Thursday, August 30, 2012

Maharddhika Malaysia

"We must learn to live together as brothers
 or perish together as fools"

Martin Luther King Jr
March 22, 1964


The word "Merdeka" is derived from the Sanskrit "Maharddhika", which means "rich, prosperous and powerful" 

Sometimes, I wonder if I am a Chinese. Well, my Dad comes from a pure Chinese background. From the stories I was told, my great-grandpa was from China (not sure which part, but I guess it's around the Fujian province). He migrated to Malaya, in hope that there's more opportunities in Suvarnabhumi (a Sanskrit term, meaning "Land of Gold"). He had two wives (if my memory serves me right) and he used to own the Blue Omnibus company, a charcoal factory in Kuala Sepetang, a tin mine in Klian Pauh, several rubber estates in the area around Taiping. Mention his name in the 50's and apparently everyone in town knows him.

If he is still alive now, he must be proud of me to find out that I have turned as famous as him in Japan  recently. I probably could have inherited his genes. Like the saying goes - like greatgranpa, like grandson. And you can completely ignore my vanity here hahaha wtf!

Things begin to get complicated at my Mom's side. My greatgrandpa is a Siamese, who married a Chinese-Siamese, that is my greatgrandma. Both of them adopted my grandma from a Chinese family and later in her teenage years, she got married to a young guy, through an arranged marriage. This handsome and lanky guy tagged along his uncle to Singapore when he was only twelve, all the way from Sri Lanka. Their marriage gave them five daughters; Mom being the eldest.

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  My hometown, Taiping, where I spent the first two decades of my lifetime.

So, you see, 50% of me is Chinese, 25% each of Thai and Sinhalese blood. Kai Cung once told me that I came from a capalang (a term derieved from cap palang, or "brand X", which means a mixture of all nonsense lol!) background, which is kinda true.

I went to Cheng Kung Kindergarten, a Chinese-language kindergarten at the Taiping Buddhist Society (next to King Edward VII), despite the fact that both my parents are illiterate in Mandarin. It was that time I had my first contact with the Chinese characters. Not many though. Just numbers from 1 to 10, plus other simple characters like (ren, human), (yue, moon), (huo, fire) and (mu, tree).

I then followed Dad's footsteps in enrolling into a Catholic primary school - SRK St. George (Satu), considered the most prestigious school in town. My class teacher was Puan Choo in Standard One. She overlooked me and chose Agimndran to be the class monitor. Well, I was made the assistant anyway. In the next two years that followed, Puan Habibah and Puan Nor Azlinda were my class teachers, and also my BM teachers. In the last three years of my primary schooldays, Puan Pramjit Kaur was my class teacher.

You see, not only the teachers in the school came from a diverse background. Some of my friends' names whom I still remember from my primary years include Asyraf (our school football team's captain), Chong Jin (whom you will never beat him in Art), Adrian Ang and Charles (both of them are from a Portuguese and Chinese background), Nur Sirajuddin, Wan Dinie Izat, T. Saravanan. As for the last three persons, I have lost contact with them since we left the school.

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  These kids don't argue whose race and religion is better; instead they fight for each other's erasers and colour pencils.

I then moved to Saint George Institution (SGI) for the secondary education and the environment was not much different from my primary school. You get to see Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu wherever you go around the school, be it during the recess time at the canteen, during the weekly school assembly, or when you line up to pee along the cubicle in the toilet. Oh yea, it is an all-boys' school, so my only contact with girls back then was during my kindergarten years.

Moving towards the final year at SGI, I can still remember the names who sat around me. They were Pragrash (people prefer to call him Nageswaran (his Dad's name) most of the time; back then, calling your friend's Dad's name is a popular culture to ejek you kawan), Mani Raj a/l Muniandy (when we tease him, we called him air mani, and I have to put his full name 'coz people call him by his Dad's name very often too), Asyraf (yes, the football team captain), Prem Kumar (nicknamed kutu), Ibrahim (we call him pendek), Balasubramaniam, Kelvin (whom is better known as gajah).

Nearby our seat, we had Namkabir Singh (kambing, 'coz his name sounds like that lol!), Gurpreet Pal Singh (who often greets people in a unique way: "Hey F**ker", and talks about "shaking" all the time lol!), Kuok Hau and Zhan Peng (who are the best of friends and enemies lol!).

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  Down memory lane. The 5 Science One class where we shared sweet memories during our last years in high school.

One of the time we look forward the most is the Pendidikan Jasmani or Physical Education period. We all just refer it as PJ and we all love it so much because it's the time of the week we get play football. At the same time, words war and all the vulgar words will come out, especially when there's a disagreement during the game.

We yelled and shouted at each other with words like babi, anjing, oi, bodoh, pundek, thambi, hitam, chap cheng, etc and nobody ever really care, as long as the win the game. At the end of the day, we would be sharing drinks from the same water bottle, and laughed at ourselves, talking about how crazy and fun the game was.

That was about ten years ago. We do not end up fighting and trying to kill each other. The only time we would fight or start shoving at each other was when someone dived in with a dangerous tackle, or when we disputed if the ball had gone over the goal-line or not.

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  Hari Raya gathering at Salih's place this year. This tradition of going from house to house for open houses during festive seasons every year 
is already something like our tradition, partly because they get to collect duit raya and ang paus along the way lol!

Compare it to Malaysia today. Mention something sensitive and everyone will jump around like bullfrogs. You get threatening and warnings. You get groups of people doing "butt exercise" in front of individual's residence, pig and cow head flying everywhere, coffins sent to your house gate free of charge. Aiyoyo, what has happened to our beloved Malaysia today?

We are now on a crossroad. Is this the Malaysia we want our future grandchildren to live in? Or do we prefer that they will born into an environment our ancestors, our grandparents, our parents, and we have used to live in during our childhood days? It is a question for you to ponder on this auspicious day. It is also a decision for you to decide, so that many years from now, you will not regret for the road not taken.

Happy Merdeka Day!

2 comments:

Lara said...

I already listen some good things about Malaya, I would love to travel to china and enjoy all of your amazing costumes.

Sometimes we just want to give our child what our parents gave to us but the time flies and we can't stay stuck at one place, we need to meet new people and new places. You will know when you find the right place :)

following your amazing blog

calvin said...

@ Lara:
Hello Lara! Thanks for dropping by my blog. Hope to see you dropping more comments and thoughts on my entries :D