Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Batik Painter

A heavily meaningful poem by Huzir Sulaiman that painted a picture of the other side of Malaysia, of the poor and forgotten people who are only remembered when votes are needed to win elections.


The ground’s not all mud from yesterday’s rain
The long grass is thick, and thickens each hour
Ruts from the heavy Pajeros remain
In those tyre-tracks: water, blue leaflets, a flower
The wax melts and pools, viscous and slow
The fabric accepts it, and colours retreat
       My daughter went south two days ago
       Outside, damp slippers remember her feet
Worn metal, my canting; warm resin; thick wax
Some mornings I tremble, but patterns unfold
       Blue leaflets turn sodden, then suddenly black
       The convoys are gone; torn bunting sprout mould
       Three months after March, half smirk and half slap:
       “Things go up. Share the burden. Times are tight.”
My chocolate dye starts brown at the tap
My daughter went south; she went there to fight              
The gunnysack’s light, and lightens each week
A silence has settled; our air starts to thin
Our fabric accepts it; our fabric is meek
Slow and viscous the trap we paint ourselves in
They picked up her teeth one by one off the ground
The rain smearing fluids pooling like wax
The red-sided trucks making cannibal sounds
Bells ringing; coughing; torn placards on tyre-tracks
I put down my canting; I must go to bed
My wife’s dusty mirror has cracks in the frame
I have always done whatever they said
When cold, wax hardens. I turn off the flame.

The batik painter of a northern state (most probably Kelantan) lived through a campaign for the general elections.  "Blue leaflets" signify government campaigners in their "heavy Pajeros".

His daughter "went south" to support anti-government demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur.  She was attacked and badly injured (they picked her teeth off the ground) by brutal law enforcers in their "red-sided trucks making cannibal sounds".

He suffered the victorious government's callous decision to raise prices of essential goods "three months after March" elections.  Meanwhile water from the taps still came out in polluted brown color.  And food runs low as the gunnysack gets lighter each week.

Nothing's changed.  He's "always done whatever they said" and went to vote diligently, but he still remained poor as his "wife's dusty mirror has cracks in the frame".  And "when cold, wax hardens" as the flame is turned off (until the next elections when the flame is turned on again).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

About Originality

I have another good bunch of roses for the internet especially Facebook.  I never forgot what my old art teacher used to tell us about originality.  I often wondered how I fared in my search for originality and I wondered out loud in my
Artbreak page Then while browsing the FB searching for old acquaintances I found my former art teacher.  He in turn found my art page.  As the saying goes, the rest is history...
Hi Lianchye,
In Jonathan Livingstone Seagull is an interesting line: To be who you are and to go where you want.
I still think about it. I am still fascinated with the attitude.
When my daughter wanted to sing like L. Selonga in her earlier years, I said that it would be more interesting to sing like herself.
She is 32 now. Happy she tells me that she that has her own voice, her own way of working out how a song is to be interpreted. Out on the stage, she sings as the spirit moves. In her preparation, she researches and studies the best of practitioners. She imbibes and learns. Being enriched, she is empowered to be who she is and she sings freely as the music inspires.
She is herself, Michelle Quah.
I think this journey is essential for all of us. We want to be as original as our finger-prints. That's where the fun is!
What about me? I just do it!
Thanks for keeping in touch and for logins to my blog!
Sincerely, another fellow-learner,
Michael Quah