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.

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