(To Siti Salina)*
In Rochor, Kampung Kambing* no longer exists
Young men no longer whistle to the tune of ‘mera bulbul soraha hey’ *
Nor can be seen faces of Mak Jah, Hilmy, Nahidah,
Or the boisterous antics of Kurupa Samy, Bulat,*
All is quiet
Except for memories
An era after the Second World War.
Where are you now
Are you in Kelantan
As stated in your last letter to Hilmy?
Or are you still here, alone,
After the Kampung Kambing fire
After its inhabitants moved to other areas
Searching for a shred of meaning
In a life that is suddenly meaningless?
How violent the war was, Salina,
Killing your lover & family
Making the world topsy-turvy,
& violations by the Japanese
Drowned you in defilement
In a long & bitter chain of incidents.
Will a man like Fakar* understand
The meaning of your love & sacrifice
Or are you weakened by illusions
Seeing a substitute in an opportunist,
Loving a sailor, brutal & intimidating?
Fakar is not everything, Salina,
Not the family & lover you lost
Not someone to submit to, hope for,
But do take look at
A Hilmy, a Nahidah,
A Sunarto, a Bulat, a Mak Jah,
Who will always understand & love you
Who will always differentiate between a glass & a gemstone.*
In Rochor, Kampung Kambing no longer exists
The era after the Second World War has long vanished
But you have yet to come back, Salina,
Are you still chasing the false dawn*
Or not brave yet to look for
In your dark & lonely nights?
*Siti Salina – the protagonist in A. Samad Said’s novel Salina.
*Kampung Kambing – fictitious village in Rochor area, Singapore.
*Hilmy, Nahidah, Mak Jah, Kurupaya Samy, Bulat, Fakar, Sunarto, Fakar – characters in the novel.
*‘Mera bulbul soraha hey’ is a well-known Hindi song of the 1950s.
*A false dawn is a streak of light that appears around 3 plus in the morning before the actual dawn.
*To differentiate between a piece of glass and a piece of gemstone – Malay proverb: Only a jeweler knows the worth of a gemstone (Hanya jauhari yang mengenal manikam) – only an expert can evaluate the worth of someone in a particular field.
Written in Malay (Epilog [Kepada Siti Salina] and translated to English by: Rasiah Halil
Written: June – 1 September 1989
Bedok, Singapore – Taman Puri, Negara Brunei Darussalam.