Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Book Review: Room (a novel)

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Back Bay Books (international edition)
Country: United States of America
Pages: 321 pages (paperback)
Genre: Literary fiction

The one word I'm going to use to call Donoghue's Room is: different. It's different in many ways. Room is actually a terrifying story about imprisonment and its damaging impacts on the victims. Unlike most books about adult crime, however, the story is told from a 5-year-old's point of view, which makes the horror look falsely innocent, and the violence look like some sort of a fleeting nightmare. Room offers a rare insight into the mind of a small boy born and bred in captivity; the way he views and treats the world around him that we often take for granted puts things into perspective and will certainly move your heart.

The book is not about the glaring, dramatic sensation often projected by the media when covering the news of such an unfortunate event. Rather, Room is simple; the author focuses more about what it means to try to live a normal life, and to raise a child in the most normal way possible, in abnormal circumstances. It also teaches about how strong a woman can be, especially a mother, without having to be outwardly aggressive. It's a love story with low-profile heroism.

Room is incomparable to other books. It's one of those rare gems that have many facets and can scratch many hearts.

This review also available in: Goodreads

Friday, 20 May 2011

Radiology - knowing ahead

In the literary world, it's called the "dramatic irony". It is when you, as the reader, knows a particular information about a character or an event that the character knows nothing about. Consequently, you know what is coming whereas the character has to suffer from not having the same knowledge.

Spending four weeks in radiology rotation granted me the pleasure---and the irony---of knowing ahead. A radiologist is the first person who knows exactly what is happening with a patient. A radiologist could also be the first person who is prepared to see a smile fading and hope losing.

Of course, sometimes we can only suspect. After all, imaging is only supportive of clinical presentations. Results may still be inconclusive, and maybe, maybe it's all just some technical errors or a very bad dream.

But other times, radiographic images can be as glaringly obvious as the screen you're staring at right now, Consider the following images:

Multiple metastases to the lung. (Image source)

Staghorn calculi. (Image source)

A CT image of a holoprosencephalic brain. (Image source)

We know these conditions. We are aware of the dangers and the consequences. We know what is imminent.

What do you do when you have the knowledge? Keeping it to yourself? Telling that person? Secretly trying to cure / repair / reverse the situation while still pretending to be ignorant, just to be sure that you have done some Samaritan good?

Unfortunately hospital management system doesn't work that way. The most Samaritan you can get if you're working as a radiologist is to write the best imaging interpretations to be sent to the referring physician. That's all. Then it's that physician's job to find the best way to inform the patient about what's in store for them.

When I was presented with an old X-ray of metastatic cancer in the lung taken of a man 12 years ago, I immediately wondered: Did he survive? How has he been doing? Where is he now? Is he still eating his favourite food, watching his favourite TV show? What would he be now if this all had not happened? The X-ray displayed a silent horror more morbid than any other creep show. It was real, it was a human being, and it kind of reminds us about the similar endpoint we all have.

Some people find solace in radiology because there's no need for an actual contact with the patients. Therefore they can be spared from the old dreadful thing called breaking bad news. In some ways it is nice. Ignorance is bliss, indeed.

But I feel a tad bit disturbed as well. Often times, a patient would ask me or my attending about the imaging result. Most of the time we just smile and say that the result needs an interpretation, and that he/she can check with the referring doctor later during the next visit. But God, we already know what's wrong at that very moment!

There are times when I cast a look at the patient, wanting to tell, but the attending usually hurries me to his office for yet another teaching and another writing.

That knowledge sometimes gives me pain. I want to just scream whatever's in it to the patient's face, as honestly as I could, but that's just not the way it works, is it?

To know first-hand precisely what is, earlier and better than most other people, can pretty much haunt your conscience.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

the wild horse

my hour. so long, vanity
i have chosen an exit
i shall run and run.
for a reunion
with the soul.
in a strange domain.
in an esoteric earth.
a cage was a cage
and a prayer answered
is a prayer answered.
so i shall run. and run.
and run. never to finish.
but to live;
to climb the sunray
to ride the moonbeam
into the milky way in me
i am the wild horse.

-by: Anna Elissa-

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Seuntai Kangen Untuk Kamu

Hai, kamu di seberang lautan
Kemarilah kasih, sebelum kau bertolak lagi
Ini ada kalung. Kuronce dari bibit rindu
Yang pernah berderai dari ujung mata
Saat kita mencuri pandang dan mencuri hati,
     pikiran luruh dalam imaji.
Kasih, kenakanlah untaian kangen ini
Biar aku bisa mendekap kamu
     menempel denganmu, meski kamu sibuk
     berdansa di megamega.
Suatu hari nanti,
Saat kamu sudah lelah menjaring terik matahari
Kembalilah kamu,
      kepada selimut purnama.
Itu saat kangen kita jadi mekar
Lalu isinya membuncah
Dan lenyap
Dalam kecupan
Menjadi sayang
Ah, sayang
Rasa kangen yang telah mendewasa

-by: Anna Elissa-

Saturday, 14 May 2011


Ada seceruk sudut kosong
Teronggok jauh di lorong kalbu
Bagai hantu ia memanggil-manggil namamu
Hasrat menangguk apa yang telah ditabur

Mari menunggu dengan gembira
Tahun-tahun yang akan datang
Tidak waktu, tidak jarak, tidak gunung ataupun palung
'Kan pisahkan milikku daripadaku

Sebab waktunya akan tiba
Para malaikat terduduk lelah
Saat laut tak lagi basah
Dan air menjadi merah

-by: Anna Elissa-