The pantry at my ex agency is tiny.

So small, you couldn't even stretch your arm. But I must say, it was rather complete. Each drink mix are kept in its own jar. And of course, the big Milo tin. Some colleagues are lazy to refill an empty one. They'll just leave the unsealed pack on the cabinet unattended overnight.

One morning, I went in and make my drink. My version of mocha - one third full of Milo, with a teaspoon of Nescafé. No milk,
no sugar, no creamer.

I know, I know, it's Neslo kosong. Leave me alone!

You can imagine how "kau" the... okay, okay... Neslo!... is with that ratio.

The Milo is empty. There's a pack of refill at the side. About a quarter left. I poured them in. And continue to make my drink. Went back to my desk. And enjoy the first morning sip from the foamy top.

There is an unusually big chunk of Milo in it. I took a bite. It was somewhat crunchy. Something similar to prawn, with softer shell. Milo is not like this, I thought.

Took my bin. Spat it out. And looked at it.

I have only half a baby roach left in the bin.

Don't ask where the other half went. And don't ask how it tasted. The Neslo is too "kau" to make a difference.

From then on, every time there's an unfinished refill left if I was pouring it, I'll roll the top tightly, and wrap it with half a roll of cellophane tape. Crisscrossed. Every now and then, I could hear colleagues at the back complain about the top-notch security seal.

I'll just grin at the front.

My other roach encounter.


More than a cycle

This past week was hell, really.

Deadlines were crazy. The loads was more than we could handle, even with Diam-Diam and studio to backup. I snapped at the suits. More Than a Cycle snapped at the clients. Diam-Diam snapped at us. We were angry. We were emotionally distressed.

I seldom came home to see my family awake. I missed Mother's half-boiled eggs. I missed Father's mumbling of me not padding the extra lock. Of course, I remember. Just that I did that on purpose. Why? Come to me. Scold me. Let me hear your voice. And when's the last time I had a bottle of Hoegaarden with Bro? I really missed them.

Young Albert Einstein once said, there will never be lights without the existence of darkness. And how can we not agree with that? We strive better when we were challenged. We managed to pull it through after a long week. Came Friday, me and my partner caught up on things.

Though we still have a lot to rush, we chucked all those aside. I'm much relaxed after talking with him. After an hour slacking off work, we decided to call it a day. No point doing so much when we can't focus any more. After all, we're tired and it's Friday. I'll be going in on the weekend anyway after a day rest. I'll enjoy my leave and Wesak later then.

More Than a Cycle. 13 years my senior.

Was from the client-side for a decade before engulfing the pleasure of writing.

Having to partner with him for nearly a year, we created a bond as a team. As friends. As someone I take as a big brother. Despite being in his 40s, he's young at heart. A big child, I must say. He don't even look 40s. And no, this is not a compliment.

We are very neutral on our part as a team. We have similar liking on things. Similar thoughts. I've lost count on the amount of jokes we choked our saliva on. Advices we shared. And not to forget, the girls we stalk stare admire aesthetically around the mall every meals.

He's more than a cycle of experience. More than a cycle wiser. More than just a cycle of a Chinese calendar.

He's more.

Well, knocking off in 5 for a pint or two.

I'll see you when I see you.


Love, hate, love-hate

One of the most excited time in months.

I have a date with Hitam Manis! Not a set up, but a date!

Having mixed feeling of excitements jumbled up into one lump on the way to her place. Of happiness and hope. Uncertainties and worries. Our first official date! She must have a slight interest to go out with me. Ada chance, ada chance.

Will it turn out well? How do I look? Have I forgot to bring anything? Must remember to open the door for her! Be myself. Don't forget to say hi. And don't screw this up, Birthmark!

She wasn't there when I reached. Okay, okay. Girls being late is normal. I can wait. But I can't wait. Wow, when's the last time I had this feeling? Reminiscing the time with my ex. It was that long ago. That explains it. Shit! Sweaty palm! Not at this time! Where's the pack of tissue I bought the other day!?

Okay. Last minute... no, final checklist.

Things are gonna be fine. You are a confident lad, Birthmark. Look at the stuffs you produced at work. Look at how you nailed concepts. Look at how you bring yourself to people. You'll do just great!

I know! But when it comes to girl I like, I shy away. Argh!

I think I'm in love.

After a while I'm starting to get worry. Where is she lah? I scout around. She's no where in sight. I drove around the area. Oh, come on. Don't tell me it's just a prank. She's not that kind that would trick a guy like this. Not that I've heard of.

Just then, my phone rang.

"Birthmark! Hitam Manis is in the police station!"

What. The. Fuck!? What happened!?

Cut the story short.

Crime-solving rate in that area is extremely low. Police are looking for people to admit on crimes they did not commit! They are looking for scapegoats! Fuck them! Seriously! This is one of the reason why I never trust the force. I'm so fucking pissed and angry up to a point I almost snap and cry.

Got to call some people from the legal department, big shots, and "good" police from other units & branches. To sort things out. After much hoohas and picket outside the balai, she was released. Untouched, but noticeably shaken and worn out.

We parted home soon after.

I can't recall if we've have actually spoken to each other that much during the whole thing. Too tired to even remember.

I sent her a text later.

"I'm very worried about you. Hope you're fine. Don't worry about our date. We can still plan for other time. Will call you later. Sleep well and take care."

If there is even a "next time". Maybe she think I'm a jinx. There goes another chance. Like I've expected, I've screwed.

I looked at the time on my phone.

8:58 am.

I laughed out loud after gaining my consciousness.

What a relief! I'm glad that nothing actually happen to her. On the other hand, I am as pissed as ever. I've brought with me the emotions from my slumber. There were no date after all. The corrupted force. And the whole context of dreams.

I seldom dream. Makes me exhausted and moody the next day even I have adequate amount of sleep. Even how sweet a dream was. I am! For the whole day I'm in a semi-high mode. Piss-y. A little hot-tempered.

Aside from from these, I got job reqs on top of other job reqs. Urgencies on top of emergencies. Made things worst.

Zoky texted me somewhere mid day.

"Birthmark, I'm in a relationship again. I need to tell you this. You are the second one to know after my mum. I will not forget about you. I will always be there when you need me as you stand a place in my life..."

One after another...



Title says it all.

May contain graphic images. Viewers discretion is advised.

Left forearm. Reflection on the mirror.

Right elbow.

Upper shoulder.

Left rib.

Right above the underwear line on the left.

In between the right knee and thigh. Even Ghostface is shocked.

Pinky should be pink. Look at the bulge at the skin crease. This is with gloves on.

10-, 15-feet range shot. Not a finale.

There are many more unmarked ones, but I can feel it under the skin.

My third game. Scarred with my bros.

At least I battled for 5 games in a row and didn't black out.



The Plan, continued.

"Why are we there again?"

"Okay... you wanted someone to teman you for shopping. Your bros all not free. So... you asked me instead. Later when we were there, Cherry-ty will call me. And what a coincidence! Let's meet up for dinner!"

"hAhAhAhAhAHHAhaHAhAHA... Okay...?"

"Oh! Oh! Oh! The movie that they are watching later?"

"What about it?"

"Remember Cherry-ty asked me to teman her, but I rejected and watched it with my boyfriend? But ended up I watched with you 'cause my boy forgot he has a wedding dinner to attend?
*blah, blah, blah...* (closest replication of what she said)"


"Anyway... that movie you are "supposed" to watch with your bro. But he can't make it. So, instead of wasting the tix, you asked me to teman you! You know lah. I don't want Cherry-ty to feel upset for rejecting her mah."

"... Why it always has to be me!? I'm gonna tell her you rejected her loh!"

"Please lah! Or I'm not gonna help you with Hitam Manis anymore!"

"It's not even related!"

You girls seriously can plan things! And why strategy planners are a male dominated profession? Where the ladies? Anyway, we got to the mall and had a short walk. Then the phone rang. And we paced our way to the Hongkie restaurant.

Yup. She's really sweet.