Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lacklustre National Day

Pak Abu left for his daily fix of golf early today, looking somewhat pensive. I knew the reason why - this would be his last game before fasting began and he was psyching himself to cope with the gang's 'no-golf-during-Ramadan' self-imposed collective decision.

By 8 am, I was parked in front of the TV to watch the National Day Parade. Ever since RTM (and later TV3) had televised the event 'live', I have never failed to tune in every 31st August.

I guess there is something to be said about watching your country on show. Perhaps I am too 'old-school' or just a sentimental old fool, but my pride swelled each time I heard those patriotic songs and saw the march past by our soldiers.

Of all the participants, one group touched my heart. Kontinjen Pesara Polis (Police Pensioners Contingent) saw some 100 elderly men in blue batik proudly marching, arms swinging in unison to brass band music.

My breath caught, memories of my late father-in-law (blog piece Death of A Patriot, 20 June 2008), a top cop murdered in cold blood by the communists in the heart of Kuala Lumpur in June 1974, seared my mind.

Seeing how the entire police force is maligned and rubbished by some quarters today for the sins of a few filled me with hurt and anger. I wonder how Bapak would have reacted if he was still alive and leading his men in blue.

National Day is also significant to me for another reason - I started work as a reporter on the 31st of August 1973 and my maiden assignment was to cover the Parade.

That I was completely at sea about what to do was of no consequence to my dour-faced new boss, whose withering look and caustic tongue could shrink oneself into a lowly cockroach for him to stomp on.

They didn't have pre-training for aspiring scribes those days; you get thrown into the deepest end and you either sink or swim. There was no one to hold your hands either.

It is true what they say about this year's Merdeka Day celebrations; the mood was sombre, the tone subdued. Less people flew the flags, and from my 10th floor window last night, even the fireworks weren't as spectacular as before. There was no gaiety in the air. My feeling of despondency has yet to lift...


Kak Teh said...

Puteri, the flag, patriotic songs never failed to put that lump in my throat. I once had to coach some malaysian children here to sing patriotic songs for the merdeka celebrations..and when they sang,...kerana mu Malaysia, i just cried.
I suppose we feel it more here. Like i said - yesterday was just so beautiful - all the races, chinese , malays, indians together on their feet doing the joget, shouting merdeka and singing negaraku. It is still there puteri. I felt it.

Laptop said...

Assalamualaikum wbt.
Selamat Hari Kebangsaan & Selamat Menyambut Ramadan Al-Mubarak.
I have a Jalur Gemilang which stands on the dashboard of my old (terhingut2) car. It has been there for the past 3 years. It is small but it looks majestic.

Puteri Kamaliah At-Tarawis said...

Kak Teh, I am glad that semangat hari kebangsaan was alive and well in faraway UK. I hope it won't die a natural death here di bumi sendiri.

lap, dahsyat you! 3 tahun dan semangat tak luntur2. gua caya lu!

citizen said...

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.
Mark Twain

MrsNordin said...

Every year, we usually fly the flags at our cars. But not this year ~ the mood is just not there. I also feel the parade and formations at Dataran Merdeka were somewhat mediocre. But still, I had tears in my eyes when they sang the patriotic songs...

Puteri Kamaliah At-Tarawis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Puteri Kamaliah At-Tarawis said...

Citizen, I concur absolutely.
Mrs N, you could feel it too, kan? performances pun macam half-heartedly done, semua mediocre.

Anonymous said...

Dear Puan Putri,
If u meant Tan Sri Rahman as the top cop, I do surely met him when I was only 5 or 6. My grandfather and mother visited him in Jalan Duta way in 1969 or 70. My grandparents knew the family since in Kedah.
I got lost while walking around single story bungalow. Weird though that I loved to roamed around.
I came to know later who I visited only years later. At that age, I cant recall his children. Anyway, my regards to the children who I met many years ago.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

anon - tq for dropping by. you must hv visited the govt bungalow in lembah guillemard.