About a year ago, I gave up life as I knew it: void of zeal and ardour. Along with it, I solemnly vowed to embark upon a journey I have only dared to daydream of and come what may, embrace opportunities I have always felt fervently about.

Little did I know, as I applied for an internship at the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR), it would be beyond my wildest dreams. On my first morning, with a fine, light mist blurring the contours of reality, I walked into the office, wrecked with nerves, and found myself swooning at the sight of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on either side of the wall.

Nevertheless, I had only fallen in love, irrevocably, after I was enveloped by the warmth of the people. I have vivid recollections of my first luncheon, of which I truly felt at home, despite my (inevitable) social awkwardness. In the days and months to come, I would soon learn how compassionate and warm-hearted everyone was.

Besides doing research on various topics, I was tasked with organizing an UndiMsia! Chat and a strategic litigation discussion under Mazni and Nyon Nyin’s supervisions. For the former, I opted to organise an event on colourism and I had the incredible opportunity to invite my favourite author, Preeta Samarasan as one of the speakers. For the latter, I moderated a discussion on gender equality with Dato’ Seri Mohd Hishamudin Yunus, a former Court of Appeal judge, Thilaga Sulathireh, a prominent activist and Afiq Mohd Noor, representing Lawyers for Liberty.

There are numerous moments I have etched to memory, but one of my favourites would be when Firdaus, my supervisor, had a discussion with me on a forum organised by Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU) on the relationship between religion and race in Malaysia, of which she was on the panel of and I was requested to observe. I loved how the space was one that encouraged freedom of expression amongst every person within the walls of the organisation.

Two months in, another round of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) kicked in and we have had to resort to lugging work home. Contrary to popular opinion of the perks of working from the comforts of one’s home, prompted by the flexibility of work hours, reduced travel time and importantly, refuge from the clutches of the raging pandemic, I yearned for the whiff of Mazni’s freshly brewed coffee in the mornings, the cacophony of office banter (and fellow intern, Mahdev’s wisecracks) and not to forget, bingeing on affogatos and ice-cream floats!

As I pen this article, a small voice in my head tells me to stop in my tracks and request an (yet another) extension of my internship but, circumstances does not permit me of such a whim and fancy. Quoting A. A. Milne, I am terribly lucky to have found something that makes goodbye so hard.

I do admit, often my thespian confessions can be accredited to my flair for theatrics, but rest assured this time around, for every word rings true.


Written by

Surekha Gunasagaran