This is coming a bit late but what to do? It's Raya. I've been tagged by Eliza to join in on the 50 Posts to Independence gig initiated by Nizam Bashir.
So what makes Malaysia special to me? I think I can honestly say my childhood. More specifically, my childhood during the years my family lived in Ipoh.
I was not born in Ipoh, and my family did not move there until I was 10. My father was a civil servant, a highly optimistic man who joined the government because he wanted to make a change "from within". He also fancied Chinese chicks... something that's been passed on to me and my brother.
But while we both fail in scoring ourselves a Chinese chick each, my dad successfully seduced and married one. He is indeed our idol. (The secret, I've been led to believe, is getting them when they're young, and I suppose it also helps when the girl you're after happens to be the sister of your art teacher when you were in Malay College.)
But I digress.
Between 1981 and 1990, my family moved from KL to England to Taiping, then to KL again, and finally to Ipoh. Ipoh's quite famous for its good schools, ones like ACS, Cator Avenue and St. Michael's, but dad would instead choose to send me to a school much closer by - Sekolah Kebangsaan Sg. Rokam.
Situated in the Malay housing estate of Kampung Sg. Rokam (Lat fans will recognise this as the kampong he grew up in, as documented in his classic, Town Boy), the school is as Malay as a school can be. Malay pupils, Malay teachers, Malay ideology. If I remember correctly, there was even a limit of non-Malay teachers that could be posted to that school.
Having only just returned from England at the time, I could only speak English, and my dad thought it would be good for me to be sent to a "Malay" school so I could easily learn my "mother tongue". So, imagine if you will, a half-Malay, half-Chinese kid (more Chinese in terms of looks), who could only speak English in a school full of Malay kids.
Hilarity ensues! Check out the fun:
The other kids calling me "Cina makan babi".
Ostracised, because I'm "different" and I speak the language of the infidels.
Ridiculed, because I didn't know how to pray or do my ablutions properly.
As well as other amusing and hilarious episodes!
Well, we were all kids once, yeah? We all deserve some fun when we're young. So, anyway, that's what makes Malaysia memorable to me. My Ipoh childhood. Loads of fun, yeah.
Next to be tagged: The Eternal Wanderer! *clap clap clap*