happens to be in Singapore on book launch day. Besides, the Malay Heritage Centre is a stone's throw away.

As MAN is ushered in, he sees me in my black french lace kebaya and white songket with golden threads, talking to some guests.

MAN sits quietly at the auditorium, observing me, without me realising. It has been many years since we met and talked.

At the end of the cosy launch, MAN joins the book signing queue with a copy of my book. When it's his turn, he calls out, "Hidayah..."

I look up and our eyes meet. [*queue in 'Kini ku kembali' song]

I smile. 

MAN says, “Assalamualaikum.”


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Story 8 - A (in)Sidious Game of Matchmaking

Remember my past postings and stories to advise Cassian against marrying Brianna whose parents were forcing him to choose their daughter? Well, I was told by his good friend that Brianna got married to someone else last Saturday. Aha! Seems like Brianna was so 'sincere' in wanting to marry Cassian that she immediately bailed out when his parents rejected her, and married her next 'victim'. Cassian, I told you so!

Some say, it's not fated for Cassian and Brianna to be united. True, but we are free to decide and make our choices. I am thankful and happy that the Force is protecting Cassian against the family Sidious.

May the Force guide us to the right path.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Daria's Ranting - Royal Guard Saves the Day

*I am posting this eighteenth ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

“She’s always fighting about her family home.”
“Better not involve her in our organization/activities, she always fights against the authority. About her mango tree lah, Gedung Kuning etc.”
“She is always writing letters urging the authority to look into the unfairness of the AMLA and other laws. She’s crazy.”

Recent Victory:
In 1999, a Deed of Assignment was signed by the descendants of Mohamed (Haji Yusoff’s son from Noribah, his first wife). The assignees assigned to Shaik Raheem s/o Abdul Shaik Shaik Dawood “all rights, title, estate and interest, including any rights under any trusts, in all the property real and personal of whatever and wherever situate which may be due and payable to Assignors as the beneficiaries of the Estate of the said Mohamed Bin Haji Yousoff.”

The descendants of Haji Yusoff’s second wife (Hajah Aisah) aka my family were not aware of the Deed of Assignment until 2 October 2002 when the estate lawyers received a notification letter from Kalamohan & Co.

You may read about this long overdrawn saga here. 

I decided to help Mohamed’s family who was cheated. Like a sleuth, I dug up the dirt about Shaik Raheem who was a convicted criminal and a fraud. I read case files from the Commercial Affairs Division (CAD) and asked my lawyer friend to help me with my investigation. When we had sufficient evidence of possible fraud, I urged Mohamed’s family members to lodge a police report using all the documents I had gathered. Instead of thanking me, some of Mohamed’s family members scolded me and further defamed my Gedung Kuning family’s name (these people were actually afraid that I had uncovered how they had also cheated their own family members). 

To cut the long story short, after about a decade of effort and with the help of our estate lawyers, we have finally resolved the matter. But, crooks will be crooks. As Shaik Raheem had since passed away, his son now alleged that his father had given Mohamed’s family $300,000 and not $100,000. Of course, there was no evidence of this. We were prepared to take him to court but as of November 2017, he has agreed to settle the matter out of court and dissolve the fraudulent agreement of 4 August 1999. I am so happy and thankful that my effort had paid off. I did not receive any monetary reward for helping my extended family. I did what I did in the name of social justice and to protect the vulnerable family members from unscrupulous people who took advantage of them. Shame on the parties (some of whom Malay Muslims) who had facilitated the fraud! You may escape punishment on this earth but not the Hereafter. The Day of Reckoning cometh.

To reiterate, I will NEVER apologise for fighting for my family, yes, even for the extended Haji Yusoff family (from the first wife). I care about my family and will do anything to protect them from unjust and harm. Why should I be sorry about complaining against those who destroyed our family artefacts, or cut down my mango tree or even cheated our family members of their inheritance? I am more sorry for YOU who hurled all these vile accusations against me. It goes to show that you don’t love your family enough to defend them in times of crisis. If I am your family, I would be so ashamed to have you who will bail out at the first sign of distress. Boooo!

Like the Imperial Royal Guard, I will protect my beloved family members against any harmful attacks and wrongful acts by anyone, Sith Lord or Sand people. Peace.

My Name is Mikhail. I have Cerebral palsy.

We launched the second book in the 'I am Unique' series at the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF)!

"And judging by the reaction of the children, it was an intergalactic hit!"

"She was dressed in a strange orange get up, which I initially assumed was because all her clothes were in the laundry and this was the only clean outfit she had around."

Read Review here.

"Every time I walked away from something I wanted to forget, I told myself it was for a cause that I believed in. A cause that was worth it. Without that, we’re lost.” — Cassian Andor
Cassian shows Jyn Erso what it means to devote yourself to a worthy cause.

The book that you write is not for or about you. It should be for the people or the cause which you care about. 

Check out the Cerebral palsy book launch photos

Monday, October 30, 2017

Daria's Ranting - Sauron in Red Guard suit

*I am posting this seventeenth ranting as my alter-ego the misanthropic Daria Morgendorffer

When I was studying in Paris many moons ago, I visited B who was reading law at Oxford. I had my first Harry Potter dining, attended law lectures and basically enjoyed my stay in magical Oxford. While I was there, I went on a day trip to Cambridge, fell in love with Cambridge and studied there many years later.

I stayed in B’s room, a college residence in one of the old, quaint English houses. There was a fireplace in the room to keep us warm. B told me that the bedroom was once J.R.R. Tolkien’s room (it was halved when the house became a students’ residence). B told me to soak in the intellectual aura; who knows, I might write many epic books like Tolkien did. I never had the intention to be a writer then but I imagined how it must be like for Tolkien to sit beside the fireplace, dream and write.

Alas, during this short period when I started my journey of writing, I came across many Orcs and Urukhai whose behaviours are as ugly as their appearances. Ugggh… even Gollum seemed milder.

a. They criticised your work without even reading them.
b. They insulted your craft yet they have no publications.
c. They instigated others not to collaborate with you; they whispered vile and baseless accusations that put you in unnecessary trouble and stress.
d. They think so highly of themselves and their ‘work’ which are of inferior quality.
e. They use their celebrity ‘Saruman Army’ association to win fans and cultish friends over.
f. They refused to share knowledge and information with you, even though you would acknowledge them.
g. They conveniently forgot that you had shared knowledge and pertinent information with them because you wanted to help them.
h. They crashed your events just to meet important personalities who attended; but they ignored you.
i. They took your payment but told you to remove their names in your publications (conflict of interest, they say). Yet they happily and openly participated in others’ events and publications.
j. They promised to fund your work but pulled out at the very last minute giving some lame-ass excuses; leaving you stranded with no alternatives. It's ok not to fund but don't promise and double confirm plus chop.
k. Unlike yours truly who ‘kejarkan tujuan yang lebih berharga dari harta’ (chase for the purpose that is valuable than wealth), they want the recognition that comes with their fluff work.

As Sauron in the Red Guard suit, I have this to say to you (Yes, you. You know who you are):

Good will always defeat Evil. No matter how long it takes. 
I am watching you. And I have patience and perseverance.

Photo credit: Faisal Mohammad who owns the original replica of Sauron's mask. So heavy!