Posted on April 24, 2023


By Jayanath Appudurai

Every Raya I engage in wistful ‘time travel’! My mind travels back to 1959…

Hardly 10 years old and 2 years as a citizen of Independent Malaya, Raya ‘59 was my first taste of “roti jala”!

Cikgu Shariff, our fatherly, gregarious Scout Master had kindly invited us ‘boys’ to his humble home.

Cycling from Batu Lima Belas (Brickfields) to Rifle Range (Jalan Padang Tembak), though some five miles or so, was an exhilarating experience.

Even more exhilarating was the delicious ‘roti jala’ with chicken curry. You see, Cikgu had made sure there was an alternative to the ‘kari daging’. Such a thoughtful gesture left an indelible imprint on me.

Things were simple back then. No one did a song and dance about multiethnic, multicultural, multi-faith tolerance! No need for platitudes and pontificating! There was acceptance, and most importantly, there was respect for our diversity. It was put into practice by cultured nuances. Pure and simple. Period.

Almost 65 years on remembering Raya ’59 (and many more “roti jala” years after that) inevitably brings, first a “sigh” then a deep sense of “sadness”. What has become of the simple people that shared this beautiful ‘Tanahair’? We may have been materially poor back then but we were most certainly ‘culture-rich’ and civilized in our dealings with all.

When did ‘acceptance’ give way to ‘tolerance’ to bigotry, regrettably, now almost bordering on hatred?

There is no acceptance. There is only a grudging, surly recognition of the “Other”!

Everything is couched in ‘racial generalizations!

 Not just by the charlatans called ‘politicians’ but also by the ‘pundits’ masquerading as commentators, etc.

The people have been bamboozled, brain-washed to become mindless robots.

The unthinking ‘forwarding’ of spurious and scurrilous hate mongering messages on social media is a case in point.

You are either on my side or the other side! No shades of grey.

No time to pause and ponder the contents….just forward because the message or even just the topic of the message justifies your innate prejudices against the “Other”. Neat!

 It seems like we are living parallel lives in a common shared land!

The prophets of hopelessness have cast an evil spell on this nation…

Negativity is the order of the day…

To prevent myself from falling into this abyss of despondency I often travel back in time. If for nothing else to maintain my sanity!

Cikgu Shariff, the man who had the knowledge and skills to guide his charges through ‘Castle Camp’ and importantly, loads of simple wisdom and sensitivity, whispers to me in silence – ‘hope lies eternal’….

Selamat Hari Raya Puasa 1959

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri 1980 – 2000

Selamat Eid Mubarak 2001 onwards….

24 April 2023