THE knocks on my bedroom door was always extra loud for two occasions; the first day of Chinese New Year and Merdeka Day.
For the first, it was because mom had made a scrumptious breakfast and we had to start our visiting routine. For the second, it was because my folks wanted us to catch the Merdeka parade on television.
One of my routines include listening to the radio on my way home from work.
The other day there was a discussion about patriotism, and I suppose it was only apt since Merdeka Day was so near and the recent declaration of the “Endless Possibilities” tagline sure got everyone fussing about it.
A remark by one caller caught my attention. It is so close to National Day yet there are barely any cars with little Malaysia flags in sight! I looked around and noticed that it was true!
I remember that people used to stick those little flags on their vehicles even just as August started and they can also be found in any mini mart and shop. Some even would wrap a full-sized flag around the bonnet!
I remember when the parade was hosted in Penang years ago I managed to watch it on TV. I have never found these parades special.
The colours were always the same, the costumes were all flowery and you could always spot a giant hibiscus somewhere in the middle of the crowd.
But I didn’t wake up because I appreciated the artistic value of the parade – I just wanted to feel like I was a part of my country’s special day.
Another caller said that Malaysians are actually very patriotic contrary to what the previous caller had said. And I do agree with him.
Just because we may have our reservations towards how things are run in Malaysia now, that doesn’t mean we love our country any less.
It is because we care deeply about our homeland that we often get frustrated when certain people don’t do this beautiful place enough justice.
It is sad that I have to be extra cautious when I am out these days and “learning-to-dodge-bullets” seems to be the joke at the moment.
While we may have successfully dodged some real physical bullets so far – we all know that we have been taking many hits as collateral damage of late in many other things.
“It is the country right above Singapore,” I would normally have to explain to my foreign friends who have never heard of my beloved country.
I often wondered how many badminton, football and squash tournaments we have to win to get noticed or record-breaking skyscrapers to get us noticed a little bit more.
I think some of us share the same sentiments as Malaysians continue to strive to do their country proud year after year. A few years later, the world begins to notice.
But for what? Are we being known for the right reasons? Are we being admired and followed, or ridiculed and joked about in international (and some local) media?
Do you live in a part of the country where everything seems fine, or do you belong in an area where the cracks are showing and the gaps are widening?
I belong to a “homeless generation”, I was told – and yet I keep reading news about foreign investors buying our properties in bulk.
I was told that our country is safe – and yet many have died by the pull of a trigger
So, where do we go from here? I don’t know.
Is there something that we can do, without being charged under some Act or be told to migrate?
I recall as a prefect in school, I was given the honour to raise the flag as the teachers and pupils sang the Negaraku.
There is always something about August that spurs us to sing a little louder, to stand a little straighter. Or maybe it’s just me.
HOR WEI VERN