Monday, June 08, 2009

Issues

Returning to the Moorish-inspired buldings of UIA during the SPM seminar, the memories came rushing back into my mind. In my imagination, I saw the debater foursome running down the corridors while deciding the ranks for the motions. As they reached their allocated rooms, they discussed whithin 15 minutes on a motion so alien to them. In 15 minutes, the debate commenced. Both sides then exchanged confusing POI's and in a zip, it was over...Those were the days... well, I've been so nostalgic lately, especially when reading Amin's post of HKSBP. I have yet to write my own account of the events because I have yet to accept the fact that my career as a school debater has come to an end, and soon these debaters will go their own ways, *sigh* oh, the sentimental fool that I am.

I've recently finished reading two novels.

One is my birthday present, Aravind Adiga's Between The Assasinations and my IMPAC essay prize, Adibah Amin's This End Of the Rainbow.

Both novels dealt with issues of their respective nations, India and Malaysia.

The difference was that in This End Of The Rainbow, the issues were treated with a mellower approach. The story-telling was very rosy and humorous, but the main conflict in the story was in Ayu, the main character's inner turmoil. The dilemma of having to make difficult choices, and dealing with the painful past.

The setting was in pre-independance, from the pre-Japanese occupation to the first elections. Racial prejudice emerged after the Japanese occupation because the Malays were thought of to be Japanese cohorts and the Chinese as communists, and there were killings. Inter-racial unity was difficult to be realised because the races don't really know each other enough to cooperate beyond gaining independance, and the suspicions that a certain race is trying to take revenge for another race.

This brings us to a more recent question, are we all ready for a new identity of 1Malaysia? Or will it still remain a distant dream?

In Between The Assassinations, unlike The White Tiger, it features several short stories that touch on many different issues of India based on the demography, the Muslims, the Brahmins, the Western-educated Indians, and other different castes.

The approach was also humorous, but in a darkly satirical way, and the descriptions were rich (Adibah Amin had very rich and Malaysian descriptions) in detail that gives 'life' to the story-telling, but all the same, very honest.

Both of these titles are indeed a gem, a melting pot of diverse identities and cultures, beautifully spun into thought-provoking tales.

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