Dimulakan dengan

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Friday, 31 August 2007

Far From Home

United Kingdom. What do you think about it? For goodness sake, I’m going to live there! I couldn’t believe my own ears when my mother told us that we’re going to stay in the United Kingdom while my father was pursuing his doctorate at a well known university.

I’m going to live where famous celebrities live! I’m going to make friends with white people! They look so cool on television; I can’t believe that I’m going to be living side by side with them! This is definitely a dream come true!

That was what I thought years ago. Then, I was just a clueless-ten-year-old girl. Anyway we flew to UK 6 months after that.

Living in UK made me realise that Malaysia is the best country ever. Although we were living thousands of miles away from home, we still remembered our roots. We would celebrate Merdeka like we used to do.

Every year during Merdeka, our family would travel to London to celebrate it with Malaysians from all over United Kingdom. As a part of the celebration, we did several shows such as ulik mayang and the dragon dance. I participated in the zapin dance. I remembered that the spectators including locals applauded our show. They seemed really impressed with our traditional heritage.

This showed me that we can be thrown anywhere; we can still be together and practise our own colourful tradition. Even the whole of Europe cannot beat our richness in tradition. Where else can we find a country which is rapidly developing but still managing to practise a tradition that perhaps is older than the Big Ben?

I also managed to experience schooling at a public school near my neighbourhood. School was quite tough to me as I’m a Muslim-Malay girl who wears a scarf. I remember being insulted by racists for wearing a table cloth on my head. I cried. I felt like an alien. That time I badly wanted to go home. Here, some people just don’t understand what sensitivity means. Be a little bit different, then you are a freak.
They also thought that I am oppressed by my religion. I wanted to prove them wrong. I never turned back then, and I struggled to show them that even a freak can be the best. And I did.
My mother told me that in Malaysia, it does not matter that you are clever or not, you are rich or not, you still can be friends with everyone, even if you have different skin colours. Skin colour does not become a barrier for Malaysians to bond their hearts together. This makes them respect and care for each other.
When my mother told me this, it made me wanted to go back home badly. I wondered why racism is such a big issue here, when the migrants from other countries have settled here for perhaps more than a hundred years! It made me feel that there is no place better than home.

Besides the horrific experiences, I also remember having a sweet memory. The school held a History week. My teacher asked me and my Malaysian schoolmates to do a show about our country’s history. So, we did a sketch on the event of Malaysia’s Proclamation of Independence. We showed how Tunku Abdul Rahman went to London and negotiated for our independence with the British and how Malaysians stood together to free our country. The sketch ended with Nazim, my friend acting as Tunku exclaiming the sacred word, “Merdeka!”

And guess what? We were awarded for the best performance! It was definitely the proudest moment in school.

After living in the United Kingdom, experiencing snow and summer, gangsters at the street, struggling to make ends meet, finally it was time to go home. I didn’t know what to expect, I was excited, but sad at the same time.

I felt excited to see how Malaysia has developed since I left. I looked forward to experience what my mother has told me about Malaysia. I looked forward to school without having to worry about racists, and walking down the streets without bullies or gangsters. Although Malaysia is not developed as Britain, to me Malaysia is the best place to be on earth.

I looked outside of the window when the aeroplane was about to depart. It was very gloomy outside. I said goodbye to UK. Four years here taught me to be proud of my own identity. Lastly, I am sure, this is not the end of my journey, but it’s just the beginning of my life. A life as a proud Malaysian. Happy 50th birthday Malaysia!

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