Posted in General

What Merdeka Is For Me

In a few years, it would be 3 decades of Merdeka for me in this country.

When I was little, celebrating Merdeka (Independence Day) meant drawing competitions, decorating our classroom with hundreds of flags and murals and school concerts and plays, all in the spirit of Merdeka.

When I got to high school, Merdeka eve meant a whole day of no studying for the Art and Cultural Club kids were busy performing local dances and plays and poem recitals and the teachers got a day off. That also meant no homework for the following day since Merdeka will always be a public holiday.

Malaysia is all about multi-races and living together in harmony.

But now that I am older, now that I’ve read and understand more about the country’s state, I take interest in its political, socio-economics and social issues, I’m not really sure what Merdeka meant for me anymore.

The feeling of having independence in one’s country shouldn’t be effected by the state of its current affair, should it?

I know a lot of my friends who despise the government because of how things are in the country. But that doesn’t make them any less proud to be a Malaysian. After all, asking questions about the governments’s actions is not the same as questioning the government.

I am at an age where one should already have a strong view on things that are related to one’s country.

But to be honest, I don’t really know.

I mean, I read a lot about what’s happening and what others are talking about the government’s actions and decisions and all that but even so, it didn’t really give me as strong an impact as it would have on some. I have things that I agree and there are some that I disagree with.

And if someone were to ask me, “What does Merdeka really means to you?”, I would be at lost as how to answer.

I do not feel that fire of passion when I talk about my country. I do not feel that liberation from oppression when I talk about independence. I do not feel that pride when I look up to my country’s flag waving high on the pole.

Does that make me a bad citizen or it’s just show I’m ignorant? And maybe by being ignorant it makes me a bad citizen.

I’ve always suspect that my lack of patriotism is because I was born when the country has already gained its independence for many, many years.

So things aren’t as dire or oppressive as it once were during the colonization. I guess if I were a little (or a lot) older, if I were around to see when and how things first came to be, then I would probably appreciate my country a lot more and therefore have more spirit of patriotism in me.

It’s the same concept when we talk about the apathetic and almost delusional teenagers who lives in the city nowadays. Everything is at their feet – technology especially.

They didn’t have to know how hard it is to make a living because most of their parents are already well to do, they didn’t have to fight to go to school because education is free and going to school is like second nature. They are connected to the Internet 24/7, anything they need or need to know is just a mouse click away.

The older folks obviously didn’t have it that easily.

They have to carry thick books to school, walk a mile to go to school and in the rain sometimes, they have to work after high school to pay for their college tuition and when they graduated and got a job, they have to provide for the family and have no time to go gallivanting around town with their friends.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister.
You can hear the passion quivering in his voice when he exclaimed “Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!” on August 31st, 1957, to a stadium full of people who echoed back to him, saying the words for the first time.
Foreign yet resonating with hope.

It all comes down to the hardship you have to endure that makes you appreciate what you have.

Just like Merdeka.

You would have to know and understand the hardship of fighting for a free country to be able to have tears in your eyes when you talk about Merdeka. Even if you don’t exactly fight the Japanese back then, there should be that something in you that trigger the passion for your country.

For, I have yet to discover that passion.

Maybe I am apathetic. Maybe I am too ignorant to care. Maybe I am too comfortable to be in a place where I don’t exactly have to break my back to put food on the table for my family. Still, all these shouldn’t be an excuse of not being patriotic.

Sometimes, when I think about it, I am ashamed of myself.

I feel like I should have at least a little bit of feeling for my country. I wouldn’t want to wake up in terror not knowing if I would survive to see the next day because my country is overrun by terrorist. I wouldn’t want my children to grow up not knowing what it’s like to go through a little hardship, if not a lot because I don’t want them to grow up as spoiled brats.

Maybe it’s about time I discover myself before I discover my country.

The passion that is patrotism.
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Author:

A feminist mother of 3 who thinks she can write.

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