How easy to be like you
Appeasing everyone & everything
Commercializing your smile & dignity
Claiming a fighter, as long as it brings glory
Compromising, as long as you will never fall heavily
& humanity is just a word filling the agenda
Hoping for the moon to fall on your lap.*
How difficult to be like him
Ostracized by everyone & everything
Neither commercializing his smile nor dignity
Clearing the thick forest of insularity
Though often accused of poaching
& humanity shines in his attitude & deeds
He waits not for rainbows & pots of gold.*
How if one fine day
A person like you is honoured & admired
& a person like him is despised, then forgotten?
*Malay proverb (‘mengharap bulan jatuh ke riba’) – hoping for the good things in life or sudden wealth to be given to oneself, without much effort on one’s part.
* Malay proverb and general myth – waiting for opportunities to advance oneself, to make money and things related in such manner, most often without putting much effort. It could also be given a positive interpretation but it is used in the negative sense in the above poem.
Written in Malay (‘Betapa’) and translated to English by Rasiah Halil
Written: 20 January 1980
Lorong L, Telok Kurau Road, Singapore.