Goodbye Malaysia

When I returned to Malaysia in March this year, I honestly didn’t think I’d still be here come September. But all good things must come to an end. After almost 6 months at home, it’s finally time to go back to the UK.

I’ve been away from home since I was 12. So this shouldn’t be too difficult, should it? Yeeesss, and no.

In the last 6 months I’ve grown incredibly close to my kids. In that sense, this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. Looking back at my life for the last few years, everything has been proceeding at breakneck pace. Housemanship, MO-ship, MRCP, neurology subspecialty training, PhD…all these leave very little time for family.

And yet for the last few months I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my wife and kids. I’ve been able to teach them how to:

Ride a bicycle

Play basketball

Play the piano

Do Taekwondo stuff

Attend online classes (!)

Paint

Play chess

All that, on top of spending more time with my other family members. Alhamdulillah, I am grateful for these moments , moments that are now etched into my memory and that I will treasure all my life.

Speaking of memory…

If we put aside the pain of being away from my family, I’m actually very much looking forward to resuming my DPhil work in earnest. To a certain extent, I feel torn between two loves. Love for my family, but also love for the topics I am studying: neuroscience, neurology, memory, motivation, apathy etc.

To me, these are important things, worth the time spent studying and researching them. Malaysia is not unusual in that we have a lot of people with stroke and dementia. If I can use my knowledge to help my future patients, that would be worth all the sacrifices I’ve had to make, and am still making.

10,000 km away

My 3 year-old son asked me this morning where I was going.

“Daddy’s going to work,” I replied. In my mind, I wonder if he understands that ‘work’ is 10,000 km away.

I asked my wife to just drop me off at the departure terminal earlier, but told my kids to stay at home, not because I was worried they’d burst into tears, but so that they won’t be able to see mine…

Hasbunallah wa ni’mal wakeel.

TENET

This is not a review of Tenet per se. Having said that, if you’re even remotely interested in watching the movie, I suggest doing so first before you read any further.

Trying to pick a favourite Christopher Nolan film has always been difficult for me. Well, now it’s become even more challenging following the release of Tenet. The movie bills itself as a sci-fi action spectacle, in which events unfold in a setting that transcends time.

Hold on, you might say, not another time travel movie! Well, it’s a bit more dramatic than that.

Not time travel. Inversion.

In order to do it justice, it’s best to see Tenet in IMAX. The more expensive ticket price is well worth it. The only thing is you DO have to pay attention. This is not your typical superhero movie. And as much as I like superhero movies (favourite one: Doctor Strange, obviously!), I also enjoy movies like these where you have absolutely no idea what on earth is going to happen. All you can do is to try and keep up.

Is it better than Inception though? That’s a tough call. Inception is still my favourite Christopher Nolan movie. I will always have a soft spot for Inception because I see it as a story about a father trying to get home to his children. Forget the layers and layers of dreams, or the mind-bending architectural feats. At its core, Inception is a story about family. As someone who’s had to be away from his own family for extended periods of time, let me say this: it ain’t easy!

The other thing to say is, of course, the experience of going to the cinema itself. Here in Malaysia, things are not too bad. Although there are restrictions in place (for example, my wife and I had to leave an empty seat in between us because of…reasons), overall it’s still an enjoyable experience.

So, bottom line, will I be watching Tenet again?

Wrong question, my friend.

What you should be asking is: how many times will I be watching Tenet again?