Wednesday, December 10, 2008

“Conversations With CK” – Book Launch

My dear friends,

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2009 !

I have not been in active blogging over the previous three months. My apology for the lack of visibility as I was quite pre-occupied with the management of my health issues. But most important of all, together with my good friends, I was also involved in documenting and finalizing a book, “Conversations With CK (A man, his life, and Cancer )”. I am hoping to raise about RM 20,000 to help the home cover their daily expenses for foods, clothings, utilities bills, etc.

The book will be on sale on December 20 2008. I need your support to make this a successful event. Please take note of the following administrative details :

  • Date : Saturday December 20 2008

  • Time : 10:00AM to 3:00PM

  • Venue : 31, Jalan USJ 4/6F, UEP Subang Jaya Selangor

  • Tel : 013 – 3638327 ( Irene ), 012 – 239 5569 ( Liew Suet Fun )

  • Price of the Book : RM 39.90

In the spirit of Christmas, I urge you to join me to make this world a better place for all, and to bring cheers and hope to Shalom Home. Please bring along your friends to purchase copies of the book on December 20, 2008. I will be there to personally autograph the purchased copies.

(1) Preface Of “Conversations with CK”
This year, on September 16, I received an email from CK telling me that he may have cancer. He had not been well for some time, having lost about 30 kilogrammes and been in and out of hospital trying to figure out what was going on. I had not seen him for a while, engrossed as I was with work and the usual rush of life. His initial fears were not unfounded, when subsequent tests confirmed a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

As a friend, I must confess to being at an utter loss of how to offer help in a meaningful way. While sympathy and moral support are some avenues of such expression between friends, I wished that I
could do more to add to his quality of existence in this extremely precarious passage of his life.

I have not known CK all my life. Our own friendship began just a few years ago when he rang me out of the blue one morning and offered to support my fundraising efforts for our alma mater's rugby team. I was surprised at the swiftness of his response to an email I had sent out just the night before to an e-group we both belonged to, asking for contributions to this fund. I later learnt that he, like me, had an interest in doing our bit for communities.

So over the years, I would ask for his help or for donations and he would give, always without hesitation and with great generosity.
One morning, not long after I first heard about his diagnosis, it struck me that I could offer to compile a book containing selected entries from his blog site. CK, while an IT professional in his daily life, is also an avid blogger who writes compulsively and often close to the midnight hour almost every night, before falling asleep. He once said to me that it allowed him to fall asleep peacefully, this unburdening of his thoughts. As a writer myself, I understand the cathartic nature of writing but I also understand that in order for this act to be cathartic, it must rise from the deepest part of oneself. I do not know what this deepest self is called; maybe it is pure instinct, the subconscious or both.

In this collection, CK has selected entries dating from 2006 till December 2008. This spans more than two years, from before his diagnosis till after his third chemotherapy session. Part memoir and part discourse on life and spirituality, the writings explore with unflinching honesty a childhood marked deeply by poverty, his immense respect and love for his parents, his relationships with his siblings, his spouse and his children, his philosophical and spiritual conflicts and his fight with cancer. It is this revealing honesty that transforms his writing into an absorbing read.

He often refers to himself as an "oxymoron", a wry term he uses to describe his dual nature. He is rational yet emotional; proud yet humble; materialistic yet spiritual; empathetic yet self-absorbed. In short, he is human, like all of us, and prepared to admit it. His "street style" as his calls it, pulls no punches and tells us like it is. It is a rare virtue to be able to write with such searing honesty and it can only mean that one has little illusions about oneself, life, and now, death.
In earlier postings, he reveals an unnerving sense of premonition of his fate.

"Although my heart is filled with love for you,
but soon the rhythms must halt.

I must whisper a quiet goodbye,
and journey to the promised land…"
– Bring me no flowers, May 7 2006 -

Facing death changes us. In CK's case, his own desire for spiritual enlightenment has led him to seek peace in the Christian faith. And while fear and pain mark his daily life now, he continues to summon a sense of humour in his narratives. In "The Almighty and me", while he debates vociferously the idea of God particularly within the context of the hardships of his life and the painful death of his mother , he declares himself an "accidental" Buddhist due to an oversight by a nurse while registering his birth.

In "Fighting for my Life", he speaks of confronting Jesus Christ with his own forbidden fruit – a lighted cigarette – only to be faced with the Almighty's reprimand expressed in proverbial thunder and lightning. These touches of humour surface frequently throughout his writings and remind us that no matter how dire our lives might be or even in the face of death, we still have a choice to take it in
our stride, and become the Better Man for it.

In the many, many nights that CK had spent writing on his bed while his wife slept beside him, he may have never imagined that one day, he would see his entries in print. He wrote because he sought to write; he wrote because he had to. Unwittingly, he was also drawing an arc that linked his existence together in a way that is helping him to see himself clearly now. As we put this book together, he told me how, on re-reading his writings, he can see his life more clearly now and that he understands himself in a way he has never been able to understand himself before. He said this wonderingly as if surprised that the wisdom which he once sought outside of himself was now found, contained within his own words.

Liew Suet Fun
December 2008

(2) Introduction to Rumah Shalom ( Peaceful Home )

A little history goes a long way….

Rumah Shalom is a home for underprivileged children who come from broken families, many of them emotionally and physically abused. The home was established in 1997 with two children then.

Until today, their aim is for all children to be given the opportunity of a basic education regardless of their background, so that they can grow up to be responsible citizens. The home endeavour to provide parental care and education, teaching them self-worth to lead a productive life.

Today, Rumah Shalom needs to buy their own property because in the last 9 years of existence, they have moved from place to place due to tenancy problems as owners had opted to sell off their properties to take profit.

Some 180 needy children have passed through Rumah Shalom and some are doing well in life. And they believe it is time they buy a permanent home for these destitute children so as to provide them a more tangible program for their future.

Their current premise at No. 1 Jalan Teong 5, Bandar Puchong Jaya 47100 Puchong is up for sale for RM400,000. The owner is charitable enough and is willing to sell it below the market value. The building comes with four large rooms and three bathrooms. The built up area is 20 x 75 feet with an additional land area of about 3, 000 square feet.

This property is ideal for Rumah Shalom due to the following factors:

  • Spacious corner lot with 4 large rooms

  • Ample land in case for future extension

  • Beautiful playground in front

  • School is within walking distance for the children

  • Ample parking space for visitors. There were occasions when as many as 120

  • visitors called on the home at one time!

  • Good location & easily accessible to visitors

  • The back portion of the building has already been renovated into a dining hall

  • The house was recently properly fenced up by a social group

(3) Kindly also forward this appeal to your friends.

May the Almighty bless you with Good Health and Happiness !

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