IT never crossed my mind that I would one day live in Kuala Lumpur. I always thought Kuala Lumpur was the centre of everything, but I never thought I would be a KL-ite.
I heard there was an abundance of art-related work in Kuala Lumpur, unlike in Sarawak. I am interested in the arts - singing, acting. Initially I wanted to be a scientist... my childhood dream! But I wasn't good in school, and I realised that my talents were more inclined towards the arts. So in 2010, if I'm not mistaken, I came to KL with a few of my hometown friends. They've all returned home now. I'm the only one still here. I need to fulfill my passion and I will stay here for as long as it takes to survive.
IN all of the six years living in Kuala Lumpur, I can never forget my first acting job. I was offered a supporting role in a production on the most prestigious stage. I couldn't contain my excitement. I would walk 2 to 3 kilometres from my house to rehearsal every day. After the production ended, no sign of payment. They have kept quiet until today. Imagine getting your first job doing something you feel so passionate about, and you don't get a single sen. The rage! But what to do, I just take it as a lesson learned.
IT'S not like I'm obsessed with money. I just want to be appreciated. I hate it when people take the work of artistes as fools play. Maybe they think... "Alah, it's just a supporting role, the payment isn't huge, just forget it." But at least appreciate our involvement.
IT'S tough living in Kuala Lumpur. You don't get work every day. But I'm not going back home like my friends did. I want to prove to my family that the arts can provide me a good life. I used to argue with my late father a lot. He used to say "No need to live in KL. It's difficult... just come home and work with the government." But I'm stubborn and I want to do what I'M INTERESTED in. Alhamdulillah, they eventually accepted my decision and now I have their support.
I hate the traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur. When I feel overwhelmed, I head back to Sarawak. My hometown is calm, no traffic at all. If it ever occurs, it is in Kuching. And even then, only during peak hours, not like Kuala Lumpur, jam every single hour. Sometimes, I feel like I drive too fast when I'm back home. A habit from the fast pace of KL. But everytime I'm home, I get reminded of the my friends in the arts industry. It makes me want to head back to KL as soon as I can.
LIFE lessons - that's what I got the most from Kuala Lumpur. There are all kinds of people here. From the Chinese, Indians, Bangladeshis, Arabs, Nepalese, and whoever else. I get to learn about human behaviour, the differences between people, their habits and attitudes. If I stayed in Sarawak, I would probably only know Sarawakians and I wouldn't develop mentally. People say that the more you travel, the more experiences you gain and you would understand the meaning of life. That's what I'm looking for.
KUALA LUMPUR also taught me that you can never be complacent with what you have. Anything can happen at any time, so you have to think on your feet and move fast. Opportunities come and go. Be quick or you will miss it. That's why I do many things. If I get an acting offer, I act. If I get offered to be a stuntman, I take it... luckily I have basic silat knowledge. If there is an opening for a make-up artiste, I'm there. I'm not that good, but I learn.
IT'S the school of hard knocks living here in Kuala Lumpur, and that is what makes me want to be here. To gain something valuable, you need to sacrifice. So I leave my family behind. In Kuala Lumpur, you have to be smart and choose your friends carefully, who you learn with, who you live with. If you choose the wrong crowd, then you're finished. But you have to be smart because meeting the wrong people is a lesson too.
MY proudest achievement in the last six years here is that I've managed to work on international productions and with kingpins of the industry. People I used to only see on the silver screen or on TV, I now call my colleagues. Nicholas Saputra to name one. Although the production was a small one and so was my role, it still fills me with pride.
I like the arts not for the fame. I have no ambition to be recognised. I just want my art to be remembered. Let me be judged by my work and not my popularity.
IF there were more presence of the arts in Sarawak, I would live there. That's what my friends and I always talk about. Family is near, the roads have no traffic jams. But reality, opportunity is scarce there. At least now I get to travel. Like I said, you gain more experience too.
KUALA LUMPUR has taught me a lot. My rice bowl is here and I matured here. But my hometown is always in my heart. I am forever a son of Sarawak.