A Gentleman in Moscow

I didn’t expect to be fascinated by a story of a man confined to house arrest for more than three decades.

This story is set in the aftermath of the Russian revolution. In 1922, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov was on trial for a poem he wrote in 1918, which was deemed corrupting. For that crime he was sentenced to indefinite house arrest. The Count accepted the sentence and carried himself with dignity, as expected of a man of his standing.

At the time of the trial, the Count had been residing in a suite at the Metropol Hotel for four years. He was instructed to return to the Metropol for his sentence, but instead of the luxurious suite, he was moved to a small room in the attic. If he left the Metropol, he would be shot on sight.

House arrest seems like a sentence worse than a life in prison — to be free, but confined within a building. As the story unfolds, perhaps it was not the worst fate to befall a man. The house arrest shielded the Count from the post-revolution turmoil and a world war.

Mishka, the Count’s best friend, was sentenced to eight years of hard labour. Upon his release, he went to see the Count. “Who would have imagined,” said Mishka, “when you were sentenced to life in the Metropol all those years ago, that you had just become the luckiest man in all of Russia.”

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A Man Called Ove

This is a humourous and heart-warming story about a grumpy old man called Ove. Considering everything that happened, Ove earned the right to be grumpy.

Ove’s mother died when he was eight. His quiet father became even quieter. Even though few words were exchanged between father and son, they grew close after his mother’s death. His father taught him the meaning of being a man of integrity and principle.

Ove’s father died when he was sixteen and he was left to fend for himself. He took over his father’s job. His employer and colleagues knew him as a quiet young lad who is honest and can be relied on — just like his father.

Ove was on his own, literally. There wasn’t any joy in his life until the day he set eye on Sonja at the train station. They fell in love and everything he did was about making her happy, which made him happy.

When Sonja died of cancer, Ove became depressed. He didn’t live before he met Sonja and now that she was gone, Ove had no reason to live. And so, Ove hatched a plan to commit suicide.

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Perkahwinan Kanak-kanak Patuh Syariah?

UNICEF menakrifkan perkahwinan kanak-kanak sebagai perkahwinan yang melibatkan seseorang di bawah umur 18 tahun, merangkumi kanak-kanak lelaki dan perempuan. Oleh kerana peratusan kanak-kanak lelaki yang terlibat dalam perkahwinan adalah amat kecil, artikel ini menumpukan perhatian kepada perkahwinan kanak-kanak perempuan.

APAKAH YANG MENYEBABKAN IBU BAPA MENGAHWINKAN ANAK PEREMPUAN MEREKA PADA USIA MUDA (BAWAH UMUR 18 TAHUN)?

Kemiskinan adalah penyebab utama kanak-kanak dikahwinkan (Nour, 2006; Nour, 2009; Hampton, 2010; Lee-Rife et al, 2012; Raj & Boehmer, 2013). Ibu bapa menganggap anak perempuan sebagai bebanan kewangan dan mahu masa depan anak lebih terjamin. Kanak-kanak yang dikahwinkan biasanya sama ada tidak bersekolah atau mempunyai tahap pendidikan yang rendah.

Ibu bapa yang mengahwinkan anak-anak perempuan mereka pada usia muda tidak semestinya kejam, tetapi mereka terpaksa kerana tekanan hidup. Walau pun ibu bapa mungkin mahukan hidup anak perempuan mereka lebih terjamin, perkahwinan kanak-kanak biasanya melanjutkan kitaran kemiskinan ke generasi berikut.

APAKAH KESAN PERKAHWINAN KEPADA KANAK-KANAK?

Kekurangan makanan berkhasiat yang biasanya berkait dengan kemiskinan meningkatkan risiko kesihatan bagi kanak-kanak yang hamil. Kanak-kanak lebih bermungkinan mengalami fistula, komplikasi semasa hamil, keguguran, kelahiran pra-matang, kematian bayi, kematian ibu semasa melahirkan dan melahirkan bayi yang tidak cukup berat (Nour, 2009; Raj et al, 2009; Hampton, 2010).

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Ketiadaan Tuhan

Ketiadaan Tuhan mewajarkan segalanya, kata Dostoevsky.

Andai Tuhan tidak wujud, siapa yang berhak menentukan betul dan salah? Apa yang dijadikan rujukan dalam menentukan garis sempadan antara betul dan salah, baik dan buruk?

Andai Tuhan tidak wujud, siapa yang berhak menentukan garis panduan dan landasan hidup kita?

Tanpa Tuhan, garis panduan dan sempadan antara betul dan salah boleh berubah mengikut masa dan citarasa terkini. Apa yang dianggap salah dan jelek seratus tahun dulu kini boleh menjadi betul dan molek. Apa yang dianggap salah dan jelek sekarang, tidak mustahil menjadi betul dan molek seratus tahun dari sekarang.

Tanpa Tuhan, garis sempadan antara betul dan salah boleh sentiasa berubah kerana yang jadi penentu adalah akal dan nafsu yang tidak dibimbing wahyu. Itulah sebabnya Dostoevsky berkata bahawa ketiadaan Tuhan mewajarkan segalanya.

Saya ada dua soalan untuk anda:

  • Adakah anda percaya wujud Tuhan Yang Maha Berkuasa dan Maha Mengetahui?
  • Adakah anda percaya bahawa Tuhan yang mencipta manusia dan seluruh alam pastilah yang paling Maha Mengetahui apa yang baik dan buruk untuk makluk ciptaan-Nya?

Kalau anda menjawab ‘tidak’ kepada salah satu atau kedua-dua soalan, anda boleh berhenti membaca. Kita berpisah di persimpangan ini kerana tiada titik persamaan untuk kita meneruskan perbincangan ini. Jika anda tidak percaya ada Tuhan Yang Maha Mengetahui apa yang terbaik untuk makhluk ciptaan-Nya, hidup anda bebas tanpa sekatan dan kekangan.

Anda bebas memilih jalan anda, dan biarkan saya mengikuti jalan saya. Saya tidak memaksa kepercayaan saya terhadap anda, maka anda jangan memaksa kepercayaan anda terhadap saya.

Al-Kafirun:6 لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ

Terjemahan: “Bagi kamu agama kamu, dan bagiku agamaku“.

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Kumpulan Puisi Mek Bah

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Mungkin jiwa saya tidak cukup halus lalu saya gagal menghayati puisi-puisi dalam buku ini. Kalau anda seorang memahami bahasa puisi, mungkin ada dapat menghargai buku puisi ini.

Ada kawan bertanya, “Itu puisi BN-kah?” Jawab saya, “Langsung tak kena-mengena dengan BN, Itu pasal omputih pesan, don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Stephen Hawking — His Life and Work

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Stephen Hawking was a truly remarkable person. When he was diagnosed with ALS, the doctor predicted he only had a few more years to live, but he lived to the age of 76.

He was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest minds of our time, but that was not what awed me. I was awed by his love and passion for life, and his passion for his work. Even though ALS eventually confined him to a wheelchair and he gradually became totally dependent on his nurses to care for him, he never lost sight for what was important in his life. It would’ve been easy to wallow in self-pity but he never allowed himself to tread down that path.

I’m equally awed by the love of his first wife, Jane. She married him despite of his disease and knowing that they might only have a few years together. As his condition deteriorated, she stood by him and strove to provide her family with a normal home.

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Kursani Segenap Bimasakti

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Saya membeli buku ini kerana dimaklumkan ia buku sejarah. Setelah membaca, saya rasa agak kecewa kerana buku ini tidak menumpukan kepada mana-mana aspek sejarah secara khusus.

Ia adalah kisah berbagai sejarah, sebahagiannya adalah tulisan di laman Facebook penulis. Buku ini lebih kepada himpunan sejarah yang cacamerba.

Kalau anda mahu membaca sejarah dari berbagai aspek, tetapi tidak berminat untuk tahu secara terperinci, mungkin buku ini sesuai untuk anda. Saya tasa tak berbaloi bayar RM40 untuk buku sejarah cacamerba ini. Lebih baik baca saja tulisan-tulisan Cik Srikandi di laman Facebooknya — percuma.