Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Of Coco and Malays and Accents

So everyone is talking about this Coco girl who is faking her accent to claim that she is mix. And everyone is like slamming her for it. Some people are going to the extent of saying that she is forgetting her roots and that she is just some Malay minah.
I would just like to then ask a question—How about the Malays who are being fucking put down for TRYING to speak MALAY, but now feel inferior, cos people keep saying that they have a funny accent?
Bear with me…. I am trying to make my point.
I am MALAY. I am fucking proud to be a MALAY, because I believe that the MELAYUS have a rich culture and tradition. However, I have a problem. I have a speech problem. It was hard for me to admit it back then, but thanks to the people around me, I am slowly gaining the confidence to speak the language.
It all started with my life in primary school. Not to sound pompous, but somehow, I was among the few Malays who got into the A class. I was in primary 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A. My father was a very strict man (actually he still is). If I were to drop in my grades back then, I would have to answer to the buckle of the belt. So that explains my grades, and my overachieving nature in primary school. Being the few Malays in my class, and a painfully shy one, my close friends are therefore those in the same class as me; all of them are non-Malays. I did try to mix with the Malays from the other classes during the common Malay Language classes. However, the Malays in the other classes weren’t so open to making friends with me, cos they say “I eat ‘babi’ with the students in my class, and therefore I am haram”. So I spoke a lot more English and a bit of Mandarin in primary school. However, I did well in Malay writing classes—I even have a few of my writings published in the newspaper… My mum even had them laminated and stuck onto the fridge till today. But I couldn’t speak Malay fluently.
In secondary school, I had to take Malay O level twice cos the first time I took it, I scored C5 for the first attempt… and having Malay teachers who literally slept in class wasn’t helping the situation. But I finally managed to get A2 in the end. The oral examiners weren’t so impressed with the way I spoke in Malay.
In Madrasah, there is also the equivalent of PSLE. For the oral examination, you had to read a few pages of the Quran, which I did. In my head, I thought I did okay… that is until the Ustazah, who is the teacher, openly asked me if I had mixed parentage. I innocently told her that my father is Malay and my Mother is Javanese. I had no idea why she asked the question in the first place. She then asked her next question—Abeh kenapa awak baca Quran macam ada slang? (translation—Why are you reading the Quran with an accent?).
Many years ago, I was also dropped out of a Malay production because apparently my accent couldn’t be improved within the rehearsal period.
Then I also attended an audition for another Malay stage production. During the audition, I was asked to do a monologue in Malay. I did. At the end of the audition, the director, asked me in a condescending tone, “when you sleep, do you dream in Malay or English?” At this point the other panellists started laughing. I remembered walking out of the audition room feeling humiliated and hopeless. I remembered cursing the production and hoping that it would never fucking make it to stage… this is something that I am not proud of. Anyway, the production never did make it to stage. I also remembered wanting to give up speaking Malay or ever wanting to do any production in Malay.
I persevered. I still kept on speaking the language even though I have to, most of the time, struggle a lot. And I am not afraid to claim out loud that I am Malay. And right now, I am using my company A.D.I Concept as a platform to front productions that explore Malay cultures, tradition and the different superstitious beliefs. I am still trying to improve on my Malay, even though the accent is still stuck there.
The point I want to make out of this long post is… There are MALAYS who are fucking trying to be proud of the language and culture and tradition. WE ARE FUCKING TRYING. SO BEAR THAT IN MIND BEFORE YOU PUT US DOWN JUST COS WE HAVE AN ACCENT. WE ARE FUCKING TRYING.
Terima kasih kerana sudi membaca. Thank you for reading.