Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hidayah Amin's The Mango Tree

'The Mango Tree' Children's Book Launch
The State vs Hidayah Amin and the casualty is the Mango Tree

While I've been dawdling back and forth through my drafts, Hidayah Amin has published her second childhood memoir, The Mango Tree.  Its launch is scheduled for March 16, 2013 (a Saturday) at the Pod@National Library, Singapore.  Since it's a children's book, there'll be a Nature Talk, Music Performance, Book Sale & Book Signing, Free Air-Brush Face-Painting (upon purchase of book), Special Gifts for those wearing or bringing something green or yellow.  Since space is limited, do RSVP to

Well, if that doesn't spur me on to publish my own childhood memoir, then nothing will.  For a start, I've engaged an editor who has made recommendations for the overall structure and sections for the proposed title and should be editing each line of the second draft by now.  
So as to allay my doubts about who'd be interested to buy and read a memoir of someone who hasn't really made her mark in this world, I was also asked to answer the following question:
Why Bury My Heart in Kaki Bukit?
'To bury my heart' in a place where I had spent my childhood, a Malay kampong and a symbol of the Malays’ entitlement as the native settlers, means a sense of belonging and attachment to a place firmly lodged in the Singapore Malays’ collective memory and psyche.
 Draft Foreword (what to “expect” as in “why” the segments are as such)
 There’s something about the end of an era which set a train of thoughts in motion.  When the impending closure of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in July 2011 was announced, it opened a floodgate of memories of railway journeys with my mother across the Causeway - to visit my paternal grandparents in Klang, to view my father’s ‘paddy’ project in Kahang and, of course, to uproot ourselves and resettle in KL.
  However, my intention was not simply to reminisce about the past, nor present a personal tale of unresolved issues with my father’s rage or a tender eulogy about my mother’s strength.  I believe that my personal plight and my family’s misfortune are merely threads which weave into the larger tapestry of the collective experiences of the Singapore Malays of that era. 
  The turbulent years which followed the atrocities of the Japanese Occupation, the intense struggle for Independence and the UMNO-PAP contest over the political control of Singapore had left a deep scar in their psyche.  My story represents the narratives of those families who sought refuge in Malaysia.  For those who stayed or migrated elsewhere, their voices should be heard too.  
  Plus, I'm also experimenting with this opening - not sure if it will attract or repulse readers of my daughters' generation - the Gen Y.
1            The Turning Point
          You think that Singapore is all about Marina Bay Sands and The Eye.  Do you know that before there were urban renewal, skyscrapers and infinity pools, there were fishing villages, kampong houses and miles and miles of sandy beaches.  As a tourist, you think it’s cool to celebrate multiculturalism by traipsing around Little India, Chinatown and the Arab Quarter, but you don’t even mark the Malay Village in Geylang Serai on your map.  Please don't tell me that you're secretly ashamed to be a part of a race that’s been labelled backward and a culture that’s deemed deficient.  
          You might think history is not important.  The past has no place in the present. That it’s best to move on and let go.  But you don't know what it's like to be born and bred in a kampong created out of indigenous claim.  You don’t know what it’s like to belong to a land where your forefathers had traversed millions of years before you took your first step on that same soil.  You don’t know what it means to shed blood and liberate your motherland from the clutches of the colonisers.  You can’t imagine how humiliating it is to be downgraded from the status of natives with special rights to that of a mere minority.  It never crossed your mind that this people who’s accused of surviving on crutches and government hand-outs was once a proud race of seafarers, warriors and craftsmen.    
If you would only look at the course of history, you could see that the ’64 Riots was the turning point when an intelligent, articulate and fearless race morphed into an insipid, bumbling and spineless bunch of people.  In just a space of 13 months, they were to lose their grip on indigenous rights to their homeland, and, along with that, their constitutional rights to defend their language, culture and religion.    

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