Archive | May 2014

Di Kubur Datuk

Di Kubur Datuk
(Mengenang datukku Syed Hussein bin Syed Mohidin Abunu)

Perkuburan ini pernah begitu sunyi, sayup,
dengan pokok-pokok rimbun, redup,
pagi ini ia riuh didatangi orang
berdepankan pintu gerbang, masjid teguh,
kawasannya terhampar sejak 1907
& penghuninya ramai
tidak ditambah setelah adanya Pusara Aman.

Lama aku tidak kemari
setelah meninggalkan sekolah berdekatanmu
setelah tahun-tahun 70-an menemani nenekku
tapi hari ini kau kudatangi
bukan untuk menziarah
bersama sepupu, ibu & bapa saudara
kubur datukku akan digali, dipindah,
ditempatkan dengan peninggalan 7 kubur lain
dalam kubur bersama yang kecil
jauh di Choa Chu Kang, Jalan Bahar,
& penggalian ini kamilah saksinya.

Berdekatan kubur ‘keramat’
& kubur warden dari Pulau Senang
5 Jun 1961, di sinilah datukku ditanam
orang yang baik hati, penyayang,
& aku terkenang masa-masa bersamamu
hidup yang sederhana tapi bahagia
di Lorong G, Sims Avenue,
bersama nenek, kakak, cicik, busu, sepupuku
tapi kebahagiaan itu hanya seketika
kau tiba-tiba ke hospital
& nenekku mengalami kesepian yang kekal.

Sesingkat 5 tahun aku bersamamu
cucu yang kaujadikan anakmu
& betapa hidup kami berubah
tanpamu
cicik & busu kehilangan orang tua
sepupuku kehilangan datuk tempat bermanja
kakak kehilangan bapa
nenek yang kehilangan terpaksa bekerja
& aku dipisahkan daripada mereka.

Kesedihan ini bukan sekadar perpindahan
bahawa kubur pun tidak akan kekal
bahawa sejarah pun boleh dipinggir, dibongkar,
tapi kesedihan ini juga kerana mengenang
jasa & pengorbanan kau & nenek
membesarkan kami
semampunya, seikhlasnya,
& budi yang tak dapat kubalas
selamanya.

Bak yang kusayang, kurindui,
inilah kali terakhir kau di Bidadari
bersama penyumbang masyarakat, besar kecil
kau akan dipindahkan ke Pusara Abadi
& Perkuburan Bidadari yang selama ini kauhuni
akan dibongkar, diratakan,
dijadikan perumahan & laluan MRT.*

MRT: Mass Rapid Transport System/Sistem Pengangkutan Gerak Cepat Singapura.

Ditulis: 2 Mac 2002
Perkuburan Bidadari, Upper Serangoon /Upper Aljunied Road, Singapura
Tulisan: Rasiah Halil.

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Meminjam Masa (Mengenang Allahyarhamah Biduanita Kartina Dahari)

Meminjam Masa

Biduanita Kartina Dahari

Biduanita Kartina Dahari

(Mengenang Allahyarhamah Biduanita Kartina Dahari)

Bagai meminjam masa
yang pasti dipulangkan
setelah ditimpa barah
dihampar taman-taman indah, duka
akhirnya bak pohon rimbun
bertahun berbunga, berbuah, meneduh
30 April, menjelang senja
landskap taman itu berubah
kaukembalikan pinjamanmu kepada-Nya.

Seperti seniman seumpama Saloma, P.Ramlee
bagaimana akan kuhargai
sumbangan yang lahir daripada hati
menghadiahkan khazanah
menambah nilai pusaka
mewarnai kenangan bersama
menenun sulaman seni
pada busana kami
bahawa tekatan ini permai
mempesona, mengharukan
bila benangnya gigih, kejujuran.

Selamanya nanti akan beralun
Seruling Senja, Keroncong Melati
Kisah Cinta, Tinggallah Mustika Hati
Sejak Kita Berpisah, Jauh Di Mata
Di Bawah Sinar Bulan Purnama
Senandung Lagu Lama
Terkenang-kenang, Sayang Disayang
Budi Setahun Segunung Intan
Kembali Ke Pangkal Jalan
& Masa Berganti Masa*
lagu & kesenimananmu menjadi iktibar
masa-masa yang dipinjam
dipulangkan
dengan syukur, ikhlas.

*Sebilangan lagu nyanyian Allahyarhamah Biduanita Kartina Dahari
Ditulis: 30 April – 1 Mei 2014
Tulisan: Rasiah Halil
Bedok, Singapura.

Remembering Biduanita Kartina Dahari

Remembering Biduanita* Kartina Dahari (12 November 1941 – 30 April 2014)

It was with great sadness when I heard the news that Biduanita Kartina Dahari passed away on 30th April 2014. She is a biduanita – not just a female singer but a singer who has achieved a very high standard in her profession, an artist par excellence. Many might strive to be good singers but few will achieve this standard. To those who have been and will continue to be entertained, soothed and impacted by her songs, Allahyarhamah* Kartina will always remain a ‘biduanita’, a treasure.

I called a friend, Khir, who knew her to reconfirm the sad news and to get Biduanita Kartina’s home address. I have not been in touch with Khir for quite some time but we met after attending Biduanita Kartina’s tribute concert at the Esplanade, Singapore, on 30th August 2013. I was with friends and one of them, Sharifah, Khir knew and had assisted in launching her book in California. Sharifah’s late mother, H. Hanim, was Biduanita Kartina’s close friend.

The concert was a timely tribute to a biduanita – I had written an entry in Malay about it in this blog. I love keroncong songs and Biduanita Kartina renditions of keroncong songs are simply superb. And her songs of other genres are just as good. It was her songs, those of Saloma and P.Ramlee and many other veteran Malay language singers from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia that have enriched my vocabulary, my heritage and my life. Their beautiful lyrics, usually made succinct like traditional Malay pantun (poetry) and music are like poetry to my ears. Her songs are that meaningful to me that I ended up writing a poem, titled ‘Di Persimpangan’ (At the Crossroads) in which I mentioned her name. I wrote that poem on 28th May 1976 when I was at the crossroads of my life – whether I could continue my studies after my GCE ‘A’ level results at the University of Singapore (now NUS) or to start working. I have included a translation of the poem in this entry.

Before attending her concert last year and knowing Biduanita Kartina was unwell, I had an inkling of wanting to share with her a few supplications (‘doa and selawat’) from the Quran and other special prayers. A number of these supplications have been part of my routine but a number of others were given to me when I had a breast cancer scare last March. I had my mastectomy last April and I believe that by the grace of God and via these supplications, medical interventions and others had made it possible for me to get some form of ‘shifa’ or healing. Although I knew Biduanita Kartina would have a number of these supplications, I wanted to share these with her and this was especially so when I saw her at the concert. Like others, I cried and prayed for her when I saw her at the concert.

I did not know Khir knew her but it was after the concert that I knew this. Sharifah and I met Khir again when there was a talk at the Malay Heritage Centre (‘Taman Warisan Melayu’) at Kampong Glam, Singapore, in September last year. It was there that I told Khir about the supplications for Biduanita Kartina and Khir agreed to pass these to her. Khir had also invited both of us to his house to look at his collection of Malay antiques and his research on them a few weeks later. When Sharifah and I went to Khir’s house, I brought the books and copies of supplications for Biduanita Kartina then. But instead of giving it to her, Khir invited us to join him in visiting Biduanita Kartina (after calling and getting her permission) as he had to pass some things to her that day.

Biduanita Kartina was very touched to see Sharifah again. It was a really wonderful time for us and I was able to give her the supplications. I saw a gracious lady, weakened by cancer but her warmth, joviality and kindness were ever-present. When I left that evening, it was with sadness. Most likely I would never see her again as unlike Sharifah and Khir, I did not know her personally. I was and am an admirer of her voice and songs; a voice so distinct and beautiful. I am grateful her songs have enriched my life.

When I heard the sad news, I messaged Khir that I would pay my last respects to Biduanita Kartina by visiting her home the next morning. But I could not make it as I was already unwell on the 30th of April. The news of her demise is like a void – after P.Ramlee, Saloma and other wonderful veteran Malay/Indonesian singers, we might never find another singer of her stature and dignity again. And I am reminded that like her, I too am living in ‘borrowed times’. But I wanted to say my last farewell to Biduanita Kartina Dahari – as a poet and writer, I could only write. I wrote a poem for Allahyarhamah Biduanita Kartina Dahari, titled ‘Meminjam Masa’ (Borrowing Time) on 30th April – 1st May 2014. I have included the poem in Malay in this entry but I have yet to translate it to English.

May Allah bless her soul and place her in Jannah* amongst His true believers. Amin.

*Biduanita- an honorific title given to a female singer who has achieved a very high standard of artistry and professionalism in her singing career. The male version is ‘Biduan’. However, ‘Biduan’ could also be conferred to both male and female singers as certain terms in Malay are used for both. Allahyarhamah Saloma and Sharifah Aini were conferred the ‘Biduan Negara’ title by both the Malaysian government and the public in Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of the world. Of similar variation is the term ‘seniman’ (‘artist’ not just painters but those involved in the arts) – it could be used for both male and female artists, although female artists could also be called ‘seniwati’. In English, of a similar example is the term ‘actor’ which could be used by both male and female actors. Allahyarhamah Kartina Dahari was given the honorific title ‘Biduanita’ by the public in Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of the world. It is not just a direct translation of the term ‘Diva’ with some of its negative connotations but it is of a different artistic level altogether. A ‘Biduanita’ would be someone like Oum Koulsoum of Egypt, Fairuz of Lebanon and Edith Piaf of France.

*Allahyarhamah – ‘late’: term used for Muslim women who have passed away.

*Jannah – paradise.

Written by: Rasiah Halil
4th May 2014.

At the Crossroads (Translation)

At the Crossroads
(For Z in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia)

And I am like you
Counting the hours that have gone by
Like a lover I have lost touch
Because each moment is
A merciless executioner
Killing, what I have termed as:
My ideals
For an offence that refuses to accept:
I am a young adult.

And I am like you
Hoping to hide in the old uniforms
When the sun is too intense
Melting, what I have termed as:
My confidence
& others refuse to accept:
I am coloured.

And I am like you
Still clinging at the feet of adolescence
When drizzles moist my cheeks.
I too will cry
When Kartina* croons
Her soulful keroncong
In a night like this
For tomorrow:
Never will I write like this to you again
You too will not readily understand
& our sentiments will accept
This familiarity
With hearts that will be frozen
By adulthood.

Written in Malay (‘Di Persimpangan’) and translated by Rasiah Halil: 28 May 1976
Lorong L, Telok Kurau Road, Singapore.

*Kartina Dahari: Singaporean Malay singer of the 1960s-1980s, noted for her keroncong songs and songs of other genres.
Keroncong: traditional Indonesian-Malay music.