“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
Have you heard this song before; it goes like this “… One little, two little, three little Indians~” The song can go on, but I wish to introduce myself: I’m an average-looking Indian guy, an imaginative and outspoken person, a food lover and I love my country Malaysia. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur. I have an elder brother and sister and that makes me the youngest in the family.
Why Malaysia, why not another country? Well, here goes my story.
It all started almost 20 years ago when I was really young, dressed up and medium layer of powder on my face, equipped with a water bottle and bag with the patterns of my favorite action figure – the day I started my preschool education. Like any other kids I cried and bawled when my parents left me. I did not talk to anyone. I waited for the school bus to send me back. This continued for the rest of the week until I started talking to others and eventually, making friends. It happened naturally. Me and my new friends started have fun playing all sort of games together. My friends back then were a diverse group: Chinese, Indians and Malays. Somehow we just clicked. We had fun playing hide and seek and enjoyed “kejar-kejar” all the time.
I always have this mindset where I must only be close to “my kind of people” – because it is easier to talk to them and somehow, I felt more comfortable being with them. However, one unforgettable incident changed my view. It was one of the weekends in which my mom brought me out for a walk and taught me how to ride a bicycle. As we explore the neighborhood, my mom will stop and have small chats with others. I remembered seeing a young Chinese family passed by with their baby in a pram for a walk. My mom smiled at them. And I was curious, “Mom, how do you know all these people?” I can’t helped but asked.
“Oh I don’t.” Mom replied. “But there is no harm to share your smile and be good to others regardless of their background.” What mom said changed my mindset.
I remembered tagging along with my sister when she visited her besties who are my Malay neighbor and a plump Chinese girl who used to enjoy disturbing me and chase me around for no good reason. I often sit and watched them play “masak-masak” with dried leaves and fake stoves; and “teng-teng” the jumping and balancing game and of course, rope skipping. With these exposures, I felt comfortable in making new friends regardless of their different backgrounds or races. I came to conclude that they are not a threat and we can become good friends!
When I was in Standard Six, I was enjoying an intense badminton game with my close friend Cheah Yu Wai. We were so focused on the oncoming shuttlecock that Cheah accidentally smashed my eyebrow with his racquet! Everyone panic. Poor Cheah was apologetic and scolded by the teacher. My mom then came to the school, upon confirming that it was just a small cut on my forehead – mom gave the terrified Cheah a hug. She said, “Jangan risau, semua okay!” (All is well, don’t worry) That incident taught me about forgiveness. People tend to make mistakes, and through mistakes, we improve.
During my secondary school days, everyone is a “cha” or “macha” (means brother-in-law in Tamil) or “tauke” (means the boss in Mandarin) or “brudder” (similar to brother.) One of my fond memories was during moral lessons where my classmates came to class in various traditional costumes to showcase the outfits for a mock traditional marriage customs. The class was made colorful with girls in their Punjabi suits, “saree”, “cheong sam”, “baju kurung” and “baju kebaya”; the guys came with “samfu”, “baju melayu” and “jeepa”.
Through sharing among my friends, I learnt that my Malay friends will visit the mosque and seek for forgiveness from their elders during Hari Raya; my Chinese “brudders” abide some do’s and don’ts during Chinese New Year and have a big family reunion; while we Indians will have an oil bath session before visiting the temple. The festives celebrated in Malaysia are endless! No matter what the occasion is, everyone get together regardless of race or ethnicity and they their prosperity and wealth with others, and their spend quality time with their family friends. Of course, the list of good food goes on to, such as “lemang and ketupat”, “satay”, “muruku”, “thosai”, “chicken curry”, “yee sang”, “sticky rice cake” and many more!
Looking back at the friends I have, the way my family brought me up, my neighborhood, my college … made me realized something.
I can no longer be called as an Indian, but a Malaysian.
We might be Malays, Indians or Chinese, but we are all Malaysians. We need each other to make Malaysia a better place to stay. Our lives may be different, but our hopes and dreams are the same. Happy Malaysia Day!
Intern, GPF Malaysia
– GPF Malaysia wishes all Happy Malaysia Day! –
“Celebrating Unity in Diversity of our beloved Nation.”