Life Is What You Make It

by shz

Dear A.

I don’t know you. I was this close to deleting your email as I first thought it was a spam. I’m sorry, but you could’ve picked a better subject for your email to me. Never mind that, the most important thing is that I read your email and it didn’t end up in my trash. And I have to say, it brought tears. It brought memories of the time of my life, although there were hardships and depressions included but nevertheless, like yours, it was one of the best years of my life. It made me proud of myself, something I rarely feel nowadays. Because its hard to feel that way when all I could see are my failures, when in between those failings, I actually succeeded too. Its funny that I needed to hear it from someone I didn’t even know, and for that, I couldn’t thank you enough. For your kind words, for taking your time to write to me, for this email.

Dear Kak Shaliza (hope you wouldn’t mind, no?)

So! How do I begin? Alright, I am a follower of your photography work just like most of your visitors. That’s a start. Okay, I am called Ahmad Ebak bin Malik. Not that the name would signify anything though. I got to know about your work back when I was studying in England. Yes, like you, I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to pursue my dreams of being abroad studying my degree and experience wonderful moments being an international student. I like to say that it was the best years of my life. What did I study? Em, I did rocket science, literally. Well, that would be such exaggeration. Hehe. Um, but yeah. I did a course in Bachelors of Engineering in Aerospace Engineering. The rocket bit… well, just water-bottle rocket during my first year. Though, theory of space propulsion was studied thoroughly. But mainly, they were wings, aeroplanes, aerodynamics, gas turbine engines, weird sounding theorem named after very clever German, Polish and other aerodynamics engineer and scientists.

Oh, I was in Manchester. From the summer of 2004 till the year 2008. August 2008.

So, during those times… sitting in front of a computer was a norm for any student, especially for Malaysian (Apologies. That was kind of stereotypical, wasn’t it?); during free times after class, weekends or just any free times. So, I had my fair share of blog-hopping, looking at Fotopages, blogs, instant messaging and all that. One of the Fotopages that I frequented, linked your Fotopage. My, and may I say, till today; those pictures were beautiful. I was touched. The photos told many stories of…life. Love, pain, disappointments, joy…. Growing up. Learned lessons every day.

I followed it on and off. Then, one day you decided to call it a day. The Fotopages that is. I still do appreciate that you kept those pictures for us, well…fans (hehe) to see in other pages.

And, afterwards, I graduated…3 years back in 2008. Time wasn’t so good for a graduate then. I stayed with my aunt in Washington, DC for about 6 months. Hoping to land myself a job. For the American dreams. Why didn’t I go back to Malaysia…straightaway? The recession was not going to end in one day, right? Well, living abroad made a lot of difference in my life. In my thinking. In my perspective.

Alright, too long of getting to the point. So, you were quite famous…online. Google is such powerful tool. And you sort of became a public figure. Like Dr Mahathir, or maybe Siti Nurhaliza (who are the only Malaysian celebrity I know when I was abroad. Now, I know Lisa Surihani. Hehe). So, in the times I was bumming around in the winter of 2008 while Obama won the presidency, I went online to search and the AutoComplete feature of Internet Explorer and Google completed your name after typing out “Shal…”

There it was; Untitled Journal by Shaliza Mokhtar

Like the photos, you are one talented writer. It tells of you. Like you spoken in front of me. Allow me, please, if I may. I want to say that…  You Are Inspirational.

More are in the insides of the writings. How they are more than pretty words. They painted thousands of captured moments, even millions; of the best cameras we have. The lenses of our sight and kept in memory cards of our mind. Printed in words.

It might be strange hearing this from an absolute stranger, but from your blog and the photos, your life seemed perfect. The beautiful family….your husband, your daughter. Looking at those photos of you and your husband, was assuring that this is the pinnacle of the beautiful life. The perfect beautiful couple. And, the circles of friends both of you have. It just seems… I am truly running out of adjectives to say how nice, pretty, beautiful, wonderful, lovely….everything are.

It did draw envy. I apologise. But, the fact you prayed that those who haven’t met the love of their lives, encouraged me that I will meet somebody who will love me very much. And not to give up hope. I thank you for that.

Then, the thing I put up in the subject of the email. Work. The chance you have to do what you always liked and loved. Being an architect. The first sketch, the big plan drawn, the presentations, the ideas. Waking up to days of hope and giving out the best. Loving every moment of it.

I envy that a lot.

And then you went on about works and careers. It stopped my tears and turned it into determination to help. I hope my reply was a help, although I doubt it was much. But for the rest of the things that I haven’t said back, I say it here. And I say it to you. This is after all, although untitled, is my journal. Your email deserves a place in it, which I hope you will find it in your heart not to mind, that I share it with other strangers out there. Maybe soon enough, we all will not be as strange anymore.