by Afdlin Shauki

I do so many things that sometimes I forget who I am. A quick peek into my wallet reveals that I have no money to buy my daughter’s pampers, as well as confirming that I am Afdlin Shauki the man. A quick peek at the poster of my debut album ‘FUUYO!’ on the wall of my office reveals that I am Afdlin Shauki the product. A funny, weird, big kid who loves entertaining people and making them happy. Being the man and the product under the same name however is not exactly a good thing for my personal life. People can find out where I live just by looking up the yellow pages, It’s almost impossible to get any privacy when you’re out and about with your family in public places, it’s easier for the income revenue services to find me (not insinuating that I am avoiding them!) and most tiring off all is I can never stop being Afdlin Shauki.

Ignorance of the workings of the entertainment industry, while I was younger, made me to choose my own name as my stage name. However, I cannot deny that to a certain extent, the uniqueness of my name has contributed to my success. I have yet to meet another person whose name is Afdlin Shauki and this makes me feel kind of special (like the kids in special ed). A great honor was bestowed upon me last year when a fan named their first born after me. Another Afdlin Shauki was born! That’s really wild. Who would have thought that a once insecure overweight boy from the DBKL flats could have reached the heart and minds of so many people, I sure didn’t. But life is funny like that.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy being a kid. My childhood seems like a big blur somehow. What I can remember is that, being the eldest; I had to take care of my younger siblings and become the man of the house. There was no time for fun and games and I had to take on a lot of responsibility early in life. Looking back, I guess I am the man I am today because of it and I am thankful.

As a grown up and being able to afford all the things my family couldn’t get me as a kid, I allowed myself to be a kid again, maybe to make up for the supposed lost years. I thought then that I could be a kid forever, but I soon found out that things would change, if you let it.

When I was in my late teens I thought I had a good grasp on what the world was all about. I was very brash and believed that I would never change any of my ideals and ideas about life. For example, being a music lover, I used to love clubbing and remember telling myself that I would still be clubbing even when I’m old and grey, with all my teeth fallen out and even when I’d have to use a walking stick to enamor my adoring public with my dazzling display of break dancing and Solid Gold inspired dance moves. What was I thinking? At present, clubbing doesn’t make any sense to me anymore.

Among my reasons for this are:

  1. You can’t really enjoy yourself because they don’t play music anymore, just an eclectic mix of mind-numbing loops of ambient banging noises, which you can get without a RM35 cover charge, if you live next to a high-rise construction site, like I do.
  2. The girls you want to try and pick-up are mostly there with their ever so affluent dates, sporting cars that you can only get to touch by flicking through the pages of your borrowed copy of the Malaysian Motor Trader, and the girls that are left are mostly semi-conscious or drugged up.
  3. You somehow always end up smelling like you’ve just fallen into a huge ashtray and your clothes stink to high heaven.
  4. The prospect of getting vomit on your good self isn’t as exciting as it used to be.
  5. The clubs are mostly filled with oily men, (where are all the oily women? One wonders.)
  6. We all look like the cast of Children of a lesser god (a movie about the deaf) when we try to have a conversation over the loud music.

Personally, I don’t think that my ideals have changed much but with all the knowledge and experiences that I have acquired within the last decade, I have formed some new, stronger ideals which now takes precedence over the previous, leaving them to be mere secondary objectives. I am a firm believer that people don’t change, but rather, they adapt to change. The older you get and if you open yourself to new experiences, the wiser you will be.

There is however a difference between growing older and getting wiser. At one point in my life I actually just did the former. I moved along in my life without opening myself to new experiences. My career had taken off; I had a great family, a nice apartment and a kickass car, in short, everything I ever dreamed of. That’s when it all happened. I became content with what I had, I lost my playfulness, I didn’t push myself to reach greater heights anymore, I stopped dreaming, my career which has always been a fine balance of fun and work, had now become just work and complacency became my best friend. In short, I had become bland. No longer the childish, fun loving crazy guy of old, the kid in me had disappeared.

I have always loved kids. Kids have an innocence that is quite endearing to me and I’m sure to many adults too. I guess that could be one of the main reasons why people open up to me so easily and are comfortable with my ramblings and quip comments, for to them, I am childish, a kid trapped in a grown ups’ body (And what a beautiful body it is too). And who’s to say I’m not. I take that as a compliment. I think the child’s mind is a wonderful thing, full of maybes, what ifs and most importantly whys. I often ask myself when was the time that I stop asking these questions, because then I would remember the first day I had stop growing and begin my journey into the great abyss called normality.

I believe I am a grown up kid because I still think like a kid. I am still constantly asking the questions. Still curious about the new things and stuff I have yet to encounter. I am not shy to make a fool of myself in the name of fun and experimentation, much to the horror of my wife and family members. I have learned that the only way to solve a problem is by facing it first; running away only prolongs the inevitable. For example, I’m sure many mamaks had to go through a bunch of pagoda t-shirts and suffered many minor third degree burns, before they finally mastered the art of tea pulling or teh tarik making. I have learnt that the only way to get my wife to stop nagging is to talk to her calmly and find out what’s bugging her. Yelling at her or pretending she isn’t there would only makes her nag twice as fast at a higher armor piercing pitch while hurling an inanimate object towards my person.

Jokes aside, my wife is my cauldron of strength and the love of my life. She provides balance in my life and grounds the man-child when he gets a bit out of hand. She is also the mother of my children, Mia Sara Shauki and Anais Shauki, who are like little cherubs that constantly bring me joy. Having children, I think, is the best thing that I have experienced in my life, second only to the actual act of making them.

I thank the almighty for blessing me with the two little reminders of what it is like to be free of the constraints of a mind which has been weathered down by experiences that closes it up and set certain beliefs based on the standards set by society. The kind, which says things like, fat, is ugly! And their idea of looking normal is to look like Brad Pitt or Heidi Klum. If you trained a dog often enough to play dead, eventually it will think that playing dead is a normal part of life. This is called conditioning.

I realize that the way I am is very closely related to my experiences in the past as certain habits were starting to form. Three years ago, after attending the Asiaworks Training program, an experiential self-awareness course, I realized that to move forward in life, we must forgive and let go of the shackles that hold us back in the past. Everyone says, “Aiiya, I know that already-laa!” and that they are familiar with the saying, but not many actually take any action to live by it. Unless you have actually experienced the feeling you get from letting go, I live it hence I am free.