Wednesday, 16 February 2005

Dear Diary....

I HAVE always been an avid diary keeper. Towards the beginning of the New Year I look forward to a new diary and can't wait to fill it, first with birthdays, anniversaries and then important contact numbers. Then only do I worry about filling it with items relating to work - major appointments, any big projects, deadlines.

But as weeks turn into months, my diary assumes a new image of familiar and organised chaos that only I alone can decipher. Phone numbers written in eyebrow pencils, sometimes in lip liners, find their way among things to do and what to buy, buried in between "terrible headaches" and "late again!"

There's the occasional "$*(*&!!! and a smattering of ????, weighed heavy with implications and emotions. But try reading the jottings a few years later and even the heavily underlined phrases tend to lose some of their intensity with which they were penned.

There are cryptic phrases that read and sound like a dialogue in a Spy vs Spy episode, as well as circles around dates and phone numbers with no names.

I once succumbed to a temporary whim of wanting to be a yuppie even at an age when I was more downwardly pulled than upwardly mobile. I thought I had to be seen carrying this yuppie bible called the filofax.

Soon it was bulging with pages and I was soon presented with an electronic organiser from sympathisers who thought it could help organise my life. That didn't work either, as I am a technically challenged person. I want my diary, one that I can flip through and tear when I want to.

But looking through my now impressive collection of old battered diaries, I wonder if I can make money out of them. People seemed to be making money out of diaries, so why shouldn't I?

I could do well by taking a leaf out of Edwina Currie's published diary of her liaison with former British Prime Minister John Major. Well, I could if I have any liaison worth publishing.

But how does one know when to start jotting the juicy bits and sound bites that will be worth all the risk and bother? Do you start with just the sketches and then expand it later according to how the relationship develops?

But isn't a diary supposed to be so private, so personal that it is only meant for your eyes only? I just wonder that for someone to meticulously jot down every little detail of the former leader's now infamous blue underpants, she must have such vision that the wearer would become a world figure one day. Well, if you have any kind of brush at all with anyone along the corridors of power, it must be worth keeping a diary - just in case.

And, of course, if you think the disgraced British peer and author, Lord Jeffrey Archer, was going to spend his time peeling potatoes in the prison kitchen, think again. Yes, he did do that, only to be able to write first hand what it was like to do things that we mortals do every day in our own kitchen. With every peel that fell to the floor, he knew that the public is hungry to read about what goes on behind the prison walls.

The British public has been treated to serialised extracts of the diaries of many public figures. There's Currie and Archer and of course Princess Diana's Butler. And I don't believe we have seen the last.

It is the age of kiss-and-tell and voyeurism. People want to see what goes on in your private life and nothing is private or sacred anymore. Have you seen the number of hits at the datindiaries blog? I keep going back too, but she is keeping us salivating before she unleashes another sizzling one. Hmm, and there's sarungparty girl's as well, makes my journal jottings as fun as a nun's in a convent.

Anyway, most of us who keep personal letters and diaries and do not want prying eyes do have a problem. What do we do with them if we don't want people pouring over every little detail of our love letters or diaries when we die?

Do we destroy them; burn them so that our children and great grandchildren will never know the deepest secrets that we and our beloved shared in the throes of young love? Or worst still, what if they sell and publish them?

Oftentimes, I read and reread old letters and diaries and store them back carefully under the bed. I still don't have the heart to destroy them. I wonder what other people do with their diaries and old letters? Most probably I'll burn them and store the ashes. Or better still, mix the ashes in water and drink it. But to let other people read them? Never!

28 comments:

drbubbles said...

kakteh,

i will let u read my diary during my first few days in laos. no harm done. anyway i will omit that part of my jottings on "wildwest pub" or that "reban ayam" next to seri fitri halal restaurant. ;)

p.s by the way can you sms me your number. dont have yr number anymore.

Bustaman said...

I am sure yourdairy will make interesting reading- with or without the juicy parts.

mummydarling said...

i used to keep journals. but now since i have a walking talking journal (aka hubby) i no longer have the need to keep one. But browsing through old diaries and journals can tell what kind of personality I had at that time by the way i phrased a sentence and by my handwriting. Which is quite interesting, really. Honestly, i would not want anyone to read what i wrote but i just don't have the hearts to burn everything up into oblivion...

drbubbles said...

pok ku & kakteh,

allow me to tell you on that two places in vientiane:

1. wild west pub is along the road to wattay airport - not far from my rented house. went there once. can't stand the loud banging music.

2. that reban ayam is along mekong river. ironically, its next door seri fitri restaurant used to sell halal ayam before it closed down . to date, that reban ayam is still selling the chicken. ;)

mummydarling said...

i used to keep journals. but now since i have a walking talking journal (aka hubby) i no longer have the need to keep one. But browsing through old diaries and journals can tell what kind of personality I had at that time by the way i phrased a sentence and by my handwriting. Which is quite interesting, really. Honestly, i would not want anyone to read what i wrote but i just don't have the hearts to burn everything up into oblivion...

atiza said...

keep 2 blogs then. one for public eye, the other for your eyes only.

reading old diaries made me laugh especially diaries during my teenage years. do you still have 'em?

iJun said...

I think writing down your thoughts somehow eases your brain from holding too much information or too many memories.... as for writing a diary/blog, perhaps it helps you understand yourself better as for what you were going through at the time.. sometime you can look back later... and smile perhaps...

d'arkampo said...

Kak Teh,

weblog is also known as an online diary and you can write anything here with or without the juicy parts (quoting Pok Ku's).

I'm here. http://www.darekampo.blogspot.com.

I never kept a personal diary though and i received 4 to 5 diaries every year from clients.

Captain Barbell said...

.

Kak Teh said...

thank you all for giving your views and comments - even the full stop!
Iskandar - sure, i will read.
Pok ku - always the encouraging words from you.
meow-meow: ya, i don't have the heart to burn as well...tapi apa kah kesudahannya?
atiza: no, i didn;t keep or may be thrown away before i left for london...oh those years!!!
iJun: u described it so well, about easing the brain from holding too much memories or information - ever the technoman you are!
kampo - ya, i supposed so. The problem is writing about all these moves a private matter into a public space.

MakNenek said...

kak teh, when u spoke about circling numbers without names remind me of my nenek lah. she is illiterate, but somehow, she knows which numbers belongs to who. she used to write their block numbers in a square next to the phone numbers. amazing camna dia tahu...!

shidah said...

dulu2 i wrote diaries, puposely put it berseph2, to be read by other people..... like my mother/ brother/sister..... so that they know how i feel...nak ckp susah. now i have blog.....difference is most readers are really strangers.

About Blogreader said...

I enjoyed this lovely entry, worth waiting for.

Ms.B said...

I've never really actively kept a diary, I don't know why. I've had a multitude of them through the years, but never did I religiously pen any one of them with gusto, 365 days a year. I did have a few during secondary school, but somehow I always had the terrible misfortune of having my mother find them, and the post-mortem sessions with her (my mother was very strict when it came to these things - keeping diaries wasn't something viewed favourably and my personal things were constantly spot-checked!) always put me off trying to keep one and hide it well.

On hindsight, I wished I had kept diaries .. I had such a checkered and colourful life thus far (and it would have been interesting to revisit earlier events in life).

But well, better late than never, and no, mysmorgasbord is NOT my diary, but a rambling space which I dare to share with the world. I plan to have one private diary soon, but it shall be for my eyes only!! *smiles*

atenah said...

i started blogging what last month, helps me to think. 1 thing that became crystal clear was how thru my different stages in life, people have this idea of who i am and how i got tired of these ideas but malas to do anything abt it. do i have to be somebody different when i move to a new place, a new time? and oh another thing the best thing abt blogging is that you *meet* such interesting ppl (bodek...bodek) diaries.hmph with my bros and cousins around, nothing is sacred

nuriyah said...

i have an old diary from my teenage years which i cant bear to read- it makes me cringe!! but can't bear to throw it away either. it lives in a suitcase under my bed (like yours kakteh!) and has survived my dozens of moves..

Mutiara said...

I used to keep diaries, but I keep no more. Benda berlalu, biarkan ianya pergi. Sometimes diaries boleh membawa luka dan duka.

Mutiara said...

Blogging can reduce stress. Keep on blogging!!

Jessie said...

I have kept diaries since I was in primary school. When I started my blog it took a while to sort out what went where - but I've found that I mostly recoil against personal reflection online. Reading back old diaries brings mixed reactions - happiness, sadness, regret, laughter. Then there's the curiosity provoked by obscure allusions. I'd love to compile it all one day, but I'm not sure I could bear anyone reading it!

atenah said...

Ka Teh, Minat tolong boleh: Could you translate into Malay this title for a conference. Thanks

"Moving Toward a Sustainable Future: Multidisciplinary Perspectives
from the Pacific Rim"

I have problems translating sustainable. Tengkiu ye Kak Teh

Lollies said...

I don't relly write a diary of my life but I write journals when I am into something especially travelling. But I am not so much of a writer..the journals are mostly filled with plan schedules, pictures, tickets of the museum entry, short comments.

In fact I remembered letting a friend borrowed so they can copy cat my planning work to backpack in Europe..they lost it. Sad.

I have a scrap book for pictures taken though.

Lollies said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
budakkampong said...

hmmm... why don't you publish your diary kak teh... sure laku punya. i tolong juai pun ok.

i have two diaries at this very moment.... one for appointments and one for appointments but none are filled because usually the secretary will remind me of any appointments. so my diary is usually blank and can be used the next year

Kak Teh said...

tenah: Bergerak Menuju Masa Depan Yang Mampan.Perspektif Berbilang disiplin Dari Rim Pasifik.
maknenek: yr nenekk really like my mum - she understands the numbers only
shida: ya, when i blog, i worry more abt those who know me reading it..hahaha!!
blogreader: welcome to blogging world.
blab: i was like that for a while. when someone read my diary, it stopped me writing for a bit, but then i continued.
nuriyah: from schooldays?? wowo! kak teh pun tak simpan that long.
mutiara: very true it not only reduces stress but stops u from doing other work...hehe!
lollies: that's a good practice. I encourage the children to do that when we travel. But i i do religiously also is to document things on video. I have loads of these.
OD: okay u jadi my agent.

Kak Teh said...

jessie, from schooldays too? Ya, i know what u mean abt the emotions that reading these old diaries can provoke. Best leave them under the bed!

Jessie said...

Since I was about 7 or 8... pretty inane stuff, but a record nonetheless! Actually I have no idea where they are. Somewhere at my dad's place? I should really check that out!

Jessie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Yasmin's Mummy said...

I love Geoffrey Archer's earlier books.