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Thursday. J tells his mother, who later tells me, he’s seen my name on the Ministry of Defense’s website. What the fu……. ? List? What list? Anxious, I call him up and ask, What list? Go to the Ministry of Defense’s website,, he says, and I spend a decade searching for that tiny text link, Senarai Nama Peserta Khidmat Negara. The National Service list of names.

I check my IC number on the Khidmat Negara website first, and am met by a page that reads, Anda telah dipilih untuk menyertai PROGRAM KHIDMAT NEGARA.

Eh? What about Tuesday, they said I wasn’t in, I checked three, four, five times on Tuesday, it kept telling me I wasn’t in? What about tomorrow, will I still be in, or will I be out?

I check the name list at the Ministry of Defense. Both my name and IC number is there, clear as day, and there’s no question about it. No question, I’m in.

A telephones to chat about the program, Sot oh kan? he says, and is shocked when I tell him, I’m in.

I thought your IC number came up negative. Gila, I even checked your IC number! he says. (I’d like to know how he knows my IC number.)

I thought so too.

Aiyaa, he says, letting out a snicker and a sigh. I hear you might not be able to meet family and friends during the program, he adds. Argh, argh. Bugger off, National Service. Must I languish in a prison that is not a prison? Stuck for three months?

A’s chatting makes me think. He symphatises, and says, I hope it goes well for you. I think, and decide that I’m glad. If I didn’t get in, or opted out, I’d always wonder on what I missed out on. Anyway, didn’t I feel “left out” a couple of days ago, when I thought I wasn’t in?

So …

I’ll go.

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