Preserving Memories

I like taking the LRT alone. The Putra LRT (now known as the Kelana Jaya line) is efficient. Once I put my headset on, there’s nothing but me, my music, and watching the countryside turn into a city. The trains are also punctual, and while they are noisy, I find their rattling comforting. Looking out while the scenes change and I head into the city, it always makes me feel like I’m rediscovering my city again for the first time.

I look for small changes in the scenery, in the buildings that pop up, those left abandoned, those renovated. It speaks to me of an evolving city. An organism that lives and breathes.

Since July 26 2009 though, there is a spot I dread to pass. Yet I find myself looking out for it. Seeing it each time I take the train into the city centre, pass the Central Market stop, I can’t help but search for it. That graffiti on the wall that tears at my heart. A child’s tear-stricken face accompanies that graffiti. Of a middle-aged woman with a laughing smile. A face that has been frozen.

I keep looking for Kak Yasmin’s face. I barely knew her, but to be confronted by that bald fact that she’s gone is always a painful moment. I don’t remove my glasses, not until the train has taken me away, then I quickly wipe away the tears. I find it much easier to be stoic in public, but when I’m alone on the train, it always gets to me.

Malaysia lost a dear daughter. One, more than anyone else I know, who merely wanted to capture the Malaysia she remembered growing up. There was no mention of politics. No messy racial policies to think of. No religious power to appease. She captured what she knew best, even if others called her sentimental and delusional. She captured the best of growing up.

She captured my childhood.

She captured the childlike optimism so missing from today’s movies. She distilled what could have been a potentially messy and all over the place story into its most basic essence; love.

Family love. Religious love. Romantic love. Humanity love.

She captured them all. She captured not just Malaysia, but the human spirit before the turn of the millennium. One where people were honourable. Polite. Respectful. A Malaysia that gave hope that life could be good. That we are equal.

What else can you say with such a legacy?

This post was written for the AllMalaysia.Info contest for the Gala Premiere to Muallaf