3 Nov 2011

Speaking in Tongues: Part 5

Tomorrow The World!

Kavyan Writers have proven our worth to the extend that the Malaysian literary world is not complete without including Kavyan Writers and Kavyan Writings. Sad but true, the same cannot yet be said about Tamil Writers and Tamil Writings. Unlike, say, in Singapore, Tamil writings are not yet accepted as “Sastera Kebangsaan” (National Literature or Malaysian Literature). But that is another issue.

From being mere “Penulis Bukan Melayu” (Non-Malay Writers), then making a stand to be known as “Penulis Kaum India” (Malaysian Indian Writers), this unique group of writers are now known as “Sasterawan Kavyan” (Kavyan Writers).

The challenge has just begun. Kavyan Writers need to be consistent and prolific in producing Kavyan Writings. A handful of writers is not enough to cater to the demand for Kavyan Writings.

Kavyan Writers should also think of translating Kavyan Writings to other languages so that everyone around the world could read and appreciate them. The internet would surely come handy.

Saroja Theavy’s “Segugus Aksara Sealur Kasih” has been translated as “Words of Love”, Sritharanee’s “Aku Dilahirkan oleh Seorang Lelaki” translated as “Of a Man I was Born” and my “Yang Aneh-aneh” translated as “Strange Things” – all three published in In the Shadows of the Palm: An Anthology of Malaysian Short Stories (2009).

Meanwhile, Saroja Theavy’s “Bermain dengan Pelangi” was translated as “Playing with Rainbows” and my “Nayagi” translated as “Nayagi, Mistress of Destiny” – both published in Sea of Rainbows: An Anthology of Multi-Cultural Short Stories from Malaysia (2009).

Also, “Cat” has been included in the original Bahasa Malaysia version in Readings from Readings: New Malaysian Writing (2011) while the translated version – “The Painted Cat” – was published in Selangor Times (21 January 2011) and Dusun: Malaysian e-journal of the Arts (August/September 2011).

Only one of my stories – “Orang Pulau” (The Island People) – has been translated to Mandarin and published in Sin Chew Jit Poh (14 April 2002). “Nayagi” (Heroine), “Doa Tahun Baru” (New Year Wish), “Pesona Kad Cinta Kita” (Our Impressive Love Card), “Makan Malam” (Dinner), “Anda, Sebuah Kampung dan Sebuah Kisah” (You, A Village and An Incident), “Cerpenis” (The Short Story Writer) and “Anjing” (Dog) has been translated into Tamil and published in magazines or aired on the RTM Tamil radio.

But Then Again

The usage of the term “Bahasa Malaysia” is still a traumatizing issue among some. This was made evident – yet again – when my poem “Pe(r)juang(an) Bahasa II” (The Language Warrior II) was published in Mingguan Malaysia newspaper (24 June 2007).

The mere usage of the phrase “dirgahayu Bahasa Malaysia!” (long live Bahasa Malaysia) made many people and organisations label me – and Kavyan – as “anti-Melayu” (anti-Malay). So, in Malaysia, the moment you use the term “Bahasa Malaysia”, be ready to be labelled as anti-Malay. But the good news is that not everyone is a bigot in Malaysia.

In December 2010, the issue of Sasterawan Negara Datuk Abdullah Hussain’s Interlok: Edisi Murid (student edition) became a controversy. Again, the moment Kavyan and myself gave comments based on facts, we were labelled “anti-Melayu”. This time because we were commenting on all the factual errors about the Indian culture, sensitive issues and linguistic mistakes in the 2010 student edition.

Kavyan went all out to prove that mistakes are mistakes; therefore there is no harm in admitting and correcting the obvious mistakes in the student edition (abridged version) which is being made a compulsory text for the next ten years (2011-2020) for Form Five students in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. – To be continued tomorrow [HERE]