MCOBA Official Centenary Webpage Zacknina Galleria: Of Being Forty and Being Forlorn, or, Four Days In Bed

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Of Being Forty and Being Forlorn, or, Four Days In Bed

Zaim Al-Amin
0828 hours, Thursday
9th day of August, 2007
Ampang - Petaling Jaya

Salam & salutations,

Re : Zaim Al-Amin's Transcendentia Column, Rentakini Section, Malaysiakini
Title : Of Being Forty and Being Forlorn, or, Four Days In Bed

Having to spend four days in bed can do strange things to you. Perhaps it's the illness that bugs you. Or the medication. Or your high blood pressure or equally high sugar content. Or then again maybe because in just a matter of days, you would be turning forty.

Ah – what's so bad about turning forty? After all, it's just another candle on the cake. And come to think of it, you would get lesser candles this year; four tall candles instead of yesteryear's three tall candles and nine short ones. You could even be forgiven if for a fleeting moment you feel like a four year old again. And so what if you suddenly realize that one tall candle means ten years. At forty, you would be a good ten years younger than Malaysia, and just twenty years older than Proton. And Proton still has a long way to go, right? No? And if you were a Government Servant, you have fifteen solid working years ahead of you. Add about five or more if you were in the Private Sector. Anyway most successful people got their first big breaks way past forty. And if you happen to be conferred a Datukship at this age, you'd definitely be among the youngest of them. No, not bad at all.

Come to think of it, people used to say that Life Begins At 40. Maybe that depends on how you look at it. It could be a real beginning, or it might look like the beginning of the end. But then again it's true in quite an abstract sense. You spend the earlier part of your life pursuing education, then career, then marriage and what not. So little time to really `live'. So by the age of 40, you'd envisage a scenario of fulfillment. We all dream to become millionaires at 40; have a nice bungalow tucked within the lush greeneries of Ampang, two cars (preferably one Italian and one German), a pretty wife (most probably Malaysian) and one or two or three bright kids. Or four. The Ultimate Malaysian Dream. So we dream to achieve all those by the age of 40. And that's when we would really start to live. Or so we gleefully thought.

And what could possibly stop us? At the ripe age of 21, we were brimming with confidence, ideas and energy. After blowing off our birthday candles, we quickly grabbed the proverbial 'key' to freedom and opened up the doors that we think would lead us to our dreams. Seek employment in a Multinational Company. Set up a professional practice. Join a Multi Level Marketing firm. Sell Insurance. Unit Trust. Cars. In short, be a go-getter. Get this, get that. At least, get busy.

Then the years flew by and one fine day you wake up and your Communicator or Dopod tells you that it's your 40th Birthday and suddenly you realize that things did not turn up quite as planned. No Taman TAR sprawling bungalow. No BMW, no Maserati Quattroporte lying in the porch. 'No' turned to 'not yet' and quickly turned to 'never'. And instead of the joy of watching the KLSE Composite Index rise, now you also have to worry about watching your own Glycemic Index which threatens to become volatile each time you gulp down yet another Teh Tarik. Never mind that tiramisu Birthday Cake (next time just gimme presents, okay).

So what was this all about? Reflections on a 40th Birthday? Or a potential Midlife Crisis? Whatever, I don't think it's the latter. A teacher friend, when pressed for the meaning of Midlife Crisis, tried to illustrate it by saying it means something like when you travel from Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru but somewhere between Seremban and Machap you become unsure of where you really wanted to go. Well, for all intent and purposes, I am pretty sure that if I have gone as far as Machap, I'd still want to go to Johor Bahru. I would think so, especially since my in-laws happen to be in Johor Bahru. And maybe a quick trip to Singapore after that. But then some detours could be nice too. Use a different route maybe? Try another highway? Or enjoy the coastal road? Ah – there you go again, I tell myself. Must be the medication.

Perhaps it's your concern for the past. Or fear of the future. Or of inevitable changes. And of all the challenges that accompanies each change. Of being afraid to be thought joking when you are serious. Or of being afraid to be taken serious when you are actually joking. It's something that every man would have to undergo, and in the process not to be daunted by repeated mistakes and failures. To fall and to get up again. And yet again.

Or perhaps 40 is not a new beginning for me after all. It's just another Rest Area. Another Seremban or Machap or anywhere in between. And the Four Days In Bed was the much needed break before I have to continue with my journey. Another mile, another town. Another day, another year. Another candle on the cake.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, let's go easy on the tiramisu...

~ This article is dedicated to my wife Nina Norfaizah and my kids Daniellia Zainisya (12), Hilmi Firdaus (10), Daniellia Zetrisya (8) and Iqmal Firdaus (8) ~

Cheers & best regards,

Zaim Al-Amin
E 28, Fellowship of Kingtho (MCKK Class of 84)
Founder/Chairman, Bargreaves Ballerz (MCOBA Theatre Group)
Editorial Board Member, Berita MCOBA (MCOBA Bulletin)

Zaim Al-Amin, Esq.
Group Legal Advisor/Head Of Legal
Legal & Corporate Department
No. 30, Jalan SS25/23
Taman Mayang, Section 25
47301 Petaling Jaya
Selangor, MALAYSIA.
Tel : +603-78053190 ext 228
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