Next: a rejoinder to the cryptic Apocryphalist.
But first, I would like to thank him for posting a snippet from one of SBJ’s poem, from SBJ’s “Dendang si Tegang Pulang” Poems Sacred and Profane, p.67.
Aku Salleh Ben Joned anak bertuah
dijadikan dalam kubang di luar nikah
Lalang biak merata menarikan mimpi liarku,
kerbau balar dara tunggang pertamaku
Apocryphalist’s posting as a comment to my article:-
Tumpang simpan barang sekejap boleh tak dato'? Hamba ni dahlah dagang merempat takder blog tetap so nak laa taruh a bit of my tots kat dalam ni haaa... Its not about melayu, tapi maybe ada related kot. Alaaa... ‘Tis the season to be Merry laa dato': So let’s all rehat sekejap and hear about:-Rudolf The Red-nosed, slitty-eyed Reindeer: An Apocryphal Tale for our Christian Friends.Rudolf wasn’t always Rudolf. His original name was quite unpronounceable. Well wait I take that back. In fact Rudolf’s original name was perhaps too pronounceable that he became embarrassed by it. For if you go around any corner or block, you’d mistaken any sound that results from a crashing vase, a fallen china, a dropped kitchen utensil, to be his name. So after a while he took it upon his life’s crusade to find himself a good name.
“U gotta have a good name if you wanna be part of Santa’s circus”, said a colleague, Prancer. Peter, Paul, Mike --- they were too mundane a name and too ordinary. So together with his friends, he gathered up a slew of non-ordinary but nevertheless cool sounding names:
Kerson., Acson, Hacken. Bracken, Jet, Jackie.
Irrespective of that last one was actually a girl’s name but what the heck? He’s a lapp, for chrissake, not a true blue westerner. How would he know?It is no secret that despite cool, western-sounding names like all of Rudolf’s friends and cousins, he doesn’t really have faith in Santa. In fact, Rudolf is no believer at all. He just needs a job is what he is. He’d sooner off sell his mother than believe that some kind of virgin woman in some far-away middle-eastern land gave birth to a baby boy a coupla thousand years ago and his boss Mr. Kringle is here to enliven up the spirit of that birth. In fact Comet, another reindeer whom Rudolf disliked immensely, complained to Santa that once, while flying over a Lapp cemetery that housed Rudolf’s ancient families and relatives, he swore that he saw Rudolf clasped both hands together, closed his eyes, and prayed, as was the custom of most infidelous Lapp society, worshipping the deceased that they bury with paper houses and expensive sleds. But hey! You gotta go where the money flows. So switching faiths when needed is the least of his problems. He still remembers the first day he donned that official Santa Sled Troupe attire.” Take it off. You look ridiculous. You’re from Lapp, for Chrissake”, his mother, another slitty-eyed but more traditional reindeer commented.
His sister added that he couldn’t even speak English with correct grammar so what the hell is he doing acting like one for? All these were unimportant to Rudolf. For when he looks into the mirror, he doesn’t see a Lapp, he sees Britney Spears. He sees Robbie Williams. He sees Bill Gates. He sees George Dubya Bush. He sees people whom he thinks represent what advancement in the material world is all about. And he sees himself in this crowd. And suddenly, to disown his own family, culture, name --- seems more obvious and easy to do. He suddenly feels a sense of belonging. Slitty eyed and all.Deep in his heart, he still feels kiasued by the other original reindeers in Mr. Kringle’s group. But in actuality, Rudolf hates them all: the whole lot of them: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, Blixem. Rudolf is a closet unbeliever, but during carols, his voice is usually the loudest to be heard.He couldn’t understand their jokes, couldn’t respond to their linguistic acrobatics and verbal innuendos. But whenever he is around HIS own people, the Kiasu is his. He looks down upon his friends and cousins and those surrounding him as not … modern enough. And once in a while, when no one was looking, he sips in a cup of Lapp tea and downs a bowl of Mee Curry.
Merry Christmas Everyone! Apocryphalist
I cannot pretend to correctly understand what Apocryhalist wants to say. Nevertheless I will interpret it as follows:-
One can still progress while retaining the essence our own culture. Its all a world of make believe. Hence looking at the mirror, Rudolf sees Miss Spears, Mr Williams, Mr Gates or even a Mr Bush. One can be all these as a form of image projection but still retain one’s true cultural self. We don’t have to love them. We want to emulate the west in certain things but we can also retain our identity. Adopting their behaviour does not mean the wholesale surrender of our true identity. The Japanese are very good at this. They have progressed far ahead in material terms, but retains the essence of Japanese culture. Indeed thy have managed to Nippon-Ise economic advancement. Morale of the story. We can all modernise bur remain who we are culturally.
The danger is that even though our Rudolf does not actually like the other original reindeers, he has acquired their condescending attitude. This is almost a Franz Fannonesque assimilation of the oppressive culture that the oppressed despised but once they became liberated, become the oppressors themselves. Hence our Rudolf hates the original but acquired the habits of looking down on his own race. Succeed by all means, but don’t disown your own.
But the other point which Apocryphalist mentions- but I am not sure whether its usage forms a central part of his very teasing comment is his employ of the term kiasu. As everyone knows, the word means fear of losing- hence the very uncouth behaviour of piling up food at buffets for fearing there wont be any food left later. Or the way of eating furiously fast shown by the Chinese. The individual kiasu in turn has led to the emergence of an Ah Beng Culture or the Lala zhai characters.
And perhaps overzealous need to push the Malays can also push them to acquire negative kiasu habits. Or perhaps, that has already occurred. Pushed to the extreme can result in a lala zhai culture. For example:-
Ah Bengs are normally Chinese men in their early teens to late 20s, seen hanging out in groups and typically speaking in local slang, which is Hokkien or Cantonese mixed with English and Malay. Their English level is limited to simple English word and incorrect grammar. When having a conversation, Ah Beng like to curse in their daily speech. Cantonese words such as " Tiu Lei Ke Ma Chau Hai", " Ma Hai" and " Tiu Lei Ke Fa Hai" is commonly uttered by them.
Ah Beng's fashion come in several stereotype. One stereotype perceive Ah Bengs wearing flamboyant shirts such as colorful decoration especially dragon, tight jeans and constantly carrying plastic combs. Another stereotype perceive Ah Bengs trying to follow Japanese fashion, with spiky and dyed hair, metallic ornaments, leather jackets, belts and pants. Ah Bengs are normally found gathering in the busier and more developed parts of the city or at shopping complexes. Ah Bengs typically come from the lower class or middle class families. Ah Beng is also known as lala zai. 'Lala' has no actual meaning in itself, while 'zai' (pronounced 'chai') means 'boy'. 'Lala zai' refers to individuals who speak Manglish and possess a strong preference for gaudy fashions or hairstyles.
The only misgiving I have with this scenario, is this. The Chinese can ‘afford’ to have this social ‘collateral damage’ as their economic eminence makes them bemusingly absorbable. On the other hand, the Malays are slower in gaining economic prominence but faster in absorbing the collateral damage. The Chinese Ah Bengs will do all sorts of shenanigans, but they get back as mechanics, foremen, painters, bricklayers and ride on their motorbikes/cars to pakto. The Malay Ah Bengs do all the nonsensical stuff and yet rely on the government to take them on welfare or impose their Ah Beng culture on their already impoverished parents.