19 July 2012

Malaysians wherever we are

Assalamualaikum dan Salam Sejahtera.
Penghujung bulan Jun 2012, tiba-tiba saya mendapat mesej dari Kak Pushpa di facebook. "tolong bagi alamat, kakak nak hantar majalah lama...." awal Julai, majalah yang dijanjikan sampai ketangan saya... majalah terbitan tahun 1991..majalah yang sudah berusia 21 tahun masih cantik.... Mata terpaku pada gambar lama di Malaysian Restaurant di Chiba. gambar di majalah hitam putih, tetapi saya paparkan gambar warna yang ada dlm simpanan saya.. 

Saya taip semula isi kandungan artikel tulisan kak Pushpa Panadam untuk semua.

chiba daigaku malaysian students 

Life in Japan was a great experience for me in terms of what being a Malaysian meant. In the one-and-a-half years that I was there recently under a teachers' programme, I stopped considering myself an Indian, although I was often mistaken for one. I began to call myself a Malaysian.
I spent the first six months in Osaka, learning the Japanese language, living in an international student community. Yet, it was the Malaysians under the same programme that I sought out. We provided each other support, a touch of home, slipping unconsciously into Bahasa Malaysia. The ethnic differences melted in the larger context of the Malaysian backdrop of open homes / rooms and a feeling of family crept in.
Soon it was time to go to our respective universities. For me, Chiba, 38 minutes by train to Tokyo station, was to become home for the next one year of my stay in Japan. Life in Chiba contrasted drastically with that in Osaka at first. For one, I arrived in the foreign student dormitory in cast and crutches due to a ligament tear and it was the others teachers from my Osaka group whom I turned to for help.Despite our varied backgrounds and languages, the same programme and the similar experiences to be shared bonded us. I could not seek Malaysians out for a simple reason - what did we Malaysians look like? They were easily mistaken for Chinese, Taiwanese, Indonesians.. they in turn passed me by taking me to be an Indian, a Pakistani...
All that changes when Rosnah came to my room. She knew of me through Kak Kao, my "senpai"(senior). I stayed in Kao's room and received as "inheritance" from her, a bicycle, stove... as is the tradition in these universities. You can be sure it was much appreciated, this feeling of being cared for. Ros immediately introduced me to the other Malaysians as Kak. With that , I was warmly welcomed into the Chiba University Malaysian Community. Back in  Malaysia, I am Akka (Tamil for elder sister) which often extended to my sister's friends as well. So being called Kak I felt I was among my younger brothers and sisters.
The Malaysian were a close lot and they had a committee that organized get-togethers in true Malaysian style for Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and welcome graduation parties. We had Malaysian food stalls, talks and performed Malaysian dances at the community center. Despite their busy schedule of study and arbeito (part-time work) there was always time for a smile, small talk and tea, help and advise. Chong, a Masters student would give me a ride to the university if he was around, introducing me to his Japanese friends. The same warm welcome was extended to Mum when she came to stay with me for a month. She was Makcik (the other foreign students called her Okaasan - mother in Japanese) and was included in the University festival, helping at the stall. she was invited to a Malaysian dinner where she was the only non-student. 
My memories of these beautiful Malaysians are too many to recount yet I want to add just one. I panic when it comes to cooking and once when asked to prepare Malaysian dishes, I solved it by saying; "Hey Ros, boleh tolong Kak masak tak?" She readily replied. "Bila Kak, sekarang? Boleh?"
I learnt then that despite being of different ethnic origins, Malaysian do have unique characteristics that set us apart. We smile easily, help willingly and accept readily someone who is different . When asked why this was so, the answer was, "Well Kak, in Malaysia we are so used to people who are different being our friends..."
Now back in Malaysia I try to stop myself from classifying people and learn to see them instead as people with a capacity to love and grow.I begin to be aware of good little things, such as four-year old Audrey Ooi making herself at home in my house and calling Mum "patti". Another four-year old sits herself confidently in a Buddhist home and talks to the two tots. I am awakened to how easily one can allow oneself to be divided by politics when what is important is that we remain a people with a heart full of love.
Pushpa Panadam.
Saya terharu membaca tulisan Kak Pushpa. Saya sertakan juga gambar lain untuk tatapan. Diluar negara, kami lebih bersatu berbanding dengan dinegara sendiri.

makcik bersama kami ke gathering pelajar malaysia chiba univ
Majlis meraikan pelajar asing. Gambar ni masuk suratkhabar!

team karipap, yang lelaki menguli dikelolakan oleh Kak Ong. Yang perempuan buat inti, saya le leadnya...

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