Jul 3, 2010

Once upon a cloud..

"Such a cliche, man!" I mumbled to myself when I was about to type the word 'DREAM' into the note in my phone.

PapaJai and MatDuang were still behind me, at a distance of not-seen; and the rest of the troop -- Dila, Cecilia, Amie, Zahir, Ijol, Tita, Zeta, Alin, PokDin, Iman, Johan, Fatma, Zana and KakYam -- were way in front of me, at a distance of also not-seen.

So I was alone at that particular of time, somewhere inside the heart of Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain of Southeast Asia..

... and it was the perfect lonely feeling that made me feel like writing something, but of course I called it off after realizing I did not really have something great to actually write about, hence the phone turned from a digital note device into an mp3 player, I plugged my earplug beneath my head buff.. the first song played.

It was an old song. John Mayer's "Bigger than my body".


"Look, uncle.." This little kid pointed far, leading the guardian's eyesight towards a magnificent view that framed with blue sky, green hill, and white clouds.

The guardian thought it was about the colors that pulled the kid's attention, until the kid said,

"...we're standing above the cloud."

The guardian smiled. So it's the altitude that you started to appreciate. He rubbed the kid's head, "jom?"

"Jom!" The kid shouted, high spirited.


Back to cliche -- "Bigger than my body" is a song about dreaming, and dreaming big.

Hey I used to dream about climbing up to Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak of Southeast Asia when I was young.

The dream started to mold when once upon a time someone senior brought me climbed up to a hill. I do not remember which uncle who took me up there, how did he look like, and which hill it was..

.. but I still remember the feeling, the feeling of making your step going up, for another greater top view; and the feeling of standing high, high enough like standing above the cloud; and I remember the senior rubbed my head with a smile...

erm.. perhaps that happened in a dream -- but I did not think too much about it. What I knew was I really needed to put my heavy weighted load aside, and turned back to rescue two old men who I left behind.


Every 1st time experience is perhaps the most vivd experience in one's life. The guardian fully understands what will this little climb bring to this little kid, like what had his first climb long time ago brought to him and his life.

.. and then he saw a little girl wearing striking pink t-shirt, guarded by her uncles and aunties, making her own effort climbing up a steep rock surface which almost all climbers will need a rope to handle.

The guardian knew the girl would make it by looking at the dedication that shined in her eye..

... and if that was her 1st experience of being committed to an effort and dedicated to a promise, that pink shirt little girl is already a grown up.


"This hike, man," PapaJai patted on my shoulder, "..is for you to prove, to us and to yourself, whether you are growing up to a super-man, or not..."

I was speechless.

Yup, the whole troop celebrated my birthday in my hotel room nights before our hike to the mountain, but that doesn't mean I'm already a grown-up..

..I have to pass this test -- the ultimate test that given by my big brother PapaJai, at least in this trip; a test that will put my patience on stretch, that will challenge my ego, that will make me learn to think in bigger view;

-- a test that will make me learn to be committed to an effort, and dedicated to a promise.

...... .... And of course a test with physical torture and endurance, like --- ".. so you'll be the porter for the troop," PapaJai said it to me, but announced it to everybody, "you'll be carrying most of the troop members' stuff hike up there..."

I sighed like a grown-up.


The guardian realized that the kid's body weight was more than any weight that he had been carried in any hike to any mountain;

... but he also realized that a little reward is essential for any kid after they've given out their best effort in completing something, like a hike up to the top of a hill.

Hence when the kid just climbed up to his back, he'd just happily provide a ride, a downhill ride for his little precious;

... and then soon enough, the guardian found out something that he never realized before....


The first time I realized that clouds mold their shape into various characters and live up in all stories in my fantasy, I knew that I'll be alright staying with the ability called imagination.., and I just want to safe keep it...

.... but safe-keeping the ability called imagination becomes tougher and tougher when we encounter the ability called growing-up..

Yup I mumble about growing up again. Sigh.

The fact that this was my 2nd time to Mt Kinabalu really helped me to be a lot more composed and cooler compared to the first timers like the super excited Ijol, super restless Zahir, and the super worried cum super dilemma (super de-ram-ma) trio Fatma, Tita and Dila.

.. but when I held on the coolness and composure, though they were in fact fragile and shaky, and trying to put on an image signed and sealed with 'Approved Reliability' label, I knew deep inside there's something shaking and questioning me..

..... and that 'something' surfaced when Amie told me her aim for her second chance being here...


"A baby?"

The guardian stopped.

"...A'ah..." the kid on his back pointed something behind them, ".. is that a baby?"

The guardian turned around and looked for what the kid was pointing at. It's a curled fern-leaves.

".. and she's in red color.." The kid touched the fern. There's indeed some reddish spots hided within the curled leaves.

"... and when she grows up, " the kid continued, "she'll become green.."

"......... you like red color?" the guardian broke the silence after he fell into speechless for a few seconds.

The kid nodded and smiled.

"OK.. so where were we just now?" The guardian pushed the almost-falling-down little heavy body a little bit up on his back, "..how many trees already?"

"22," The little heavy body pointed at another tree ahead of them, "..and that's the 23rd.. "

"Jom.." The wood-touching game continued.


It's heavy. I think.

Amie said she wanted to reach the summit this time, she wanted to get through the spot after Sayat-Sayat -- the spot that she failed to get through few years back, and failed the mission of getting to the top of Mt Kinabalu, few years back.

To be frank I couldn't really appreciate how she was afraid of the spot that failed her, but from the way she put it, it was really something that was heavy for her.

And of course I did not tell her those 'motivational' bla-bla-bla like 'you need to get over it to prove that you can do it' -- THAT would be the toppest classic example of being cliche.. In the midst of me pretending that I was listening and feeling her, I suddenly felt helpless about me myself being in the state of hiking up this mountain.

This hike -- this protocol of hiking up the so-called Southeast Asia Top Roof, of getting through the mental hardship and physical toughness, of reaching the peak of the mountain, of snapping pictures at the top, of feeling proud, of showing off the achievement, of expressing 'Oh My God I felt that human-being are so tiny', of ... etc etc etc all the protocol-ic cliches -- out of a sudden I felt sad about me doing ALL these.

I knew I ALREADY started to worry about the cliche of growing up.


What is that about counting trees in the wood-touching game? The guardian really did not have any inkling of ideas.

The counts continued, with the giggle of the kid, plus some stories shared among them, about trees and baby fern. The guardian really hopes that the kid would keep and safe-keep the most precious treasure that every kids have --

-- it's an ability, a superpower, called imagination...

"See! uncle, this wood has a coarser skin than the last one... maybe he's sick..."

.... and don't worry about loosing it when come to growing up...

"... see, uncle.. this one is soft... but it's not red color.."

... cuz uncle just realized that, the ability of growing-up doesn't harm the ability of imagination.. yup, uncle just realized that -- just -- on the peak of the Southeast Asia highest mountain -- I perceived the real lesson about growing up.. ....

"Number 27! STOP!" The captain of the vessel commanded.

"Huh? Why stop now?"

"27 trees, cukup dah." Giggling.

What is that about counting trees in the wood-touching game? The guardian really-really did not have any inkling of ideas.


I was walking alone after Sayat-Sayat gate. Amie and Cecilia were in front of me, while the rest of the troop were somewhere behind. I couldn't see anyone of them. I was in a dark, in the state of mind of struggling, fighting and frustrating about a loosened me.

It's all about mental game now -- when the air gets thinner and thinner, they wind got chiller and chiller, the peak of the mountain seemed to be further and further away. I started to sing -- hum, I mean. A song that kept on playing in my head throughout this trip.

"Bigger than my body".

A song about dreaming, and dreaming big. A song that reminded me that I used to dream about climbing up to Mount Kinabalu when I was young -- The dream started to mold when once upon a time someone senior brought me climbed up to a hill.

... it was a childhood me with all the grown up fantasy -- so many dreams so many imaginations that built upon a cloud, and I thought I'm going to lose it when come to growing up...

..but then I realized I was wrong when I reached the peak of the mountain, for the 2nd time in my life....

... at the top of the mountain where I finally touched the clouds, I found myself wrapped by the clouds while performing my subuh prayer -- then all of a sudden all my childhood fantasy blended into a grown up me.... I paused for awhile in my doa, recite 'Alhamdulilah' deep from my heart, for making me learnt the biggest lesson that touches straight to the deepest fear of me being myself...


No, 2nd time to the top of Mt Kinabalu doesn't not mean that I'm great enough to brag about...

2nd time to the top of Mt Kinabalu was still an exploration for me.

Besides the mysterious part of the mountain herself, with new friends and rejuvenated bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood, plus my new role and new responsibilities in the troop, nothing seemed to be familiar.

..but I think I had great time being in the heart of this mountain -- it was somehow a mystical experience for me. :)


... and of course another little trip bringing two little ones hiked up the little Broga Hill -- it was, again, nothing to really brag about as we all believe that the trip was all about the kids..

How we wish little Una and Uyin will enjoy the hike, the sweat, the little push from themselves, the great view, the feeling of standing upon a cloud...

...and the imaginations and the fantasy they shared in this little world that mother nature offers to them -- the imaginations, the fantasy, and the mother nature are all belong to them, how we wish they can one day learned something great from these precious things that they already have, InsyaAllah, InsyaAllah.

*The end*