Cekik by Ridhwan Saidi

Ah finally! This book came last Thursday. It's one of the Fixi books that I have been dying to read and failing to get in my town's bookstores.

Of all Fixi books that I had read (not that there were many, but that shall be remedied once I get my wage from teaching), this is easily the most creative and hands down the most provocative. Well, provocative in my society's standard at least.

The year is 2020. Warith, a sixteen years old, receives the news of the murder of his father at the Kampung through a phone call. He flashbacks to the time when he watched his father's porn video when he was younger.

Warith now lives with his girlfriend Suria, who is 32 years old. From their apartment's window, Menara Warisan Merdeka stands proud and tall.

Warith returns to Kampung with Suria. At the cemetery, they are approached by Detective Anthony, who known Suria from their young, crazy teenage years. They go to the murder scene, where other secrets threatened to be exposed. 

 Most of the plot involved Warith and his fascination with fashion, philosophies, sexuality, and necks. Some times, there were other narrators who break the plot in order to give insight into seemingly unnecessary details of the scene. But rest assured, these instances were amusing, funny as well as disturbing at some point. Warith himself had proven to be an unreliable narrator, as he broke himself from telling the story most of the time to tell the readers of his weird fascinations such as masturbating, cats engaging in homosexual incestuous relationship, and his fetish with strangling necks- thus the title Cekik.

The issue of free sex, religion, and molest are all sensitive to our society. Mainstream novels used all these to present their definition of evil, unrepentant characters that readers are supposed to hate. I don't know why people still don't understand my inherent dislike towards mainstream novel- all of them are so boring and unchallenging. So kudos to Mr Ridhwan for creating such believable characters and for giving them the kind of depths our mainstream local authors had failed to do (I believe all the authors of Fixi deserved the kudos). His main characters are so worldly, so unashamed, so thoughtful and intelligent. Warith was a very thoughtful young man, whose perception and innocence had been long tainted by the very person he looked up as his protector, Suria the modern educated woman who lavish in her freedom and engaged the readers with difficult philosophies of contemporary life, and many many more. The characters are engaging and well formed.

The writing style can be a bit confusing since the narrators kept changing without warning. But if you concentrate hard enough, it wouldn't be that hard to follow. This is the kind of story that was driven solely by the characters' narration, and not by the timeline of events. Everything happened as we follow the characters so yes, it might be a bit difficult for some to keep up. But I liked the complicated mess that Mr. Ridhwan had done here, it helped me to get immersed more with the story and the characters. At first I wanted to complain about some sub-plots which seemed to have no conclusion. But then I read till the end and I realized that this book was not about any closure or conclusion at all. Even after a rather shocking twist came there was no conclusion to satisfy the readers. This book instead focused on the issues of freedom, depraved morality, and downfall of the characters based on the circumstance they had found himself into. There were no conflicts or anything, no climax, no tension. What there was were empty thoughts of a teenager who might be delusional, the rantings of a university lecturer who explained and wailed after the society's hypocrisy, the sexual antics of a Chinese teenager and a Malay girl, and a porn movie that cause an epiphany among several characters. All of it very exciting.

I have no complain against this book. I believe it to be an excellent piece of writing and should be read by anyone! I am dissatisfied with the editor though. Across this book, I cannot count how many times I stumbled into a typo. Usually I don't mind typos, because they were never that many for me to notice and remember. But since this time it actually disturbed me, the number of typos in this book must have been numerous then. However don't let that bother you, you should really read this one.

Until the next Fixi book~