Name: Andrew Loh Zhu An
Date of Birth: 2nd June 1987
Nationality: Malaysian


SMK Damansara Jaya 2004

Swarthmore College 2010

From the Andrew's Heritage Dictionary:

Andrew (AND-roo)

1. noun. common name.

2. adjective. smart, dumb, intelligent, retarded, clever, stupid, bright, dull, witty, tounge-tied, shrewd, stuttering, slow, quick-witted, moronic, autistic, lively, outspoken, eloquent, dense, daft, idiotic, foolish, thick, spirited, sharp, vigourous, rude, arrogant, pompous, bloated, ostentatious, boastful, inflated, direct, brave, cowardly, gullible, free, free-spirited, burdened, depressed, optimistic, pessimistic, defensive, creative, innovative, irritating, annoying, impossible, infuriating, shy, loud, displeasing, norm-challenging, harassive, irksome, troublesome, vexatious, worrisome, provocative, impatient, pleasant, diplomatic, unreserved, trouble-making, short, defiant, fickle, shallow, timid, audacious, brainless, indoctrinated, indoctrinatory, proud, exploitative, zesty, humourous, anal-retentive, rebellious, lame, innocuous, dangerous, explosive, spontaneous, adaptable, stubborn, pig-headed, nervous, offensive, pestering, useless, ironic, paradoxical.

Usage: You're so Andrew! [Interchange with any of the above definitions]

And yes, I did look at the thesaurus.



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Is it in bad taste to quote one's self?

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Friday, August 11, 2006
MPH Essay

I am so evil nowadays with all my long long posts! :D

And well I'm posting my MPH Young Writers Competition essay here because if I get shortlisted they'll post the essays on some website also, so I'll let you all read first lor. Very big "if" lar. See I'm so kind. And if there's some online competition thing like last year I expect you all to vote for me kay kay kay?! Muacks.

Oooo and I have a SCHOLARSHIP named after me. The Andrew Loh Scholarship for Analytical Chemistry awarded here. ROFLMAO! =)

MPH Essay: The Test (I know, very uncreative title, but what to do)

Andrew Loh Zhu An


Prompt: How is it that a few seconds can seem like an eternity yet years can fly past without our realising it?

He counted fifteen items on his spacious mahogany work desk, and frowned.

The clock chimed eight.

Mr. Tan was late, but he didn’t rush.



8.06 am


“Mr. Cheong.” He had barely entered the class when he headed purposefully towards a specific occupant of the far side of the room, who had chosen that particular seat so he could be as close as possible, to both the windows overlooking the school field, and Jennifer.

“Yes, sir?”

“Your project, please.”

“I, um, don’t have it with me right now.”

“Why not?”

“It’s not done yet. No time, sir.”

“Every single student in your class had time except you,” Mr. Tan said, sternly and deliberately for the words to sink in. “What makes you so special?”

For starters, I went out with Jennifer last night, Kyle thought, and all the boys are jealous.

“Do you have anything to say in your defence, Kyle?”

“Uh, you were late too, sir.”

“Excuse me?”

“You were late to class by six minutes, sir. So, proportionately, a one day extension for a three week project should be, uh, justified.”

The class stifled their snickering somewhat unsuccessfully.

“Nice try, son, but it doesn’t work that way.”

Some sense of justice you have, thought Kyle.

“The truth is, sir, I, uh, didn’t bring my project because it’s a joke I’m playing on you. April Fools!”

His attempt at exploiting the date fell flat with most, but fortunately for Kyle, some classmates guffawed anyway. He should’ve known better than to joke with a Physics teacher who couldn’t find humour in ‘mho’ as the SI unit for conductance.

“I am not amused.”

“Aw, come on, sir, can’t you take a little joke? I mean, what’s the difference between handing my project up today and tomorrow?”

“Your grade, Kyle, that’s what.”

Mr. Tan turned away from Kyle to the whiteboard to begin his lesson, satisfied with the enormity of his threat. Kyle sighed and closed his eyes, as if deep in contemplation.

Kyle didn’t want to flunk Physics. He did all right in all his other subjects, and even excelled in History, but the mother of all science was his Achilles’ heel. The enigmatic equations and complex calculations in his textbook could be mumbo-jumbo and hocus-pocus for all he cared. Stupid subject, he thought.

It was a matter of habit for Kyle to stare at the whiteboard with every ounce of concentration and still see little sense. Today he amused himself by observing how Mr. Tan’s thin, unsmiling lips puckered tensely after each sentence. Kyle also noticed that he swallowed his saliva once at least every thirty seconds, then wrinkled his nose, adjusted his glasses, and brushed off dandruff flakes from his shoulders. Predictable, boring, routine, ugly Mr. Tan. No wonder he’s a Physics teacher, he thought, the teacher reflects the subject.

A refreshing breeze blew his boredom away, albeit temporarily. Almost instinctively Kyle turned and looked out the window onto the school field, where some class was having P.E.. I belong there, Kyle muttered, not in Physics class. It was agonising to be restrained in this de facto prison. Every hour seemed like a decade, perhaps even longer when he saw other people having fun.

But then there was Jennifer.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

RING, BELL, RING!!! Kyle’s restless soul had enough of Mr. Tan’s facial dynamics and the goalless football match. He wanted to scream and break free of such misery, but social constraints dictated otherwise. Therefore he contented himself with fantasising about his date with Jennifer after school. Ignoring the incomprehensible verbiage from Mr. Tan’s moving lips, his eyes gradually made their way to Jennifer.

She looks ravishing as usual, thought Kyle, but rather dejected today. He worshipped every inch of her; her piercing eyes, her teasing smile, her fragrant hair. Her mere presence made Physics almost bearable! If only Jennifer was teaching me, Kyle wished, instead of the old fogey. If only. Then I wouldn’t mind spending years in a classroom, even if it was Physics.

Kyle had never failed Physics per se, but the low Ds he scraped through with were a perennial source of disharmony between him and his parents. He was under intense pressure to get his grades up, or at the very least sustain them, or he would be banned from seeing Jennifer. Jennifer – the love of his life! Kyle was infatuated with her. He could skip meals and computer games and television shows whenever she telephoned, and not even notice! Although his parents liked her personally, they thought her too much of a distraction for Kyle and his lacklustre results.

But mom, he’d complain, I don’t spend enough time with her anyway. Besides, she’s really good in Physics for some odd reason, and concentrates so hard in class that she ignores me.

Jennifer paid no attention to her admirer’s longing gazes. Kyle had no choice but to entertain himself with either Mr. Tan’s antics or the monotonous game. What a humongous waste of my time, he grumbled.

Let it end, please, I beg of you, prayed Kyle. Let my suffering end.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Mr. Tan knew how to control a class. His exact, precise manner instilled Machiavellian fear into his students. They all listened attentively when he lectured, or at least they seemed to. Everyone except Kyle. Only his eyes dare wander when I speak, he discerned, as Kyle winced at yet another wasted football goal opportunity.

Mr. Tan also loved Physics. Since twelve, he relished the thought of enlightening young and malleable minds about the wonderful world of science. O, how he remembered his schooldays, always sitting in front, always getting the right answers, always being praised, always teacher’s pet. How he would passionately devote five unflinching, intensive hours a day studying Physics in the library because the curriculum wasn’t challenging enough. The good old days…

He snapped out of it and was transported forty years into the present, from Tan Chong-Ming the prodigy to Mr. Tan the teacher.

How fast time flew.

Especially during my Physics lessons, he thought. There’s never enough time for my lessons. Every time I get the students energised enough to learn productively, every time I’m having fun cruising along the syllabus, the dastardly bell rings. What’s wrong about schools today is that they schedule too little time for science and too much for useless subjects like Moral Knowledge.

Don’t ring, bell, hoped Mr. Tan. Please, I beg of you, don’t ring.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.


Thank you, God, smiled Kyle.

Blast it, cussed Mr. Tan. I wanted to finish the chapter.

The students poured out of the class as fast as they could. As Kyle was about to catch up with Jennifer, he heard: “Hold on, Kyle. I’ll have a word with you.”

Kyle cursed his luck. Mr. Tan remembered his missing project! “What’s up, sir?”

“I’ll be working on your final grades today. Since you did not bring your project, you shall stay back and complete a test for your marks. You understand?”

“Bu—but I’ve a date after school!”

“You do, indeed. With me. Remember, without this test you will fail your Physics.”

Defeated, Kyle gave in. Bummer, he thought, Jennifer won’t be happy.



1.45 pm


“The time starts now.”

It was an inverse juxtaposition of sorts. Now, Kyle lunged at his test questions at a furious pace, while Mr. Tan lounged in his comfortable recliner with a relaxing anthology of poems.

…explain the Theory of Relativity in layman’s terms, quoting Einstein…

To every thing there is a season,
And a time to every purpose under heaven.

…sitting next to a pretty girl for an hour feels like a minute; placing one’s hand on a hot stove for a minute feels like an hour…

Tick. Tock.

A time to search, and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away.

…the time needed for K to reach the ground when dropped from a height of…

Tick. Tock.

The only audible sounds were the rustling of pen against paper and the hypnotising tick-tock of the wall clock. Sweat dripped profusely from Kyle’s forehead as Mr. Tan’s eyelids gradually grew heavier. Kyle squirmed uncomfortably, jerkily, as he tried to hold it all in.

“May I use the bathroom, please?” Kyle pleaded, still scribbling feverishly, not even looking up.

“Huhh–ah,” muttered Mr. Tan, caught unaware. “You may, but there will be no extra time.”

Kyle swore under his breath for the second time today, admonishing himself for forgetting to take the trip before the test, as was his custom. He stopped himself, although he was thirsty, from adding to the already burgeoning burden in his bladder. He did not have enough time to accomplish both his mental and physiological tasks, and so after a quick value judgment he chose the more important one.

…the large specific heat capacity of water…

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,


…friction will substantially decrease velocity…

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,


…differentiate Charles’ Law from Boyle’s…

To the last syllable of recorded time,


…interference destroys waves…

Out, out, brief candle!


…according to Newton’s Principia

It is a tale


…Bernoulli’s principle was…

Told by an idiot,


…maximising amplitude…

Full of sound


…increasing entropy…

And fury,


…the nuclear advent…






“Time’s up.”



He hurt everywhere. It was not only his throbbing headache, sore fingers and bursting bladder, but also emotional agony, and a pulsing dread of the immediate future. He was crucified, and he made his slow, painful, encumbered walk down his via dolorosa to the bathroom.

It took quite a while to relieve himself of his most pressing urge. He splashed his face with water, took a hard look at his wretched self in the mirror, and decided that he had to face the cold, hard truth. It was time to be a man. He started the long journey back.

A sense of irony prevailed. For Kyle, an hour of Physics passed lethargically, excruciatingly; an hour of testing zipped by, hastily, like an arrow to its target. Paradoxically, Mr. Tan was always acutely aware of his lack of lesson time; while his leisurely, even sleep-inducing invigilation session dragged by without him realising it.

Einstein was right. Time is relative.



3.02 pm


Kyle found the room deserted, but his paper was still on the table. He crept up to it, taking long strides that lasted centuries. There he found it intact, but with newly added bold, red font:


APRIL FOOLS TO YOU TOO. I expect your Physics project to be on my desk by 8 am sharp tomorrow.


Mr. Tan


P/S: Jennifer won’t be seeing you this evening. I’ve grounded her for breaking her curfew last night.





            (1800 words)

Posted at 06:23 pm by andrewlza

August 14, 2006   11:24 AM PDT
Great stuff...let's hope they judges were science students :)
August 14, 2006   02:36 PM PDT
thanks! :) i'm actually wishing they were literature students more - after i get some judge who doesn't konw life's brief candle then die lor.
August 14, 2006   07:00 PM PDT
Great essay!
I feel as if my English has improved by just reading your essay haha.

Wait. I don't get it.
So, Mr. Tan is Jennifer's father?

"What’s wrong about schools today is that they schedule too little time for science and too much for useless subjects like Moral Knowledge."

I think I kinda like Mr. Tan in that sense.
August 15, 2006   12:40 AM PDT
yep :) it's jennifer tan.

and haha yes yes yes yes yes i couldn't help giving moral the finger again... the chance was just toooo tempting!!
August 16, 2006   09:52 PM PDT
Very neat:)

You like both Science and Literature, don't you? And from the sound of it, you find both subjects easier than flipping pancakes. Lucky you.
All the best for the competition, although it really isn't fair for all the rest of us.
And btw, don't knock the judges...they just might be reading your blog;P

August 17, 2006   04:48 PM PDT
Haha thanks. :) Wellllll, I'm a very biased and selective liker of Science and Literature. :) Which means that I like the human anatomy and not plants, and I prefer stories to poems - a lot very boring one you know! Sometimes they're easy, sometimes they're not.

You joined too right right right? :) Good luck as well!

If the judges really do, then die lor. :)
August 24, 2006   10:24 PM PDT
Wow, great stuff, man. Love the interactions between Kyle and Mr. Tan, and adding the poem in it was a genius' touch. And did you say this is your first venture into fiction? That's wow. You must be a natural.

Btw, I like Science and Literature too, though I'm not very good at both. I like how Science makes sense, and how Literature (sometimes) defies the 'sense' Sciece made. (haha, i mean logics and human nature lah. That sentence just sound so fun :P)

August 25, 2006   02:26 AM PDT
thanks! :)
September 1, 2006   01:58 PM PDT
i likey the essay. read it till the end cos its captivating enough for me to read on. another friend asked me to read hers but i didnt survive. was wanting to enter this competition but had no idea. lol
October 1, 2006   10:58 AM PDT
hey, great essay! i've enjoyed reading it. too bad, i gave up by not joining the competition. kudos and good luck with the winning!
October 13, 2006   02:22 AM PDT
just a random reader XD

loved that story!
good job! :D
January 11, 2007   11:03 AM PST
eh, first time reading your story leh...
Nice touches here and there. Great how you made an ordinary situation seem so exciting.
Creative use of time there. oh yeah the mph theme was 'time' right
i'm probably reaaaaally late to comment, but what the heck, i comment anyway. Can't blame me, i had spm as an excuse ;-)
November 8, 2009   09:31 AM PST
The ending was cruel but hilarious. It was a good story to me because it seemed like the characters really believed in themselves, in their personalities, in their thoughts. You made them believable, so the readers believe.
Good use of words for your characters too, since it made them even more stereotypical.
I don't know if you'll ever read this, but I hope that you'll get the feeling.

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