Reflection is the soul's sojourn into its self. It is the moment when the soul takes a break from living, reposes itself on the pillows of guilt and sifts through the blankets of its past and browses its present deeds and dreams of future amends. Cocooned in this siesta of self-discovery, the soul gains the epiphany of being, frees itself from the shackles of the mundane and soars on the flights of fancy beyond the dust and dirt of inner space to reach for the stardusts of truth, the magnificent nebulaes of wisdom and the breathtaking auroras of self actualisation
Recent events have sucked me into this reflection. ensconced me in the lap of contemplation and latched me to the doorstep of introspection. Am I contributing to a better tomorrow in my own small way by writing this blog? What is the price of truth that is one willing to pay to perpetuate the eternal lie? Am I ,in exposing the charlatan, playing the villain? Why do seemingly sane upright folks pawn their principles for the trinkets of acceptance? Since when has friendship become chattel to be mortgaged by desperadoes wary of exposure? How often have we dialed excuses in the exchange of moral convenience?Does the sepukku of moral principles justify the reckless pursuit of a higher cause? Why must folks self-immolate reason and logic with the fuel of anger and hatred?
Beyond the personal, as my soul contemplated its journey thus far on the landscape of existence, other more pressing issues came into focus, issues of justice/fairness that bind our inner beings to our fellow men in the chain of existence. And like a long awaited sprite, from the wells of my being, a few shadowy questions rose like entombed spirits as the first light of dawn parted the shroud of night, peeping his radiance at yet another day while a rooster crowed his delight and the muezzin's call cleaved the silence of dawn:
What chips must the innocent folk have to survive on the monopoly board of the rich?Are they to be eternally enslaved cos life played them an unkind hand? What price must the innocent pay to get the attention of the powerful?Has the lure of lucre and power blinded us all to the obvious?Why must politicians be forever beholden to polemics than consensus? Does anything have meaning once you have seen the abyss of your very selves?
Maybe these 2 real-life stories (which I touched up a bit but real nonetheless) will unravel those questions or deepen the mystery.
1. Dusk is gathering fast along the meandering Perak River, the chicken squawking animatedly as they scramble for a perch to roost, the shrieks of macaques breaking the still air, the eternal chirp of the crickets song filling the cool balmy air . The pale yellow sky tinged by streaks of radiant pink slipped itself slowly into its black cloak, the lengthening fingers of night lit by the embers glowing from Pak Rahim's rolled up clove..there he sits on his haunches, his wornout tattered sarong hardly covering his skinny calves, barely concealing his manhood.His mind an empty vacuum as he contemplated the sights and sounds in search for permanent answers for the ever fleeting questions of life.
2 glassy orbs gazed from the depths beyond the fast shrouding cataracts at the shadowy figures hovering on the creaking wooden staircase below. "Waalaikumsalam", he croaked after a lengthy pause as two silhouttes slowly advanced up the rickety staircase , hands outstretched to grip his wrinkled trembling palms, fingers gnarled and calloused beyond shape by years of hard work, the rubber trees, the golden fields, the herd of cows now wrinkled memories in the folds of his life. All he has now is some loyal free ranging chicken, the ramshackle old hut, a thicket of weeds in his frontyard and from the bowels of his hovel, beyond the bare, musty and dark hall, behind the crumbling plywood partition, the moans of a paralysed Mak Minah to keep him company. As i skip past the wreck of a sofa, bump into the shredded shell of a cupboard, and stumble over the ghost of a skinny matteress, the flickering oil lamp hooked on the wooden beam blows itself out and for a moment time seemed to standstill in the dark recesses of medieval Perak, a place where Father Time seemingly sat down his weary legs for a perpetual rest.
Slowly, Husin coaxed the limp wick of the oil lamp back to life with his lighter and the scrawny, wrinkled lines of Mak Minah came into view. Her fragile frame curled like an unborn fetus on the thin foam mattress,moans of pain racking her emaciated body as Rahim hovered like a skeletal wight over us. " Lama dah sakit gini" he stuttered as I sat down the provisions while Husin reached out for the package and ferreted out a wad of notes as he turned to address, a now cross-legged Rahim, his wiry frame bent over in a permanent stoop.............
Yes.......Pak Rahim and Mak Minah are real beings like you BUT sans the cosy comfort of home, the chatter of family and friends, the boisterous parties,the trendy cocktails, the weekend trips to the mall,the nightly hop to the pub,the weekend rendevous at the wharf, the mines wherever, the Saturday night fevers in search of the Sunday morning hangovers, the monthly foreign holidays and all the trappings of wealth and cosmopolitanism that the rich bourgeoisie are wont to wrap themselves in, the pamperings of which supposedly gives their lives meaning.
They are but two of the unknown multitudes hidden away from the comfort of your views out in the boondocks of Malaysia. Sequestered away in the unvisited interiors of Malaysia, the untrameled denais behind the unseen bendangs, they scratch, scrimp, grovel and struggle for a living, their kids unlike their chicken have flown the coop, abandoned their responsibilities for the want of lucre (Rahim's 2 girls lost their jobs after their factory shut down in Perak due to the political instability and with that the final lifeline of quid that hitherto had been damp squibs anyway). Left to their own devices, these folks are at the mercy of existence, their twilight years flitting in the no-mans land between life and death,
Now a few questions:
a. How many of you who follow this blog and who call themselves the warriors of a new tomorrow genuinely care about these folks?
b. How many of you who do dare to venture beyond the glare of publicity into the heart of darkness to provide them succour save to wangle for their votes when ballot box pleads its hunger?
c. More pertinently, how many politicians that you adore ever bother about these unglamorous beings who will not be worth the camera ops, the TV glare....What have the local warlords be it PAS, UMNO, PKR & DAP et al., done for them community disenfranchised beings left to the mercy of the Almighty Are they of any concern to the likes of snake oil peddlers like LGE who can only mouth platitudes about poverty and nothing more? How come sufferings like these do not really rein in the vaulting ambitions of some ? Have they become so inured to the pangs of empathy, that folks like these are nothing more than the collateral damage of polemics?
There are hundreds of Rahims and Minahs out there, sadly failed by themselves,failed by their children, failed by the community, failed by the politicians and by you and me. Our informal Persatuan tries to help with its limited resources (our approach to helping the poor is based on distributing our zakat to the needy, with part of it as seed money to start a selfsustaining venture and alhamdullillah, we are thankful to be blessed with the resources to do so and to report a semblance of success). So the next time you yak about the unfairness of life, the vagaries of politics and the allure of power over a warm cup of latte in a cosy uptown Starbucks while you crisscross your Guess jeaned legs and finger them Svarovskis while flippantly flipping your moleskins and fiddling for your Iphone in the bowels of your Gucci, think about Rahim and Minah...better still, think about your politicians when you read the next tragedy:
2. She slowly twiddles her long bony fingers around the hemp and expertly threads it over the torn patch covering yet another hole in the taterred net. Occasionally, she stops, lifting her misty eyes and directing her forlorn gaze at the wooden wall above her luxuriant wavy black hair. Gaze meets gaze, living eyes darting away from silent dead ones and yet they stare back, unrelenting, mocking her puny existence from their freedom of being.Ghosts of the past flit everywhere in the dark interior, on the bookshelves, on the coffee table, on the mantelpiece, atop the peeling showcase,on the cobwebbed walls they stare fringed by woooden frames, metal borders, plastic boundaries, sometimes solitary, sometimes a smiling group, occasionally a pensive pair. Stare they do unrelenting through their captured smiles, sombre look, serious miens. A drop of tear cascades down the wrinkle scarred surface of her once porcelain light ebony features as she stared listlessly at the fading potraits of a happier past, the dead husband bayonetted and burned in his fishing boat by the navy, the two sons blown to bits by a hidden Claymore, the three daughters swallowed by the waves of death. Outside a cool breeze beckoned.
Wiping away her tears, she turned her sallow, angular face from the depths of darkness to the light outside, swaying coconut palms, red tiled whitewashed stone cottages fringed by purple bougainvilliea, pink daisies, clumps of milky white daffodils mingled with thickets of thorny blood red roses and powdery white sands float like wraiths of the past and in a blink, the burnt out hulk of the MV Farah comes into view, the azure waters of Mullaitivu seemingly tinged a crimson red from afar as the rust of the wreck oozed like a bleeding wound into the blue waters below while the distant boom of artillery knocked the doors of her present.
She put down the net, walked to the rotting threshold, the cool breeze catching her tousles, caressing her high cheekbones, stroking her sallow cheeks and she felt like a girl once more, carefree, running the sandy shores, giggling herself breathless, her deep-set coffee brown-eyes mirthful with joy, the coconut palms swaying around her and warm crystal clear waters lapping her unshod feet as she tripped like a gazelle over the lapping waves, foamy phosperence forming and dissappearing at a mind's sigh. A faraway look gripped her thick kohl-fringed eyes, her thick eyebrows arching over her fluttering eyelashes, the wisp of a fleeting smile etched on her thin pinkish lips as she tremulously intoned:"I remember golden days here when I was a girl," she began. "Playing on the beach, swimming, running through the trees with my friends. I learned to stitch and sew under those palms. I thought I'd be happy with whatever life gave me. I was wrong."
and how wrong she certainly was, for like many others in the once shangrila of a Sri Lanka, Aminah once dared to dream, the promise of the chimera made ever more alluring by its own illusion ..................... (to be continued)
Revert:Are rotting durians forever destined to squash fresh cucmbers?[that was a play on a Malay saying for someone in the know ; D] I doubt it...hahaha LOL