If NO Jalur Gemilang for 60 th Merdeka Bash, then how about UMNO flag, Mr. Prime Minister. After all, Malaysia is Tanah Melayu. At least if Malaysians won’t, you can order your members to do so. – Din Mericcan
As I was watering the plants in my father’s garden today, I took a glance around our compound and gasped upon noticing the absence of our favourite August flags.
For as long as I can remember, August has always been a special month in my parents’ home.
Before the month even began, my mother would take out both flags – Jalur Gemilang and the Penang flag – from the cupboard and give them a good wash by hand with some extra doses of fabric softener.
Once dried, Mum would then get the flags neatly ironed before passing them to Dad, who was in charge of making sure the flags danced in the air for the entire Merdeka month.
I remember those days when I used to be Dad’s assistant, standing and watching the flags being raised from a distance.
“How is it?” Dad would ask.
“Perfect!” I would reply.
Mom would have a big grin on her face, watching both of us from the veranda while enjoying her ginger tea.
Every year, without fail, my parents continued this August month tradition of ours. When I became a parent, my position as Dad’s assistant was taken over by my children. I would then join my mother at the veranda, sitting there with ginger tea in our hands, watching Dad and his grandchildren raise the flags oh so proudly.
This year, miraculously, the flags are still not up yet.
Bitterness, frustration, anger
Intrigued, I disturbed my father who was religiously watching “Game of Thrones” on his PC.
“Ask your mother,” said Dad, his eyes glued to Daenerys Targaryen, otherwise known as the Mother of Dragons.
I then found my way to the kitchen where Mum was busy frying some ikan kembong for lunch.
“Ma, why haven’t we put up the flags yet? We are already ten days into the month of August,” I said in my broken Tamil.
“We are not going to put up the flags this year,” replied Mum. Gobsmacked, I asked, “But why?”
“I am angry,” said Mum as she flipped her fish.
“Angry at the fish?” I chided.
“Do you know how much I paid for this ikan kembong? RM20 per kilo. It used to be less than RM10. Everything is so expensive these days. Managing a household is becoming so tough and our government is doing nothing about it. The best advice they would give is for us to go out fishing ourselves, if not to rear fish in tanks inside our homes!
“They claim that our economy is prospering, but how can we prosper when ordinary people like us are forced to pay twice as much for a kilo of ikan kembong?” Mum stuttered a bit.
I smiled. Looking at her stutter, I knew mum was very angry.
“Did you hear about the minister who said the little girl who married her rapist is living happily? Did you also hear the other minister who said little girls as young as nine years old were physically and spiritually ready for marriage? Seriously, would they marry off their nine-year-old daughter to an older man if not to a rapist?
“They say we are living in the 21st century but they continue introducing laws as if we live in the Stone Age!” Mum spewed fire like a dragon.
I sensed bitterness in the air. Frustration. Anger.
“Did you see how badly they spoke of Dr Mahathir and the Indian Muslims? They have forgotten how much he has done for the country. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be as developed as we are today.
“And now they are trying to blame him for the money lost by Bank Negara some donkey years ago when they can’t even properly investigate 1MDB!”
I choked a little seeing Mum in despair.
“I used to be so proud of being a Malaysian. Now I am just angry,” said Mum as she removed the fried ikan kembong from the wok and replaced it with a new set.
Leaving Mum in the kitchen, I found myself sitting by the veranda, sipping my ginger tea, alone. I imagined our invisible Jalur Gemilang waving gregariously in the wind, back and forth. And all of a sudden, I was consumed with sadness.
Govts can change
The truth is, our nation was not built by one man. But as our hearts balloon with hatred for the people responsible for the mishaps in our country, we are allowing one man, one cabinet and one party to break the faith we once had in our great nation.
We have forgotten that the government can be changed, political turmoil returned to order and the economy uplifted; but if we lose our love for our Malaysia, we could end up losing everything our forefathers had relentlessly built.
“What are you doing here, sitting alone?” asked Dad upon seeing me daydreaming.
“Waiting for the Mother of Dragons,” I chuckled.
“But our Mother of Dragons is in the kitchen, frying some ikan kembong,” laughed Dad.
“Why don’t you go prepare the flags?” said Dad, almost reading my thoughts.
“Really? But what if our Mother of Dragons gets upset?”
“She won’t. Only those who have so much love for our country would feel too much witnessing the injustice taking place,” assured my dad.
And true enough, as soon as our August flags were raised, Mum brought her ginger tea to the veranda and joined us with a big smile on her face.