accident

Barrack Obama said that in one of his addressed to the UN where mentioned he has become used to people calling him appalling things every day. While I won’t dare to equate myself to him, it generally applies to everyone. I have an anecdote from my very first (and expensive) private rehab where I spent 28 days.

The psychologist told me before I left not to expect people playing kompangs (a Malay drum usually used for celebrations) to herald your new found sobriety. No one is going to believe you.

A lot of ex-addicts get snared by this apparent “lack of support” and relapse due to the mentality that “Well, if no one is going to believe me anyway, I might as well go right on doing drugs.

What has that got to to with anything?

It has got to do with everything.

espresso

I’ll like to thank all my readers for being supportive throughout my Project Listen campaigns. There’s a handful of naysayers (but that’s to be expected, and coming from the same IP, disregarded by me) but the point of that lesson is learning how to believe in yourself!

That is the true path to recovery.

That is the only way to become a better person.

You don’t rely on what others think or say for your self-confidence – that is the worst thing you can do. Just believe in yourself and want to be a better person.

…and that is my journey, from my darkest days of drug addiction, to facing the skeletons in my closet and my journey to become a better person.

Of course, it takes a long time (nay, a lifetime) to become a better person but I wanted to start anyway coz every journey begins with a single step. I have taken enough from the ones dearest to me. I have lived life to the fullest extent. Now it’s time to give it all back.

arguing

I could have just written about anything mundane, but I choose to write about the most difficult parts of my life and how I’m changing it. I firmly believe in the reach of Project Listen and I hope that the experiences I’ve been through could be of help in some way to someone.

Thank you again for sharing my videos, it was hard doing them, it was a decision that I made and I’m glad I did it.

home

One last note – if there’s any of you out there stuck in the depths of drug addiction, know you can set yourself free, but only if you choose to. If any of you are in a spot coz of unwanted pregnancies colliding with religious beliefs, know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

josiah

Finally, cherish your family and those dearest to you for they are the ones who stay when everything else goes to shit.

Love,
Huai Bin
sixthseal.com

journey

I’ve written about the struggles that I’ve been though and put my significant other (at that time) through when I’ve had an abortion.

It was hard, but I wanted to tell the story, to let it reach out to as many people as it can, so perhaps it can help some.

I’ve also written about my previously estranged relationship with my parents and how it’s always true that blood runs thicker than water.

I think I’ve lead an extraordinary life and I’m glad I’m still alive to write about it. I’ll like to thank you all for sharing my video stories and the kind (and also not so kind) comments. Life is worth living, you go through it and become a better person if you’re willing to change for the better. Cheers!

I wrote this for Project Listen a while back and I’m re-posting it on my blog so it can be kept as an archive. Cheers to my family for enduring me all this while and I’m glad I have a chance to make it all right.

family

I’ve always felt that I haven’t been doing much for my family. I’ve put them through a lot – it all started when I went to New Zealand as a permanent resident to do my high school in Christchurch. I was 15 then and quite very extremely rebellious.

The freedom I had there pushed my rebellious nature to new heights, and I got involved in drugs, gangs, etc etc – basically your “regular” teenage rebellion multiplied by a billion in intensity.

reverse mohawk

That was more than 15 years ago and although I came to my senses I still never quite bonded with my family, creating more burden and causing more stress instead of what I was supposed to do as a filial son.

I can safely say that during my career as a professional human lab rat, I’ve tried more drugs that the vast majority of other users, sourcing for not just common drugs like heroin and methamphetamine but exotic research chemicals like 6-APB, UR-144 and 5-MeO-MiPT which most people have never even heard of, much less tried.

drugs

I was arrested for drug possession when I was 24 and appeared on many newspapers, some with extremely detailed information about me, which must have caused my parents a lot of grief. I’ve also went through rehab three times and been hospitalized countless times – overdoses, ICU admissions from permanent renal and liver damage, suicide attempts during psychotic breaks.

It was chaotic.

night out

I’ve never felt that I’ve contributed much to the family and I was never really close with them even as I got older. I was in Sibu for a period of time and even then I’m always out with friends when I’m back home for the holidays and coming home just to sleep. I’ve even brought girls back in the middle of the night for noisy drunken sex and wake up the next afternoon to shower together…

…in my parents house!

I never thought of how disrespectful I was being.

I never though of how much I hurt their feelings.

I never even communicate much with them – most of the conversation goes one way – with me talking about the latest exotic drugs I’ve tried, the inevitable escapades with police that I’ve gotten away with, the girls that I’ve fucked.

I never really listened to what their needs are. It took me a loooong time before I started becoming more attuned to their needs. I’m ashamed to even put a year to when I stopped. I shudder to even think about what I’ve done now.

…but like the Biblical story, my parents have always been believed in me despite my numerous flaws and downright disgusting behavior.

My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010 and it was only then that I understood what family meant. The way our family pulled together to support her as she went through multiple surgeries, radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions taught me what being related was all about.

I’ve always thought of my mom as a nag, and didn’t spend much time listening to her at all.

mom

However, since the diagnosis, it just struck me how fast the years fly by and how little time we actually have together as a family unit.

I regret not spending more time with my mom, and I started to realize that the “relationship” that I have was basically non-existent – I was just being selfish.

I started to really spend time with my parents at that point. Instead of just gaudily flaunting my sexual exploits, I started to listen more to what they have to say. I developed a genuine interest in their life and well being.

cancer

Hell, I even start to worry about them.

I talk to them more instead of the obligatory weekly check in phone call to make sure I’m not dead or in jail.

I listen and try to get them to talk about their problems.

lung cancer

We eat together when I’m back home instead of me heading out which sad to say was common until as late as 2008.

I lounge in the living room after and chat about everything – news, politics, religion – with my parents instead of skipping out and coming home drunk in the middle of the night.

I understood the importance of just hanging out with my family – listening instead of just talking, helping out with chores at home, comforting my mom when she’s throwing up.

It’s made us into a better family unit.

birthday

I just received a birthday card from my parents (it was somehow lost until a few days ago) and it nearly brought tears to my eyes when I realized that they’ve mailed me one every single year without fail while I barely remember their birthdays.

I am truly ashamed of how I’ve behaved and I’m trying my level best to be a better son now. I visit my mom in Singapore more often, where she’s having her treatments done. We all chip in to help – not just financially but emotionally.

I really want to save up enough money to bring my parents for a trip around the world.

simple meal

They’ve worked hard in raising us and my dad still works hard and I think it would be the least that I can do. I’m actually being extremely frugal right now – limiting the times I go out, being careful with spending, saving up money so I can help out with the medical bills and especially to let my parents visit the world.

They’ve always saved up for our education and it’s time for us to give back

Not because of some attempt to seek forgiveness for past transgressions.

Not because of my ongoing mother’s fight against cancer.

Not because of guilt.

It’s because I want to, out of the love I have for them.

parents

I want them to know that someone cares, someone always will, and that someone is FAMILY.

lost

That’s what I would call myself in hindsight.

It may sound like exaggeration but it’s really not. I told them when I was in high school in New Zealand that I could support myself financially (through criminal enterprises), that I’m legally an adult there (almost 16) and I was free to do whatever I wanted.

I even said I wanted out of the family.

It took a major crisis that made me reevaluate how my relationship with my parents go and what a shitty son I am.

I’m glad that that’s all in the past and I’m really enjoying a great relationship with my parents now.

Blood runs thicker than water, after all.

english

I read something about regional accents being eroded by TV (in this case, the particularly heavy one in Maine) and it got me thinking about the subject of that and how true it is.

I’ve seen people go overseas for barely 6 months and come back armed with heavily accented Aussie/American English, complete with the appropriate slang. Some of them are obviously affected (a nicer term for faked or forced) but it could be argued that they just spent more time hanging with the locals.

Well, I have a pretty good command of the language but my verbal enunciation is sadly lagging way behind the clear grasp I have of the written form.

…and I come from a small town that speaks minimal English and only started using it on a daily basis when I went to New Zealand when I was 15.

I was doing Form Six English and I still can’t figure out if it’s reverse racism that the teacher keeps pointing out to the entire classroom that I’m the best in the class despite it being my second language. I didn’t do ESL (English as a Second Language) like the majority of non-Kiwis there, I went to the regular class.

…and I don’t think Chinese is my first language. I can certainly speak it fluently but can’t write a single cohesive sentence. That is an overstatement, I can’t even make sense of anything except a handful of basic characters. I never bothered learning, it was too hard and my mom didn’t insist when I was a kid unlike the other subjects coz it wasn’t in UPSR (our primary school graduation aptitude test).

I also did my four years of college and university in Melbourne and spent most of the time hanging around Aussies for simple reasons – the lifestyle I was living at that time with (real) raves/doofs and substances is a niche that not many Asians participate in.

Which leaves childhood, since that is the time when language retention is at its highest. I didn’t watch a lot of TV as a kid, it was frowned upon and strictly regulated by my parents. However, I enjoyed reading at a very young age, graduating to age-inappropriate material and adult novels before I even hit puberty.

(which was encouraged by my mom at least)

I still love reading for pleasure – in fact, I’ve somehow conditioned myself to be constipated unless there’s reading material nearly (back home there’s always the latest TIME magazine or National Geographic in the toilet). Hell, I still need to read the news or an ebook when I’m taking a shit nowadays.

Anyway, back to the accent, I’ve never quite figured it out (except for the affected cases) – do people who watch more TV when they’re under 12 years old speak better English?

What is your personal experience?

old photo

I was browsing through my old photo albums just now in search of photos of my sister when she was younger for her wedding video when I came across this photo. This is (from left) my sister, me, Sing Ling and Wei Ling when I was 7 years old. I still remember the event – it was just after a 2.4 km jogathon that was held at Methodist High School when I was in Primary 1. My dad was the principal at that school then and we had this family sports day event where we ended up on this huge tandem walker thing with my mom taking a candid photo.

first love

Anyway, I had this HUGE crush on Sing Ling, who’s my classmate in Primary 1 at that time. It was my first love (at 7 years of age). I wrote her my very first love letter on a torn out piece of exercise book, and it went something like:

I love you Sing Ling
Please love me
I’ll give you a eraser or a ruler if you love me

I had a really crappy red broken ruler at that time and I have to admit that my budding Casanova skillz was very much at a n00bie stage at that point. ;)

It was funny recalling that incident though, and it made me laugh. Nostalgia, eh?

preface

There was once a gang which was called “Black Kingdom”. The decision
to form the gang happened at one of the most unlikely places and the
rise and fall of one of the Asian gangs in Christchurch, NZ in 1996
would be documented through the eyes of Kevin, the protagonist and
narrator in this fictional story. Kevin will be referred to in the
first person in this piece of writing. The story will start from the
very beginning – orientation day at Riccarton High School. All names,
places and events are entirely fictional and any resemblance to actual
events is purely coincidental.

Preface

I was 16 and I was sitting at a desk in front of a classroom waiting
for orientation to begin. It was my first time being so far from home
and without parental supervision. The day was cold and everyone was
rather silent…except for two Malaysian guys talking and acting in a
boisterous fashion at the back. Suddenly, a guy sauntered in, wearing
the blue jersey of Riccarton High School and grinned at the two guys at
the back and loud greetings were exchanged. I found out later that they
were not new to Christchurch – they were all ex Hornby High School
students.

Orientation begins and a guy called Gerald from Kuching seemed
intent on befriending me, while I was more interested in hanging out
with the other guys. I also got to know several other people during
orientation, which will be minor characters in this story. There were
mostly girls from Kuching, interestingly most of the orientation batch
are Malaysians. There was also a short guy from Thailand who we called
Dang. He had a really cute Japanese girlfriend called Shinobu.

The cast in this story is convoluted, so I will compile a List of
Characters as a reference at the end of every chapter and it will be
updated when more people are introduced. Gerald, a tall, stocky guy
from Kuching stuck to me like glue. I was immature at that time and I
wasn’t interested in befriending him. However, we did get to be friends
due to taking similar classes. I also had classes with the two guys
from Kuching – Ah Bi and Richard. We could choose our subjects in New
Zealand high schools.

The first few weeks were pretty uneventful and boring. I hung out
more with Kiwis than Asian people because I took Form 6 English while
the others were taking ESL (English as a Second Language). Sam, one of
the most popular guys in school took me under his wing when I went for
this drama audition where I didn’t know anyone. Sam is Eurasian, but he
looks Caucasian and due to drama practice, I got into his circle of
friends, the majority of which were Kiwis.

Sports day came along and even though I didn’t feel like going, I
dragged myself out of bed and went. Like I’ve mentioned, my friends
were mostly Kiwi and this caused some resentment from certain Asians
because they thought I was “too good” for them. I remember my first
encounter with Ah Boon, the guy who sauntered into the classroom during
orientation day. I was walking to the toilet when he called out:

“Wah, chi ko lang, ah neh tiaw keh, bo ka wa lang teng nang cham eh.”

That translates to: Hey, look at him, he’s so arrogant, he doesn’t mix with us Asians.

I looked at him and saw him grinning at me. Ah Boon is a relatively
tall guy from Kuching of slim build. He has a tendency to describe
himself as yen tau, or handsome in Hokkien. It was all in jest though,
so no one minded. He was good looking in a clean cut way, though he has
long hair all around his face. His hair was straight though, and it
frames his face well. I noticed that he’s now hanging out with three
guys named Tom, Aaron and Chen (all Taiwanese) instead of the two
Kuching guys from before.

I couldn’t think of anything to reply him with, so I smiled back and
walked towards the port-a-potties. He wasn’t dissuaded though, he
immediately nudged Tom and said “lu kua, bo chap eh, tik tik gia”
(“Look, he’s not even acknowledging us, walking straight away”). The
phrase was said in a friendly and harmless way, which is known as
“gek/kek” in Hokkien as opposed to “suan” which implies malicious
intent.

I liked him instantly. Most people do, due to his accommodating and
pleasant nature. He’s what one would describe as “wei peng you si”. The
direct translation is “willing to die for his/his friends” and it’s a
phrase that means a lot in Asian culture – someone willing to go out of
their way for their friends.

End of Black Kingdom: Chapter 1 – Preface

[ List of Characters ]

Next: Black Kingdom: Chapter 2 – A Brave New World [sixthseal.com].

f2roomem.jpg

This is from the photo shoot a couple of days ago at my old high
school. It seems insignificant, a featureless piece of masonry, but it
has personal significance to me. The memories this photo evokes are all
from Form 2 (14 years old) and there are three I can remember with
great fondness. I won’t share the first two *cough* but the third one
is the class drama production we did that year. Our class (2F) did a
play based on Cinderella. The script (and the performance) was called Okana
which is the nickname of Karen, who played the female lead in the
production. I remember waiting with the rest of the cast (all are my
classmates) at the very place you see in the photo above before moving
into the room to the left (not pictured in the frame) for our practice
sessions. I remember the production having a lot of dance sequences,
including one choreographed to Rednex’s Cotton Eye Joe. =D My partner
was Margaret Lim, and I think her feet was injured many times during
the practice sessions for the ballroom dancing scene. Heh.

okana.jpg
(from left)
Front row: Jackie, Karen, Justina
Middle row: Peter, Velvet, Ita, Mdm Yeo, Rita, Margaret, Wei Ing
Back row: Daniel, Adrian, Huai Bin (me)

Photo courtesy of Karen [geocities.com].

Here is a photo of the entire cast together with our English
teacher, our advisor for the play, but we basically had full control
over the play. Her job was to go through the script with a fine toothed
comb to see if there are any “inappropriate” scenes. ;) I don’t
remember her being present our practice sessions except for the full
dress rehearsal at the stage in the school’s hall (at that time). It’s
a nice memory, those were the days, a bunch of 14 year olds having fun
and getting a production together. :)

If it hadn’t been for Cotton-Eye Joe
I’d been married long time ago
Where did you come from? Where did you go?
Where did you come from Cotton-Eye Joe?

Well, if you haven’t noticed, I’ve rearranged some things during the
optimization last night. I put the “Blogs” in alphabetical order and
put some sites into “Personal Websites” because they aren’t really
weblogs per se, but they’re my personal friend’s sites. Anyway, I’ve
also been applying for jobs in the KL area these couple of days. After
thinking it over and discussing with my parents and girlfriend, the
plan is to get a Masters degree while working part time in KL. I’ve
been browsing through a lot of online job listings, and it seems that
there are a lot that requires something like 2 to 3 years of work
experience in the related field. Hmm…I wonder if my Industrial
Experience year qualifies? :) The ones that are targeted at fresh
graduates seem to offer a salary that I’m not prepared to accept. Also,
I’ve been tweaking (har har) my resume/CV and I wonder if I should put
this site down in the resume. That could be a good thing, but there are
two things which concern me.

The first is the fact that the site does not support some Mozilla
based browsers like Netscape due to their lack of full W3C CSS
specifications support and that could give a negative impression to the
HR manager reading the page using those browsers. The second is the
fact that my blog has a guest author who writes about things which most
companies would not approve of. It could prove to be something that
counts against me even though I always make it obvious that there are
two people writing on this blog – I write using the nick ‘hbpoh’ while
veritas writes under ‘veritas’ but this is not readily visible since
the text is small and at the bottom of each post. What do you think?

prigum.jpg

Anyone remember these things? I remember them from primary school,
used to get them for 10 cents each from that small sweet shop right
outside the school gates. :) Well, they go for 20 cents at some Asian
groceries here (5 for A$1), what nostalgia it brings to see these
things again. I used to eat them one by one but it seems I needed all
four now to produce a chewable wad.

I noticed a spike in traffic these couple of days and found out that it was coming from this Bluelight thread: Nurofen plus myth
[bluelight.nu]. Welcome Bluelighters! I didn’t make that post, but I do
browse the forums once in a while. Bluelight is a harm reduction forum.

wieree.jpg

On a kinda similar note, my mini Easter egg (if you can even call it
that…) made it into the live WIER site. That’s the project management
site I was working on for Industrial Experience for the past year. IE
students are using the updated site starting this semester. I was doing
the student side help screenshots and had two that basically said “I’ve
uploaded the test user interface at http://www.sixthseal.com/wier.html
Can everyone go there and give me some input regarding the user
friendliness etc? Thanks!” for the Group Discussion Forums help. Heh.
It’s not much, but I couldn’t resist, and anyone who actually bothered
to type in that URL will see this page: WIER [sixthseal.com]. Bit of harmless publicity going on there. ;)

Anyway, there was a couple of problems with my Network
Administration subject which marks were withheld last semester but I
just worked things out today, so that’s a bit of good news. I’ve gotta
work hard tonight though, so that’s it from me.

Link of the day: Malaysian ‘curiosities’ join the library collection [monash.edu.au].

Look at the second picture showing the woman smoking a cigarette and looking very sak. Priceless.

Note: I haven’t fallen into “The Zone” while writing for a long time. Feels good to be back. Please read the story.

Hmm…I feel contented coz today was quite productive by my
standards, which unfortunately, is not high at all. =D I did get chewed
on a bit today by my IE supervisor though. It’s understandable coz our
group seems to be rather behind schedule. There was a semantics issue
involved as well. I had assumed that a non-reply will default to the
affirmative regarding meeting times, but apparently that was not the
case. Well, you know what they say about assuming. I can’t resist
reiterating though, assuming makes and ass out of u and me. There.
Anyway, I was grilled for a while about PHP syntax too. Felt like I was
back in graded school. Heh. Oh, which reminds me. Back in primary
school, we had this Nazi math teacher who would force us to memorize
the multiplication tables up to 13. Now, every time she comes in,
she’ll carry this big ass rattan (flexible wood-like plant) cane and
swish it around a bit. Then, she’ll start to traverse the tables and
rows, asking each one a random multiplication. She’ll give you 1
second, and 1 second the most. If you couldn’t answer correctly by
then, she’ll give you a hard lashing with the cane.

So down she’ll go, asking “What’s 3 times 12?” “What’s 7 times 13?”
“What’s 11 times 10?”. Now, each day, she’ll add one lashing to the
punishment for the wayward ones who couldn’t figure out the
multiplication tables in the head (no tables are allowed). This went on
until the punishment was 50 lashings (!) on the 50th day. She promised
that the counter will reset itself to 1 the next day. I’m not kidding,
this really is true. Note though that capital punishment was acceptable
in Malaysia when I was in primary school. Anyway, I could answer
everyday, right up until the dreaded 50th day. Many of my classmates
has conveniently brought a tube of Colgate toothpaste, which is said to
numb the hands so the lashings won’t hurt so much. Well, the guy in
front of me, an Iban, didn’t get the answer right, so the teacher
started to give him 50 lashes. Right around the 35th lash point, the
cane splintered and frayed, but the teacher kept on going. Well,
besides being not good with multiplications, the Iban guy was
unfortunately not good in acting too. He was smiling after the rattan
cane frayed, because rattan canes don’t hurt much once they’ve frayed.
This is because the kinetic force applied to the cane distributes
through each fray, which then lands on a larger surface area.

Unfortunate. The teacher started to realize this and started
slapping the guy instead, substituting each lash with a slap until the
prescribed 50 were up. The poor guy started crying (we were 12 years
old at that time) and the whole class was in a quandary regarding this
new development. The Colgate Method TM has effectively been
nulled, voided and stamped with a big red NOT APPLICABLE, sorry mate.
Anyway, once the slapping has been dealt with, the teacher moved to the
first girl in my row. We were (rather ruthlessly) hoping that the next
few people will “get it” too, since the bell was 10 minutes away from
ringing. Inferring and extrapolating shows that the teacher can produce
30 slaps per minute (SPM).

[Edit: Replaced original ASCII depiction with JPEG graphical representation.]

pristory.jpg

Thus, if 5 people in the row of 9 “gets it”, I would be spared from
any questions, since the bell would have already rung. I think we
learnt more math by trying to avoid a spanking than memorizing
multiplication tables. Unfortunately, the next girl was the smartest
girl in our class, so she instantly got the answer right. We were
momentarily elated for a couple of seconds, when the teacher fired off
3 more questions in quick succession, as if wanting to get the girl to
slip up. Unfazed, the smart girl answered all of them with impunity.
And thus it went, until it was the turn of the guy beside me. The clock
still had 7 minutes to go at the time, so I was about to resign to my
fate…until I thought of a trump card. Of course! I’ll go to the
toilet. So,

Me: Cikgu, boleh saya pergi ke tandas? Perut sakit…

[Teacher, can I go to the toilet? I have a stomachache...(which was
only half untrue - who wouldn't get a stomachache with this kind of
pressure?)]

Teacher: Eh, tidak boleh…sudah hampir sampai giliran kamu. Mahu lari kah?

[Of course not...it's nearly your turn to go. Are you trying to get away?]

Me: …………………………

And thus, it was my turn. “What is 7 times 9?” said the teacher.
“Er…62?” said I. 7′s were always my weakest multiplication tables.
“SALAH!!!” boomed the teacher with delight, glad for an opportunity to
flex her muscles once more. Salah means wrong in Bahasa Malaysia if you
haven’t figured it out by now. I had never gotten the multiplication
tables wrong before. I could hear a sigh of relief from the row behind
me. Infidels. The teacher made me stand up and started giving me a
slap. However, she apparently could not bring herself to do it a second
time and contented herself with giving my cheeks a hard pinch. “Huai
Bin” the teacher said. “Jangan salah lagi, ah, kamu budak pandai”.
(Don’t make any more mistakes, you’re a clever kid).

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”
went the class, voicing discontent at the preferential treatment I was
getting.

Oh well.

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