Sunday, September 6, 2015


It's not even been 24 hours since tepak tari finished but last night after i finished ketuk tilu i had this unexplainable sense of loss, emptiness and despair. I held it together until i closed my car door and the tears started running down my cheeks. My mind was clear but i had no idea where i was driving. Almost as if on auto pilot i took a slow drive home alone, crying all the way. As more tears ran down my face i started sobbing. Sensing distress, a dear friend called me and i declined the call. I felt bad of course but he called back and i choked a couple of words and the sobbing became more intense. I was trying to understand these emotions and trying to go through them. Trying to just be in the moment and allowed my body to do  what was needed to complete this entire month of pure, intense, uncensored dance.

I came home and the moment i walked through the front door the tears stopped and i was transported back to reality. This normal life of a family. The mundanity of everyday chores, children, husband, life.

Without sounding selfish, these past few weeks have been all about me. All the hours spent in the studio I got to be me and remember what it was like before all of this happened. You don't realise that you lose a part of you when you are busy caring for everyone in your life. Not that my family takes me for granted but being able to immerse yourself in your passion and forget for a few hours about cooking, washing milk bottles, hugging and kissing and loving little beings that need you and answering to everyone's needs and realising that you don't even have a single moment for you. You see, all this while rehearsals have been in my home, which never really gave me a break away from the family.

So yes, these past few weeks have been incredibly magical and i gave it all i had. Today, tepak tari is over and i woke up still feeling empty, hollow and deflated. I wondered why and another friend sent me a whatsapp message and like a lightbulb i realised why i was feeling this way.

I danced with my heart and i think it may have left my body, split into a million pieces and went home with all of you that has shared this experience with me. Which i am fine with, i will now take this time to soak up all the love that is being reciprocated right now and recuperate and heal. There won't be dance for awhile and that is fine by me. Through this production i have been showered with so many blessings, grace and love and i will take them all and fill back up my empty self.

Thank you once again. I know i have said it a million times but i will say it a million more. I am so so blessed by all of you.

thank you tepak tari

over 2 months ago i went through something close to depression and till today i'm still unsure what it actually was. i remember being very agitated with everyone around me, i did not feel like going out, even if i did i'd go out alone and was not even in the mood to talk to people. this was over 2 months ago. but i managed to sort myself out with some alternative healing methods and with the grace of the universe i managed to get out of that slump.

cut to the beginning of august. i was just about to fall asleep when i realised that i will be performing 5 different pieces in the coming 5 weeks. Kuruyadunandan at the launch of TOTEM in Georgetown, 10-day intensive with NYU and a showcase after that, 'rehab' for the closing of the Georgetown Festival, Ketuk Tilu for Tepak Tari and 'return' for Tepak Tari as well. one of which i needed to learn from scratch and the other needed to be created from scratch. i was very close to having a full on panic attack but i clutched my rainbow obsidian ball and poured out my anxiety into it then washed it under cold running water.

cut to thursday. we opened Tepak Tari last night with Ketuk Tilu and i have never been happier.

cut to today. we closed Tepak Tari tonight and i cried all the way home. i am overwhelmed by all the love that i have experienced during the festival. i have never felt tighter as a family in the dance community. perhaps being a free agent has helped break down walls and barriers and uncomfortable conversations, exchanges, etc. we came as our own person and we were respected and well received. Bilqis Hijjas, our producer, told me, "This is how it is usually is you know?" well...what would i know. it was 17 years in one institution blindly following a tradition and doing what you are told to do, then leaving said institution leaving you literally on your own feeling lower than low because you have absolutely no idea what to do with yourself. then getting married, becoming a mother and still struggling to find your identity as a person. juggling roles of wife, mother and own person, not knowing how to deal with it all. not knowing how to accept it all and embracing it all. learning not to compartmentalise parts of my life, learning how to live all these roles as a person.

i threw myself into the month of august. body slamming straight into it without any thought. my mother would tell me i am crazy from time to time. my father told me that i should learn to choose properly and not say yes to everything. but i chose to say yes to all those things. i had no idea how i was going to do it but i did not let that stop me. i told my mother that i was thinking of doing this and this and she said just do it. i will come back and we will work through it, she said. this is the love i am talking about. the love from my family, my husband, my dance partners, the people i collaborated with, uncle joseph for selflessly giving us a rehearsal studio in ASWARA, the audience.

the whole month of august, which was also my turning 30 month, flew by with such grace, ease and love. everything turned out the way i wanted it to be. i partnered a dancer from ASWARA, a guy, an amazing dancer, Raziman Sarbini. someone i had never danced with and let alone met. was i self conscious and worried i wouldn't be able to keep up? of course i was! was i afraid of all the lifts and falling on my face? of course i was! was i afraid? i was fucking afraid but did fear stop me as it usually does? no, it didn't.

my alter ego, inspiration and idol in the form of rathimalar govindarajoo and i created a brand new work. we had much difficulty coming up with this one but i think the end product was incredible. i am so so proud of us and so happy with all the constructive feedback from everyone important to us. no one had any ill intentions, they were honest, told us what they felt and we appreciate your honesty. we will take everything given to us and work on this new little baby of ours.

the audience, everyone who showed up despite of rain, floods and traffic and showered your love upon us. thank you so much for giving me that energy and for making the effort to share our art with us.

a whole year has gone by since we premiered 'rehab' as ASWARA during Tari 14. so much has happened and all for the better. we feel so strong, we feel so so loved and i am truly overwhelmed. never in my entire existence have i felt this much good love. such good good lovin...i am happy to be back on stage. how i've missed the performer in me. how i've missed the special moments shared between performers seconds before walking on stage and sharing the whole performing experience with someone on stage. pure pure love. how i've missed the group hug, that one long hug that brings all the heartbeats and breaths to one. there is so much more that goes on than what you see on stage. and it is something i am already starting to miss.

Friday, August 21, 2015

two become two

My kids turned two today and I do not know where that time went. I go through photos of them as one year olds and I don't even remember them even looking like that, don't get me started on their full moon pictures. Time has flown so fast and it has been an incredible journey. The most difficult thing I have ever/ will ever do in my life but the most rewarding.

My babies run to me and shower me with hugs and kisses. My little girl looks for me when she is uncomfortable and seeks a familiar lap to sit on. My little boy screams bloody murder everytime I drop him off at pre-school and as much as it makes me feel like shit, it reminds me that he does in fact enjoy my company.

I am not the warmest person you will come across. I try my best not to give in to my kids. And I let them cry it out about everything. I feel bad sometimes because when my friend's kids fall they immediately run to them and scoop them into their arms and soothe them. When my kids climb on a chair I say nothing, I let them fall, make their mistake and learn not to do it again. This means that my days are full of bloody lips and tears but today I know that when they cry after they fall, they really do hurt.

Today, when I baked their little carrot birthday cake, I kept thinking about the day that they will be embarassed about the 'not-so-pretty' cake mummy baked and will insist on ordering the damn 'Elsa' cake and it made me so sad. A silly little thought of course but very true.

Just yesterday I thought of packing snack packs for my children's classmates and actually took the kids grocery shopping with me and did it. Nothing fancy, a zip locked bag which said, "we are two today" (handwritten by a sharpie by me), then I stuck a sticker on it and filled it with pre-packed oat biscuits, pre-packed cake and a box of raisins. When I got home today my mother showed me two party packs my children received. Firstly, this senior child prepared packs for the entire school. Secondly, the pack consisted of a ceramic mug, a pack of kit kat and a seriously fancy flashcard. By fancy I mean it was printed on both sides and you could pull it apart and it described the animal it showed. Sorry la for sounding Jakun but I seriously felt embarrassed.

But the more and more I thought about it, I told myself to shut the eff up and get my self together. I woke up at 6am this morning just to make sure I personally baked this cake myself. It may not have looked the best but I knew what went in it and was absolutely sure that it tasted good. I also came to the fact that these little bubs will grow out of me. And I hope that I will have the strength to just let go (confident with whatever life lessons I have given them) and wait for them to flitter back to me when they are ready.

Happy birthday little ones. Mummy and daddy love you with all of our hearts and even more. There is absolutely nothing that we won't do for you and we believe that you will achieve nothing but greatness with the gifts bestowed upon you from the heavens.