When I was young, this day was among the most anticipated day in my school years. This was a day celebrated with grandeur and enthusiasm, absurd joy and spirits. We short kids would sing patriotic songs every single morning during the assembly, which consists of yelling our hearts out rather than singing, starting from the beginning of August . The teachers stood together with us and sing wholeheartedly, and although I did not know the reason for such epic celebration, it was really amazing.
My school held a competition for classes; Merdeka themed decorations . The class with the most creative decoration would win hampers and snacks, the master of us kids. The whole month is spent with cutting and drawing and hanging stuff up the window sills, painting the walls with red and white stripes , making the complicated stars and quarreling with each other. It was seriously fun.
We kids rode bikes to school back then, and the headmistress made a competition of the most beautifully decorated bikes. Some bicycles had dozens of flags; you can't even ride it without getting blown off the road. My friends would gather around those ostentatiously decorated bikes and brag like adults do. We were kids, we do what we want, so shut up.
There was also a drawing competition ,where you draw posters that should show your patriotism; mine was always a big flag with terribly crooked stars. I really know how to draw, but in an abstruse way-perhaps. My school's language department held an annual essay competition for the glorious Independence day. I wrote a terrific story about the catharsis of a soldier in the maelstrom of war, where he died, bombed in pieces in the end. It was depressing back then, just to write the title.
|no idea what are we doing here|
By the end of the month, my beloved school would become a magnificent place with ornate walls and flags everywhere. The classes were scrupulously decorated, somewhat beyond imagination. My class would always lose, because we maladroit kids had too much creativity to transform it into reality. Failed ambitions ,sort of.
That was eons ago. My feelings about the celebration is now a dichotomy of two eras; my childhood when I understood none of the reasons, and the present , when I see crap everywhere. I have the inner urge to feel happy today, even to sing alone in this claustrophobia-inducing room, or to write a post about it, but it feels terribly incongruous and absurd.
The joy of celebration diminishes along the years. Even the teachers hate the patriotic songs now-they sound incredibly sad , although forever better than Rais Yatim's song. There are no flags along the streets or any houses in the town.
How can I celebrate Independence when I live with constraints? I can't wear a yellow shirt in fear of political taunts and jabs. Our leaders are pure and free of criticism. Sinless. Certified devils, as the former prime minister said.
How can I celebrate Independence when the prices of goods keep skyrocketing, and my pocket got big holes in it? We started off 55 years ago with the same pace as Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, and just how far behind are we?
Walk around the streets in my place and see with thy eyes the proof of the permanent legacy of the imperialists; kids my age who love discos and admire alcohol and sex. Freedom at its best.
You don't have to love the government if you want to love the country. You don't have to choose those corrupt and pretentious skullduggers if you love Malaysia. Yes, I choose Malaysia, and I love this country, but the big blue tick in the tv ads was terribly unnecessary.
"Saya pilih untuk setia. Saya pilih kemajuan. Saya pilih Malaysia. Big blue tick drawing commences"