“Why? How do Malay look like?”
Several times these questions been addressed to me. But particular conversation nailed this question in my mind till these days.. Translation: Taxi driver: Are you a Malay?, Me: Does it really matter?!
It happen about a year ago.. on my trip back to Malaysia. I took a taxi from Melaka central to the red building areas. I has been a while since I step in this historical land, as most of the Malaysian puts it.
As the taxi started moving the conversation began. I was asked by the taxi driver in Malay language, “Adik ni Melayu ke?” (Girl, are you a Malay?) As much as I’m annoyed with his questions, I felt obliged to show respect by providing him an answer, and while I wondered, my mouth respond “Ya!” (Yes!). As soon as I answered, he respond back“Aiiikk! Tak nampak macam Melayu pun” (Aiikk (to show surprise) You don’t look like a Malay?). I cannot help myself from asking him back “Kenapa? Melayu tu nampak macam mana?” (Why, how do Malay look like?). He pause to silent for a while before he change his question to another unpleasant question “Yang kat sebelah tu sapa?” (So, who is the guy beside you?). I felt trapped in this taxi. I felt like I want to jump out of this interrogation, and for god sake, it in my birth land. “Sabar” (Be patient) as my mom used to remind me, when I get upset.. while my mind speak quietly “It is none of your business, Pak Cik” (‘Pak Cik’ Literally, it mean uncle, but for most Malaysian this is a common title used to address an elderly man, as a way to show respect).
Of course this sentence only speak loud in my mind.I wish I have the courage to said that to him. I kept myself silent, while the guy beside me started to get uneasy. Although he barely understand what the taxi driver said, Malay language is an alien to him, he understood the tone of voice. I hold his hand and said to him, like my mom will ask me to “Just be patient, Sayang”. I let my mind create its own story.. as I am aware when we been picked up by this taxi, there is a lady (wearing a hijab) occupying the sit beside him. My mind speak “Well, like him, I too can ask question if I wanted to.. Should I ask? but will I sounded impolite if I ask him, who is the lady sitting beside you, Pak cik?”. As I kept myself silent, he continue asking me question. “Suami ke?” (Is it your husband?). I lost my patient, sorry mom, not this time.. as I responded in Malaysian way with a smile on my face “Pak cik ni tengah buat survey ke?” (Are you doing a survey?). That’s it.. that was the last one from me and he stop asking me questions. But he pretended like the conversation never happen and he kept talking..
On our way the taxi driver…talked to the lady beside him about how the youth are becoming rude lately, and how the world have changed… Yes I think the world have changed, particularly the Malay world. I guess he is trying his best to keep annoying us.. Oh well…this doesn’t bother me any longer..
Enjoying my ride… and I can sense my liberty is coming back to me.. Thinking of Nik Rahimah Hasan, Mazlan Othman.. how do they get through this kind of situation before.. or they don’t …
My mind continue: “Tak ada kena mengena dengan Pak Cik!” (It got nothing to do with you….Pak Cik!)
Just keep on driving…