Sunday, May 1, 2011
Today Leman Pulut would like to narrate an incident that I am sure not many knows. It is just an incident – does not have any bearing with whatever is happening today.
Roll back about 30 years (we are still in the “Blast from the Past” mode) – just about the time when Anwar Ibrahim had just gotten married to Wan Azizah, but had not entered UMNO yet. Early 80’s I should think so.
Now this newlyweds had come and visited the Malaysian Students in London, then having their centrepoint in Malaysia Hall, Bryanston Square – just a wee bit off from Marble Arch. The other hot couple then had been Prince Charles and Princess Diana who, the Sun reported then, had just gotten pregnant after just a couple of months or less from their grandiose wedding in where (30 years later) their son had just had their vows exchanged a couple of days back.
Anwar visited some ABIM-related student group in the daytime. But in the night, the couple was buggered by another Islamic group, the IRC (now calling themselves JIM). A few representatives from this group came to where Anwar was residing – a not-so-multi-starred bed and breakfast nearby.
These people came for what they deemed as “discussions”. But in reality, they had come to condemn Anwar – to criticise him and to show the error in the “Perjuangan Methodologies” of ABIM then, in comparison with their own, more holier-than-thou group. ABIM was not “hard” enough. Not fanatic enough. Anwar gave them a bashing: “You had come to me now and we had discussed this before. But you keep on repeating the same thing – as though your capacity to understand has not increased”. Hehehe. That was the Master of Rhetorics in full form.
Anyway the interesting thing is this. The discussion carried on well into late nights. Now understand this: the bed and breakfast only have one bedroom. So while the discussions were going on, Wan Azizah had to lock herself in the toilet, and she slept in the bath tub! Such inconsiderate people those JIM were, now and then.
Years later in 1998/99 during the pinnacle of the Reformasi era and Leman Pulut joined in the mass demonstrations just for the fun of it (Leman doesn’t believe in either Reformasi or Anwar Ibrahim, as most of his poems will dutifully suggest, but whenever there are opportunities to be chased by the Police and manhandled by them, he would just go for it), ahah! He noticed one of them IRC guys, much in the spirit of “Hidup segan mati tak mahu”. He has now graduated, seem to be having a good job, lulled by all the newly-found wealth accorded to him by government jobs. He was only watching from afar. That was when I got the inspiration to write the following poem, which was then published in the early blog precursor MalaysiaNet.
Enjoy it or bust.
A Predicament Sadder than Anwar’s
(Published in Malaysianet 1999)
He used to burn the midnight oil in his old University days,
to skim through late homeworks and his end-of the year essays.
A white mug by his side, half-filled with caffeinated coffee
Just had his best dinner of the week: udang-flavoured Maggie!
He had a semester more to go, but how could he concentrate?
There were too many issues abound out there: how could they be scraped?
As secretary of the Student Union, epitome of anti-establishment
He had to make his voice heard by the fabrics of the ruling government
He trashed the corrupt leaders and hamstrung all the injustices
The crowds loved to hear him talk of government malpractices
They provided him with the platform but deep in his heart he knew
The real platform for his vanity was cute classmate Su
Oh, he used to read about Anwar in HIS old university days
How he snatched sceptres from tyrants, scourge of the Malay race
But now the perjuangan he was in left Anwar pale in comparison:
Anwar wasn’t hard-core enough: Anwar’s was without substance
That was 10, 20 years ago and now all those memories are gone
He now drives a bimmer to work and lunches at the Renaissance
His hair is now short and kinda misses his John Lennon glasses
Su is now the envy of relatives, spokeswoman of the upper-middle classes
And now this Anwar issue. It’s really eating at his bones
Gnawing at his conscience, unseating his egoistic throne
He can’t be active, he can’t be vocal: there’s too much at stake
He had just put a down-payment for that cute house by the lake
There’s a year left for the bimmer loan: he had to, you see
You can’t just drive a Proton if you’re a top notch in the company
He’s now 30 something: or 40 he just can’t remember
For when that single whisker turned gray he chose to stop the counter
He goes to Dataran Merdeka and watches from a far
All those water canons and sprays and FRUs wielding cota
Right in front of his eye a 17-year old is bludgeoned silly
Just for wearing a red-colored headband and shouting “Hidup Reformasi!”
His blood boils, his senses leave, he clenches an already-clenched fist
His country needs him, Justice is dead: he must join the reformists
But suddenly he remembers Su—and his son is going to college this year
What good would it be to have a jailbird as a father?
He goes back home, a broken heart, a broken spirit, a broken bourgeoisie
Sips a glass of Evian water and turns on his WEGA TV
The Air con’s a bit too high. Outside some cool winds blow
He waits for the day to pass and hopefully camouflage the sorrow