Thursday, August 24, 2006

What Merdeka Means to Me Part 1


First off, I am guessing many of my fellow bloggers who actually bother to
stop by this humble blog of mine may not know my origins.Allow me to (re) introduce
myself in a nutshell.I am 22 years of age, having worked a year in a seaport as..
wait I am sure you are not *that* interested in my history la.

Suffice to say, I am a Chinese-Indian(Chindian) (read: halfdbreed) who grew up
in a Malay kampung environment, went to co-ed primary school with lots of Malay
friends, a banana farm secondary school(banana farm= guys school,
papaya farm= all girls school, I really think I don't need to explain the fruity connotation...), a
very cosmopolitan college, and that I have done a fair bit of travelling across 4 continents.The purpose
of this boring introduction is to provide the reader with some background of myself before they get into a befuddled
expression as to my somewhat confusing identity.Either that or they would want to judge me for being an infidel,
a racial betrayer, or wave an excommunication letter in my face.It has also been
suggested that I suffer from mild identity crisis.
I believe that to be a lie as I personally believe I suffer from quite major identity crisis at times.

OK, now to what Malaysia means to me.It is my home, the land my ancestors from both sides chose to call their new homeland.
it is the place my grandparents from both sides argued till the cows came home, went out and came home again over
my parents wedding.It is the place I made my best friends from childhood till now and it is also the land I fear is changing
at a pace and trend that is extremely worrying.

There was a time in this country where unity among the races was so good, there was no need to mention it.There
was nothing to 'preserve' or no 'delicate balance' coz we truly were one.One in every sense of the word.even as a kid growing up, I saw this
unity at work.Kids from my school, regardless of 'keturunan' and 'agama' would band togather and whack any neighbouring school kids
who dared bully any of our own.OK so it was kinda a childish-samsengish type of racial harmony, but one very strong nonetheless.

As a Child

As a Malay-looking kid I also had my perks la of course.The nasi lemak makcik and satay pakcik would always through in
that extra egg or that extra stick or two.Come to think of it maybe it was coz I looked like I needed the extra food la
but then again.. who cares right? I also had my downs when an ustaz who walked into class couldn't be bothered to
check if I was Muslim or not and asked me to read something in Jawi.So the smart alecky devil in me took over(as I did
have a little Jawi knowledge at that time, but not quite enough to form words) as my little brain tried to process
what Alif Lam Lam Ha spelt(it was Gods name, to those who are probably not laughing their butts off yet).

I also remember every Ramadan I could not go to the canteen as the pengawas and cikgu displin of the morning session did not know who I was and
really could not be bothered.So after a few times of trying to explain (and one time where I sneaked past them all,
only to be disappointed by a pakcik who would not sell me my nasi goreng coz even he did not believe I was not Malay)
So I learnt early, try once, try twice then just don't bother explaining.

School those days, where race and religion did not matter, would include cross-dressing and make up for us poor kids
who did not know anything about UN-guaranteed children rights as our teachers(whom I suspect failed in their ambition to be
make up artists) dress up like sissies or gender bended freaks with annoying comments like 'oh you look so cute'
followed by cheek squeezing and other equally annoying fusses.But at that age, we were all togather in this
mental trauma.No one bothered with skin colour etc,we even had non Malays in Nasyid, not as singers, but
as backup props (I remember this Chinese dude whose role was to scream and die in a nasyid on Bosnia)

No one bothered about quotas and being politically correct in office bearers for clubs and societies.Our groupings were more likely
to be according to dad's occupation or which class you belonged to rather than race or religion.
To belong, you did not need a correct colour or religion.Today I pass my primary school and I see pools of students
grouped according to race.The Malays to themselves, the Indians playing football to themselves and I can hardly see a Chinese there anymore.
What happened?

As a Teen

I got my first taste of fundamentalism (or simple misconceived ideas), from a Muslim dude, one I considered to be a friend.We were lepaking under a tree
one day and I had some 'ummupuddi' (you know that muruku-like snacks with dried green peas and kacang) with me
and I offered some to him and i got back a shot 'Ini aku tak boleh makan, kau sembah berhala' (translation :
I can't eat this, you pray to a deity)

I got shocked and at that point remember telling myself this cannot be accurate.I have as a kid read the Bible and
some light books on other religions, I could even recite basic prayers from Islam,Buddhism and Sikhism at this point,
but serious religious studies(doctrine and social teachings of the various religions-I had no need to, not until this point of time)
And so I went home and started looking through my dad's books and found a Longman publication of the Yusuf Ali translation of the Quran
(this happened when I was about 12)

-To be continued-

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Blogger stev said...

First time visiting your blog here (came off link from minishorts blog)

just to drop a quick note that very interesting read on your childhood years, etc

looking forward to the 2nd part

2:24 PM  
Blogger cynical-idealist said...

Hehe, posted via hotmail?

Can't wait for part two!

11:20 PM  
Blogger Emmanuel said...

thanks char! (can i call u dat).Do you MSN or something?

stev- welcome to my humble blog :) glad u enjoyed the post and will post the second part soon :)

3:06 AM  
Blogger spyder said...

Enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing. It is because of young people like you who care enough about things that matter that we can build a better world :) .

7:46 AM  
Blogger Emmanuel said...

spyder- it has been my pleasure.Glad to know you enjoyed it and as to your final statement.You too care, and I am as grateful for you as well.

1:10 AM  

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