Life Is What You Make It Out To Be

By Anthony Dylan Anak Frankie Jurem

Let me begin by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year 2024. The year end as usual sped off the moment Christmas Eve came right up to the countdown to the year’s end.

The end of 2023 seemed muted compared to what I had experienced in the past. Perhaps many have chosen to travel away from home as the school holidays were shorter this December and skewed towards the last two weeks.

My journey home on 23rd December last month was rather later than my previous years heading home for Christmas. This was due to work commitments which seemed to never end nor understand what it meant for one to head home. It did make you wonder if there was any compassion in employment.

As we headed to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s Terminal 1; the traffic on the ELITE highway seemed smoother than the expected rush. We took Batik Air for the trip to Kuching and got delayed an hour due to some technical issue. It was a bittersweet moment as the last time we flew Batik Air (previously Malindo Air) was in December 2019. This was my last Christmas with my father.

2020 was a Covid 19 MCO Christmas. 2021 was the first Christmas without my father. This year would be our 3rd year on our own. We cannot deny that there is still a hole left in our hearts. We remember him and his life with us.

I am trying to learn how to sharpen knives as this skill seemed to be my father’s. I could not still master this. The same with his packing skills. I am still trying.

We had our traditional roasted turkey this year and we omitted the roasted lamb leg this time. It was time to let go of this from our menu.

Our traditional turkey would always have had been soaked in brine and seasoned no less than 24 hours. Roasting would take close to 3 hours for a small bird.

We also had a vegetarian mee hoon along with salads to balance out. What was missing nowadays were the soft drinks and beers of different brands. I used to remember having to chill down cans of 7-Up, Coca-Cola, Dester, Oranjeboom, Heineken and Tiger Beers. Since 2021, these were no longer done.

Gone were the many visitors who came to visit every Christmas Day. The time at home became time for ourselves. It is not something to be sad about, but a new discovered experience. This is one where you would be able enjoy each other’s company.

My brother and his other half joined us and our mother for Christmas 2023 whilst another was stuck at work and did not make it back for Christmas. We appreciate the time for this humble celebration.

With the new strain of Covid 19 still putting some caution to the air, this had affected the general celebrations. However, I did still find time to catch up with some friends. Some I even caught after Christmas mass at St Peter’s Church in Padungan, Kuching.

On Christmas Day, as we always did, we made our way after mass to the Columbarium where my father, my two uncles and my father’s best friend were laid to eternal rest. The building is adjacent to both the current church and the new church which is currently under construction.

Kuching has started to look different. We had a Christmas Parade in early December and also the largest attendance at the “A Christmas Carol, Sarawak in Diversity” event. It had 2,500 carolers in Padang Merdeka which culminated with “O Holy Night” . The earlier Christmas Parade which began at Jubilee Ground had 5,000 participants according to reports.

The tallest flag pole in South East Asia was also launched on the 31st December 2023. It stands 99 metres tall and flies the Sarawak Flag proudly, metres away from Fort Margherita.

This would enhance the tourism attraction especially with the new English Teahouse also opening soon below the flag pole’s base. The views here to Kuching waterfront and from the waterfront would then be even spectacular.

2024 will be a year when decisions will have to be made. Some will be easy and some will be life changing.  Nevertheless, life is what you make it out to be. The journey will go on. Friends and foes are never permanent. Only time will tell especially when you no longer have anything that they would want from you.

Alas, there is more to life as you live on. There is so much to experience other than what you are doing right now. A meaningful life would mean doing things which would affect the environment or someone’s life positively.

2024 will be a great time to start doing things you genuinely love passionately. It is time to say enough to toxic environments and get out of them. You have to plan where to put your effort into.

Effort is a currency and should be taken seriously. The end result should be the result of the effort. Uphold your principles and defend them even if you have to go up against Goliath.

Value yourself more than others do. Many will try to insult you and berate you to make you lose faith in your own values. Recognise this and make a stand.

As we head into this year with positive expectations, do note that we do have those who mean to divide. The use of religion to compel is seriously not right. It is enough to say that religion is unfortunately being used the wrong way. No religion promotes violence.

A culture does not own a religion nor a religion own a culture. The same can be said of ethnicity. Faith is a choice of one. In the end, you answer to your creator. Not the politicians, definitely.

2024 should embolden you to see things the way they should be. We should open our eyes and question those who think we are just puppets to be manipulated for their own gains. Insults and blatant bullying should never be condoned. Fight them.

I look forward to 2024. I look forward to the challenges the year would provide. I look forward to a new adventure.

Happy New Year 2024!