A Thanksgiving Hari Raya

I was raised Muslim, and to me, Ramadhan and its beatific culmination, Eid Al-Fitr (or Hari Raya), is a time of reflection and the simple appreciation of the blessings that have come my way.

This is my first Ramadhan and Eid without my grandma, who passed in November last year. She was my shining light, my great love. She was my Nyai. When a light like that is extinguished, the following darkness and heartbreak is suffocating, a weight upon my soul that lurches me towards the very desolate borders of dysphoria. I miss her so much. I miss her too much.

But I try my best to grow and live and move forward while I enshrine her memory in my heart.

2017 has been a fantastic adventure for me. The success of Harris bin Potter and The Stoned Philosopher, coupled with the very exciting forays into my next two books, was something that I did not expect, and am grateful for. I’ve wanted to be a writer all my life, and as reality begins to ponderously overlap with ambition, I need to take a breather, take stock of all that has happened and thank some people for what has been a wondrous half a year.

First and foremost, I want to thank one of my best friends, my partner-in-crime and accidental manager Shelby Sekar. She has been responsible for getting this enterprise in order, and in managing my famous disregard for rules and timelines. She is the first pair of eyes on my new work, and the final pair of eyes before they go to print, and my endless gratitude goes to her.

My love and admiration goes to Anthony Koh, who was the first person EVER to take my books into his shop. Thank you for believing in an unproven writer, lost and clueless in a new world. Booktique will forever be in my heart, and I’m looking forward to future collaborations with you, Anthony.

Anthony is part of a select group of people who have accepted my writing and helped bring my book out to public consciousness. These people are the giants whose shoulders I stand upon. Kenny Leck and his team of book priests at the venerable literary shrine that is Books Actually: you have been a blessing – not just to me, but the entirety of Singaporean literature as well. Joyce Cheng and the team at Kinokuniya Singapore: I am forever humbled that the very bookstore that defined my childhood and adolescence carries my words among its shelves. Amanda Eng and the wacky, brilliant bunch at Naiise: thank you for taking me along for the ride as Naiise deservedly expands into hearts and minds beyond our shores. Callie Chong, Joelle Kwek and the geniuses at LocalBooks.sg: you have my admiration for starting an enterprise that combines the best of our technological zeitgeist with our timeless adoration of the written word. I am proud to walk with you on this path.

Jeanette Tan, Mandy How and the team at Mothership.sg: thank you for the two stories earlier this year. I am humbled by the fact that you deemed my writing interesting enough for coverage. It was possibly the most fun I’ve had on email, and I hope we can do that again sometime in the future.

To everyone else who interviewed me – Andre Frois for Coconuts SG, Alicia Tham for TAU Magazine, Arman Shah and Shila Naidu at The Everyday People of Singapore, Olivia Ho at The Straits Times – thank you for putting up with a bumbling dingus, and for making me sound sane and coherent.

Kelvin, Sharm, Anand and the team at Cato, thank you for allowing me to use your space two years ago to launch my book. Cato was an awesome place and I’m sad to see it make way for other enterprises, but I can’t wait to see what you guys will get up to in the coming years. I know it’ll be awesome, and it will bring people together under a magic cloud of music as only you guys can do.

One person I have not thanked enough, and therefore owe both gratitude and mea-culpa to, is Desmond Kon. I know our time together lasted all of a semester, but I consider you mentor even now. You gave me the confidence to believe in my own voice (stuttering and dopey as it sometimes gets) and guided me into this insane world with patience, love and a blazing intelligence. You’re one of my role models, and I am proud to have studied under you.

To my friend Marvin Miranda, who probably knows the best and worst of me, thank you for your support at the start. I know it took me awhile to take flight, and you may be far away, but my appreciation for what you’ve done, and for who you are, is boundless. Just know that my first steps towards this was with you believing in me, and of course I’ve faltered hard along the way, but I knew I could pick myself back up because of those first steps.

I am a product of my environment, and I am fortunate to have come from a loving family. My brothers and my cousins are shining beacons of adventure and imagination and spirited enterprise, and I am proud to have been moulded by the same genetic rojak that made them. (Yes, yes, this includes the in-laws as well…ALIA.)

My dearest Poojays, Gwen, and my fellow horror geek, Min Yan, thank you for always making me feel okay to be me. People throw around the term ‘moral support’ like it’s lip service fodder, but it goes a long way coming from people you love who want to see you reach the heights you deserve and are capable of.

Maria and Marcos, thank you for helping my soul reconnect with Christopher. I am now and forever a friend of your family’s.

To Renu, Sonia, Diyanah, Hanan and Natasha (trying my best not to mention our WhatsApp Group chat title here), you ladies fill my life with beauty, laughter and love. In the words of the Beach Boys, God only knows what I’ll be without you.

To my SJIM (you know who you are), thank you for moulding my sense of humour for almost two decades now.

To my former colleagues at Vocanic (especially my brilliant Brazilian boss Andre, super woman Tramaine, Darius, Krystin and my fellow creatives Nandini, Awool, Keith and Ceriz): at my best, I’m a messy genius and I apologize for the times I’ve been more messy than I am a genius, but I am nothing without your friendship, love and support.

To my favourite drunk people: Jing, KC, XJ, Zan and Nick (plus Gwen and Mian of course), thank you for easing my mind back into relaxation after all the madness, especially while we were in Bali. Can’t wait for our next group holiday!

Finally, I need to thank everyone who has supported in one way or another – whether by sharing links and stories on Facebook or by purchasing the book from me or the retailers.

This has been a wonderful first step into my career as a writer. Now for step two.

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