Archive | April 2014

Terbuang

Mary & Peter Nazareth- RH Images

Terbuang
(Buat Mary & Peter Nazareth)

Kau pernah terpaksa keluar dari Uganda
‘tika Idi Amin mengusir orang-orang Asia
walau kau diizin menetap
tapi si jeneral mabuk darah
bagaimana akan kaupercayai janji diktator?

Sekelip mata keluargamu terpisah-pisah
sekelip mata kau terbuang dari tanah air tercinta.

Tanpa wang, kedudukan, pertalian, penaja,
hanya novel ‘In a Brown Mantle’ tiketmu ke luar negara
menjadi ahli zamil di Universiti Yale
Januari 1973, kautatapi Uganda buat kali terakhir.

Betapa sukar memulakan kehidupan baharu
bila sejarah berdarah & trauma menghantu
sakitmu memanjang, bentan, memusar kepedihan,
hingga ‘The General Is Up’ kaulahirkan
pecahlah empangan persoalan, trauma,
rasa sedih, marah, terbuang yang membusa
mencari tanah tumpah darahmu yang hilang
memahami kezaliman, kekejaman,
bahawa berbeza keturunan menjadikan kau terbuang
bahawa cinta mendalam tetap menjadikan kau kambing hitam.

Tapi tidak pernah kauhilang Uganda, Tanzania, Afrika,
meski 1974, kau bermukim di Iowa
melibati IWP/Program Penulisan Antarabangsa
mengajar sastera Inggeris, Afrika-Amerika, Dunia Ketiga,
mencari kebersamaan kita dalam kursus Elvis
mencari persaudaraan dalam pelbagai penulis.

Terbuang dari Uganda
kau merumahi IWP, Universiti Iowa
membawa seluruh dunia ke Midwest Amerika
kerana tanah airmu adalah rasa ihsan, kasih,
budaya & bahasamu adalah sastera, seni,
& penulis yang kauramahi, kesani,
adalah keluarga & sahabatmu di Uganda
yang tidak lagi kautemui.

Mary & Peter
kezaliman itu tidak berwarna
tidak beragama, tidak bernegara,
Idi Amin atau sesiapa hanyalah diktator
beredar mengikut masa
tapi ketulusanmu & keterbukaan jiwa
keikhlasanmu yang santun menerima
tidak pernah menjadikan kau kambing hitam
tidak pernah menjadikan kau orang luar
tidak pernah menjadikan kau pendatang
& di hati yang kauakrabi, sayang,
selamanya
tidak pernah kau terbuang.

Ditulis: 26 – 28 Julai 2009
Bedok, Singapura
Tulisan: Rasiah Halil

Exiled (Translation)

Exiled
(For Mary & Peter Nazareth)

You’re once compelled to leave Uganda
When Idi Amin expelled the Asians
Though they allowed you to stay
But the general was bloodthirsty
Could you believe a dictator’s promise?

In a twinkling, your family was separated, dispersed,
In a twinkling, you’re exiled from the homeland you loved.

Without money, position, relatives, sponsors,
Your only way out, your novel, In A Brown Mantle
Making you a fellow at the University of Yale
January 1973, you bid Uganda your last farewell.

How difficult it was to begin life anew
When the bloodied history & trauma haunted you
Like a prolonged, relapsed illness, swirling sorrows,
Until The General Is Up you exorcised
Demolishing dams of questions, trauma,
Te unbridled feelings of sadness, anger, exiled,
In search of your lost homeland
In making sense of the oppression, brutality,
That a different ethnicity made you an exile
That you’re the scapegoat, despite your deep love.

But you’ve never lost Uganda, Tanzania, Africa,
Though by 1974, you’re domiciled in Iowa
Deeply involved in the IWP
Teaching literature: English, African-American, Third World Countries
Searching for our shared humanity in your course on Elvis
Searching for kinship amongst the writers you meet.

Exiled from Uganda
You made a home in IWP, the University of Iowa
Bringing the world to the Midwest of America
For your homeland are your compassion, affection,
Your culture & language are literature & the arts
& the writers you befriended, influenced,
Are your family & friends in Uganda
That you could no longer meet.

Mary & Peter
Oppression has no colour
No creed, no country,
Idi Amin or whoever are mere dictators
Ejected in the cycle of time
But your honesty & open-mindedness
Your sincerity in kindly accepting others
Will never make you a scapegoat
Will never make you an outsider
will never make you a foreigner
& in the hearts of those you’re close to, love,
Forever
You will never be exiled.

Written: 26th – 28th July 2009
Bedok, Singapore
Written and translated by Rasiah Halil. Original Malay title ‘Terbuang’.

Terkenang Nenda

Terkenang Nenda

Bagaimana akan kuukur
kaki hari
dari mendung & remang senja
engkaukah terlalu maklum
riak alam, resah insan,
& dalam gerimis petang
membuatku terkenang.

Alammu dihiasi syair & pantun
hikayat & kitab lama
ragam & rentak peristiwa
& selebihnya, rasa kemanusiaan
keramahan & tulus kasih
untuk semua.

Akankah kumiliki keikhlasanmu
keyakinan & ketabahanmu
di tengah kemelut
di curang ketika
& besar oleh derita
tanpa hampa, curiga, luka,
& reda
menerima segala?

Kita orang dagang, Nenda,
tapi kau mengajarku luasnya dunia
walau beriring airmata.

Ditulis: 26 Februari 1997
Pantai Dalam, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tulisan: Rasiah Halil

Remembering Grandma (Translation)

Remembering Grandma

How will I measure
The tail-end of a day
With such dark clouds & twilight?
You were so knowledgeable
In the nuances of nature, the anxieties of man
& in this evening drizzle
Make me recall the past.

Your world was decorated by traditional poetry
The folktales & ancient books
The varieties & pulses of events
& beyond that, the shared humanity,
Your warmth & sincere affection
For everyone.

Will I inherit your sincerity
Your confidence & courage
Amid the dilemmas
Of deceitful times
Without being disappointed, distrustful, hurt,
& accept willingly
All that life gives me?

We are outsiders, Grandma,
But you taught me the world is wide
Despite the accompanying tears.

Poem written in Malay by Rasiah Halil titled: Terkenang Nenda
Written: 26 February 1997, Pantai Dalam, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Translated by: Rasiah Halil

Hasinawati

Hasinawati

Kutinggalkan Semarang
di sudut kenangan
menyeberangi Laut Jawa
singgah di kota pinggiran
berlabuh di Singapura
Masjid Omar Kampong Melaka.

Adat mencengkam
‘kahwin paksa’
menderaku keluar
lalu kunaiki kapal
dibantu seorang saudara
memulakan penghidupan
jauh dari Pulau Jawa.

Aku tahu erti derita, perjuangan,
sebatang kara di Singapura
kujadi bidan, jaja makanan,
kemudian, membesarkan anak
tika suamiku di rantauan
& akhirnya mati muda.

Kukenali sejarah Jawa
para wali, ningrat, pejuang,
cerita panji, wayang kulit, babad,
& aku tahu,
leluhur & keturunanku menentang Belanda
keluarga menantuku beradu keris
dengan Feringgi, Belanda, Inggeris,
di Jawa, Melaka, Johor, Singapura,
& kuajari anakku, Fatimah,
makna maruah & jati diri
ketika abad ini masih muda
& penjajah bermaharajalela.

Pengalaman itulah persekolahanku
dengan kebaya & batik lepas
dengan sanggul & selendang
kuajari anakku membaca Jawi
meneliti akhbar, hikayat,
menyirati suasana
agar menjadi arif, gigih,
seperti Tun Fatimah, Kartini,
& keturunan kita kekal
berani mencuba, menyoal,
menjadi jauhari
menjadi benih & pulau.

Berpindah dari Kampung Melaka ke Kallang Rokok
setelah anaknya berumahtangga
setelah matanya hampir buta
sebelum Perang Dunia Kedua
wanita itu meninggal dunia.

Awal abad ke-20
dari Semarang ke Singapura
betapa jauh pelayaran
wanita gigih, degil, tabah,
Hasinawati
moyangku.

Ditulis: 30hb September – 2 hb Oktober 1995
Mayflower, Iowa, Amerika Syarikat
Tulisan: Rasiah Halil

Hasinawati (Translation)

Hasinawati

I left Semarang
In my memory
Crossed the Java Sea
Transited in coastal towns
Anchored in Singapore
Masjid Omar Kampong Melaka.

A gripping custom
‘Forced marriage’
Pushed me to flee
Thus I boarded a ship
Assisted by a relative
Started a new life
Far from Java.

I understood the meaning of hardship, struggle,
All alone in Singapore
I became a midwife, hawked food,
Then brought up my daughter
When my husband was working overseas.
But he died young.

I knew the history of Java
Its saints, aristocrats, freedom fighters,
Its Panji stories, wayang kulit, Babad chronicles,
& I knew
My ancestors & descendants opposed the Dutch,
My son-in-law’s family dueled with kris
Against the Portuguese, Dutch, British,
In Java, Malacca, Johor, Singapore
& I taught my daughter, Fatimah,
The meaning of dignity, identity,
When the century was young
& the colonials were masters.

My experiences were my education:
In my kebaya & batik sarong
With my hair worn in a bun & a scarf
I taught my daughter to read Jawi
Scrutinized newspapers, ancient chronicles,
Appraised the present circumstances
So she would be wise, resilient,
Like Tun Fatimah & Kartini,
& our descendants will never perish
As unafraid to experiment, to question,
They will be jewellers
They will be seeds & islands.

Moving from Kampong Melaka to Kallang Rokok
After her daughter’s marriage
After her eyes became myopic
Before the Second World War
She dies.

At the turn of the twentieth century
From Semarang to Singapore
The journey is far
Of a determined, stubborn, & resilient woman
Hasinawati
My great-grandmother.

Poem written in Malay by Rasiah Halil titled: Hasinawati
Written: 30 September – 2 October 1995; Mayflower, Iowa, United States of America
Translated by: Rasiah Halil

Panji Stories – Cycle of stories set in ancient Java.
Wayang Kulit – Traditional shadow puppet theatre.
Babad Chronicles – Javanese stories which have indigenous historical components.
Kebaya – A traditional blouse-dress from Indonesia.
Jawi –Malay writing written in Arabic alphabets.
Tun Fatimah – The daughter of Bendahara (Prime Minister) Tun Mutahir whose family was killed by Sultan Mahmud Shah of Malacca and was forced to marry him. Tun Fatimah became the warrior queen of the 15th/16th century Malacca and was noted for her intelligence and beauty.
Kartini/Raden Adjeng Kartini – Born in 1879 and died in 1904, in Indonesia. A Javanese princess from Jepara, Indonesia, who pioneered the education and empowerment of women in Indonesia.
Jeweller – Malay proverb: Hanya jauhari yang mengenal manikam/Only a jeweller knows the worth of a gemstone – only an expert can evaluate the worth of someone in a particular field.
Seeds and island – Malay proverb: Kalau asal benih yang baik, jatuh ke laut menjadi pulau/A good seed, even if it falls into the sea will be an island– A good/well-versed person will be able to develop himself/herself no matter where and under whatever circumstances.