As I've said before ( I think MANY times, so if I keep repeating myself on this, please forgive me. I'm setting these little stories up for those who may not have read any of the previous ones ... ) I like being alone. The reason? Simple : I wanted to see ' me ' ... and that's the best part of the day.

Yes, it's that irregular feature wherein I tell a story that, for any one of a number of reasons, is not going to see print anywhere but I like it enough to want to share it with an audience anyway ( on the concept that a story isn't a story unless it's told ). What else is there to say? Now, you tell me ...

I have been amazed, amused, and even moved by the e-mails I've been receiving, a number of which I am going to be running over the next several days. Some have been argumentative, some thought-provoking, and a few of them as the result of painful confessions made in the course of it --- is probably few of the most touching and troubling mails that I've ever received. I must admit, sometimes it's a little disconcerting. There's still the occasional person who tells me I don't seem like toxic waste ( which usually prompts puzzled looks from anyone reading this weblog, who eventually aren't related in this column). There are the people who still ask if I'm going to be taking up on the offer of being a full-time actor from being and extra cast ( ... accursed those people at KRU! ). I reiterate : Why whould I want to trade my job now, which is the best thing that had ever happened to me?

And there are the people who ask me questions that relate to aspects of my personal life, and there's always a momentary flash in my mind :

" How did he know this? How does this stranger know my life sucks? How did he know my ideas are constantly rejected? ". And then I realize he must be a reader.

Sometimes, I forget that what I write here, in the privacy of my room, actually goes out and gets read. I mean, I know it intellectually, but the reality of it can throw me from time to time. This column has become such a personal expression of what's going through my mind that in regard to my life and my upcoming so-called " career " in writing; that it doesn't occur to me that I'm sharing it with others. As my friend has said, it's cheaper than therapy. It's also higher-profile. But if there's one thing this column has provided me with, it's a sense of appreciation for free speech, for the freedom that was endemic to this country's creation. And, in the year I've been writing this column, the most striking thing I've seen is the downslide in those freedoms. When I was in high school in some Subang Jaya secondary ( a pit if there ever was one, at least at the time ), one of the few things history teachers taught us that stayed with me was that the socio-political atmosphere of this country is like a pendulum. That, historically, it swings from liberal to conservative and back again. Same thing when I was in Uitm.

I had a great deal of trouble accepting that. Oh, maybe that had happened in the past. But here I was just having come through the '80s into the early '90s, and we had a country that was nothing but freedoms. You could say anything and not fear recrimination. Decision after decision supported a freewill. Men and women had the right to decisions ( bad decisions, granted, but decisions ) about their own self. And people knew that war and slaughter was, by and large, a sad thing.

There is nothing more galling than to realize that a theory you had completely brushed off was, in fact, totally correct. Because if you look now, you will find that every single one of those major aspects of society is the reverse or in the process of reversing. Freedoms and rights, eroding away, in favor of conservatism and arrogant capitalist.

I didn't intend to get so heavy-handed with this. I suppose it's because in the past year I've seen myself change far more than I have seen the world change ( ... generally, i'm speaking of my world ). Although I suppose the latter reflects the former, at least in conservatism : all my friends and foes are becoming more and more cautious about telling the truth about myself.

Almost a year now. I figured I would give up this column no more than a year.

The hell with it. I'll stick around for a while longer. What're they going to do --- tell me to shut up and quit talking?

It'll be interesting to find out,kan?