It was a simple question, "Do you have any Chinese friends?". Perhaps the reason why I was caught off guard was because, even as I know that most of my friends are Indians, they could have been Arabs for all I care, but they will still be them, as a human being. The reason I refer to them as Indians are partly because that's how the society would see them as, just as a form of description in general.
My simple rule in friendship is "You respect me, you will have my utmost respect", regardless of who or what you are. And as any "off guard questions" would do to me, it will submerge somehow in a latent period of time, when I'm sitting down pondering. Maybe that's the problem, my job have it's idle moments and well, you know what they say about people who have too much time to think....well, yes, apart from ending up on a psychiatrist's couch, we become tragically philosophical...Secondly, I don't have that many a friends. I have many acquaintances, but not many have I let close to me.
More disturbingly, I find myself saying , "No, not many" in answering that question. That is indeed disturbing. More disturbing is the answer "No, I don't have many friends at all"...but that is another story. But what few friends I have are the type who would beat quantity for quality any time of the day. Should I go out there and find a Chinese friend to get close to, just so I can say, I live the "One Malaysia" dream?
What I normally do when I cannot find a satisfactory answer, is that I will go back to my childhood in order to decipher any screw ups I have in my present life. So I did just that. On hindsight, in all honesty, I was a loner. In a way, I still am. I was brought up in a Convent School, and no, I have not indulged in any lesbians endeavours, to answer to the next possible "off guard" questions they may come my way. For that latter question, I won't even bother to ponder, for I am straight, that's just how it is full stop. (although there are many lesbian invitations that came my way during my short term hostel days, but that is another story.)
I was in a classroom of close to 40 students; 7 Malays, 5 Indians and the rest were Chinese. I was the one shouting at the top of my high pitched voice, "Moi Chow!!" instead of "Silence please!" as a class monitor, to get everyone to actually shut up. Well, I suppose they did so only because they found it funny that a Malay class monitor (nobody wanted the job and shoved it to me by the way, I took it because of the opportunity to abuse power and send up my homework whenever I felt like it...which was normally LATE; kind of a wage for the job nobody wanted) screamed in Cantonese just to get everyone to listen.
I was the one who would, during recess time, after quickly eating, go around and socialize with the group of Chinese girls when I feel like talking about studies, the Malays when I want to catch up with the latest gossip in school, and the Indians when I feel like having both type of conversations. And the sad part was, these group of girls hardly intermingle with each other. I never really felt "at home" anywhere amongst any group. Maybe that was how I became a loner.
I remember being in a tuition class amongst Chinese friends and I was the only Malay girl there. We got along just fine. I tried learning some Cantonese and gave up when my friends swindled me by telling me "You are a dumb ass", something I badly want to know how it is said in Cantonese, is "Ley hou tou pang yiau, ley chi tow mow?" (actually it means, "you have many friends, yes or not?"). I thought, if I cannot swear in a language, what's the point eh?
Then, a teacher sent me to head for the GPMS national gathering. I remember that some of the girls came back to complain to the teacher, that I left them to join the boys from High School during the whole session. Actually, it was my uncle's gang from high school and I found that boys were actually more fun than the girls...we spend most of our times there bunking the lectures and go on to doing something more fun like sit around and catch up with tokkok.. As a kid, after all that brainwashing in that session ( I suppose that was why the teacher sent me, to poison my brains after seeing that I'm very much comfortable with the Chinese), funny enough, I came back not hating the Chinese and not liking Malays more either. I just came back aware, for the first time in my life, that racism was still well and alive, not just a thing in the past. Now THAT was truly disturbing.
But I guess I'm blessed because my parents, more so my mom (my dad is a bit of a reserved man....he reserves himself from people, in a muhibbah proportion), who grew up amongst Chinese and Indian friends. Then again, that was during the pre BN time, where people actually lived up to the word "muhibbah", instead of just talking about it rhetorically. So, no, GPMS did not have any effect on me other than the take home message I decide to bring back myself; That I need to work hard and be competitive in a healthy manner, in order to gain respect from other races, simply because I was born a Malay, and the word "subsidy" tattooed on my forehead. And that was what I have been doing until today.
So I'm not a racist. Of course, I become an ultimate racist when I drive on the KL roads, I throw expletives at everyone in a muhibbah proportion, but that's just transient insanity right?). No, I know I'm not a racist. That I have established from before. If anything, I am against racism. I despise it with every bone I have in me. I'm a humanitarian. No, not the kind that eat humans, but the type who look at another human being and see not our differences, rather, our similarities. The same reason I literally sobbed uncontrollably in the cinema while watching "Mississippi Burning", the same reason why I'm against vernacular and private schools. The same reason why I hate politicians and religionists, because to me, these are the people responsible in instilling hate in our hearts in hope that the more we hate each other, the more relevant they become as a political entity. Same goes with religion, including Islam. Religion preaches love but opt for killing and turn their backs on humanity. Humanity needs no religion for us to comprehend. It's basic instinct. An atheist would have recognize humanity more than the clouded religionists. They spread hate more than they do love.
So why don't I have more chinese friends then, at present? Frankly, Now that I'm forced to think of them as a certain race, yes, my friends are mostly Indians and Punjabis, Chibhais (chinese + bhai) , mamaks and the hereditary confused Malaysians...I do have some Malay friends I'm close to, my blog sleeping partner is one of them Hazidi..but he's partly Kelantanis.. and Kelantanis is not a race, rather, an entity right? (wakakakakakka!!!.)....and they are scattered everywhere in Malaysia and outside. Maybe I'm attracted to my friends because they are more witty, funny and spiritual at the same time and share the same passion for lepak-ing in the Indian/mamak restaurant/stall? Never really gave it a thought as to why so. Maybe in my past life I was Indian/Punjabi? I have close Chinese friends but not many I suppose. One just got married and is busy with her new clinic and toddler. It doesn't matter if you're Chinese, Indian, Punjabi, Mat Salleh, or DLL (seem to be a race of it's own this DLL), when you have toddlers, you don't have time for friends. The other married a mat salleh and lives happily ever after, far and away, for now. Few more have migrated, but we keep in touch via FB, which they don't really get time to indulge in FB. But most of my friends, are loners like me. We are a bunch of loners with collective friends, who just happen not to be in one group. That's all. Maybe I have not found a loner Chinese friend who is funny witty and spiritual at the same time? Frankly I don't know . But I do know one thing for sure. That when I meet up with someone for the first time, I see him/her as genderless, race less, hierarchy-less otherwise it's just baseless. Did I answer the original question? Maybe.
Someone I know likes to say, "It's okay to be racial, but not to be a racist". Well, then, in that case, I may be a wee bit racial, but definitely an anti-racist. Now I can go back to sleep with a clear conscience......
Here is my favorite quote:
"He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye"
-Siddhartha Gautama Buddha-
And here's something which never fail to make my eyes blurry with tears every time I read it...I hope you feel what I feel when you read this..
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
And here's my favorite feel-Malaysian video, from PopTV
(FB users please click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qJCmJPrI34&feature=player_embedded )