10 Nov 2011

Bahasa Malaysia, My Grandfather

He said
life in the 60’s wasn’t like it is now

Communicating with the lady next door was difficult

Not only because grandmother was jealous

but it was more like a chicken talking to a duck


He also said

he learned to speak Bahasa Malaysia from friends

little by little

and finally became fluent


Here and there he went

proudly speaking in Bahasa Malaysia
with Pak Amin and the next door Nyonya Lee
with Tauke Leong and Sarbagat Singh
even with Uncle Muthukaruppan

and grandmother too
Said grandfather while he was still around
he was proud to have taught me Bahasa Malaysia
As a child, I was dragged to various events

since1970 when ‘Bahasa Malaysia’ was introduced
Try to listen, he said. Try to understand
You should grow up with the Malaysian spirit
Grandfather never learned to write
but he taught me to speak Bahasa Malaysia
He said
you should not be proud to speak your mother tongue alone
you should not be proud to speak English alone
you must be proud to be able to speak Bahasa Malaysia

Shortly before his death, he said
I’m proud to end my life with a sentence in Bahasa Malaysia

and here I am, proudly telling his story

to Pak Amin and Nyonya Lee’s grandchildren

to Tauke Leong and Sarbagat Singh’s grandchildren

even to Uncle Muthukaruppan’s grandchildren

and to my children too
in Bahasa Malaysia


(Translated by Uthaya Sankar SB to help non-Malaysians understand the content of the poem. Please CLICK HERE for the original Bahasa Malaysia version and CLICK HERE for more articles in English.)