(Updated with some minor editing and thoughts – gosh, I did not realise 3 years have passed so swiftly until Noktah Hitam pointed out in his comments)
“Racist!”…the remarks made by one of the Minister made me think of an incident I encountered long time ago when I was in Form 4.
I was coming back from my tuition classes in KL and had to take the bus from Puduraya to go back home. Right at the back of the bus (my favourite spot) was 2 Malay guys. From their looks (or rather books), I gather they are UPM students (UPM = Universiti Pertanian Malaysia as it was known back then).
They were just coming back from their kampung as I overhead them talking about the life in their kampung whilst eating buah duku (must be from their kampung). One of them suddenly turned to me and asked “Adik, nak buah?” I smiled and politely said no. He asked me “Adik, tak makan buah ke?”. I said “Makan tapi dah kenyang”. I just wanted to avoid taking food from strangers but nonetheless, I ended eating some of the buah duku (which was delicious anyway).
Whilst travelling, they asked about my education, my favorite subject, sports, etc. One of them put his hand on my shoulder and said (I still remember it very clearly till this very day)
“Adik, kena belajar bersungguh-sungguh dan mesti buat ibubapa adik bangga dengan adik. Mungkin kalau adik gagal dalam peperiksaan, ibubapa adik mungkin berkata “tak apalah, cuba lagi” tapi selepas adik dah tidur, ibubapa akan menangis kerana kecewa dengan adik. Adiklah harapan ibubapa adik”
I must admit that I was a bit suspicious of the guys at first because I did not expect that these Malay guys to be talking some sense into this Indian student (who was at that time was a bit lazy and did not really paid attention on his studies). However, I saw in his eyes that he was very sincere.
It was almost a brotherly advice and I thought back of my dad who was a lorry driver and how hard he worked for me and my siblings to have a good education. It was there and then, it knocked me hard. I realised that I had a chance to make my parents proud of me and that their sacrifies was worth it.
Before I can say thanks, the 2 UPM student got off from the bus. Little they know how drastic they have changed my life from then onwards. I started to pick up on my studies until the day I got my Bachelor In Law. I have told the story to my siblings and inspired them to do the same
So, if anyone tells me that racism is high in Malaysia and that there is a silent friction between the many races in Malaysia, I would probably say “maybe” (so what some politicians wants us to believe anyway) but whenever I think of the 2 Malay UPM students with their buah duku, I realised that at least for me, they were my turning point (for better) – for they have shown that color of the skin had nothing to do with doing what’s right and ideal. At that time, they were not Malays and I was not an Indian but rather they were my big brothers who knocked good sense into this younger brother.