Friday, October 24, 2008

The Son of Jose Rizal and Others Postcolonial Literature...when world becomes one..

The birth of “The Son of Rizal and Other Postcolonial Literatures, … when world becomes one…” is due to our third project in the course Literature and Nation Building. With the group of five members, we managed to divide our task to search some short stories and poems concerning the issue of nationhood. We would like to thank our most helpful lecturers and friends especially Dr. Shanthini Pillai who had guide us to finish this assignment. Besides, we also appreciate the Tun Sri Lanang Library and its staff to let us get the sources. After all the effort and hard work, we would like to present this anthology as the best product from all of us. Happy reading!



The poems and short stories that make a volume in this collection were originally selected for a purpose of introducing the post-colonial literatures which arose throughout colonized countries. According to Mcleod, at the turn of the twentieth century, the British Empire covered a vast area of the earth that included parts of Africa, Asia, Australasia, Canada, the Caribbean an Island (p. 6). Post-colonial literature or some might recognized it as New English literatures, is a new way of writing that reacts to the discourse of colonization which frequently involves writing that deals with issues of de-colonization or the political and cultural independence of people formerly subjugated to colonial rule. In an attempt to formulate “a grammar of Commonwealth Literature” (“Post-colonialism” 51), to use Fernando’s words, the authors explain that post-colonial literatures have evolved through three stages: (i) “[works] produced by ‘representatives of the imperial power,” (ii) “[works] produced ‘under imperial licence’ by ‘natives’ or ‘outcasts’, and “ finally, (iii) the “development of independent literatures” or the “emergence of modern post-colonial literatures” (p.5-6).

Before going further to a serious discussion on nationhood and these selected works, the definition of post-colonial countries and issues of new English literature will be thoroughly be scrutinized. Colonialism is a term that critically refers to the political ideologies which legitimated the modern invasion, occupation and exploitation of inhabited lands by overwhelming outside military powers ( The authority which these colonial countries possess gives them advantage to take charge of the small countries which is still under development and new in governing the land. In fact, they brought along new ways of ruling the States, new culture as well as implying their mother tongue to the native. For years, language of the colonial or we might directly approach it as English, has become a vast usage all over the colonised countries. The literary works in English grew rapidly with the rise of the language in India, Africa, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere.

Throughout centuries, these particular writers play their roles in order to resist the colonial’s views of the native, lift-up spirits of nationalism and create awareness to the people of the land of who they are as part of the nation. Here, the teams of editor presenting a bunch of stories and poems from post-colonial countries; Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, India and Africa. Representing the land, these selected writers embrace different perspectives of nationhood in which the depiction can be found throughout their works. Moreover, their works turn to build a new nation with identities after colonisation by re-writing the history and make it into fiction of the present time, re-building the community by injecting awareness and spirit of patriotism, re-building notions of the self and re-designing the English language whilst make it sound locally to the land. The definition of nationhood according to Benedict Anderson is an imagination of building a nation into existence. It is planned by people and shaped based on certain grounds. According Timothy Brennan in his essay, nation refers ‘both to the modern nation-state and to something more ancient and nebulous- the “natio”-a local community, domicile, family, condition of belonging (p. 45).

The writers applied varieties of strategies in order to mark-up certain elements of nationhood such as patriotism, resistance of colonialism, national language, national unity, national heritage and legacy, sacrifice, national heroism and division or marginalisation within nations. As we read and analysed from beginning to end of the writing, we found out these elements implied differently either in the short stories or in the poems. The writers even try out using the new language practically in their writing. Indeed, it’s a big challenge to the writers to write in English about the land and the people whilst they speak their own mother tongue. In spite of these selected countries historical presence, English is still considered an “alien” language. There are some potential disadvantages for a writer who chooses to write in a foreign or transplanted medium. For example, if he is not fully confident in the use of the language, it may thwart his creativity thus his purpose of creating awareness and the issues of nationhood might not be achieved. Moreover if the majority of the people in his land use indigenous language (s) for their active communications, it may hinder his accessibility to their emotions and experiences and so make his task of representing reality somewhat more difficult. There is of course, an added responsibility to the writers to make use of the new language sounded locally which can adapt to the local culture. The term New Literatures in English refers to literature written in the English language including literature from the countries which is the medium of communication are not English. In addition, English literature is a diverse as the varieties and dialects of English spoken around the world (Wikipedia). Thus, when the postcolonial countries are involving in this creative writing, they are not just representing their cultures yet they also highlighting certain issues about their countries such as their national heroes and patriotism.

This anthology entitled The Son of Rizal and Other Postcolonial Literatures, when world becomes one comprises six selected poems and four short stories from post-colonial countries. Each poem and short story from these different parts of the world represents the writer’s views of his land and his people. Indeed, some might be considered as his or her personal indication of his or her true sense of belonging of the land where he or she lives in. The term ‘when world becomes ones is an indication of the compilation of stories and poems around the world in a volume. Just flip through this volume, the readers can get entirely notions of nationhood which best represent the postcolonial countries.

We start the discussion on poems from Malaysia as we; the team of editors are originally truly Malaysian. Ee Tiang Hong in his poem, Patriotism, questioned certain issues of freedom and rights of equality. Being a part of the nation and one of the heterogeneous communities, certain queries might appear in mind as one might not possess equal rights. Yet all these need to be put aside and accept the new order and be grateful of being a part of the nation.
After generation, the question seems to be repeated and the history continuously emerged since we never really take it into consideration.
And surely after all these
The gates of heaven must open,
Unconditional, without question,
No question but that
All men are equal
Under the rain and sun.

Ee’s approaches the readers as well his own community to be remindful of the national unity and identity additionally. The title ‘patriotism’ gives literal meanings to the Malaysians to lift-up the spirit of patriotism; spirit of ‘proud to be Malaysian’.
They demand
That we accept the new order,
Stomach the reversal of our lot,
Hold our tongue, seal our lips,
Be grateful for what we have got
(The fruits of our toil),
They demand....
In addition, Ee depicts the image of dilemma and the feeling of alienation among some Malaysians. The crisis of identity, of place and purpose, hasten in Patriotism are fundamental in that they strike at the very confidence out of which the individual functions (Ee, 1976).
Our neighbour country, Singapore, we present Lee Tzu Pheng with her controversial poem, My Country and My People. According to Wikipedia, Lee is often seen as one of a generation of “nation-building” English writers in Singapore, whose work in the ‘50s-‘70s questioned the identity of the newly independent nation. My Country and My People was banned by the Singapore government due to fears that her reference to her “brown-skinned neighbours” would offend the Malay community of Singapore. She questioned her uncertainty on her identity of being Chinese grew up in China’s mighty shadow, of having Malay as a neighbour and of using English as her medium of communication.
My country and my people
I never understood.
I grew up in China’s mighty shadow,
with my gentle, brown-skinned neighbours;
but I keep diaries in English.
I sought to grow
in humanity’s rich soil,
and started digging on the banks, then saw
life carrying my friends downstream.

Her search for identity breeds humanity and nationality where she founds out her true sense of belonging on her new land. In the beginning of the poem, the persona shows how she feels of being born as a daughter of a better age where she is able to receive proper education and learn about the coloniser whose technically brought in her ancestors to the land. Ode of The War Wife, written by Doan Thi Diem from Vietnam is concerned about national heroism and sacrifices by the soldiers. The persona, being the wife of a soldier is expressing her thoughts and feelings when her husband makes his way to the war. In the first stanza, she portrays the sadness and gloomy of all people when anarchy is in the air. The use of hyperbolic phrase;

Moonlight trembles to the thuds
of Trang-an’s drum

This phrase enlightens the proclamation of war as being so loud and serious. After 300 years of serenity, solders are exclaimed to get into battle. Although they are ready to fight for their country, they still have a heavy heart to leave their family. This is stated in the phrase;
sorrow runs to the frontier
resentment fills the room

Young men in the country leave their job to fight against the enemy; leaving their family, home and everything to sacrifice their life to win the war for the country. Even the grass and water are personifies as doesn’t favor him going to war leaving his family behind. War renders a bleak future. That’s why the persona keeps on repeating how sorrowful and dismal she was when the war started. However, she didn’t stop her husband from going to war because she realizes that fighting for their country is an honourable act as they sacrifice their soul and life for the sake of the nation. Whatever the consequences that will come over, she had to accept and be contented.

Most of the selected literary works that we chose are depictions of the writer true sense of his belonging to the land. One out of these six poems that randomly being chosen based on the issue of nationhood is Poem before Execution by Jose Rizal. He himself is the national hero of the Philippines thus his poem reflects his spirit of bringing his land and nation into one to defeat the colonialist. He wrote this poem before he was being executed to death. Indeed he knows of his leaving, he still confides his people of fighting for their rights and land that they belong. He stated in his poem in the fourth stanza of his dreams when he was a child that he wants his people one day, without worries and fears they can live in peace and happiness.

My dreams when I scarcely a child, a youth,
my dreams when I was young, still in my prime,
were to see you, jewel of the eastern sea,
one day with dark eyes dry, with smooth brow raised,
no frown, no wrinkles, tainted with no crime.

He is ready to sacrifice his life for a better future for his people and his country. His love for his country and people make him realize that he needs to forgo and leave his people a chance of freedom. Together with his soul and spirits, he breeds the sense of nationhood. Jose Rizal in some extent wrote this poem to remind his people of their responsibilities to take good care of their country thus the responsibilities not only for the time being yet it should be continued till the next generation. This poem is indeed a hit marker to their soul; lift-up the spirits of nationalism and the sense of identity towards resistance.

Africa is a poem by David Diop. Regardless of his background where he was brought up in France, his true sense of being an African portrayed in all his literary works. In our point of view perhaps, this poem is a reflection of the poet’s heart of his longing towards his country; Africa. He feels proud to be an African as he amazed of the spirit that shows by his ancestors which struggle in their life. Ancestor here means the previous generation of African. As we know the previous generation of African faces the bitterness in order to gain the liberty. These lines show us the sense of longing towards the mother land and how the persona appreciates their oppression in life.
I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins
Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your work
The work of your slavery

Another theme that we found in Africa is the hatred towards colonial which we can refer to these lines:

Africa, tell me Africa
Is this your back that is unbent
This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying no to the whip under the midday sun

The persona giving the reality of what his ancestor had gone through so as to gain the freedom. Besides, through this poem, the persona also wants to give awareness toward the new generation of African so that they will not forget about their past history. It is not only to remember the past but it is about to preserve the national liberty that truly belongs to them.

We chose Kamala Das’s poem from India to present the notions of nationhood,
an Introduction. It is a poem about post-colonial women in India who struggling for their self agency and national identity. In the first line of the poem, the persona reflects her knowledge of the political issues in her country even though it may sounds strange for a typical Indian woman to know about politics as well as the world. The persona, or we would like to refer as a woman, knows her roots and identity of being an Indian woman. In fact, the persona does not want to be like any other typical Indian woman as she thinks she deserves to know more than that. Her life belongs to the land. Kamala Das is one of India’s foremost poets. Even though most of her works touch the issues of feminism, yet we still chose her work as there is certain elements of nationhood that we can take into consideration. The assigning of gender roles within a nation has deep implication for the development of that nation’s identity (Susan, 2008). This is what Kamala Das attempt to raise in her poems. Women are established as culture bearers where she preserves traditions of the community as well as the land. In fact, nations are commonly referred to in female terms such as “the motherland”, and physically embodied by such female icons as the Statue of Liberty, Britannia and Marianne (Susan, 2008). Hence, in an Introduction, the persona in the poem concerns the issues of women in a notion of nationhood.

Short story is another way to show the notion of the nationhood among the postcolonial countries. Here, in this anthology there are four short stories from Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines. Each of the short stories has different kind of issues that was being raised regarding to their situation in the country. Therefore, we have chosen these stories which are Arriving by K.S Maniam, The Son of Rizal by Jose Garcia Villa, The Interview by Gopal Bratham and Retired Rebel by Suchen Christine Lim in order to provide the readers the information on how people in postcolonial countries celebrate their sense of nationalism.

Arriving another hit-hearto from Malaysian writer, K.S Maniam, is a story of a character named Krishnan who suddenly become uncertain of his true identity. The called pendatang have been disturbing his soul and mind which then he recalled his ancestral background. Being the minority group in the land named Malaysia together with other races such as Malays and Chinese not such a problem to him yet the word ‘pendatang’ had changed his psychologically minded of searching his true identity.

Maniam is also known to experiment with literary techniques in all three genres of fiction-short stories, plays and novels. His use of dream and flashbacks in many of his works allow for a more complex plot and undoubtedly, challenging read.
(2004, p. 173)

The context of his text is surrounded of an important aspect of the “local culture” which can also be traced in Maniam’s use of realism and naturalism. He often writes about the issues relevant to the migrant Tamil community in Malaysia. In Arriving, Maniam depicted of the struggle of the protagonist, Krishnan, who is the third generation on the migrant Tamil, to find a sense of belonging in the adopted land. To some extend, Krishnan tries to believe that he is a pendatang, but then he realized that the only things and the only country that he knows and belongs to is Malaysia, not India where his ancestors used to be. Indeed, he is from India but his country or to be more meaningful, his motherland, the land which he possessed the life since he was born is truly and only Malaysia.

Krishnan would say, “Yes, I’m always arriving, arriving. I’ll never reach. Reaching is dying. Reaching is not arriving. Arriving at what? I don’t know. Only arriving. Never getting there. Arriving.”
There are two different meaning that can be looked into this statement made by Krishnan. Arriving here in that sense means of he came from a different land or to be exact his ancestors were came from a different land but he has arrived in this adopted land to be Malaysian; a part of the nation and he is belong to this adopted land.

The Son of Rizal is a story from Philippines by Jose Garcia Villa. This story is about a man who meets with Juan Rizal on his way return to his home after viewing the annual Rizal Day parade. This guy has attracted to Juan Rizal as he is willingly to listen to Juan Rizal’s story. Surprisingly, Juan Rizal tells him that he is the son of the national hero of Philippines. Everybody knows that Jose Rizal has no son, but he hesitantly has to believe in Juan Rizal’s story as he seems like pleading him to believe. Their conversation stops when Juan Rizal has reached to his place, Calamba. After a month, this man has an invitation of a friend at Calamba. He wishes to visit Juan Rizal too, there, the secret reveals when his friend tell him the truth. Juan Rizal is not Jose Rizal’s son; his real name is Juan Kola. Children called him Juan Sira which means nutty Juan. He will tell everybody that Jose Rizal was his father as there is a sad story behind it. His father was a very cruel to him: he used to beat him for any or no reason at all. He grew to hate his father as much as he feared him. But when his father died he feels really sad as he used to his father meanness and cruelty. He started thinking of Jose Rizal and forgets everything about his real father. What the most touchable thing about this story is the spirit of the hero that lives with the people in Calamba.

Then the boy began thinking of Rizal. Rizal was born here, you know, and that makes him closer to us than to you who live elsewhere. Rizal to us is a reality, a magnificent, potent reality, but to you he is only a myth, a golden legend. He is to you a star, far away, bright, unreachable. To us he is not unreachable for he is among us. We feel him, breath with him, live with him. Juan Kola lived with him-lives with him.
The sense of patriotism among these people should be in the entire citizen of Philippines. Not only by celebrating Rizal Day Parade, but they have to practice the words of the national hero and having the spirit of him so as to defend the liberty of their motherland.

The interview by Gopal Baratham is a story from Singapore which is relating the experience of interviewing Brigadier Mason, a British army during the world war. The interview started by asking his experience being imprisoned by Japanese army. From the interviewing process, there are many things to discover about life during war that the new generation does not know. On the other hand, the interview with Brigadier Mason will certainly provide nostalgia for the older viewer. The journalist father asked him to interview Brigadier Mason due to certain reason; one of the reasons is to give the clear picture of previous generation face during the war.

‘The trouble with you people,’ he frequently said, ‘is that you did not live
through war.
You haven’t seen enough change and suffering to value solid principles.’

These lines mean that the problems of the present generation is that they did not exactly take a lesson of what have been done by the old generation where they have to face difficulties in order to get independence. They will celebrate the day of independence but did they really understand the meanings of independence and the soul of bring glory to the nation.

Suchen Christine Lim on the other hand is emphasizing national language and resistance against colonialism in her short story titled ‘Retired Rebel’. The main character, Jimmy is a retired corporal insists to never look up to the British even he had worked for them for twelve years. He is proud to admit that he is better than the whites, as can be seen in the very first paragraph;

“I’ve worked for twelve years with the British Army, but I didn’t look up to the British even then. In fact, I looked down on them. I was a rebel, I tell you. Don’t talk pidgin to me, I told the Brits. You want to speak to me, speak proper English, I said.

As Jimmy told his story to Maria, his Philipino maid, he gives many examples of how dumb a white man even in using his own mother tongue. Jimmy had actually received his former education at St Joseph and he did learn English very well. That’s why he can speak properly and hold his head high. However, although Singapore had declared English as their national language, back in the early years after British pulled out of Singapore, there are some Singaporean who didn’t like Jimmy because they thought he is very proud to speak the colonial’s language. They once called him ‘English boot licker’ and ‘English shit’ just because he speaks English very well and his Chinese was not so good. This is, obviously the other evidence of resistance against colonialism in this short story. The folks think that when you speak English properly, you are actually supporting the colonialist. But then Jimmy tried to prove he is still a Chinese Singaporean who loves his root and doesn’t betray his nation. Ever since he had retired, he still being a rebel against the whites.

Finally, the anthology has been prepared so as to emphasize on the issue of nationhood in the postcolonial countries that we have chose. The short stories and poems are not only to be read as interesting pieces of art, but they have to be read as guidance so as to be a good citizen. We have been reading the short stories and make analysis for each genre and we found it is beneficial to educate the new generation of their countries history.


The Son of Jose Rizal

(Author's Note: Doctor Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, died a martyr's death. Accused of sedition against the mother country, Spain, Rizal was deported, imprisoned, and finally shot. He was married on the morning of his execution. The day of his death is observed annually in the Philippines as an official holiday. Doctor Rizal left no son.)


Last December 30 I boarded the last afternoon train for Lucena, Tayabas. I had waited until the afternoon to leave, for in the morning my wife, my children and I had gone to the Luneta to view the annual Rizal Day parade. On the morning of the 31st I had to close an
important land deal in Lucena.

From my compartment in the train I could see that the third-class cars were filling with returning provincials who had come to the city -- Manila -- to celebrate the day. They formed a clumsy, motley, obstreperous group and crowded both the station platform and the steps to the cars.

They bustled and palavered loudly like little, unruly children. Some were students going home for a day or two, and they were easily and contrastingly distinguishable from the rest by their modern, flashy clothes. There was a short, ducklike fellow among them who hummed "Ramona," but nobody listened to him for another was cracking a joke about women.

There was much pushing and jostling on the steps to the cars, and a woman who was invisible, whose feet had been injudiciously stepped upon, issued a string of shrill invectives. She called the persons about her "Goats!... Pigs!... Brutes!" She cried to them: did they have no regard for women, did they have no conscience, and, oh! of what advantage being a woman if you had to be trampled upon like an old, useless mat!...

But there was one person of all this crowd who caught my true attention -- or was it a feeling of pity? I felt guilty that I should think myself so superior as to bestow compassion on a fellow creature. Yet there I was, feeling it, and unable to help myself... He was a small, debile, bark-colored man, lugging a long, narrow buri bag which in the native tongue is called bayong. He found difficulty in pushing through the group on the steps to the car, and finally retreated quietly to the platform. On his shallow, thin face was written the fear he had that the train might start before he had got on. The black-green, shapeless, old felt hat that he wore was too small for his head, and he pulled it in deeper. Then the
locomotive bell began to ring its slow, awing, annunciative notes, and the man got nervous. He was pitifully helpless like a lost animal as he stood there not knowing where to get on.

In my pocket I had two tickets, for not quite fifteen minutes ago my eldest son had insisted on going along with me, but had later on desisted. The tickets had been bought, and I could not find the nerve to return the other. In such little things I am most conscious and sensitive, and would feel myself brazen and shameless, if I returned with indifference the things already paid for... Caritatively again (and I hated myself for it) I thought of offering the other ticket to the man.

Half guiltily I whistled to him, and he glanced confusedly in my direction. I beckoned him to approach, which I saw he was reluctant to do -- so afraid was he that he would lose more time and not get on the train at all. But I raised my two tickets for him to see, and I surmised that he understood my intention, for he hobbled hurriedly to my window. In brief words I explained to him that I had an extra ticket, and would he be kind enough to share my company in my compartment? I was alone, I said. Timidly yet eagerly he accepted my

The steps to the first-class cars are often, if not always, clear, and soon he was at the door of my compartment. He mumbled a ceremonious, deferential greeting, removing the black-green hat. I told him to step in, and he did so, silently lifting the buri bag and depositing it on the iron net above our heads; beside it he placed the hat. Then he settled himself awkwardly on the seat opposite mine, and regarded me with soft, friendly, pathetic eyes.... The train started.

He was sparely built and poorly dressed. He wore the poor man's camisa-chino, but it was clean and freshly starched. He had on white drill trousers and red velvet slippers.

He smiled shyly at me and I smiled in return.

"You see, I've got my ticket," he tried to explain, pulling it out of his camisa-chino's pocket, "but it was hard to get in. I cannot afford to ride in here, you know," he confessed half embarrassed. His thick lips moved slowly, docilely, and his voice was thin, slow and sad. His small, round, melancholy eyes were lowered in humility.

I told him I was glad to help him. I said I was bound for Lucena, and he where?

"Calamba. That is where I live.... I have three children -- two little girls and a boy. Their mother -- she died at childbirth."

I expressed my sympathy and told him I hoped the children were well.

"They are good children," he said contentedly.

We fell into a warm, friendly chat. He was well-mannered in speech, and although he did not talk fluently -- sometimes he was tongue-tied -- yet he managed to convey his thoughts.

We became confidential in each other, and I spoke to him of my business. I said I was married and had more children than he had, and was a commercial agent. I said I was tired of the work but was not sure I would be more successful in other lines.

He was sympathetic and in return spoke to me about himself and his trade. His name was Juan Rizal and he was a shoemaker. He had a little shop in the front of his house. "It is not a big house," he said.

I said: "You have a good name: Juan Rizal."

"My father is Rizal," he answered.

"Then maybe you are a relative of the hero," I said inferentially.

"Near relation, I suppose."

"No. Rizal is my father" he said. "Rizal. Doctor Rizal," he emphasized, and I saw a brilliant light of pride in his small, buttonlike eyes. "Yes," he affirmed himself with not a little bombast.

I said I had not heard and did not know that Rizal had a son.

"Yes, he has," he said matter-of-factly. "I am he." And he looked at me superiorly.

"The books do not speak of Rizal having a son," I said.

"They don't know," he negated with perfect self-confidence. "They don't know -- at all. I am the son of Rizal."

As he said this, he sat himself erect, lifted his chest out, and plaited together his fingers on his lap. He was little and thin, and when he stretched himself to look great and dignified, he became pathetically distorted. Now he looked elongated, disconcertingly elongated, like an extending, crawling, loathsome leech.

And I was moved and I lied: "I am glad to know you. I am glad to know the son of Rizal," I said.

"Rizal had only one son," he explained. "I am he, that son -- yes, I am he. But people won't believe me -- they are envious of me."

There was a slight whimpering, protestive note in his voice. His thick lips quivered and a film covered his eyes. I thought he was going to cry and I began to feel uncomfortable.

"They are envious of me," he repeated, and could not say more -- a choking emotion had seized him. He swayed lightly as though he would fall.

I realized the intensity of his feeling and I kept quiet. When he regained himself, he asked me in a half fearful, half apologetic tone:

"Do you believe me?"

I faltered: "Y-yes."

A happy light beamed in his dumb, doglike eyes.

He said: "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." He said this, straining himself, for he was greatly excited with gratitude.

There passed moments of silence, and we looked through the window at the passing scenes. The greenery in the soft sunlight was beautiful and healthy, imparting to the eyes a sense of coolness, of vastness. The air, though rather warm, we felt cool and soothing. The train moved smoothly, like a vessel on a very peaceful sea.

It was I who broke the silence. I said I had gone to the Luneta that morning to see the parade. The sun had been hot, and my wife, the children and I had perspired a lot. "It is a trial, waiting for and watching a parade," I said.

He said I was right and that he too had seen the parade. He had come to Manila for that purpose only. "I go once a year. It is a sort of -- pilgrimage. But -- I love my father, you see...."

It was a naive, full-souled statement, and he said it with contagious tenderness. His eyes ceased for the moment being dull and inexpressive -- the soft warmth of gentleness, of a supreme devotional love, filled them -- and they became the eyes of a dove.

"I love my father," he repeated wistfully, softly, as though he were chanting a most holy, sacred song.

But I (and may God punish me for my cruelty!) remarked inadvertently that he didn't look like his father.

A look of great, immeasurable hurt stole into his eyes, and he looked at me imploringly, questioned me with those small, melancholy eyes that but a moment ago had been so happy, so inspired, so tender. Struggling out of impending defeat, clamoring to be saved, to be believed in, those eyes looked at me so that a lump rose unwillingly to my throat.

But he said as though he bore me no grudge at all for my cruel remark -- said it softly, lowly, as though in solemn prayer:

"I take -- after my mother."

Yet he was disturbed, completely broken by my remark, I realized. It had cut him deeply, struck his very core, although he wanted to appear composed. And his efforts were futile: his unrest was visible everywhere in his person: his eyes grew painfully feverish, his
nostrils quivered, his lips trembled. And he gave it up with a twitch of his lips, let himself be as he felt, discoursed, to dispel my doubts; on his mother and his birth: [Note 1]

"My father and my mother -- they lived together before they were married. They lived in Talisay, during my father's deportation, but I was born in Dapitan. People don't know that. When I was born they thought -- thought -- I was dead. Dead. But that is not true. I was alive. People thought I was born so, because when my mother was in a delicate condition before my birth, my father played a prank on her and she sprang forward and struck against an iron stand. She became sick -- I was born prematurely. But I was alive. Do you understand? I was born, and alive -- and I lived" There was galvanic energy in his
excited voice. "My mother, she was Irish -- Josefina Bracken." He gazed deeper into my eyes. "I don't remember her well," he said. "I don't remember her. She had brown eyes and a little nose." He blew his nose with a cheap, colored handkerchief.

"My father liked her but maybe he did not love her. He loved Leonora. Leonora was his cousin. They were separated when my father went to Europe. Leonora's mother intercepted his letters -- she withheld them from Leonora. When my father came back she was married." He stopped and brooded.

"I ran away from my mother when I was old enough to do so. I ran away to Calamba. My father was born there. I wanted to go there -- to live there. I have lived there ever since.... Have you ever been to Calamba?"

I said: "No."

"My father married my mother on the morning of his execution," he pursued. "My father was brave," he said. "He was not afraid of the Spaniards. He fell forward when they shot him -- they wanted to shoot him in the back, but he turned around and fell forward."

He was greatly excited. His face was flushed. "They shot him -- my father -- the white scoundrels! They shot my father -- as they would -- a dog!" He was indignant and a string of tirades left his lips. He shook with fuming rage. His thin, sticklike fingers closed and opened frantically. He was so vituperative I was afraid he did not realize what he was saying.

I stretched a comforting hand to his to calm him down. He looked at me with quivering lips and I realized his helplessness. He told me with rising, apologetic consciousness that he had not meant to upset me. He begged tearfully for my forgiveness, clutching my hands tightly in his. "Please forgive me," he said. "Please forgive me."

I was afraid he would kneel down, so I moved over to his side and said I understood.

"Do you?" he said. "Do you?" His voice was pleading, full of internal ache.

"I do," I said.

He quieted down. He turned his face away from mine, ashamed that he had let his feelings run loose.

We were silent again. Only the chug-chug-chug of the train could be heard, and the wind-tossed laughter of those in the neighboring compartments. The air had grown cooler, dusk was fast approaching, and only a lone bird flitted in the sky. There was a sweet, flowing sound as we crossed a rivulet.

My companion turned to me and made me understand that he was desirous of asking a question. I encouraged him.

"His books -- you have read my father's books, the Noli and the Filibusterismo?" There was still a tremor in his voice, and he mispronounced the last title, calling it "Plisterismo."

"Only the Noli," I said. "I have not had the time to read the other."

He kept his questioning gaze, and I gathered that he wanted me to talk on the book.

"It is a good book," I said. "Only a keen, observant mind could have written it."

He beamed and showed happiness at my words. Peace and repose spread over his face.

"I am glad you like it. I have -- never read it. That is why I asked you. I have -- never learned to read."

We were approaching the station of Calamba, Laguna.

"We are nearing your place," I said.

"Yes," he said, and a sadness was now in his voice. "I wish," he murmured, "I could invite you home."

"I will drop in some day."

The train slackened speed and finally stopped. I helped the son of Rizal lift the buri bag from the net.

"For my children," he explained, smiling. "I bought them fruits."

He asked me before he alighted: "Do you really believe me?"

"I do."

He was very happy and shook my hands effusively.

"Good-bye," he said.


The train moved again.


The following month I went to Calamba on the invitation of a friend. It had been a long time, about six years, since we had last met in the city, and now I was to be godfather to his firstborn. The choosing of the name depended on me, he had written, and I was elated by it. Aside from the customary baptismal gift, I brought with me a plaster bust of Rizal which I intended to present to Juan Rizal; I purposed to drop in on him for a while.

After the ceremony I asked my host if he knew anything about Juan Rizal.

"Yes," he said. "You mean Juan Kola."

I told him to explain.

"He is a shoemaker -- owns a little shop near the edge of the town. The children call him Juan Sira. You know what that means: nutty."

"Tell me more."

"Well, he calls himself Juan Rizal -- tells that to people whom he meets.... There is a sad story behind it. I will tell it to you:

"When Juan Kola was a small boy, his father was very cruel to him: he used to beat him for any or no reason at all. Naturally the boy grew to dislike his father -- learned to hate him as much as he feared him. But when the boy was twelve or thereabouts, the father died. The boy knew no happiness so great so that he cried. Otherwise the boy would
not have wept: he was so used to his father's meanness and cruelty that any sorrow, any pain, could not make him cry -- he had forgotten how to cry -- had learned to stifle that surging in the breast that brings tears to the eyes -- and he would merely whine, dry-eyed, like a kicked puppy. But this time he wept, and for a long time afterwards you could see him in the streets crying. And when people asked him why he cried, he replied, 'I don't know. I just want to cry.' He was not evading the truth, the boy simply had no words for it. But the people knew.

"Then the boy began thinking of Rizal. Rizal was born here, you know, and that makes him closer to us than to you who live elsewhere. Rizal to us is a reality, a magnificent, potent reality, but to you he is only a myth, a golden legend. He is to you a star, faraway, bright, unreachable. To us he is not unreachable for he is among us. We feel him, breathe with him, live with him. Juan Kola lived with him -- lives with him. In his young untutored mind he knew that if Rizal were his father he would be a good father, a supremely beautiful father -- and he, Juan Kola, would always be happy. And so Juan Kola, the little unhappy boy, made Jose Rizal his father.

"He was a poor boy, Juan Kola, and he could not go to school. He had to work and earn his living. He does not read nor write, but he knows much about Rizal's life from the school-teacher who boarded with the shoemaker to whom he was apprenticed. Of nights, when work was over, he would go to her, to this schoolteacher, and ask her questions --
and she, filled with sympathy for the boy, gave him of her time.

"When Juan's father died, he destroyed all his father's things. There was a picture left of his father, but he burned it, not wishing to remember anything of his true parent. He wanted to be fully the son of his adopted father. From then on he was the son of Rizal.

"And that," concluded my friend, "is the story of Juan Sira. The children have misnamed him: it is cruel, unjust. He who can dream of beautiful things, and live in them, surely he is great -- and wise."

"Take me to Juan Rizal," I said.

* * *

I presented my gift to Juan Rizal in his shabby, little nipa home.

Juan Rizal was exultant when he opened the package containing Rizal's bust. "I have always wanted one, but I could not afford it," he said with tremulous lips and adoring eyes.

And when I was to leave, he kissed my hands fervently and told his children to do the same. His eyes were wet but happy.

"God will reward you," he said, as I descended the narrow, rickety bamboo steps


ARRIVING by K.S Maniam

When Krishnan left the coffeeshop, where he had been drinking Chinese tea with his friends, he was unsteady on his feet. The Familiar building he walked past came tilting at him. A crow, scavenging at a pile of garbage, squawked and flew to shelter in a nearby rain tree.
He didn’t mean that, he told himself. We’ve known each other for too long. Pendatang! Only politicians campaigning for votes used that word. Not always. Some minister had gone up to the platform to discourage its use. These people are not pendatangs. Their great grandfathers were pendatangs. Some of their grandfathers were pendatangs. Their fathers were not pendatangs. They’re not pendatangs. The minister had spoken angrily, heatedly. Krishnan remembered. Newspapers hardly used the word after that. Or only in special cases. Krishnan remembered that.
As he neared his house, he hesitated. He looked at the corner terrace house he had bought thirty years ago, drawing out his meager savings for its down payment. You’ll become bankruptlah, his friends had told him. Twenty thousand dollars! Lot of money, man! But he had managed. The house stood as he had bought it; no extensions or renovations jutted out and distorted the kitchen or the porch.
He pushed open the outer gate-always unlocked-and went up the short, cemented driveway. His wife appeared at the grille-doors and let him into the house. (She had insisted that the iron grilles be fitted saying, ‘I’m the one who’s always at home!’)
“Something the matter?” she said.
“No,” he said, lying down on the sofa.
“Sure? Any palpitations?” she asked.
She had picked up the word ‘palpitations’ from a pamphlet on stress and heart diseases, hearing that men in their forties onwards had to be careful.
“Any pain?”
“Maybe,” he said. “ I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Who’s going to talk? We’ve to do something,” she said.
“Not that kind of pain,” he said.
His wife let him be. The occasions he withdrew into himself, to be alone, were rare and he always came out of these spells refreshed and cheerful. And he always ate with renewed appetite. But not that evening. He still lay, not stirring, on the sofa at dinner time.
“The food’s ready,” his wife said.
“I’m not hungry,” he said.
“Too much Chinese tea?”
“I just don’t feel like eating,” he said, surprised by this anger at his wife.
“Something’s really wrong,” she said, sitting down in an armchair, watching him.
He turned his head-something he had never done-away from his wife, towards the clutch of darkness in the corner. Mat’s face crowded in on him, large cynical, angry. What had he said to make him so furious? He wondered.
“If you get hungry, the food’s on the table,” his wife said and went to fold and put away the day’s laundry.
Krishnan hardly heard her. Had they been talking about imports and exports? Computer technology? The breaking up of the East European bloc? He couldn’t decide. He only remembered Mat’s many faces: Mat puffing up his cheeks, Mat’s blinking and yawning, Mat pursing his lips in indignation. Then the shattering accusation: ‘You pendatang!’ And mat had walked away.
What did it mean, pendatang? Arrivals? Illegals?
Pendatang. He had heard the word used on the Vietnamese people coming to the east coast of the country by the boatloads. Soon they became the boat-people. The courage of these people had astonished Krishnan. He thought of the long cramped, hazardous voyage. He read in the newspapers of their being attacked by pirates; the young women raped and the men flung overboard to drawn and the flesh on their bodies sucked away by horny fish lips. They belonged nowhere; their feet could never touch firm land. He was horrified at the defacing done to a people by violence and ideology. In his dreams he was haunted by a face floating in the sea, ravaged beyond recognition by the greed for power and possessions.
Pendatang. He had seen these other people, the Indonesians, at constructions sties. Building the Tudor-Spanish-Moorish houses in the suburbs. They themselves camped in makeshift shacks and bathed in the open, at the common tap. The women’s sarongs, knotted at their breasts, clung to their bodies like dried, brown blood. The children skins were covered with the soil their parents had dug up to lay the foundations for the houses. In the evenings, having nowhere to go, they sat under dim bulbs, and quarrelled. Men fought over women, over the soft touch of love on the labour-caloused flesh. Or something had gone wrong in the conversation of the ringgit into rupiah and the relatives back home forced to starve?
Krishnan stiffened against the sudden, engulfing darkness that threatened to blank out everything he had known about himself. He was the vagrant blotted-out face bobbing to the hidden currents in the sea of dissolution. He clutched at memory, clawed at familiarity. But he only floated, set adrift by this new uncertainty, towards an unfamiliar landfall.
“The ship stank of human dung,’ his father’s words come to him, ‘and we, the human cattle, floated above that odour, towards our new land.”
He tried hard to recall his father’s memories of his voyage out to Malaysia but his mind was chocked with some strange obstruction. Krishnan lay in that region between water and land trying to pull away from the matted, dark intrusion, but his determination seemed to fail. Yes, it has been his determination that had kept him innocent of his father’s experiences. He had decided, when he became aware of his budding consciousness, not to be influenced by other people’s memories and nostalgia. He clawed at familiarity. But he only floated, set adrift by this new uncertainty, towards an unfamiliar landfall.
His wife shook him by the shoulder, startling away the thin, forming line of submerged recollections.
“ At least come to bed,” she said and stood, waiting.
He followed her to their bedroom and changed into a sarong and t-shirt, his arm flailing as if against some wave of the unknown, and lay down beside her. In the dark he saw her shoulder rise and fall like the faint outline of a land he had never known. His son and daughter — expecting her first child — were out there, absorbed by the land rocking on its own, unfathomable centre.
He struggled against the dark waters of uncertainty for a long time. Many times he was sucked into a fathomless fear but, finally, he rose to the surface, strengthened. He lay watching the rest of the night crumble away into a new torment.
The morning, when he sat near the door with his cup of tea, did not come up at him with its dew-and-soil soaked grass, did not come with its soft and unimposing light. Instead he caught a whiff of rotten sewage being carried down the monsoon drain from across the road. The light falling across the doorway ran points of harshness into his awakened flesh.
Pendatang. One who arrives. One who goes through different experience o reach the most enlightening knowledge, he thought. How like my father’s thinking! How foolishly I thought I didn’t come from his loins!
In the evening he bathed, the water slapping against a new grittiness on his skin, and put on the pants he had worn to work. He felt he was getting into anther struggle, different from the one Mat and he had gone through with Mr.Cuthbert, their British boss, before independence.
As he passed, on his way to the coffeshop, the houses he had accepted as solid and unshakeable for more than thirty years, he thought he detected cracks here and there. No, they were not just splits in the concrete work. They were more than that: the Chinese sundry shop at the corner seemed to wobble on its isolation. He had heard a lot about that shop when he came to live in the neighborhood. But, at that time they had only been stories for him. A string of words from different mouths, adding colour to the place. Now these stories became sinister episodes in a life that had remained inaccessible.
They smacked of the agony of a private history: they all spoke of the attempt of a man to shape himself after his own dreams. Ah Ho, he no good, they had said. Running away, hiding from things he done before. Now thinking he only shopkeeper. But he bring the money from bad deeds he done before. Now dress simple, looking like he never cut people up or kill them maybe. Didn’t run far. Can’t hide from past too long. These things catch up, you know. On day a gang come, beat him up, smash up his shop. But the man still stubborn. Next day he pretend nothing happen. Built up his shop again. Another time the gang come again. Do bad things to his daughter. Still the man pretend nothing happen. If me, my spirit will rise. Will smash up the faces of those thugs!
But when Krishnan passed the old man, Ah Ho, standing behind the counter, the old man smiled at him as if life had been, so far, an untroubled one.
The street beyond Ah Ho’s shop curved into a beckoning distance as each shop thrust its own past at Krishnan. Getting to the coffeshop was like traveling against a slope. Each patch of the road intruded upon him, wanting to be known.
At last he sighted, in the interior of the coffeshop, the people he had no difficulty in remembering. They were connected, web-like, to a round marble that reflected the turning fan and the still glaze of the tea pot. Even as he approached them, he saw their hands weave into hair-thin fragility their solidarity.
“ Here at last!” Wong said.
“ What happened to you, man?” Teng said. “ Not yet retired from your wife?”
Their laughter brightened the table like the shine of unreal gold.
“ You can’t retire from anything,” Krishnan said.
“Wah, how the man change!” Teng said.
Wong, the more serious among them, looked at Krishnan as if seeing him for the first time.
“ All words. Nothing comes from that,” he said.
“ Only when you’re innocent,” Krishnan said. “ To be innocent is to be stupid.”
“ You’ve known Mat Long for a long time,” Wong said. “ You should know better.”
“ I don’t know anything.” Krishnan said, “ But it isn’t too late.”
“ Not late!” Teng said. “ Look who’s talking! We’re all late. One foot already in grave.”
“ We must go in peace, man,” Francis Lim, a Christian but who had not abandoned his Chinese habits, said.
“ As if we were never awake,” Krishnan said, almost to himself. “ But where’s he?”
“ He come once or twice,” Wong said “ Maybe won’t come again.”
“ Something there deep inside..” Krishnan said.
“ Nothing deep there, man,” Francis Lim said. “Just jetsam, flotsam words.”
Listening to them, Krishnan felt he was cut adrift again and was floating away to those grasping lips that would tear him to shreds.
He sat there, not listening waiting, recollecting. He had once seen Wong strike, with lightning fury, at the waiter who had not com with his pot of tea on time. Wong had lashed out with an energy that though lying hidden beneath the surface came exploding through with instinct-charged aggression. His hand went for the bread knife with practiced sureness. The proprietor had stepped in, pacified him by reviling the worker and led Wong, who still trembled with the uncompleted assault, back to the table.
Beneath Francis Lim’s Christian sense of charity, Krishnan remembered seeing a violent self-possessiveness. They had been talking about the individual rights of the citizens in the country.
“ What individual rights?” he had almost thundered. “ You take what you can and don’t let go. Those are the only rights you have.”
“ Chop-chop,” Teng had said. “ You fist, you knife, you gun. That give you what you want.You stand up somebody kick you down some more.”
And he laughed, saying, “ You know who that somebody.” He was looking at Mat. But they had all laughed, including Mat, as if they all accepted the deceptions they practiced on each other.
“ This not like you, man,” Teng now said. “Think. Think. What for think?”
Krishnan came out of his musings; he stared, disoriented, at Teng. The man’s humour-jowled face was also laced with a trace of viciousness. His jokes seemed to bite, cling and make vulnerable Krishnan’s distress. Their rugged edges sawed and dismembered the fragile reassurances he floated upon.
“ For you, all right,” Krishnan said, “No need to think. I have to. Didn’t think all my life.”
But no one said anything. They sat drinking their Chinese tea and ruminating on the fading evening light that made the table and chairs, shadows, and the men, ghosts.
The treacherous gloom of the dying day was thick with the betrayal of his friends. He staggered through the labyrinthian deceit, his earlier determination deserting as some fickle frailty. He saw no struggle ahead of him, only surrender. But the thought came to him, in the light of his new knowledge, that he had always been turning away from circumstances and people, to give in to himself. How right Mat was! He thought. He always coming into himself. Yes, he was a pendatang!
His wife received him again, her face reflecting the bitter staring on his own: they had lived close together without really knowing what went on inside each other. She glowed when he glowed; he was pleased when she was pleased. Had anything happened behind that glow and that pleasure?
He hugged this doubt to himself throughout the simple meal she had prepared and throughout the night as he lay beside the unquestioning heave of known and unknown flesh. He sweated and strange sounds caught in his throat as he waited for the man of the night before to reach out him.
Instead somebody else come. At first Krishnan could not recognize him. The flesh was so young, firm and unlined; the face was so rounded, placid and untouched. Could he have come from all that confidence? He wondered. Then he stilled his mind and watched as this young man move, worked, talked and fell into the snares of friendship.
There he was moving with Mat. They are in the office and Mat was just come out from Mr. Cuthbert’s office, after a dressing down. There is an expression on Mat’s face Krishnan does not understand.
“Upstart! Mat says. “ Who does he think he is? Coming here to teach me. To teach me!”
Krisnan is reminded of a freshwater fish taken out and put into a bucket of sea water. The scaly thing bucks and rebuffs, striking out, indignantly, at some substance in the water that threatens it with domination. Mat’s face is all bathed in a fine sweat of rejection. Then it changes, breaks out into playfulness.
“ A time will come,” Mat says. “Let’s go eat!”
The stairs leading into the sunshine and to the food stalls is covered with their daily stepping out. The ascent on their return – energy restored – is caked with relief and camaraderie. But Krishnan sees a shadow following them, in and out of the building, and sinking out of sight when they are at their desk, working.
As he watches, the shadow goes underground: it divides and submerged itself in Mat and in himself. Whenever they talked about Mr. Cuthbert, Krishnan can feel it straining against the tide of words. He watches Mat, he watches himself: the faces are flashed by a common sympathy, by a common fear. Now the door to Mr. Cuthbert’s room does not remain shut on some impenetrable world of authority. It swings outwards, beckoning, and draws Mat and Krishnan past it fearsome threshold.
Getting accustomed to its darkness, they see that there is no furniture in the room. The walls are maps; the floor is time moving without pause. When they try to steady themselves their bodies shiver. Mat and Krishnan look at each other, their skins sweating fear. Only their minds are alive, preparing to ward off the shadows detaching themselves from the maps from the time-floor.
Then, suddenly, their minds cannot repel anything, not the shadows, not the countries that come hurtling at them through time. The fear they have held on to leaves them. The boundaries of their self-centred consciousness, breaks, and releases them into the continuum of a new awareness. And the people come through the centuries, their clothes patchy with history but their faces aglow with abstraction, aglow with enigmatic wholeness. Krishnan and Mat are specks of fascination in the tide of wholeness.
And as specks of unenclosed awareness they flow along the banks of time, recognizing here a primeval adventurer, there and Alexander outdistancing their native lands; there is Buddha in his bubble of meditation and further down the Greek sages wrapped up in their own wisdom. Riding the time cells, they go past the cataclysm of nations at war, cultures in conflict and come to their own histories and see the conquistadors bringing their ships and their ways of living to the country`s shores. There is no stopping time and soon Mr. Cuthbert comes into their vision, puny and defeated, his personal history in tatters but his spirit shining through to the future. Then Mat and Krishnan come face-to-face with the figure of a man, historyless, moving on the current of discovery and when they look behind him there is nothing; when they look where he is looking there is a swirling mist of everything.
Then Krishnan stepped out and awakened into his own consciousness. His fear was gone, banished by a wide, ranging bewilderment. In the dark he sensed the contours of his wife`s body, enclosing emptiness. Their lives and had been a mere accumulation of days, the shell of a house, the husks of practical tasks. He had turned away and reduced to a comfortable dot all that he did not want to understand. That had been his reaction on being summoned to Mr. Cuthbert`s office: to shun that which made one man dominate another and turn inwards into his cocoon of assurances.
‘the loins of my father, the loins of history,’ he thought, wonderingly, as he got up quietly from the bed and went to the living room. He switched on the dim wall light and opening the front door, looked out on the quiet street.
“Pendatang,” he told himself as he observed the shadows of the trees, telephone and electric poles trail off into a deeper, richer blackness. He had the feeling that he was looking at what had happened before and what lay before him without dismay, without fear.
“Pendatang,” he said softly, gratefully. “Pendatang, Pendatang, Pendatang.”
The word went inside him, into something other than self-conciousness. It went beyond the clay-covered skins of the construction workers. It went beyond the pursed indignation of Mat`s lips, the puffed-up smugness of his cheeks. It did not take Krishnan into himself; it took him into the beyond.
Daylight and his wife found Krishnan seated beside the door, gazing soberly on the street that ran past the house.
“You didn`t sleep at all?” his wife asked.
“Sometimes you must be more awake than asleep,” he said, turning to look at her.
The smile that had been absent for a while returned to her lips. She went to the kitchen to make his coffee, wondering if he would have the ravenous appetite that marked his emergence from the occasional and self-imposed isolation.
When she served launch, he ate like someone about to begin endless journey, relishing every morsel and yet not overfilling himself. She thought she saw in his eyes a light that she had not seen before – a light that gathered whatever happened around him to the pinpoint of a large purpose. In the evening she watched him go out to meet his friends and though she barely understood what he had gone through in recent weeks, she could not help noticing a new dignity that carried the figure of her husband over puddle and drain, past hut and bungalow, round the corner to the unfamiliar.
Krishnan walked towards the coffeeshop, the calm unsteadiness inside him absorbing whatever he saw and heard along the way. As he approached the garbage can he saw the crow that had squawked that reached into the one inside him. he thought it looked like a conquistador pecking away the wastes of history, trying to salvage. ‘ As Ah Ho did,’ Krishnan thought as he passed the sundry shop.
When he entered the coffeeshop he saw Wong, Francis Lim and Teng seated at the usual table as if they had not left it since the last time he had been with them. The table still held in its glaze their gesticulating shadows, given, he thought, to surrender.
“ Look who here!” Teng said. “So fresh! So wife service you good, ah?”
“ Your wife given up already?” Krishnan said.
Wong and Francis Lim looked at him, coming up from their self-absorbed stillness.
“You friend hear lah , looking for you,” Teng said.
“That Mat,” Wong said. “Strange man.”
“We should try to understand him,” Krishnan said.
“ You wasted a lifetime doing that,” Francis Lim said. “Maybe I loooked from the wrong side,” Krishnan said.
“You can change your position as many times as you want,” Wong said, “But he won’t.”
“The change will be good for us,” Krishnan said.
Teng laughed and the others sniggered; Krishnan listened to the ripples of scepticism, undiscouraged. He saw before him many evenings, filled with light and filled with shadows. Unchanging, between light and shadow, Mat would say, “Pendatang!” Krishnan would say, “Yes, I’m always arriving, arriving. I’ll never reach. Reaching is dying. Reaching is not arriving. Arriving at what? I don’t know. Only arriving. Never getting there. Arriving.”


Thursday, October 23, 2008

PATRIOTISM by Ee Tiang Hong

Surely by the time one reaches
The seventh generation,
The seventh heaven,
One is no longer subject
To all these?

The journey is over,
The conflicts, the strains, the trials
Resolved generations ago
In that choice, irrevocable,
To cross the seas.

And if there was gold
In the mines and in the jungles
There was also death, hunger and disease.

And surely after all these
The gates of heaven must open,
Unconditional, without question,
No question but that
All men are equal
Under the rain and sun.

Only, alas, who would have thought
Some heads have their reserve of cunning,
Rules will be broken,
Invisible henchmen will have their share
In assuring their security.

They demand
That we start all over again,
Prove our loyalty
(To God or Caesar?)
Or go back to where we came from,
They demand
That we accept the new order,
Stomach the reversal of our lot,
Hold our tongue, seal our lips,
Be grateful for what we have got
(The fruit of our toil),
They demand….

With all these, goodness,
How shall I breathe with dignity
What air of freedom there is
Here in my motherland?



Farewell, beloved country, sun-kissed land,
pearl of the eastern sea, lost paradise!
Gladly I yield my sad, my withered life:
if it were brighter, fresher and more fair,
still I would yield it for your happiness.

On battlefields, struggling with wild delight,
others for your sake selfless met their doom.
No matter where- be it cypress, laurel, iris,
scaffold or plain, combat or martyrdom,
if it was for their country and their home.

I die when I behold the sky turn red,
the last day breaking after gloomy night:
if you need cochineal to stain your dawn
then shed my blood, pour it while there is time,
gild it with tints of its emergent light!

My dreams when I was scarcely a child, a youth,
my dreams when I was young, still in my prime,
were to see you, jewel of the eastern sea,
one day with dark eyes dry, with smooth brow raised,
no frown, no wrinkles, tainted with no crime.

Dream of my life, my burning bright desire,
hail! Shouts my soul, now ready to go forth.
Hail! O how sweet to fall to give you flight,
to die to give you life, beneath your sky,
to sleep eternally in your charm earth.

If on my tomb one day you see a flower,
Simple and lowly, pushing through the grass,
lift it towards your lips and kiss my soul,
and on my brow I’ll feel, in the cold grave,
the touch, the warm breath of your tenderness.

Let the moon see me with its calm, soft beams,
let the dawn send its rays, so briefly splendid,
let the wind moan, earnestly murmuring;
and if upon my cross a bird should light,
let the bird tune its song of troubles ended.

Let the hot sun evaporate the rains,
and my cries drive them back to their abode;
let one who loves weep for my early end,
and if in the cool dusk one prays for me,
pray, too, my country, for my rest in God.

Pray for all those who perish unfulfilled,
for those who suffer torments unrelieved,
for our poor mothers groaning bitterly,
for orphans, widows, tortured prisoners,
pray for yourself, that you may be reprieved.

And when the dark enfolds the graveyard, leaving
only the dead to watch the long night through,
do not disturb their rest, their mystery:
if you hear strains of harp or psaltery,
dear country, it is I, singing for you.

And if my grave, forgotten by the world,
has neither cross nor headstone left to mark it,
let it be tilled by man, tended and sown,
and let my ashes, while there still is time,
become the very dust upon your carpet.

No matter then that I should be forgotten.
Your air, your space, your values, will know my wraith.
I’ll be a throbbing, pure note in your ear;
with scents, lights, colours, whispers, songs and groans
repeating still the essence of my faith.

Country I worship, grief of all my griefs,
dear Philippines, hear now the last farewell!
I leave you all-- my fathers, those I love;
I go where neither slaves nor tyrants are;
where God is king, where faith makes no man kill.

Fathers, brothers, parts of my soul, farewell!
friends of my childhood for ever lost!
Give thanks, that I rest from the weary day!
Farewell, fair stranger, happiness, my friend!
To die-- farewell , my loves ones!—is to rest!


ODE OF THE WAR WIFE by Doan Thi Diem

When in the world wild dust blows
fair of face has many woes:
Lord of the far blue kingdom
on whose account has this come?
Moonlight trembles to the thuds
Of Trang-an’s drum:
Cam-tuyen’s fire reaches the clouds.
The emperor at midnight
bares his jewelled sword to fight:
a proclaimation
and the war is on.
Past three hundred years of peace:
soldiers are called to service.
Imperial envoys travel:
duty now is all their will.
Though in arrows appareled
The soldier’s heart
is fixed on his wife and child.
Shadow of flag, distant drum:
sorrow runs to the frontier
resentment fills the room.
Young men of heroic rank
put away their pen and ink
take up their sword to conquer
cities for the Emperor.
A man’s will is do or die
to toss great mountains lightly:
in battledress
he bids his family farewell
whips his horse, crosses
Vi Bridge, the autumn winds howl.
The brook runs clear, seems filtered,
grass is still young by the road:
see him off with heavy heart
its road unlike his horse
its water unlike his boat.
Water flows, grief is turbid:
grass smells sweet
the heart is not comforted.
Goodbyes, more goodbyes and walk
hold hands
at each step tug his tunic
My heart follows like the moon:
your heart was far wars to win.
You fling
the last cup down, point your spear
at the cave of the tiger.
You set out to fight the foe
In the steps of a hero
your horse snow-white, uniform
red as sun before a storm.
Harness bell blends with drum beat.
Together, the next minute
apart: you must be away.
At the roadside
the flag waves sadly, sadly.
Chariots already press north:
horses still paw western earth.
Horses, chariots go with you:
does the willow
facing north-west know such woe?
The flute of war blows, echoes:
the flag move forward in rows.
into far clouds
I watch your footsteps vanish:
Returning home
I watch the mountains and wish.
You go forth to wild and wet:
I back to mat and blanket.
Each looks round, and is alone
in floods
of blue cloud and green mountain.



I don’t know politics but I know the names
Of those in power, and can repeat them like
Days of week, or names of months, beginning with
Nehru. I’m Indian, very brown, born in
Malabar, I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one. Don’t write in English, they said,
English is not your mother-tongue. Why not leave
Me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousins,
Every one of you? Why not let me speak in
Any language I like? The language I speak
Becomes mine, its distortions, its queernessess
All mine, mine alone. It is half English, half
Indian, funny perhaps, but it is honest,
It is as human as I am human, don’t
You see? It voices my joys, my longings, my
Hopes , and it is useful to me as cawing
Is to crows or roaring to the lions, it
Is human speech, the speech of the mind that is
Here and not there, a mind that sees and hears and
Is aware. Not the deaf, blind speech
Of trees in storm or of monsoon clouds or of rain or the
Incoherent mutterings of the blazing
Funeral pyre. I was child, and later they
Told me I grew, for I become tall, my limbs
Swelled and one or two places sprouted hair. When
I asked for love, not knowing what else to ask
For, he drew a youth of sixteen into the
Bedroom and close the door. He did not beat me
But my sad woman-body felt so beaten.
The weight of my breast and womb crushed. I shrank
Pitifully. Then…I wore a shirt and my
Brother’s trousers, cut my hair short and ignored
My womanliness. Dress in sarees, be girl,
Be wife, they said. Be embroiderer, be cook, be a quarreler with servants. Fit in. oh, belong, cried the categorizers. Don’t sit
On walls or peep in through our lace-draped windows.

Be Amy, or be Kamala. Or better
Still, be Madhavikutty. It is time to
Choose a name, a role. Don’t play pretending games.
Don’t play at schizophrenia or be a
Nympho. Don’t cry embarrassingly loud when
Jilted in love…. I met a man, love him. Call
Him not by any name, he is every man
Who wants a woman, just as I am every
Woman who seeks love. In him….the hungry haste
Of rivers, in me….the ocean’s tireless
Waiting. Who are you, I ask each and everyone,
The answer is, it is i. anywhere and
Everywhere, I see the one who calls himself
I ; in this world, he is tightly pack like the
Sword in its sheath. It is I who drink lonely
Drinks at twelve, midnight, in hotels of strange towns,
It is I who laugh, it is I who make love
And then feel shame, it is I who lie dying
With a rattle in my throat. I am a sinner,
I am saint. I am beloved and the
Betrayed. I have no joys which are not yours, no
Aches which are not yours. I too call myself I.


AFRICA by David Diop

frica my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
On the banks of the distant river
I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins
Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your work
The work of your slavery
Africa, tell me Africa
Is this your back that is unbent
This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying no to the whip under the midday sun
But a grave voice answers me
Impetuous child that tree, young and strong
That tree over there
Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers
That is your Africa springing up anew
Springing up patiently, obstinately
Whose fruit bit by bit acquires
The bitter taste of liberty.


About The Authors

Notes on Contributors

Ee Tiang Hong was born in Malacca in 1933 into a well known Baba family. Malay or Peranakan (the Baba variant of the Malay language) was his mother tongue. He grew up with the myths and mores of the Malay world. At the same time, even though he could not speak Chinese, the Chinese cultural strands remained in the core of values and beliefs, costume, cuisine and festivals. Like many of the older group of Malaysian writers in English, Ee was from the last generation to have been educated in English and to have seen so many political changes within a relatively short time. At the Tranquerah English High School where he had his primary education, Ee learnt English songs and rhymes; at the Malacca High School he was introduced to English poetry and the Western literary and cultural heritage behind it. He was an avid reader, and the Japanese occupation, which brought access to Japanese stories, served to broaden his reading (p.23-24).

K.S Maniam was born in Bedong, Kedah in 1942. He is a Tamil Hindu, a descendent of a former migrant who came to Malaya from India around 1916. His father was a laundryman for the local hospital and the parents also tapped rubber at a nearby estate. The familiar scene of living in a hospital compound and observing the estate worker’s lifestyle became the introduction to his sense of understanding of the Indian community which would form the basis of his first novel The Return. He began his primary education in a Tamil school but after a year, continued in English at the Ibrahim School in Sungai Petani, Kedah. After the completion of his schooling, Maniam became a student-teacher for a few months before leaving for India to study medicine. However, a year later, he left India for Britain, changing his area of studies to Education. He received his Certificate Education from the Malayan Teachers College in Wolverhampton, Britain in 1964, and later, taught for several years in secondary schools in Kedah. He then continued his studies at the University of Malaya where he received his Bachelors degree in 1973, and later his Masters degree in 1979 with a thesis entitled “A Critical History of Malaysian and Singaporean Poetry in English”. Upon completing his graduate studies, he became a faculty member of the English Department, as a lecturer between 1980 and 1986, and as an Associate Professor between 1987 and 1997. He has since retired from academia and is now a full-time writer (p.168-169).

Kamala Das was born on March 31, 1934 in Malabar in Kerala. She was recognized as one of the India’s foremost poets. She started to write poems in her early age as she was influenced by her uncle who is a prominent writer. Besides, Das also deeply affected by the poetry of her mother, Nalapat Balamani Amma, and the sacred writings kept by the matriarchal community of Nayar. She got her private education until the age of 15 and her husband, K. Madhava Das gives her full support in his writing.

Jose Garcia Villa is a poet, critic, short story writer and painter. He was born in Singalong, Manila, on 5th August 1908. His parents were Simeon Villa, personal physician of revolutionary general Emilio Aguinaldo, and Guia Garcia. He graduated from the UP High School in 1925 and enrolled in the pre-med course. He didn’t enjoy working on cadavers and he switched to pre-law, which he didn’t like either. A short biography prepared by the Foreign Service Institute said Villa was first interested in painting but turned to writing after reading Sherwood Anderson’s “Winesburg, Ohio”

Lee Tzu Pheng was born on May 13, 1946 and educated in Singapore. She has a Ph.D in English Department from the University of Singapore from where she has recently as a Senior Lecturer in its English Department. She has won the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) for her volumes of poems which were Prospect of a Drowning (1980), Against the Next Wave, (1988) and The Brink of An Amen (1991). Besides, she is also a Cultural Medallion Award winner for Literature in 1985, and was the recipient of other awards such as the Southeast Asia WRITE Award (1987), Gabriela Mistral Award (Chile, 1995) and the Montblanc-NUS Centre for the Arts Literary Award for English Poetry (1996). Lee is often seen as one of a generation of ‘nation-building’ English writers in Singapore, whose work in the 50’s-70’s questioned the identity of the newly independent nation (
Gopal Baratham has written three books of short stories and three novels. The stories are collected in Love Letters and Other Stories, People Make Your Cry and Memories That Glow in the Dark. The novels are A Candle Or the Sun, Sayang and Moonrise, Sunset. He is a neurosurgeon and lives Singapore (Dipika Mukherjee et.all, 2002).

David Diop was born in Bordeaux, France, of a Senegalese father and a Cameroonian mother. After his father died, he was raised by his mother. Diop had his primary education in Senegal, and then he attended the Lychee Marcelin Berthelott in Paris during World War II. At home Diop read the works of Aime Cesaire and debuted as a poet while still at school. Several of his poems were published in Leopold Senghor’s famous Anthologie dela nouvelle poesie negre at malgache (1948), which became an important landmark of modern black writing in French. Most of his life Diop lived in France, and he often expressed his longing to Africa in his poems: “Let these words of anguish keep time with your/restless step-/ Oh I am lonely so lonely here..” Due to his poor health- he was a semi-invalid for most of his life after contracting tuberculosis-Diop changed his career plans from medicine to the liberal arts. He obtained two baccalaureats and a license-es-lettres. In 1950 he married Virginia Kamara, who was the centre of many his poems (

Doan Thi Diem (1705-1748) was born in Bac Ninh, lived and taught in Sai Trang, Chuong Duong and Thang Long (former name of Hanoi), then died in Nghe An. She was a concubine of Nguyen Kieu, a mandarin and envoy to China. She was well-known as a poet from the age of 15, and is best remembered for a 408-line translation into Nom of Dang Tran Con’s Chinese poem “Chinh Phu Ngam” Scholar consistently note that her translation surpasses the original in imagery and poetic technique. She wrote many other books, most of which have been lost (

Suchen Christine Lim is a writer, curriculum material developer, teacher and weekend beachcomber. She has written novels, short stories, children’s stories, textbooks, one play as well as one solitary poem. Her novel, Fistful Of Colour, was the first novel to be awarded the Singapore Literature Prize in 1992. Her latest novel, A Bit of Earth (2000), is set in colonial Malaya. Her other novels are Ricebowl (1984) and Gift From The Gods. In 1997, Suchen was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to attend the University of Iowa’s International Writers’ Program (Dina Zaman, 2003)


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Yasmine Gooneratine. 1979. Poems from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Heinemann Asia.
Mcleod J. 2000. Beginning Postcolonialism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Fadilah Merican, Ruzy Suliza Hashim, Ganakumaran Subramaniam & Raihanah Mohd Mydin. 2004. Voices of Many Worlds: Malaysian Literature in English. Selangor: Times Edition.
Dina Zaman, Mohammad A Quayum. 2003. Silverfish New Writing An Anthology of Stories from Malaysia, Singapore and beyond. Kuala Lumpur:Silverfish books.
Lee Tzu Pheng. 1980. Prospect of a Drowning. Singapore Heineman Educational Books (Asia) Ltd.
Dipika Mukherjee, Kirpal Singh & M.A. Quayum. 2002. The Merlion and The Hibiscus Contemporary Short Stories from Singapore and Malaysia. Penguin Books.
Susan Philip.2008. Asiatic, Volume 2, Number 1: Dismantling Gendered Nationalism in Kee Thuan Chye’s We Could **** You, Mr. Birch. University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. (15 October 2008) (15 October 2008) (15 October 2008) (16 october 2008) (16 October 2008) (16 October 2008) (16 October 2008) (16 October 2008) (16 October 2008)


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Al-Fatihah for Atok...
May you rest in peace..
I know Allah more love you than me..
But you promise me to come to my home...
To bring the dulang..
I love you forever..

Saturday, October 18, 2008

~Riang Ria Raya~

I'm still in my raya mood..miss my home badly..(~_~)..

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jamuan Hari Raya

After raya first dance show for this semester..It was for jamuan hari raya at my college..We're not only dancing but we have to act also..Being actor and actress on the stage.haha..this is the best experience we ever had..where junior and senior of Senandika Tari together entertained the audience on that night...Everybody enjoy that night..Me also..even though I was 'ting tong' doing the step..LOL just see my pic below..look at my make up..pretty isnt it??? he3 actually I did it by myself..hoho.. (^_^)..

Ahhaa!! Jamuan Hari Raya again!!!
This time was organized by PERMANIS..lots of food also to eat..haha I love that..but the best thing is I was the lucky pretty girl who got the lucky draw..I dunno why..since I join permanis I always get the lucky present..he3..after jamuan we went window shopping at metropoint..dont have money..window shopping pon orait maa..haaha..
Haa these pictures were taken while we're waiting for Rapid and window shopping..haha no job to do..

Monday, October 13, 2008

mY RaYA sToRy ParT III

My third day raya.. I went to my boyfriend’s house with Diey.. We went there by taxi and reached his house at 10.30 am, if I’m not mistaken.. Actually I told him that I’ll arrive at 11..but then what to do, we came early so..we ‘redah jela’..haha.. After giving salam..His sister came out and asked us in.. But he didn’t show up we just waited then about several minutes later he came out with his small eyes and messy hair.. OMG!! You just woke up from your sleep?? That’s the first words that I could say..very shocked.. And then I said ‘go n wash your face first’..n then he washed his face.. So funny.. Then her sister served us with cookies and cake..we had chat with him..After eating some cookies and cakes, I went to the kitchen to chat with my future mother and father in law..cehh..hehhe. Diey said that I was good in chatting with ‘bakal mak mentua’..haha.. Well Diey, I dunno where the skill came from...maybe naturally =) Finish ‘beraya’ at Hazam’s house, we went to his grandmother’s house. As usual..her ‘tok’ was so friendly, her grandma still recognize me even though she was not feeling so well..his aunt also at home.. His grandma promised me to come to my house..but no to come for ‘beraya’ or just ‘saje2’.. But she’ll come with the ‘dulang’ his aunt said..he3 ‘Tok’ I’ll pray for your good strong ya tok.. Then my turn to accompany Diey.. we went to our friends’ home..Zai and Ju.. To Diey.. here is your picture with cute.. Just want you to look at this picture carefully..hehe.. Same rite??? I wish that your future son would resemble sweet..(^_^)..

mY RaYA sToRy ParT II

AhHhhaaa…!!This is my 2nd day raya story..I celebrated it with my ex-classmate..5 Anggerik. Soo..happening you know..We went for ‘beraya’ from the morning till almost midnight..It’s really fun.. Our ‘beraya’ convoy started at jue’s house..lots of cookies and ‘jeruk’ and also kind of ‘pulut’ with the ‘serunding’ (dunno what is the name)..Then to Azlina’s house we had our lunch chicken cooked spicy sour, and also got ‘sambal belacan’.Next was to Athirah’s home, we ate laksa..again I love to eat. Our journey continued to Along’s house..before that we had our Zohor prayer at the ‘surau’ near to Along’s house..Waahhh..we ate again..we ate fried noodles, ‘popiah’, ‘dadeh’ and of course ‘kueh raya’ the must have in every house that we’d visited. Along had many ‘soldiers’..he3 I mean he got helpers which were her brothers and sister..they’re very nice..very2 ‘sopan’. They’d served us the food..I wish I could have bro and sis like Along, they’re cute also. But forget about that Ziha…You’re the youngest in the family.. so concentrate on cute babies, good and brilliant children..LOL..=) Next was Hafiz’s grandmom house..can say my grandma also la..because I called her ‘nenek’, ‘Embah Rom’..He had cute sister also..haha..After that..from Parit Semerah..we went to Pekan Nenas at Sungai Burung..which was Shahril’s house..there her mother served us with ‘burasak’. Before reaching to Shahril’s house, he promised to give us duit raya who can enter his house first.. But then, he so tricky man, he entered first..than me..could you imagine how we so ‘berebut-rebut’ to enter his house??.so impolite..luckily only us know..haha We went to Che Pah’s house after that, for eating, chatting, gossiping, and laughing of course. Then we performed our prayer at Pekan Nenas mosque before heading to Iryani’s house. HmM..there we met Iryani..her mother was so friendly..her aunt also..we ate ‘laksa’, ‘lepat luwiee’ (dunno the spelling but that was how they pronounce)..Iryani’s house was almost near to my after we ‘beraya’ at Iryani’s house..we went to Penerok to Yazid house after Maghrib prayer. Our duty were to eat the food that had been served for us..Lol..Yazid served us with ‘rojak buah’ very delicious..and fried noodles..the fried noodle was also delicious…but due to our full tummies we only can eat it a bit even though it’s tasty..Next was to Diey’s house.. Diey was the one who was at first so high-spirited to join the ‘beraya’ team. But then, she had to follow her family to ‘beraya’, what to do time you join us ok? We ate ‘murtabak’ and cookies..Haa..another one, Nazirah..who was also should be in our ‘beraya’ team, couldn’t join us as she had to help her mom as they got relatives to come on that day..Finally, we reached to the last house..only ate cookies and drink coffee. Actually, it was Mar Gan request, he was the one who wanted to drink coffee. He said that he wanted to drink ‘kopi jawa’. He said coffee that was made by Javanese was tasty…REALLY??? If that so..I’m proud to be Javanese..ngeee..hehe..=)

mY RaYA sToRy ParT I

Hari Raya break was already over. I just started my class on Tuesday Oct 6. Everyday was a tiring day over that week as I need to complete my assignments on time. And now I still not finish my assignment due to my busyness for the college activity. I admit that it was my mistake as I can’t finish it during the raya break. But my raya holiday is actually to have holiday for study also…haha Serve me right ‘kan’? As now I’m struggling of doing the assignments. I’d like to share my best moments during this raya break.. My first raya day was full of excitements as I can eat as much as I can..hehe Even though I can’t eat chicken, meat, seafood etc al due to my eczema..ahhh I don’t care!!! I want to eat gak!! As it was the day to celebrate the deliciousness of my mom’s cook. Actually my boyfriend and I have same problem of sickness, we can’t eat seafood and meat. So, I’ve cooked for him a delicious dish, I think..he3 really..because my mom and sister also praised for my marvelous fish recipes. My boyfriend also loves that as he eat till ‘licin’ he3 then I was not forget to give him to bring back home, So my future ‘mak mentua’ also can taste my thing I’m the one in the family who was difference from others. Most of my family members wearing green ‘baju raya’..It’s just a coincidence as they were not promise to have the same colour theme for raya day. And I’m the one who wearing chocolate pinky orangish ‘baju raya’..and I got bullied after that..huhu.. Surprisingly, I don’t know we visited our uncles cousins also had green colour for their raya theme…Again I felt down ‘sekejap’ as my bro n sis teased me for being not in the’s okey..I don’t mind, the most important thing my boyfriend and I had the same colour theme of baju raya. Just take a look at these pictures, how I differed from others but so sweet when me and my partner wore the same colour right? Lol…(^_^)..