This is my story — Part II

Annette: I don't know how to carry on anymore. The person whom I used to confide in is now gone forever, and I still get scathing remarks. I don't even know if she'd ever hear me from up there.
Fad: She will hear you. And she'll always be proud of you. Just play the drums, close your eyes. Let it all go.

The second part of my story covers the transitory part, i.e. from the time mom passed away until the end of the mourning period.

My mom passed away on the 27th of August after three months of being hospitalised.

Hoping that someday I'd let my passion surface, I let myself go on the drums. I wanted to do something that I could personally be proud of. I had no chance to be a child prodigy, and I'm one of those few who know they have a talent and a passion, but because they are girls, they are not allowed to shine. I hoped that I'd shine - I'd never want my beats to be confined to my pillow or to that common room, I'd never want my lyrics and my songs to be confined to the blog, and I just wanna break free.

I began confining myself to the common room for at least two weeks, turning on the fan, playing the drums to my heart's content. And whenever I played, I thought of Him.

I tried telling Narin this, she got angry. She thought I was rambling out a whole lot of junk. Then when she misunderstood everything, she told dad, and dad gave me a scathing remark saying that there are no well-known female drummers - excuse me, we have Sheila E, Sandy West and Karen Carpenter. He went on further, saying that I'd never be a good drummer, thinking that I wanted to be one overnight.

Enough said. I'm still disappointed. And I'll never forget what has been said.

Look, I know how hard dad has to work, to just support me and the remaining household. I know how sometimes, dad calls with tears in his eyes. But still, he didn't have to say that to me. Truly, had I lived in the Middle Ages or any other such era, they'd have burned me at the stake for having such an "unnatural" desire.

It's been almost a month since she died and even if we seem to be going on pretty well with our lives, I miss her terribly. Today we interred her ashes. We were a family of five, now we are two.

Now, understand why I have this passion for drums.

The beat of the drum is the closest I can get to mom's heartbeat. At least now, where I can't be with her to listen to it anymore. Mom was the very person who introduced rhythm to me when I was still small. About three years old. Now, for those who know my childhood days, try thinking back... and understand why my favourite toy was the drum.

I think, two weeks after her passing, I saw this article in the Star. It was about child prodigy Arthur Kam, who went on to win the Undiscovered Drummer Contest (organised by Modern Drummer Magazine). And yes, he's that good. Even a good drummer like him needs guidance. Thing is, he's lucky. Really lucky. Firstly, he's seventeen, just like me. Secondly, he's a guy. And surely, when they see a passion for drums in him, they would tap that talent until he becomes one of the greatest in the world. As for me, I could only tap on pillows, nobody even wanted to listen to me, they thought I was just irritating. Just because I'm a girl, they keep thinking that it is a phase, and when they discover that it is not a phase, they just leave me alone to fend for myself ; not knowing that there are techniques of drumming, and not knowing that I need guidance. I'm not asking for his talent, because I know I have my own talent - God gave it to me. I'm not asking for so much - all I ask for is a chance to build myself up and be the best I can be in drums. After all, I had that passion since I was a kid, just like he did. Now he's Malaysia's pride and joy, and I remember way back when I was younger, I said I wanted to be Malaysia's pride and joy.

Heck, in the seven-day prayers we had for her, mom's old friend Aunty Sharon came over to our place. She asked me whether I was interested in drum lessons. My face lit up. And my face lit up even more when I discovered that Jerry Felix was the resident teacher. Yes, in Malaysia, Jerry Felix is second only to Lewis Pragasam. Anyway, I was delighted. But when I was told that it was all the way in USJ, my heart sank. I knew, just asking to go and see him play would be too much to ask. See, even asking to go for a shed session would be too much to ask.

Immediately after that, I went to the common room, attempted to play the drums... and wept bitterly after that. See, I used to run to mom and confide in her every week after practice, and she would understand what I really felt deep inside. Heck, she even tried enrolling me for classes. But she couldn't do so. She tried calling a few people, but no one got back to her. Now that she is no more, I have no one to confide in anymore. Dad would not understand, or he would choose not to understand - after all, I'm a girl. I do not even know whether I should go on and tell him, and face those scathing remarks any longer.

Prior to returning to the Sunset Band, I called Aunty Sharm. I locked myself in my room and talked to her. First, I told her when I would return. It was supposed to be after the 30th of September, but owing to the fact that the previous practice was supposed to be for the first week's mass, I went anyway. And after telling her when I would return, she asked me how I was. I said, I didn't know. And I went on to ask her, half-crying, "When I come back, please, would you spare me a drum part ? At least one ?"

I guess she knew I didn't have a chance to do it prior to May 31st, the day I had to leave practice because my mom was hospitalised. She must've seen how I stood by Uncle Cyril, Daniel C and Uncle Erik while they were playing, she must've seen how I yearned to play. Yeah, I used to look longingly at them. Even when I was sitting at my place, by the keys, I would just look at them until I couldn't concentrate on my playing at all. I waited for her response. And oh, how my heart ached. I just wept before she could give me a response. Somehow or other, I had that gut feeling that the answer would be a no. And in my mind, there was a voice ringing, NO, NO, NO. And then, she whispered softly onto the phone :

One soft yes defeated a thousand loud nos. I was relieved. And happy. I was one step closer to being His drummer girl ! But then, I stopped in my tracks : even with that green light, I still don't know how to tell dad about it. Till this very day, I haven't told him anything about me as a drummer. I don't have the heart to even tell him why my heart sighs. The only people who truly understand are God, and mom, and perhaps, those who have taken a look at the first part of my story and taken it to heart.

Then, Vince Seah decided to add me. Yeah, the founder of Drummer for Christ. He did that through his wife Liann. And whenever we meet each other, we talk a lot. Liann is pretty much in my generation range - twenty-something ? - not very far for a person who is already seventeen. And perhaps, because Vince is there behind the monitor, we exchange knowledge and experiences. And sometimes, I lament. See, I don't know if the Lord will ever smile at me for trying. He has counted my tears. He has heard my endless sighs. He has seen all those shattered chances. I was always hindered - either by time constraint, or by society. Enough is enough. What is the point of having a passion for rhythm when I'm not free to build it up and praise the Lord with it ?

I hate this.

Tomorrow marks the end of our mourning. Imagine, it has already been thirty days. Every night, when I'm alone, I whisper a prayer, Lord, please let me be Your drummer girl. And sometimes, I weep. There's no proof that anyone can hear me, but I know that He has heard my sighs. I wish mom would appear to me, in a dream perhaps, and tell me, "I will always be proud of you, my little drummer girl."

(Arthur Kam, if you do go online and read this, consider this an emotion-fuelled rant. I'm not as blessed as you are ; I have no one to bond with me musically at home, and more often than not, my sighs are just unheard. I truly admire your playing - I have seen your vids, and truth be told, I yearned to play like that ever since I was a kid. No one listened to me. I'm just as old as you are, and I know that I'll never shine like you do. With the kind of treatment I am getting, and with all my desires and emotions being suppressed by society, with everyone acting around me like people of the Victorian era, there is very little hope for me, even if I have battered my pillow for fourteen years with only God hearing me.)


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