AUGUST 31 — “Okay, class, stand up and tell me your ambition, one by one.”
It was at that moment where all our seven-year-old selves would start rehearsing the answers in our heads just so we won’t be “that one kid.”
There I was in the classroom eagerly awaiting my turn to impress the teacher. Out of the seas of doktors and gurus (doctors and teachers), I proudly said I wanted to be a juruterbang (pilot).
Eighteen years later, I am not a pilot, but I do have a Pilot G2 pen that I often scribble with.
When we were kids, ambition was no more than an occupation we aimed for. However, our views change as we age; life just isn’t that simple anymore.
What used to be “black and white” situations are now filled with grey areas because we start understanding context, laws and the realities of living in Malaysia.
Suddenly, the word “ambition” takes on a whole new meaning. So before answering what my ambition is after 18 years, let us rewind.
It all began on a regular weekday. Like every other morning, I was scrolling through the various news sites while the coffee aroma slowly filled the room.
Rubbing my left eye, I see random statements from political figures, rubbing my right eye and I see someone making “seditious” statements on the Internet again.
But something feels off.
Could this be the day? Oh wait, there it is, a piece on race and religion (ugh!). There was no need to read the full report as it is filled with the same old rhetoric.
Instead, I headed to the comments section as it provides a more truthful description of the race relationships in Malaysia or rather, the non-relevance of the topic when it comes to the younger generation.
With my daily dose of pendatang-ness (invaders) fulfilled, I was ready to face the day.
Opening the house door, you would have thought I'd be confronted by the spilling of blood and chaos because that is what the people on the Internet want me to believe.
Courtesy of the numerous warnings issued by people who think everything is a challenge to their lineage.
Surprisingly, things were calm; the sun was up and the birds were happily chirping.
This peace took a 180-degree turn when I entered the highway. As I made my way into one of the lanes, my entrance was celebrated with long and glorious honks by other drivers who came uncomfortably close to greet me.
I tried to use the signal indicators to switch lanes, but the yellow glow attracted more drivers! They sped up and closed the gap in between each vehicle, making my efforts to lane-swap impossible, similar to how they would speed up when they see a yellow traffic light and inevitably get stuck in a yellow box where they strategically block multiple lanes.
At the office, we worked as usual while expertly hiding “extra” tabs whenever a superior walked by.
Amid the hum of the ambient office noise, I could hear chatter about migrating from the country. Being a kaypoh (busybody), I eavesdropped on the entire conversation.
Words like “no hope,” “no appreciation,” “no future,” “low currency” and “why bother” were heard. Though the arguments sounded arrogant, I couldn’t help but agree with some of the points.
It is no secret that Malaysia, beautiful as it is, has its flaws. Listening on, I was pleasantly surprised that the conversation ended on a hopeful note where the individual wished things were different here.
So, I thought to myself, who’s left for the nation if everyone leaves and hopes that things magically improve? Before I could delve deeper, a supervisor walked by, so everyone swiftly returned to their jobs.
That night, I went home and started typing. Eagerly narrating a story of ambition before we celebrated our 63rd National Day. With the click of the final “Enter” key, I rise again today to tell you cita-cita saya (my ambition), 18 years later.
I want to be a Malaysian.
A Malaysian who consciously stops consuming race- or religion-based propaganda. So that’s one extra hand to mute the voices that intend to separate us.
A Malaysian who practises give and take, whether it is on the road or in life. So that’s one more individual to make life a little easier for everyone.
A Malaysian who stays back and be the change the country needs. So that’s one more soul to fight for the betterment of our tanah air (motherland).
If it takes an entire village to raise a child, then it certainly takes the entire population to raise a country.
Happy Independence Day, Malaysia.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer(s) or organisation(s) and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.