Friday 23 July 2010
The Maverick's Moan
Two days ago, while drawing up a legal document with my niece Maria, we were informed of an orphanage for children suffering from AIDS. Maria also told us that, just like the metropolitan inhabitants, KL orphanages are better endowed than those on the fringe like in Rawang for instance.
During our younger days our concept of an orphan was a child whose parent or parents were dead. As children we were scared to death of losing our parents - of becoming anak yatim (orphans). We were often told not to lift and swing our legs up and down when we were lying on our stomachs because we will be invoking the demise of our parents!
Today an orphan can also be a child who has been abandoned or sent off to an orphanage because its parent/s are too poor, or because of a family breakdown like a divorce. It is crucial to state here that the divorce rate for Muslims/Malays is approximately three times that of non-Muslims!
Ramadan is just round the corner. We can expect to see a lot of programmes pleading for donations to various orphanages around the country. This is a good time to ask for donations because donors are assured of berganda pahala (lots of blessings and credit for the hereafter).
I've been in Malaysia for three Ramadans and what I watch on TV makes me depressed. These children need financial support every day of their lives - not only during Ramadan and Hari Raya. Food and shelter, clothing and schooling expenses do not reach a peak only during Ramadan.
I hope our wise Ulamas will take the time and make an effort to draw up some kind of edict to compel and/or persuade Muslims in Malaysia to dig into their pockets on a regular basis to sustain these unfortunate orphans , instead of searching for the devil's icons and Christian Crosses on T-shirts.
Sometimes this old teacher gets weary with the ways of the world and wishes for the days of yore when life and religious practices were gentler and simpler - yet just as meaningful and spiritual. There wouldn't be any electricity, no cars, no TV and no water at the turn of a tap, no ethnic tension and stress - perhaps a shorter life span. Call me escapist, idealist.... but I still reckon that life for a Malay, then, was not as toxic as it sometimes seems today.
Here are a couple of images from one of my precious books on Malaya, "Paddy Lands" (1947) by Grace Garnier and illustrated by Nora Hammerton.
Even the days of my lovely mother would do!! This photo was taken in 1949 at our first kampung house, Pasir Panjang.
She's standing happily - next to her radio.